Thursday, April 23, 2015

Back in the Sea of Cortez - October/November 2014

After a long 4 day drive from San Francisco to La Paz, we were anxious to see our home again and visit the Sea of Cortez. Rain from the string of hurricanes that visited the Baja peninsula this year left the desert lush and green.

Sierra de la Giganta Range

Our long time friends from Colorado visited us for an early season cruise in the southern part of the Sea of Cortez. By the way, all the really good photos in this blog update were taken by Jim Geis.

Bev, Karen & Jim

Visiting the Sea early in the cruising season meant there were few other boats in our anchorages. Below is a photo of one of the most popular anchorages in the Sea of Cortez, about 40 miles north of La Paz.

Isla San Francisco

Water clarity changes depending on water temperature and winds and as you can see, the water was crystal clear during this trip.

Agave Azul's water taxi

We are used to backpacking with Jim & Bev & Karen in remote places in California and Colorado, so we looked for some out of the way spots. Isla Coyote is a very small island, 40' high and just a few hundred feet in length. It is only accessible in calm weather and in the fall, that is what we experienced most of the time.

Isla Coyote

View from the top of the rock

One of the few buildings on the island

The people who live on the island make their living from the sea - the men fish and one woman on the island makes jewelry from shells. 

We talked with one of the fishermen and asked where he went during Hurricane Odile. Surprisingly he said everyone stayed on the island during the storm. He did point out that the waves went about half way up the buildings in this photo. They laughed when we asked if they had beer for sale, but they did have some very fresh fish, which we bought for dinner. Next time we visit, we'll bring them some beer.

Cleaning their catch

We asked about the statue on a rock near the water. This is one of the saints that protects the pescadores.

 Jesus del Caracol (Jesus of the Shell) 

One of our favorite anchorages is San Evaristo and we were the only boat in the anchorage. One quiet Sunday morning we heard the church bells ring and about a half hour later a raft of fishing pangas began to slowly circle the bay. At the end of the service they motored by Agave Azul, said a few words and they all began clapping and we responded in kind. We later learned that this was the annual blessing of the fishing fleet. We were definitely in the right place at the right time!

Blessing of the fleet - San Evaristo

Our furthest point north on this trip was Agua Verde. As we were searching for the produce "store", we heard children laughing. They were standing outside their school house watching the unusual sight of gringos walking through their neighborhood. Kathryn brought her bag of goodies and at this stop we gave their teacher a bag of balloons - a  big hit with the girls. Kathryn also gave teacher a Luci Lite, a small solar light.

Agua Verde daycare

A group of 8 or so pangas left the beach just before sunset and returned at dawn with their catch. We went ashore to buy some fish, but when we got there at about 8:00am we were told all the fish had been taken to market - bummer! We asked one of the men what time we needed to be on the beach to get fish and he said to be there as soon as the boats returned. So we got up early and had our pick of just caught Pargo (Red Snapper) and Cabrilla (Grouper).


Filleting our Cabrilla for dinner

It was a great to be back in the Sea again and to share the experience with friends. Here's another of Jim's excellent photos after we returned to the marina in La Paz.

Marina Palmira sunset

After a week of boat projects and reprovisioning our second visitors of the season arrived from the Bay Area. We spent a few days in the Sea before an overnight passage to Mazatlan. Kathryn and I would spend the rest of the winter on Mexico's west coast.

Robin, Luanne & Kathryn

John &  Robin

The good weather continued, but the wind was excellent this time and we were able to do some great sailing. I used to race against John at Sequoia Yacht Club and he loves to sail. It's fun to feel Agave Azul go fast and John was happy to take the helm for most of the trip. This was Luanne's first offshore overnight passage.

The fish camp at Caleta Partida

Fish camps are pretty basic shelters where fishermen spend time between trips taking their catch to market. We always buy fresh fish when its available, so we anchored at Caleta Partida to see if fish was available.

Cabrilla & Pargo

After we bought our dinner the fisherman asked us for batteries to play his music. We went back to Agave Azul and he showed up a few minutes after we arrived. We found some AAA batteries for him and gave him a solar Luci Lite, too.

Luz Luci es muy bueno!

Our next to last stop in the Sea was at Los Islotes, a sea lion rookery. It's too deep and rocky to anchor there, so John & Luanne swam with the sea lions while Kathryn and I drifted just off the island. We had our turn when they returned.

Luanne snorkeling at Los Islotes

The sea lions are pretty frisky and the young ones would swim fast toward us and turn away at the last minute. Although it wasn't mating season, we kept our distance from the 800 pound bulls - all of the larger sea lions actually. The good pics from John & Luanne's visit are John's.

Showing off for the tourists

After a fast sail south and an overnight at Bahia de Los Muertos, we departed early for our trip across to Mazatlan, where we spent a few days exploring with John & Luanne.

Cathedral de la Inmaculada ConcepciĆ³n

Whenever we are in Mazatlan we always try to stop at our favorite restaurant in Mexico, Topolos. Really good Mexican food and great Mango Margaritas - yum!

Good bye dinner with John & Luanne at Topolos