On the way to La Paz, we came together with sailors we had met at the Cabrales boatyard and explored Isla Coronado. But time was pressing, because we had a surprise planned in La Paz.
After the incident with the fishing net, we spent the night at anchor in Isla Coronado. SV Alegría and SV Cavu even moved to this anchorage, so we had enough time for the get together. Shortly after waking up, we noticed a dinghy approaching and docking at Sea Note. Through the open window we heard “Hey, heeeeeey, are you awake?” It was Alegría Mike, coming to pick us up for a little dinghy spin. The aim was to make the most of the day, as we were only there for a short time. So, we jumped out of bed and invited him in for a coffee first. From the cockpit we saw Cavu Dave making his way to us as well.
Our second morning at anchor
After so many months in the boatyard, it was almost surreal to wake up in an anchorage with Caribbean flair. Clear water, coloured in various shades of blue and green, with a white beach, behind the barren hills of Baja California. The boat rocked gently in the wind and we enjoyed our coffee at the sight. Snorting and slapping sounds prompted everyone to turn towards the beach: A small group of dolphins seemed to be having breakfast.
Baja California is known for its diverse underwater life and is also called the “aquarium of the world”. Over 900 different species of fish and more than 85% of the Pacific and 35% of the world’s marine mammals live here. Whales, dolphins, sharks, sea lions, also rays, sea turtles, tuna – the list is long.
Like a zoo
We also saw various sea creatures on our exploration tour around the western headland of Isla Coronado. Stingrays took flight as we chugged over a shoal in our dinghies – Dave went with Mike and I went with Cavu Dave. Two small sharks swam by. On land, pelicans, seagulls and cormorants swarmed. The beautiful ride was only disturbed by the beastly smell of the bird colony when the wind blew from the wrong direction.
Along the beach
The water was crystal clear when we reached the beach. We could see small, white fish that dug into the sand when threatened. And if you got too close to their hiding place, they would swim away and burrow back in three feet away. Sometimes you could only see their eyes sticking out of the sand.
In the bay itself, about 10 boats were anchored. Besides Cavu and Alegría, there were two other boats from the Cabrales crew. Of course, we wanted to hear from all of them how they had fared since leaving the boatyard. The first stop we made was at the catamaran Skookum V. Stu was patching a stand-up paddle board with his two little daughters. We joined them with a beer and enjoyed the sun and chatted. We also visited Cynthia and Rick from SV Catspaw who were out for a little trip. They organised a happy hour on the beach that evening too, which we unfortunately had to skip. Because then we would be on our way again towards La Paz. Yes, we know, life is hard!
We would have liked to stay longer to explore the bay and enjoy being with the other cruisers. But we were a bit pressed for time because we wanted to get to La Paz as soon as possible. My mother was just visiting my sister. And we wanted to surprise her.
The last 140 nautical miles (about 250 km) to La Paz took us past spectacular rock formations, some of which rose steeply and jaggedly up the coast. The rock was interspersed with layers in various shades of brown and white. Pelicans circled in flocks above the water, schools of dolphins passed by and fish shoals swirled the water. You could sit in the cockpit for hours and never get bored.
The shoal lurks
25 hours after leaving Isla Coronado, we dropped anchor right next to Anila. The trip went smoothly, except that we almost ran aground leaving the entrance channel to La Paz. We had missed the turnoff to the anchorage and headed straight for the sandbar that runs through the middle of the Canal de La Paz. As the depth sounder showed less and less water under the keel, Dave immediately went forward and steered Ray back into deeper water. Thanks to his quick reaction, the mishap was averted. We then studied the signage carefully and will not make this mistake again in the future.
The 500 nautical miles (approx. 900 km) from Puerto Peñasco to La Paz took us almost exactly 8 days – unfortunately constantly under engine. We did 5 night sails with Sea Note, anchored 3 times and stayed once in a marina. A big thank you goes out to Ray, who made this very educational trip possible for us. It was great to listen to his stories and benefit from his experiences.
The Anila crew was still ashore when we arrived. But I was in touch with my sister Carmen via WhatsApp and we agreed that on the way back they would complain that we had anchored too close. And so, they would knock on Sea Note and ask for the boat to be moved a little.
We saw the yellow Anila dinghy from a distance and hid below deck. Anila and mum knocked, we went on deck. My mother almost fell out of the dinghy backwards in shock. She hadn’t expected to meet us at all! She only knew that we were moving another boat somewhere with someone, before eventually moving onto Anila. But Carmen skilfully avoided all questions about when, where and how.
We celebrated the reunion in the cockpit of the Sea Note. The next day we started with a pancake breakfast on Anila. After that, I was eager to go ashore. For one thing, I’d heard how cool La Paz is, and for another, I felt the need to stretch my legs after a few days on the boat. So, we grabbed both dinghies of Anila and Sea Note in the late afternoon and took them ashore. We first strolled along the Malecon and then had a snack and beers at the “Casa Cultural El Huevo“. I declined the highly praised Mezcal Jamaica drink there and stuck to beer.
For dinner, we had an appointment with Ben and Muranda from SV Fickle at the popular seafood restaurant “Mariscos El Toro Güero“. We treated ourselves to the full programme with grilled squid, ceviche cocktail and mashed potatoes with prawns. It wasn’t cheap, but still worth the price.
La Paz is alive
The anchorage off La Paz is really cool. Because dolphins swim by several times a day. The snorting sound they make when they surface makes us jump at the windows and scream “Dolphiiiiiiins” every time. But because of the tidal currents and the shifting winds, this anchorage is also dreaded. The boats dance the famous “La Paz Waltz”; each more or less according to its own rhythm. This can sometimes lead to an anchor coming loose or the boats getting a little (too) close for comfort (especially if they have already anchored too close together).
The 2 days with Mum flew by. And then it was time to say goodbye again. For Dave and me indefinitely, because an initially planned summer holiday back to Switzerland is on shaky ground due to quarantine regulations. Two weeks of quarantine with a 3-4 week stay are out of proportion. Surprisingly, Mexico was not on Switzerland’s quarantine list for the longest time, but unfortunately that changed at the beginning of May. And, we are in vaccine limbo here. In Mexico, we are much too young to be vaccinated. In the United States, where there are many vaccinations and vaccination appointments available for everyone, there is still the travel ban. And in Switzerland, we would only be released from quarantine with a vaccination. Unpredictability has us firmly in its grip.
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