Blog Post 30 - Puerto Escondido to Bahia Concepcion

Sun 13 Mar 2016 01:21

Blog Post 30 – Puerto Escondido to Bahia Concepcion


26:45.77N – 111:53.06W


The weather finally cleared and we were able to move on from Puerto Escondido. It may be other cruisers favorite spot but it was not ours. We loved Loreto and the surrounding area but we were not overjoyed by Puerto Escondido. We had some friends from La Paz, Tanya and Scott from Kialoa that were headed our way. We had planned to rendezvous on Isla Coronado. They were a day behind us so we went out to Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen for an overnight stay. Isla Carmen is one of the largest islands in the Sea of Cortez. It is just 9 miles west of Loreto so it was a short sail. Isla Carmen has some very unusual endemic species, one is a rattle less rattle snake and another is a particularly fierce red ant. The anchorage at Ballandra Cove is almost completely protected from all sides so it was very smooth and calm in the bay. As soon as we were settled Nico and I were ready to explore. Each one of the islands in the Sea of Cortez is just a little bit different. Due to its size Isla Carmen provides a wide array of flora and fauna. There is an effort to restore and repopulate the big horn sheep in Baja and there is a large project on Isla Carmen to raise them. Then they are settled on to other islands and the Baja Peninsula. Isla Carmen is roughly the size of Catalina Island in Southern California. It is 20 miles long and 10 miles wide. Nico set up the dingy and motored us to shore. He considers the dinghy his ship and insists on driving it at all times. He is the captain of that small ship. Your dinghy is like your car when cruising so it is a very important piece of equipment. Determining where to land the dingy on shore takes some skill. Do it wrong or misjudge the swells and/or the bottom depth and at the very least you get soaked and at the worst you dump the dinghy and everything in it into the water. At the very worst the dinghy gets flipped by a wave and lands on you. Thankfully that has never happened yet but you still need to be careful. Nico is a pro. Jirig has taught him well.  We always carry our stuff (phones, cameras, water, GPS, VHF radio etc.) in water proof ditch bags for just this contingency. Nico made a perfect landing and we hauled the dinghy ashore. We have wheels on our dinghy so it can be dragged up the beach. With an outboard motor attached to it weighs close to 500 lbs. Depending on the terrain of the beach and waves you may want to anchor the dinghy in shallow water, you may drag it ashore above the high tide line or if you plan on spending a long time ashore you would want to tie it off to a rock or a tree as the tide changes and you could lose the dinghy if you don’t.. .





The shore around the bay was mostly salt marsh. Your feet sank into the muck as you walked. Nico and I just wanted to check out the island and as there was no trail we made our own. We saw all kinds of shrubs and trees that we had not seen before. We wandered around picking up shells, overturning rocks and following sheep hoof prints. We found the fierce ants we were looking for and stood to watch them for a while. We never did find the rattle less rattle snake, not that we really wanted to find it anyway.   Our hike ended when we came upon a huge pile of volcanic rock. We did not feel like picking our way through it so we headed back towards the beach.  As the sun started to set the bugs came out. You could hear them buzzing around. We did not wait to find out what they were; we hauled ass back to the boat. Nico and I are both bug whimps and will avoid them, especially the biting and stinging ones, at all costs. We made it back to the dinghy without being bitten and got the hell out of there.  We were the only boat in the bay that evening. It was perfectly quiet and peaceful there was an amazing Baja sunset and we were left with the stars that filled the sky like a blanket overhead.



The next morning we got up early so we could sail to Isla Coronado and rendezvous with our friends on Kialoa. Scott and Tanya were from a small island in the Salish Sea near Vancouver and this was their 2nd season sailing in Mexico. We had spent New Year’s Eve with them in La Paz and really liked them. They were a very cool and down to earth couple.  The plan was to meet them at Isla Coronado for lunch. We were originally going to avoid Isla Coronado as that is the where all the panga’s took land tourists from Loreto for day trips to snorkel, swim and hike. Tanya and Scott said the island was a must see so we set a GPS waypoint to rendezvous in the bay. We got there before them and boy was it spectacular. There is a dormant volcanic cone rising almost 1000 feet that make the island easily recognizable. The small island is surrounded by beautiful beaches and turquoise waters like no others we had seen so far in the Sea of Cortez. The bay was very shallow, barely 10 feet and you could see everything under the water. There were rays, fish of all kinds, crabs, eels and the occasional dolphin or two. We took the dinghy to a tiny little cove on the side of the island to explore while we waited for them. There were migrating birds everywhere.




Tanya and Scott arrived and we went swimming and then invited them to our boat for lunch. Tanya is a hiker/explorer like I am and she wanted to show me a great hike up to the volcano that actually had a marked trail. This island must get more water than others we had seen because there were lots of succulents and small trees along the path. We picked up another path that lead to the backside of the island on the windward side. I wish I knew more about beaches, tides and currents and why some beaches have soft silky sand and others have rocks and why some are literally buried in sea shells and others have none. The beach on the back side of Isla Coronado was definitely a shell beach. Shells have been being washed up on this shore for eons. There was a sort of shell cement shelf lining the beach. We saw a dead shark, numerous puffer fish and all kids of sea debris.  It was pretty cool. It was getting dark so we headed back to the other side of the island to meet the guys for a few beers.



We were supposed to leave by 3 to make it to the mainland but since we stayed to hang with Tanya and Scott we were going to stay the night and leave at 4AM for the long 75 mile run to Bahia Concepcion. We said our goodbyes on the beach and we were all getting in our prospective dinghy’s, with our feet already in the water. Scott casually said “is that a log?” and we all turned to look. Then the log started to move. It was an over 3ft eel! I have no problem looking at sea creatures from the safety of our boat or dinghy but I do not want them swimming around my feet! It was very aggressive too. It started to charge us. The girls immediately fled the water and the guys took out their underwater cameras to film the beast. I will never step into the water again without looking first.


Jirig and I got up in the dark and headed for Bahia Concepcion. It was a perfect Sea of Cortez morning. It was not too hot yet and there was a nice breeze. Jirig said why don’t we put out a line and see what we can catch? He got lazy and put on the first lure he found in the tackle box. It was huge. The bigger the lure the bigger the catch. That lure was not in the water for 5 minutes when we heard it whiz like an SOB. Jirig grabbed the pole and tried to secure the catch. We immediately could tell it was a huge fish. He yelled for me to go wake up Nico to help him haul it in. I do not do fishing of any sort. It grosses me out and I can’t stand to see such a beautiful thing destroyed. As Jirig braced himself on the deck and Nico assisted him the fish finally came to the surface. It was a swordfish! Complete with the sword nose and everything. It was a small one, by swordfish standards, probably about 3-4 feet long and 80-100lbs. This fish was fighting for its life. It sailed out of the water and then slammed down and dove deep. Jirig could hardly hold on to the rod. The line was pulled as taut as it could be. This went on for a good 20 min. The fish would fly out of the water and then dive deep with a splash. Finally the fishing line snapped. The fish had won. It had fought the good fight, fought for its life and won. It was exhilarating. I love swordfish for eating but the thought of hauling that fish on our deck, killing it and cutting it up to eat it was beyond what I could fathom. We are all kind of relieved that the fish got away. 


The wind was starting to pick up and the swells were increasing and coming from the north. Again bad weather was coming in the form of Northers and we needed to get to a safe anchorage. Next stop was Coyote Cove in Bahia Concepcion.