La Paz North to the Sea of Cortez, then across to the mainland

Hey Everyone!

Wow, we have been busy since our last big post. I’ll need to backtrack a little past our last few quick updates to fill you in on what we have been up to for the last few weeks.

La Paz

We spent a little over a week in La Paz, re-fueling, re-stocking and enjoying the convenience of restaurants and good marine supply stores. Ashley’s parents few in for a few days to celebrate her 29th Birthday cruiser-style. Their trip was cut a little shorter than originally planned, which didn’t allow us enough of a weather window to leave the anchorage while they were here, but it was warm and sunny, and we still had a lot of fun. We explored the beaches and mangroves near the anchorage and loved having mom and dad as visitors aboard.

Ash's 29th BDay celebration

What not to do with your boat

Mangroves at Mogote

Love you Mom and Dad!


We had a pod of dolphins visit us most days in the La Paz anchorage, the just lazily mozied on by. Click link for a video: Dolphins swimming past Silver Lining at anchor in La Paz

Ensenada de la Raza

We left La Paz a few days before Solent did, and headed north in the Sea of Cortez towards Ensenada de la Raza on the NW side of Isla Espiritu Santo, which is one of three smallish coves making up Puerto Ballena. We had sheer rock cliffs on both sides of the long narrow cove and crystal clear water in the shallows. The cliffs are striped red and back, and the rocks seemed to wash up on the beach in perfect stripes too, red rock, black volcanic rock, then white shells and coral. Its pretty neat how it all separates out as it washes to shore.

Striped cliffs near Ensenada de la Raza

Striped cliffs and striped beaches

Elan snorkeled along the cliffs on the north side of the cove.

I picked up some neat shells and Apollo found a yummy bone on the beach.

Sunset at Ensenada de la Raza

Isla Gallo and Isla Gallina in the distance.

Silver Lining at sunset.

We saw dead lobster and conch shells on the beach, and Elan was determined to catch us one or the other for dinner. We spent hours during the day drifting the dink through the clear shallow water searching, to no avail… well not totally. Elan dove for some gigantic clams which we put on the BBQ. We waited and waited for them to open up letting us know they were ready, but they never did. Eventually Elan pried one open only to find that they were way overcooked- guess these guys are different than the small ones we are used to back home. But more surprisingly, we found a baby lobster inside one of them!

A two-for-the-price-of-one bargain! 🙂

We had the cove to ourselves for two nights, and took advantage of the solitude to run our generator and not bother anyone. We dinghied to shore with a drill and the generator to install landing wheels on the dinghy. Seems funny to be using power tools on an uninhabited beach.

Castaways with power tools.

We bought the landing wheels in La Paz, because we have encountered more and more beaches that require surf landings, so being able to flip the wheels down right before landing allows us to use the motor to push us quickly through the surf and on to the beach without ruining the motor and prop or getting swamped by waves that move faster than we can. We weren’t able to complete the project before dark (and still haven’t as I write now), and had quite a rough and wet ride back to the boat. The wind does tend to come up in the evenings and often blows from the south, even though it almost always blows from the north all day this time of year. We had a rocky rolly night that night since the wind waves came straight into our protected little anchorage.

The second night was glassy and calm, and Elan was still convinced we needed a lobster, so we took the dinghy for a moonlight float over the reefs and shallows with a flashlight. We were amazed at how much more we saw at night from the dinghy than what Elan had seen snorkeling during the day. We saw tons of sea snakes, which are apparently very poisonous although not very aggressive, anemones, big long tube-like fish, and long skinny pencil sized fish that are iridescent and blue and jump out of the water to skip across the surface in front of the dinghy. We have been seeing them jump and skip around our dinghy at night for a few weeks, but didn’t realize what they were until we had the flashlight to draw them in. They kept swarming and jumping around us, and one accidentally jumped in the boat with us. We scooped him out and set him free. Elan bought a speargun in LaPaz and shot it at what we thought was a lobster, but turned out to be an icky spongy thing that bled purple goo. Oops, sorry little guy! We decided to turn off the flashlight so the jumpers would leave us alone and realized that the phosphorescence was amazingly bright in our outboard wake. We played around spinning doughnuts and enjoying the way the fish scattering in front of the bow looked like fireworks underwater as the phosphorescence lit up their trails.

Caleta Partida

We motored just a few miles north to an anchorage called Caleta Partida, which is actually the gap between Isla Partida and Isla Espiritu Santo, barely separated by a shallow cut. The cove between the two islands was the crater of a volcano at one time, although the east and west edges have eroded away, leaving a large, almost perfectly round cove.

