Entering our second year of cruising found us back in Puerto Escondido (after a month in the U.S.), rubbing elbows with a handful of cruisers who are in love with this area (and looking around, it’s very clear why – the Sierra de la Giganta and the surrounding islands/cruising grounds are amazing) and make PE their home for the fall and winter. There’s a sweet community here; many are incredibly musically inclined and put it out there for all to enjoy at least once a week. Since we left PE for BLA back in July, the new marina has come together with the construction of new docks, more marina staff, and the opening of La Pepegina’s in a lovely space on the deck that overlooks the harbor and the mountains. After decades of starts and stops, this place may actually get it together, which would be wonderful for the locals and cruisers alike. The thing that remains lacking is reliable cell/wifi, but that’s not why we go cruising anyway – or is it? Rand does have to stay connected somehow, but we manage with what’s available or we bug out.
Once back on da boat, we were operating on a bit of a schedule, with the goal of making it to La Paz to connect with Thad and Kristin on She’s No Lady (after nearly 8 months without seeing them!) for the holidays. We had almost 3 weeks before we needed to be down south, so after scrubbing the top and bottom of da boat, getting somewhat caught up on work and the blog, and provisioning (thanks, Dawn on Manta, for the wheels!), we decided to goof around a bit more in the PE/Loreto area and visit a couple of the anchorages on Isla Carmen, Bahía Salinas and El Refugio (Vee Cove), that we previously missed. Oh, and of course no outing is complete without a couple of boat projects. Then we made one last stop in PE for a day or two to wait out a norther (in which we saw 40-50 kts of wind through the anchorage) and so Rand could work a bit. FYI, northers blow every winter down the Sea; they’re strong and cold and may blow for days at a time. Oy.
Anyway…while we pride ourselves on sailing whenever possible, we had to resort to motor-sailing a lot of the way (and into what little wind there was, of course) to Bahía Salinas on the northeast side of Isla Carmen, but it was worth it. This is a big, beautiful bay with a defunct salt mining operation, which left behind dilapidated ruins juxtaposed with a newish lodge for hunters (?) and fishers who enjoy the remoteness of this place. There is also a sunken 120ish-foot fishing boat in the bay that many snorkelers/divers enjoy, us included. But, our blood is thin these days – what with the weather cooling down to the low 80s during the day and 60s at night and water temps dipping to the mid-70s – we weren’t in the water for long. Our snorkel around the wreck was truncated because of severe goosebumps, but at least we got some cool GoPro footage. This did make for awesome shore exploration weather though, which we enjoyed while snapping a few photos and getting harassed by bitey gnatty things.
S/V Adventurer was also anchored here, and we’ve been dying to meet them because they know many of the same people we do and they have an awesome blog and YouTube channel! But alas, it was not meant to be – they bugged out of the anchorage early the next morning, so we would have to wait until La Paz to meet them. We did happen to meet a group of youngsters from NOLS who were in the last days of a 3-month outing on the Sea, which consisted of a month backpacking, a month sea kayaking, and a month of sailing. We saw them sailing into the bay on four small longboats with as many as six per boat. They set up camp on the beach, so we invaded their rest and interviewed them about their goings-on. They were all so dang young and adventurous. Many attend NOLS courses to improve their outdoor and leadership skills, to BE outside, and to get away from the hustle and bustle of home. Pretty cool stuff. On their way out of the bay on our last morning, we called them over to FL so we could give them some of our favorite cookies, Canelitas. They were stoked.
After a couple nights in Bahía Salinas, we made our way to one of the northernmost anchorages on Isla Carmen known as Vee Cove, formally named El Refugio. Luckily, the breeze was favorable for this little gem of a spot, which is decidedly a southern anchorage (that is, it is fully exposed to north wind and swell). We spent one gorgeous night here, although again, and I’m not complaining (well, maybe a little), it was freezing! The temperature had to be in the 60s. What?! After a quick exercise swim/snorkel and stroll on the beach, we headed out, thinking we’d stop in Loreto to do a little provisioning. But that wasn’t to be either, as once we were clear of Vee Cove, a dorado found itself on the end of our line. Dinner! After hauling it in and prepping it for the evening feast, we made our way back toward Puerto Esco, knowing a big norther was on its way.
After landing the dorado, we headed to our favorite spot at Isla Danzante, Honeymoon Cove. And it was lovely. We had a wonderful mahi dinner and a quiet night on the hook. The wind started piping up kind of early, so we shot across the channel and back into the protection of Puerto Escondido to wait out the norther. We waited…and waited, then it reared its ugly head. Our friends, Terry and Dawn on S/V Manta, said it was one of the spiciest northers they have ever experienced. And they’ve been sailing in Mexico for about 30 years – so they would know! The protected harbor that is PE didn’t feel all that protected this go around – the wind was heavy (up to 50+ kts), as was the wind chop. All the boats were yawing around on their moorings; one little unoccupied Catalina even snapped its line and “sailed” through the fleet in the middle of the night without making contact with any other boats before getting grounded in the soft muck near the entrance to the marina on the southwest end of the harbor. Lucky.
After more than 24 hours of howling winds, our friends and neighbor on the mooring behind us snapped their line and had to secure another mooring in a sustained 20+ kts. It took time and persistence, but the crew of Secret Water (Chris, Annie, their three kids, Josiah, Eli, and Finn, and dog, Opal) got it done. As a reward, they drove us to Loreto the next day and we bought them ice cream ;). It was a fun road trip, complete with provisioning and GoPro footage. We totally fell in love with this little family and hope to see them again down the road sooner than later. Once the norther blew itself out, it was time to get south – with a few stops along the way.
First stop out of Puerto Esco was Bahía San Marte where we ran across S/V Dogfish – yay! Greg and Marga had a friend aboard, Damon, who, we determined after the normal grilling Jody often inflicts upon new friends, coincidentally has ties to our friends we just visited in Taos, NM, Nan and her two boys. In fact, Damon is BFFs with Nan’s eldest, Oban. What?! Such a small world! We enjoyed a few days, lots of fishing, and a couple more anchorages with Dogfish and a bevy of other boats on our way back to La Paz. It was a gorgeous, albeit a bit chilly, passage back to civilization. What awaits us in La Paz? Stay tuned…