Escaping the Heat in Todos Santos

While we were still in La Paz in early May, the temperature started to climb and the weekend was predicted to be in the high 90s. This sounded unpleasant to us, so we looked for an escape and figured out that we could spend the time on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula where it was significantly cooler. I quickly booked a really nice Inn and we planned to use our friend’s Penny and Lawrence’s (on N50 Northern Ranger) trusty little red truck to get ourselves there and back.

A day or two before we planned to go, we came out to the truck to find the battery was dead. Larry got to put his battery fixing talents to work sourcing parts and replacing the terminal connectors.

So intent on his project he forgot to take off the mask.

On Friday we drove out of La Paz, which seemed to go on forever in the hot sun, with the same type of urban sprawl we have in the US. About halfway across the Peninsula, we suddenly felt a welcome and distinct drop in temperature as the Pacific breezes kicked in.

There were a lot of Mexican families taking their photos here – I snapped this in a 10 second break between groups!
Lovely old restored street and entrance to the Inn.

Approaching Todos Santos we drove through lush irrigated fields growing crops we couldn’t quite recognize. In town, we found the old streets to be narrow and quaint in the restored part of the town. Our hotel, The Todos Santos Inn, was in a recovered sugar plantation home, with a lovely interior courtyard and small swimming pool. Our room was at the far end, opening onto the courtyard, and it felt like we were nearly the only people there.

Larry in the pool. We had it to ourselves.

This was the first time we had been off the boat overnight in nearly 5 months. I luxuriated in the very large shower where I didn’t have to keep my elbows in, and unlimited hot water.

The town is popular as an artist enclave – mainly American and Canadian artists from what I read – and has many galleries. Nearly all of them were either closed or only open for appointments because of COVID, so we decided not to focus on looking at art. The historic section of town was a few streets lined with beautiful old restored buildings, and the town square was bordered by the church. The square itself was not the focus of town activity though, a change from most Mexican towns. Rather, the commercial streets with restaurants galleries and boutiques seem to be the most heavily traveled. There were a fair number of tourists around, fairly evenly split between Mexicans and Americans.

The church – the rope for the bell hangs down the side of the building – I was tempted to ring it!

There were a number of restaurants with outside seating. Because of the slow season, we were fortunate to get a table at the last minute at El Refugio Mezcaleria, which serves traditional indigenous dishes and mezcal. Noel Morales, the chef, is a Mexican man from Guerrero and an expert in traditional arts and food, and his wife Rachel Glueck is an American writer who published a beautiful book called the Native Mexican Kitchen, which I am enjoying reading for a lot more background on the culture and the explanation of foods and how to use them. I am inspired to make some of the dishes now that I understand the different types of chilies and how to use them.

A flight of mezcals and a tasty appetizer at El Refugio.

Strangely, it is difficult to get to the beach at Todos Santos. We are not sure if that is by design, since the waves are quite strong and the reason this is a popular surfing area, so maybe they don’t want unsuspecting tourists to drown, or it’s just the way the town developed, but we spent a good bit of time driving carefully down narrow one lane sandy roads toward the beach side attempting to find an actual path to the beach.

Looking to the north.

We finally succeeded by following the instructions to reach Laguna La Poza from some blog posts and Google maps, which does map out the dirt and sand roads. The trip took us up the hill between the town and the water, past a neighborhood of vacation casitas and larger homes, through a lowland area with dense tropical vegetation and barbed wire and the sudden appearance on my side of the road of a man in camouflage gear and a machine gun who was talking on a cell phone, before we found a place to park the car. We avoided getting stuck in the sand, and crossed the dunes to the beach and the lagoon.

You can barely see the boy fishing off the rock in front of the luxury homes on the hill.
I was disappointed by the lack of birds in the lagoon.

I had read a variety of information in articles and blog posts discussing Laguna La Poza as a bird watchers haven. But I had also seen some complaints about the decreasing water levels in the lagoon from development and other issues, and so was not totally surprised to see both the homes right on the edge of it and the lack of any real sign of bird life.

We enjoyed watching the crashing waves and the fog that drifted across the scene. All in all, an enjoyable respite from the boat and the heat!

Love the green water with the sun shining through the waves.