Caleta Partida anchorage

Solent met us here, and we took the dinghies through the cut to the E side of the islands to explore two sea caves. Inside the jaggy cliff openings, we found calm clear water and a bright red pebble beach. Elan hopped in for a quick swim. Both caves had peek-a-boo “windows” which were neat.

Solent's dinghy in Cave #1

Red sand beach inside of the cave

Cave #2

One of the peek-a-boo windows in the cave

Who's that crazy lady!?

Inside a cave

The geography here is amazing, the striped craggy mountains are amazing reds, blacks, and whites, rising and falling with big cliffs and rock slides.

The cliffs change colors dramatically from red to white to black, craggy cliffs to smoothly washed walls.

We also did some snorkeling around the reef at the west entrance of the cove.

Can you tell he's excited to play with his new toy??

The beach was covered in little “fiddler crabs”. They’re tiny crabs with one big claw, that run in hoards across the beach and pop in and out of tiny holes. Sometimes the beach looked like it was absolutely crawling. Neat little guys.

Fiddler crab

The beach at Caleta Partida

This tree has seen better days.


The gang!

Los Islotes and Isla San Francisco

On our way to Isla San Francisco, we anchored for a few hours so we could dinghy out to Los Islotes, which is a sea lion rookery on two small islands N of Isla Partida. Divers have visited this spot often enough that the sea lions are not afraid of humans, so we donned our snorkel gear and jumped in to swim with them. What an exhilarating experience! These wild animals, out weighing us by several hundred pounds, were amazingly curious and playful. They swam out to meet us, circling us, checking us out and occasionally playfully nipping on our flippers. One youngster, carefully watched by two older sea lions, insisted on swimming much closer to me than I was comfortable with. I didn’t want his mama to come put me in my place, but she seemed content with the fact that her baby was seeking us out and that we were harmless enough. It was an amazing experience to watch them so closely underwater and see their graceful and powerful movements.

Click here to see the Underwater Video: Swimming with Sealions

Our playful friend

upside down baby sea lion


Grandma sea lion with a grey face?

Sea lion

Sea lion

Look behind you Elan!

After we all hopped back into the dinghy that same youngster actually jumped onto the back of the dinghy and just hung out there barking and bobbing around. We were so thrilled that he wanted to be that close to us. The video isn’t very good quality, because I wasn’t expecting him, and clearly I was a little nervous about the whole thing, haha! He continued to splash around our dinghy, playing with the mooring ball (like a circus seal!) and playfully biting at our ropes. Precocious little guy!! This place is now up at the top of our “favorites list”.

Up close and personal... a little too up close!

Click the link to watch the Video: sealion on dinghy

As we moved towards Isla San Francisco, we put up the jib and mainsail and killed the engine. This is the first time we have actually had full sails up and no motor on our entire trip. Our weather has been amazingly light since leaving San Diego, which means lots of motoring or motor-sailing (using both motor and sails at the same time) just so we can get places…. I cant believe it looks us over a month to be able to do so, but I wont complain about the charmed weather we have had! Not one day of rain since leaving San Diego- not bad even if we haven’t sailed much!

Yay! Full sails up and motor off!

The crescent shaped anchorage on Isla San Francisco is a popular day-trip stop from La Paz. We only spent one night in the crowded anchorage, but did do the amazing hike up to the crest of the island to peer down over both steep sides to the E and W.

Sunset from the top of the ridge above Isla San Fransisco

Ridge line above San Fran

Ridge line hike


Crescent shaped San Fransisco anchorage

Towards the end of the hike, we found some natural (I think) salt ponds, and stopped to pick up a few pieces. Its slightly pink in color and after a taste test, we decided it was clean enough to eat. 🙂 Solent has already been using theirs in their salt grinder, and I suppose we will too once our store-bought supply runs out.

Lee and Serena "pinchin' salt!"

Amortajada and Mangle Solo on Isla San Jose 

On our way to Mangle Solo on Isla San Jose, we made a day stop at Amortajada, a lagoon with mangroves. We dinghied in through the shallow channel, and explored around. We didn’t see much wildlife, but we did see a ton of floating dead fish, all the same kind, and weren’t sure what to make of them. The boys drug the dinghy with us girls inside it toward a tempting, lush beach, which actually turned out to be swampy, buggy, and a little stinky. We stuck around long enough to explore on foot and drink a beer, then set out again.

A ride through the muck.

White bird in the lagoon.

On our way N, we saw what we think were a few pilot whales- smaller, darker whales with rounded faces and a small dorsal fin.

Pilot Whale with the Sierra la Giganta mountains in the background.

