Monday, April 25, 2016
Mazatlan to La Paz
La Paz beach and anchorage
We've been hearing all about La Paz for years from other cruisers -- great things. There are 5 marinas here, filled with sailors who came down from the north, expecting to visit for a week or two, and have never left.
We made the 200 mile passage west from Mazatlan to La Paz
(image courtesy of Lonely Planet)
At the halfway point across the Sea of Cortez, winds started blowing from the north,
so we decided to drop into Bahia de Los Muertos, about 50 miles south of La Paz.
We dropped anchor in the crystal clear water. Chris went ashore and had lunch in the little restaurant with our friends Daragh and Cathryn aboard s/v ChanteyV.
I chose to swim over and snorkel the reef. And, boy, was I glad I did:
40 foot visibility and tons of beautiful fish
Wow! Just gorgeous. After my hands and feet started to get numb from the cold, I began the swim back to Espiritu. I stopped to chat with our friends aboard s/v Myla. As I treaded water and exchanged stories with them, a sea lion swam by and said hello.
"Excuse me!" I cried to my human friends as I dove below to hang out with the sea lion. Wow. There's another experience I can check off of my bucket list.
Swimming with a sea lion: check!
I told Julie aboard Myla that when swimming in SoCal, you should get very nervous when a sea lion swims by, because that probably means a great white is not far off -- sea lions are their favorite food.
But since there are no great whites in the Sea of Cortez (that we know of), I felt free to frolic.
Not 30 seconds later, though, a fisherman came by and dumped chum and what appeared to be shark parts into the ocean about 50 feet away.
Well. Chum and sea lions in the water. Guess it's time to get to Espiritu.
We said our goodbyes and I snorkeled towards the boat. As I swam, I peered through the water and at the sea floor 30 feet below, an immaculate bluish-white in all directions.
Two dark objects soon became visible on the ocean floor. I swam closer, and once directly above I was able to see what they were: two freshly severed shark heads -- large hammerhead shark heads, resting on the white sandy bottom. I guess the fisherman had no use for them.
Their upside down smiles (which I guess would make them a frown) were sad and shocking to see. The way the heads were resting side by side gave the appearance they they were cuddling together for comfort.
OK: chum, sea lions, talk of great whites and freshly severed shark heads -- I can take a hint.
Back to the boat, STAT!
Once aboard Espiritu, Chris returned from the restaurant and reported there was a big beach BBQ and musical jam planned for later that day -- and we were invited!
The crews of Myla, Orca, Hotel California and ChanteyV
were amongst the sailors at the impromptu get-together.
Note in the photo they dug a hole in the sand and built
the fire that way -- no fire pit needed. Just stick a grill on
top and you've got a beach BBQ!
Of course, we broke out our instruments and got the party started!
Daragh (from Dublin), Chris and I played some Irish favorites like "Whiskey Before Breakfast" and "Shove the Pigs Foot (a Little Closer to the Fire)."
Music jam with our sailboats resting in the distance
Everybody had a great time. It's amazing what a guitar can do to turn a
just so-so get-together into a memorable song-fest! "Chantilly Lace" and
"Doe, a Deer..." from The Sound of Music were included in our
wide-ranging repertoir! (LOL-- we're goofballs)
Dune buggies were here
At 0-dark-30 the next morning, all eight of the sailboats pulled anchor
and made the 50+ mile sail north to La Paz.
After a beautiful, warm sail, we finally entered the bay. Chris and I had never been here before, so we were like wide-eyed toddlers -- all input.
We motored past this highway just outside of town. The rocks above the highway
give the illusion of holding entrapped ghostly skeleton faces.
Hurricane Odile battered La Paz in 2014, and we passed some sailboat victims
still resting sadly on the shore
Hurricane Odile hits La Paz, 2014
And speaking of hurricanes, I'm extremely aware of the fact that we're entering hurricane season in a few weeks. Summer in the Sea of Cortez means risk of hurricanes, and we'll be keeping a very close eye on the weather. The good news is there is usually a few days warning as they churn north from southern Mexico and the Pacific, so we'll have a chance to get to a hurricane hole and to safety.
We picked our spot in the large anchorage next to our old friends Derek and Trisha aboard Interabang. They're in that group I was talking about earlier: they sailed south from the Bay Area in 2011 and have basically never left La Paz and the Sea of Cortez.
La Paz is it for them: home.
That night, after a dinner aboard, we settled in to watch our latest TV obsession: HBO's Treme.
As I was watching, I noted a little spotlight peeping in through the hatch:
The full moon pops in to say hello through the hatch in the upper left corner of the shot
as Chris and I watch "Treme" on TV
We looked at each other, paused the show, and scampered out to the cockpit to view the full moon.
The full moon bathes La Paz in a warm light
The next day we went ashore and explored La Paz for the first time.
The La Paz malecon
On the waterfront
Locals enjoying the beach
OK, alright, we love it. You can stay in the anchorage for free, but it's 15 pesos/day
to use the Marina La Cruz dinghy dock, trash, water, etc.
Bike rack at La Paz Marina
OK, so we're anchored in paradise. Again. We're fortunate and excited about exploring the Sea of Cortez. But it's not PERFECT.
For one thing, it's almost May, and we really should be sweating like Nixon by now. But each morning we're breaking out the fleece and the thick socks just to have coffee in the cockpit.
The water is 71 degrees, but I'm swimming every afternoon anyway, dammit.
We're in Mexico -- we're in the tropics. And I'm swimming. Period.
There's a daily cruiser's net at 0800 on channel 22. Yesterday the net predicted "zero chance" of rain. #facepalm You know what THAT means. Later that afternoone we caught this view from our cockpit:
Yep. After the net so foolishly predicted a "zero" chance of rain, THIS happened. Rain. When "The Powers That Be" hear anyone say there is a "zero" chance of rain (or anything), well, they feel compelled to act.
We saw this scary sign for the "Psycho Circus." Yikes! Gracias, no.
This sign was painted at the entrance to a restaurant on the malecon. Hmmm. IMHO this sign painter is a bit misguided. Yes, far too many people use religion as an excuse to judge and hate. But some of the kindest, most loving people I know are "religious."
I think we can all agree: "haters" are bad, and "open minds" and "hearts full of love" are good, right!
And we can just leave it at that.