Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bahia Concepcion to Santa Rosalia

After a comfortable night at Bahia Santo Domingo we continued deeper into Bahia Concepcion and dropped anchor off the beach at Playa El Burro. Sailing friends Howard and Lynn aboard “Swift Current” had already arrived and we were soon joined by our friend, and solo sailor Mike, from the vessel “So Inclined” who was waiting for an appropriate weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos where he would have his boat trucked back to Southern California. Several friends of ours had already started south toward Cabo san Lucas and were were about to begin sailing from there back to South California for the hurricane season. The 850 mile passage is known as the “Baja bash” because it is often miserable due to having to fight strong, northwesterly headwinds and rough seas. For a single hander, Mike’s plan made a lot of sense considering the savings of time and wear and tear on both boat and body.

Playa El Burro and the neighboring coves feature a scattering of simple, thatched roof and plywood shelters and more elaborate vacation homes. The area has easy access to Baja’s highway 1 with the towns of Mulege to the north and Loreto to the south. Many of the part time residents are from the U.S. and Canada and a few hearty souls remain here year round, even during the intensely hot summer months. We learned from several people in the area that whale sharks were being sighted almost daily so we kept a constant look out for the magnificent creatures. As the days grew hotter, we spent hours swimming, snorkeling and touring the area by dinghy. In the evenings, we joined cruising friends ashore at nearby “Bertha’s” restaurant where we feasted on fish tacos, enchiladas and good old cheeseburgers. On our third day there, we were treated to quite a thrill as an 18 foot whale shark swam near our anchored boats. We were returning by dinghy from another bay when Anne spotted the fish’s tail fin and we quickly sped off in pursuit. As we approached and shut down our engine, we could clearly see the enormous shark swim beneath the dinghy. Mike and another friend Les followed our lead and, as they neared, Mike tossed a scuba mask to Anne so that she could swim with the shark. Even though fully clothed, she didn’t hesitate for a second and was quickly in the water swimming alongside it. As she returned to our dinghy with the mask to give Mark a turn, the shark slowly descended and vanished from sight. Alas, his chance to swim with a whale shark would have to wait for another day.

From Bahia Concepcion we continued north past the town of Mulege to an area known as Punta Chivato where we anchored near a hotel and a number of private homes. The area also features a gravel airstrip so providing easy access for aviators. After a night at anchor, we went ashore with Howard and Lynn to a long, crescent shaped beach completely covered with an amazing variety of sea shells. While Howard and Mark explored, Anne and Lynn scoured the beach collecting bags full of unique and ornate sea shells. Mark and Howard joked that if their wives collected any more shells, the additional weight was likely to sink our boats. After collecting, we all took an exploratory walk examining the private homes and hotel and treating ourselves to lunch at a small hotel/restaurant adjacent the airstrip.

After a second night at Punta Chivato we sailed further northwest to the island of Isla San Marcos where we anchored in a lovely spot called “Sweet Pea Cove”. We would spend two nights there exploring that area and meeting new friends Don and Peggy from the vessel “Interlude” and Bill and Kat from “Island Bound”. One afternoon, two fisherman from Colorado motored by and offered to share some of their catch. We were thrilled when they gave us a plastic bag containing a giant fillet of dorado (mahi mahi). We shared half of it with Lynn and Howard that night and the other would go toward a pot luck dinner for eight the next that we hosted aboard “Blue Rodeo”. Unfortunately, while in Sweet Pea Cove, we again did battle with bees that came to our boat seeking even the tiniest droplets of fresh water. That night during the dinner party, Anne was stung several times on her feet by already dead bees that had been swatted or zapped with our electronic insect swatter. Though not allergic to bee stings, she did have a significant reaction and was pretty uncomfortable due to the swelling and itching caused by the stings.

From “Sweet Pea Cove” we would sail back across the Craig Channel to our most northern destination this season, the town of Santa Rosalia. While making the short crossing, we had a few moments to reflect on that fact that it had been over a year since we left the dock in Seattle to begin this sailing adventure and that “Blue Rodeo” has safely carried us across over 5,000 miles of ocean. We are having the time of our lives and look forward to what grand adventures the next year will bring.

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