Leaving La Paz

Posted by John

After our excursion to Isla La Partida to test the water maker and enjoy the peace and quiet, we returned to the La Paz anchorage for a few days in order to stock up on supplies for the next few weeks when we would be “off the grid” for a while. We anchored again near Marina de La Paz and once more were treated to the odd array of sounds from the waterfront. Besides the usual random cheering and shouting, rooster crowing, and rock and swing music at whatever hour, we were also entertained by what can only be described as a marching drum corps. We never saw them and have no idea what it was about, but part of me was a little sad when, after intermittently playing for two days, all of the drumming finally came to an end.

The marina has a dinghy dock with 24-hour security which can be used by anyone for about a dollar a day, including a water spigot for those coming in to fill water jugs. We unloaded our garbage (included in the charge), did laundry and made a shopping trip. We also met up with Joe and Cathy from s/v Slainte. We all were ready to move on from La Paz now that we didn’t need to find a place to watch anymore Seahawks games.

From La Paz we headed north, back to Isla La Partida, to a place called La Partida Cove. The cove is in a bowl in the gap between La Partida and Espiritu Santo islands, and is protected on three sides with the fourth side getting protection from Espiritu Santo. We took a kayak and the dinghy to the beach.

La Partida Cove. The sandy beach is bigger and farther away than it looks. There is a faded sign just off the beach toward the right that might mark a trail, but the route wasn’t clear if it did.
The geology of the islands is interesting and, with little vegetation, the different rock layers are visible. The Sea of Cortez is what happened when the San Andreas Fault ripped apart. There has been both volcanic action and up-thrusting of Earth’s crust.
Baja mainland at sunrise from Isla San Francisco, showing rock layers.

From La Partida we continued north to Isla San Francisco and a place known as the “Hook.” This is an inviting place with a long, bright sandy beach that hooks around. Right after sunset the wind suddenly came up to over 20 knots. We spent a rocky night a little worried about being pushed up onto the beach. As the wind continued, the waves grew bigger.

There are no lights in the area except for a flashing navigational beacon on the end of the hook. Once the sun went down it was really dark until the quarter moon came up after midnight. After the wind had stretched out the anchor chain we reset the anchor alarm distance (the alarm had already been triggered) to just beyond our position and watched the display as we swung in an arc just inside that distance. If the anchor had dragged at all, the alarm would go off again. That was good, but our GPS map for the area was completely off, showing us on the other side of the island. And that’s not good if you have to bail out of the anchorage in the middle of the night! Slainte has the same Garmin electronic charts that we do and theirs too, had Isla San Francisco in the wrong place. We have paper charts as well, but overall, this area is not charted with very much detail. Most of the depths are based on soundings taken in the 1880’s.

We had planned to go ashore but in the morning the water was still a little rougher than we’d prefer for trying to launch the dinghy. The weather report on the ham radio Sonrisa net was for worsening winds over the next few days. We departed for a place where the wind would be blowing off the beach, rather than onto it.

The beach at the Hook, Isla San Francisco, before the wind suddenly came up.
Although Joe and Cathy from our buddy boat Slainte made it to the beach for a while in the morning, the slow-to-get-going crew of Mysticeti did not get the dinghy launched. But the coffee and lazy morning in the cockpit was enjoyed very much.
Sunset from Isla San Francisco.

From Isla San Francisco we moved across the channel to San Evaristo on the Baja mainland. The expected west wind should mostly be blocked by the mountains, we thought. San Evaristo is a small fishing village on a bay offering good weather protection from the north, south and west. The first night the wind came up after sunset and blew in what seemed like circles at up to at least 25 knots. You could hear the gusts coming down the slope long before they hit. We didn’t get much sleep.

San Evaristo. The theory that the mountains would block wind from the west proved to be not quite true. At least there wasn’t much fetch between us and the beach for waves to build. Pickup trucks, dogs and chickens were up and down the beach all day.
Eleven boats overnighted in the bay our first night. The white and blue buildings on the beach are the local desalination plant, diesel generator to run it, and internet Wi-Fi access point—when it works (we got ten minutes out of it). There was no cell phone coverage.
Although our guidebook mentions a paved road between here and La Paz, apparently the single track dirt road is the only way in and out, at least between here and the Baja highway. The beach doubles as the main road in town.
Joe from Slainte gathered up eight of us from the boats in the bay and we had a great Sunday lunch/dinner at Lupe Sierra’s Restaurant.
While we were waiting for our food to cook I picked up the camera and took this snapshot from the table out back of the restaurant. It just seemed to remind me of my childhood impression of Mexico that I had gotten from watching westerns on TV.
And, as for the slightly odd relationship between the people of the fishing village and the visiting recreational boats that come to hang out in close proximity watching them all day; I’m still collecting my thoughts.