Sea of Cortez Islands Recap – Isla San Francisco

Our time in the islands was great and there are many memories to share, so I’m splitting them up.  Second Part… Isla San Francisco.

With southwest winds still pushing us north, we headed the 22 miles up towards the small island of Isla San Francisco.  Considering that all the guidebooks have large, sweeping bay photos of Isla SF, we knew this was going to be a spot we wouldn’t want to miss.  It did not disappoint.   The more we explored this island the more we liked it.

Once more sailing with s/vs Navigo and Estrellita, we did our best to tack back and forth into the anchorage and avoid using our motor.  However, there was a slight problem.  We had a hard time figuring out which side of the island the big bay was on due to the inaccuracies of our old chart plotter.  Navigo said left, while the Capt’ said right (I may have slightly mutinied here as I also thought we needed to head to the left side of the island).  Turns out we did need to go to the left side if we wanted the large bay, HOWEVER, with the southwest winds it was a better choice to go to the anchorage around the right side of the island and tuck in for the night.  We moved the next day when the winds shifted over to the North.

In order to really get the full effect of the gorgeous bay, you have to hike up one of the ridges.  We joined Navigo for a short jaunt up one hillside and got some pretty good shots, but Dave went the following day on his own up one of the taller ridges and got the best viewpoint.  Pretty spectacular place.

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 View of the Isla San Francisco crescent shaped bay with the eastern anchorage in the background and salt ponds in the middle. Pic courtesy of Capt Dave and his ability to climb higher than I can.

Besides the views, the beach around the bigger bay offers a nice walk from one end to the other where you can admire all the various, colorful seashells.  There are also some salt ponds in between the two anchorages that we enjoyed checking out.  Although the island is beautiful, it does have the dreaded jejenes (Hay-Hay-Nays or No-See-Ums – they give the worst, itchiest bug bites).  I’m just one of those people that always gets bit – no matter what – so I tried to avoid being ashore unless I was in long pants and sleeves and covered in DEET. 

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The Isla San Francisco beach (L), Livia from Estrellita checking out the salt ponds (Center), and a closer look at the salt (R).

We spent a few days here enjoying the scenery, doing laundry and boat projects by day and usually spending the evenings on Navigo playing Mexican Train or Sequence. 

We toyed with the idea of heading farther North or at least taking the small side trip up to the little town of Isla Coyote (which Navigo did), but the days were getting away from us and the weather turned much colder than we liked (we had to pull out jackets again!), so when the wind turned back around to the North, we decided to take advantage of it and start our migration south to warmer climates.

Heading back south we hit up Isla Partida, which we missed while sailing north. We had two stops there, Ensenada Grande and Caleta Partida.  More on those in the next post!

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!