Isla Coronado

After leaving Puerto Escondito we briefly anchored in front of the nearby town of Loreto to reprovision. At two hours round trip, we were impressively quick. We also bought way too much food and had too many heavy bags to carry back to the boat. Scott filled his comically large backpack full of beer and beans and was buckling under its weight (I should have taken a picture!). It was at that moment that we were offered a ride and, for the first time in either of our lives, we accepted a ride from strangers (sorry mom and dad!). A huge thank you to Gary and Mel, fellow boaters, who not only drove us back to the dinghy dock, but drove all the way to the end of the pier in their 4×4 so that we wouldn’t have to lug our bags any further in the heat! Then, while we were loading up our dinghy, a fisherman offered us two bags of ice! I cannot stress how unbelievably hot it was that day and how thankful we were. We were beyond ecstatic and once we got back to the boat, quickly filled our cooler. Ahh the joys of ice cold drinks!

By the time we arrived in Isla Coronado, we were wiped by the heat and our earlier errands and were greeted with 20 knots plus of wind. For a while, we and another boat were the only two there but as the afternoon went on, we were joined by other boats, all of which we were quite familiar with if only because we heard them on Amigo Net every day.

Starfish

The bee struggle here in Isla Coronado is real, folks. We heard on the net that people were inundated with bees in their cockpits, but thought it was an exaggeration. Nope. We woke up the next morning and they were all over the deck and the cockpit being complete menaces. We tried to tough it out, sitting outside and shooing them away, but they were very persistent in their search for fresh water and would not leave us alone. When we launched the dinghy, they eventually left us alone until we reached the snorkel spot. Then we got swarmed again. I leaned over the side of the dinghy to drop our anchor and made the mistake of sitting back down without looking and sat right on a bee. My first bee sting ever and it’s right on my butt. Sigh. That hurt!

While that was zero fun, nighttime brought us whale sightings, bioluminescence stirred up by fish, and a night sky filled with stars. Isla Coronado is a very beautiful place.

As much as we like this beautiful place, the bees were completely harshing our mellow. Time to head out and over to Bahía Concepción and Geary’s Fourth of July BBQ!

Bahia Candeleros and Puerto Escondido

Bahia Candeleros is a beautiful bay dominated by a huge resort, Villa del Palmar. Our friends on SV Marilon joined us in the bay and we all fully enjoyed the outdoor dining area with its cold beverages and tasty food. I also enjoyed a massage and a facial at the spa, which possibly has one of the best wet areas I’ve ever been in. Candeleros, with its clear waters, also has some good snorkeling which Scott and I enjoyed. The bay was alive with all sorts of fish, and one in particular, a trumpet fish, hung out around our boat all the time. At night, we’d come outside into the cockpit and see dozens of them around our stern, but only the one fish during the day.

It’s starting to get really hot and humid now. It makes us want to do nothing but lay around the boat in the shade. Little is getting done. There’s a strong breeze blowing through here now and then, but sometimes it comes from the wrong direction and blows hot, like a hair dryer. Unpleasant.

We said our goodbyes to SV Marilon, who were done for the season, and headed off to Puerto Escondito where we were able to fill up our fuel tanks. Puerto Escondito, which means hidden port, lives up to its name. It was pretty cool to be in what seemed to be a secret hiding spot. It was easy to look around and imagine what it would have been like to stumble upon this cove 200 years ago. It must have been a treasured spot for the indigenous peoples.

While here in Puerto Escondito we got to meet up with other cruisers who are stationed here for the summer (it’s considered a hurricane hole). They were incredibly welcoming. We also got to meet Jake, the net controller for the Amigo Net (a daily radio net where cruisers let others know where they are and share info on weather and such) and I was happy to volunteer to be a net controller. Really excited to be a part of the cruising community in this way!

Next stop, Isla Coronado!

Agua Verde

We left San Evaristo towards Agua Verde, motoring because there’s so little wind. After we dropped the anchor, backed down, and attached our snubbers, I heard what sounded like a sarcastic “hello”. I turned around to see a man standing on the bow of his catamaran about 450 feet away, with arms akimbo, also known as “bitch wings” within the cruising community. Did he think we were too close? Puzzled, I walked back to the cockpit and motioned to Scott, who turned and waved at the man who then promptly went inside his cabin. We checked on radar our distance from his boat. As the catamaran was 450 feet away and not downwind of us nor would be, we weren’t sure what was up, but it did sour our evening a bit as we’ve never been “welcomed” in this way.

Juniper in Agua Verde, notably at least 450 feet from any other boats.

Juniper in Agua Verde, notably at least 450 feet from any other boat.

