Monday, May 26, 2014

Living in La Paz

After our sojourn in the Central Sea, Finisterra spent a couple of weeks at Marina Palmira in La Paz where she underwent a thorough cleaning, had her motor serviced and was reprovisioned. When that was done we had some time to explore more of the city of La Paz and the East Cape region of Baja. But first some news:

About a month ago we decided it would be better to sail Finisterra back to California for the summer instead of leaving her here in Mexico. The reason for this change of plans is that after having lived aboard for six months and cruised over 4,000 miles, we have a pretty long list things we want to do to the boat, and it will be much easier and less expensive to do the work in sunny California instead of broiling Mexico over the summer. Some of the items on the list include replacing the teak in the cockpit and transom step, expanding the bimini and dodger, rebuilding or replacing the watermaker, etc. Of course we could do all this here in Mexico but we'd have to spend the summer here.  We took a vote on that and agreed that it's too bloody hot here in the summertime. So within a few weeks we'll head south to Cabo San Lucas, or more precisely Puerto Los Cabos, where we'll make final preparations for the long passage up the Pacific side of Baja to California.

In the meantime we've been getting to know La Paz. A couple of months ago I bought an air conditioner for the boat which has greatly improved our quality of life aboard. Outside temperatures recently have been in the 100-107 degree range with the sea temperature hovering around eighty degrees, so it can easily be a hundred inside the boat. The AC unit is just a little thing but it keeps the boat fairly comfortable during the day.

A few days ago we rented a car and took a drive around the East Cape from La Paz through Los Barriles and Cabo Pulmo, and on to San Jose del Cabo where we had a nice dinner. From there we headed west through Cabo San Lucas and then turned northward back toward La Paz.

There is a new marina under construction near Los Barriles that I wanted to check out. It took a while to find it but it was worth a look. The jetties and channels are all built, and there are a couple of floating docks with a few fishing boats, but aside from that it's still desert. The master plan includes luxury homes and all the amenities that wealthy fishermen and vacationers expect, but by the looks of the place they are still a few years in the future.

Marina Ribera near Los Barriles has a few boats in it. Notice that there are no sailboats here.
The luxury hotels and condos are still a twinkle in the developer's eye at Marina Ribera.
Unbeknownst to us, the paved road ended at the marina and for the next 51 miles it was dirt. Our little Nissan rental car handled it well for the most part, we only high centered it twice and returned it to the agency with the oil pan and suspension intact. We got back onto a paved road about five miles outside of San Jose del Cabo and cruised into town around 5:30. After a meal at a restaurant we used to frequent the last time we stayed in San Jose, we got back on the road and headed back to La Paz.
Usually the wild burros we've encountered in Mexico have been pretty skittish, but a few miles outside of San Jose we came across a half dozen of them on the road. There wasn't any skittish in these fellows except for the little guy pictured above.
Lisa wanted to take this one home but it wouldn't fit in the backseat.
After a few days in the marina we headed out to a place called Caleta Partida. It's a cove formed by the islands of Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. The two islands are separated only by a narrow channel that is deep enough for a dinghy to pass through.

Caleta Partida is the cove to the west of the channel that separates two islands. We anchored a quarter mile west of the channel near the southern shore of the cove.
We arrived at 1400 and spent the afternoon swimming and exploring the channel between the islands. Later in the day a couple of sailboats entered the cove and anchored nearby. We are always careful about how we anchor, and whenever possible I'll swim out to the anchor and visually check that it's well set. Knowing that a Coromuel wind was likely to arrive sometime around midnight, I made doubly sure about that. I hate having to get up in the middle of the night in 30 knots of wind to find that we're towing our anchor across the bay.

Sure enough the wind showed up a little after midnight, blowing a steady 25-30 knots out of the southwest, with gusts up to about 38 knots. The boat that had anchored nearest us stayed put throughout the night but at dawn it began to drag. It was headed toward us and crossed our bow about fifty feet away moving stern-first toward shoal water which was another hundred yards or so to leeward. I was on the foredeck yelling at the boat and just as they passed by the owner came on deck and got the engine started. If they had dragged any further their anchor might have snagged our chain and taken us with them. By then we had our engine started and were ready to take evasive action. Fortunately they got their boat under control before there was any harm to themselves or us. They tried to re-anchor but couldn't get their plow type anchor to hold in that much wind. They eventually gave up and headed out to sea with the wind still blowing 30 knots...not a fun morning for them. We had seen the boat in Ensenada back in January. The owner told me he and his wife had been working on it for eight years and were finally ready to sail south and fulfill their cruising dreams. Like many boats we see cruising, they had added a whole lot of stuff on deck including four large solar panels on a big stainless steel arch, and lots of other toys on deck. All of this stuff adds weight and windage so though they probably had an anchor of a size that was recommended for that boat, it may not have been adequate for the way the boat was set up. We were fortunate that they didn't hit us and they were fortunate not to have run aground that morning. With all the money they had invested in their boat, they should have spent a bit more and gotten a ROCNA anchor.

Later that day we moved further north on Isla Partida to Ensenada grande where we spent a couple of relaxing days swimming and exploring. Now we're back in La Paz and beginning preparations to head back to California.


  1. Howdy, did you ever run into our friends on Cinnabar in La Paz, surely you remember Silvia and Tom from the Bandaras Bay Regatta......

    CA in the summer is nice, have a safe trip up the coast. We are enjoying the Azores currently in Sao Miguel. Weather permitting we are off for Ireland next week.
    judy and torben

  2. Hi, Yachting in La-Paz waters brings you to one of the premier sailing destinations in the world. I hope you guys enjoy the sailing time very much.
    Thanks for this post.