At last!!! sunshine, flat seas and fantastic scenery!! We've eventually stopped at a place, just because we want to....not to wait for a weather window.
We left San Diego on the 5th Jan, with wonderful calm weather and some of the flattest seas we've experienced. We had a lovely sail for the first few hours, doing 4 to 5kts with all 3 sails flying until the wind died down and we had to fire up the engine again! Still I wouldn't have traded those flat seas and sunshine for anything. As the day warmed up, with stripped off our long johns and realized we were probably going to be storing them away (at last). We had a lovely night sail with a full moon and arrived at Isle San Martin the following afternoon.
is an extinct twin peaked volcano with a natural harbour formed by the lava flow...amazing stuff. The fishing post looked pretty run-down and the beach was strewn with litter and
bottles and a new looking sail boat without a mast. We later found out that this boat was wrecked on Christmas day when it dragged anchor in 30
kts winds. Charlies chart does warn that this can be a dangerous anchorage in NW winds and there is a safe anchorage on the other side of the island, but fortunate for us, we had very light winds anyway.
We explored the island the next day, hoping to find a path to the top of the volcano, so I could look down the crater! We found a path which took us half way round the island to the other side, and the light-house, but never did find a path to the top. It was a hot day and the island is covered in different species of cactus. Without a path, navigating was impossible, we were already being spiked by the hitch-hiking plants! The day was wonderful, the scenery incredible, the plants amazing and the seals in the inland lagoon playful, we decided we didn't need to look down a crater anyway!
The following morning we set off for Cedros Island and had a fantastic passage with flat seas, light winds and hot hot sunshine...in fact, for the first time, we were naked most of the way!! I sun-bathed and read a book on the bow, while Greg watched.
Isla Cedros was incredible. The North anchorage was alive with wild-life, giant elephant seals were feeding their new born pups (who squealed like chimps), Pelicans and different types of sea birds swooped and fed from the little schools of fish and playful harbour seals jumped and played around the boat. We had 60ft visibility in crystal clear water and the mountains towered over us, alight in the sunshine and looking very majestic with their steep clefts and arroyos. I wish we could have anchored here, but we were concerned if the wind kicked up from the north, so moved further south to a more protected anchorage. For those we left in San Diego, Bob and Doreen and Andrew and Arlene...don't miss this north anchorage, even if to drift around for a few hours like we did.
Turtle Bay was our next stop after pulling the anchor at 2 a.m.and heading out. The seas were a bit rolly, but we arrived at the anchorage early afternoon. This is a large protected bay with an interesting if a little depressed town, but with basic supplies and an internet cafe!!!! The internet is slow and expensive at $5 an hour, and the @ key does not work, so the first I tried to email was unsuccessful, hopefully it will work this time!
We've decided to stay here and get a few jobs done and explore. We climbed to the top of one of the mountains yesterday and was rewarded with a fantastic view of desert-like landscape framed by steep pointed mountains of different colours, and again, different types of cactus. The weather has been great, mostly in the 25-30C range and not dropping at night below 16C...which is just fantastic!!!
is an incredibly beautiful anchorage. We anchored first close to the mountains and off a small beach where we had access to a low valley across the mountains to the other side. We had a fantastic day walking through the valley, spotting many beautiful wild flowers and different varieties of cacti (we are still fascinated by cacti - especially the flowering ones). The walk was so interesting with lots of different rock formations and types of rock to look at, many different plants and even the occasional hare (yes, we frightened a poor thing and it hopped away!) We saw plenty of other animal tracks and heard
coyote. The walk to the other side was hot, but we were rewarded by a spectacular view across the Pacific ocean and along to the lighthouse on the Cape.
The following day we moved the boat to a different anchorage, near the sand dunes, and was left quite alone when the other two boats keeping us company departed. We skinny-dipped in the water, which was cool, but refreshing in the hot sun. We then decided to walk the beach in search of sand dollars and shells, and investigate the sand dunes. We started a leisurely walk along the beach and before we knew it, had started to wander into the dunes. We spotted a high dune in the distance and decided to climb the top...we didn't realize at the time, it was actually on the other side (i.e. the Magdalena Bay side). We had a fantastic day walking amongst 20ft sand dunes and was quite exhausted by the time we reached the highest dune. The view was fantastic...looking over a 5 mile range of 20ft dunes one side, and the mangrove estuary of Magdalena Bay, the other side. By the time we got back to the boat, we had clocked up around 10 miles and a healthy looking tan!
