Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sailing the Sea of Cortez

After leaving La Paz we couldn't wait to head north and explore. Our guidebook does a fantastic job at getting cruisers excited for their next stop. Do NOT even think of sailing the Sea of Cortez without this guidebook. Full of colorful pictures, accurate waypoints, detailed maps of places to snorkel, hike and where to find restaurants,etc we couldn't live without this book. We also have the Pacific Mexico one too.

If you're ever looking to sharpen your sailing skills head to the Sea of Cortez. The geography of the Sea is so diverse that it creates multiple microclimates each with different wind conditions.  This makes predicting and responding to the different weather conditions a challenge.  For example, in the La Paz are there are nighttime winds called Coromuel winds that can blow up to 40 kts throughout the night.  We typically download our weather forecasts and grib files through our SSB radio modem, but here we find that they are way too general.  One great resource that we found was iwindsurf, which is designed for windsurfers and kiteboarders in the La Paz area and does a nice job of predicting micro climate forecasts including Coromuel winds.  The only problem with iwindsurf is that it requires an internet connection, which are few and far between in the Sea.  So the moral of the story is be prepared for any and all weather here and you will be just fine!

First stop after La Paz, Playa Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santo 

Long stretch of beach on one side, desert on the other.

The shells and coral on this island are amazing!

We attempted to hike from one side of the island to the other with no luck. After hours of hiking we turned back. The middle of the island is pure desert and hot

By 95-100 years in age, a saguaro cactus can reach a height of 15-16 feet, and could start to produce its first arm. By 200 years old, the saguaro cactus has reached its full height, reaching upwards of 45 feet tall. Any guesses how old this cactus might be?


While hiking on the beach we noticed that the seagulls were literally screaming at us. Then they started dive bombing us. The seagulls were trying to protect their nests that we couldn't see. It was fun to watch them attempt to attack Phil. They would fly at eye level and scream in your face. 

With the GoPro fully charged we were ready to head to Los Islotes to swim with the sea lions. We had heard great stories of how playful the sea lions would be and couldn't wait to get in the water with them. As we rounded Isla Espriritu Santo the wind blew hard in our faces and there was no way we'd be able to stop. No worries, we kept going with the hopes of stopping in beautiful Isla San Francisco. The pictures of Isla San Francisco featured in the guidebook made us feel that missing swimming with the sea lions was going to be worth it. 

In a few hours we anchored in gorgeous Isla San Francisco. Within a few minutes of dropping anchor we were able to catch SV YOLO on the VHF to find that they were on the other side of San Francisco pulling up anchor as it had blown 40 knots the night before! Remember me mentioning that the wind is insanely hard to predict?

We pulled up anchor after only 30 minutes in San Francisco and headed off to San Evaristo in hopes of a decent anchorage away from the unpredictable winds. 

After 9 hours of sailing (thankfully we left early that day!) and having to forgo 2 other anchorages we found refuge in San Evaristo with about 13 other boats. Snug. Real Snug. 

After zero sleep in San Evaristo thanks to the high winds and tense conditions we pulled up anchor and headed out to Puerto los Gatos. It does suck to sail with kids who've gone through the guidebook, picked out their "favorite spots" only to say, "sorry, Mother Nature has other plans for us".

Hellooooooo Puerto los Gatos!

Needless to say Puerto los Gatos made up for all of our missed anchorages.

We couldn't wait to hike beautiful Puerto los Gatos


Los Gatos reminded us of Sedona, Arizona.

Our view from the top of where we hiked

After hiking, the girls spent the next few hours finding crabs

The girls found ghost crabs and hermit crabs. By the end of the day they had a bucket full.

The girls thought Murphy would like to meet "Fred".

Holy Teeth! Jessica caught a few puffer fish

Our second day at los Gatos we had a Nance family beach day complete with horseshoes

Our beach day ended with a private bonfire and s'mores. 

The girls had a blast putting their sticks in the fire and then having fun with the camera

Next stop after Puerto los Gatos....give a warm welcome to Bahia Agua Verde

SV Terrapin and YOLO enjoying a private anchorage....not too shabby.

At night the farmers let their goats roam the hills. You can hear their little bells jingle.

One of the highlights of Bahia Agua Verde was one of their restaurants. If you plan to eat diner you need to dinghy over in the afternoon and let them know how many people and what time you'd like to eat.
The restaurant..on the beach with the Sierra la Gigante mountains as a backdrop

Seating for only about 8 around one table.

As we made our way over to the restaurant for our reservation of 8, we picked up a few more people. A nice commuter cruiser couple and a guy from Spain who was attempting to bicycle around the world. By the time we had everyone gathered around the table I'm pretty sure I was sitting on a bucket turned upside down for a seat. 

Gorgeous beach sunset while enjoying fishing tacos.

You'll need to bring your own drinks to the restaurant as they don't have any. No problem, make your way through some bushes and on a small trail you'll find the Mini Market complete with cold large beers!

Boat kids right of passage: learning to drive the dinghy without your nagging parents.

On our 3rd day YOLO pulled out the toys and it was time to play.

Free range kids doing their thing

If you stay in Agua Verde, do one of the many hikes, almost all of them are kid-friendly.

We hiked through town and met some friendly locals. 

And on our 4th day the girls caught trigger fish for dinner. They have delicious meat and are great for fish tacos and ceviche.

DO NOT miss Bahia Agua Verde if you're in the Sea of Cortez.

From La Paz to Bahia Agua Verde almost every stop we made a group of kayakers followed us. This group is spending 9 days and nights from La Paz to Loretto and camping along the way. There are many kayaking outfits who kayak through the Sea of Cortez.

We are currently in Puerto Escondido grabbing provisions and getting ready to head north in a few days.


  1. So glad you're back online, the pictures are great!

  2. Wow that really looked like Sedona, with a breathtaking ocean view. Murph looked less than impressed with the crab. I LOVED Puerto Escondido!