Wildlife around La Paz

After waking up at Isla San Francisco (previous post here) to strong westerly winds and wave action, we retreated to the safe anchorage at San Evaristo. We had a secure but very windy night. Before bed we watched a sailboat get blown clear across the anchorage not once, but twice, during the high winds in the dark (we had watched them set their anchor and clearly it wasn’t done well).

The next day we contemplated the weather and after some emotional conversation (mainly from me), decided to head to La Paz. We already had paid up moorage for the next month in order to get work done, and we acknowledged that no one is going to award us a trophy for hunkering down in the wind at anchor for days.

On the way, we had the good fortune to see a spectacular blue whale pair. Maybe it was mom and a baby, as they usually travel solo. They were majestic. Over the next few weeks, we would see a blue whale several times in the same general area around Espiritu Santo – not sure if it was the same one, but very exciting to see him or her. We have now seen at least 4 species of whales in the Sea.

Very tall spout – one sign of blue whale.
Another is this distinctive skin coloration.
Very small relative dorsal fin set way back is another characteristic of blue whales.

Back in La Paz, summer has arrived. We now believe that our Airmar weather station doesn’t have the ability to go above 99.9 degrees (F) – we’ve seen this several times. So we have also given in and become familiar with our air conditioning.

When the wind doesn’t blow it’s quite hot.

As Larry wrote in the fuel post, our follow-up boat work has gone really well. We were able to get out and spend a final weekend at Espiritu Santo in Caleta Partida (earlier post here), and again were visited by turtles every day.

Hello there!
Final sunrise at Caleta Partida.

Bahia Amortajada

Waking up in Isla San Francisco on our third morning to southwesterly winds and rolly waves, we headed over to Bahia Amortajada as planned so we could hit the high tide at 9am to dingy into the estuary.  We planned this trip after marveling at what a difference a few months makes in Isla San Francisco.  Instead of having it to ourselves, with just a few other sailboats, there were multiple 100 foot plus crewed yachts setting up tents and lunches on the beach for their guests, jet skis and water skiers zooming around, and music playing out across the anchorage.  We still enjoyed beach walking and snorkeling in the 70- degree water early in the day and lounging back on our boat on floaties in the water off the cockpit out of the action, but were also happy to move on. 

Entrance to the estuary.
Looking back to the entrance from inside – Baja mountain range in the distance.

We’ve explored other estuaries while here in Mexico and were looking forward to this one.   Armed with long sleeves and a thick layer of bug spray against the reputed jejenes (little tiny flies) that bite, we got in our micro-tender and headed to the opening just before high tide.  An inward current helped our little engine.  The mangroves looked very healthy, and the entrance had a crowd of pelicans and scattered herons to greet us. 

As we went further, we looked for fish in the relatively clear water.  We saw a few – some trigger fish, some long coronet or pencil fish, some puffers and some groups of small fish – but much of the time the water was empty.  This probably explains why we didn’t see birds in much of the estuary.  We looked hard but didn’t see any of the usual mangrove crabs either.      

Love the contrast of the green mangroves with the cacti and the mountains.
One of the side channels.

We made it to the other side and the other entrance – which looked hairy and quite turbulent.  Not a good place to take one’s tiny tender through!   

Border of the far entrance, with turbulence and white caps outside.

Overall, it was a fun dingy trip and a worthwhile visit.  We rank it number three on our explored estuaries – behind La Tovara at San Blas and Tenacatita, south of Puerto Vallarta, both on the mainland side of Mexico.

The tiny fishing community of Isla Pardito – perched on this tiny island.

As we were wary of bugs and swarming bees – which have quite the nose for a single drop of fresh water – and of predicted strong southerly winds affecting the wide open anchorage at Amortajada, we headed over to the north side of Isla San Francisco a short mile or two away.  As soon as we dropped the anchor, some fishermen from nearby Isla Pardito came over and showed us some humongous crabs, harvested from 200 feet deep out on the far side of the island.  We took one, and I was scared to bring it in the boat.  But I “womaned up” as Larry said, grabbed its two foot long front arms with big claws and held it while Larry sent it to heaven with a sharp knife and a mallet.  It made a wonderful dinner for us, plus another meal, and a good paycheck for the fishermen, so we thank it for its life. 

I think that’s a baleful look in his eyes.

We were joined in the anchorage by 4 other boats, one a beautiful crewed 80-foot sailboat, seeking protection from the southerly winds stoking rolling waves.  And we all woke in the middle of the night to 25-30 knots winds and rolling waves, despite the good protection.   It’s never dull around here.

