Welcome to Jinx and Mad Dog's
Sea of Cortez homepage. We have cruised Mexico's beautiful Sea of
Cortez for over twenty years now, even after we lost the original High Jinx to Hurricane
Marty. Undaunted, we have a new High Jinx are back on the water,
enjoying Mexico's great cruising grounds. We want to share with you the
good, the bad and the downright ugly side of cruising in Mexico. We are
somewhat partial to the Baja side of the Sea, but have found much to
like on the mainland side.
Sonrisa Ham Radio Net now has its own web site. http://sonrisanet.org
Most cruisers and many Baja
visitors listen to the weather on the Sunrise Net (3.968Mhz) every
morning. The net has, over the years, become the definitive source for
current weather for the Sea of Cortez and the Mexican Riviera and now
that Baja Geary has taken over the weather, cruising has become safer.
He'll be the first to say he is sometimes wrong. but when he says head
for port, you had best do so! For the Baja visitor, afternoon sailor,
or a full-time cruiser on Mexico's Pacific coast and the Sea of Cortex,
this is your go-to destination.
STUFF YOU GOTTA
HAVE BEFORE YOU CRUISE TO MEXICO
Jinx's boating adventure books are priced to
please (Kindle .99 to 2.99) here
Boating Guide" and it is a doozy. Anyone heading south this year needs
this cruising guide. The 2nd edition covers Baja, the Sea of Cortez
& Pacific Coast of Mexico - it does not cover the Gulf Coast &
Yucatan Channel. Hurricanes Stan & Wilma in 2005 changed many reefs
and soundings, so rather than publish inaccurate info, Pat and John
deleted those chapters. That allowed them to include more details all
around Baja, the Sea of Cortez & Pacific Mexico - which many
boaters had requested anyway.
Not only is
the 2nd edition expanded to 430 pages, it's gonna be in glossy 4-color
throughout! We're so excited! All 350 photos and 250 GPS-accurate
charts are in full color, even Satellite images in 4-color! Responding
to readers' requests, we added many Overall Planning charts to the
regular anchorage charts. Our new "Paperwork Two Step" chapter has all
the new rules plus blanks of the new Crew List form for international
arrival. And we added a handy "Resource Guide" chapter for quick
reference (email, websites, tel-fax) to all marinas, fuel docks, boat
yards, chandlers, ships agents, air & land transportation,
emergency services, etc. We did the "Resource Guide" in the 5th edition
of our other nautical guidebook, "Cruising Ports: Florida to California
via Panama," and cruisers asked us to add it for the new "Mexico
Boating Guide" too. So, we did. We're going for the whole enchilada!
FOR INFO CLICK HERE
AFTER THAT COMMERCIAL BREAK, BACK TO
SEA OF CORTEZ
ABOUT US: MAKING A BOAT "CRUISER
We are powerboaters, with one boat
sunk by Hurricane Marty. The second High Jinx is
now in her slip in Santa Rosalia, getting "un-powerboated" in small
steps. On the old High Jinx, a 42' trawler, we cruised in "sailboat"
mode: we favored anchoring out to marinas, tended to move at around
five knots, and didn't even have an icemaker! We also had
"un-power-boated" our powerboat so it was better suited to living
aboard in the Sea. We converted to propane refrigeration and cooking,
added solar panels, an inverter and extra house batteries so we were
not slaves to our generator. Diesel fuel (and generator parts) are both
expensive and hard to come by in the central Sea of Cortez (where we
generally hang out) so we simplifed our lives with these conversions.
As powerboat cruisers, we are outnumbered 50-1 by sailboats, but are
convinced that no matter what vessel you have, the Sea of
Cortez--that's the Gulf of California to you gringos--is the ideal body
of water for those seeking solace, the wonders of nature, and
experiencing just enough excitement to remind us we are not living a
"normal" life. Now we get to convert our new boat, a go-fast Sea Ray,
into a cruising boat. Sigh.
We are ham operators (Mad Dog is
WD6AWR and Jinx is KC6YMJ), and strongly believe that cruising the Sea
of Cortez without benefit of marine sideband or ham radio is sheer
folly. Even with banda ancha (broadband) from TelCel now widely
available, the 4G is sometimes like 2G and simply not available
everywhere. Don't relie on cell phones alone...get that ham radio.
