We spent our usual winter season in La Paz at the marina. Steve and I each taking our short trips to the USA to either visit family and friends and in Steve’s case teaching his classes. It was busy but fun and rewarding. In recent months the coronavirus has become front and center and like everyone else in the world we are dealing with the pandemic. Although we are not troubled about toilet paper shortages, working from home, how we will pay our bills, or finding ways to entertain ourselves. Ours is a different set of challenges. The kind that only a nomadic life can offer. We are concerned about our health and welfare as we live and travel in a foreign country that does not have the medical or financial resources to cope with this situation. After much analysis, weighing of options, and games of “what if “ we decided our best plan is to remain in remote anchorages here in the Sea of Cortez while this whole thing plays out. So under a cloud of rumors that swirled through the airwaves of the local radio nets, the social media forums of the cruising community, and dockside chats with fellow cruisers we left La Paz on March 31, 2020. We have now spent the last three weeks sailing through an ever changing series of shutdowns, restrictions, and sometimes confusion. The following is a chronicle of events from a log I kept while things were happening.
3/31 we left La Paz. No restrictions anywhere in Mexico for cruising boats. Although rumors of port closures, lack of fuel and disruptions in supply chains are flying.
4/6 we are hearing via word of mouth and various nets that beaches are closed all over Mexico and that the Malecon in La Paz has been closed. We believe it is an effort by the Mexican authorities to quell the week long celebration typically associated with Semana Santa which includes beach camping and fiesta’s. This is one of the biggest holidays in Mexico.
4/9 After being anchored for two days in the small fishing village of San Evaristo we were approached by eight men in a panga and asked to leave immediately. They say that the village has closed. Myself and Renata on s/v Taiko were able to negotiate a departure of Sunday due to high wind conditions if we promised not to go ashore. We noticed that the town has also barricaded the only road in or out. This virus could be catastrophic for a small village like this so we certainly understand their fear. We have decided to move further north to Agua Verde which is another small village.
4/10 We have heard on the Single Sideband Nets (SSB nets) that boats have been visited by rangers in the anchorages around Isla Ispiritu Santos and Isla Partida asking them to leave and saying the islands are closed.
4/10 We have been notified by our friend Linda Bott who lives in La Paz that several towns in BCS have barricaded their towns against non-residents.
4/10 Reports on the SSB nets are that the navy has turned back a boat that was traveling up the Cerralvo channel headed for La Paz. Also, more reports of towns barricading against non-residents.
4/13 Some ports in Mexico are closed. Boaters who were heading to Puerto Peñasco to haul out their boats for the season have been told that the boatyard is closed. Many boaters are now stranded.
4/14 We heard a report on the SSB net that Loreto is closing off the city to all non-residents. However Puerto Escondido is open and has a well stocked tienda. Also, a rumor that the port captain of Loreto will let live-aboard sailors into town; one person from each boat with mask and eye protection to do shopping.
4/16 In the small village of Agua Verde we can shop in the tienda one person at a time while wearing a mask. The people are very friendly.
4/16 Today heard a broken VHF transmission that you can enter Puerto Escondido but you cannot leave unless you are in transit to another port. Essentially all boats are being asked to stay put. We have to decide if we want to be locked down in PE or return to La Paz and stay in the Marina. We do not want to return to La Paz because of its large population. Also, we would not be able to anchor away from people safely. We would have to live in the Marina which puts us in a situation of constant exposure and risk. If we have to go into a marina we would prefer Puerto Escondido for its remoteness and the ability to be on a mooring ball as a opposed to a dock.
4/17. Yesterday’s news was confirmed on the morning SSB nets. Steve and I have decided to stay in the small remote village of Agua Verde as long as possible. We are free to shop in the town tienda which has most everything we we need. This seems the best plan for the moment. Although one thing we have learned is that the situation seems to be changing day by day.
