Sea of Cortez Islands Recap – Isla Espiratu Santo

Our time in the islands was great and there are many memories to share, so I’m splitting them up.  First Part…the stops on Isla Espiratu Santo.

We spent the final week of November until the middle of December up in the national park islands of Espiratu Santo, Partida and San Francisco.  Joined with friends on s/v Navigo and s/v Estrellita, we had day after day of exploring and admiring the beauty of these remote and uninhabited islands – definitely three weeks we will never forget.

Besides them just being awesome people, we really enjoyed sailing alongside Navigo and Estrellita because we all challenged each other to sail as much as possible. Pretty much every time we moved to new spots we sailed.  Sailing off the anchor and into anchorages was something we really enjoyed instead of hearing the drone of the motor.  And it was fun to see if Camanoe could keep up with these “faster” boats.  She did well and Dave was very happy with our old girl.

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Camanoe at sail heading to (possibly) Candelero. Picture courtesy of s/v Estrellita.

First stop after La Paz was Ensenada del Candelero in the northern part of Isla Espiratu Santo.  We originally thought we’d just hop over to San Gabriel, which is the first anchorage after La Paz, but the winds that day were pushing us North and why waste a good sail when we could hit up San Gabriel on our way back down the islands.

We had a fun BYOB happy hour on Estrellita that first evening where we got a chance to meet Aaron and Nicole from s/v Bella Star and catch up with our friends from s/v Panache.  The next day we all ventured out for a hike and had a great time climbing over and through all the rock formations.

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View of the Ensenada del Candelero anchorage from our hike (L), Zach, Marilee and Nate from s/v Panache monkeying around (center), and the Capt’ hanging out in his Flintstones house (R).

We were in Candelero for Dave’s 33rd birthday on December 3rd.  We had a birthday happy hour with the usual suspects as well as John and Lisa from s/v Orcinius who were also on the Ha-Ha with us and happened to pull into Candelero just as I announced on the radio that we were hosting a happy hour.  More the merrier!  We had a lemon cake that I baked as well as some yummy brownies courtesy of Camelia on Navigo.  She also brought over some balloons and a lovely birthday sign and badge for Dave to wear. We had a very festive evening!  Lucky bday boy received a handmade beer coozy from Estrellita and a fishing lure from Navigo.  Pic below of his loot.

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Capt with his birthday goodies (L), and a FULL cockpit on Camanoe for the birthday fun (R).

We did stop back through San Gabriel anchorage in the southern part of Espiratu Santo on our way back down towards La Paz around the middle of December.  San Gabriel has a beautiful beach where you can wade out for what seems like forever.  Dave and I decided to explore the trail (which we never really found until we were on our way back) between San Gabriel and Puerto Bonanza on the other side of the island.  It was a good 2 1/2 mile walk each direction through lots of prickly brush.  We were very glad to see the other anchorage at the end of the walk, but unfortunately it was too chilly to swim and too windy on that side of the island to truly enjoy the beach.  We did get some awesome shots of the huge cactus throughout the trail though.

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Steph vs. the huge cactus (L), and the easily marked trail that we didn’t discover until on our way BACK (R).

The funny part of the day was that super low tide set in while we were off on our hike/walk and our poor dinghy was left a good fifty yards or so away from the water.  I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of this, but it was quite a feat dragging the dinghy through the sand after our five mile walk.  I’m sure we gave the other boats in the anchorage a good laugh as they watched us walk halfway back to our boat before we could actually get into the dinghy and float back home.

Next stop in the islands … Isla San Francisco

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Time to Catch Up!

Happy Holidays to all!  Capt’ Dave and I have had a great last month or so exploring the islands near La Paz and making the crossing to Mazatlan a couple of days before Christmas.  Usually I keep up our blog by writing posts and setting them aside until we have internet access. Well….we were having so much fun in the islands that I haven’t spent a second blogging about our adventure since the last post about Los Muertos.  So….here’s a recap for each of the places we’ve been to and then you can check out our Flick page for all the photos.

