We are slowly working our way north - weather was great for the two day run from La Paz to Puerto Escondido, and we had a lovely first evening anchored in San Everisto. Second day of travelling was as calm and flat as it could be, no whale sightings unfortunately but we had dolphins and Mobula rays leaping around us. One of those magic days on the water that fulfills your wildest imaginings! No fish though. I had both lines in the water the entire time and didn’t even get a skipjack!
The first night up here we anchored in Honeymoon Cove on Danzante island - friends on Tanglewood chose a cove just south of us as it had more room for their larger size. We met on their boat for dinner, had a great evening, and on the way home were treated to the most amazing display of leaping fish and phosphorescence we have ever seen.
Tanglewood peaking out from the bay behind us
Northern Ranger in Honeymoon Cove
Next morning Laurie and I got up relatively early and headed out for a kayak exploration in the little coves between our two boats. Although there weren’t as many fish as I saw here last year, it was still a lot of fun. Unfortunately as the day wore on and my dinner was almost ready (Northern Ranger’s turn to host dinner) the wind came up rather alarmingly.. as per prediction. Rather than sit and fuss about the weather we opted to all up anchor and head to the marina... where there was lots of room on the breakwater dock and we could enjoy our meal without the rock and roll! Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. We were probably fine in the anchorage but we were surrounded by rocks, not sandbars as we were in Calle Partida when we dragged... and Tanglewood needed to be in the marina anyway for her photo shoot with their yacht broker!
Puerto Escondido has been on a big development kick. Future plans include high end houses and accommodations, but for now expanding the marina has been their goal. One large house is under construction, and seems to be taking a long time to complete. The houses will have their own private docks on the canals that wind through the property. From what I can see when it is finished it will be a really beautiful place - the view around the area is overshadowed by the magnificent Gigantica mountain range that towers up right behind it. Sunrises and sunsets with this backdrop are almost always breathtaking! There are supposedly some lovely hikes right behind the marina, up into the canyons and even a waterfall..one of these days we will have to check it out. The mooring field out in the bay is still there, although anchoring is now forbidden, but now a large breakwater/dock and numerous smaller adjustable finger docks provide a lot more moorage for casual and long term customers. It is a very protected harbour and the addition of good dockage is welcome, but of course all that comes with a price. Marinas in Mexico aren’t cheap accommodations and we are looking forward to getting back out on the hook for a while.. although the little restaurant with the pizza oven and the friendly staff will be missed! As there is no power out on the concrete breakwater dock, we are getting a deal on the price. The Cubar group has set up a rendezvous at Puerto Escondido in April before everyone heads off for the summer, but unfortunately we will be taking a little break from boating and won’t be here!
This has also been a great place for Laurie and I to take the kayaks out for a few hours. Wildlife isn’t really plentiful but there is always something interesting to see. I also enjoy walking on the property behind the marina, as it is full of interesting birds that I would never see anywhere else and whose names I can hardly pronounce.
Thursday the 15th we depart the dock to head north. Good trip although there were no fish to be caught. Wind picked up and we encountered some swell and wave action we weren’t expecting. The landscape changes again, and we are surrounded by more of a moonscape than the green of Escondido. Still, San Juanito, the bay we end up in, is wide and welcoming, except for the spires of rocks and grizzly reefs separating each little sandy nook. Several boats lie at anchor and there are a few campers peaking out from behind the scrub and the dunes off the beach. Two massive beautiful houses overlook everything high on the hill - one of them is the kind I describe as “oh has anyone seen little Billy lately?” Houses... close to the edge of a precipitous cliff that ends in jagged rocks far below.. with no visible fence to keep children or grandchildren safe. No one seems to be home - so no clues as to who the owners are.
(We find out later that the owners of the huge house have been known to host a party for the boats at anchor..now that could be a fun evening!)
This is the sort of anchorage where one would want to spend a week. The guidebook talks about hikes, rockhounding, shelling, and fishing. We kayaked down to the massive spires boarding the southern end of the bay - Punta Mercenarios. There was a pair of osprey nesting in one of the two nests perched on top of two tall spires. There weren’t a lot of fish present, but we saw a few interesting ones. It was the geology that captivated us. And along with the beautiful clean sandy shell beaches stretched between reefs and cliffs, there was a lot to explore and enjoy! We had one lay day in the anchorage, joined by a fair number of other boats wanting to avoid the weather. The wind and the clouds were the only things that made it all less than perfect.
Saturday 17th of April we headed out for Concepcion. Again it was cloudy and somewhat windy - but not horrible, except no fish. Totally the wrong time of year but hope springs external. We entered Concepcion with another Nordhavn, Floating Stones, a beautiful 68.. so three Nordies, must be a rally. Unfortunately once we dropped our anchors the weather took a turn for the worse and it actually rained! RAIN! Crazy... but regardless, it is a beautiful bay. The small village we are anchored off of is cute and the houses are almost whimsical. I gather it is a ‘gringo’ village. In the next bay, there are more campers and trailers - and a restaurant. Hooray!
