Puerto Escondido back to La Paz

February 19th, 2006 by: cheyenne

near Los Gatos, Baja California Sur, Sea of Cortez, Mexico

La Paz’s tractor beam is sucking us back down the coast to its bouncy anchorage on the pretext of obtaining a part for our busted traveler. Will we ever escape and get someplace warm?

Now that we have a SSB receiver radio, we get to listen to Don From Summer Passage, also known as Don The Weather Guy. Every cruiser in this area knows about Don but we just ‘met’ him, so to speak. He broadcasts from Oxnard at least twice daily on various SSB channels and gives a very perky rundown of the weather in all the key areas. “Gulf of Tuehuantepec? Will be screamin’. That’s right, 60 to 70-knot winds!! [Perk perk!] Pretty nasty stuff and you don’t want to be out in that. Not a bit! Seas 20-25 feet too; that’s as high as I’ve ever seen it! So any of you think you are going to make the crossing in that, well, you can just tell me how it was in the Afterlife! Ha!” Luckily the southern Sea only had a predicted 20+ norther and we took off south with ambitious destinations. We made it almost to Agua Verde and the wind died. Bleah. Motored in and anchored just as it began to pick up again. We hung out and attempted to take off the next day (the ‘peak’ day, according to weather reports) but didn’t even get out of the bay, the winds were so light. I couldn’t see any whitecaps anywhere with the binocs and another boat that had left ahead of us was still visible on the horizon, sails luffing in the nonexistent wind and big leftover swell. We returned to anchor and did boat projects. The next day we tried again and had good wind nearly to our next destination, when it again died completely, leaving us to motor into the anchorage at Gatos.

Again we had a good time at Gatos. Maybe the most spectacular land scenery we’ve seen at any anchorage anywhere. We hiked for several hours in the other direction this time. The mountains are layered with many different colors of dirt/rock and so when you hike around, you go through all these different colored areas. It’s just a really cool place.

Manuel the fisherman intercepted us as we attempted to leave Gatos for points south but there was no wind and no sea and we were just sitting out in the glassy water. He motored up and sat on our ama chatting with us for a bit holding onto his panga by a light leash. We told him we’d likely be pulling up to the beach at Timbabichi (a mere two miles south of Gatos) unless the wind performed a miracle and began to blow and he said if we did, he’d stop by later with some fish for us. Sweet!

A few hours later, anchored in Timbabichi, Manuel arrived with the goods: ‘chocolates.’ (What the?) They are large brown shiny clams and we traded some pesos for 20 of them. We asked Manuel how to cook them and he said you just boil them or whatever, like normal clams, which is what we did. They were great, not sandy at all; maybe a little on the large side if there were any complaints. Later, we ran into a couple in La Paz who were traveling around Baja with a camper and a folding kayak and the guy said that the best way to eat them was to take a large thin knife and split them right down the middle (uncooked, alive), then eat them like oysters on the half shell with lime juice and hot sauce. We told him that we boiled them with garlic butter and he went into fits. “AAHHHH!!! You ruined them! You ruined them!!” And his wife kept saying, “You didn’t ruin them, they are good no matter how you prepare them. Jeez!”

Chocolates Clams

Chocolates! Boiled, not raw.

The next day we had light wind and crept south towards San Evaristo. Then the wind picked up insanely and we made wicked time. We pulled a bit of a Punta Baja when rounding the corner into the anchorage; winds that run over land intensify to insane proportions and generally anchorages are windier than the outside. Just another way life is not fair.

The next day we hopped over to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida for the evening, chatted with a kayak guide from La Paz who was camped on the beach and returned to our boat to find that we had dragged anchor!! Ooop. It DID seem farther paddling back… We reset the anchor (it had reset itself but now were not in the position we wanted to be in) again and it held fine. We are not sure what caused it to drag; maybe it slid on some grasses? Hooked on the edge of a rock? Pretty embarrassing; I wonder if any of the other boats noticed. (“And they allll moved away from me on the bench…”)

We arrived in La Paz once again in the evening and stuck our anchor down right smack in the middle of the channel. “Hey, here’s a great wide open space where nobody’s anchored! Score!!” We discreetly moved the next morning when we realized where we were and again wondered if anyone noticed.

Don’s weather report was for northers and good sustained winds in the 20-25 knot range, “right down the middle!” so we did our restocking as fast as we could and headed out to cross the Sea of Cortez two days later.

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell