La Paz à Isla Espiritu Santos: Caleta Partida and Ensenada Grande
Well we left La Paz without calling anyone…sorry about that! We were supposed to leave on 8/3 but got word that there was a possibility of a place to rent in San Carlos where we originally planned on putting the boat in dry storage (aka: “on the hard”). We stayed an extra day for internet so we could communicate via Facebook and email with marinas and Bonnie (thank you Heidi Hackler- SV Due West- for connecting with us with Bonnie) who had to cancel her reservation for an apartment in San Carlos for the month of September.
Caleta Partida is where 2 islands connect by a sand bar at low tide and Ensenada Grande was a bay just north with 3 lobes creating choices to anchor depending on the wind direction. The coves had a few fishing huts on the beach but nothing more than that. The anchorage was of course beautiful….green blue waters, and surrounded by small hills. With the islands close proximity to La Paz (capital city of the Baja) combined with the summer vacationing months, there were many pangas (smaller boats with an outboard motor running tours for diving/snorkeling, sightseeing, or fishing) with mainland Mexican tourists and lots of mega yachts blaring music that would echo throughout the hills anchored or buzzing by. In fact, we were the only sailing vessel for days until we arrived in Ensenada Grande over the weekend and despite the multiple lobes in this bay, there were about 17 boats (yachts, fishing boats, sailing vessels and catamarans) all crammed into 1 lobe….let’s just say we kept a watch out.
Lazy Day – Trying to get back into the mind set of cruising again, Trevor and I hung out all day listening to podcasts he had downloaded in La Paz. It was too hot to do anything else…about 98 degrees…Over the next few days, we took dinghy trips and snorkeled to explore the neighboring bays and surrounding islands (small). Blue footed boobies, lots of Sea Loins on Isla Islotes, and sea turtles…..on a sad note, we were riding back to the boat and saw a huge sea turtle with its shell cut up…probably due to a boat running it over…..there was not much we could do for it…but it was a reminder of how our activity on the water can impact the sea life.
Isla Espiritu Santo to San Evaristo
Our weather report told us there was going to be some weather coming our way up the Sea of Cortez in a day or two so we decided to head into a little fishing town named San Evaristo which, according to our cruising guides, had decent protection for rough weather. We tried to sail and successfully did for about an hour, then the wind died midafternoon. We did however have 2 bottlenose dolphins play on our bow waves….this was the first we have seen them so close….jumping too, it was way too cool to stop and get the camera and you never know how long they will be there so sorry, no video or photos : ( Trevor had time to drop his line and he actually caught a baby tuna but was a bit small to eat and not badly hooked, he threw it back and it swam away.
San Evaristo was in deed a SMALL town with a small bay. We read there are about 20 families who reside there. This may sound funny but when we anchored, I felt like we were on stage, being watched like TV as there were no other boats and most of the homes and fishing huts were on the beach which basically surrounded the bay. There was a tienda (store) but the sign said it was only open from 9-10 am…we missed it and that was ok since we didn’t need anything. We walked the beach and tried to engage in conversation with the locals….we gifted a Frisbee to a young boy and I tried to play with him, throwing the Frisbee back and forth. Fishing pangas came and left all day and one stopped by us explaining best as he could to move our boat closer in to the beach because of the storm system coming…we were grateful for the advice as we originally didn’t want to anchor in their back yard so we moved about 40-50 feet further inland in about 15 feet of water and deployed our stern anchor so we didn’t run aground. That night the wind blew about 30 knots and rained (yes the rain was warm)…Trevor got out the boat washing brush and started to wash the boat! We spent the day listening to more podcasts and Trevor playing with playdough…originally gifts for local kids who are curious about us.
By the third day, we were ready to leave…this was a first for us to feel not necessarily unwelcome but rather we had seen/talked/explored what seemed available to us, weather permitting, and we were ready for the next destination…which was Puerto Los Gatos.
San Evaristo à Puerto Los Gatos (town of Timbabiche was a bay just south of the Puerto Los Gatos).
We were sailing downwind and Trevor thought it would fun to try wing on wing on wing….
Thus far… this little stop has been I think what Trevor and I have been waiting for! Let me explain.
- The town of Timbabiche is another small fishing village but the bay it lies in has only protection from WNW winds so we decided to anchor in Los Gatos due to the Southernly winds we have been experiencing during the summer months, just north of the town. Los Gatos is known for its beautiful, smooth, red rock formations and its large reefs good for snorkeling. We still went to the town of Timbabiche as our cruiser guide featured “Casa Grande” that was built back in 1920’s who funded the construction of this house by finding a large pearl and selling it in La Paz but it was never finished and later gutted for building materials so it currently lays vacant. When we arrived in town, we expected to be able to explore this said “Casa Grande” but there was clearly people living there, not in it but in front of it.
A nice gentleman came out and spoke to us and explained there was no store in town (we like to go into town and buy something from the local store to help support and also connect with the local people). With no store, we choose to walk to the end of town. Seeing a little boy hiding amongst palm trees, clearing watching us….we decided it was a good chance to share some of our “gifts” (I never leave the boat without something to trade or gifts for the kids). His mother came out and I tried to engage the child to blow bubbles with me…this didn’t work so we just gave the bottle to his mother and hopefully he had fun with them. On our way back to the dinghy, a man called out to us on the beach, his name is Jamie De La Toba or “Jimmy”. He carried a bag of snorkel gear and a spear gun (aka harpoon). He spoke a little English but he was basically offering us to go spear fishing and sell us the fish he caught. It was decided (after some time trying to figure out what we all were saying) we all were going back to the boat and we were to dive together then Trevor would dinghy him back to the village. We shared beers, talked a lot or as much as we could about his family, and found out he is a descendant of the man who started to build “Casa Grande”. His family lives in Timbabiche and his 16 year old daughter and 12 year old son were leaving the next day to attend school in Cuidad Constitution (70 miles away). We later learned that the kids from these fishing villages live in Cuidad Constitution to go to school and return later during breaks and summer. It was time to get into the water and Jamie was off….it was amazing to watch him dive down, hover over a rock and wait….but no fish (they must know something is up). The reef in Los Gatos had lots of flat rocks that looked like they split creating mini canyons for fish to hid.