The purpose of this website is to
avail you to our experiences in the Sea, whether you are a full-time
cruiser, wanna-be-full-time cruiser, land cruiser, or armchair cruiser.
If you have questions or comments just email us
THE GOOD, THE
BAD AND THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY
LA PAZ : We
will be visiting there this winter and will give a full update.
PUNTA CHIVATO: SADLY, THE LITTLE STORE IS NO MORE. THE
GOOD NEWS THOUGH, IS THERE IS A RESTRUANT, LOS CHIBATOS THAT IS A
CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE TO THE VERY PRICEY (BUT BEAUTIFUL) HOTEL. THE
LOCALS MONITOR VHF 72.
ESCONDIDO What can I
say? Fonitur has taken over everything, charging for everything. Gone
is the sleepy Hidden Port, or anything at all free. However, now there
is a fuel dock, a great restaurant, and a boat yard. As always,
progress comes with a price. For updates click here. Hidden Port
Yacht Club site.
ROSALIA: We've been
there for two years, and as everything else in Mexico, once you really
like a place, they change everything. Fonitur once again made a
decision (usually a bad one) to make all their marinas the same price,
so expect cruisers to pay the same in Santa Rosalia as La Paz. I
predict a fairly empty marina in the future. On the upside, you can now
buy expensive diesel and gas at their Pemex fuel dock.
SAN CARLOS: We hear that Marina Real has gone
downhill, but will see for ourselves in December. This marina has
always been our favorite.
GENERAL: THE UBIQUITOUS CHECK-IN, CHECK OUT AT
EVERY PORT IS OVER! HARD TO BELIEVE, BUT TRUE. YOU STILL HAVE TO CHECK
IN AND OUT OF THE COUNTRY AT YOUR FIRST PORT OF ENTRY, BUT THEN,
ACCORDING TO THE LATEST NEWS, YOU ONLY HAVE TO CALL THE PORT CAPTAIN ON
THE RADIO OR SIGN HIS LOG, OR THAT OF THE MARINA, WHEN YOU ENTER AND
LEAVE HIS JURISDICTION. REPORTS ARE ROLLING IN THAT EACH PLACE IS
DIFFERENT, SO ASK AROUND AT EACH PORT. WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW WELL THIS IS
GOING TO WORK, BUT MEXICAN-REGISTERED VESSELS HAVE USED THIS SIMPLE
METHOD ALL ALONG.
HIGH JINX BEFORE MARTY
HIGH JINX AFTER MARTY
REALLY, REALLY GOOD NEWS
THE NEW HIGH JINX
With the kind permission of Bill Parlatore, the editor of PassageMaker Magazine, we are
reprinting our article in the Winter 1996 issue of that fine
magazine. We have made a few updates. Here goes.
Gunkholing along the Baja in the
Southern Sea of Cortèz
by Jinx and Mad Dog Schwartz
A Little History
In 1539 the Spanish conquistador/explorer,
Hernàn Cortès, dispatched a fleet of his ships from the
Mexican mainland to sail northward until they ran out of water, or
found a passage around the “island” he knew was to the
west. His armada returned with the disappointing news that the
“island” they sought to circumvent was, in fact, a
peninsula. Cortès considered the peninsula a worthless piece of
desert with no fresh water or (more importantly) gold, so he dismissed
the land, but named the body of water for himself: Mar de Cortès.
In 1847, the United States of America, after being granted Baja
California as part of the settlement at the end of the Mexican-American
War, considered it a worthless piece of desert and promptly gave it
back! For that oversight, we can be eternally grateful, for had we kept
this arid peninsula, it would surely be as paved-over, built-up and
polluted as Alta California. And the Sea of Cortèz would most
certainly not be as pristine and abundant with wild life as it is today.
The solitary and haunting volcanic beauty of the Sea has remained
relatively untouched over the past four and one half centuries since
its discovery by Cortès, and is surely one of the most
picturesque bodies of water in the world.
