December 2017

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Standing on an ophiolite looking out across the expanse of the Pacific Ocean

Standing on an ophiolite looking out across the expanse of the Pacific Ocean

Yay – finally we made it to La Paz! Cruising down the west coast of the Baja we spent a lot of time holed up in beautiful secluded anchorages waiting for an occasional gust of wind to move us further south. Coming up the east coast was a different story and we spent a lot of time in beautiful secluded anchorages waiting for the strong north winds to ease so we could head north. Such is the sailing life – the wind rarely does what you hope for!

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From Santa Maria we made a short hop around Isla Magdalena and anchored behind the island at Man o’War Cove. With no swell or surf in the lagoon it was easy to get ashore and we had a great time exploring the island.  The rocks which make up Isla Magdalena are part of an ophiolite complex, a fragment of ocean crust from the Pacific Plate which has been scraped off and thrust up at the edge of the plate where it collides with the American Plate. These rocks are very common as they make up the floor of most of the world’s oceans however there are only a few places around the world where they occur at the surface.  As we walked across the island it was a rare treat to know that we were walking through a bit of ancient ocean crust.

A pair of ospreys nesting at Puerto Magdalena

A pair of ospreys nesting at Puerto Magdalena

We also enjoyed seeing the birds of prey which inhabit the island; there were several Ospreys nests on top of the electricity poles and we watched a pair building one. The nest was large and messy, made from sticks and twigs, bits of rope and plastic bags but they seemed very proud of it. I’m not sure how it affected the current but most houses had generators anyway. I also saw three Turkey Vultures while I was out running one morning. They were large brutal looking birds with chocolate brown plumage and pink skinny heads, hanging around the garbage dump. When I went back later to take a photo they’d gone.

The famous granite arch at Cabo San Lucas

The famous granite arch at Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas (at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula) is about 170NM from Bahia Magdalena with no decent anchorages on the way, so it was an overnight passage. The forecast promised reasonable winds and we had some good sailing and some frustrating motoring. We dropped anchor in the bay and found that several of the other yachts there were people we had met on the way down the coast.  Cabo was just a small fishing village until the 1970’s when the Mexican Government decided to develop it for the North American tourist market. Development boomed catering to the low-end tourist market and Americans looking for a second home in the sun.

Man-o-War Cove in Bahia Magdalena

Distant Drummer anchored in Man-o-War Cove in Bahia Magdalena

Fishing is one of the main draws to Cabo and every morning at least thirty charter boats bristling with fishing rods would be motoring off the famous granite arch at Lands End, slaughtering the Piscean population. Jet skis plagued the anchorage throughout the day and party boats with throbbing lights and pumping music toured the bay at night but nonetheless we enjoyed the brash and brassy tourism. Unfortunately when the wind turned to the NE Bahia San Lucas became a washing machine and a very unpleasant place to be anchored. Gusts up to 30kt drove the swell into the bay, it was a nightmare being there but would have been worse to leave. We stayed for three days until the wind eased and then headed north.

Eleven in the cockpit on board Distant Drummer in Bahia Frailes

Twelve in the cockpit on board Distant Drummer in Bahia Frailes

We planned to do another overnight passage to La Paz but the northerly wind and swell made sailing very uncomfortable so after a day of bouncing around we gave up and dropped anchor in the calm, shallow bay at Los Frailes. Several other boats had the same idea so the next evening we had an impromptu drinks party on board Distant Drummer. Twelve people squeezed into the cockpit and we enjoyed swapping stories, discussing plans and pondering the ways of the world.

Loving the odd shapes of the cacti

Loving the odd shapes of the cacti

Los Frailes turned out to be a great place to spend some time; the long white sand beach was beautiful for a walk, it was a lovely hike to the top of the granite headland if you wanted something more demanding and snorkelling amongst the fissures and boulders at the base of the cliff revealed a surprising array of reef fish. We enjoyed a couple of days there and then pushed further north, stopping overnight at a couple of other small bays before finally arriving in La Paz.

Anchored in the channel in front of La Paz - the City of Peace

Anchored in the channel in front of La Paz – the City of Peace

Our first impressions of the town are promising and we are looking forward to spending Christmas here. We wish you the merriest Christmas and happiest New Year.

Suzy and Neil x x

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