Juanico to La Paz

The bar is set high here in Caleta San Juanico – we almost have it all. Huge bay providing protection from most winds- check. Clean white sand beaches littered only with beautiful shells and amazing rocks – check. Reefs and pinnacles that are home to osprey and pelican and many other birds..check. Snorkeling that rivals the sea life in the Pacific Northwest – check. 

Add in sunshine, water that has become tolerable for swimming and snorkelling, and beautiful coves and caves to explore with kayak and dinghy…

Check, check, check.
drone practice on the beach
the ever-lovely Northern Ranger II
sunset and Tanglewood
Our refrain in Concepcion, as much as we enjoyed our time there, was “we wanna go to Juanico”. Our short visit on the way north was not enough to satisfy, and we knew that a few days would be needed to really experience what the bay has to offer. First stop on our trip back to La Paz – Juanico! A small group of cubaristas ended up anchoring together and we have spent some quality time running through all the things the guidebook tells us to do here. Hunt for apaches tears! Snorkel the reefs at Punta Mercenarios! Kayak out to Punta Basilio! And just hang there on the hook enjoying the blue sky, warm sun, and aqua water. Group dinners aboard each others’ boats every night of course adds to the allure of this place. 

It is a remarkable anchorage. Here there are a few campers on the beach, but it is not the RV park that you find in Santispac. Hardy souls have to work hard to find this spot, and I am not so sure our truck and camper could do it. Would be worth the try though!

Up the road a bit there is a farm that sells fresh veggies to boaters and campers.. a much appreciated service as we are all running out of produce at this stage of our travels.

There are no pangas bringing tourists in for day trips, and at times we feel as if we are in another world. In the evening the local ponies make their way to the watering hole, and we feel as if we are in a western movie….all we need are the cowboys..
We have been snorkelling at several of the reefs and rocks that stud the bay. Cliffs of volcanic rocks in all colours and textures rise above us, dotted with messy but serviceable osprey nests. Pastel coloured stones litter the beaches, as pretty as the shells that are scattered everywhere. 
Underwater we have seen all the usual suspects, and some newcomers for our lists. Today I saw a dozen cornet reef fish, suspended vertically in the water like silver blue branches, waiting for lunch to pass by … female Mexican hog fish which are much prettier than their male counterparts… blue triggerfish that seem to have sails instead of fins on their bodies…we usually only see these fish dead, washed up on the beach, so to actually watch them swimming was a treat. 
a pair of snorkelling beauties….
a box puffer fish. This guy was really big and I realized that there were a lot of them… running into one of these would have been painful!
Above us, a family of osprey circle and wheel, and over the last two days mom and dad have been teaching the young pair how to fly, and glide, and use the thermals rising up over the cliffs. Lawrence accuses us of anthromorphasizing, but it’s pretty obvious, from the way two of the birds are not so sure of their wings and what to do with their feet yet. 

We added our own flying machines to the aerial adventures today, and did some drone practice. Lawrence flew from the beach while we snorkelled, and Peter flew from the boat. Both were successful inasmuch as no one crashed… but our pilot is working through all the things that have to happen to not only fly successfully (he did ) but also record the actual event ( he didn’t). 

But practice makes perfect. Today’s forays into the mysteries of flight were cut short by the unwanted and unnerving attention paid to both drones by the local gulls. Hopefully next time we file our flight plans the gulls won’t hear about it and come over to check us out.

Sunday night – great day, got some more snorkelling in and saw some pretty nice fish. The water is not toasty yet but I have been borrowing a stinger suit from Tanglewood and the feeling of something between flesh and water at least gives me an impression of warmth as well as protection. We are able to swim for almost two hours so it is not that cold! The men, on the other hand, are waiting for water in the 80’s. sillies! Peter did some drone practice and actually found us in the water – rather fun watching a drone honing in on us… in a spy vs spy kinda way.