Boating on the Moon
Many a cruiser has likened the Sea of Cortèz, or the Gulf of
California as it is also called, to a moonscape. There is little doubt
of the origin of the islands, as they are frozen in time: you can
almost picture the rugged cliffs being suddenly cooled to form their
honeycombed appearance or envision the huge boulders being flung about
by volcanic blasts. Cactus and elephant trees dot the rock formations
which rise dramatically from the turquoise Sea. The overall effect is
surreal, taking you backwards through time, to when the earth split and
the rift flooded with water to form this beautiful gulf.
As seas go, the Sea of Cortez is not a very large one, and is
defined on the east by the Mexican mainland and on the west by the Baja
Peninsula. We have yet to see a chart which shows the exact coordinates
of the southern boundary, but the Mexicans tell us that by drawing a
straight line between Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan, everything north is
considered the Sea. Charted in the late 1800’s, and not updated
since, you have to rely on various cruising guides with GPS coordinates
to accurately navigate this body of water, but we did just fine, thank
you, for five years using the old charts and some common sense. It also
helps that the visibility in this part of the world is excellent and
there are few reefs!
.Why the Baja Side?
On the mainland side of the Sea, there are few weather-safe
anchorages, other than at the ports of Mazatlan and Topolobampo, until
you reach the Guaymas/San Carlos area. For this reason, most cruising
yachts, when transiting the sea, will cross over from Mazatlan to the
Baja, and then cruise along the peninsula as they gunkhole north. There
is no practical reason for not getting out in the middle and heading
north, but why do that? A cruising couple could spend years exploring
both sides of the Sea and never stop discovering new, interesting
places to visit. Many cruisers who pushed on to the Panama Canal and
Caribbean, or the Pacific Ocean and the south seas, have returned to
the Sea of Cortez to tell us these waters are the best overall cruising
This is trawler territory. Although we are out-numbered fifty to
one by sailboats, a trawler is actually better suited for full time
cruising in these waters. The bay-like configuration of the Sea makes
for relatively serene waters, and most sailors complain that there is
either no wind or too much wind. It is a local joke that the sails on
most vessels are great, especially when lowered in order for a shade
canopy to be attached to the boom.
Make no mistake though, weather conditions in the Sea can capture
your attention. While the seas are generally flat (0-2 ft), with no
swell, the wind does pick up and waves can quickly build to four feet
or more. And they are square! A trawler’s heft is mighty welcome
in riding out these confused humped-up blocks of water that come at you
from three directions at once.
Tidal currents run from a benign one or two knots at the south end
of the Sea, with a tidal range of one or two feet, to more than six
knots at the northern extremities, with a twenty foot swing! When
anchoring in the extreme northern part of the Sea, great caution must
reign, unless an impromptu bottom-cleaning is on your agenda.
For those interested in big game fishing, the same line that
defines the southern boundary of the sea is also roughly where the
prize winning billfish are snagged. For the rest of us, dorado
(mahi-mahi), yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, sea bass, snapper and
innumerable yummy fish abound throughout the Sea for our dining
pleasure. We seldom bottom fish for dinner except on the day we intend
to eat it...leaving our freezer space for beef and chicken! We do,
however, drag a lure almost every time we get underway...just in case!
Please keep in mind that it illegal for a cruiser to capture any type
Just the fact that you have arrived in the Sea of Cortèz
means that you have accomplished a major navigational feat. From San
Diego, you have traveled in the Pacific Ocean along the barren 1000
miles of Baja shoreline to Cabo San Lucas. After finding only one
well-protected provisioning and fueling anchorage (Turtle Bay)
available along those long, lonely miles, many cruisers are somewhat
dazed by the glitzy, full service atmosphere at Cabo San Lucas. Or
perhaps you have arrived via the Panama Canal, and have enjoyed the
Mexican Riviera on your way north. Whatever route you have taken, when
you reach the Sea of Cortèz, you will soon face a whole new set
of problems and opportunities.
