Friday, April 3, 2015

Heading Further North

Caleta San Juanico
After a slow sail from Isla Coronado, we spent three days in lovely Caleta San Juanico.  This quickly became one of our favourite stops on the trip north. We arrived just before dark, but managed to snag an ideal anchor spot between several rock reefs. At least, it was ideal for the first two days... until a strong west wind threatened to push us into one of the reefs - in the middle of the night. After both lying awake for several hours waiting to hear the crunch of our rudder on the rocks, we decided to up-anchor and move to a deeper, less rock-strewn spot. Still, it was nice while it lasted.

Gary's Birthday dinner - thanks Bill and Phil!

We spent our days snorkeling (which unfortunately wasn't great as the visibility in the water was poor), hiking, and walking the wonderful beaches.

Our stay here coincided with Gary's birthday. After inviting several other Cruisers to help us celebrate, Bill and Phil (both single-handers) took it upon themselves to catch the birthday dinner. Miraculously, they each managed to spear a large parrot fish, so we ate like kings. Gary BBQ'd it with garlic and butter...mmmmm.

Gary's Birthday dinner
He even got a cake...with icing
I even managed to bake a cake (from a box) and make icing (from scratch). For those of you who don't know me well, I don't bake. So, this was a pretty big deal. It was even edible (or at least our guests had no trouble gobbling it up - but then again they are Cruisers...).

Leaving our mark at the Cruisers shrine in San Juanico
Before leaving, we added our contribution to the famous "Cruisers shrine". Basically each visiting boat hangs something or places something under one of the small trees on the beach. Some of the displays are quite elaborate (like the huge carving made in the hillside above the tree - no idea how the people got up there to do the carving). We found things from several other Blue Water Cruising boats, so it was kind of fun to poke around the area. We chose to carve our boat name into a small piece of sandstone and placed it on the ground near the tree. Guess we'll see if we can find it next year.
Heading north early...Sunrise at Punta Pulpito

We reluctantly left San Juanico and had a very boisterous up-wind sail to an anchorage 8 miles north called Punta Pulpito. We had pretty consistent 18 knot winds directly on the nose, so we bashed our way north with a reef in the main and genoa. Not the most comfortable sail of the year, but it certainly was fast!

From looking back at pictures from our sea kayaking trip 13 years ago, we determined that Punta Pulpito was one of our stops, as was Caleta San Juanico. It was certainly different to see it from the perspective of the sailboat this time.

Whale shark (dark lump) and campers - Playa Coyote
After a quick overnight stop, we left at sunrise for a 50 nautical mile day up to Playa Coyote in Bahia Conception. We had pretty much decided to by-pass Bahia Conception this trip as other Cruisers had warned us it would be extremely busy. The week after Easter is a school holiday in Mexico (Semana Santa) and so many families (ie, thousands) descend on the beaches in Bahia Conception for their once a year camping experience. We weren't sure we wanted to experience that after being in such remote places for so long, but then our friends Rob and Deb on s/v Avant told us there were whale sharks in the bay! That clinched it for us (well, for me anyway).

Following a whale shark on the SUP
As it turned out, Bahia Conception was also a highlight of the trip north. When we arrived the beach at Playa Coyote was only about half full of campers, but it was amazing to watch it fill up with tents over the next few days.

The Mexicans take car camping to a whole new level. Each campsite housed several extended families, each of which had tents with full kitchens, eating tents, sleeping tents, port-a-pottie tents etc. Some families had set up hammocks in the palm trees, and most had water toys of some variety. One night they had an impromptu disco on the beach. While we were there, a small tienda (store) popped up on the beach, along with a hot dog stand and beer tent. And the ice cream truck drove by on a regular basis. Although this sounds kind of awful when you try to describe it, it was actually really interesting to watch. It was a total family atmosphere and so the vibe was really good. No one was overly rowdy, everyone just wanted to visit with their extended family and have fun.

Luckily for us, all the activity in the bay didn't affect the whale sharks, at least for the first day and half we were there. We were able to quietly follow them on the paddleboard while they cruised the shoreline. It was pretty amazing to see them just swimming around our boat.

Another unexpected benefit of going into Bahia Conception was that the water temperature was 25oC. Definitely the warmest water we've seen in Mexico. You could easily swim without a wetsuit. We took advantage of this and cleaned the bottom of the hull (Gary) and removed the tar that had been stuck to the side of Sea Rover since California (me). It was nice to spend a few hours in the water.

Mulege - oasis in the middle of the desert
Another highlight of trip to Bahia Conception was spending a day in the tiny town of Mulege.  Mulege is a couple of miles up the Rio (river) Santa Rosalia and so the valley is absolutely filled with palm trees. It is always weird (but welcome) to see palm trees in the middle of the desert.

Our group of Cruisers (5 boats) had made friends with one of the Mexican families camping on the beach and so the father Ceasar) very kindly drove us into town. We spent the afternoon exploring, enjoying tasty fish tacos and visiting the 250 year old mission.  We had an "it's Mexico" experience on the way
250 year old mission in Mulege
home as Ceasar had arranged for someone to take us back to the campsite. Of course when we showed up at the rendezvous spot the guy wasn't ready... then he was busy... then he couldn't do it at all, but he'd arranged for someone else to take us back (or at least this is what we think they were telling us!). After about an hour of waiting, another guy did show up to take us back. But of course the price was 50% higher than what Ceasar had initially negotiated for us.  But, he got us back to the boats in one piece (he drove like a maniac) so we can't really complain.

Although we loved Bahia Conception, the lure of strong south winds convinced us to head further north to our final destination on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez for this season. We left in the company of another Blue Water Cruising boat, our friends Jim and Tricia from Falcon VII, and had our best sail of the year - a 9 hour spinnaker run almost all the way to Santa Rosalia. Truly fantastic!  We plan to spend Easter weekend in Santa Rosalia before heading across the Sea to our final final destination of Guaymus, where we will haul the boat out of the water for the summer.  More to come!

Chasing down s/v Falcon VII... Best sail of the year - a 9 hour spinnaker run!!


  1. Makes me want to go back to Baja! All the best Karina and Gary....

  2. Here's you two in front of El Pulpito maybe?