In December, Seagate left from its home port of Los Angeles and cruised down the Mexican coastline and around the tip of Baja California to La Paz. We joined as crew there for 10 days and the 150-mile run up the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Escondido near Loreto, Mexico.
Here's Alex's La Paz to Puerto Escondido report.
Wednesday, January 14th: Alaska Airlines ended their direct flight from Los Angeles to La Paz in early 2014. So the best way to get from LAX to La Paz was Alaska Air to Cabo, then rent a car for the 2+ hour drive to La Paz. Alex took the long way down: AeroMexico to La Paz with via Mexico City. It seemed crazy to end the LAX direct flight to the capital city with a 250,000 population, and apparently it was as AeroMexico will start their direct LAX-La Paz flight this February. Met Seagate and Dick Squire at Marina Palmira. Enjoyed several fresh squeezed Mexican limes in a frosty glass of Kettle One. Later we were joined by crew Ray and Cheryl Mahaffey, our sailing friends from the Cal Yacht Club. The four of us enjoyed dinner in La Paz at Nim Restaurant and this was a fresh seafood, fine-dining experience!
|Nim Restaurant even had middle eastern tabuli served with ice berg lettuce!|
|The sunset from Isla La Partida|
On La Paz' north end there is a fine marina, golf, hotel and villa resort known as Costa Baja. This is by far the superior Marina close to restaurants with easy ocean access. It is a 5-star resort in my book. We explored the complex and found Nim's sister restaurant Azul Marino on the marina walk and dined there. These two fine restaurants are operated by Chef/Owner Cristina Kiewek who doesn't hide in her kitchen. Cristina is out there, chatting with you and gathering your response to her dining creations. This gal would be highly successful in any city, and we enjoyed another spectacular dinner.
|The Costa Baja Marina is surrounded by|
shops, bars and restaurants.
|Costa Baja has moorage for all sizes including|
this 170 foot sailing yacht with 5 mast spreaders.
|One can follow the boardwalk almost completely around the inner marina.|
|A well protected marina.|
|There are pools galore including this big one just behind the hotel lobby.|
|Costa Baja even looks great at night.|
|And the marina is well lighted along the boardwalk.|
Sunday, January 18th: High winds continued so we revisited Costa Baja at their Beach Club Bar for lunch and to watch the Green Bay-Seattle NFC Championship football game. A great football game on a beautiful beach. The bar was filled with boat owners from Seattle and British Columbia that stay in Costa Baja Marina for the winter.
|Great football viewing venue!|
|And if football gets boring, you can always view the ocean, beach or pool.|
Monday, January 19th: Finally departed Palmira at 730AM. We needed to jiggle the gear shift levers to get the port engine to crank over. Seagate ran 40 miles up to Isla San Francisco. The wind was light, the seas flat just like the Inside Passage to Alaska. We ran fine at 1175 rpm and 10 knots of boatspeed. The engine temps at 192/194F seemed high as Wild Blue Cummins engine runs at 161F and Ray said the old Seagate runs at 180F. We ran the engine room blowers with no change in Caterpillar temperatures . Is it possible the heat ex-changers need cleaning? Turned out Dick says 194F is an OK engine temp for these 800-hp beasts.
We anchored with two other large sailing yachts off the southwest side of Isla San Francisco in a nicely protected bay. Our C-Map charts have very little detail and less depth soundings. They suck! We used the "Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser's Guidebook" guide for local navigation along with the Navionics charts downloaded to my LG G3 smartphone. The same Navionics charts should be downloaded to Seagate's Coastal Explorer chart-plotter program.
Alex caught two fish while trolling in dinghy at Isla SF. One was a small swordfish and the other a small Bonita/Albacore look-alike. We kept the "almost Ahi" and dined on it as fresh sushi.
|Seagate at Isla San Francisco.|
|Sharing with other sailing yachts.|
|Fresh ahi .... at least it looked and tasted like it!|
We went ashore to a rustic village of homes scattered here and there. All the locals were quite friendly and helpful. We visited the tiny tienda securing more Pacifico. Later we launched a kayak and a stand up paddle board for the trip across the bay. Water was so clear it felt as though one was paddling across the top of a giant aquarium!
