Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014 - Puerto Escondido

February 20, 2014 – Honey Moon Cove near Puerto Escondido

Our cruising got off to a late start in 2014.  In past years we were back in Baja in early January, but this year our oldest grandson, Bjorn, was married on February 1st, so we delayed our trip until February 5th.
We arrived in Anchorage on December 8th to cold and snow, just as it should be in December.  Within 2 days I had multiple occasions to see small grand children and Earl was sick with a nasty ‘day care’ bug – a present from 20 month old Reese.  It was the December of day care crud for us. On the 21st I came down with the tummy bug that had struck Paul’s family (also from day care).  A few days later, I had not only come down with Earl’s cold, but also - an added bonus- pink eye. 

Although we never really got well that month, it did not stop us from having a wonderful holiday season with family.  In addition to sons Steve, Brian, and Paul and their families who live in Anchorage, we were joined by son Stuart and his family (wife Teri, daughter Meaghan and her friend John).  The weather was appropriately snowy and we were a record 17 people for dinner on Christmas night followed by a magic show presented by Bella who received a magic kit for Christmas and songs from the movie Frozen by Amelia dressed as Elsa.  And the 7 Mexican princess dresses that I bought as Christmas presents made a big hit from Alaska to Oregon, California and New York.

Grandson’s Bjorn’s wedding to Tracy was held in Portland and was lovely.  The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, and most important, they both looked blissful.  It is wonderful to have a joyful occasion to get together with family. 

Bjorn works for Nike and got us all passes to the employee Nike store were we could buy Nike stuff, some not yet even in stores, at half price.  I almost did not go, since I am not exactly a target Nike consumer.  I would have saved myself a good deal had I stayed home.  Nike makes things for children.  I had a ball, and, luckily, son Steve was in Portland and able to cart everything back to Anchorage for me for the younger grandchildren.

We flew into Cabo and stopped at Costco on the way to La Paz.  They carry American beef and New Zealand lamb not carried in the local stores.  The new highway up the west coast of Baja is now complete.  It bypasses Todo Santos and makes for a quick and comfortable drive.  From the time we left Cabo San Lucas, it was less than 2 hours to Costa Baja.  We went directly to a restaurant and celebrated our arrival with tequila and local seafood.

We found many of friends at the marina. In addition to dear friends John and Maria Luisa, these include Sarah and Darrel –and wonder dog Sparky- on El Tiberon, Sharon and Dave Davis on Cipango, John and Sharon Warren on Warren Peace, and Gary on Cisco, in addition to our fellow Nordhavn people: Jerome and Karen on Daybreak, Lisa and Jay on Paradise Found, and Peter and Mary Rose on Solana.  We had a very social time, including a fabulous dinner on the Daybreak.  Jerome and Karen are from Bow - 20 minutes away from our home in La Conner –and they are both very talented cooks!

On the 9th we all celebrated John Nielsen’s birthday on his boat, Viking Spirit.  Maria Luisa had a wonderful trio of musicians in addition to great food and drink.  Some of us, (Lisa, Jay, Peter, Mary Rose) lingered after others had left, for a mellow post party time with John, Maria Luisa and their good friends Guy and Lolita.  We plan on going north with the boat this April and it is sad to think of leaving behind all these friends that we have made.  We can only hope that we will see them in the Northwest in years to come.

The next week we finally fulfilled a goal – to see the grey whales and their calves in Magdalena Bay.  Fito who takes care of our boat had mentioned that he had made the trip to Lopez Mateo in one day from La Paz.  Our problem travelling on land is that we always need to provide for Daisy, but a day trip makes it possible to leave her behind.  When Guy heard we were going, he and Lolita decided to join us, so we rented a large car and had Fito drive us.  We also brought along Armando who also works on the boats in the marina and comes from Lopez Mateo.  Bottom line, it is a one day trip with Fito driving – probably not so with us driving.  He drove very well – and very fast.  The road from La Paz to Constitution is excellent but it is still a long drive.  Even with Fito driving it was 3 ½ hours from Costa Baja.  


Lopez Mateo is a small fishing town and Armando knew everyone.  One brother has a whale watching charter business and another skippers a panga.  When Earl mentioned that he would like to bring some oysters back to La Paz, Armando quickly found someone who sold us some, probably another relative.  And when the time came for lunch, it was in Armando’s sister’s restaurant, where we met his mother and some other family members.  We were very well taken care off.

Even with no local contacts, Lopez Mateo in February is incredible.  There were whales everywhere.  We were blessed with lovely weather (which is probably not uncommon.)  The whales were amazingly friendly and came up close to the panga, frequently accompanied by the calves.  It was truly an unforgettable experience to be close enough to these massive animals to pet them.  What an extraordinary thrill!  By the way, the white areas are barnacles and the pink a type of sea lice, both unique to grey whales.  The pink especially looks ugly but it is fine.

