Sunday, May 10, 2015

Three Weeks in La Paz

Finisterra took a berth in Marina Palmira on April 24th where I had planned to do some routine engine maintenance, the most important of which was to service the fuel injectors. Rob from Cross Marine did the injector work and gave the engine a complete inspection while I replaced filters, tightened belts and generally puttered around the engine. In the course of his inspection Rob discovered a slight leak in the raw water pump. Fortunately I had a rebuild kit in my spare parts cache and within a day or two that job was done.
La Paz  with Marina Palmira in the foreground. It's a nice hike up a rocky trail from the marina to the top of the hill where these pictures were taken. 

La Paz is the only city on the gulf coast of Baja California. It boasts a population of around 250,000 including nearby suburbs. Mulege, Loreto, and Santa Rosalia are also located on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja Peninsula, but I categorize them as towns or villages with populations of  4,000, 15,000 and 12,000 respectively.

Because of its location La Paz is the place where cruisers gather before heading up the Sea. Of course there is a fairly large contingent of cruisers who have become more or less permanent residents of this area, some of whom anchor out in the channel between the city and the El Mogote Peninsula, which lies between La Paz and the Sea. Hurricane Odile ravaged the Baja Peninsula last year, passing just to the west of the city and wreaking havoc ashore and among the boats in the anchorage. As we sailed down the channel on our approach to Marina Palmira, we could see evidence of Odile's fury in damaged buildings and torn up docks in the marina. Odile did almost one and a quarter billion dollars worth of damage in Mexico and took over a dozen lives.

The pilings in the upper left are all that's left of the docks at the entrance to Marina Palmira. Notice the boats in the storage yard.

One day I helped deliver a boat out to the Tramper, a heavy lift ship that was anchored in the bay. The Tramper was on a voyage delivering yachts from one place to another. After its stop in La Paz, it was headed to Ensenada, then British Columbia.

As far as I know, the Tramper picked up three boats in La Paz

This 40' racer/cruiser was picked up before our boat.
The boat comes alongside the ship, a couple of handlers descend the jacob's ladder and the slings are lowered aft of the boat. Then a pair of divers, which you can see holding the slings in this shot, align them under the boat, making sure they aren't touching the shaft, prop or rudder. 
Before the boat is hoisted aboard the ship, they do a test lift to make sure it hangs in the slings the way they want it. If all is good, the boss gives the order to load the boat.

Our little boat was up next. It has spent many years cruising in Mexico and is headed home to Canada for a rest and refit. It got shoe-horned between the dark hulled C&C and the white boat with the black stripe.
With the job done, we climbed aboard a panga and headed back to shore.
La Paz is usually a hot place this time of year, with average daytime temperatures of 92 degrees under a usually blazing sun. But over the last couple of weeks we've enjoyed temps in the low eighties with cool Coromuel winds blowing almost every night. It's made hiking and exploring the city quite bearable and we've enjoyed the place more than ever. Of course, friends are what really make a place enjoyable and we've spent a good deal of time socializing with great people.

With Finisterra well provisioned, fueled and ready to go, we're heading out tomorrow for the islands to the north of us. The rough plan is to spend a day or two in Puerto Balandra, then a few days in the coves of Islas Espiritu Santo and Partida before heading further north to Isla San Francisco and beyond.

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