Tag Archives: snorkeling baja

Up, up, and away!

After our crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz, our time spent in La Paz was relatively short. It was time to start making our way up, up, and away from the hurricanes before the hurricane season (June – November).  We'd planned on staying there as long as it took for me to do all of the online and other required work for my next travel nursing assignment during the summer. A few days of wifi at the Big Sur coffee shop was all I really needed and a day to re-provision. We got a little waylaid with celebrating Mike's (SV Easy) Birthday and meeting a new kid boat called SV Secret Water. There were a few other boats we wanted to visit with too (SV Tribe, Waponi Woo, Orion, Bertie, Adventurer, just to name a few).  Oh the sailing social  life and how it ALWAYS makes you change your "plans".Taj fearlessly jumping off the piling.

"new kids on the dock" Umbrella movement in La Paz.

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By our 5th day in La Paz we felt the itch to continue on, but the pull to stay. I think this will be a common feeling as we continue to sail the world and meet amazing people in amazing places. Alas, we chose to leave with a "see ya later" instead of a "good-bye".

The first week of making our way north, up the Sea of Cortez was faster than our journey up last season. Now that I had work lined up with pre-work classes and assessments schedule in San Diego for June 23, we had somewhat of a time schedule. Mike on SV Easy continued to buddy boat with us. He had already been up to Puerto Enscondido as well, so he was onboard with shorter stops up to that point. Our stops were indeed brief, depending on the wind and water conditions. If there were anchorages or animals we hadn't seen, we'd take some time exploring, but otherwise we didn't lag too much until we got up to Bahia de Conception.

First stop, Isla Espirito Santo/Isla Partida. We sailed all but an hour of our 10 hour day to Bahia Ensenada Grande. We got out the hammock  for a swing and dip in the water while we were becalmed, waiting for wind.

 S/V Easy

The anchorage at Ensenada Grande was spectacular! There we five boats after Easy and Shawnigan had anchored. The Mobula Rays, jumping everywhere, sounded like we were in the midst of a pirate ship battle field. The slaps and splashes from their jumping dance of courtship, feeding, or communication surrounded and echoed off the steep burnt red sandstone and sedimentary cliffs of the anchorage. This was the moment that  we felt the magic of the Sea of Cortez return.

After a relaxing morning aboard, with an abbreviated boat-school day, we took a fieldtrip to hike across the island to the other side. Along the way we explored the many different geological features the island had to offer. Various igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary formations all in one place! It was perfect timing for Ellamae's science block of her curriculum.

Two nights at Ensenada Grande and we were off to Isla San Francisquito, but first a quick swim with the sea lions at Los Islotes before the wind picked up.

We anchored in the southwest side of the island in 58 feet of water with just enough scope for a few ohour "lunch stop". SV Easy anchored just behind us. We new our window for swimming would be narrow before the wind picked up, so we made sure to be ready to play and ready to leave. The visibility was not the greatest and the sea lions were not in their most playful state, but we did get to swim and play around with them for a while. The kids had a blast! To watch their excitement and comfortable interaction with the sea lions was priceless. As we predicted, the wind filled in after 1.5 hours of being there. We quickly rowed back to the  boat and sailed off to Isla San Francisco (Francisquito).Screenshot (3)Screenshot (4)Me, Josie, bliss.Screenshot (7)Taj and the 3 Sea Lions.Screenshot (9)Nina looking down at me with camera in hand and the Sea Lion.Screenshot (11)Screenshot (12)Ellamae (9) about 8 feet down, looking for sea lions to swim with, relaxed and in her element.

Isla San Francisco was just as pristine as it was the previous year. The white sandy beach surrounded by crystal clear azure water makes this anchorage most picturesque. We stayed two nights here in order to hike to the top of the hill and to spear fish.  Taj caught some fish himself, just off the boat with a fishing pole. Mostly catch and release puffer fish, but he did manage to catch a trigger fish. Yummy GrouperMike, paddling to shore.Isla San Francisquito

Nina And Ellamae beat us to the top.

  Mike looking ahead at the steep incline toward to top. Christian with Taj on his shoulders not far behind.