Jamie was stung by a jellyfish and we headed back to the boat. After a dose of white vinegar and more beers later, we discovered Jamie was a dive master and works in La Paz giving dive tours. He and I instantly connected and next he was talking about his diving and friend who could free dive something like 60 feet or deeper. We exchanged Facebook names and Whatsapp and cell numbers to connect in La Paz in October when he is done with surgery on his nose. Two more sailing vessels arrive in Los Gatos (a charter boat and Merril and his family from BC) and Jamie suggests we hunt for scallops…of course! Trevor and Jamie go next door to see if the other boat wants to buy freshly harvested scallops from him. They agree on 20 pesos per scallop. 20 minutes later, they are back and Jamie with money and Trevor with scallops and limes from the other boat. It was time for Jamie to return to the village and to express our gratitude, we gave him a wet suit that had shorts and short sleeves, something we bought in the US but have since worn due to the jellyfish stings. I think he liked it….he said he did not have one. It may not fit but I guess he could sell it…it was brand new. Trevor back at the boat, he cleaned and cooked the scallops: 1 batch ceviche style with limes juice and onion, and the second batch sautéed with white wine and butter served with rice! Literally high from the all-day excitement and activity, we decided to leave Los Gatos the next morning because nothing could beat that experience…so let’s move on to the next adventure…
Los Gatos à Bahia Aqua Verde
No wind again! Had to motor. No fish biting either. Aqua Verde is a well-known fishing village with its green colored bays, it’s goat diary, and the majestic Roca Solitaire and Pyramid rock, both great for snorkeling. When we arrived we saw goats on the side of the hill grazing. First we saw only 4, and then we heard “bells” and saw 2 different herds of goats grazing on the other side of the bay. Both day and night we would catch a glimpse of a herd or hear the bells….it was literally like watching TV. The whole time we were anchored here, we would reference the goats like they were a TV show…when we didn’t see them it must have been a commercial break… (Give us a break…when it’s been 12 days of cruising, you tend to lose your mind a bit.
We met SV Pablo, from Santa Cruz CA, who sold their house and have been living aboard and cruising the Sea of Cortez for a while. They were headed to La Paz to catch a flight back to the states for her son’s wedding but assured us we would see them again soon up north.
We headed to town which had fishing huts and trucks on the beach to check out the local store which SV Pablo told us was well stocked with fresh veggie which was great news since we were out of anything remotely green.
Walking back to the town/store we were almost charged by a huge pig and could see the pigs huts shaded by small trees and old pallets (Tara, we totally thought of you!)
Which fresh veggies in the bag, we headed back towards the beach and Trevor, fishless, decided he wanted to by some fresh fish from the pangas that arrived moments ago. For 20 pesos, they guy was going to give us 3 fish but we knew we couldn’t eat that much so we only got 2. They were of the snapper family and they said to filet for cooking. Back at the boat, Trevor cleaned the fish and prepared fish tacos that were AMAZING!
Trevor cleaning the snapper on the boat showing me the fins.
The next day we spent snorkeling around pyramid rock and Trevor tried out his new spear gun, which Jamie said was no good because it shot too rapidly but don’t know for sure exactly what Jamie was referring to. Trevor also scrapped the hull via snorkel and tried to get the prop and shaft free of the growth. It was a good visit here but we thought it was time for a bit more civilization, internet, and plan a trip back to the states so we headed for Puerto Escondido, the last place to get diesel and a major town before crossing the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos.
Bahia Aqua Verde à Puerto Escondido
The trip was beautiful! Again, no wind (surprise surprise by now) but we had to pass 3 or 4 little islands…and we saw a pod of large whales! They were blowing 30 feet into the air….of course no photo due to how mesmerized I was…. There was a fishing derby out of the town Loreto, 14 miles north of Puerto Escondido so there was lots of traffic on the water. Trevor dropped a line and had a few bites and 1 small fish but nothing big secured on the hook. Arriving, honestly I had a bit of anxiety. Not knowing the lay of the land for the marina, not knowing how the mooring balls worked, I admit to being a little crazy (poor Trevor). It was a Sunday and we hit the channel at slack tide to avoid the possible 4 knot current during a really extreme tide going out. We choose a mooring ball close to the dock since the marina was not answering ch 16 on the VFH radio. We landed to check in with our paperwork to find the marina was closed on Sunday’s but the store (Carole’s) was open and we went into to take a peek….unaware there were people sitting just outside of the building, I was startled by a “hello”, in great English, through a window in the store. We were greeted by a small set of cruisers that call Puerto Escondido home and have a daily gathering from 3-5pm – aka “The Circle of Knowledge”. They were once members of the recently dissolved Hidden Port Yacht Club (HPYC) that resided here. I guess it was nasty: the president was said to have embezzled $6,000 USD from the club and fled to Florida. But we’ll meet the gang in the next post!