There was a light breeze that allowed us to put up our jib and sail right down the long channel back to Bahia Falsa. We had checked to make sure there would be enough cell service for listening to the Griz Game. Go Grizzzzz! It was the first play-off game and we were up against Eastern Washington. They were big talkers and they had home field advantage. We crushed them! We went to bed and dreamt of swimming with Whale Sharks and of our Griz winning. Tomorrow we head to Isla San Francisco, the next island north of Isla Partida, and we plan to slowly go north up to the Loreto area.
We set out at 9am with no wind and it continued that way for the whole seven-hour trip. Isla San Francisco was beautiful! White sand beaches, red rock formations, turquoise water. Wow! We got the anchor set and waved our friends on Aloha. It is so much fun to keep seeing people we know!
In the morning we packed a picnic and headed out for a long adventure. We went to hike the ridge line around the anchorage. It was my favorite hike so far. Pictures are worth a thousand words. It was stunning! We made our way around the steep jagged trail that circled the anchorage then plunged down a gravel hillside on to a salt flat.
We had read that agate could be found on the beach on the sea-side of the island so we headed over not quite sure what agate looked like but confident we would know it when we saw it. We walked up and down the rocky beach examining stones and smashing some against larger rocks. Eventually we found some stones with green crystals imbedded and we decided it must be agate. We collected two nice samples and started looking for a place to picnic. We found a lovely stone art work arranged on a flat table-like rock and decided it was meant to be our picnic spot. Water, wine, sausage, cheese and crackers. Fabulous! It was an easy hike across the salt flat back to the beach and our dinghy.
We arrived back at the boat and noted that there was still plenty of daylight left. Time for a snorkel! There was an interesting nook just around the corner so we went to check it out. As we approached the tiny beach in the dinghy, we saw a dozen or so abandoned refrigerators littering the beach, odd. We thought maybe it used to be a fishing camp and they used the fridges to store the catch? Anyway, there were no sunken refrigerators and the snorkeling was great!
Our friends on Aloha invited us for evening cocktails. It just so happened that I had made homemade cheese. Show-off! We had a great evening and learned more than a few things from some seasoned cruisers. They mentioned that the charts for countries south of Mexico are notoriously inaccurate and suggested we get “Open CPN” which marries Google Earth satellite photos with your laptop’s external GPS locator. The software puts your boat right on the satellite photo, cool! I am sure it is not that easy, nothing techy ever is. Bill will figure it out!
The next morning we were treated to a turtle swimming through the anchorage and beautiful Dorado (aka Mahi Mahi) hunting needle fish like torpedos. The needle fish would gather in a tight school then just as the Dorado speared into the group they would separate then regroup. Over and over those Dorado fished for their breakfast. Fascinating! We took our time with our breakfast watching the sights around us. Finally about 10am we pulled ourselves away from the nature show and got ready to head out.
Our next stop was Amortajada to kayak through mangroves into a lagoon. We planned to stop for lunch then continue on to San Evaristo, a small fishing village, to anchor for the night. Amortajada was just 12 miles to the north. The wind picked up to 15 knots and with it the waves. We anchored between some small islands and the shore with the mangroves we wanted to explore, right next to Azimuth, who stopped by in their dinghy to say hi as we were getting ready to put the kayak in the water. The tide was coming out and the wind was blowing in creating a whitewater river. We could see mirror calm waters just inside of the entrance to the mangroves. We had to put on our whitewater “caps” and do some serious paddling to get in. Bill yelled out directions reminiscent of our days paddling with friends on the Lochsa River over Memorial Day. “Hard left! Hard right! Now dig, dig, dig!” Once inside we looked at each other and decided we would take a less direct, less risky way back out. The water inside seemed syrupy and thick. It was dark but clear. We saw turtles and fish and other critters doing their thing along the bottom. Mangroves are fascinating to me with their roots like stilts going down into the salt water desalinating it for the tree perched above. We paddled into the calm flat water of the lagoon, circumnavigated, then paddled the mangrove trail back out. This time we beached the kayak, checked out the Cardon cactus forest, then portaged around the white water (which had become even worse!), and launched from the beach. Not as exciting but much less life and limb threatening!
We pulled into San Evaristo and anchored in time for sunset and Monday Night Football- it was the Bills vs Patriots. We looked around the anchorage and knew at least half of the handful of boats in the bay. Our new friends on Fundango came by in their dinghy and we invited them for football. We all had a great time eating a giant pan of nachos and feeling very American as we took in the game broadcast on Serious XM radio while downing some cold brews. A fishing panga came by well after dark. Through our broken Spanish and their broken English (better than our Spanish by the way), we came to the understanding that they needed some AAA batteries for their headlamp. No problem! We had what they were looking for! It felt good to give back a little. We have been feeling a truly warm welcome here in Mexico.
Some mornings seem to come earlier than others, this was one. We had coffee and breakfast looking out around the sunny, perfectly still anchorage. At 8:30 we had the dishes washed and stowed, the engine on, and were pulling up the anchor to head to Los Gatos with smooth red rock formations and some exceptional snorkeling according to the guide book. It was a beautiful blue sky, sunny day. There were 6 knots of a whisper of a breeze behind us so we motored in flat smooth water. We anchored in the beautiful bay with smooth red rocks that looked like they had been created by flowing sand. The water was clear and warm. Our friends on Kalewa saw us on AIS so they pulled in and we all decided to snorkel after lunch. The snorkeling was good but honestly, it will be hard to beat the whale sharks and the bait ball experiences. There wasn’t enough time to hike the red rocks so we settled on walking the beach, beautiful! We continually remind ourselves that we can’t do everything (but we try)! Ending the day on our friend’s saloon deck with cocktails turned into cocktails in our cockpit after the local bees invaded looking for water. Hooray for our bug netting around the cockpit!