A forest of cardon cacti borders the mangroves.

Isla Coronados – Fog and Dolphins!

After an interesting time at Bahia Salinas, we rounded the top of Isla Carmen and headed over to Isla Coronados, where we had been earlier in the season.  With warmer weather and some southerly breezes, the time was right to anchor on the northwest side and hang out on the white sand beach.  It was much busier with pangas bringing day trippers over from Loreto, but we had it pretty much to ourselves in the evenings.  We spent a couple of days beach lounging, soaking up the sun and wading into the aqua water.

We awoke on the morning we knew we would have to move to the other side because of shifting wind to find ourselves socked in with good old northwest style fog!  What a shock.  We hadn’t known this might happen here (but later reviewed the paragraph in the guide that mentions it as a spring and summer phenomena).  The volcano was shrouded in fog, and at times it was so dense we couldn’t see the other boat in the anchorage.  The quintessential northwest sound of foghorns seems to be missing in Mexico.   

This was late in the morning after much had burned off but still shrouded the volcano.

As it started to lift, we pulled up anchor to head around to the other side of the island.  As we rounded the turn, a pod of dolphins headed right for us.  They were very big dolphins, and they seemed to be having a fabulous time, leaping and diving.  We clapped and yelled for them, and this seemed to make them jump even more – right next to the boat!    I was lucky to get a few shots off – they were so close I wasn’t sure it was going to work with my telephoto lens, but I positioned myself as best I could and managed some lucky shots.  

On his way up.
On his way down.
You can see how close they were!

Isla Carmen – East Side

After departing Puerto Escondido in early April we embarked on a circumnavigation of Isla Carmen, a large island with a number of anchorages. Earlier in the season we had spent a number of days in Puerta Ballandra on the west side of the island, mainly sitting through a long norther. This time we were going to explore some anchorages on the east side of the island.

Punta Colorada

We started out at Punta Colorada, an open anchorage just around the southern tip of the island, mainly providing protection from north winds and swell. Our first night we were alone save for a sighting of a lone bighorn sheep on shore at dusk. For the first time this season, the water seemed warm enough to snorkel in, and we were thrilled to be able to suit up in our wetsuits, hoods and fins and snorkels and check out a couple of the rocky areas near shore. When I say warm enough, that’s by Pacific Northwest standards. It was still in the upper 60s but getting very close to 70.

That’s me getting some swimming exercise. It’s easier to breath swimming with a snorkel! And no comments on my form please :).

The first day we snorkeled we were somewhat disappointed with murky water, turbulent waves and a handful of fish. The second day had clear water and a better number and variety of tropical fish – including some of my favorites which are neon yellow and have purple tails – some brown urchins and a few sea stars. No underwater camera, so no pics. There was a lot of dead and bleached coral.

What appears to be a derelict refrigerator.

We walked on shore and saw what looks like an abandoned refrigerator that we joked that the hunters – who are here periodically to shoot bighorn sheep when they get too prolific – can store their beer. They just need to plug it in.

Looking over the rock flows to the anchorage – our friend’s boat in the foreground.
Seemed like optimal conditions for sea life in these tidepools, but we had to look hard for it.
There are some small black spiny urchins and some sponges (we think) in this tide pool.
This was a hermit crab nursery – while we watched all these little shells moved all over the place.
Very cool patterns in this old lava rock.

Bahía Salinas

After a pleasant time at Punta Colorada we made our way about 10 miles north. This bay has natural salt flats which were first discovered by Jesuit Missionaries in 1698 and then operated more or less continually until the early 1980s when a salt mining operation started in Guerro Negro on the West Coast of Baja.  The convenience of that operation – no long trip up into the Sea – effectively put the Salinas salt operation out of business.  Some of the workers lived here in the small village, and apparently they were given short notice about the closing of the plant and had to leave in a hurry, but the last boat helping to remove their belongings wrecked on the beach.

The little village with the hunting lodge (the low white building) in the middle.
Looking past the hunting lodge and a rusted piece of equipment to the boats.

Isla Carmen has bighorn sheep and no natural predators. A hunting lodge was built here sometime after the salt plant closed. While we were here no hunting was happening, fortunately!

Wreck on the beach and the remains of the pier and the village in the background.

