Log - 1/5/2002 to 6/12/2002
Mazatlan to Loreto, Mexico

In this section Alan describes the voyage from Mazatlan (on the Mexican Mainland) to Loreto (on Baja) and a great month of cruising in the southern Sea of Cortez. This very long page includes the following sections:

  1. Mazatlan - Isla Marina
  2. Ensenada de Los Meurtos
  3. Caleta Lobos
  4. La Paz - Marina Palmira
  5. Isla Partida - Ensenada El Cardonel
  6. Isla San Francisco
  7. San Evaristo
  8. Puerto Los Gatos
  9. Bahia Agua Verde
  10. Candeleros Chico
  11. Isla Danzante - Honeymoon Cove (suicidal cephalopods)
  12. Isla Carmen - "V" Cove (dolphin rescue)
  13. Isla Coronados
  14. Loreto

Mazatlan - Isla Marina

Pros: A cheap, well-sheltered marina.
Cons: Dusty and no power or water at many of the slips.
Insects: Mosquitos and no-see-ems ruin peaceful evenings.
Underwater: To be avoided.

The passage from Mazatlan across the sea of Cortez to Baja was fairly benign except for a ten-hour period of 10-20 knot wind right on the nose. But we made it, and life is good. No more Mazatlan smell, dust, exhausting boat work, or mosquitoes - whoop.

Ensenada de Los Meurtos (Cove of the Dead)

Pros: Jumping Mobula Rays
Insects: No pests
Underwater: The first day I had a lackluster snorkeling trip. On the second day a southerly breeze blew in a bunch of small Portuguese Man-of-War-like jellies, so we stayed out of the water.

We spent two days in Los Meurtos, a very pleasant anchorage SW of La Paz. A pleasant breeze and rays jumping out of the water in the distance aided our recovering from civilization and the crossing.

Caleta Lobos

Pros: A well-protected anchorage near La Paz (with minimal currents).
Insects: Small annoying flies.
Underwater: Ho hum visibility and sea-life.
Our alternator died and tachometer failed, so we decided to detour to La Paz for refueling and repairs.

La Paz - Marina Palmira

Pros: Nicest marina in Baja California.
Cons: Two mile north of town (need to take the shuttle)
Insects: None.

La Paz is a great small city for reprovisioning and getting basic boat parts. After locating the right shop, I was able to get the alternator rebuilt in one hour. For 40 bucks they replaced a broken stator winding (with a used one), and installed new bearings and brushes.

Isla Partida - Ensenada El Cardonel

Pros: Lovely, unbusy cove fringed by steep cliffs
Cons: South and SE winds can be funneled into the bay and make for a rocking anchorage.
Insects: No-see-ems are unpleasant in the evening when the wind is light.
Underwater: The water was as clear as anyplace we have seen in Mexico (visibility maybe 35'). In mid May the water temp was 76 degrees F. A good variety of fish made for good snorkeling and spearfishing.

We met up with our good friends - Lisa and Dennis on s/v Lady Galadriel - in La Paz, and decided to buddy boat with them as we wander north toward Puerto Escondido. At Isla Partida there was a fair amount of nighttime and morning Corumel winds. These southerlies are not too strong (10-20 knots), but allowed the wind generator to keep out batteries charged. We miss the not having the sailboarding gear when the winds are more than 15 knots.

Hilltop view of Isla San Francisco.

Isla San Francisco

Pros: Visually stunning circular anchorage. Great hiking and beach walks.
Insects: Small and large flies. Generally just annoying, but a few large ones bit Dennis.
Underwater: Decent snorkeling and spearfishing.

A hike along the southern ridge provided a splendid scenic panorama. The transmission dipstick fell into the transmission. I eventually was able to retrieve the dipstick from the transmission using a magnet on a stick (courtesy of Dennis) and we were off to San Evaristo.

San Evaristo

Pros: Nice protected bay.
Cons: Some trashy civilization on shore.
Insects: Minimal bugs.
Underwater: Good snorkeling and spearfishing. LOTS of yummy gamefish at Punta San Evaristo, north of the anchorage. You have to deal with a cool current at the point, but the groupers appreciate the conditions.

In the heat, Squiz has been loosing a lot of hair. She requires twice a day brushing to prevent midnight furball barfing sessions. At this rate, we won't need to get clippers to giver her a hair cut. I (Alan) was outvoted - so we only spent one day at Evaristo, before heading north to lovely Los Gatos.

Puerto Los Gatos

Pros: Exquisitely, beautiful red sandstone rocks formations. No humanity.
Cons: Exposed to northeast, east, and southeast weather.
Insects: None.
Underwater: Mediocre visibility. Ho hum snorkeling because of the extensive seaweed growth on the bottom. Lobsters do live here, if you can put up with searching the crevices behind the weed. Poor spearfishing, only small gamefish.

Staring at, and strolling around, the red sandstone is enchanting. We are having a great time cruising and gunkholing.

Bahia Agua Verde

Pros: A nice variety of indentations provide safe anchorage for a lot of boats. A small tienda.
Cons: Agua Verde is a popular busy bay.
Insects: None.
Underwater: Still mediocre visibility. Decent snorkeling on a variety of rocks, points and reefs. Unfortunately you have to use your dinghy to get to many of the nice spots. Katherine found a good spot for grouper spearfishing.

At Agua Verde micro village we a small tienda (store), we were able to get a few more vegetable and some mild fresh goat cheese. Katherine made "Agua Verde Rolls" (lobster sushi), Grouper & goat cheese pastry (very rich), and Grouper & Perch Court Bullion (adapted for the pressure cooker).