We were joined for dinner by Kelly and Chuck from Corky Row who had ventured north two days ago to explore Concepcion and decided it was just like cruising the lakes in their old sailing days and wasn’t that exciting. Our gain, as we got to all spend another evening together. Guys of course just talk boats..

So now we are en route to Isla Coronado which is supposed to be wonderful and tropical … original plan had been to do a quick anchor halfway and explore the sea caves but we have a swell from the north and decided it was not a good idea. The area along the coast is stunning though. Here the volcanic rocks are exposed in layers and looks amazing. 

Laurie has a very solid theory about how we come to appreciate the stark and seemingly dull beauty of the Baja. We come from either the Pacific northwest, or the north eastern Atlantic coast, where everything is green and blue, and every colour combination in between…. fall colours, summer colours…they assault the senses and we become used to seeing a super saturated palette of hues and tones. Here, you start out by wondering how anyone can call this muted smudge of earth tones beautiful. But after a few days, your eyes have forgotten those bright colours ( well, unless you run into a certain boat cruising around up here) and they start to see and appreciate the subtleties. Rocks run the gamut from whites to blacks with every tone of yellow, orange, green, red, blue – pastels that blend together to create harmony and a peaceful easy feeling ( riffing on an eagles tune… it’s pretty appropriate here).
Without a thick coat of trees the geology is what becomes the backdrop. And it is stunning!

Juanico has small smooth stones in all the colours you see around you, in volcanic tuff. There are also black obsidian drops embedded in the rocks that are easy to tease out – one of the few places where Apache Tears can be found.

We are sad to have to leave, especially as the water never did get warm enough for the guys to snorkel. 

Another time… 

March 27
We are safely tied up back in Puerto Escondido. Last night’s anchorage at Coronado was OK but not great, as the weather was not stellar and it is an open anchorage for almost all swells. Laurie and I did an impromptu adventure kayak and explored a tip of the island but it wasn’t conducive to a long trip. We did startle a few nesting gulls who appeared flummoxed by our sudden trespass on their beach. Some pretty shells, a real live brown sea cucumber, and some tiny anemones buried in the sand were about all we saw from the kayaks.

We left Coronado early, with a following wallowing sea all the way. I had the line out for a lot of the trip but it was mostly a desperate appeal to the fish gods for some miracle pity fish but nothing happened. Also an excuse to sit on the back deck in the sun and listen to my tunes and sing really loud with no one around to be a critic.

Arriving at Escondido we met up with the other cubaristas for lunch, and made plans for pizza (or fish tacos) up at the restaurant. Hooray!

We will probably be here for a few days, depending on what the weather does – hopefully we can get in some snorkel time at Espiritu Santu before we have to get back to Costa Baja, clean up, and fly home. 

Home! Wow! Imagine that!

And of course, the line will be in the water the whole way. After all, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and 100 % of the fish you don’t try for. 

Lawrence and I took a walk to explore the future development again and stretch our legs before we got back out on the water for the final few days. Fun to imagine what this place will look like in five years? ten years? it depends on whether one likes development or not. I do like my anchorages quiet and untouched… but if people want to live somewhere having somewhere nice that is suited to the surroundings is good. Time will tell. It’s been a long time for Puerto Escondido since original plans were made, roads were built, streetlights were installed, and then – nothing happened. 
Our first port of call after PE was Agua Verde. Tanglewood has never been there and it is one of our favourite spots. As we rounded the corner into the usually deserted and pristine aqua bay we were greeted with paddling kayaks, racing dinghies, and at least thirty trucks and accompanying tents lined up side by side along the beach. On the big beach where the town is, there were more. Everywhere we looked there were people.
what on earth??? are those… people???
anything that floated was out at Agua Verde! fun times!
Ah yes, Semana Santa. We had heard about it but we had neglected to take it into account. Holy Week, where everyone goes to the beaches to celebrate with their friends and families. If they have a vehicle capable of bumping down the road to the water, they load it up and go.