Leaving Cabo San Lucas, the next protected anchorage on your way
around the east cape is a day’s run to Los Frailes-a great spot
unless a southerly is blowing. The beach is dotted with campers, a few
houses, and even a restaurant that occasionally gets wiped out by a
storm. As in all of the Baja, small stores and palapa-roofed
restaurants come and go, so don’t plan to eat out a lot unless
you are near a large town. Frailes is also a stopover for cruisers
traversing the Sea from Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, and is basically
considered a jump-off point rather than a long-term anchorage. Some
vessels, however, have spent quite a bit more time at Frailes than
planned while taking refuge from the strong northerlies. Don’t
even THINK about leaving Cabo San Lucas without full fuel tanks and
adequate provisions. Although La Paz is, at a glance on the chart, only
a two-day trip from Cabo, weather can delay you for much longer.
Rounding the east cape, crossing the Tropic of Cancer, and heading
up into the Sea, you’ll probably want to stop over at Bahia de
los Muertos for the night. As at Frailes, the beach is dotted with
campers. In a pinch, one of them might give you a ride back to Los
Barriles for some supplies. Both Los Barriles and Rancho Buena Vista
have small stores, but the open roadstead here can turn nasty at the
drop of a centavo. It is not by accident that the area around Los
Barriles claims to be the wind-surfing capitol of the world!
Keeping Isla Cerralvo to starboard, continue north through the
Cerralvo Channel until making your turn into the Lorenzo Channel,
between the peninsula and Isla Espiritu Santo. There is a large channel
marker that you must keep to port when you are in the Lorenzo, but if
you are worried-as we were the first time-just slow down and watch the
water for signs of the visible reef that stretches from the beach on
the peninsula to the marker. We have seen many vessels cut the corner,
but until you gain some local knowledge, let caution be your guide.
The channel leading into the town of La Paz is first spotted from
afar by a plume of smoke rising from the Pemex Refinery at the
entrance. Stay close to that facility until you spy the first channel
marker. Once in the channel, you are well advised to stay in the
center-as wandering about will surely put you aground. Turn your VHF to
channel 22 (the cruiser's channel), tell your fellow yachtsman that you
are on your way in, and you’ll get all the good advice you can
stand! The Marinas monitor channel 16.
La Paz is an old colonial town and sea port that until very
recently had dirt roads on all except the main streets. During the past
six or seven years, this charming Capitol of Baja California Sur has
experienced a mini-boom of paving and services. Before continuing your
trip into the Sea of Cortez, La Paz is a “must stop” port
for provisioning and getting acquainted with fellow cruisers. Gringo
(American) grocery items are readily available in modern supermarkets,
but we have found many Mexican products are much better. Cellular phone
service has made the scene and a plethora of services, scarce only a
short time ago, are now available to cruisers.
Thankfully, with all of this progress, La Paz is still a
delightfully Mexican town in which the people go out of their way to
make you feel welcome. Don’t expect the touristy atmosphere of
the Mexican mainland towns or Cabo San Lucas, and do not be surprised
that most of the residents do not speak English.
There are three major marinas in La Paz, each with its own distinct
personality. Our favorite is Marina de la Paz, with Mac and
Mary Schroyer at the helm. Mac and Mary have been in La Paz since
slightly before Cortez showed up, and are a godsend to the cruising
community. Mary is the harbormaster and offers 110/220, water, cable
TV, chandlery, restaurant, laundry, showers, phone, fax, diesel, and,
in our opinion, the best mechanic in town, Joel. Mary will lend a
helping hand to get you through some of the more confusing aspects of
having a boat in Mexico. As a berther in Marina de La Paz, you can, for
a reasonable fee, check in and out of port without fending your way
along the long and winding trail through the various authorities. If
Mary’s 80 slips are booked up, as they are frequently during
November through January and in the spring, dinghy to her dock to get
information and help. Club Cruceros de La Paz, the local yachting
organization, maintains a club hut on the premises that offers incoming
mail service and a book exchange, as well as being the unofficial
information center for anyone who wants to know more about the Sea of
Marina Palmira is the newest and most modern of the
marinas, but is a bit away from the central district and has fairly
spendy day rates compared to the other marinas. It is a beautiful
full-service facility with 140 slips, up to 100’, and they even
offer dry storage for large vessels up to 55 feet and forty tons.
Marina Don Jose Abaroa is always chock-a-block with
resident cruisers, and seems to appeal more to those cruisers that want
to stay awhile, but don’t want to anchor out. The Abaroa family
owns and operates this marina, which offers haulout facilities on the
Should you opt to anchor out at La Paz, there is abundant room.
