Our route from La Paz to Loreto totalled 161 miles, during which time we visited 15 different anchorages over a period of 22 days. We deliberately took our time as we wanted to experience as much as we could – our longest leg was 30 miles and our shortest 1.2!
It would not be fair to bore you with an anchorage by anchorage run down of the trip so I aim to give you an overview of what we did and what we saw and have titled my photographs so you know which anchorage we were in at the time.
Just to state right from the start that, as we anticipated from our first encounter with the Sea of Cortez [previous blog post], this place is Incredible.
As I said in that last post, the geology of the area is fascinating and the resultant landscape, amazing….
……particularly when you also walk the trails ashore….
Many of the anchorages have small islands in the middle of them….
These are the easy hazards to spot but cruisers need to be aware that most points [and there are lots of them] have detached rocks and/or reefs around them and many anchorages are quite shoal or have reefs/rocks in the bays so care needs to be taken when sailing in this area.
There are rocks of every colour…
…and, as well as the usual formations which are found along coastlines….
…. there are also some which are perhaps less usual – and as a result have been named [and appear on postcards and calendars promoting the Baja Peninsula].The “Hand of God” …..
…….was named by local “pangueros”, behind which is a small anchorage where we chose not to stay because another boat was already there and there is really only swinging room for one.
However, as far as we know, this “guy” hasn’t got a name, so perhaps you can think of a suitable title?
Some of the rocks are like works of art – either in themselves – this formation being the “icing on the cake”….
…. or in conjunction with other elements such as crystal and wood.
These last two photographs prompt me to tell you about a particular walk we did – because that is when the pictures were taken. The main cruising guide we use [Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer’s “Sea of Cortez”] has great maps of most anchorages which also show the trails ashore. We have found the descriptions of the trails and their designation on the map really useful – except on this one occasion! Maybe it was our interpretation but, the hike up the arroyo was much, much further than we anticipated and did not end in the promised overlook of Caleta Partida. Only Mike made it to the top of the arroyo and this was the view he found….
I, on the other hand, was busy sheltering under any rock I could find!
A small aside – note the holes in the rocks. Some of these boulders were quite hollow sounding when hit and almost cinder like.
Anyway, back to my sheltering. Unfortunately, not expecting such a long trek we hadn’t taken enough water and I am afraid I got rather dehydrated. With hindsight we should have turned back earlier but, having set out to do something, we like to complete the task.
We were really glad on the way down to finally see the anchorage….
…and the sea never looked or felt so good – we completely submerged when we got there!
Exhaustion and dehydration aside, the walk was excellent. El Metzaño anchorage is at the top end of Isla Espíritu Santo which, if you remember from the last post, is the island where we saw the rare black jackrabbit. On this walk we encountered…..
…. Mike spotted this lovely specimen….
….and we spent about five minutes watching some really cute chipmunk like animals which we later found out are…..
During other walks we have come across rather less cute creatures such as these insects which we think must be related to the wood louse and descendents of trilobites….
We found them skittering among rocks on several shores.
Also, what we thought was a small bird flying down between rocks turned out to be a beetle about 12cm [5 inches] long!
We also saw some black tailed jackrabbits [not to be confused with the black jackrabbit]. These are also known as American Desert Hares and are quite prevalent in the Western US and Mexico.
As you will remember we fully provisioned before leaving La Paz knowing that, at best, we might find a small tienda or two in one of the scattered communities we had scheduled to anchor at. A walk to Ligui from Bahiá Candeleros was a bit of a wasted journey – though we had only really gone for the exercise – particularly as we found a very reasonable small store almost next to the anchorage in Ensenada Blanca.
We had intended to drop the hook at one of the three anchorages of “Nopolo” on the peninsular but about 24 knots of wind was blowing directly into what looked like the most protected of the three [from the SE] so we did not get to visit that small fishing community who inhabit a lonely spot with the only access being by boat.
However, the wind was kind to us at San Evaristo and we were able to spend two nights there.
While most of the villagers live in the main bay, through the small gap in the hills [right hand side of photograph], there are a couple of homesteads complete with cattle and burros.
We have noticed that even in the remotest areas cattle in Mexico are tagged – presumably for food provenance…
… even where there don’t seem to be people actually looking after the cattle. This small herd were just wandering down the beach….
…but when we went ashore we could find no evidence at all of any community – just a vague track which seemed to disappear into the dusty interior between the mountains.
Back in San Evaristo, our walk “over the hill” and past the homestead took us past a sea salt panning operation.
I don’t know if you can tell from the photograph but the front piles are white salt and the back ones pink. So, when you next come across pink sea salt, in whichever supermarket you frequent, it might well have come from here.
Four nights were spent at Agua Verde…..
…with three beautiful anchoring options to choose from. Given the calm weather we chose to anchor off the village beach but took the dinghy to the slightly more secluded anchorage on the left of this photo…
…and enjoyed a walk along the road behind the mountain to the most sheltered spot….
…. from where we were able to walk back to our beach along a ledge of rock at the water’s edge, accessible at low/mid tide.
Whilst there we met a couple [Gary and Dorothy on “Salty Dog”] who have been visiting the community for several years bringing donated school supplies, clothing etc. Gary is also helping them to build a water purification system and Dorothy, a vet, holds a clinic a couple of times a year – mainly to spay/neuter. We spent a couple of hours one morning helping to dinghy the supplies ashore and then take them to the Pastor’s house.