Oh well… when in Rome. We dropped anchor and just sat back and watched. There were not a lot of boats in the anchorage although there were more than usual, but there were a lot of kids in kayaks bumping around and having a wonderful time. Pangas raced back and forth taking people to and from the various beaches… one panga broke down right beside Northern Ranger II and after listening to the owners repeated but vane attempts to get it started Lawrence offered to tow him to the beach… offer eagerly and happily accepted! more Karma points…

So it wasn’t what we expected but it was certainly entertaining and fun to see everyone celebrating, relatively quietly ( we have had much noisier nights tied up to our dock in Costa Baja when the wedding parties are happening at Steinbeck’s)

The next day we opted NOT to stay another night and made our way to Isla San Francisco. The weather was threatening to get windy and we wanted to be able to spend a few days relaxing somewhere a little quieter. I was sure this time with all the karma points we had stacked up in our favour I would catch a fish but no such luck. However, as we were motoring along in the sunshine, Lawrence spotted a whale. I rushed to the front deck with my camera, hoping to get a look… saw the tail flukes point straight up as the whale headed straight down and thought.. that’s it. Gone for a while… put the camera down and just watched… and BOOM! the whale erupted from the water and did a full body slam not fifty feet away from us. It was incredible… and of course…. no picture. But this time I didn’t care because for once, I just let the experience happen without worrying about capturing it. I did get a picture of WHERE the whale had been. Just wonderful. 
imagine, if you will.. a humpback fully out of the water RIGHT HERE!
We headed into the bay at San Francisco, where a few boats were already anchored.. found a spot that looked promising, and settled in.

Again…. Semana Santa…..only this time instead of trucks and tents it’s Mexican charter party boats full of celebrating families… jet skis… pangas…skiboats… luckily we had chosen a corner that was a little out of the way. It was still pretty entertaining watching large sports fshermen coming in with music blaring in the darkness of night… cruising around the anchorage looking for a spot to stay… the next morning when we got up, half of them had left. By noon we had the whole anchorage almost to ourselves! BEAUTY!!!

I dropped the kayak and paddled to the beach… snorkelled around the boat a few times, enjoying chasing the schools of fish that have decided to live under our hull…and cast my line in the water hoping to attract one of the little dorado leaping around the bay harassing the local fish. No luck but it was fun watching an entire school of herring-like fish follow my lure to the boat.
checking out the fish under the boat
heading to shore for a wander
beautiful bay
hiking the ridge
Lawrence and I managed to do part of the climb up the hill so I could get some pictures of the bay and the boats. Unfortunately we weren’t wearing the right shoes for a real scramble down the hill so we just walked a bit along the crest. I couldn’t talk him into launching the drone, because the wind had indeed come up and we are still nervous drone-pilot neophytes. 

Later that afternoon yet more boats came in and our empty anchorage turned into another boat city. Not as noisy this time… no midnight meanderings by wayward or waylaid sports fishermen. 

And then it was time to raise the anchor and head back to La Paz. The wind had picked up enough that we didn’t feel like manhandling the dinghy to the top deck, so we opted to tow it behind. This would not have been a problem except there was a good blow on and the waves reached the three to five foot level. The poor dinghy got a pounding, and I spent most of the trip sitting in the salon staring out at her, as she slid and sidled back and forth and occasionally almost got airborne. Water was coming all the way over the top of the boat, and all in all it was rather spectacular, and kind of fun, if I wasn’t so fussed about the dinghy.

But… she survived… and then we were tied up again back at Costa Baja, with a few days of cleaning and organizing and putting away ahead of us before we flew home.

This time we are coming back, so the good news is we didn’t have to do the really big clean up and shut down and emptying out we will be doing when we leave the boat next time in May.

Yes! another little cruise coming up! 

And now we are back home at the lake. A few days spent catching up with friends and family – much needed – and a few days to catch up with mail and taxes and neighbours up here in the still-frozen north. We really aren’t in the north but this year it sure feels like it!
I wouldn’t walk on the lake but it sure looks frozen! there used to be many many feet of snow in the yard but thankfully it is disappearing. We aren’t in Mexico anymore, Toto!