There is, however, one drawback, called the “La Paz Waltz,”
The waltz is the result of opposing tides and winds that set you
broadside to enough chop to make for an uncomfortable few hours. Then
you will swing widely at slack, only to be set broadside again when the
wind changes. Your best bet before anchoring is to talk to your fellow
anchor-outs before you drop the hook, because they know which way and
how far they will arc on their swing.
Be sure to take full advantage of all of the services offered in La
Paz. Stock up on any and everything you can possibly think of, for when
you leave to go north, you will be glad you did.
Leaving La Paz behind, most cruisers head north for Isla Espiritu
Santo. There are other anchorage’s on the peninsula to check out
on your way to Espiritu Santo, namely Pichilingue, Lobos and Ballandra.
These spots are fine for stopping over to see, but Pichilingue, the
only “hurricane hole” in the area, has a busy dock for the
ferries from the mainland. Why anchor there when so many other places
are better? Lobos is a small anchorage favored by some, and can only
accommodate a few boats, but is worth checking out. Ballandra is a nice
anchorage, but getting caught there in a northerly can be devastating:
more than one vessel has hit the beach here.
Isla Espiritu Santo is where you will get your first taste of what
we call the Sea of Cortèz experience. It is here that you begin
to feel that sense of solitude that is so special to the Sea. There are
many unfrequented anchorage’s around this island, with comfort
levels that are weather-dependent. The general rule of thumb is to look
for northerlies from November until May, and southerlies from June
through October. As anyone who has tried to forecast the weather in the
Sea can tell you, just about anything can happen at any time...and
will: Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of the Baja, was laid waste by a rare
winter storm from the south in December of 1982.
Before telling you about our favorite spots along the southern Baja
and in the Sea, let us first tell you what is available in the way of
services on the islands: zero...zip...nada. Once you leave La Paz, the
next reliable place to get gasoline, diesel fuel (jerry jugged from
twenty miles away), water, and groceries, is 118 miles north, at Puerto
Escondido. On the islands there is no water, and there are no permanent
structures. You will see a few temporary shelters used by local
fisherman, but that is all: you must bring everything with you. And
please, take away everything you brought!
Eons ago, the north end of Isla Espiritu Santo erupted, and the
resulting crater filled in to create a dramatic anchorage. Isla
Partida, the island formed to the north, and Isla Espiritu Santo are
connected by a sand bar with a channel that is navigable by dingy at
high tide. The well-protected anchorage at Partida, as it is called,
merits a long stay. We have safely ridden out a fifty-knot norther
here, and have also tucked up into the northwest corner to hide from
some strong southerlies. Snorkeling and diving is a dream around the
island, and we usually take our dingy to the dive spots that abound.
On the north end of the island is a small group of rock islands,
Los Islotes, where you can swim with some amicable seals.
We have, at one time or another, anchored in every wedge big enough
to accommodate the High Jinx, and you will soon find your
favorite. One thing to remember, though, is unless you are in Partida,
you may have to move there because of a wind change. Familiarize
yourself with the reef at the north side of the entrance to Partida and
save yourself some anxious moments in the middle of the night! There
are few beacons marking hazards to navigation in the Sea of Cortez, and
until you gain some local knowledge, cruising around at night is not a
The local pescaderos at the islands stay pretty much to themselves,
but if you want some fresh fish, they are friendly and willing to trade
fish for a few pesos, a can of spam, or even a baseball cap. Once in a
while they will ask for some water, and we are more than glad to share
Isla San Francisco, north of Espiritu Santo, is perhaps our
favorite island in the entire Sea of Cortez. Perhaps it is because we
feel so comfortable snorkeling in the pristine anchorage formed by a
sparkling sand beach. The sand bottom of the cove is home to thousands
of garden eels, and it is a constant delight to watch them sink into
the sand when you float over them. There are two or three resident
panamic moray eels, bright green and very large that are sure to give
the snorkeler pause for thought-and are a bit too friendly for some
divers. One of our friends literally climbed his anchor chain when one
of the nosey eels followed him home.
