Los Frailes – a Touch of the South Seas

A sandy beach as far as the eye can see, crystal clear waters and Milagros all alone at anchor in the bay – in Bahia Los Frailes, sailing dreams come true. Jet skis, margaritas and whirlpools – in Cabo San Lucas tourist dreams come true. After we actually wanted to sail directly from Mag Bay to La Paz, we make unplanned stops again. At least, this time no technical problems led to the decisions.

Dave and Carmen in Los Frailes

Further south accompanied by dolphins

Our trip to La Paz started spectacularly. We crossed the Mag Bay passage without any problems and were promptly received by a large school of dolphins that crossed the current from port (left) to starboard (right) in front of Milagros. Four or five of the animals followed Milagros on the bow for a few minutes before heading back to their group. So, the curse of Mag Bay was indeed broken.

La Paz here we come!

Our route would take us on a southerly course towards the Cape of the Peninsula Baja California during two and a half days. From there we would continue our way along the cape towards La Paz. After a few hours under engine we were able to set sail. We were constantly traveling at 5 to 6 knots and the waves were also extremely pleasant. Dream conditions again. However, based on the predictions, we expected the wind to subside. This was actually the case the next morning and so motoring and sailing phases alternated.

Cabo Sea of Lights

We were still a little insecure because of our empty tank experience. Our route passed Cabo San Lucas after almost 160 nautical miles. We decided to make an unscheduled stop there to refuel. Better safe than sorry. During my night watch, we arrived in Cabo at midnight. It was fascinating to see how the light cone of the city got bigger and bigger behind the elevations of the peninsula and finally flowed into a sea of lights when we turned into the bay at the southwest corner of the peninsula. I was proud. We had left the entire Pacific coast of the peninsula behind us and were now well on the way to finally entering Baja California.

Anchoring with superyachts

Cabo San Lucas is a tourist mecca for the well-situated. Be it the world’s most valuable fishing tournaments, day trips with lots of drinks on charter yachts to overcrowded small beaches or parasailing – Cabo has it all. We anchored between sexy superlative motor yachts in front of more or less unsightly hotel complexes. The next morning, we went to the diesel dock as early as possible so that we could get out of there. When our empty starboard tank only held 136 litres, we were amazed. We had expected a little over 200 litres of tank capacity. What was going on?

Let’s get out of here quickly!

We still had enough time to think about that. We wanted to leave as soon as possible. As we refueled, more and more boats and jet skis poured out of the Cabo San Lucas marina. That wasn’t for us. At a safe distance from shore and Cabo we devoted ourselves to our fuel problem. The ad for Milagros said tank capacity was 117 gallons. That would be a little over 440 liters and thus more than 200 liters per tank. So how could the tank be full at 136 liters? After all, it was now freshly filled. Based on the engine hours, we were able to calculate that our engine does not consume too much diesel. Good news! But we just couldn’t find out what our tank capacity is. It was a mystery.

The San Lorenzo Channel

When traveling from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz by boat, you inevitably pass the “San Lorenzo Channel” or “Canal de San Lorenzo”. It is, so to speak, the gateway to La Paz and separates the island “Espiritu Santo” from the peninsula. It is only safely passable in its centre, as the navigable zone is limited by reefs and shallows. A strong current can also develop in the canal. Since we were no longer sure on the way from Cabo whether we would be able to cross the canal in daylight, we decided to make another stopover. This just for the salvation of the soul, so that the next day we were one hundred percent sure that we could safely pass the San Lorenzo Channel in daylight. Our choice fell on the “Bahia Los Frailes”, a popular anchorage for ships that, like us, are on their way to La Paz.

Landfall at Bahia Los Frailes

In the meantime, the wind had completely died down, and so after nine and a half hours with the engine on at 9 p.m. (again in the pitch-dark night, of course) we arrived in the anchor bay. On the way towards the anchorage we met all sorts of fishing pangas that were poorly lit. Entering Los Frailes Bay was easy and problem-free. Same game as always – as soon as we were sure that the anchor was firmly in place in the sandy bottom, we fell into bed.

The paradise of Los Frailes

The next morning, we were amazed. We had seen the photos in our sailing guides, but the Bahia Los Frailes was even more beautiful in real life. We were anchored all alone in the northern part of the bay directly at the foot of the 300m high “Cerro Los Frailes”, from where the stony shore protruded into the bay. A beautiful sandy beach stretches as far as the eye can see. Fish had already gathered under Milagros to see what to look for food on the hull or seek protection. The water was of most beautiful colour.

