Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto y La Vuelta à Puerto Escondido – November 27 to December 7

Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto, part of the Mexican national park system, is a water park covering about 510 thousand acres and including several islands.  We visited two of those islands after leaving the marina at Puerto Escondido:

Isla Carmel -- Puerto Ballandra – November 27 – 30:  

We sailed about 16 miles north-east of Puerto Escondido to a lovely bay on Isla Carmen.  We were lucky to be there at the full moon.

Full Moon Rising - Puerto Ballandra

Full Moon in the Rigging

Moon Colors

During our stay we had several nice walks but never took any of the longer hikes described in the cruising guide because we couldn’t find the trails!  The rain that has blessed/cursed the Baja this year had resulted in paths so overgrown that hiking was really just bushwhacking. 

We had read that the island is home to some big horned sheep.  On our walks this is as close as we got:

Big Horn Sheep Were Here

More of Puerto Ballandra:  

Abracadabra at Anchor - Puerto Ballandra

Watercolors - Puerto Ballandra

We spent time in Puerto Ballandra reading the cruising guides and trying to decide if it was important to go further north.  Finally we decided that we weren’t going to see any big-horned sheep or get a decent hike in at Puerto Ballandra, so when the winds were in our favor we sailed 8 miles north-west to Isla Coronados which is also part of the Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto.  

Isla Coronados – December 1 – 3:  

This anchorage differed from other places we have stayed on this trip.  Mostly we have anchored in bays that provide protection from north winds – the prevailing winds during this time of year in the Sea.  Finding a bay that provides good wind and wave protection helps one understand the genesis of common expressions like “safe harbor” and “snug harbor”, or the use of the term “harbor” to mean “home”.   At Isla Coronados we were protected from north winds by the island itself – but were otherwise open to the Sea.  We could see for miles in all directions except north, including the lights from the town of Loreto six miles awayIt felt like perching on the edge of the world (or, as Bryce analogized, it was like camping at the side of the freeway; the Captain truly is a poet).

Anchoring At The Edge Of The Sea

Dolphins played around the boat while we had breakfast one morning.  We had some charming neighbors who are cruising with their two-year old son.  They stopped by to say hello on the afternoon we were baking b-r-o-w-n-i-e-s, and we were allowed to share some with the little guy.  [And correspondingly reduce our own consumption, which was good!]

We took a couple of walks on Isla Coronados - once again hampered by the lack of a real trail and in this instance by the fact that the island is home to the biggest, ugliest spiders we have seen in a long time.  After spending time trying to find paths that didn’t disturb any of the (likely man-eating) spiders we decided to return to the boat for a swim. 

Captain Bryce Fighting Off Man-Eating Spiders
When we were rowing the dinghy back to Abracadabra we spotted some blue footed boobies on shore.  During the time it took us to fish the camera out of the dry-bag several flew away, so we were able to get a picture of only one.  You’ll have to take our word for the fact that there were several. 

Pelican Left, Boobie Right (see blue feet!)

We decided that we needed to turn south to avoid making our return trip to La Paz a dash, so we made Isla Coronados our northern-most point.  On the 4th, we sailed 19 miles south to Puerto Escondido. 

Puerto Escondido – December 4 – 7: 

From Puerto Escondido we made another day trip to Loreto.  We hitched a ride with a woman from Loreto named Norma, who owns a hair salon and spa, and returned to Abracadabra much less scruffy looking after a visit to her salon.  An interesting advertising technique, picking up hitch-hikers! 

One of the big issues of local concern in Loreto is a proposal to develop a casino.  The proponents are pushing the “jobs” button (which is used here as it is in the rest of North America to argue in favor of the relaxation of all sorts of laws and regulations . . .).  The anti-casino crowd is arguing that Loreto, a quiet town with a small tourist industry focused on kayakers, whale watchers and artists, does not need casino-generated jobs enough to risk the possibility that the casino will generate criminal activity.  Public discussions about potential criminal activity remain vague, but people we talked to expressed concern that the casino would be used to launder drug cartel money.  While we were in Loreto we met a woman that had been campaigning against the casino; she was ecstatic that the mayor had agreed to put a letter in opposition to the casino on the anti-casino group’s Facebook page.  The power of social media has come to coastal Mexico! 

On the morning of the 8th, we departed Puerto Escondido on our trip south.  

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