The next day we explored a bit and visited the little tienda to stock up on some food, beer, and snacks. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any fresh goat cheese, something that Agua Verde is known for, but we did snag a dozen cajeta-filled empanadas!

One of our best experiences here was one where we stupidly left all of our cameras back on the boat. We took the dinghy to the small south cove with intentions to snorkel. But when we got there, we paused and watched as cows with their babies walked along the beach, with the calves cautiously walking into the water and then running back out. Then, a pack of mobula rays swam by the dinghy, not once but several times, just around and under the boat. They filled the little cove and swam all around. It was beyond cool to see.

Viviane enjoying Agua Verde

Viviane enjoying Agua Verde

Next stop, Bahia Candeleros!

San Evaristo

San Evaristo is a quiet little fishing village. Very calm and beautiful. As it’s late in the season, we were one of three sailboats in the bay, one of which were our friends Michael and Tiki on S/V Marilon, who we met in Isla San Francisco.

Juniper at anchor in San Evaristo

Juniper at anchor in San Evaristo

There’s a small restaurant on shore, Lupe Sierra’s and Maggie Mae, that caters to cruisers and it’s where we met the folks from S/V Willful Simplicity who actually live full time in San Evaristo. They love the community of people and decided to make a home here. We enjoyed some very cold beer and freshly prepared food by Lupe and painted a seashell to add to the collection that makes up the cruiser’s monument around the restaurant.

Lupe from Lupe Sierra's and Maggie Mae.

Lupe from Lupe Sierra’s and Maggie Mae.

Garfield, the house cat at Lupe Sierra's and Maggie Mae.

Garfield, the house cat at Lupe Sierra’s and Maggie Mae. Most cat’s are setting a trap when they let you pet their bellies, but not Garfield. He loved it.

The boat shell we left at Lupe's.

The boat shell we left at Lupe’s.

The vibe here in San Evaristo is peaceful and we enjoyed just hanging out either at the restaurant or in the cockpit. Despite how hot the days got, the breezes were very cooling. We did do some hiking, accompanied by two local dogs who were eager to turn us into a pack, but the waters were too cold for us to enjoy any swimming.

Morning mist

Morning mist

The reef around the north point of San Evaristo

The reef around the north point of San Evaristo

The salt ponds at San Evaristo

The salt ponds at San Evaristo

While we could stay here in San Evaristo for a lot longer, it’s time to get moving north. Next stop, Agua Verde.

Isla San Francisco

Isla San Francisco is an island known for “The Hook,” a gorgeous crescent shaped bay with crystal blue waters and burnt red rocky cliffs. We took one look at the swell heading into that gorgeous crescent shaped bay and noped out to the east side, a smaller, less picturesque anchorage, but one that would afford us protection from the wind and waves.

Juniper on the hook at Isla San Francisco.

Juniper on the hook at Isla San Francisco.

And boy, did it! The waters were so calm that we slept like babies. The last time we slept in waters this still was back in a marina. And because it’s so calm and quiet we got a lot of work done! I polished up the chrome on the windlass and the bowsprit and did a whole bunch of laundry. We made a minor repair to our mainsail, raised our staysail and furled it again, and played with our spinnaker for the first time. With no wind at all coming into the anchorage, raising sails was a piece of cake.

We’re not the only boat here. Michael from S/V Marilon stopped by earlier in the morning before our errands to say hello and later stopped by with freshly grilled fish! We were so grateful because despite having all kinds of fishing gear, we’ve yet had the courage to put out a line as we’re hesitant to kill our little fishy friends.

The beautiful beach at Isla San Francisco.

The beautiful beach at Isla San Francisco.

Nautilus we found on the beach.

Nautilus we found on the beach.

The east side is only a half mile hike away from the Hook. We explored the salt flats that separate east from west and walked the beach. I found a beautiful nautilus and some other nice shells for my collection. It was such a nice day! We are enjoying this lovely place and how calm it is. After all of our rolly anchorages, we are soaking the calmness into our souls.

Ensenada Grande

We left Bonanza in search of a calmer anchorage with protection from the southern winds. Ensenada Grande, on the northwest side of Isla Partida, seemed like an excellent choice. This place is beautiful. Desert-like, with reddish rocks surrounding the anchorage, it feels like you’re in the grand canyon, but with water. We arrived to find calm waters and no one around. Ahhh!

Sailing the east side of Espiritu Santo.

Sailing the east side of Espiritu Santo.