Northern Ranger II, Tanglewood, and Floating Stones
Today, Sunday, began with blue skies and calm winds. I dropped the kayak and took off, after making Lawrence breakfast, exploring some of the beaches and the small islands on the outer edge of the bay. Later on I was joined by Laurie, and we headed over to Floating Stones to organize a get together at the restaurant on the beach. Now the wind came up in earnest - but we persevered and paddled into the beach to check out the dining establishment. The ride back to the boats was easy, downwind, so we decided to keep on going...mistake.. however it was fun paddling close to shore and admire the homes. However the run back to the boats was a slog. 20 knot gusts...oof!
So it is not exactly what we anticipated, although we have heard that the weather recently has been less than stellar this season and the forecast is for more of the same. We had our hearts set on exploring this amazing area in sunshine and calm airs, but unless something changes drastically we will have to plan our next visit for a different time of year. That would make fishing more attractive too! But it is beautiful here, and the numerous bays and aqua water make it a perfect stop over for a few days or a few weeks. Just maybe not this time! As
much as I want to get out there and snorkel, the water temperature is not quite what I would like it to be for extended forays out to the reefs.
The prediction for the future isn’t good for immediate travel, so we are happy to stay here and wait out the weather that is coming through. I can sure think of worse places to be! The first time we saw Concepcion was coming down the hill on our way to La Paz in our camper in 2016- the colours absolutely stunned me and I tried hard to snap some pictures leaning past Lawrence who was trying to drive..not always an easy task down here. Each new view left me speechless - so we had some pretty high hopes for this place!
Dinner - well, Laurie and I did recognizance to see if the restaurant was open and ready for us. I told the guy we had 7 people wanting dinner at 6- he said there was a special tonight - bbq ribs. Excellent - so we had four boats worth of people ready for dinner at 6 - dinghied in, walked to the restaurant, and found it closed. Weird. Luckily the other restaurant down the beach was open and there was a live band - excellent! Limited menu, seems they were out of everything except fish and scallop tacos but we were just happy to have someone feed us.
The next day dawned bright and beautiful and we are beginning to really appreciate the allure of Concepcion. The only downsides are the wind that blows up every late morning and doesn’t die until the evening, and the cold water temperature which is keeping us from snorkelling. But the clear skies and increasing air temperature are making us very happy! And nothing stops us from kayaking early in the morning. Today we found a hidden mangrove swamp which is way more exciting than it sounds... the tide was coming in so we could kayak up the narrow shallow channel that opened up into a mangrove shrouded lagoon. The sudden appearance of green everywhere was quite startling but beautiful! We also explored around the islands and found more fish and numerous little rays and one beautiful large black and orange polka dotted nudibranch. Very very cool.
We found out why the restaurant we originally chose for dinner was closed - the owner appeared today with a big bandage on his hand. I think he had an injury and had to go to the hospital! But he’s back all smiles today so we decided to try his place for dinner. We arrived early with our gang, got a perfect table, ordered - and suddenly the whole place was full. Talk about good timing! Most of us were happy he was open, as trying to visit with the band playing full tilt the night before was hard - however I must admit they were good! The kind of good that could make you forget how many drinks you’ve had... anyway, nice dinner. I must confess that the fish tacos have been no where near as good as the ones at the truck stop palapas on the highway just past Concepcion - I reviewed the photos I took of those tacos and they were unbelievable. Maybe I should show them to the restaurants on the beach!
. What a fish taco should look like! Not at all what we got...
Our last full day in Concepcion was about chores. Everyone had things to do on their boats, and a quiet night was in order as we were going to leave early to get back to Juanico. Lawrence played with the porta boat- jury is still out on the usefulness of this wee craft, even with the electric torquito motor that makes it a very quiet method of transportation. Maybe it will go home later and end up on the camper for our overland trips when we aren’t towing the Grady white. Lawrence and I also took out the dinghy and saw some of the other bays and islands we didn’t get a chance to visit. I found the source of the screaming baby noise every morning - screaming babies...pelicans, that is. They are the funniest looking things, standing up tall peaking through the cactuses, looking like stretched out plucked white chickens... kind of ugly/cute...
are you my mother!?!??
We also discovered a bay littered with some butchered fish. We have heard of local poachers taking rays and cutting out the gills, and hammerhead sharks and cutting off the fin, to send to Asia. We were in the dinghy and couldn’t get close to the beach to see what these were, but I think they were rays. Very disturbing to hear about, upsetting to see. Not sure if that is what it was... hard to fault the fishermen as they need to feed their families and there aren’t a lot of good fish around anymore. A difficult question... but I know who is at fault in my mind...where there is a market for slaughtering animals for using a small part in folk medicine in another country...Lawrence places a lot of the blame on the government who passes laws to protect the fish but doesn’t do enough to enforce them. I guess we are both kind of right.
We also rescued Floating Stone’s kayak, which broke free in the wind and was halfway down the bay when I spotted it. Having done that twice with our own kayaks ( and found them thank heavens) and almost losing one of our big kayaks that way when the wind ripped the handle right off the deck... I sent Lawrence out to retrieve it. Chances are good that by the time they realized it was gone, someone else would have decided that they had just won a jackpot and a hobie kayak just dropped out of the sky and onto their beach!
Good deed for the day done, I started cooking dinner, Lawrence pulled the toys out of the water in preparation for early departure the next day ... dinner was created with what few things I had left, but luckily those few things made a good Mexican meal! Almost out of limes, avocados and onions, and totally out of tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers. Time to head south and stock up for the last two weeks of the cruise!