As in Eden, there is a “serpent” in this garden...and
it isn’t an eel. No, this pest is so tiny that most cannot see
them, and only discover their existence 24 hours after a visit when
itchy red spots abound. Microgram for microgram, the little jejene,
also known as a no-see-um, packs a bite than can you sick, as well as
uncomfortable. The little devils hatch here in late spring and stay
through the summer. Every bite is pure torture, and can last for weeks.
The best cure is prevention (don’t go near the beach at night),
but if you are bitten, we have found the best relief is to take an
antihistamine and rub Preparation H on the bites. Please spare us the
puns here...it works!
San Francisco Island’s crescent shaped anchorage provides
protection from most directions, if you are willing to move around. The
worst thing is to be caught by a westerly while anchored in the middle.
The southern anchorage shallows up rapidly and can get crowded if
several boats want to hide from a Coromuel . Coromuels are spring and
summer southerly winds that cool La Paz and sometimes cause problems
for unprepared cruisers. The good news is that they are predictable: so
predictable that Cromwell’s pirates, for whom the wind is named,
used the afternoon blow to make his escapes after a day of plunder and
A great day trip from San Francisco Island is to a tiny rock at the
north end called Isla Lobo. It is the only legally inhabited island in
the Sea, and generations of the same family have lived and fished here
for over one hundred years. Anchoring in the aquarium-like cove there
overnight is an iffy proposition, and we have always opted to return to
San Francisco Island for the night. Be sure to dingy over to Roca Foca
(Seal Rock) nearby to visit the inhabitants.
Isla San Jose is just north of Lobos, boasts a lagoon to visit by
dingy, and affords protection from the south. The problem here is that
when the southerlies are blowing it is usually no-see-um season, and
when the northerlies are blowing it is unprotected. To get a good
night’s sleep, it might be wise to move on to San Everisto, eight
miles northwest on the peninsula across the San Jose Channel. Drag a
lure on the way, for the channel is well known for fish...especially
The tiny village of San Everisto has a well-protected anchorage,
and even a small tienda (store) where a few very basic items can be
purchased. Forty-five bone-jarring miles of rock road connect this
salt-producing village to the main road, and in an emergency you can
get a ride in an antiquated truck loaded with salt. The water supply
from a well here is brackish, causing the inhabitants to truck in
drinking water. Chances are that you will be asked for water here,
rather than being able to obtain it! Check out the beaches outside the
entrance (which does have a light tower) for Lion’s Paw scallop
Leaving Everisto behind, you have the option to stop over at Nopolo
and Puerto Gato along the peninsula, but both are weather dependent. At
the islands of San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Catalina, we found no secure
anchorages. The next all-weather anchorage is at Agua Verde,
forty-eight miles north. Nopolo and Gato are enjoyable but we have been
chased out by weather. As any seasoned cruiser knows, we sometimes opt
to enjoy a less-than-perfect anchorage...and if we just stuck to the
safest spots we would miss a great deal. This is especially true of the
Sea of Cortez. Because so much depends on weather and local knowledge
here, we need to halt our cruise northward to discuss the most
important method for staying abreast of these important topics: Amateur
The Baja peninsula and the Sea of Cortez are amongst the most
remote, and for the most part, uninhabited areas in North America. For
this reason, reliable, effective communication is a significant factor
to consider in your cruising plans. There is no substitute for ham
radio in the Sea of Cortez, whether it be audio or pactor (email).
“Oh, no!” you say, “I can’t possibly learn
all of that Morse Code and technical stuff to get a ham license!”
But you are wrong, for there is good news! All you need is a No-Code
Technical license and a Mexican provisional permit. This will allow you
to legally talk on all ham frequencies, as long as you are in Mexico or
in Mexican waters. The no-code test is easy, so do yourself this big
favor and get your license. You will be glad you did!
In addition to tuning in to various cruiser nets (broadcasts) for
local weather, weather forecasts, message handling, and chats with
other cruisers, you can get phone patches to the United States through
helpful and cheerful stateside ham operators. There will be times when
an emergency exists, or you want to contact your family and friends
back home, and this is, hands down, your best bet. It is a long way
between phones in the Sea of Cortez! Of course, you can use the High
Seas Operator, but why throw money away...and the operator can’t
tell you which way the wind is blowing.