The next day we took off for Espiritu Santo accompanied by the Viking Spirit.  We had two beautiful days with the Viking Spirit, one in Ensenada de la Raza and one in Ensenada Grande. 

I have a new toy.  One of our kayaks was lost last fall and we replaced it with a Sea Eagle inflatable two man kayak.  We brought it down in a box on the plane and I could hardly wait to try it.  I convinced Earl to try with me, and he did not particularly enjoy the experience.  Getting the seats adjusted to provide adequate back support was not easy.  Also, one sits quite low in the kayak and I found it slightly awkward because the freeboard is high.  After a couple of tries, I have finally got the kinks worked out.  I found that by putting a floatation cushion on the seat, I am high enough to paddle more comfortably and it seems to help keep the back of the seat upright.  It is an interesting craft – I think it is a cross between a kayak and a canoe.  It is very stable and very large- it can easily hold three.  I think we will enjoy it in Northwest as well as here.

Then we said goodbye to John and headed north up the Sea.  We wanted to revisit some of the northern anchorages that we have loved in the past.  The first night we anchored on the north side of the spit at Amortajad, always a lovely place.  It was calm as could be and we were surprised to hear some boats on the radio the next morning talking about a rocky night further south.

Earl picked up a nice dorado on the way to our next stop at Agua Verde.  This fall I had acquired a delightful piece of local art, three pelicans made of shells on a chunk of coral.  Maria Luisa had admired it and I hoped to get one like it for her.  Our neighbor – Eric on Rhiannon- told us the Linda who makes them was on the beach and he took me over to see her.  She did not have any pelicans with her but promised that she would bring some the next morning.  Her husband has serious diabetes and can no longer fish, so they are in dire need of money.  True to her promise, the next day she had two for me.  She had stayed up most of the night making them.  I happily paid what she asked and made an additional donation for her husband’s care.


Eric told us that the village is really composed of only two extended families and there is a lot of interbreeding.  They seem to have a tendency to diabetes as well as some other issues.  Very sad.

We left Agua Verde and ran north to Loreto.  Earl anchored off the town and took me in to buy a few groceries.  They have a brand new grocery store – Leys.  It is hugely larger and better stocked then the old El Pescador where we had shopped in the past.   Last year when we were in Puerto Escondido we had rented a car and driven to Constitution to reprovision.  Now, between Pedro’s store in Puerto Escondido and Leys in Loreto, that would not be necessary. 
Laundry sure gets in the way
We anchored that night on the northside of Coronado.  It was a beautiful as always, and has the additional advantage of being within cell phone range. As we were anchoring, we found old friends – Scott and Kelly- on the Reverence next to us.  They had been at Costa Baja 2 years earlier and, the first year we were here, they had rescued our dingy when we let it get away from us at the hook at San Francisco.  We had a good time reminiscing with them over drinks.

Early the next morning we took off for San Juanico.  Earl wanted to catch some fish but the sea was odd.  We ran across red tide for the first time here.  He pulled in his gear and we made directly for our anchorage.

San Juanico is one of our very favorite places.  It is one of the most beautiful anchorages in the Sea.  It is very large and has unique rock formations.   We enjoyed two nights there.  The first night, we turned on the blue underwater lights and were treated to a somewhat creepy sight.  There were tons of 3 to 4 foot long trumpet fish.  They looked like snakes and were so thick the water was almost solid with them.

The next day I went kayaking (or Kanoe-yaking as I call it) and swimming and then we invited our neighbors over for drinks.  Doug and Linda on the sailboat Que Linda were great fun company.  They are from Bend, Oregon but have spent much of the last decades sailing and have a vast amount of experience. They had bought Que Linda in Florida and spend many years on her initially in the Bahamas and then alternating between Columbia and Panama.  They had brought her up to the Sea in 09, the same year we came down.  We will hope to see them again.

Yesterday we went fishing hunting again.  Earl really wants a marlin, but it was not to be.  Nevertheless, it was a special day.  The sea was glassy.  We passed several large groups of seals, sun bathing or taking a siesta or maybe both.  They did not even move when we came by.  Later in the afternoon, we came upon an enormous group of porpoises, pelicans, and other sea birds frantically feeding on a large group of bait on the surface.  I have never seen anything like it before.  To my surprise, it did not provide Earl with a bite, but it was an unforgettable sight.

Tonight we are anchored in beautiful Honey Moon Cove across from Puerto Escondido.  Tomorrow we will go into Puerto Escondido, pick up some groceries, have a meal at Pedro’s restaurant Porto Bello, and post this blog. Then we will slowly make our way south.