We ended our last post as we hoisted anchor in Agua Verde and the Safari Explorer, a small cruise ship touring the Sea of Cortez, was offloading kayaks and shore support for their guests.
Then we saw someone from the village bringing a string of horses down the mountain. We assume they were setting up for afternoon activities. If we were to ever take a cruise aboard one of these ships, this seems to be a fun one to join.
We put out the fishing lines and slowly motored out between Punta San Pascal and Roca Solitaria. We were not out long before the wind freshened. The sails came out and quickly filled. We ran with a South West wind about 60 degrees off the beam. Pellucidar is in her element! With about 15 degrees of heel she finds a groove and was feeling her oats. The wind continued to increase and she broke 8 knots SOG (speed over ground) a couple of times during our run. We were just at a point we needed to throw a reef in but we headed down wind to a broad reach as I wanted to stay on the leeward side of the reefs. With the wind now on the beam the boat does not heel as much and we can carry more sail in higher winds. The wind lasted for about another 30 minutes then died. The seas flattened out soon after so we rolled in the sails and with the seas flat calm we chose to take a path through the reefs and see if there was anything with a “fin” interested in our lures. Nada! No fish for us! We packed it in and headed for the bay.
Running along the coast of baja never gets old. As the sun follows its path across the sky and the mixes with the various cloud formations the shadows that play on the sea and mountains provide an ever changing palette of color. Adding in the various sea life and birds we see every day makes even the longer passage go by very quickly.
Our route from Agua Verde to Puerto Escondido took us inside Isla Monserat. From there the plan was to keep Isla Danzante to port as we sailed a deeper channel between Danzante and Isla Carmen. South of the island lies Danzante Reef, Islote Los Candeleros, Islote Las Tijeras and a bunch of other little keel biter rocks. Passage through here was fine as long as we paid attention and as the winds & seas had abated. Probably would not have attempted this had the winds and seas remained.
Puerto Escondido is a hurricane hole. Surrounded by hills on all sides and low lying reefs between the gaps it protects pretty well from all directions. Recently the port has gone through some management changes. The docks are all new, they have a great haul out facility and the staff bends over backwards to help.
Anchorage in the bay used to be free but too many “squatters” who were not acting responsibly ruined it so now there are pay mooring buoys and free anchoring is no longer allowed. The dock is $2.50 per foot per day. That is USD! There is a discount for longer stays but it is still expensive. The buoys are $1.00 per foot per day but only $2.50 per foot per week. With some higher winds forecast we took the week option on a buoy. We are glad we did. The port has received a fair share of criticism for the changes but they are trying very hard to make it work for both the business and the cruisers. It is perfectly located to allow exploration of various anchorages within a days sail of the port, Loreto is about 12 miles down the road and they have a deal with the local car rental agencies where they will drop a car and pick it up at the marina. There is a nice tienda and restaurant on site as well as a cruisers lounge with ok WiFi.
The winds did arrive as forecasted. Throughout the week we saw sustained winds above 20 knots and gusts well above 30. It often stirred the bay up into a froth but the surrounding mountains and reefs kept the larger waves out. It did make the dingy ride to and from the marine a bit damp at times but the water is pretty warm compared to the NW so not a big deal. Some nights the bioluminescence was so vivid the bow wave on the dingy glowed with a neon green / blue hue to it. It made the run back to the boat in the dark very entertaining. I made a mistake when we hooked up to the buoy and ran the mooring line from the bouy directly off the bow cleat and over the toe rail. The sustained winds put enough pressure on the toe rail that it snapped a section off. Hindsight being 20/20, the toe rail is made from three pieces laminated together and a portion of it hangs over the hull joint. Not the best design. Linda had suggested I run the mooring line through the bow roller but that was just silly……. I had rigged a bridal at one point but the boat was swinging so wildly it would catch on the anchor. I have a new design in mind and will be making the change to all the cleats during the off season.
Escondido has a small cruiser community similar to La Paz but much smaller. They have a cruiser net every morning at 0800 where they relay any medical emergencies, provide weather and tide info, and update us on the local comings and goinings over the VHF radio. It’s nice way for us who had just arrived to connect with the community and gather information.
Escondido – Loreto
The historic town of Loreto is just a short car ride away and the local rental companies will deliver a car to the marina.
The mission in Loreto is the very first established by the Franciscans on October 25, 1697. It was the third yet first successful attempt to establish a mission and was the first of 27 yet to be established in Baja California. It has been modernized a bit but holds a lot of history.
We spent the first day exploring the mission, walking the malicon and visiting some of the local shops. Loreto is growing quickly with daily flights to the states and resorts popping up nearby it won’t take long for it to lose some of its charm. I hope not but all the signs are there. For now it is still a quaint little town and still hold a lot of its charm.
While wandering one of the side streets on our way back from the malicon we found an ice cream store. Some the the smoothest ice cream I’ve had in a while. Our path led us past a school where the youngsters were out at recess. We stopped to watch for a moment and noticed the ball they were playing soccer with had become quite worn and ragged. It was a dingy dishwater color with some of the panels starting to come off. Before we headed back to the marina we stopped at the super Mercado where we found bacon! Really good bacon and some cheddar cheese! Don’t laugh, some of this stuff is not easy to find in Mexico. We also purchased a couple of really colorful soccer balls for the school. We were going to take them back but they don’t come with air and they did not sell a pump or have a way to inflate them. You should have witnessed the antics trying to translate that request. We decided to take the balls back to the boat where we could inflate them and bring them back the next day.
