The Captain and Admiral were joined by the Captain’s Sister, Ellen, and brother in law, Alan, on Thursday for a week.
Ellen and Alan live in Stowe, Vermont, so the sunny skies and warm LaPaz weather were a welcome change from mud season back home.
The first day, the Captain led a walking tour of his favorite sights in La Paz. The Admiral followed up with a provisioning run to a local supermercado, Chedraui. The Chedraui we go to is bigger than a stateside Safeway, but not as big as a Walmart (there is a Walmart in La Paz that we also frequent). We enjoy taking our guests to the supermercado so they can see what grocery shopping is like in Mexico. The main differences are in availability of types of produce and cuts of meat offered. You also need a spanish dictionary handy. The Captain uses the Google Translate App, which translates the text after you take a picture of the label.
On Saturday morning Snug Harbor departed Marina de La Paz for Isla Partida and the Ensenada Grande anchorage. Ellen and Al took the kayaks to beach for beachcombing and exploration. The Admiral and the Captain set out in the dinghy to Las Cuevitas to hunt for the elusive boobie rookery – alas, we had no more luck than than on a similar expedition a week earlier. It blew pretty hard in the anchorage all day and the Captain was concerned that the crew might have a bumpy night at anchor (The crew tends to quickly forget about the idyllic day spent island hopping when their bunk turns into a bucking bronco at night!). Fortunately, the wind died and all slept like babies.
Sunday morning we headed for Isla San Francisco, a 19 mile trip. We pulled out of our calm anchorage into a building northerly. The waves quickly built up to Baha Bash proportions and the crew got a taste of what it is like to motor into short steep waves. Snug Harbor slowed down as she kept poking her nose into waves and taking white water over the deck. The Captain gave the old girl more gas, the crew perserved, we made it to Isla San Francisco, and dropped the hook by 1330. We all went ashore for hiking and beachcombing.
Monday morning we pulled the sails up and headed for Caleta Partida. CP is a large anchorage between Isla Partida and Isla Espiritu Santo. It is deep in the middle so you anchor around the edges. Huge mountains surround you on both sides. If you think this sounds like the old crater of a volcano, then you hit the jackpot. There are also some white sandy beaches with varying shades of turquoise water to top it off.
Ellen and Allan set off again in the kayaks and paddled through the cut to the east side of CP and checked the Sea of Cortez side. The Captain and the Admiral set off in the dinghy for El Cardoncito, a V-shaped bay just around the corner from Caleta Partida. When they got to the head of the bay they saw a large dark area in the water, which the Captain assumed were rocks to be avoided. However, some pelicans were very interested in the dark area so we investigated and saw that the large dark area (say the size of half a football field) was really a huge ball of swarming fish. We drove into it and there were a gazillion fish swimming like crazy, all trying to get to the center of the “ball”, to put distance between them, predator fish and pelicans.
On Tuesday morning, Al announced that he was going to climb the very steep hillside next to Snug Harbor so that he could see the view from the top. We all thought Al a bit nuts, but he said he would be extra carefull and off he went. We watched Al make the climb with binoculars from Snug Harbor – kind of like watching Swiss mountain climbers from the deck of an alpine hotel. Al made the ascent, and descent, witout a misstep. Not bad for 73.
The hill Al climbed
Al’s view from the top. Snug Harbor is the boat closest to Al.
We all returned to El Cardoncito on Tuesday afternoon by kayak and dinghy for some snorkling.
Ellen and Al entering El Cardoncito
Ellen at El Cardoncito
The “bait ball” was still there. We had all planned to go snorkling but after wading out in the water found there was no need for snorkle gear – all you had to do was just stand there and watch the fish swim up to you.
On the trip back to Snug Harbor the dinghy’s outboard acted up and would not go any faster than an idle. The Captain prayed it would get him and the Admiral back to Snug Harbor – otherwise it would have been a long row back. The outboard made it and the Captain will have to put on his outboard mechanic hat when he gets back to port.
Tuesday night the wind picked up from the south west, and gave us typical coromel conditions. The Captain had been told that the Caleta Partida anchorage, even though exposed to the southwest, had the right shap to minimizethe the effects from coromels. That turned out to be true and we had a windy night, but not much in the way of waves.
Wednesday morning we motorsailed in 10 knot southerly breezes back to La Paz. There was not a cloud in the sky and the weather was settled. At noon, we were within two hours of our marina berth, came into cell phone range, and got an updated weather forecast. The new forecast said that the winds would abruptly change from 10 from the south to 20+ from the north at 1400, just the time the Captain expected to arrive! Snug Harbor’s slip is difficult to get into with strong northerly winds so the Captain floored the old girl to try and get to the dock and get tied up before the big blow hit…….
When we got to Marina de La Paz the winds were only up to 10 knots from the north and we docked easily. About 30 minutes later the wind grew to 20-30 knots, a steep chop kicked up, and chaos reigned in the anchorage just outside our marina. Boats started dragging their anchors and one boat went up on the beach. Cruisers jumped to each others aid and dealt with problems as best they could.
Sometimes it just pays to be lucky.
Ellen and Al reported that highlights of their trip included great eating in La Paz, fabulous scenery in all the anchorages we visited, meals prepared by Mitzie on board Snug Harbor, and the kayaking, hiking and beachcombing.