We dingied to shore with the intention to explore the salt ponds and the village. We had heard from another boater that no one approached them the previous day, but as we were walking toward the village, a young man with a topknot and wearing a face mask, the caretaker presumably, came out to inform us which area we could walk on – the path to the salt ponds and to the church, and the beach. The rest of the land is private.

The village church with the salt ponds in the background.
One of the evaporating salt ponds.
The salt up close, looks just like dirty old snow to me.
One of the very old buildings – the walls were over a foot thick.
While it was hot outside, the thick walls meant the interior was nice and cool.
The office.

After our tour of the salt ponds, we walked the length of the long white beach and back. At the south end there is an entrance to a wide hiking trail. Ironically, an old faded Semarnat sign (Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources) says that hunting is prohibited.

Found outside the cluster of old homes.
Resilient cacti sprout anywhere.

As I write this, it is April 16th. We are departing today from a two day stay at Puerto Escondido and are starting to head slowly south back toward La Paz. Our intent is to soak up the hot weather and warming water with as much swimming and snorkeling and beach lounging as we can before we arrive back in La Paz around May 2nd.

Scenes of Loreto

On our way down from San Juanico to Puerto Escondido for whale watching, we passed some beautiful striated cliffs. These were just north of another anchorage called Punta Mangles. It was notable for the hulks of abandoned hotel construction on its shores.

On this return visit to Puerto Escondido, at the end of March a month after our first time there, it was obvious spring had come and birds were migrating through. There was also quite a bit more boater activity, probably partly because this was the Semana Santa week – Holy Week, to celebrate Easter, and the biggest vacation week of the years for Mexicans.

I had a good time finding a number of birds in the scrublands around the marina and getting some good shots of them. I did not manage to get any of the rufus hummingbirds which migrate across the Sea of Cortez in one shot on their way north to the US and Canada, but they were definitely around!

Larry did not believe me that this is an oriole, but his frame of reference might have been the Baltimore Orioles mascot.
This little one is drinking from the irrigation tube for a palm tree – they do have to irrigate them to keep them beautiful.
These are a southern version of a cardinal, called Pyrrhuloxia, identified thanks to my Mom!
This half of a pair of finches were spending a lot of time in the mast of the neighboring catamaran and had beautiful and noisy songs.
This one also had a good song, which is how I found him somewhat hidden in a bush.

Since we had the car, we made a trip into Loreto to check out the malecon and the waterfront and to get more tacos. We happened to choose a day when the winds were blowing a steady 20 + knots, which you can see in the palm trees!

This is the beach right in front of town, with the extinct volcano of Isla Coronados in the distance.
This whale statue is at the base of a pier extending out to create the small harbor.
Looking back toward the harbor from a second breakwater.

San Juanico

This is our favorite spot so far.  We headed up to this large bay after the night at Isla Coronados near Loreto.  We were still looking for good protection from north winds, so our goal was to anchor in the northern side of this large bay, in between several interesting rock formations. 

Between us and the beach at sunset
Between us and the Sea.
Windswept sandstone near the beach

When we arrived there was one other boat, a sailing catamaran with a family with two little girls on board and it remained our two boats for almost the four days we stayed there.  We got to know them a bit during our stay here.  It was great to see small children for the first time in a long time!

Looking over the anchorage from the hill. We are the tiny right hand boat.

We tried landing our dingy for some exploration first in one area that turned out to be too shallow – we would have had to anchor the dingy a quarter mile out and wade in because of the long shallow run out.  The next area had too much surf going to land our full size dingy, so we ended up on the beach across from the boat and underneath a large home built on the cliff. 

Larry determined to enjoy happy hour despite the chilly breeze.
Fading light to the west side of the bay.

A trail led off to the other side of the island where there is a small bay that is open to the north with a beautiful beach. 

On our walk over to check out the other side, we met a Mexican gentleman in a pickup truck who told us he has a small ranch with goats and vegetables nearby.  His passenger was from the house, an American guy named Eric.  We later found out that Eric is a videographer hired by the owner of the large house on the cliff (and all the surrounding area one can see in the bay) to document the area.  Fortunately, the owner, a tech guy who apparently made his money in online poker, has decided against developing this area into a resort and is instead donating it to be preserved by a non-profit organization. 

The extensive home on the hill overlooking the bay.

