sailing homepage : trip reports : 7: la paz to san diego : la paz & islands

Mar 3-6: Recovering from crossing Cortez in La Paz, meeting Sara's friend Angela and cousin Jeff, reprovisioning, renting a car to travel to the beach of Todos Santos, passage to the Espiritu Santo islands, hiking a mountain, and relaxing in paradise

After a well-needed day of rest in La Paz, Sara and I reaffirmed our committment to each other, to the boat, and to heading north. She assuaded my fears of losing her to a nonstop flight from Cabo to SFO by reminding me that we're flat broke - how, she asked rhetorically, would she afford the ticket? It wasn't until later that I found out she had temporarily misplaced her VISA card and really did have no way to get home. Whew!

Sara's friend Angela and her cousin Jeff arrived on the third to join us for the week-long trip to Cabo San Lucas. We spent the day waiting for them to arrive and enjoying the downtime.

Angela arrives


Relaxing onboard Wanderlust

While we were relaxing and making big plans to get going, the storm that Sara and I sailed through while crossing Cortez had been running its course. It was still blowing pretty hard on the 3rd, and the forecasts called for one last big blow on the 4th before the weather systems would calm down.

So leaving on the 4th didn't sound like such a good idea.

Fishermen on the pier


Jeff arrives!

So we rented a car! Hey, when the weather gets rough, the rough rent cars and go to the beach.

I _love_ rental cars


Lunch at the taco stand

The four of us packed in and hit the open road. We got about a quarter mile before pulling over for some x-rated taco stand action.

Ready for adventure


The wide-open road

We drove south from La Paz, wind in our hair, pavement zooming by, and were quickly pulled over by the cops.

We were on a four-lane highway, two in each direction, and I pulled out to pass some locals in a big red 4x4. I was driving about 60kph, they were going 50kph. As I passed, they sped up. I sped up to keep passing them, and they kept speeding up, so I kept speeding up.

Of course a cop was coming the other way. Of course the cop flipped it and hit the flashers.

The local in the truck? Yeah, well, he turned off the highway - into the desert. All I saw was a huge cloud of sand and he was gone. The cops, given the choice of chasing a dust cloud or pulling over a tourist in a rental, took the easy way out.

The cop approached and asked if anyone spoke Spanish. We were all ready for him, and dumbly shook our heads no. I indicated I hablo'd a little, and we went back and forth. He wanted us to follow him to the police station to get a ticket. I said we couldn't, and asked if he could pay the ticket for us.

Sure thing, he replied, it's only 600 pesos, or $60. I smiled, nodded, gave him $6, and feigned surprise when he looked confused. He went back to the truck, got a pen and paper, and wrote "$40" down. I hummed, hawed, and indicated we should go to the cop shop.

Ten minutes of broken Spanglish later, I pulled out a $10 bill from my wallet, showing him it was the only thing in there, and handed it over. We were on our way again. I didn't pass any more locals after that.

We drove to a town called Todos Santos, on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula, and had to hike over some dunes to get to the beach.

Climbing the dunes


The beach on the other side

The beach is fantastic, a huge expanse of creamy sand and blue blue water. The 30-knot winds blowing in La Paz weren't evident at all, and Jeff and I did some bodysurfing as we hiked along looking for whales.

Angela looks for whales


Thar be whales here!

We grabbed dinner at a local restaurant ('Shut Up Franks'), headed back to La Paz, re-provisioned at the huge Soriana grocery store, and retired for the evening with a few drinks and a movie.

The weather was exactly as forecast; the next morning was calmer and perfect for the short trip up to the Espiritu Santo islands. Sara and I were really looking forward to revisiting one of our most favourite places in Mexico. The islands are truly idyllic, but we couldn't help but notice that the temperatures had dropped since we last visited! 80F is way nicer than 65F!

Angela steers us out the channel


Jeff chillin'

The three hour trip was great. We had nice wind and leisurely sailed most of the way there. We were a little nervous to see five or six other boats leaving La Paz, crowded anchorages are fun for no one, but happily all of them took the passage to head south, or stopped elsewhere along the way.

Beautiful rocks of Espiritu Santo


Will and Angela hug it out

The Isla Pardita anchorage was just as fantastic as we had remembered. The multi-coloured cliffs, the clear aqua water, and the feeling of isolation is a great combination we haven't found anywhere else in Mexico. This and Isla Isabella have been our favourite stops so far.

We enjoyed the afternoon relaxing around the boat, made a great dinner, enjoyed another movie, more drinks, and did some star-gazing before bed. Damn, life is good.

What an awesome anchorage


Purpeat pulled up in the tidal flats

The next day we all piled into Purpeat and dinghied over to our favourite snorkeling spot on the other side of the islands. It was just as fantastic as before, but oh my the water was colder. A lot colder. Jeff brought his wetsuit. Sara was wearing hers. Angela wore a skimpy bikini, and we were all worried she was going to freeze.

Yeah, well, turns out I'm the big wuss. I lasted about 45 minutes before my teeth were chattering so much water was coming in through my snorkel. Angela was the last one back to the dinghy. It must be the Wisconsin air! I guess I've lost my cold-weather immunity. All my Ottawa friends must be so embarrassed.

We had a great lunch, and while Jeff and Sara chilled out and took naps, Angela and I decided to climb one of the mountains surrounding the anchorage. There aren't any paths or trails or anything, we just dinghied into shore, left Purpeat in the tidal flats (firmly anchored, of course), and started walking uphill.

Our nemesis: the mountain


Angela goes up up up

It was a cool hike, and pretty steep! We were almost always fighting for our footing in the loose shale. Angela was following behind me for a while, but we quickly changed that tactic after I dislodged a pile of rubble and sent rocks bouncing down towards her.

The head of the bay (look closely for the dinghy)


The tide is coming in!

About halfway up we noticed the tide was rising in the bay. I guess we should have expected this, you know, because we anchored the dinghy in tidal flats, but I guess we just weren't prepared to see Purpeat floating around. Good thing we really dug the anchor in before leaving.

Angela working the Hillary Step


On top of the world!

The view from the top was incredible.

Our beautiful anchorage

We headed downhill and I introduced Angela to a new sport: trundling. Trundling involves dislodging a large rock or boulder on a steep slope. That's it. I guess there are some important aspects to a good trundle: the difficulty of the dislodge, the size of the rock, the distance trundled, and of course, the amount of sound created by a 1000lb boulder exploding on impact.

More drinks and another fantastic dinner wrapped up a perfect day.