From Isla San Francisco we sailed straight to Punta San Telmo (2519.866 N, -11057.684 W) . The anchorage more of your "roadside anchorage", but it did offer enough protection from the south south westerly winds.  Mike did an awesome job setting his anchor under sail for the first time. This wasn't the only "first time" among us, we finally busted out the flopper stopper for the first time. We were getting quite of a wrap around swell from the south. Mike already had his flopper stopper out within an hour of anchoring. He was rocking notably much less than we were. I somehow finally convinced Christian to set up the Magma flopper stopper. It came with our boat when we bought it in 2012, but we had never used it. As we sat anchored much more comfortably, we both laughed and agreed that we shouldn't have waited so long.  We hiked on shore a bit and settled in for a nice evening in an empty anchorage.  Not too long after a lovely sunrise, we set sail for Bahia San Marte. S/V Easy sailing off the hook!

Bahia San Marte was pretty sweet. We sailed off and back on the hook, as did Mike.  The cliffs that surrounded us were majestic. The cliffs looked rock climbable (hint to anyone looking for new amazing places to climb). Mike took his paddle board and we rowed the dinghy over to them to check out a cave that was highly recommended in the Shawn and Heather Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser's Guidebook.  It was pretty cool. This was just the beginning of Baja's cave exploring for the crew aboard SV Shawnigan.              Mike making is way back from the very back of the cave.

The next day we sailed off and back on the hook again to Agua Verde. One of our favorite places so far, in large part due to the quaint village where you can restock on some provisions as well as purchase fresh goat milk (seasonal) and goat cheese directly out of the farmer's house. The local tienda, or little store, offers fresh fruit and veggies and other essentials. They rearranged it since the last time we were there to hold more products. Everyone in the village was very welcoming. Side note, there are petroglyphs in the area that was visited last year, but we didn't this time around. See our post from last year for details here.  As per usual with our anchorage visits, we swam around to cool down and discover the underwater ecosystem around us. We found a little underwater cave/arch with sea fans and beautiful light. Nina and I dove through first and with time, Ellamae dove through her first underwater tunnel! The same day, Taj dove down to 10 feet! Our kids are turning in to fish!Shopping at the local tienda in Agua Verde.

Hammock life

 

 

Screenshot (16)Taj on his 10 foot dive.Screenshot (19)Relaxing in the cockpit after a swim.Screenshot (18)Taj on his kayak in Agua Verde.

Isla Monserrate was calling our name. We hadn't been there before, the wind at the time wasn't unfavorable, so why not? The sail there was great. We were in the swing of anchoring under sail, so we did it whenever we could. Mike was getting in the groove of it as well. We settled into the anchorage in time for lunch. Christian was having a bout of low energy, crummy feeling from his Lyme disease, so I took Ellamae and Taj to shore to explore along with Mike while Nina stayed onboard with Christian.  The wind picked up more than we were hoping for that evening. It was offshore, but it put a damper on exploring the underwater realm.Screenshot (20)Our 2 boats, Easy and Shawnigan, sitting pretty in the deserted anchorage.

Thankfully the next morning, Christian woke up feeling better. We set for a 10 mile sail for Bahia Candeleros. Another great day of sailing off and back on to the hook. We found ourselves anchoring in Candeleros with only a few with other boats, one of which was our friend John on SV Summer. Candeleros is known for its beachfront resort with day passes and wifi access. Word on the street says that they have gotten progressively uptight about letting cruisers come in and use the facilities. We chose to bypass these amenities this year. Truth be told, even if we wanted to partake in the resort luxuries, the wind was howling out of the west and straight into the anchorage. Needless to say, we were not leaving the boat for any reason, except to swim when there was not any wind during the early daytime hours.  In the morning, we did snorkel. The water was quite chilly, about 68F. The visibility was about 20 feet, so not optimal either, but we still enjoyed swimming with a huge group of the fasinating Mobula rays. 2 nights in Candeleros was enough for us this time around. Next stop… Loreto!Overnight anchorages overview map: From top left to right: Ensenada Grande, Isla San Francisco. Bottom row left to right: Punta San Telmo, San Marte, Monserrate (picture above), then Candeleros.

More Photos:Screenshot (13)Ellamae and Taj up close and personal.Screenshot (15)Hawlkfish

 

 

 

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My visit with my sailing family in La Paz

Last week, December 2nd, my friend Rachael and I flew down to San Jose del Cabo and rented a car to get to La Paz, where Christian, Nina, and Taj * were anchored on Shawnigan. We spent 5 days exploring around La Paz and REALLY loving being back together after a whole month of not seeing each other.