Our next planned stop was Agua Verde but on the way we would stop to see some sea caves at Ensenada la Ballena. As the sun came up it lit up the red rocks beautifully. We were off by 8:00 watching the striated cliffs of red, yellow, white, and black layers of rock slowly drift by. We made it to the sea caves and were ready for an adventure by 10:30. Sea caves are fascinating and a little scary. I feel like I am entering a living organism and could get swallowed up in an instant. The water moves in and out of the opening like respirations, the crabs make scraping noises as they scuttle about by the hundreds, and there are things moving in rhythm unseen but heard. Eerie, but I love it! It was a warm day and after the paddle back to the boat, we thought a quick skinny dip was in order. We dove into the 80 degree crystal clear water in our little anchorage with not another single soul around. Right up until an official Panga skidded around the corner to do some inspecting.…..of the shoreline is what we understood. Thank goodness for our sarongs from Tahiti that we always keep in the cockpit! Just as we were pulling up anchor, Coddiwhomple pulled in. They were there to see the cave as well and planned to go to Agua Verde for the night too. We made plans to meet up for dinner later.
Onward to Agua Verde! On our approach to the anchorage, we were hailed on the radio by Kastaway. We recognized the name from the Baha Ha Ha but hadn’t really spent time with them. The crew was two adults and four kids and they all looked like they were having a great time. Floating pool toys were tied to every spare cleat and beach towels lined the rails. They had seen us coming into the anchorage and hailed us because they remembered that I was a physician. A bee sting from five days earlier was swelling and becoming worse. They were concerned about infection. We buzzed over in the dinghy armed with everything from antibiotics to surgical equipment that I had stuffed into various ziplock baggies. Now I understood the need for that black doctor’s bag of old. It looked infected but did not need surgery to drain the infection. The kids all had a million questions and it was fun to answer and reassure them all.
From there we took the dinghy to the beach and went for a short hike up a steep rocky trail to a wonderful overlook. There was so much to explore here! We made plans to return with our friends who were coming from Anacortes at Christmas. From the overlook we spotted Coddiwhomple anchored on the same side of the bay as Sacagawea. We stopped by on our way back to the boat and arranged to meet in “town” for dinner. Town consisted of about 5 structures, not quite buildings like we have in the US. Who needs walls in this kind of weather!
I had read there was a goat dairy in Agua Verde and we thought it would be fun to try our hand at making goat cheese. We hauled the dinghy up on the beach and walked up to the restaurant on the right side of the beach. There was a second restaurant on the left side of the beach and behind was supposed to be a store though we saw no sings advertising a store. In broken Spanish and some hilarious pantomiming with Lenore, the owner of the right side restaurant, we asked about the goat dairy. Finally we understood that there had been no goat milk for 2 years, they did not know why. She showed us how to get to the store down the sandy road (wide trail would be a better description). We entered the small building with the cashier as she unlocked it for us. It was amazingly well stocked with a large assortment of everything. Some produce, chips, pasta, chest freezers with meat, fish, poultry. Beer was what we were after but we ended up buying two bags of stuff!
We decided to eat at the left side restaurant because Lenore was doing a good business with Kastaway and the other one was empty. We hiked down the beach, across a dry riverbed, and hung a right turning toward a cluster of palm trees. It looked like an oasis of green! We also noticed that the palm trees around the restaurant were covered with buzzards. We started questioning our choice but forged on. We ducked under the little awning into the oasis and immediately forgot about the vultures waiting in the trees above us. It was charming! She had cold beer and fish tacos today. Perfecto! We all had a great time, drank all six of the beers she had in the little tienda between the four of us and headed back to our boats for the night.
We left in the morning to head for Puerto Escondido but along the way we wanted to check out the fancy resort in Los Candeleros. Maybe we could do a fancy New Years Eve party with our friends arriving on Christmas? We did a drive by. It was very nice looking with a golf course on the hills surrounding the resort and the bay had good depths to anchor in. We called the resort to ask about New Years and they were having a party but for guests only due to COVID. Dang COVID! Onward to Puerto Escondido!
There were some big winds forecast so we had reserved a slip for the next three days. Also it was giving us a chance to check out the facility where we would meet our Anacortes friends, spray the salt off the boat, and get a few provisions. A narrow channel zig zagged back into the natural bay. Steinbeck was taken with the area and wrote about it in his book about the Sea of Cortez. I can see why! The bay is perfectly protected by steep, craggy mountains but there are “windows” looking out into the Sea between rock formations. I could imagine the natural beauty before the marina was built. And even now there was so much wildlife! We saw a number of boats we recognized as we walked from our slip up to the marina office. Rochambeau, Aloha, Fundango, Via, and some more that I am forgetting I am sure! We hunkered down for the blow glad to be in such a protected marina with friends all around. There was a restaurant and bar too which had wonderful wood fired pizzas! Our plan from here was to continue north and spend some time in the Bahia Concepcion area then return to Puerto Escondido to pick up friends and explore the Loreto area with them. But first, some cervesas and pizza!