Let’s go to the beach!

It quickly became clear that a dinghy ride was coming up. We had to take a closer look at the beach. After we landed our dinghy (most elegantly of course) in the surf, we explored the beach all day. For example, we inspected the fenced-in clutches of sea turtles. We also got into conversation with a few other beachgoers. It was exciting to hear the stories that led people to Bahia Los Frailes. A young Brazilian lady thought we were marine biologists because we sat down for a while sipping beer in the shade next to the sea turtle nests. Back at Milagros, Iñaki and I did a few free dives to our anchor, which was buried in the sand about 10 meters away. Since we were already in the water, we were able to inspect the underwater part of the underwater hull too.

From Los Frailes to La Paz

As difficult as it was for us, it was time to say goodbye to Los Frailes. After all, we wanted to arrive in La Paz. We were facing a sail of 26 hours. From Los Frailes, the San Lorenzo Channel leads through the “Bahia de La Paz” to the “Canal de La Paz”, which directs ship traffic to and from the city through sandy shallows. It would have been possible to anchor right outside the city too. The current in the canal causes the ships to “dance” at anchor. This dance is called “La Paz Waltz”. We decided not to join in the dance and to settle down in the Marina de La Paz. Finally, WiFi again, real showers and washing machines for our salty and smelly clothes.

Dave at the helm of Milagros

Pilotage plans for the journey

Since getting there was a little more complicated, Carmen and I had prepared two “pilotage plans” with the help of Iñaki while we were in Los Frailes. For the pilotage one deals in detail with the arrival at the destination port, if the way leads through more complicated areas or shows other difficulties. In the case of the Canal de La Paz, it was important that we had a clear overview of how we could manoeuvre in the narrow channel between the buoys without getting stuck in the shallows. Carmen took care of the first, more difficult half of the canal de La Paz. I was responsible for the second half and the entrance to the marina. This is how two small masterpieces were created.

The Marina de La Paz

Navigating through the canal to the marina was straightforward, as it was clearly marked on the left and right with green and red buoys. The whole exercise was straight forward and so we soon tied the lines in the harbor. The Marina de La Paz is really nice, the facilities are clean and well-kept. Carmen and I immediately stormed the launderette on the premises and filled a mere five washing machines with linen and bedding. Then we took off to go look around the docks with Iñaki and inspected all the other vessels that had docked in the Marina de La Paz.

Go Shawty, it’s your birthday

The party was on on 8th November: It was Carmen’s birthday. During their crossing with Anila to Guaymas, she and Iñaki met Hector and Claudia and their families. They were in La Paz at the same time as us, and Carmen had her 30th birthday. That had to be celebrated. So, we filled our bellies with seafood at “Mariscos Bismarkcito”. I was particularly fond of the “Almejas Chocolatas”. Its be possible to collect these yourself in the sandy seabed of Baja California. We absolutely have to try that out when the time comes and both boats are in the water together. So, a great evening in La Paz took its course. Beers were flowing and everyone chatted and laughed.

A bit of provisioning

We spent the next days with a lot of rest, good food and a bit of provisioning. For example, our water supplies had to be replenished. Our consumption was a little higher than expected and we hadn’t stocked up in Cabo and Los Frailes. We do not drink the water from our water tanks, as these are filled directly from the tap in the marinas. You’ll never know what quality you get. It is only used to wash dishes. So, we have to get the drinking water in large plastic bottles and stow them on the ship. There we fill it into a large 20-liter canister with a pumping device. This time an Uber driver was hired and we filled up his car with water, which he then took to the marina together with me.

Planning the onward journey

It was also time to plan our next journey. Of course, Iñaki didn’t say a word when he noticed that Carmen and me were postponing the planning further and further. We fell into his trap and finally struggled through passage planning late in the evening, while Iñaki laughed at us. Now our journey would take us back north in the opposite direction. The first stop in Baja California would be Santa Rosalia, a sleepy little town and former stronghold of copper mining.

We would soon see if Santa Rosalia would be as awesome as Los Frailes.

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4 Comments

Büeler Urs 'ürselpaps'

Hallo zämä
….wenn Ihr so gut segeln könnt wie spannene Texte schreiben…
…mit so viel Herzblut und Feuer…na dann sollte auch ich einmal bei euch reinschauen!!
Bravo! Herzlichst
ürselpaps

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