Agua Verde – 10/6/2019

Agua Verde is a small village located on the Baja Peninsula, close to Loreto.  The village’s name, Agua Verde is derived from the greenish waters that fill the bay.  The village population is close to 200 people and its main industry is fishing.  The village has two restaurants for both locals and tourists with a fish based menu.  The area also has goat farming and it is possible to buy both goat cheese and a goat if you want.  The village offers hiking, snorkeling and diving opportunities and nearby you can also visit cave paintings or bathe in the hot springs.

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One of the local restaurants in town offering fish tacos

We left our anchorage at Puerto los Gatos at 8 am for a 2-hour sail to Agua Verde, also on the Baja Peninsula.  As we approached a next anchorage we past a small rocky island or the San Marcial Reef and all we could hear was seals bellowing.  After anchoring we decided to go and explore seal island before the wind picked up and it got too rough.

Andrew, Jamie, Ava and I geared up in our wet suits and packed up the dinghy with all our snorkel gear in the hope that we might be able to swim with them.  On arriving it soon became apparent that we would not be swimming with them.  It is mating season, and, on the island, there were two very large males.  The males were surrounded with 6 or 7 female seals.  The males made it very clear from the beginning who was boss with their bellowing.  Within minutes of arriving all but the largest male and one sick looking seal were in the water, swimming around us with the male continually barking.

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We enjoyed the show.  Eventually the largest male gave in and joined the others in the water.  You don’t really appreciate how big the males are until you get that close to them and you can understand why on Espiritu Santo you are not allowed to swim with them until breeding season is over in August.

Eventually the largest seal had, had enough and managed to lumber his large body ashore.  There was a small seal who had remained on the rocks the entire time we were there and apart from lifting her flipper and head a couple of times she didn’t move or go in the water.  We can only imagine she is sick.  Poor thing.  It was a fantastic 45-minute visit to the island.

After our seal island trip, we stopped at the pinnacle, aptly known as the Roca Solitaria for a snorkel and the water is getting colder the further north we go.  You definitely need a wetsuit.  Despite the cold and the crying of the gulls, we had a good snorkel.  The rock floor is scattered with starfish of various colours, shapes and sizes all gripping onto the rocks.  We even saw a few crown of thorns among them.

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The pinnacle where we went for a snorkel

Some of the many starfish and crown of thorns we spotted.

I did spot a couple of Christmas trees which I haven’t seen in a while and just as we were getting in the dinghy Ava spotted what think was a snake or I guess it could have been an eel.

We ended our day by going ashore at about 5 pm to the village, just as the goats were meandering up the steep slope. 

The village consists of a few houses, two restaurants and a few small tiendas, shops.  Among the houses were more grazing goats, kids running around, dogs playing and a turkey all ruffled up. 

We wandered the small village waving to the kids and admiring the local artwork on the buildings.  Behan actually pointed out that the paintings had paintings within them of their local landscape and people.

Eventually we found a lady who had goat cheese, made into a heart shape.  With our cheese in hand we went back to the dinghy. 

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Reaching our dinghy we found the beach population had exploded with kids swimming and jumping off a local fishing boat, others running along the beach, pelicans fishing and fighting for space on any available boat, dogs barking and parents chasing kids, it was all happening.

We decided to retreat to the quiet on our boat for sun-downers with crackers and fresh goat cheese.

Puerto los Gatos – 9/6/2019

We had an early morning start or at least by our standards, leaving at 8 am.  We continued to Puerto los Gatos arriving at lunchtime.  Puerto los Gatos is well known due to its smooth rocky formation that rise from the water in variegated shades of pinks and red.

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I didn’t go in to shore until later in the afternoon as it was too hot.  So when Andrew returned from spearfishing I went to explore.  On one end of the bay along the pebbly shore are more vertical rock formations.  In fact the rock was rather brittle flaking off a bit like shale.

On the left the view of the bay from the southern end.  On the right the flaky rocks, some with peculiar rocky growths, also on the southern end of the bay.

Now the other end of the bay, I think has the really beautiful rock formations.  The rocks look a bit like ice-cream or marshmallows that have slowly melted. 

P1130718You can climb on the rocks and see the spectacular range of pinks and admire the view over the bay.  If you look closely in the crevices you may find a skeleton of a bird or sea creature, but hopefully not a rattlesnake or scorpion.  The sand surrounding the rocks was filled with tracks or varying sizes and shapes, I don’t want to imagine what creepy crawlies you would find.  In fact, we spoke to somebody camping who said in the evening the beach comes alive with hermit crabs, everywhere.

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We didn’t explore too far, but there are many other little bays which Jamie explored finding a midden and a geode among the strata layers of rock.  I think this has been the most beautiful anchorage so far.  A few more pics to show its beauty.

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Early morning view as we were getting ready to leave the anchorage.

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Isla San Jose – 8/6/2019

Bahia Amortajada

Our first stop for the day after leaving Isla San Francisco was Bahia Amortajada.  However, our plan for a dinghy trip through the estuary had to be delayed until the tide had come in further to allow us entry with the dinghy.  Apart from hitting the bottom a few times it was a peaceful and serene trip.

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We stopped at a rocky spot that Totem had visited in 2009 and went for a look.  It was only a few moments later that Jamie and Mairen had spotted the skeleton of a puffer fish, followed by skeletal remains of trigger fish.  The kids happily ambled along collecting various treasures, I think Mairen collected the most with everything from the exoskeleton of a crown of thorns, bird bones, trigger fish skeletons and some other unknown bit.

