Friday, February 7, 2014

Exploring the Sea

It's been nearly two-and-a-half years since we left Alameda and sailed south for Mexico.  Our plan from the start was to spend the Spring exploring the quiet, remote anchorages in the Sea of Cortez -- diving the reefs, fishing the passes, and relaxing with a cold beer in the shade of the cockpit.  If there's one thing I learned over the past couple years is that nothing ever works out as planned...not on a boat, anyway.

Patience is all that is required.  I don't think I realized the true meaning of those words when I first read "Around Alone" and Slocum's famous quote.  It took two incredibly frustrating seasons to really come to terms with the idea.  And, sitting here in La Paz after two glorious weeks working our way down through the Sea, I think our perseverance finally paid off.  It's not springtime, the northers are blowing, and the water is a little chilly, but it was still the highlight of our Mexican cruising experience to date.

I hung around San Carlos long enough to watch the 49er's lose the NFC championship game in typical gut-wrenching, nail-biting fashion.  I tried to put it out of my mind as we set sail the next day.  We left with Theo and Marion on Marionetto, bound for the anchorage of San Juanico, and spent a very fast and bumpy night following Marionetto's stern light.  We sailed the entire way making speeds of 6 to 7 1/2 knots on a beam reach and had to slow down as dawn approached to wait for the light.  It took a little time to get used to life on a moving surface again.  Colin was seasick at first but quickly recovered and by the time we set the anchor the following day we were all feeling pretty good and eager to have a look around.

We tucked in behind a big rock at San Juanico and rowed the dinghy to the beach for a hike with Theo, Marion, and Jim on Murray Grey.  We made our way up and over the hill to another stunning beach for a picnic in the sand.  The turquoise water was a little cold but crystal clear.

The next day we set sail for Isla Coronados with Marionetto and Murray Grey in very calm conditions.  I'm still breaking in the engine following our rebuild in Mazatlan, so I didn't mind motoring the whole way.  We dropped anchor on the southeast side of the island next to a long white-sand beach popular with tourist boats from nearby Loreto.  We were the only ones there.  I quickly squeezed in to my 3mm shorty and jumped over the side for a swim to check the anchor.  It was a good excuse to finally get in the clear water.

After an unusually calm night, we pulled up the anchor and motored south to Puerto Escondido.  The wind began to fill in just as we turned the bow toward the narrow entrance to the large harbor, where we picked up a mooring.  Escondido is just about the only place between Santa Rosalia and La Paz to get fuel and provisions, so we decided to spend a couple days there restocking the boat and checking out Loreto.  The next day we hired a taxi to take us the 15 miles or so north to town, where we spent some time walking the quiet streets and loading up on groceries at the local supermarket.

From Escondido we motor-sailed down to the popular Agua Verde. But, after checking out the anchorage, decided instead to continue around the point to the quiet and overlooked San Marte.  We tucked up inside the rocky reef with Marionetto and set the hook off another beautiful beach.  In the morning, we took a long dinghy ride to explore a sea cave in calm overcast conditions.  We picked up the anchor the following day and I tossed a lure over the side as we motored south.  Almost immediately, I had my first dorado on deck -- a nice 8-pounder that I quickly filleted.

At Los Gatos, our next stop, we explored the spectacular red rock formations above the beach and feasted on fish tacos with Marionetto and Murray Grey.

From there we sailed south to the tiny village of San Evaristo and, again, I hooked a dorado -- this time a 10-pounder -- which Marion cooked for us on their boat.  We landed the dinghy on the beach and raided the small tienda in search of a few much-needed provisions.  We managed to procure a few vegetables, tortillas, eggs, some canned goods, and lots of cookies.

We left San Evaristo in southerly winds and chose to anchor on the north end of Isla San Francisco, off a shoal beach that looked like a postcard from the Bahamas.  I donned the shorty again and jumped in to snorkel the rocky reef.  The wind shifted back to the north around 3 AM and began to build beyond our comfort level, quickly turning our quiet beach in to a lee shore. 
Fortunately, it didn't get out of hand and, although we lost some sleep, we managed to wait for sunrise before pulling up the anchor and sailing south again.

A few hours later we sailed in to Caleta Partida, a spectacular and well-protected cove at the south end of Isla Partida.  We spent a couple days relaxing on the hook and playing in the water in what may have been our favorite anchorage.

Our last stop was Caleta Lobos, on the peninsula north of La Paz, where we tucked in behind a little rock island to get shelter from the westerly winds.  I was soon in the water again, exploring the coral reef along the rocky shore.  In the evening we joined Marion, Theo, and Jim for a pasta feed on Marionetto -- our last night of bliss before sailing to the bustling La Paz.

In the morning we motored down the long channel and dropped the hook in the Magote, surrounded by a hundred other boats in the wind and chop of La Paz harbor, thus closing the chapter on our long-anticipated sail through the Sea of Cortez -- a journey well worth the wait.
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Theresa said...

Quite the adventure! It is so fun to hear about your travels. Thanks for keeping us updated! I pray you continue to have safe journeys!

mom said...

love reading your blog &love hearing about all of your adventures. I've always told you (my sweet son) you are a great writer!!thank you for the update, which you put into such a wonderful story.. we miss you all, but know you're living your dream..we pray for you safe travels!!!love you all :>)

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Pura Vida - from our days in Guaymas/San Carlos at the yard and Marion and Theo's lovely home! So great to read your stories of your adventures in the Sea! Hope to see you somewhere soon. We are currently in Tenacatita. Heard from another boat in the anchorage that Marionetto might be headed this way - perhaps you are still with them? Travel safe! Judy & Mike