The next day we dingied into shore and set the anchor about 25 feet out to avoid having a beached dingy when we returned.  Our anchor buddy is getting worn out so we can’t be guaranteed that it’s working anymore to hold us off the beach.  We shuffled our feet through the water to shore – there were numerous divots in the sand which could make you stumble, but more importantly we realized they were made by sting rays.  If you step on a sting ray and surprise it, it might sting you which hurts a lot.  So shuffling is the way to alert them to your presence. 

The beach here is a popular camping area.  Highway 1 passes by about 7 miles away and then a dirt road leads here.   Three sites were occupied when we walked by – we met some of the campers – one American couple in a popup trailer who had been in Mexico for months, another solo young guy in a small tent whose father who had just arrived from Alaska for his annual visit and sunburn – he had gotten the coronavirus vaccine already.   Someone had even cleared the beach of all the rocks, leaving them in neat piles and a resulting soft white sand beach.  We found the dirt road and headed off inland. 

Dusty road leading to the ranch.

After a while of walking through the dusty cactus strewn landscape we came over a rise and saw a tall orange lamppost on the left side of the road.  Totally incongruous on the dirt road. 

The single lamppost in the middle of nowhere!

Across from it was a small house marked with white painted boulders, a large chicken coop and fenced areas.  We guessed this was Jose’s ranch.  We introduced ourselves to the two men sitting on the patio and one of them took us out back to see the vegetable plots.  3 large raised beds were shaded by a fabric sunshade and full of lush green vegetables.  It was almost disconcerting to see such rich greenness after so much dust and brown.  He pulled up spring onions, beets, chard, lettuce and other goodies for us.  The goats weren’t around but we were able to buy a kilo of fresh goat cheese too.  It was creamy, mild and salty – best thing we had tasted in weeks! 

The entrance to the ranch.
The vegetable beds.
A very proud turkey.

We stayed here for 4 nights before continuing on our way north.  We will definitely return.  There are a number of other areas to explore when the wind is lower and the water warm enough for snorkeling. 

A group of horses meandering on the beach across from us at dusk.

Loreto

Loreto is one of the oldest towns on the Baja Peninsula.  The indigenous people thrived in this area for thousands of years – the Loreto area is considered to be the oldest human settlement on Baja.   Spanish missionaries and Jesuits arrived in the late 1600s and established the first mission of the Californias here.  Not many years later, they realized they needed a better water supply and agricultural capabilities, so the mission was moved into the hills about 20 miles away. 

Municipal building anchoring one end of the town square.

Loreto served as the capital of the Baja region until there was a major storm in 1829 and the capitol was moved to La Paz.  There is a very small marina in the town that handles pangas and other small fishing boats but is not equipped for larger size vessels, which is why Puerto Escondido has become the focal marina in the region.    

In the 20th century this town was refashioned into a tourist haven, and is very popular with American and Canadian tourists and ex-pats.  We rented a car for two days from the marina in order to hit the grocery stores and farmer’s market for provisions and to do an excursion into the hills to see the Misión San Francisco Javier. 

Namesake of our destination mission in the hills.

We drove the 14 miles along the well-paved highway passing a few resort communities and a lot of land marked private for a ranch.  Once we entered town we got the lay of the land and scoped out where the grocery stores were before parking and walking to the town square area.  There are obviously a lot of restaurants and shops with tourist goods.  We were struck by how few people were around in the middle of Saturday morning.  It is clear the pandemic has almost completely closed down the tourist business here.  Unfortunately, most of the few tourists we did see were maskless, despite the Baja-wide mandate to wear masks. 

The street in front of the Misión Nuestra Señora de Loreto in the middle of town was all torn up, so we weren’t getting close to it.  There is a Malecon on the water which is reportedly good for strolling, but each day we passed by it, we were struck by a strong odor of waste so it wasn’t very appealing.  This must be unusual. 

Town square photos taken mid-day on Saturday – you can see the notable lack of people!

The town square has many shaded benches for relaxing.  We got fish tacos from the King of Tacos and took them to the square to eat.  They were absolutely fantastic! 

El Rey means the King. This is worth a stop!