There are several nets that aid cruisers in Mexican waters. The
most popular ones are as follows:
Sonrisa Net 3968KHZ Daily 1430Z Local Weather/Chat
Chubasco Net 7294KHZ Daily 1545Z Weather forecast/phone patches
Baja Net 7238.5 KHZ Daily 1600Z Weather/phone patches
Mañana Net 14340 KHZ Mon-Sat 1900Z Weather/phone patches
Happy Hour 3978 KHZ Daily 0000Z Cruiser Chat
Your marine single sideband or ham radio is one of the most
important pieces of equipment on your vessel. A full time cruiser is
likely to visit many remote areas where there are no other vessels or
inhabitants within range of your marine VHF radio. Your ham rig will be
your only means of communications to the outside world and your safety
net should you get in trouble. A vessel in distress in the Sea of
Cortèz is almost always aided by fellow cruisers. We have seen
only one Mexican Coast Guard Vessel in the Sea, and in every instance
known to us over the years, ham radio was indispensable in aiding
rescues. The Mexican Navy is slow to respond, not because they
don’t care, but because they have few ships, which are dispersed
widely throughout Mexico. Now that you have that license, we are free
Agua Verde is a favorite cruiser hangout, although north anchorage
is small. Unless there is room for you in the extreme northeast corner
of that anchorage during a norther, the surge can rock you...and not to
sleep! But never mind, you’ll be safe, and when you take a walk
into the village you will find a small tienda that sporadically has a
few veggies and canned goods, and a place to get a taco or two. Agua
Verde is a great spot to trade for fish or, if you are a diver, spear
your own red snapper. There is a reef that bears watching near the
entrance, but it does have a light on it.
Leaving Agua Verde, you have two routes to choose from on your way
to Puerto Escondido and both are delightful, but the inner passage,
leaving Isla Danzante to starboard, is the most protected. Isla
Montserrat is a good summer stopover, and is the site of the yearly
crab races, an informal cruiser event. The best anchorage is at the
northern end, but should be avoided during the winter (norther) months.
Isla Danzante’s Honeymoon Cove is one of our favorites, but
there is only room for one boat in this tiny wedge. Once we were
entertained every morning for a week by a sea turtle that found some
gormet delight clinging to our anchor chain. The rock walls seem really
close, and you don’t want to get caught here in a southerly.
During a norther we put out a stern hook to check our swing. If you
feel at all threatened, move a few yards to the south to a roomier
spot. Look out for no-see-ums in the summer.
Running out of almost everything? It’s time to leave Danzante
and cross back to the Baja Peninsula, and Puerto Escondido. Although
the tour books refer to a marina at Puerto Escondido, there is none. At
one time there were some docks, but they were washed away by a storm
and never rebuilt. During the past few years, development schemes have
abounded, but all came to naught. The only thing that happened is that
a lovely bird habitat was dredged up, some canals built, and that was
The group that owns the seawall and property generously provide the
cruiser with a place to fill your tanks (stern tie to the wall) with
great tasting-and safe to drink-mountain water, as well as garbage
service*. Many cruisers live here year round and have vehicles that the
owners of the “marina” allow to be parked on their lot.
There is usually a taxi hanging around to see if anyone needs a ride
into Loreto, twenty miles away. And you will, if you go ashore here,
have to go to Loreto to check in with the Port Captain. Get on the
radio (try VHF22 or 68 or 16) and ask your fellow cruisers what the
drill of the day is with the local authorities, and what time the VHF
cruiser’s net will be broadcast.
Not only cruisers live here; there is a large trailer park (Tripui)
within walking distance, where there is fax and phone service, as well
as a grocery store and a restaurant. The bar in the restaurant has
cable, and cruisers and park residents alike turn out to watch American
football games in the fall and winter. There is even a Yacht Club to
join-Hidden Harbor-that sponsers social and charitable activities.