That night a big south wind came up. Our anchor with a 3 to 1 scope pulled out then re-
set about 100 feet away. Seagate was still inside drag alarm circle on AIS so the alarm didn't sound. Alex woke up anyway as we were now nearer to Patience. All turned out fine and in the future we will use a 4 to 1 scope for those unexpected night breezes.
|Don't feed the goats Cheryl!|
|A Baja Tienda, kinda like a 7-11 store.|
|Rock formation on east side of Bahia Aqua Verde.|
|Solitaria Rock is a great diving spot just off Bahia Aqua Verde.|
|Idlewild, Seagate and Patience in the shadows at anchor in Bahia Aqua Verde.|
|Wednesday sunrise at Bahia Aqua Verde. Yes, Alex was on anchor watch.|
|Great crew are Ray and Cheryl Mahaffey of Cal Yacht Club.|
|Alex and Cheryl water-sporting.|
Unlike Wild Blue which is steered by the GPS, the Seagate autopilot runs off a magnetic compass course. For some reason, the boat was very difficult to keep on "magnetic" course today. Either the current was strange or there is some kind of major magnetic variance in the area that was affecting the autopilot compass. We had to closely watch our autopilot course as it began to differ greatly from our GPS Course Over Ground (COG). The radar heading, binnacle compass, and autopilot compass all displayed different magnetic headings so we just relied on the GPS Course Over Ground (COG) for all driving.
By 430PM we arrived at Puerto Escondido with 12 to 15 knots of NE wind and used the Chart Guide to navigate the entrance. There was plenty of depth at the two entrances and we eventually picked up mooring #109 which, per the Guide, was set to accommodate an 80-foot yacht. There was no cell service so we launched the tender to go chat with the harbormaster. There was great wi-fi in and around the harbor office. Spoke with harbor folks just as they were closing for the day. Seems they received my email for space and have a place for us with power. It most likely will be a Mediterranean stern tie. They recommended we come in tomorrow in the morning before the breeze kicks up.
Thursday, January 22nd: In the morning went ashore to arrange moving boat to mooring M6 in front of harbor office for a Med stern tie to floating dock. When ready to dinghy back to Seagate, engine would not turnover, even when hot jumped, so we enlisted the dive boat to tow the tender to Seagate. Diver lost his boat hook when attempting to land us next to Seagate, so we gave him the extra Seagate boat hook, as there were two aboard, and tipped him as well. Guess we will attempt to find mechanic to repair Honda outboard starter.
Raphael, the harbormaster here in PE, had two helpers at the dock. We first picked up the mooring lines and attached those mooring lines to our dock lines to extend Seagate stern closer to dock. This mooring is set up for a 100 ft boat. It was blowing 15-20 knots bow on and that added a little excitement to our moorage efforts. Eventually we backed stern to be about 2 foot from dock with mooring loaded up. We tied stern lines to the dock cleats with criss-cross lines as well, then connected to 50 amp power. Hopefully this will hold Seagate until the next crew arrives in February.
|Med-tied at Puerto Escondido.|
Note when un-mooring boat, there is a mighty big load on stern lines, so it's best to be aboard with Raphael assistants on the dock to assist. Be careful not to lose any fingers when un-tying. This Med-tie dock is exposed to plenty of Northerly wind chop. Its quite bouncy here and wave noise keeps one from deep sleep.
|The floating mooring ball is set for a 100-foot boat. It's about 6 feet underwater.|
There's a big load on these dock lines.
Friday, January 23rd: The winds have softened and the sun is shining. We like the dry heat. We rented a Fox Car Rental and will tour Loreto. We arranged with Harbormaster Raphael to employ Carlos to watch over Seagate and check the lines over the next month. He will also wash the boat every 10 days or so and the approved agreement was stamped by Harbormasters office. Carlos will contact Alvin from the boatyard to repair Honda Outboard start motor, so the boat should be ship-shape on the return. Harbormaster Raphael has been extremely helpful, and I guess I'm not sure as a government employee of he can take a tip, but then this IS Mexico. Dick will need to figure something out.
Just south of Loreto is a 700-home subdivision, built between the beach to the east, a river to the south and a golf course on east and north sides. The locals call it "Gringo Town" for obvious reasons and it is a quite nice, upscale cluster of homes. There is only a single street with landscaped center divider that runs down the center of the development for access and parking. There are no garages and all the homes are built on walk streets! We contacted a Realtor and toured 4 homes: a 2600sf patio home at $300K, a 2400sf home at 350K, a 2800sf golf fairway home at $800K and a 6000sf beach front home at $1.6M. Per this Realtor, HOA fees are $250/month which includes property tax and utilities are less than $150/month. There are several homes that start less than $200K. See sample homes here. Finally, we noticed the vehicle license plates: Alaska, Yukon Territories, Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. That figures!
|No roads, just walk streets!|
|Each home has a covered roof patio for 360 views.|
|More and more views.|