We hit both of the grocery stores and a small delicatessen styled store with gringo favorites like cheddar cheese and real crackers.  I had a nice conversation with the owner.  She asked if I had left my husband in the car and I said yes, we were minimizing how much we went into stores if not needed because of COVID. This led her to thank me for being so careful, and to talk about how scary it was for them because they (Mexican citizens) have to take care of themselves, they cannot rely on the healthcare system, and it is a very scary time.  She wanted to know if I was going to get the vaccine (yes, for sure).  She had heard that possibly by May she might be able to get one but wasn’t confident in how the government was rolling out the vaccine.     

One of the nicely shaded streets with tourist shops.

The next day our plan was to stop by the Sunday farmer’s market in the town square and then head to the hills.  Unfortunately, it was clear as we approached the square that morning that there was nothing going on.  An attendant in front of the town offices explained that because of the pandemic the market was only held every few weeks. 

Vista from the drive – looking out to the Sea.

So, while disappointed and knowing we had to make a future grocery run to stock up on produce, we continued on the drive up into the hills to the Misión San Francisco Javier.  The drive is stunning – winding roads, parts of which have some guardrails, other times not.  There are beautiful canyons with lush greenery in the arroyo beds, and some lookouts with views out to the Sea. 

There were many shrines to accident victims, like this one, along the road.

On the way into the little town of the Misión, we passed what we believed to be a pilgrim fast-walking his way toward town, followed very slowly by a woman in a car.  They appeared at the church a little while after we arrived.  As happened in many areas where the Spanish settled missions, most of the population died from disease, so both the town and the Misión were abandoned.   Both have since been restored and rejuvenated as a destination site.   Services are held at the Misión but it appears it is not otherwise open to the public currently. 

Behind the church are the grounds where the monks raised crops and built aqueducts to manage water which comes from a spring.  They made wine, and there was a guy on site with locally made wine to try.  Larry wanted to support and buy some, but we just found it not at all to our taste.  We believe it was his son who served as our “tour” guide to the 300-year-old olive tree, so I tipped him an enormous amount instead. 

The 300 year old olive tree planted by the missionaries. Photos above are the aqueducts and view of the cultivated fields.

There were a smattering of other people visiting the area too, but overall it was very quiet.  We were able to have lunch at an outdoor table before heading back down the twisty highway for another round of provisioning before returning to Marina Puerto Escondido.     

One of the numerous luscious lemon trees. None were within arms reach for picking!

Puerto Escondido

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. 

A view of the marina, roads and mooring ball field.

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.

View of the marina from the upstairs level.

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.

Helpful trail map on boulder.

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. 

Looking out to the Sea and nearby Isla Danzante from the ridgeline.

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. 

They were so sweet and clearly hoping for a snack, which I didn’t have.

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! 

Agua Verde

Agua Verde is right around the corner from Bahía San Marte, so we had a short but windy and wavy cruise to the anchorage.

Northern lobe of the anchorage.
Great day and wonderful spot.

There are many Roca Blancas and Roca Negras along the coast, but this one is called Roca Solitaria. It greeted us as we entered the anchorage.

We nestled into the northern cove of the anchorage, seeking protection from westerly and northerly winds. Of course, at one point southerly winds kicked up, and we ended up moving away from the beach farther out into the cove. We are still learning the winds around here!

We went to shore with the intention of hiking, perhaps into town, and getting some awesome photos from higher up.

Larry smiling because the boat is in a great spot!

There is a steep short rocky road leading up out of the northern bay that starts in front of fishing shack inhabited by a sweet elderly man and his dog. I suspect it was he who put this sign at the top to prevent people getting stuck in front of his home. It also is a warning to walkers – I ended up sliding on some rocks and skinning my knee pretty well on the way back down at the end of our walk.

This says “Peligro” – meaning danger. 4×4 only

We walked the ridge road until it connected up with the main road. The connector to Aguaverde comes off the main highway 1 that is the main paved highway along Baha. This road is over 20 miles of dirt road.

The village itself is clearly more prosperous than other fishing villages we have seen. The houses are very well kept, have solar panels and many have various things like kayaks in the yard, which to me means more disposable income available.

The walk to the village from the north anchorage is about a mile and half. We were glad we brought water – it was fairly hot and dusty.

This cow didn’t make it.
This was the first time I had seen this type of tree – I called it a ghost tree. Turns out it is quite common.

The next day we kayaked around the anchorage during a calm period.

When the time came to up anchor, we experienced the most sea grass on the anchor yet!

I love the cactus in the bottom – seems to be saying Yay!