Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Balandra Bay to La Paz

Passage: Balandra Bay to La Paz
Total time: 5.5 hrs (3/15/2009)
Engine time: 0 hrs
Average speed: 3.5 knots
Approximate mileage: 18 nm

The islands (Isla Partida and Espiritu del Santo) were beautiful and fun and we are very glad we spent a week enjoying them. But alas, our supplies were getting low and Jacob(from Pisces)’s parents were due in town soon. So, after moving anchorage back to Ensenada Grande for a night of good sleep and protection from the Coromuels, we sailed with Pisces to Balandra Bay, a beautiful stop on the Baja coast. After watching the show of Pisces and then us sailing onto anchor, we hopped in Eeyore (we’d been trailing him whereas Pesckita was strapped on deck) and headed over to watch the sunset, eat appetizers (fresh made foccacia with olive oil and vinaigrette and jicama sticks), and relay the past several days that we had spent in different anchorages. Reminiscent of two nights previous, the winds kicked up with a gust quickly after sunset and 20 knot Coromuels blew all night- luckily we were protected from fetch from the SW, so although we didn’t rejoin Pisces for dinner, we still slept well, and luckily the rented motor cat next to us didn’t drag quite all the way to our boat in the night.

The next morning was the big day- La Paz bound. After a shared morning cup-o-tea/juice, Pisces, excited to see family, took off. On the mellow program and a little nervous for the notorious scene of La Paz, we headed out a half hour or so later just as the winds started picking up from the N- making for a perfect run south. After weighing anchor and sailing out of the brilliant blue shallows of Balandra, we turned south and set the main and 100% jib wing-on-wing. It was amazing, as the land curved eastward, the winds would shift so that we didn’t have to change course at all.

La Paz is well known not only for being a vortex for sailors who never leave or for strong Coromuel winds but very strong currents and shoaling. We could see shoal all along the west side of the 4 mile long entrance channel and then another between the main channel in the heart of the harbor and El Mogote, a spit of land directly west of La Paz providing protection from the Sea of Cortez. Luckily we were approaching in daylight because the marks at the channel entrance tend to be moved often to mark shifting shoals. After a stressful few moments negotiating the first two sets of red and greens close reaching under sail, we again turned down wind and realized the current was definitely with us flowing the same direction as the wind (lucky as we had no tidal information). We took two reefs in the main to slow our progress and continued on. Adrenaline was rising as we got closer and closer to what appeared to be at least 50 boats scattered throughout the harbor. We sailed along “the channel” through all the anchored boats scouting for a spot to set the hook. After taking several passes in search of a safe place (called “show boating” by some), we chose a space near the Malecon (main street in La Paz) nestled between two boats, a green channel mark, and a jetty marking Marina de La Paz. We sailed down onto Rocky who set so hard, Shawn saw bottom paint on the anchor chain as the bow jerked to a stop and the stern swung around both downwind and down current of the channel mark.

We took deep breaths trying to relax after the excitement of sailing onto anchor in busy La Paz, watching how we were settling in to make sure we didn’t need to weigh anchor and move again. Awaiting any ponga that might soon visit and tell us we had to move for whatever reason and sure enough a fast little boat soon approached. But to our delight it turned out to be our friends Matt and Thai from Kaalalewa (still awaiting flights to Brazil) come to welcome us to La Paz! That was 10 days ago. It is indeed very easy to get stuck here where there is a busy social scene, lots of boating supplies, and delectable Mexican food. The first week we spent time with friends, showered in hot fresh water, ate well and did the “La Paz Waltz,” which is when the boats dance, often toward each other, in the opposing winds and currents. Two days ago, on Monday the 23rd we motored from the Malecon to the other side of the shoal to El Mogote looking for some respite from the forecast northerly winds and were joined soon after by Pisces freed from their marina visit. After letting go of the belief that we would check many things off our list of project work in La Paz, we have refocused, made a short list, and hope to start heading north into the sea after one more week of “work” here.


  1. so it sounds like you've made a decision about TT?

  2. Shawn and Chris:
    Brant and I had a wonderful time in La Paz with you two and Jacob and Julia! The evening was delightful: good food, lovely setting, and the company of 4 beautiful, smart, and courageous young people. Thanks so much for a memorable time.
    Anne W.
    (now both a Pisces and Tao blogs devotee)

  3. It was wonderful to meet you both as well! And don't worry, we'll keep our eye on Pisces. Take care!