Back in La Paz that is, Pati and I sailed all the way down the Sea of Cortez together. On our self-renovated 44-foot sailboat. Crazy isn’t it? Who would have thought after all the incidents during the refit and the problems with Burrito (our engine)? But we had already compiled a new list of minor repairs and improvements. Most importantly, we wanted to sew a sail bag. After all the hardships, our mainsail deserved a nice home to live in. Also, we knew that there were a bunch of familiar faces hanging out in La Paz too. But that there would be so many? La Paz would be a big meeting with many old friends from Puerto Peñasco.
Famous and notorious
After our short stay at Bahia Falsa just at the entrance to La Paz it was time to move again. Time to get a bit closer to the hustle and bustle. We already knew the La Paz area, or rather the anchor channel, and we had already entered and anchored in the La Paz channel several times. What worried us a little was anchoring in the same channel by ourselves for the first time. The La Paz anchorage is known all over Mexico. Strong currents, and winds result in a weird, atypical dancing of boats at anchor, also known as the “La Paz Waltz”.
Anchors in the channel
We’d heard (or had been told) all sorts of horror stories about what could go wrong, and now it was time for us and Milagros to hit the dance floor. So, we set out from Bahia Falsa, followed the markers down the channel and after choosing a spot, we anchored in the channel. Not a problem. And by accident, we anchored right next to a first familiar face. Joseph on SV Moist came right over on his dinghy to say hello. After, we headed out to La Paz to explore and have a cool drink somewhere. It’s way warmer down here than it was further north. We had fond memories of the city and were happy to be back.
We had waited a long, long time to pull this one off again, but now the time had come. Time for another fondue on Milagros. Yes, we Swiss don’t need much for a traditional dinner. We melt a certain kind of mixture of cheeses, dip homemade bread in there and we’re happy. Perfect timing for a bit of Switzerland because the arrival in La Paz was a first milestone in our sailing trip together. We still don’t know where this will lead and how long it will last. We don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. And that’s the beauty of it. In July we’re finally heading back home for a couple of months. We are at home in Mexico and yet we are not. We are completely unbound and can be wherever we feel like being.
But we weren’t just here for fun. We also had to work. Online to earn some cash and on Milagros to not sink. Pati got hit hard. The changeover to daylight saving time took place a week earlier in Switzerland than here in Mexico. Since the time difference to Switzerland was 9 hours for an entire week, she actually had to set an alarm clock! AN ALARM CLOCK! What? Why? Heeeaall naaaaaaawww!
Apart from working online, we also got some boat projects done. For example, we recaulked some joints of our galley floor, had a watermaker specialist on board who inspected our desalination system (everything’s in working order) or we installed a few lines to protect our beloved dinghy from thieves at night. We kept hearing about theft. And the bad boys and gals usually target the outboard engines of boats.
An important upgrade
But the biggest project of them all was a sewing project. Time for a proper sail bag on our boat. We had already bought the fabric in Puerto Peñasco, but unfortunately the sail bag never sewed itself. We also lack a really good sewing machine that can process several layers of thick fabric. A Sailrite was needed! Sailrite is a major manufacturer of industrial sewing machines for sailcloth and other heavy gauge materials. We knew of 2-3 Sailrite sewing machines in the anchorage, however these were not available. But fate was good to us – our dear friends from SV Catspaw also arrived in La Paz a few days later after their crossing from mainland Mexico. And we could borrow their Sailrite.
Project leader of our sewing adventure was Pati because I don’t know jack**** about sewing. Unlike her. She’s a true artist at the sewing machine, as she has already impressively demonstrated in Puerto Peñasco with yet another borrowed Sailrite (SV Susimi’s this time). With the guidance of the official Sailrite instruction videos, we started the endeavour. For hours and days (four of which) Pati was busy and our lazy bag slowly but steadily took shape. Whenever she needed my help, I lent a hand. The greater the progress, the greater the nervousness. Hopefully all the work hasn’t been in vain. Hopefully it turned out well in the end. And luckily it did. Our sail is now well protected from Mexican UV rays, wind, and weather. We were able to make the old dark blue «horse rug», as we called it, disappear and can now brag about our new sail bag.
Meeting sailing friends
We gave our thanks to SV Catspaw, whose gin and tonics are notorious across the entire Sea of Cortez, with a bottle of Mexican gin that I found in our favorite supermarket «Chedraui». In general, the two weeks we spent in La Paz were one big rendezvous with familiar faces. We ate spearfished yellowtail sashimi with Joseph and Felicity on SV Moist, had two (not exactly, it was way more) beers with MV Venture Forth because they showed up a day early the first time, tasted tequila with the same and SV Susimi, had tacos, guacamole, and Uber shopping trips with Jost from SV Serenity.
Wait, there’s more!
Remember when we caught a fishing net in the propeller of SV Sea Note? That was with Ray, and he too, his wife Chicgaila and their dog Baxter were in La Paz. Again: fine dining and drinks. We also hung out with our sewing machine heroes from SV Catspaw. SV Caribbean Dream are on the verge of selling their huge catamaran, but there was still time here for a chat and a bit of help hauling stuff off their boat on our dinghy. Then suddenly Matthew and April appeared on SV Blow Me. More and more friends coming in. This time even on the water instead of in the yard! Yeasssss!
Time to clean underwater
Since the latter had a small diving compressor on board, we took advantage of the opportunity and cleaned the bottom of three sailboats. Milagros included. Because of the strong currents, underwater growth in La Paz is heavier than elsewhere, which was also evident on the belly of Milagros. But no problem, after 30 minutes she was cleaned again. But what was a quick belly rub on Milagros was hard work on another boat. Its two owners, Greg and Stephen, could have offered diving excursions to their very own local coral reef and would have become filthy rich. The many inhabitants on their homegrown ecosystem were not very happy about our cleaning action as Stephen and Greg were. But, life underwater is hard, and so all the little fish and critters had to look for a new home.
The wind is annoying
Unfortunately, unfortunately, La Paz is also home to a local wind. Every night in spring and early summer, a strong wind called “Corumuel” blows from the southwest in La Paz. Coupled with the rather unpleasant La Paz channel current from the “right” direction, Milagros and many other boats were simply pushed directly in the wrong direction over their anchor chains. This led to all sorts of strange occurrences, movements and noises on and in the boat, cost us valuable sleep and stressed us out. And the wind is co-ho-ho-hooold because it’s blowing from the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula! What is a welcome cool down in the Mexican midsummer heat is one thing only in April: COLD!
Two weeks in La Paz were enough. We wanted to head out again. There were far too many great corners waiting to be discovered and explored out there. A certain cabin fever was setting in. I, in particular, was quickly annoyed by little things and didn’t really know what to do with myself. Sounds reasonable (not), because there is always something to do on a boat. But if there is something to do and you don’t feel like doing it at the same time, things quickly become difficult. But in the end, we didn’t set off on a sailboat to always sit around in the same place. La Paz is fine and dandy and has everything we need, but it’s still not a place I’d necessarily spend more than a few weeks at a time.
It was time to finally leave the dance festival. So, we went on provisioning runs and prepared Milagros for departure. Who would follow us was our new buddy called “Corumuel“. We would be introduced way too properly very soon. But luckily, we didn’t know that by then, and so we headed out.
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