Behan and I sat and chatted as the kids continued scouring.  Siobhan raced over with her excited discovery, a nudi branc.  It turns out Ava had spotted it and was keeping an eye on until we could get there.  After stumbling along over the rocks for a few minutes, the two girls eagerly pointed out their find in the shallows of the water.  I must admit that I have not seen one before or I have overlooked it, but it was very cool.  I did discover as soon as I zoomed in with the camera I would lose it, so Siobhan helped out by keeping her finger near it so I had something to focus on.

We had planned to stop at a little beach on the way back to the boat, but after a few attempts and hitting the bottom we gave up.  No one was keen on accidently stepping on either a sting ray or a stone fish to pull the dinghy in.

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We had a relaxing trip back to the boat before we pulled up anchor and continued on.

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Punta Salinas

Our second stop on this island was at Punta Salinas.  Punta Salinas was once home to a large salt mining operation, but today it largely resembles a ghost town.  The beach is scattered with rusting and slowly disintegrating abandoned buildings, vehicles and other debris.

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Max stayed onboard our rocky anchorage while we dinghied to shore.  Its safe to say it was our worst beach landing yet.  The beach slope is quite steep and with the waves it made it difficult to get out and move the heavy dinghy quickly.  The dinghy was swamped and partially filled making her heavier.  Andrew quickly bailed her out as we all scrambled ashore with her.  We finally got up the slope with both the dinghy and us all very wet.

We spent about 45 minutes wandering around the site admiring the pink salt pools in the distance.  Although the guide book said the mine was closed it did look like there were ponds on the other side of the island in use. There remained a couple of cars and a bulldozer, although they scarcely resembled the pictures in the cruising guide book.  I guess years of salt water and air has rusted some things beyond recognition.

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A few windowless buildings remain standing with views over either the beach or the salt ponds.  In fact, one of the floors still had perfect sections of tiling amongst the crumbling debris.

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While mindful of snakes, we did step on some of the myriad of cactus needles scattered amongst the sand and ruins, you definitely need some type of footwear.  Leaving the beach in the dinghy thankfully was easier than the arrival, but that may have been because we waded the dinghy out past the shore break.

San Evaristo

Due to the rolly anchorage and wind on Isla San Jose, we continued to the protected anchorage of San Evaristo.  The following morning with the rising sun gave a beautiful view of the anchorage.

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Isla San Francisco – 6 – 7th June 2019

Isla San Francisco is located about 44 nm north of La Paz.  The island has a beautiful crescent shaped bay with a white sandy beach, although it has a pinkie hue from the red pebbles.  The bay is surrounded by a ridge of rocky, pink cliffs and has the backdrop of the Sierra de la Gigantas on the Baja Peninsula.

6th June

We arrived mid-afternoon from La Paz and anchored in this beautiful, somewhat busy bay.  Andrew and the kids jumped off the boat for a swim and discovered that the water was ‘freezing’.  Siobhan and Ava paddle boarded to shore, while Andrew and I took the dinghy and walked along the beach.

The shoreline looks pink from the wet, red rocks which lie beneath the water.  Interestingly there were also a lot of shells with pinkie tones to them.  We walked to the point and back watching lizards sunbathing on rocks or floating across the bushes and dry ground, their feet barely ghosting the ground.

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Andrew enjoyed a relaxing drink on deck in his bean bag chair, which hasn’t been used in a long time, while watching the sunset and listening to the Eagles.

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7th June

Mid way through cooking an English breakfast we had a call from Jamie on the radio, wanting to know if we were up for a hike along the ridge.  I had been keen to do the hike, so Andrew readily agreed.  Ava was not so happy as it was disrupting her routine and she couldn’t understand why we couldn’t do it in the afternoon.  It’s a desert Ava, its going to be stinking hot in the afternoon.

By 10 am we had dragged the dinghy up the shore and were all clambering along the sand and up the rocky slope to reach the ridge.  Mairen spotted a cute little lizard sunbaking on the way and a backbone, which Jamie thought was either an eel or a ray.  Behan spotted hermit crab tracks and what she and Andrew suspected were snake tracks.  Andrew is a little anxious after having read that there are both rattle snakes and rattle less rattle snakes.  If it doesn’t have a rattle, then how can it be a rattlesnake?

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As you ascend to the top and walk along the ridge it affords you beautiful views over the boats anchored in the bay in turquoise and blue water and surrounded by the rocky cliffs in different shades of pink.  Gorgeous!

Looking down into the water below was a big black ball at first we thought it was a submerged rock, but discovered that the ball was moving.  Andrew thought it was a bait ball and Behan thought it was a group of stingrays.  We watched intermittently as the ball moved and also as another one on the other-side of the bay formed and moved too.  There was an occasional jump as one of what we suspected was rays leapt from the water.

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When we returned to shore we saw a smaller ball of black move past us and sure enough it was stingrays.

We returned to the boat so the kids could do some school and Andrew and I got al of our gear ready to go for a snorkel.  As we got in the dinghy we saw the black ball again and went for a look.  Jamie and Behan soon joined us and within a flash Behan was in with the stingrays.  I did go in too a few minutes later.  There was at least a hundred of the small rays moving in a pack.  There appeared to be smaller olive coloured ones that swam closer to the sand and also larger grey ones.  I managed to get a few photos of them, not wonderful but if you look closely you can decipher what they are.

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While Jamie and Andrew went spearfishing and returned with dinner, the rest of us relaxed or finished school work.  The kids gathered later in the day to play games or go paddle boarding.

Andrew enjoyed sundowners on the bow and I joined him briefly as we watched numerous turtles surface around the boat and two seals in the distance frolicking in the water.  A very cool day.

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