Nothing broke! Let me say it again, Nothing broke. We sailed, we explored new places, we almost had a hurricane, we climbed a mountain, we hunted for Apache tears and chased Booby birds all without any drama at all. Well, we have a few bug bites, actually quite a few bug bites, but that is it. I have to report that Pablo and crew are doing just fine.
After spending 10 fabulous days exploring Isla Coronados we set our sights on another new to us location, Caleta San Juanico, just another 20 miles up the coast. But first we would need to re-provision and get more water so back to Puerto Escondido we go. While in Puerto Escondido we got reports of a storm spinning up the coast that had the potential to form into a hurricane. All preliminary tracks also showed a good possibility that we would be sitting in its path. So we sat tight and waited as the storm became Hurricane Bud. Thankfully, as the days rolled by it was becoming clear that Bud was not going to hit the Baja Peninsula as a hurricane but as a tropical storm. With potential wind speeds of 39-70 mph this was nothing to brush off either so we continued to wait, preparing the boat and making plans. For a week we closely followed Bud’s track and forecasted wind speeds. In the end Bud was a dud and we luckily escaped with nothing more than winds in the range of 20-25 mph and a day’s worth of rain which washed the boat down nicely.
With a clean boat and a fresh supply of food and water we set out, destination Caleta San Juanico. A large bay that offers a wide variety of hiking trails, reefs for snorkeling, and some of the most interesting and beautiful geological formations we have seen anywhere. The passage there was quick and uneventful and once settled it was hard to decide what we would do first. Our choice was hunting for Apache tears. Due to the area’s past volcanic activity it is known to have a large quantity of black glassy stones of obsidian which are formed when lava is cooled rapidly. Steve and I wanted a few to add to our collection of odd bits from our travels. We hiked for several miles, passing through a vibrant green valley with a fresh water source we could not identify. The trails and dirt road snaking up and down the hills around the bay were surrounded by sandstone embankments studded with rocks of every color, cactus, and mesquite trees. Although we saw some wonderful things we never found any obsidian. However we did find a vein of crystal that we harvested a few pieces from that Steve is busy trying to identify.
We spent the rest of our time dry snorkeling in the calm morning, meaning that you dinghy over shallow water while peering into waters for aquatic life which is what you do when the water is too cold. There were long afternoon hours walking a few of the many beaches, exploring the rock formations along the shore and evening sunsets were spent watching the antics of leaping Mobula rays, dolphins swimming through the bay and sea birds hunting from the surrounding cliffs.
Traveling by boat means a lot of things. It is freedom from the constraints of societal norms, it offers personal challenge, we can explore places that cannot be reached by any other means of transportation, but our decisions are dictated by the weather. There is not one day that goes by that the weather forecast it not consulted at least once. All decisions are hinged on that report more than anything else. Caleta San Juanico was a good anchorage for all but easterly winds. And you guessed it, the forecast started calling for just that, ENE, E and ESE. We tried to hold out but the swell that came into the anchorage was just too much. So after only four nights we left much sooner than we planned with a vow to return next year to see and explore all that we missed this time around. Not to mention to look again for those Apache tears.
One of the things that is required when traveling by sailboat is the ability to adjust the sails and change direction both literally and figuratively. Therefore, since we couldn’t stay in San Juanico we would go and explore some other new to us place. We decided to check out an anchorage on the north end of Isla Carmen and see what all the hubbub was about but before we could even blink the winds shifted again and now we were dealing with some strong southerlies that would be working against us. So since Isla Coronados was in the neighborhood, we liked it there, and it offered good protection it became our destination dejour.
The one thing that Bud left behind was cold water that lacked clarity. This fact bums us out more than we can express as snorkeling was the highlight of our Sea of Cortez adventure in 2016. Snorkeling has been something we have only attempted a few times so far on this trip but neither Steve nor I are much for cool waters. And since we are also not much for just sitting on the boat waiting for the winds to blow we decided to climb a volcano.
The long dead volcano which is the center of Isla Coronados peaks out at 928 ft. So with water, sandwiches and a camera we headed out early one morning. At first the trail is easy. It meanders over sand and ancient sea floor where you are surrounded by beautiful plants with song birds flitting about. Rather abruptly the trail changes to lava rock and shale and then it starts to climb. We spent the better part of an hour scrambling up the rocky mountainside watching the bay get smaller and smaller as we climbed. However the footing was so bad and the potential for a twisted, or worst, a broken ankle was so great that we decided to stop on a ridge just below the top. We ate lunch with a few humming birds that were visiting some rather delicate passion flower type blooms, no doubt the result of the rain that Bud brought to the area, and gazed out at the magnificent views.
Once the winds died down a bit we set out again for a new location. V- cove on the North East side of Isla Carmen. This little spot has enough space for one boat to anchor and we were lucky enough to be that boat. We had the place to ourselves and other than the morning and evening visit from the Pescadors (fishermen) to catch bait fish out of the cove we did not see another person. It was wonderful! The cove is surrounded by sea caves and there is a tiny little white sand beach at the head. There is an incredible rock formation at the point that looks like the profile of a face which we decided to call it Melinche after a famous Mexican Indian woman from Mexico’s history which we have been reading about.
Early on the first morning of our stay in the cove we were jolted awake by the sound of our shallow water alarm. Leaping out of bed ready to respond to what we perceived as a possible dangerous situation we discovered that is was a giant school of fish known as a bait ball so dense that our depth sounder could not penetrate the mass. That bait ball meant birds. Lots of birds. And dolphins! All day long large pods of dolphins were in the cove. It was magical. With camera in hand we putted about the anchorage in our dinghy photographing birds and exploring the caves. We spent a few hours lounging on the beach which was wonderful and relaxing. It was hard to leave our private little paradise, but once again the winds were about to change. Besides, it is time start preparing for our journey south back to La Paz.
So we are once again in Puerto Escondido. We will resupply with water and food. Watch the forecasted winds and pick a weather window to begin traveling south. We leave this area with some wonderful memories and whole laundry list of places yet to be explored.
Life is so amazing and I am so grateful!