Woke up: Anchored outside Marina de La Paz, La Paz, Mexico
Went to sleep: Anchored outside Marina de La Paz, La Paz, Mexico
Our Tour of the Sea of Cortez
We set out 27 days ago to explore the Sea of Cortez. Our original goal was to visit 20 anchorages in 42 days. In fact, we made it to our most northerly destination, Playa Coyote, Bahia Concepcion but fell short of 20 different anchorages.
As it turns out, not all anchorages are created equal. Some are very large and can handle many boats while some are very small and can hold only a couple. If the anchorage is inadequate and the boats are close together, it may be necessary to deploy a stern anchor to avoid drifting into each other. Setting a stern anchor is a lot of work.
Small anchorages with rock outcroppings and submerged reefs near the entrance are not inviting either.
Some anchorages have deep (35-feet +) water sloping quickly to the shore. We like to anchor in about 25-feet of water and still be at least 350-feet from the beach. If the anchor should drag in the middle of the night and you’re being blown onto the sand, it’s nice to have ample time to remedy the situation before going aground.
All anchorages are exposed to wind chop or ocean swell which makes for a rockin’ and rollin’ vessel. Since it’s impossible to know from which direction the wind will come, you increase your odds of a good night’s sleep if you are protected on at least three sides. This time of year, the prevailing wind is out of the southwest. If the anchorage is open to the south or west you have a higher probability of a restless night. We skipped anchorages oriented in this way.
Cruisers rate each anchorage by how calm it is overnight. People share horror stories of leaving the anchorage at 2:00 am because they weren’t sleeping anyway.
Rocking can occur either bow to stern or side to side. Bow to stern rocking, if not too ferocious, is like being rocked to sleep in a cradle. Side to side rocking, on the other hand, is almost always miserable. The boat will be completely still for a while. Just when you are falling to sleep, the boat rocks gently side to side. Soon after, the boat is rocking violently to port and you brace yourself from rolling into the wall. A minute later, you find yourself holding on to avoid falling out of bed.
The sea state can be relentless, continuing unabated for hours or even days. And yet, it’s not even the movement of the boat which is most disturbing but rather the clanging of pots, pans, glasses and plates sliding from one side of the cupboard crashing to the other. We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve had only half a dozen sleepless nights since the last time we were tied to a dock, last October in Chula Vista Marina.
Our worst night ever was in Cabo San Lucas. After sleeping very little, we attempted to sit together on the settee and drink our morning coffee. This routine activity was a challenge. Getting your mouth and your coffee cup to the same elevation at the same time – nearly impossible. That day we gave up and checked into the marina for some sleep.
Each anchorage is different from the last. There seems to be a relationship between the amount of vegetation and the number of insects. We received reports Isle Carmen had bees so we crossed that off our list of places to visit. When you have over 20 to choose from, you can be selective.
Some places have well defined hiking trails. I prefer dirt roads over scrambling through rocks and brush. I haven’t encountered a rattle snake yet and I hope to keep it that way. Agua Verde has a nice dirt road, with four aerobic style up-hills, leading to the Highway 101.
Each location offers differing amenities. In Playa Coyote, a single bar/restaurant on the beach offers excellent Wi-Fi for $20 pesos per hour. Isle San Fransisco has a white sandy beach about three miles long. Agua Verde has snorkeling to rival Hawaii. Bonanza, acsessed via a hike from San Gabrielle, is a beach composed entirely of sea shells. Timbabiche has abandoned historic buildings to explore. Loreto is a wonderful small fishing village offering all the conveniences of a small town, including a dinghy dock.
Puerto Escondido has almost everything. Restful nights, a flat clean place to practice yoga, hot (mostly) showers, groceries, restaurant, few bugs, spectacular scenery and the legendary Steinbeck Canyon. But, sadly, no cell service.
We made our trip into the Sea, to places we hadn’t visited before. Once again, it’s getting hot in Mexico. We are now making way to La Paz. I fly back to San Diego May 25th and Peter has a friend flying in to help him drive Penelope home.