De Magdalena We moved to Magdalena Bay, which although we walked to the previous day, took us 7 hours to sail!!! In a way, I kinda wish we had spent more time at Bahia Santa Maria, it has a much wilder unspoilt beauty about it and we were quite alone. Magdalena Bay is also quite beautiful, but not the same. We anchored for the first week off the village, waiting for fresh supplies and the dream of fresh barbecued chicken. The day we thought the deliveries was going to be made, the Panga's just annoyed
us too much, and we decided to leave for the quieter anchorage off the sand dunes. The village does not really have much in the way of fresh supplies and the curious fisherman get great satisfaction passing close to the boat. They particularly enjoy doing this at 5 a.m. when they set off for their morning fishing expeditions! The Port captain happily visits your boat for the paper work and port fees. All of this could have been avoided if we had just stayed in the Paradise of Santa Maria - oh well, that is hindsight for you! We did have some very enjoyable walks across the mountains behind the village and our curious eyes had plenty to keep us busy as we spied on the villagers whilst drinking our morning coffee. Although other cruisers have spotted many whales in Mag Bay,
it seems most of the sightings are in the entrance, and on our last day
when we anchored for the evening off the small fishing camp, we saw many.
We also heard another yacht on the radio talking about his anchorage at the
north end of Mag Bay, in the estuary, where he was watching the whales
nurse right next to his boat (Soledad).
The anchorage off the dunes is much quieter and much more scenic. The dunes are pure white and quite beautiful. There is a mangrove forest which can be accessed at high tide and you can ride your dinghy right through the mangroves and spot many amazing birds. It is a really scenic mangrove forest, clean and healthy. Since this is the first anchorage that has given us almost constant sunshine and beautiful surroundings, we're not in a rush to leave!
Cabo San Lucas We arrived off Cabo Falso as the sun rose and was rewarded with spectacular sightings of whales doing full breaches close by the boat. This was the largest sighting of whales we have seen and we took much pleasure watching them as we admired the architecture of the condo's and hotel's that lined the beachfront. There are many multi-million dollar buildings, brightly painted and balanced on the rock faces, nestled next to impressive hotels and providing a multi-colored splash of arches and windows facing out to sea. As we rounded Cabo the spectacular 'arches' came into sight, gleaming white in the morning sunshine, very impressive!!! This anchorage lived up to it's rolly reputation (even in very calm weather which we had) so we opted to stay on the boat and just rest for the night before leaving for Los Frailes the following morning.
Los Frailes Our sail to Los Frailes started off pretty smooth, motoring north through 3-4ft sharp wind waves, but with little wind. Within a few hours of reaching the anchorage the wind had picked up to 15-20kts on the nose and the waves hitting us on the beam....uncomfortable for a few hours, but otherwise an uneventful passage. The anchorage has a really beautiful setting, it can only be described as paradise, the photos talk for themselves.....
We spent a week and half in this paradise, hiking through the cactus landscape, exploring the mountains and scrambling to the top for the best views, and snorkeling in the clear chilly water!!! The R.V. community there is really friendly and invited us to join in their various activities and shared their stories. We were really impressed by some of the gardens and clay ovens they had built for their winter retreat. Several times a week, various supply trucks visit the R.V.'s and yachts to sell everything from chicken to fresh vegetables and fruit, so we were soon barbecuing that chicken we've been waiting for since leaving San Diego (In fact our first fresh meat since leaving there!) Some days the anchorage proved to be fairly windy, perfectly safe, but a wet dinghy ride and landing on the beach. As soon as the winds and waves died down, we set off for our final leg to La Paz, anchoring overnight in Muertos to split up the bash North. The following morning we had a fantastic smooth sea and light winds, Isla Cerralvo blocking the old north wind waves from the sea, and providing a flat passage to La Paz.
La Paz At last!!!!! Nearly 6 months and 2263 sea miles since leaving Nanaimo, we arrived in Bahia Lobos on the 19th February 2004, where we spent a wonderful afternoon and evening, before approaching the 'Santa Cruz' virtual marina, the following morning. Little did we know, carnival had just started, so we spent the first 5 days here, listening to live music, eating fabulous junk food and watching the colourfull parades! Since then we've been taking advantage of all the facilities a great city has to offer and sorting out paper work etc... In the next few weeks our adventure will continue as we cruise the 29 islands of the Sea of Cortez.
Isla Espiriutsantos By early April we were ready for move on and explore the islands. We took our time, slowly motoring up the whole west coast of Espiritu Santos, nudging into each bay to check out the anchorages for future reference. The scenery was spectacular, with the pink rock dominant along the coastline. We arrived in Partida Cove and immediatly started to explore the island, which proved to have some spectacular hikes to some great vistas. Unfortunatley we were 'blown' out of this anchorage by a 30kt westerly, otherwise we would have certainly explored this island more.
San Evaristo This delightful fishing village was the first place where you could have bought very basic supplies, but we only bought fish from the local fisherman. The road leading to La Paz from here is little more than a donkey trail, and indeed we saw plenty of donkey's doing exactly that and captured some really special photos (don't miss our smiling jack ass picture).
Isla San Francisco This incredibly beautiful island has everything to offer. A fantastic perfect bay with aquamarine water, a beautiful white sand beach and interesting hikes rewarded with stunning views. We really enjoyed this anchorage and would have certainly stayed longer if the wind had not switched to the South West, which created a 5ft fetch into our North west anchorage. It appeared that the boats tucked into the hook were not affected so it was a shame there was no more room!