Nov 19/20 – Tried to make the sail from Los Muertos to Puerto Ballandra near La Paz but we couldn’t make it through the San Lorenzo channel before sundown so we stopped with friends on Navigo and Estrellita at Puerto Bonanza. 

Dave and I made the short trip over to Balandra the next morning for some swimming and leisurely wading through the picturesque beach.  We anchored so close to the shoaled beach that we just dove in and swam ashore.  It was actually A LOT farther than we thought to get to the wading area and the current was really strong going back the other direction later in the day so Dave swam back to the boat and got the dinghy so I could safely get back to the boat.  Good thing he likes me so much!

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Dave posing with El Hongo rock (L), and the beautiful water and sandbar in Ballandra (R)

Ballandra is famous for it’s El Hongo Rock (a rock shaped like a mushroom).  We took lots of pics and had a nice day exploring this popular spot.

Nov 20-29 – We spent the week of Thanksgiving in La Paz.  We were excited to get to a city where we could replenish our supplies on the boat but more excited that it wouldn’t be as touristy or as annoying as Cabo,    And while this was mostly true, we did have some mishaps in La Paz.  We anchored out and had quite a time dealing with the infamous “La Paz Waltz.”  Basically, this means that due to the currents and winds in the anchorage, the boats swing in all different directions (which isn’t normal; everyone should be swinging the small way).  Our dinghy got the brunt of all the swinging and banged into Camanoe quite a bit; we lost an oar and pierced a hole in the dinghy’s innertube.  It also rammed into the wind vane at some point and dislodged some of the gears.  Basically, if we ever go back to La Paz, we feel like it would be worth it to anchor closer to the marina or just pay the money to dock.

Thanksgiving with about 200 other cruisers was a really fun day.  I got all the turkey and stuffing that I could…stuff myself with.  Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun. 

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Cruisers enjoying Thanksgiving at Marina Palmira in La Paz.  It was a sunny, hot day. Probably about 90*F.

Actually, the best part about La Paz was this burger place called “The Shack.”  Best burgers ever. And Huge. The cruising community loves this place and you’ll see a lot of boats represented on the walls where you’re invited to make your mark in Sharpie and leave a note.

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Cruiser friends hanging out at The Shack (L) and Leaving Camanoe’s mark on the signature wall at The Shack (R).

Nov 30-Dec 20 – We spent the next three weeks in the islands North of La Paz (Isla Espiratu Santo, Isla Partida and Isla San Francisco).  When we left La Paz, the weather was still warm enough to wear shorts and tank tops all day.  But by the middle of December, we were pulling out jackets and long pants again to fend off the chilly winds that blow through the islands.  We could still enjoy the sunny days, but there was no more swimming and we were having to bundle up after sundown.

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View of Isla San Francisco anchorage (L), Bob from s/v Navigo hiking with us in Ensenada del Candelero on Isla Partida (Center), and Estrellita joining us for a dinghy ride to the far side of Isla Espiratu Santo to see the sea caves (R).

But, regardless of the weather, we spent a fantastic few weeks with s/v Navigo and s/v Estrellita (among other cruising friends) exploring these remote islands, having easy, short sails from anchor to anchor, and admiring our own self-sufficiency for being able to create our own power and stay on the hook for over a month (we’d been anchoring since Cabo in early November!).

The islands were each unique and we had some great moments that I’ll have to blog about separately.

Nov 22 to Today – We crossed the Sea of Cortez and made it to Mazatlan in time for the Christmas holiday.   We’ve relaxed a bit, given Camanoe a much needed fresh water bath, spent some time working on boat projects and I was able to go out yesterday with some girlfriends to do some shopping.  We’re excited to be docked in one of the marinas here so we can easily restock our galley.  We’ve run into a lot of Ha-Ha friends and sadly missed some on their way south (Panache, Convivia, we miss you!).  It’s not MUCH warmer here in Mazatlan, but we look forward to increasing temps as we head farther south in the next couple weeks.  Now that we have more consistent internet, I really have no excuses about keeping everyone updated on our adventures.  I’ll post the islands recap shortly and hopefully have Mazatlan pictures up soon.

Happy Holidays everyone!