We timed our return to Loreto perfectly as the kids were out in playground. We first gained permission from some of the adults at the entrance. Linda noticed a little mentally challenged boy coming toward her. She bent down and handed him one of the brightly colored balls and his face just lit up. The second ball she tossed over the fence to a group fully engaged in a game. They were pretty excited to get the new balls and in no time at all, balls and kids were bouncing everywhere.
Escondido – San Javier
Up into the mountains about 45 minutes out of Loretto is another mission, San Javier. This one has remained in its original state. As we left Loreto heading back toward Escondido we found the sign directing us to San Javier and exited off the main road. Remember the old song “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers house we go”? I think we were on the same path. It’s only about 15 miles but took us all of the 45 minutes we were told. Winding road up through the canyons where the creeks would often flow over the road. It was not too deep for our little rental car but you could tell this was normal as the mostly asphalt road was concrete in these sections. Burros, horses and cattle greeted us along our path and they really could careless if you wanted by or not.
The mission opened on May 11, 1699. San Javier was the second mission of the 27 that were to be established in the Baja Peninsula from 1697 to 1834. The mission remains much as it did in its day although the town now seems to boast some modern convienences like electricity and running water. Inside the church is absolutly stunning. It is laid out with the foundation in the shape of a cross. The grounds were stunning with the typical area reserved for graves out behind the church.
Many still travel from near and far to attend mass on Sundays. I encourage you to read the article on San Javier by David Kier at https://www.discoverbaja.com/2014/08/02/the-spanish-missions-on-the-california-peninsula-2-san-francisco-javier-de-biaundo-1699-1817/
he provides a complete history of the mission and does a much better job of giving you more information than I ever could.
After completing our tour inside we took a walk around the town. Many of the streets are still made of stone. School was just letting out as we made our way to one of the restaurants that are on site.
When we arrived at the restaurant it was fairly busy but as the lunch hour came to a close we enjoyed the place to ourselves. The proprieter was selling snap peas from a table at the front so we bought a couple of bags to snack on while waiting for our food to arrive. They were delicious!
As we visited with a couple of locals and the proprietor, Karon got out her Canada lapel pins and passed them out to the kids while Linda played “Grammy” with the little one. Smiles all around! As we left we bought a couple bags of fresh oranges from the orchard behind the restaurant.
I like to think that we make a positive impact, even if it’s just for a moment, in every town / village as we visit and interact with the residence who allow us to share and enjoy their beautiful country.
Escondido – Steinbeck Canyon
When we arrived in Escondido we caught up with our friend, Kim who hailed from Everett on their Island Packet, Amazing Grace III. He and his wife were part of the group that traveled all the way from Seattle to Cabo. We last saw them in La Paz before we headed home for Christmas and it was good to catch up with him.
Kim has told us about a hike he did a few weeks back up into the canyon. He was planning to go again so we invited ourselves to tag along. Not sure what the locals call it but us cruisers call it Steinbeck Canyon after the writer, John Steinbeck. It’s a beautiful hike up through a canyon to a series of pools coming off the enourmus mountains in the background.
I hesitate to call it a hike as it’s not an adventure for the timid. It’s not really mountain climbing but I would call it more bouldering!
The scenery is spectacular with brilliant colored flowers growing right out of the hard rocks surface, hundreds of butterflies floating all around, and of course the various colors of rock and their amazing formations. As the sun traces its path through the deep blue sky the portrait before us is ever changing making the hike that much more intriguing.
At one point as we were beginning to climb I was able to look back on the boats in Puerto Escondido.
As we climbed deeper into the canyon the colors became more vivid. The deep blue sky provided a perfect backround for the bright green cactus and the various shades of rock. The pools of water collecting from the mountain streem were emerald green. Absolutely stunning!
The “trail” did get more difficult the further into the canyon we ventured.
Linda made it most of the way but when we had to negotiate a pretty steep side hill she called it but encouraged Kim and I to continue on.
We made it quite a ways further but we finally did get stopped at a point where we had to do some serious climbing with a rope and up through a crevis. Niether one of us wanted to push ourselves to the point where someone got hurt. There is no one coming to help you up here!
I was a wonderful adventure with some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. Maybe next time we can get to the next pool!
After a week in Escondido we say goodbye (actually see ya later) to our friends Dave and Karon on SV Ragtime. As we head out of the harbor and turn North, they turned South and will take their time heading back toward La Paz. We also say “see ya later” to our friend Kim on SV Amazing Grace III as he heads back toward Loreto for a while to catch up with family. As for the crew of SV Pellucidar, we will continue heading North and eventually cross the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos sometime around the end of February. I hope you stay with us as we move on from Escondido toward San Juanico and beyond.
Fair winds and following seas!
Walt, Linda, G2, and Groot Crew of SV Pellucidar