Approaching Los Islotes

Approaching Los Islotes

Los Islotes

Los Islotes

We wake up the next morning and while it’s windy and a bit rolly, it’s nowhere near as bad as Bonanza. It’s been a long time since Scott and I have stepped off the boat and we’re eager to do so. Unfortunately, Scott tweaked his back and can’t get off the boat, so I inflate the SUP and check out the place. It’s really neat, with the rock walls meeting the waters, providing wonderful snorkeling.

At first, we were the only boat here. By the time we went to bed we were joined by a small powerboat. By the afternoon, a few tour boats pulled in and a handful of charters dropped the hook and the vibe changed. People were waterskiing and filling the waters. By nightfall, twelve boats in all were anchored and the “oontz oontz” began as the powerboats flicked on their pink and blue underwater lights and partied. It’s like a mini Cabo.

We made pizza on the grill (Oaxacan cheese is a good substitute for mozzarella), popped open a bottle of Round Pond Prop Red (we’re down to our last three bottles of really good wine), and enjoyed a night in the cockpit, turning our music up to drown out all the other tunes pulsing into the night. Yes, let’s blast some Regina Specktor and Imogene Heap. That will confuse everyone!

I could have stayed an extra day or two here, despite the crowds and the nighttime coromuel because the waters are warm and clear, and clearly there was good snorkeling here, but Scott was completely over it. So off we go in search of a quiet night.

Playa Bonanza

Bonanza is a lovely anchorage with a two mile long beach on the southeast side of Isla Espiritu Santo. What’s special about this beach is it’s loaded with shells and it makes for wonderful pickings. Scott and I spent some time walking and collecting. It’s also great for snorkeling as there’s a few reefs here and scattered coral in the clear waters of the anchorage.

The beach at Playa Bonanza.

The beach at Playa Bonanza.

Just after setting down our anchor at Playa Bonanza.

Mobula Rays abound here as well. So much so that the dark patches in the middle of the bay that we thought signs of deeper water were actually schools of Mobula Rays! These dark patches would move as a whole, sometimes part, and occasionally would pass around the stern. While the water lacked more than a few feet of visibility, it didn’t prevent me from slowly lowering the GoPro with hopes of catching them on video. We might upload something once we find some decent bandwidth.

The rays are most active at night and they start jumping out of the water around sunset. It’s really cute when they gather right below the surface, their fins sticking out of the water in such a way that it looks like ears. Then one will break and start jumping and the others sometimes follow. It’s unknown why they jump. Some researchers theorize it’s to rid themselves of parasites while others think it might be for fun. They are intelligent fish, so we’re leaning towards the latter.

Because Espiritu Santo is uninhabited, the night sky is quite vivid. The milky way is clearly visible, and there’s phosphoresce in the water. Agitate the water, and they flicker and glow, which Scott couldn’t get enough of.

We actually came to Bonanza twice. First, only for two days back in May. In May, we met the awesome folks on S/V Coastal Drifter (Debra, Phil, and Ethan) and this time we swung by S/V Mambo (Peg and Tony), although we didn’t get to spend time hanging out with Mambo as planned. On our second day here, we awoke to a rocky boat and then all hell broke loose as winds picked up to well over 20 knots. We poked our heads outside to see S/V Mambo leaving the anchorage and the other boat that had anchored overnight gone as well.

The setting sun lights up the mountains behind SV Endeavor.

Peg from Mambo radioed us, urging us to leave and follow them. There was just one problem. The night before, we had rigged up our two awnings and had no way of getting them down with winds blowing like they were. Unlike most of the awnings one sees out there that are attached to the boat via a halyard, tarp-like, these have carbon fiber poles running through them that attach to the lifelines of our boat so that they are freestanding. They’re actually awesome because you can walk under them and it’s like an additional shaded living area, but they take time to put up and down, and unlike the awnings that are held up by a halyard, it’s not so easy to just “drop and run” like we wanted to.

So there we were. Everyone else had abandoned the anchorage and we were standing around wondering what we should do while the carbon fiber poles within the awnings banged against our shrouds and dodger, making an awful, stressful noise. We were not unsafe in this anchorage, just uncomfortable, and these awnings removed our ability to choose to leave if we wanted to.

The kicker? It was also our one year wedding anniversary!

So what did we do? We made the best of it. I baked cookies, we popped open a bottle of champagne, tied up the awnings the best we could to minimize noise and banging, and waited it out. After a few hours we were able to take down the awnings before the winds picked up again (the very strong awnings which can withstand 30 knots winds had a few tears). We actually ended up having constant 20+ knots of wind for three additional days. The upside is that by wind generator alone we got our battery charged to 100%!

We are so over the coromuels and strong winds in this part of Baja. Looking forward to moving north and away from La Paz and the strong summer winds found in these parts. Onward!