I had mentioned to Dorothy that we had run out of limes but couldn’t find any in the village tienda. It was quite a surprise when later that day she came to our boat to deliver a gift from the Pastor as a reward for our help….
So, as our wonderful friend Patricia’s Christmas present T-shirt to me stated – “If life gives you limes, drink Margarita’s”…. we did.
Restaurants are fairly few and far between in the Sea but both of these larger communities had them and we enjoyed locally caught fish meals in both….
San Evaristo actually had two restaurants but we only had a beer in the other – it didn’t have a name [the restaurant that is, not the beer!], and the food looked equally good.
Fish is the staple at the restaurants because being a fishing village that is what you [and they] get. Even at anchor there are sometimes fishermen who will come by and offer to sell fish or, in the case of Miguel, offer to go and fish for you. He must have spent about 90 minutes in the blazing sun catching two fish for us.
We only took one of them so hope he ate well too. In exchange he wanted some outboard fuel. We gave him the equivalent of about £3 worth [US$4.50] – fair exchange we thought, especially as the one fish would have probably served four people.
Signs that fishermen use [or have used in the past] certain “Ensenadas” [coves] are sometimes seen in the form of crosses – usually quite high on the cliffside…
Cruiser “memory trees” are more often on the shoreline!
One tree that we have seen quite a lot of is the “Boojum Tree”, which is the Baja species of the “Ocotillo” plant.
It is known by several names, including “Coachwhip”, “Flaming Sword” and “Jacob’s Cactus” though it is not a true cactus. It flowers from March to June so we were lucky to see this before its flowers died. A popular use of the plant is a living fence – naturally designed to deter most animals [and humans] from crossing it!
Another plant – this time a real cactus surprised us by being the only one in a huge clump which was hairy.
On closer examination we could see flower buds hidden among the hairs and we wondered whether it had grown the hairs specifically to protect the buds?
Often seen in desert areas, or at least portrayed in films as being seen, are bones and lo and behold……
Quite macabre! We also found a skeleton which seemed as though it had been deliberately positioned on this rock….
….and Mike was tempted to bring this one back to the boat. Strangely I said NO! – although, thinking about it, maybe it would have been a talking point for visitors.
One or two people have commented on FB that they like some of our sunset photographs so here are a few more images of the lovely dusks and sunsets we have enjoyed.
It is at dusk that the Rays seem to become a little more active. We have been told by friends Mike and Marie [“Déjàlà”] that there are far fewer Rays this year than in previous years. In fact they have told us that all wildlife seems to have reduced. We know that we are at the wrong time of year for most whales – which may be why we haven’t seen any, but we have encountered several pods of dolphins including some lovely Bottlenose Dolphins….
Even though Rays have been jumping – we often hear them during the night and occasionally during daylight hours – they never seem to jump close enough to the boat for good photographs. So, you will have to make do with these which at least show that we have seen them!
A small school also passed fairly close to the boat, feeding.
A favourite pastime for cruisers is obviously snorkelling and swimming – and in the heat of the day the water is often the best place to be especially if, like us, you don’t have air con on the boat.
Talking of swimming – well floating/relaxing/cooling down really – I have mentioned previously our positive experiences of Fonatur Marinas and this is one of the reasons why!
Another popular pastime is searching for shells. Searching is probably an inappropriate word as you really don’t have to search that hard! However, most of the anchorages in this part of the Sea of Cortez are in one of two National Parks – The “Espíritu Santo/Partida Parque” and the “Bahía de Loreto Parque”. As with all parks you are asked to take away only memories and photographs. When anchored off Isla Monserrate we hadn’t realised we were actually in the park until we came across these signs at the end of the beach.
We therefore left behind several piles of shells we had collected – not exactly where we had found them as we had piled them up – but at least they remained on the beach. There are hundreds of shells and it does feel as though taking a few really wouldn’t matter. But if we all said/did that – and I guess there are some people who do – then maybe these beautiful islands would go the way of other off the beaten track places, become denuded of their ecosystems and eventually not support what wildlife remains.
OK, moralising over!
Fortunately there are some beaches outside of the parks too and our shell collection has grown.
Yes, OK, boring…move on!
So, to end this post I want to tell you about another special day we had – our fifth wedding anniversary which was spent on Isla San Fransisco with its crystal clear water and find white sand beach.
We anchored in the main bay [most popular anchorage but we were lucky not to have neighbours that day] and on the right of the photograph is an alternative anchorage which, unless pressed by adverse weather conditions in the main bay, I don’t think I would want to use.
We walked across the island to look at it and it did not seem that brilliant – very rocky. There is also an anchorage at the north end of the island which, conversely, looked quite nice – in south winds only though.
Anyway, we walked the ridge….
…. and the salt flats….
… all of which set us up nicely for an anniversary meal. A starter of crab, mango and avocado…..
….was followed by pepper steak and fried potatoes…
…and then a dessert of brandy chocolate mousse accompanied of course by a drop of the liquor.
Who says you can’t eat well on boats!
So Cheers everyone.
This Sea of Cortez is brilliant.