It’s been almost a year since our first time in La Paz and the Sea of Cortez but we’re back for our final goodbye before heading to southern Mexico (i.e. south of Barra Navidad) and on to Central America and the Panama Canal.
For those that haven’t been following our posts, La Paz is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez because it’s a relatively large town in a beautiful, protected bay within a few hours sail of Isla Espiritu Santo, Isla Partida, Isla San Francisco and ultimately some of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world. It’s convenient for supplies and boat repairs, and is home to hundreds of boaters who came for a visit and got caught in the “boomerang”. We know the feeling since it’s our third time here. We were here in November and December 2013 then back in May and are back now (October 2014) for our swan song.
But, we can’t leave without some reflections of our experiences in the Sea of Cortez. First and foremost, the travel books and cruising guides don’t lie –it really is beautiful. It has remote islands, crystal clear water (in most places), and it’s teeming with sea life. It’s surrounded by the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains and, since the land is a desert, you feel like your sailing in a mirage.
Our highlights include swimming with whale sharks and seals, sailing with dolphins off the bow of the boat, “noodling” in crystal clear water, “redneck water-skiing”, bonfires on the beach at San Juanico and most recently catching our first fish – a 3-foot Dorado that was just the right size for three fantastic meals. Audrey also enjoyed some “chick time” when she made jewelry (thanks Debbie) and went horseback riding along the beach in San Carlos.
Second, it’s hard to be productive when there is so “much ado about nothing” to distract you. It’s been almost a year and though our Spanish has improved we are nowhere near as proficient as we hoped. We have a number of highly recommended Spanish language books and programs onboard, including Rosetta Stone, Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish, Berlitz and Spanish for Dummies (yes, that’s mine) but would you rather practice Spanish or go snorkeling, sailing, swimming, or walking. Or,even better, go to happy hour; munch tacos; read a good book or take a siesta?????
Third, there’s no better way to make lifelong friends in a short period of time than going cruising. We can’t possibly name all the wonderful people we’ve met so far on this journey but we can’t leave the area without giving a shout to some of our dearest friends who are not going further with us at this time. These include Eric and Birgitta on Ariel IV, Debbie and Steve (and Libby) on Delphinia, Ken and Sheri on Cake, Peter and Mary on Neko, and Dan and Deanna on Rocket Girl. We know we’ll see you again somewhere in the very near future.
Fourth, when people tell you it’s going to be damn hot in the Sea of Cortez in the summer, believe every word they say. After 3 months (May – July) of cruising the sea in sweltering 100+ degree temperatures, we scooted across the sea to San Carlos, booked into a marina, bought an air conditioner and stayed cool for 2 months until it was time to leave again. The a/c was one of the best purchases we ever made.
Last but not least, don’t mess with Mother Nature – specifically hurricanes. We knew we were going to be in the tropics for the summer but planned to be as far north as possible to minimize the potential for getting hit. As most of you know by now, our diversion to San Carlos for those two months probably saved us a lot of heartache as it has turned out to be the most active tropical storm season ever in the eastern Pacific (which includes Mexico). In fact, major Hurricane Odile made a direct hit on the Baja Peninsula causing significant damage and loss of life in many of the places we spent significant amounts of time – including right here in La Paz where 3 boaters were killed and many boats were sunk or run aground. Obviously, no one knows exactly where and when hurricanes are going to hit but when your home can only move at 5-6 knots an hour you need to pay a lot of attention to the weather.
The only thing left to say is adios to the Sea of Cortez and hola to the Pacific Ocean – our cruising grounds till we get to the Panama Canal. But, there’s a lot of miles and a lot of stops between here and there…