The northern parts of the Sea of Cortez captured us wholly. The clear waters so delightful for dipping; the pelicans landing in an explosion of flying water and then calmly eat the fish they had caught; the rays leaping in diamonds of water; huge Fin whales blowing and to be heard half a mile away; the orange and black sunsets and pearly sunrises; it all was astoundingly beautiful. We long to go back to just dip in anywhere and stay until we want to be somewhere different.
We mostly had very little wind. We mostly had flat seas. But the exceptions are memorable! The trip up from Bahia de Los Angeles to Puerto Refugio gusted to 35 or 40 with short choppy seas – this long channel of water seems made for these conditions – I would chose to go up the outside of the island next time. Yes, we did a lot of motoring, but if our rig had been in better condition (the reason we are going to haul out) we could have stolen some lovely light wind sails. And the final morning sail in front of Penasco while waiting for high tide was delightful.
This trip felt leisurely at times, but no mistaking, it was a delivery. We were aware of the passing time and the overdue refit. Next time, we promise ourselves, it will be different.
Just a few notes on each place for those that might be heading here. Then after that I promise, more pictures. Follow the green lines on the map from the bottom to top. The brief descriptions below go in chronological order (south to north).
San Juanico: May 30, 31
A honeymoon of the place. The first 24 hours we were alone there and it felt like the world had been invented for us. This is the first place we encountered honeybees desperate for fresh water, not interested in sweets. We always filled a large dog bowl of water for them, filled it with hardware to stand on, and placed it in the bow away from the cockpit. We usually had to refill it twice a day.
Santispac in Bahia Concepcion: June 1
A fun place. A little tricky to get into – LOTS of shallow water and the chart depths were flat out mis-leading. (Stay well in the middle of the channel NOT the right side as some charts indicate.) But we managed not to go aground and had a nice quiet night. The place is a Mexican RV campground favorite apparently, and the place is well used. Probably the loudest night we had, but everyone was clearly having a great time.
We didn’t go to Santa Domingo (as originally planned) near the mouth of the bay because it looked too exposed – Santispac was certainly better protected from swell.
Santa Rosalia: June 2-3
Santa Rosalia is said to be a true, unspoiled Mexican town. The harbor is not much, although the small Fonatur marina looks pleasant enough. We however anchored in the harbor near the pangas and were not tempted to swim in the yucky water. But we had a nice dinner in town, bought some veggies, and watched a bit of a political rally. Lovely town to visit but don’t stay in the harbor – either the Fonatur marina or, weather permitting, anchor outside the harbor.
San Francisquito: June 4-5
A large and ruggedly beautiful anchorage. On the south side there is a small reef which you can anchor behind to calm the bits of wave that make it into this location. We saw quite a few Finback whales, the second largest mammal behind blue waves. When the whales were blowing we could hear them 1/2 mile away or more. We never saw flukes, just the huge broad back with the tiny dorsal fin. In the late afternoon we saw a coyote running along the beach in that intent way they have. In SF we had peaceful nights and great swimming. Perfect.
Puerto San Juan: June 6
We chose this anchorage when Animas Slot appeared too exposed for the NE winds we were having. It is just a couple of miles from Bahia Los Angeles. PSJ is considered a hurricane hole and probably deserves the name. The entrance is guarded by a large rocky peninsula preventing the entrance of waves.
Puerto Refugio: June 7-8
This anchorage on the northern tip of Isla Angel de la Guarda is my favorite place of the trip. There are a series of anchorages in the top of the island, each has a different outlook, and therefore also protection from slightly different winds. The massive cliffs provide a stunning backdrop. The waters are lovely, the beaches rocky but filled with shells. Sea lions oork nearby. Gorgeous.
Puerto Penasco: June 10 (after an overnight sail)
A lively if not lovely town. Ok, a tacky border town. The beach is great, lots of places to find tacos, but the service quality and friendly supportive community of the Cabrales boatyard is why sailors come here.
However, it is HOT in June! We leave shortly to run north for a bit, then we will return to San Miguel de Allende for the fall and return to the boat in January or February to start our refit.
Sights of the Northern Sea of Cortez
As promised, here are the images, just a random assortment of my favorites.