Candeleros Chico

Pros: An exquisite little pocket anchorage. There is space for only one boat swinging on a single anchor. Nice birds.
Cons: No protection from north winds (usually not important in May). There is space for only one boat swinging on a single anchor.
Insects: A few curious, but benign, wasps and bees.
Underwater: A nice variety of life and rock makes for good snorkeling. I found a good place for spearfishing Pacific Dog Snapper. Katherine spotted some yellowtail (Hamachi) and is rooting for me to spear one.


Isla Danzante - Honeymoon Cove.

Pros: Visually appealing and not very popular.
Cons: The anchorage is overly deep, unless you bow and stern anchor in the northwest inlet.
Insects: A few small flies.
Underwater: Poor visibility made for mediocre snorkeling. The northern end of Danzante had fair potential for spearfishing.

Rocky bluffs dotted with cactus create a narrow indentation on the north side of the larger Honeymoon Cove. Here on Danzante Island, the morning sun begins to warmly illuminate the bluffs as I sip my coffee in the cockpit of s/v s/v Squiz. The gulls on the small beach begin to squawk excitedly and laugh a raucous song. Although the water is completely calm, I hear a noise like small waves lapping on the shore. This is followed by several splashing noises. Scanning the shoreline, I see hundreds of writhing, squirting, squid flopping themselves onto the beach.
Yipping with amazement, I roust the rest of the gang (my boat is tied alongside s/v Lady Galadriel). As, Katherine, Lisa, and Dennis emerge onto the deck - a school of a thousand 1-2 foot long squid swim past our boats, heading back out to sea. These may be the female squid abandoning the males to commit suicide on the shore after mating. We climb down into the dinghy and putter to shore to improve our view of the spectacle. Nearing the beach mating squid are intertwined in the shallow water. At the water's edge, some of the torpedo-shaped bodies are chroma-shifting between off-white and rusty-red as they flop and squirt powerful jets of water to push themselves ashore. Stained by squid ink, the water in one corner of our tropical inlet becomes an opaque brown-black.
After an hour, the bizarre dance of necromancy subsides, leaving behind overfed squawking gulls. Inexplicably, the squid only beached themselves in our small inlet; the vast majority of Honeymoon Cove seems devoid of suicidal cephalopods. A half hour later a panga motors into our inlet and two fishermen gather a bunch of dying squid. How did they know this death march had just occurred?

Traveling from Isla Danzante to Isla Carmen, we encountered thick fog - a rare event in the Sea of Cortez. Three cheers for radar.

Isla Carmen - "V" Cove

Pros: Intriguing undercut cliffs border the anchorage. Nice otherworldly ambiance.
Cons: No protection from north winds (was not an issue for us in early June).
Insects: None.
Underwater: A nice variety of terrain, sea life and above average visibility makes for good snorkeling and scuba diving. Lots of grouper, rock scallops, and yellow snapper are available for those willing to hunt for diner.

"V" Cove is slightly off the beaten path, and the other cruisers we met here tended to be fun, adventurous, or interesting. Unfortunately, my spear shaft (it was only eight months old) broke. We may not have much fresh fish until I get it replaced.

Motoring off the north end of Isla Carmen we saw what looked like a Pelican floundering in the water. Turning toward the disturbance we saw a dorsal fin circling it. My first thought was that a shark was eating a pelican. Getting closer, we discerned a dolphin somehow entangled with a dead pelican. Alarmingly, a shaft appeared to be sticking out of the side of the dolphin. I hopped in the water with a knife intending to cut the pelican of the dolphin. Luckily the mysterious shaft was not an imbedded harpoon, it was just the pelican's long beak. I discovered the dead pelican's throat sack had a hole in it, and the dolphin snout was ensnared in the hole - weird. Hanging on to the dorsal fin with one hand and the dead pelican with the other, I pulled the pelican off the dolphin's head. I always wanted to swim with a dolphin, but I certainly never envisioned this scenario.

Isla Coronados

Pros: Interesting Island, quick access to Loreto.
Cons: Usually there would be nothing wrong with this island. However, a mass squid beaching occurred the day before we arrived; so, some wind directions resulted in a rotting corpse aroma.

Insects: Some flies.
Underwater: No nice snorkeling in the area of the anchorage. There is a variety of terrain and sea life if you are willing to take long dinghy trips to go diving.

Many people really like Isla Coronados, but I found it to be ordinary, compared to other places (like V-Cove) in this area.

Some cruiser friends made a quick trip to California and brought back a new alternator and regulator to help fix my dying recharging system. Unfortunately, they bought the wrong parts so Katherine will have to exchange them when she visits San Diego soon.

July update: The day we left V-Cove (June 7th, 2002) the water temperature began dropping. Over the course of two days the water dropped by 8 degrees (Fahrenheit) and the visibility in the entire central Baja cruising area went to hell (from 20'-30' down to 5'-10'). I was getting quite frustrated. Then, around July 7th, the temperature suddenly jumped back up and the water visibility returned to 20'-30' range. I am told that this summertime water weirdness is NOT typical.


Pros: A nice town. One of the few places you can get a real provisions and fuel in the central Sea of Cortez.
Cons: Unprotected anchorage. Given the size and variety of the stores, there are many types of provisions that you would expect to find - but cannot.
Insects: none

We briefly stopped at Loreto to reprovision and investigate bus schedules. Katherine and Lisa and Dennis (of s/v Lady Galadriel) will be heading up to California next week. I will anchor in Puerto Escondido (12 miles to the south) and baby-sit s/v Squiz and Lady Galadriel while they are gone.