After about 10 days on the hook, knowing there were a series of norther windstorms coming up, we headed from Agua Verde to the protected marina and anchorage area known as Puerto Escondido – or Hidden Harbor. We had planned to stay here last year and had placed a deposit on a month’s moorage for last April but didn’t get to use it, so we hoped they were still going to honor it.
This is an unusual area in that it is a basin protected on nearly all sides by land formations. On the west side there are the tall Sierra de la Gigante mountains, on the north side there are a couple of small islands that have land bridges between them that form “windows” to the north, so the bay and marina are protected from north swell but not from the wind, and other land rims the rest, except for a small opening to the south. John Steinbeck came here on his travels in 1940 and described the variety of marine animal life in the bay and also how he and his companions were taken into the hills for a big-horn sheep hunting expedition. He found it more enjoyable to sit in the sun than to actually shoot anything and loved looking at the landscape.
This has long been an anchorage with a very large basin with mooring balls that could easily hold 80 or more boats, and in recent years there has been a concerted effort to build a very nice marina, called Marina Puerto Escondido. Since the late 1990’s there have been several efforts to build out luxury homes, complete with wide cement streets and sidewalks laid out prior to 2008, but at this point there are only two homes, and it’s not clear to us that this would really be a favored place to have a home, since it is 14 miles away from the town of Loreto and there isn’t beach nearby.
The marina staff are all wonderful and the most helpful of any marina we have been at in Mexico. There was a bit of confusion as we pulled into the marina though, and tried to go to our assigned slip, only to find it was occupied, then to be told to go to a different slip and then were waved off that one because they realized we were definitely too big for it. In the end we were placed on the outside of the breakwater for the marina, which put the north side and the entire bay on our port side. This became important the next day as the predicted norther came in with strong winds and the resultant wind powered chop that started slamming us against the cement dock. We spent a lot of time monitoring the boat movement, ended up putting out all 13 fenders that we own on the starboard side and had a noisy and rocky night. In the end no damage, and the marina folks moved us to the inside of the breakwater where it felt like we were in a different marina for the rest of our time, and a couple more northers.
The marina has all the amenities one could need – very nice bathrooms and showers, a laundry facility – which does not have hot water, but the machines worked – and a restaurant with good pizza that is apparently expanding their menu slowly under new management. There is a shop with the MOST expensive beer you will ever buy as well as high end supplies for the gringo crowd, a fuel dock, and they do in-slip pumpout, although we were told for larger boats it didn’t work well. There are also some charter fishing boats based here.
Coincidentally, there were 8 other Nordhavn boats in the marina while we were there, so we got a chance to see several fellow owners that we know and to meet some new folks, appropriately distanced, of course, which was great. The marina was not full, and when we dingy toured around the anchorage one evening we realized that the majority of the 40 or so boats on mooring balls were there for storage –almost all sailboats, with their decks clear and all sails removed, no signs of life. The pandemic has taken a toll on the usual business of this area.
One of the benefits of the area is the meticulously laid out and maintained trail system up into the hills overlooking the harbor and out into the Sea. The creation of this was led by a previous long-time expat resident who was a vigorous and devoted hiker. We did a couple of the trails – the first time slipping and sliding some on the loose rock, so the next time we broke out the hiking boots. We do beg to differ with the published description of these as being “easy” hikes, but they are worth the effort for some magnificent views from the ridges.
On my birthday we ran into this pair of young burros in the scrub brush. Later on, we learned from a guard that the burros were originally part of a threesome owned by a local, but one of them died, and they are going to be sold in May.
When we weren’t feeling up to the vertical climb of 650 feet in half a kilometer for the hill hikes, we walked the perimeter of the area, which included the Marina Rescate (think Coast Guard) dock and building.
The marina makes it easy to rent a car for $35 a day, so we also spent two days exploring Loreto and some nearby sites, which will be in our next post!