We are now in La Paz on the East coast of the
Baja California peninsula in the Sea of Cortez.
We left Cabo San Lucas on Sat 11/14 and
slowly moved our way up the coast doing easy day sails and stopping
in two beautiful anchorages between Cabo and La Paz, first
at Cabo Los Frailes (about 45 miles from Cabo) and then in Ensenada de los
Suenos (another 45 miles up the coast). We sailed the last 55 miles to La Paz
and arrived here on 11/21.
La Paz and the Sea of Cortez were not in
our original plan. We were going to sail directly from Cabo San Lucas
to Puerto Vallarta on the mainland and move our way down the West
coast of Mexico to Acapulco to await proper weather to go further
south in the Spring for a crossing of the Panama canal in April. But
by the time we reached Cabo San Lucas, we realized our plan would need to
change. We could not keep moving at the pace we had been moving for the past
couple months. This whole trip was supposed to be the time of our
lives but it felt like seriously hard work the whole time. When we
were at sea, we had to constantly trim the boat to adjust to the
ever-changing conditions 24-hours a day. And when we pulled back in to
shore, it was to recover from the shock to our bodies and
minds of having dealt with offshore conditions around
the clock for several days and to work on the boat to keep it in safe
running condition for the next leg. It was hard on us, hard on the boat
and, not the least, hard on Miette. So we needed to regroup. We were happy
to pay for a few days the hefty daily rates that the Marina de Cabo San
Lucas charges during the sport fishing season to rethink our next steps.
What led us to La Paz is a series of events that
we came to understand is a pretty common experience among cruisers who, like
us, had made the journey from one of many ports on the Pacific Coast
of the US and Canada to Cabo.
First, Cabo wasn't a place we could park at
for two long due to the constant and utterly
unbereable Las-Vegas-meets-Venice choas in the harbor, which further
frayed our already shot nerves.So we had to keep moving
further but if possible not too far.
We also came to find out that most
of the Baja Ha-Ha fleet was making plans to go to La Paz, some
to winter in the Sea of Cortez; others to make it a temporary homebase
for making quick jaunts up and down the Sea of Cortez before continuing on
south; and most without a definite plan. So Pacific Mystic being the
Seabird that she is decided to join the flock of other Baja Ha Ha boats and
go to La Paz and switch to a no-plan plan.
Another phenomenon of the Baja Ha Ha is that it
has made us reliant on the concept of travelling with other boats. (A good
thing!) When in Cabo, as we were discussing post Baja Ha Ha
plans, we found out that our friends Larry, Vicki and Andrew on 'Rocinante'
and our friends Duane and Chris on 'Risk Taker' had plans to stay in Cabo a
whole week after the Baja Ha Ha was over to spend time with friends
and family visiting there. Since Eric and I were not in any hurry to keep going
anymore, we decided to hook up with them for the 3-leg journey from Cabo to La
Paz, via the two anchorages in Los Frailes and Los Suenos.
Our two stops in the anchorages of Los
Frailes and Los Suenos on the way to La Paz brought on another unforeseen
consideration. They gave us a taste of what snorkeling and scuba diving
could be like in the Sea of Cortez, which Jacques Cousteau rightfully named the
aquarium of the world. It is absolutely magnificent here, above and below the
water! We came to the disconcerting realization that we had not planned enough
time to both perform the maintenance work needed to keep the boat in good
running order for the next part of the journey and also be able
to spend a minimum time exploring the abundance of riches Mexico has to
offer along the coast and on land, all the while maintening our own sanity.
And Mexico is the first country and only one we stopped at so
far between the USA and France. And our current plan only
allows for one month in the Carribean before we need to make the
Atlantic crossing to avoid the hurricane season next
Spring. Needless to say we started to feel like our original one-year
journey plan to France may need to become a two-year plan, or better yet,
to become a permanent lifestyle and if so how do we sustain it? We think we may
have found a new addiction. You think? Not us. :)
That is the state of mind in which we reached La
Paz almost 2 weeks ago. And since then, we've been docked at Marina Palmira in
La Paz, pondering the new situation while also finding our bearings
around the city. We've also been enjoying the great network of
friendships recently developped during the Baja Ha Ha rally and
the great support we provide each other while everybody is trying to figure out
"what now?". We also discovered while in the marina that our story is not
uncommon. There is a myriad of cruisers in La Paz, most American and Canadian,
some from the UK and New Zealand , who arrived here years ago with cruising
plans similar to ours and never left Mexico. The more of them settle here, the
more things become available here thus making it hard for newcomers to leave. We
can pretty much find anything here and there are substitutes for brands we
are accustomed to in the US. So with a few minor adjustments, the standards of
life are pretty good. Actually, if criteria like weather and surroundings are
included, life is pretty darn good here. I wake up every day, pop my head
out of the cockpit and just can't believe I live here temporarily.
So are we going to fall for this beautiful life
here like many sailors before us have? We don't think so. We want to keep going.
