Wednesday, July 14, 2021

La Paz to Puerto Escondido With Johan

My friend Johan and I sailed Intermezzo from La Paz to Puerto Escondido over the past few days. We left La Paz on Sunday morning making overnight stops at Isla San Francisco and Punta San Tolemo along the way, arriving here yesterday evening.

I met Johan when I was in La Paz back in 2017-18.  He's a young 75 year old, a very capable sailor, knows his way around boats and has a great sense of humor. We enjoyed each other's company, good conversation and just being out on the beautiful Sea of Cortez for a few days.

The weather was great, light blue skies, some puffy white clouds, dark blue seas with gentle swells. It was hot during the day, but with a breeze blowing most of the time, it was comfortable in the shade of the hardtop.

I had removed the sails for transporting Intermezzo on the ship and didn't want to wrestle the heavy mainsail onto the boom, only to have to remove it again for hauling out in Puerto Escondido for hurricane season. Johan and I hoisted the jib in La Paz so we might get a little help from the wind.

We motored the 40 nautical miles (nm) to Isla San Francisco on Sunday, dropping anchor their around 4 pm. There were quite a few boats crowded into the southern end of the big crescent shaped anchorage, where we found some protection from the southerly swells. We took a swim to cool off, enjoyed cocktails followed by a nice dinner.

The next morning, we weighed anchor at a gentlman-ly 10:30 am and set sail for Los Gatos, another 36 nm north. The wind piped up enough in the afternoon for us to shut down the engines and let the jib pull us along at a nice 4-5 knots. The wind caused a southeasterly swell to build which was unfortunate, as the Los Gatos anchorage is exposed to the south and east. Rather than risk an uncomfortable rolly night there, we pushed on a few more miles to Punta San Tolemo where we anchored on the north side of the point. It was more comfortable than Los Gatos would have been, but the swell bent around the point and rocked us a bit when the boat swung beam to the seas. More swimming, more cocktails, another dinner.

The highlight of our trip was during the passage from Punta San Tolemo to Puerto Escondido yesterday. We spotted a giant pod of spinner dolphins hunting as a pack, roiling the water white with their jumps and splashes, some dolphins herding fish into a dense school while others ripped through the school, chomping away. We turned of the motor and drifted, the dolphins moving around us like whitewater on a river. I took a video and posted it to YouTube (click here to watch it).

I forgot how much I love the scenery in this part of the Sea of Cortez. The steep mountains along the coast are striated with colors shades of tans, browns, gold, reds, purples, maroons. The taller mountains further inland are in the background, hazy purple-blue, often with clouds brushing their tops. It feels really good to be back here.

Intermezzo is in a slip at Marina Puerto Escondido, near the town of Loreto, about a third of the way up the inside of the Baja peninsula. Construction of the marina had just started when I was last here in 2017. Now it's finished and it's one of the nicest marinas I have ever been in. Everything is well designed with quality materials, well executed and well maintained. I was so glad to say hello again to my friend Javier, the harbormaster. He is a really great guy, very friendly, very professional. The entire staff is customer-focused and clearly oriented to creating a premium image. 

Tomorrow we haul Intermezzo out of the water, again, to sit on land for a few months to wait out the hurricane season. I'll spend a couple days buttoning up the boat and then head back to California. I've been living on the boat for over a year now, with time on land only over the Christmas holidays and a brief break from waiting for the ship in Florida. 

Coastline of the Sea of Cortez, San Toleme anchorage

Johan at the helm of Intermezzo