Renting a car is cheap, but they make up for it with the price of insurance!

The road trip up from San Jose del Cabo was just over 2 hours. All of the main roads were surprisingly very well kept and I was surprised to see actual seat belt signs along the way.

When we arrived I was pleasantly greeted with a huge hug from my kids and a loving kiss and hug from my husband. It had been too long. I felt immediate comfort and relief. The whole that was growing from being away had vanished.

We were all starving for good Mexican food, so we went to this place called “Super Burro”. And boy did they have some good super burros (super burritos) as well as many other tasty treats. I had been missing this part of sailing in Mexico.

The next day we sailed off the hook from La Paz anchorage and straight in to Caleta Lobos. It started as a downwind sail and turned to an upwind sail, we tacked back and forth out of the channel. I realized I was out of “ship shape”, my heart was pumping, breath was working and my arms were getting pumped. It ended up taking 5 hours to go, not even, 10 miles to Caleta Lobos. It was Rachael’s first time really sailing on our boat. She was surprised with all the motion and how easily we just “sit there” in the cockpit for that much time. I love getting new perspectives. It felt so good to be sailing again! There was a decent amount of wind but that didn’t stop us from an afternoon snorkel and hot tea to warm us back up afterward. That night we had a light show from the weather gods. Lightning, thunder and rain out on the hook. We stayed nice and warm and dry as we watched out from the comforts of our hard dodger. The next day was mostly cloudy so we hiked on shore and did another snorkel-tea session and set up the hammock on our new arch. Our last morning, the sun finally came out and the sea was calm so we got one more snorkel in. We got to show Rachael some of what the Sea of Cortez is really about. Trigger Fish, King Angel Fish, Urchin, Scallops, Comb Jellies and we even saw an Eel.  (I have to apologize for the lack of underwater pictures on this post. I did’t take the time to get my underwater camera set up.)Not sure why these mega yachts think its ok to anchor so close when there is so much room…guess I’ll sit here and knit and take the free entertainment.

The next few days we spent back in La Paz. More good food, fish tacos, fruit cups, Mexican ice cream from “La Fuente” and a quick road trip in the rental car to surf  Todos Santos. Seeing last year’s cruising friends and meeting this year’s new ones gave me something to look forward to when I return full time on December 22nd.   I loved listening to the morning “La Paz net”, “Amigo Net” and “Sonrisa Net” with chatter among the cruisers. We even celebrated Saint Nicholas Day on December 6th. I loved being more disconnected from the Bay Area business and traffic, and social media. Most of all I loved being close to my family. It was so nice just to sit there and watch the kids play and sit there and read with them while our boat was gently rocking back and forth. I’m looking forward to many more years if cruising.

 

Leaving wasn’t quite as hard this time around. I know that 2 and a half weeks will go quicker than I might imagine. Plus I brought Nina back with me, so at least I have a little bit of the family love!

The cruising continues as I finish up my travel RN assignment at UCSF.

As I write this, Christian is sailing Shawnigan across the Sea of Cortez with just Taj and his dad, Gene, aboard. The plan was to sail straight to Isla Isabela from Caleta Lobos. They might have stopped in Muertos, but I’m unsure if they actually did. The last I heard of them was on the 8th, the morning after I left. They were heading out from Caleta Lobos. They had just pulled up the anchor and found, wrapped on it, the fishing line with fish bling that Taj had accidentally dropped and lost 3 days prior. I find this quiet amazing and worth mentioning. What are the chances??? Glad we saved the ocean from our accidental plastic litter too. Taj was super excited.

 

 

*Ellamae was not present because she is still with her bio-father in Florida (we missed having her around).

Espiritu Santo to Candaleros 

Off the grid and enjoying the cruiser’s life. 

We left La Paz under sail May 16th and had, yet another, beautiful downwind run to Isla Espiritu Santo. We anchored in Caleta Partida with SV Tango, SV Shadowfax, and SV Nimue (see previous post). The westerlies left little to be desired for staying there longer than one night. Hopefully we get better weather on our way back down in the fall.