During your stay at Puerto Escondido, be sure to stock up on
supplies, take in a little homestyle social life, fill your tanks and
get ready to head north to more islands, anchorages and adventures in
the Central Sea of Cortez
Update: You now must pay ten pesos a
week for dumping garbage. twenty bucks to park and you have to pay for
water, but it is all a bargain. Also, laundry is done at the
tienda--wash, dry and fold for 40 pesos. Another bargain. And, thanks
to the Hidden Port Yacht Club, there is a really nice new dinghy dock.
Thanks, guys and gals.
Some recommended guides for Baja and the Sea of Cortez:
“Boating Guide to Mexico” by John Raines & Pat
“Charlie’s Charts” by Charles E. Wood
“Chart Guide - Mexico West”
“Gerry Cunningham’s Cruising Guides, Tide Tables &
Light Lists to the Sea of Cortez” by Gerry Cunningham
A good Spanish Dictionary
A few recommendantions for equipment to make life more comfortable
Baja Fuel Filter: A funnel device with several filters used
at the fill location on deck. We use it only when at remote fuel sites,
when filling up from 55 gallon drums. We have never gotten bad diesel
from a fuel dock in the Sea.
Bread Machine: Bimbo is the bread of Baja and will keep for
weeks, but is not to our liking. We use Mexican flour in our bread
machine, and although it is a little light in gluten, it serves the
purpose. Mexican yeast is excellent.
Shade and screens: Very important items...you cannot have too many!
Solar Panels: One thing we have plenty of is sun, so save
your fuel and wear and tear on your generator.
The biggest dinghy and motor you can haul and afford. We
have gone to a hard dinghy (a small panga manufactured in La Paz) after
two inflatables collapsed in the intense Baja sun. If you do have an
inflatable, make a cover.
Watermaker: What can I say, you are boating in a desert!
Refrigeration: You simply cannot have too much. We added an
ac/dc/propane freezer unit to our flying bridge.
And lots of: reading material, U.S. stamps (so gringos can
take mail back for you), paper products (expensive in Baja), canned
goods, and fishing tackle.
For more information on the Sea of Cortez and Baja California, link
to any listed below.
and fishing information.
Great site for Baja cruising updates and the
latest in La Paz: Baja Insider http://www.bajainsider.com
Lots of good fishing info
de Amigos Real Estate: Rentals and Real Estate in San Carlos
Cruising the Sea of Cortez
Marina Real, San Carlos
Baja Destinations: Good
info by very knowledgeable folks
Discover Baja: Fishing
licenses, boat and car insurance, lotsa good stuff.
Mexican Insurance through
Club Cruceros - La Paz
News of Baja
disasters in the Sea of Cortez
This is one cruise we're glad we missed. A picture of the height of the storm in Puerto
MARY SHROYER SENT US THIS ARIAL VIEW OF WHAT'S
LEFT OF HER MARINA....CLICK HERE: Picture of Marina
de La Paz on 10-4-03
You cannot have
too many books on board; here are some must-haves.
GENE KIRA'S King of the Moon: it's
just flat wonderful. Gene has captured the very essence of a time that
is fast disappearing in the Sea of Cortez.
Graham McIntosh's books featuring his
burro-assisted treks though the Baja are as entertaining as they are
Troubled Sea, by me, of course. See top
of site for info.
Just Add Water, also by me. It's not
about the Sea of Cortez, but it is about boating and it is funny.
Get 'em all at La Tienda in Mulege.
2004/2005 Marina News
They are all pricey!!!
Marina Real sustained some damage in Marty, but not much.
They have dry storage, as well as a fuel dock, and showers. Also, the
RV park above the marina has a laundry and restaurant. Dario reports
that courtesy shuttle to San Carlos runs several days a week. This is
really good news for you cruisers without cars.
Marina de la Paz: http://www.marinadelapaz.com/
Marina de la Paz is, in our opinion, the only place to stay in La Paz.
Or will be. when rebuilt! Okay, we're biased, but this is our website!!
Marina San Carlos: They raised their rates 15%
and installed security gates in 2003. No damage from Hurricane Marty.
Marina Santa Rosalia: Rumor has it there may
be a fuel dock someday, but don't hold your breath. It's still the
cheapest Marina in the Sea.
VISITING ENSENADA? CHECK OUT The Land and Sea Guide to
Ensenada: True Traveler Publishing
Mexico General Info
Marina Real, San