Sunday, April 27, 2014

La Paz to the Islands 4/19/14 and Escondido

Leaving La Paz on 4/19/14 after 6 days at Marina Cortez.  We enjoyed being  downtown La Paz rather than the more upscale Costa Baja marina located a 20 minute shuttle ride from the heart of the city.   We even had another good cruisers dinner with Dianne and Neil for Salacia (N40).   They are heading home for the summer and leaving their boat in La Paz.  Lots of folks do this to avoid the trip north also known as the Baja Bash.  

A favorite grill in La Paz

Marina Cortez Walkway

Our destination is a group of volcanic islands north of  La Paz along the eastern coast of the Baja peninsula.  We plan to work our way north to Loretto about  90 miles from La Paz.  We don’t have an actual itinerary and most trips will be less than 30 miles between anchorages.  It’s a very popular time of year as cruisers move north into the Sea of Cortez from the Gold Coast (Puerto Villarta mainland) in search of cooler weather and out of the hurricane belt.  These islands are a national park requiring a permit and restrictions on fishing and overnight camping. 

Each of the notations is a picture perfect anchorage in the right weather.  Other than a few fishing camps the islands are uninhabited.

Just before leaving La Paz if caught a cold but did not think it would be too bad.   It has  been very difficult to shake.  Have not felt like doing much so we anchored in a very desolate cove and for 3 days while I slept and tried to get better.  

Finally felt a little better and we moved on to very nice and more scenic spot call the  Hook at Isla San Francisco.  Still did not feel like hiking to the top for a picture but here is picture from the guide book.

We had our first rude encounter since entering Mexico.  We were well into the anchorage and about to drop the hook when an older Hatteras M/Y cut across our bow, turned  and set his anchor in the same spot we where planning.   He never made eye contact from the bridge or acknowledged we were on the planet.  In ten minutes has jet ski, dinghy, paddle-boards and kyacks in the water for a raft of kids to use.  Ran a genset all night and left the next morning as the big Detriots carried him away.  Boat name EL DON in very big letters with an east coast hailing port.  Somehow it all fit together.

Our next stop San Evaristo is a small fishing village on the mainland set into a very well protected natural harbor.  We anchored in 10 feet of crystal clear water, watched the anchor set and the chain play out.  This is still a trill for me to see the bottom and still feel safe.  Only a few rocks visible and plenty of  bait fish.   The town has a small water plant and makes its own electricity.  Most homes have a generator and one or two solar collectors on the larger homes.   A resturant/palapa and a very small teinda but no medicine for a cold.  The anchorage filled up by sunset with over a dozen boats.   Two power boats and 10 sail boats.   We are the exception up here.  Four fish tacos and a fee to dump our trash and the total was 131 pesos or about $11US.  

Mary gave some local kids a bunch of candy and they we all smiles.  They were pretty good at approaching us w/o speaking English and polite.

Sorry about no pics but this cold is winning.   Our next stop is planned around the potential for some meds.  We have enough medical gear on board to sew up a major laceration, IV fluids, splints, antibiotics, AED and much more.  ( even  have an IV set for Keela in case she requires emergency hydration)   Common cold was not in the planning so we are hoping to get lucky at a small tienda at the next stopover.

Made our way in very flat water to Bahi Candeleros, (25.43.72N X 111.14.24 W)  just a few miles south of Escondido.   There is a very nice hotel there along with a good anchorage for southern weather. 

   Dinghy trip ashore was easy and the hotel was very welcoming to boaters.  Mary found two kinds of cough medicine and some cough drops.  (Think I might be keeping her up?)   We were joined by 4 other boats for a very quiet and clear night.

A 90’ Azmuit came in late towing two other fun boats, a 19’ ski boat and a 16’ dinghy.  Guess fun comes in all shapes.  Way in the back of the above phot o is a small fishing village and a few shacks.   Their view is amazing but the property all around is part of a time share development.  Who knows if it will take 2 or 20 years to have an impact on them. 

Not feeling much better but we moved to Escondido and Hidden Harbor in expectation of crowds getting in place for LorettoFest.  This is one of the many cruiser sponsored charity events that usually support a local school or other need.  We had read much about the harbor. 

Puerto Escondido is one of the Baja’s most protected anchorages, landlocked except for a 200’ wide passage channel.   Anchorages include the “Waiting Room” the “Elispse” and the main harbor which can hold 150 boats on mooring balls and anchor.
It really is a hidden entrance:

To say we were surprised is only fair,  in fact the place is a bit depressing if that is possible in picture perfect weather conditions. (My cold is not helping here).  The “Elispse” has been abondoned by the builder and the local cruisers have build a make shift ladder for access to a few dozen boats on mooring balls.   The main building is also abondoned.  The last resturant closed just this week, the local grocery store is selling out the shelves and the rest of the offices except the marina office are vacant.  The boat yard has a few boats but did not see the travel lift move the 4 days we were there.   No one was at the fuel dock but there was a number call for service.

The larger anchorage contains a few slips and wonderfully engineered fuel dock, boat yard and concrete construction office and retail space.

What makes this so sad is they did everything right.  Very high end construction with lots of palm trees and features.  A lap pool, clubhouse rooms and more all built for 30 years or more of life.   There are many stories as to the downfall of the Fonatur marinas, many linked to the overall economy pull back in the 2008 time frame just at they were coming on line with several facilites.   Still with this much infrastructure in place there is not much effort being made to attract clients.  The mooring balls are mostly abandoned, we took one of only a few that had a tag line attached.   The office was less than welcoming, poor wi-fi, laundry might be open but not likely, and on and on.   Fences are erected separating the Elispe from the main harbor so you have to walk an extra 400 yards to visit the Hidden Harbor Yacht Club. 
A number of local cruisers are hanging on here, mostly in the “Waiting Room” on private mooring balls and anchors.   The bus does not come to the marina so a trip to Loretto is a $500 Peso cab ride and often an hour delay for road construction.  
So after 6 months in Mexico we landed in a place we don’t like much.   I’m still fighting the cold and we plan to hang around until I’m better since this is a very protected harbor.  Maybe when I’m feeling better Escondido will look better.

My crew is trying to stay low while I recover from this cold.

We will be headed back to La Paz in a few days.    

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