San Diego to La Paz

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We were excited, and sad, to leave San Diego. On one hand sad, because we absolutely love the city of San Diego. The weather was always nice, there were so many things to do outdoors, the people were always welcoming and helpful, we made some wonderful friends (we miss you already Mike and Ena) and it was our last taste of the U.S. for at least the next 6 months. On the other hand, it was the beginning of the next chapter in our cruising life. It was a new chapter that none of us have ever experienced. Therefore, each new first was a first of all four of us. It was our first check in to Mexico via private boat. It was our first time reporting (en espanol) to a Port Captain. It was our first offshore multi-day passage with just the four of us on board.

We left San Diego early Thursday morning for the short trip to Ensenada Mexico. Ensenada is a beautiful port city about 60 miles south of the border. There we checked into the country. The process of checking into Mexico is much different than what we are accustomed to when checking into Canada. In Canada you pull up to one of three different customs docks in British Columbia. You walk up the dock to a bank of phones that automatically call the customs agents as soon as you pick up the phone. They ask you for your passport number, how many people on board and some of your boat information. A couple of “aaye’s”, a few ”you betch yas”, finished off with “enjoy your holiday” and you are done. All told it is about a 5 minute process. Not so the case in Mexico. To spare everyone a 100 page step by step process I will keep it simple by saying that we got it done (after speaking to no less than seven different officials in three different offices) and we are now allowed to be in the lovely country of Mexico for 6 months.  You are not allowed to bring fresh fruits or vegetables into the country so we had to visit a market before leaving. I took a taxi to the market that a fellow sailor recommended but once I arrived I did not see anything that I was looking for. My cab driver asked me what I needed and I told him I was searching for fresh vegetables and fruits. He said “I know a guy, I take you to him”. So off we went through the city to this back alley warehouse area that for just a moment made we wonder what I was getting into. But sure enough Jesus turned the car into a large wholesale produce distribution center. It was fantastic. He took me into the loading docks and talked with his friend Enrique. Next Enrique asked what I was looking for and after giving him my list he and about 5 other guys brought out cases upon cases from which I could choose from. I got a dozen or so avocados, a dozen or so tomatoes, corn on the cob, a watermelon, apples, oranges, cantaloupe, broccoli, and much more. All told I had four large groceries bags packed full of fruits and vegetable at various stages of ripeness as well as a bag of various produce for Jesus’ family for $30. Oh and I was there for about 10 minutes. We packed our goodies into Jesus’ taxis and we headed back to the marina. While I was away shopping Ashley and the kids prepared the boat for passage.    

We left Ensenada late Friday afternoon. We sailed to an extinct volcano that was now a small island (Isla San Martin) 1 mile off the coast. We anchored there after sailing all night and into Saturday morning. We spent all day Saturday and Saturday night there at anchor. We explored the shoreline and the small sand dunes near our anchorage. The next day we headed south to our next destination called Turtle Bay which was 250 miles south. In a 24 hour period we typically travel about 150-165 miles. So we knew we had about a 2-3 day passage ahead of us. Ashley and I took random turns keeping watch throughout the day and then after dinner,  when the sun set, we switched to defined 2 hours on and 2 hours off shifts. This worked perfectly and we never felt too tired. The weather for the trip south was good, not perfect but good. We had light winds from the north and following seas. However the winds would die after about 10 or 11 pm so we would start the motor and run the engine through the night until the late morning of the next day.  So it would have been nice to be able to sail through the night but we won’t be greedy or too picky the sailing that we did get was wonderful and even the time spent motoring was not too bad either. We stopped in Turtle Bay and took on about 40 gallons of fuel and spent the night. We put up the sails right outside of the bay and began right where we left off. Sail through the day and into the late evening. Then the wind dies and we start the motor and run until the morning. We did this again for 5 more days all the way to Cabo San Lucas.

We rounded the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula and Cabo at 5am. We turned toward the east and then north and began heading into the Sea of Cortez. We sailed through the day and night and arrived at a beautiful anchorage just 10 miles outside of the capital city of La Paz. Caleta Lobos was the name of the bay and it was magnificent. It was everything Ashley and I imaged the Sea of Cortez would be. The water was a beautiful tropical blue turquoise. The beaches were white sand. The visibility in the water was 20 plus feet. The water was 81 degrees and there were fish everywhere. We loaded the kids in the dinghy along with their snorkeling gear and headed to see the marine life up close. We anchored the dinghy in about 4 feet of water over a rocky area that also had a sandy bottom nearby. We kept it shallow for their first time in this type of water just so they could get their feet wet. Alexander wasted no time at all and was in the water within seconds of me telling them they can get in. He kept raising his head exclaiming, “there are fish everywhere and every color!” He swam back to the dinghy to grab his camera and he was off again exploring his new and exciting world. Victoria needed a little more hand holding at first, but after seeing her first school of brightly colored fish swim right in front of her, she too was hooked. After a few hours of snorkeling and swimming we headed back to the boat for some schoolwork. Victoria and Alexander were still talking about all the different colors and types of fish that they saw long after they were supposed to be sleeping that night.

After riding out a very windy storm in our anchorage the next day we headed to the city of La Paz. There we met two boats with kids who are Victoria and Alexander’s age, both from the Pacific Northwest. One of the family’s is from Alaska and we tried to meet up with them back when we were on the west coast of Vancouver Island (and never did). The other family we know quite well as they were friends from our “home” marina in Seattle. We plan to spend the next 4 days visiting and playing with these two families. And a few days from now two or three other boats with kids of similar age are joining us here in La Paz (some of which we already know!).    

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