Puerto Los Gatos This anchorage has the most incredible geology and we had a fantastic week exploring the multi-coloured mountains and rock picking the many geods. Each day we hiked a different area, returning with arms full of interesting rocks and shells. The south anchorage was tucked between two reefs and gave easy access to the beach with the many geods, the north anchorage (which we moved to when the wind changed) gave access to the smooth pink rocks we feature in many of our photographs.
Bahia San Marte We only stopped at this anchorage because strong north winds were predicted, and this anchorage gave better protection than Aqua Verde, but actually the beaches were really interesting and the mountain back drop was simply stunning. We had some interesting hikes across the golden grassed mountains to the rocky shoreline which provided great tide-pooling. You want to tuck in to the beach corner of this bay as tight as you can because there is some swell that enters and can create a slight rolling.
Bahia Agua Verde We had heard so many good reports of this place, and they were all completely true. The south anchorage was a true paradise with aqua clear waters like a swimming pool and a really interesting village with a fantastic tienda selling great fresh vegetables and meat. The villagers were farmers and many goats and cows wandered the mountains alone leaving plenty of trails to follow. We also spent some time in the North anchorage, which also had the clear waters, but not as beautiful as the south anchorage. We opted to stay a little longer so I could spend my birthday there, and I can honestly say, I can't think of a more wonderful place to celebrate.
Bahia Candelero This was an overnight stop only, so we didn't have much time to explore, but we decided to move on since the North swell was still coming into the bay and we had been spoilt by the flat waters of Aqua Verde. The view of the mountain ranges is really beautiful from here though.
Isla Danzante Honeymoon cove lived up to it's reputation, and fortunate for us, we were the only yacht there for the first day. We anchored in the most spectacular anchorage in the North bight, and we can say, without a doubt, this was the most stunning anchorage so far. The water was completely crystal clear for 20 feet and we could clearly see the complete reef on both sides of our boat. The anchorage was full of multi-coloured fish, large damsel, zebra and rays swimming around the boat, which we watched from our cockpit. It was like being anchored in our very own aquarium! There were many trails off the north beach leading to fabulous views.
Isla Carmen This island was such a wilderness and it was definitely the best snorkeling we did in the Sea of Cortez. We also saw many nesting birds and were lucky enough to get a good close up photo of a baby chick newly born.
Bahia Juanico This bay has wonderful rocky pinnacles stretching out from the reef and a small striking island, which you anchor between for protection. The scenery is breathtaking, especially from the mountain behind the beach, which has an easy trail leading to the top. There is also a yachty shrine here with interesting plaques left by other boats up to 20 years ago....we added our own shell mobile for the pleasure of other cruisers.
Bahia Concepcion It felt like our cruising was coming to an end as we spotted the highway on the approach to our anchorage, and trucks on the road! We had not seen traffic or houses for over a month, and it was a reminder that this was our chosen place to wait for the right weather window to make the crossing to San Carlos on the main land. Surprisingly, this came the very next day, with a full moon, a south wind predicted and crew!
San Carlos Suddenly, the cruising is at an end, a frantic rush to get the boat ready for dry storage begins, followed by a waiting period for our flights back to England. Don't miss the pictures of Seafire going down the highway on a trailer.
Guaymas This small city is just south down the highway from San Carlos about a forty minute bus ride. Everything you need to buy is here and we made several trips during the weeks we stayed in San Carlos, mostly to use the cheaper internet. There is a large shallow port that is mostly used by the local fishing fleet and there is an exotic flavour to the place that is hard to place.
Mazatlan This marks the beginning of our adventure overland. We took to the road via the huge system of buses that travel throughout Mexico. The "Primera Clase" bus we rode was comfortable with toilets, movies and stopped for food every few hours. We got off the bus at the downtown Mazatlan bus depot at about 3:AM after an 11 hour trip and headed right across the street to a very comfortable and cheap hotel. Thank god it was air-conditioned because this city this time of year was very hot and humid. Next morning we headed a few blocks to the beachfront road and walked up the beach to view many truly great statues and monuments. After a couple of hours of this it was back to the hotel to cool off and change out of our sweat drenched clothes into fresh ones and head out again after a rest. Very nice city for a holiday but it is quiet touristy and the street venders are tenacious. We did not take any photos!?!?
Guadalajara Don't miss this beautiful old city and it's old quarter that boasts very well maintained buildings and cathedrals on almost every street corner. We stayed in an old restored historic building converted to a hostel but were disappointed in the quality and caution doing your research when reserving online.
Mexico City This grandiose city is not to be missed especially the old section that we stayed in. The ancient history and glorious cathedrals, some of which took as long as 250 years to complete, are a feast for the eyes.
This marks the end of our Mexican Adventure and now have moved on to England. Seafire is currently stored in San Carlos until we return in December to continue. We probably will add an English Adventure to this web in the near future, so stay tuned.