But before we go any further, we made a decision to have a hydro/wind
vane installed on the boat. For the uninitiated, it is a device that will
self-steer the boat so the helm doesn't need to be manned around the clock. It
is similar to an auto-pilot, which we have on the boat.
But the hydro/wind vane doesn't require electricity (which is a
rare commodity on sailboats) and it doubles up as a back-up
steering system if the auto-pilot fails or even more importantly as an
emergency rudder if the boat rudder is damaged. When we left
Seattle, we thought we could get away without one because of the cost of the
investment. But after 2000 miles at sea, we won't do another overnight trip
without one. Having to man the helm around the clock in all kinds of sea and
wind conditions really takes the fun out of sailing and rubs the nerves raw,
which we can't afford to do anymore. So we'll be here in La Paz until we have a
plan for getting one of these shipped to us and installed. We think
this will most likely keep us here through the holidays and even into January.
We may try to make a trip up the Sea of Cortez if the hydro/wind vane
shipping and installation schedule allows. Stay tuned for more
Following is a summary in images of our "epic"
journey since we left Cabo San Lucas :)
Cabo San Lucas
harbor: (where we stayed from 11/5 to
Here are 2 views from our boat at
the dock at Marina de Cabo San Lucas.
It is Las Vegas meets Venice. There are
boats everywhere, going in every direction, and there are party boats
playing loud music pretty much around the clock.
Cabo San Lucas to Los Frailes - Sat
We sailed or more exactly motored
the whole way from Cabo to Los Frailes along side our friends Larry, Vicki,
Andrew and Bridget on 'Rocinante' and Duane and Chris on 'Risk Taker'. We
beating into the wind (10-15
knots) with combined swells and
wind waves of 4-5 feet. The sails are of no use in these conditions. Our
average speed above ground was between 4.5 and
5 most of the day. This type
of Northern system is pretty
typical at this time of the year going up the Sea of
'Exit Strategy' pushing some serious water with their big
engine and blowing right by us.
'Risk Taker' demonstrating the superior sailing
advantage of a Catalina 38' in light winds.
Arriving at Los
Frailes just before sun down
Bahia de Cabo Los
Frailes: 11/14 - 11/17
Cabo los Frailes is the first good anchorage inside the Baja
peninsula side of the Sea of Cortez. The bay has little permanent
activity, only the fishing camp and some recent
unfinished development. Most of the activity in the
bay is from the transient sailors like us. Here you see our boat and
a couple others anchored off the beach. Our dinghy is in
the foreground. We went snorkeling along the rocky point you can see on
the picture. There were corals and the most beautiful fish we've ever
seen in their real habitat.
We've arrived in paradise!
Eric, demonstrating signs of
post Baja Ha Ha stress syndrome...
...and Charlotte of 'Willful
Simplicity' serving the magic cure for it at sun down.
Watch the magic happen...
Valerie of 'Pacific Mystic', Bridget of 'Rocinante', Duane of 'Risk Taker',
Charlotte of 'Willful Simplicity', Dave of 'Exit
Right photo: different view of the same
people give or take a few
Left photo: Vicki
and Bridget of 'Rocinante', Steve of 'Willful Simplicity', Eric of 'Pacific
Mystic', Andrew of 'Rocinante', Charlotte of 'Willful Simplicity' and Larry of
Right photo: same people with a better view
Watching 'Rocinante' leave for
Los Suenos from our anchorage in Los Frailes. They left a day before we
were rumors that the crew on Pacific Mystic had too much
magic potion the night
before and couldn't make the departure...
See you manana in Los Suenos,
Los Frailes to Ensenada de los Suenos:
Departing Los Frailes at
The magic potion from a couple nights
before worked. Eric se siente muy fuerte ahora!
In the meantime, down below... What's this early
departure crap? I'm not getting up for this.
Los Suenos: 11/18 - 11/20
Ensenada de los Suenos
is the second good anchorage after Los Frailes inside the Baja
peninsula side of the Sea of Cortez. This bay is only approximately
50 miles from La Paz and unlike Los Frailes has some pretty decent roads to
and from La Paz. So it is more developed than Los Frailes. On shore there
is a beautiful resort called Gran Suenos. You can find more info at their Web
site here if interested:
Because we were there just after the
end of the hurricane season and just before the high season starts, none of
the private suites were rented yet. So the only activity on shore was as a
result of the presence of the Baja Ha Ha cruisers anchored in the bay. We
and our Baja Ha Ha fellows had the whole staff in the restaurants and the
hotel to ourselves. It was like having our own property and own staff all day
long for a mere 25 bucks per person spent on food and drinks. Needless to say
we did enjoy our time there!
'Pacific Mystic' at anchor in the Ensenada de los
Suenos with view of the Gran Suenos resort in the
View of the Gran Suenos resort from our dinghy as
we are tending to shore.
Having a margarita at the Gran Suenos restaurant
La Paz: 11/21 - to
This is the view from
the coffee shop we hang out at.
And now the shot from inside the coffee
...with Elizabeth and Rod of
And finally, random shots from the
daily life onboard Pacific Mystic