It’s about a 2 day trip from Mazatlan to La Paz. Our strategy was to run up the mainland coast for 24 hours then cross the gulf, making landfall north of La Paz, thereby avoiding the often nasty beat up from the anchorage at Los Muerto through the Cerralvo Channel and into La Paz. It was a good idea but we should have waited one more day for the seas to calm down. Our trip north up the mainland coast was a bit rough – only 15 knots of wind, but on the nose, with short, steep waves.
For me, that combination equals a case of seasickness – no bueno! But it always ends, and by the next day, seas flattened out and we headed out across the gulf, in calm seas and light winds. The sun was shining, thewater was blue, and we caught a fish! A nice sierra, the biggest one we have ever caught. I went down into the galley to put the fish in the fridge and noticed the light on the bilge pump was on. Huh, why is that on? Where is the water coming from? Dan started looking and could see a steady stream of water coming from the back of the boat – salty water. That is in violation of one the most important laws of boating, which is “keep the water on the outside of the boat”. This prompts the freak-out response in me – are we sinking? We are 50 miles offshore,
and at least 100 miles from anyplace where out of the water repairs can be affected if needed. Of course to access the area of water ingress involves the removal of a whole lot of gear so Dan can crawl back there. Fortunately all that was needed was the tightening of the two nuts on the stern tube packing gland (the rudder post passes through this), and voila, the water was stopped allowing my heart rate to return to a normal pace. The rest of the passage was uneventful, and we dropped anchor in Ensenada Grande, of my favorite places, the next day.
Ensenada Grande is located on Isla Partida, which along with Isla Espititu Santo, forms an amazing marine park just 20 miles north of La Paz. There are daily boat trips from La Paz to the islands for sightseeing, snorkeling, diving, and to drop off kayakers and folks staying at “adventure camps” on the islands. The water is turquoise blue and teeming with fish. We stayed 5 days, snorkeling (with wetsuits since the water temp is now in the low 70s instead of the high 80s of summer), hiking and just hanging out.
The next stop was Isla San Francisco another 20 miles or so to the north. Also part of the park system, Isla San Francisco has a sweeping crescent-shaped beach of white sand, and a great hike along the south side if the island. Sunsets are spectacular, and cocktails in the cockpit while watching the colors change from gold to pink on the towering Sierra de la Giganta is an event in itself.
From Isla San Francisco we headed up to the tiny fishing village of San Evaristo on the Baja peninsula.
There is a desalination plant which provides water for the 20 or so families here that make a living from the sea. A small restaurant has sprung up to cater to the cruisers – at “Lupita’s and Maggie Mae” you can get a cold beer and a trigger fish (the majority of the local catch) taco.
With time for one last stop before heading into La Paz, and a forecast for wind from the southwest, we headed to Bonanza. On the east side of Isla Espititu Santo, Bonanza provides protection from west winds. The majority of the island
anchorages are open to the west, which makes for an uncomfortable, or worse, night when wind blowing into the anchorage kicks up the waves. With a miles-long white sand beach and lots of hiking possibilities, Bonanza is a great stop. We had the great idea of hiking across the island to the beach on the west side. Fortunately we gave up and headed back, and were lucky to make it back before dark. I would hate to be bushwhacking in the cactus… Next stop, La Paz.