(Above: our Mantus anchor sitting pretty)

We wanted to stop at Los Islotes to dive with the Sea Lions, but again, the wind was in the wrong direction for that. So we shot for Isla San Francisco. We were able to tuck in on the south west anchorage for enough protection from the south westerly winds. With a few other boats there, we were exposed a bit to the swell that rapped in, so our first night was a little rolly, but not bad. We met up with Bob and Kali on SV Airie. We originally met Bob in Barra, then again in La Cruz with his daughter Kali.  We hiked with them and did some spear fishing. The water was still cold, 68 F, but we caught some trigger fish for some yummy Ceviche. We stayed in Isla San Francisco for two nights before sailing off the hook toward San Everisto. 



San Everisto was magical. We hiked over to the salt ponds to the north and the next day, we hiked up the arroyo to the south. We found tons of geode rocks and beautiful pieces of Quartz along the way. We were out hiking for five hours exploring, it was so much fun! We ate dinner at the famous Lupe Sierra’s and Maggie Mae’s restarante. Our good sailing buddy On SV Mango Mango had told us to go there. Lupe and his son remembered Mango Mango well, maybe that accounts for the special treatment? We later found out that they are always that awesome to everyone! The restaurant is decorated with all the shells other cruisers paint during their visit. It was fun for the girls to see all the other kid boats that had stopped in San Everisto. The food was good, the most expensive meal yet, but the atmosphere and the company was worth it. Nina painted a rock with our boat name and two sticks, one looking like a Coral Snake, and the other, a Great Snowy Egret. 



After a few nights there, we continued north to Los Gatos. Another amazing place surrounded by beautiful red sandstone. We put in a few more hikes and more spear fishing adventures. We are loving having more fish in our diet again. Christian speared a couple nice size Grouper to last us a few days. We also enjoyed fresh scallops! 


Next, we stopped at San Marte.  We only stayed here for a night. Snorkeling at the point was fun. Taj is really getting comfortable in the water.

Agua Verde captured us and thankfully slowed us down a bit. Our friends on SV Cielo Grande were not far behind us and trying to catch up. We hadn’t seen them since La Cruz, so we wanted to wait for them. Agua Verde ended being the perfect spot for that. The first day we had a quick snorkel, a nap and a trip to the east side of “town”. We didn’t see much of the town that day. The next day we took a few hour hike past the cemetery to the Cave Paintings.






On our way back, just as we crested the last hill, we saw our friends on Cielo Grande sailing in! Yay, a kid boat! The kids were so excited, as were we, to have our friends back with us. 


The next day we did some spear fishing and snorkeling, and our friends on SV Alert arrived. Another kid boat. Then, we got a tour of the town by a cruiser that basically spends most of their time in Agua Verde. We discovered the larger tienda, the local spring water hose, the police and jail (with not a soul around it), and Ramona, the lady who makes goat cheese and milk. I got a pint of fresh goat milk for 10 pesos (that’s less than $ 0.60 USD) and a kilo of cheese for 60 pesos. Amazing! The kids got to play with the goats and see pigs and such. 

(Above: Taj loves the fresh, still warm, goat milk, from Ramona)


(Above: 1 kilo of goat cheese = 60 pesos)

The next day we stalked up on as much fruit and vegetables the tienda had to offer. We were enjoying our time there, but needed to make our way north the next day. We treated ourselves to a dinner out at the only restaurant open on the beach. Actually I had to walk to the tienda to ask if they could let the restaurant owners know that we would like to eat there. I guess my broken Spanish worked enough. They showed up at 6 to open up and served 11 of us crazy cruisers. All that was on the menu was fish tacos or quesadillas. It was delicious! 
The sail up to Candaleros was slow and beautiful. Cielo Grande not far from us, we both sailed the 18 ish miles which took us 8.5 hours. We sailed off the hook, sailed with the asymmetrical, drifted a bit and sailed again. We finally started the engine just before 6pm for 30 minutes to get us through the point and the island and into the anchorage before dark. We were greeted by many boats that we’ve met along the way. The best part is that Taj was on the deck, naked, shouting out to everyone, “Kini Popo!”, “Hotel California!” and many more.  

In Bahia Candaleros we spent time at the beach in front of the resort. I used the internet to get some online tests done for work this summer, while the kids played.  We did find time for more snorkeling and found it quite amazing! Christian and I had Dolphins swimming right under us! And schools of rays! The water seems to be warming up a little too. We are looking forward to warmer water again. 


Taj and Josie admiring Christian’s catch of the day