4/20 Today the citizens of Agua Verde received orders from government authorities that the town is closed. No one can enter or leave the village. For us this means that we may not go into town to shop in the tienda for supplies but we are able to stay in the anchorage. Our only access to supplies now is in Puerto Escondido or Loreto. We still have food for another 10-14 days. We had planned on remaining here for an extended period of time but we are now talking about moving north toward PE in a few days.
4/20 We heard on the SSB nets that you can no longer go ashore in Loreto to do your own shopping. The Port Captain in refusing entry.Puerto Escondido is the only option for Food.
4/21. Our friend Linda notified us that Mexico has entered stage 3 of the pandemic. She has reported stats for BCS which seem low to us but hopeful.
4/22 This morning I awoke with a bit of anxiety. My gut tells me we should go into PE immediately and get provisions before that avenue is closed to us. Our goal is to stay in anchorages until Baja passes its peak. The captain agrees with me. We will leave here tomorrow.
4/22 Linda has now reported that La Paz has put a curfew of 10pm in place. Also no alcohol sales after 6, everyone must wear a mask outside their home and only one person in a vehicle at a time. This does not affect us at the moment but it does increase my concerns for safety.
As you can see the ever changing news has pushed us forward until we are now on a mooring ball in Puerto Escondido which is about 18KM south of the town of Loreto B.C.S. Mexico and is closed to all all non-residents. There are more boats here than we have ever seen in previous visits to this marina as we have all been herded to this location. We are free to come and go from the marina out to the Islands although I believe we are being monitored by the port authorities. The small tienda is well stocked and will take a shopping list and get supplies from town for us. The added relief of being surrounded by fellow cruisers who are “in the same boat” has been such a bonus as we don’t feel so alone.
Mexico seems to have stabilized a bit as in there are not as many new restrictions and conflicting information coming at us every day. We are following the local news closely , getting updates from our friend Linda and believe that the Governor of BCS has been doing a great job of implementing protective measures. Therefore our anxiety levels have greatly reduced and we feel safe for the moment.
Our plan du jour is to spend a few days here and then head off to a remote anchorage. Our boat is filled to overload with food stuffs and we still feel that staying in anchorages is the best way to quarantine and keep ourselves safe. Steve will improve his fishing skills, meaning that he will perhaps actually catch some this year and I will start experimenting with kelp and cactus soup recipes. Lol 😉 We will not travel far from the marina as it has become the only place other than La Paz were we are able to get supplies and who knows when the situation will change again.
Just in case you are feeling sorry for us we did get in some worry free fun before all of this crazy stuff began. We were able to spend a few days exploring the anchorages around Isla Ispiritu Santos. It was wonderful without all the tour boats buzzing about as they had already been shut down by phase 2 restrictions. We stalked a Reddish Egret so I could attempt to get decent photos of this beautiful bird. We also spent time with friends on s/v Tiny Dancer exploring some sea caves and running our dinghies aground. We even got to go ashore and visit with our Friends Lupe and Maggie in San Evaristo before the village was shut off. It was so wonderful to see them and throw virtual hugs across the 6 foot social distancing space.
One of the many blessings of this time period is that from the beginning of our exit from La Paz we have been buddy boating with a couple from New Zealand. They are Martin and Renata from the sailboat “Taiko”. They are in the unfortunate situation of being trapped here in Mexico because of port closures across the world. Steve and I are in the fortunate position of finding new friends. We have visited several anchorages together and even had the good fortune to share both the village of San Evaristo and Agua Verde with them before they each closed. We have been on hikes and excursions and have shared countless meals and late night conversations. Together all of us are making memories and holding each other up through the highs and lows of this crazy world event.
We are still able to enjoy the spectacular landscapes that the Baja has to offer and the Sea of Cortez is as lovely as ever. I will say that we haven’t seen as much wildlife this year, apart from an amazing display of dolphin antics and the spotted pufferfish that has taken up residence under our dinghy. Perhaps the creatures also feel the shift in our planet or maybe we have just been preoccupied with events. Whatever the case we are making the most of the situation just as everyone else. We are fortunate to be in such a beautiful location with the freedom to explore natures wonders.
As always…. Grateful!