Saturday, December 4, 2010

Doing the La Paz Waltz

[Post is a little out of order, as we’ve been sans Internet for awhile now]

After getting in some good snorkeling at Pulmo reef, we headed up for a day sail to Ensenada de los Muertos (Bay of the Dead). It was close reach sailing, so we got in near sunset. Spent the night and headed out the next morning for a motor into the wind to Isla Espiritu Santo and anchored on the southeastern side in Playa la Bonanza. Beautifully clear and turquoise water with a great long beach. It was too windy to dive, so we took a long beach walk that evening. You’ll have to take my word for it, as we weren’t in the picture taking mood.

In the morning it was blowing even harder so we gave up the idea of diving and headed off for the 4 hour sail to La Paz. La Paz is the major business city of southern Baja. It doesn’t have the hype of tourist towns.

lapazIMG_5482The malecon in La Paz. The malecon is the long, shore front walk in Spanish towns. In La Paz it goes for miles with the bay on one side and the shops on the other – very civilized. 


The old church, still in full use, by the town center.


We stumbled across the cultural center, Centro Cultural La Paz.  The exhibits are mostly in Spanish with really interesting old photos of the area, the staff were friendly and the building is classic.


Minor catastrophe – we ran out of the Nate & Al’s Deli pickles that Chris & Di picked up in Beverly Hills while getting more pages in the old passport... guess it’s time for another trip to LA!

lapazIMG_5481Here’s one of the swaying palms in La Paz that is owned by TelCel and supplies our internet access. We use a 3G USB dongle on our laptop called a Banda Ancha in Mexico.  It is similar to the Verizon one we used in the states, only the Telcel one is much faster and doesn’t keep dropping out. The only thing Verizon does better is make it easier to pay each month. In Mexico we actually have to go to a TelCel store to buy our monthly allotment of minutes, can’t do it online.

There is a large expat community in Las Paz, mostly Canadian and Americans, along with a huge number of cruisers, or yatisitas, who hang here for extended periods of time. Each morning at 8am on the VHF radio channel 22 there is a cruisers Net. It announces the happenings in town for the day, offers swaps and trades, mail delivery, Bay Watch, Lost & Found, etc. Since foreigners aren’t allowed to sell items while in Mexico, anything that is put for sale on the Net is not listed for sale, but instead it is listed as ‘will swap for coconuts’.


When the locals heard that Jeorgia was in town, they put on some fireworks our first night.


Then just before we left they sent the Navy patrol boat by our boat to offer a salute.  Very thoughtful.


The anchorage in La Paz is huge. It can easily handle hundreds of boats. There is a significant tidal current that passes through. This causes the boats to sometimes point with the current, other times with the wind. The boats tend to dance around, often not in tandem. This is known locally as The La Paz Waltz. We stayed at anchor just outside the Marina de La Paz. For 15 pesos a day ($1.20) you get to use their dinghy dock, water, trash, recycle and oil disposal. For another 15 pesos you get a clean, hot shower. Great deal, good on the budget.

 lapazIMG_5494 lapazIMG_5495 lapazIMG_5496

However, the anchorage can get a little dicey. The photo sequence above shows the number 23 green channel marker buoy drifting through the anchorage after a strong night of breeze. The next day an abandoned ferro-cement boat that had been aground floated off and also drifted by. Either one of these could have caused serious damage to our fiberglass hull if we’d made contact…


As usual we had a set of boat maintenance items to get done when we showed up to La Paz.  The lower vertical batten in our jib was tearing away from the sail. We could have hand sewn it back on, but a good zig-zag machine would do a better job. We dropped the sail off at Snug Harbor Sails with Doug the one-eyed sail maker. I was a little concerned about this as the only schedule I could get out of him was to call in in a couple of days. Doug came through and did a good job on the repair for 500 pesos (US$40).

We aren’t sure about our plans right now. We’d really like to see some more of the Sea of Cortez and get in some good skin diving. The problem is that we keep having these winter time winds known in the Sea of Cortez as Northers blow in that make things cold (like low 60’s in the morning) and the water to choppy for diving.  If we can’t get some warm swimming in up here, we’ll head over to the mainland and south soon.


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