We were also thrilled to see several blue whales- their massive size is hard to comprehend even after seeing them with my own eyes. They are the largest animal on the planet, 100+ feet long and weight about 200 tons. From our vantage point it was more like seeing the top of a big silver bus, float up, break the surface, blow their spout and then dip down again. The photos just don’t do it any justice!! We were very grateful that these majestic, endangered creatures decided to show themselves to us, even if it was just from afar. Our friends on Solent took an amazing pic of a blue whale tale with our boat in the background, which helps give their size a little perspective.

That is OUR BOAT with a blue whale tale!!!! (Thanks Katie and Lewis for the photo!)

Blue whale in front of Solent

Solent, looking good flying their chute, in the San Juan channel.

A tail wag for his friends.

The anchorage at Mangle Solo, was basically just a little spit of land with a swampy lagoon on the North side and a Cardon Cactus forrest in the middle. The Cardon is one of the biggest cactus species, reaching up to 70 feet tall.

Cardon Cactus forrest at sunset

New hat deco at Mangle Solo

An islander's welcome gift.... dead puffer fish and a big ugly skull.

Unfortunately, because we need to make it south to Panama before hurricane season hits in June, this has to be our last day moving north in the Sea of Cortez, although there is still much more to see. We wish we had more time here, but we’ve got to keep on moving!


Isla San Jose South to Ensenada Granda

We made our way south again to Isla Espiritu Santo and anchored in the N part of Ensenada Grande. The hot sun and inviting turquoise water lured us for a swim just after we set anchor. Elan and I swam about halfway to Solent, before realizing that we were being bitten by something and turned back. A couple of Benedryl seemed to make our red rashy spots disappear after about 24 hrs, so no real harm done, but it was a little scary to feel the stings, and not be able to identify the source. The next morning we could see that there were actually thousands of teeny tiny jellyfish (maybe 1/2inch wide) floating all around our boats.

Before I realized I was swimming with stinging jelly fish. 🙂


Ensenada Grande to Bonanza to Ensenada de los Muertos

On our way to Bonanza, we made a pit stop in a small cove called Las Cuevitas, which supposedly has lots of Blue Footed Boobies (a bird with bright blue feet), but none wanted to show themselves.

Solent took this pic of the Boobie before we arrived.

We returned to Bonanza for a night, one of our favorite stops on the way North, and then continued south to Ensenada de los Muertos where we rested for two nights before making the crossing to Mazatlan. Muertos had a beautiful resort that let us relax in their posh restaurant and pool.

We see puffer fish washed up on beaches everywhere. We tossed this guy back in before it was too late for him.


Sea of Cortez crossing to Mazatlan

We left Muertos at about 4am to make the 30ish hour overnight crossing to Mazatlan. The crossing started off swelly and rolly, but eventually smoothed out and we made great time across a glassy sea with a full moon to keep us company overnight. There was quite a bit of traffic since the big freighters and ferries use this same course between Mazatlan and La Paz, so it kept us on our toes through the night. Nothing like watching a blob on the radar materialize into a massive container ship looming over you in the darkness to remind you that you how important it is to keep a good watch. To them, we are the size of a fly, and thats about how much attention they pay to us too. We arrived at Stone Island Anchorage, outside Mazatlan, around noon the next day, took a quick nap and ran into town to try to track down groceries and the diesel jerry cans we will be needing soon for some of the longer stretches of Central America where you cant buy diesel. Every time we go out looking for groceries or – heaven forbid – boat parts, I realize how much we had taken for granted back home. Being able to hop in a car, know where you are going, and find exactly what you need is quite a luxury. However, exploring each new town on foot and having to find things for ourselves is also very rewarding and its all part of the adventure of travel. After searching all over town for diesel cans in LaPaz and Mazatlan, we came up empty handed. Most large towns in “cruising” areas have a cruiser’s net on the VHF radio in the morning where cruisers all tune in to check in, chat about events, ask questions, buy, sell, trade, etc.  Elan asked if anyone knew where to find the jerry cans, and the general consensus was that there was only one lady in town who could order them, but that she would be gone for several days for the Semana Santa holiday. Thankfully, two other boaters offered to sell us some of their’s used. We spent the next day taxi-ing all over town tracking them down. We eventually bought 4 really nice cans and two very ugly old ones, but we gladly paid the asking prices.  We hailed a “collectivo”; a pickup truck taxi with benches in the bed and a canopy over top to haul us and our now full jerry cans across town to our dinghy. We also had the excitement of riding in a few “pulmonias” (which are basically just souped-up golf cart taxis) as we sped through town with our maniacal driver darting through the extra busy holiday traffic.

Diesel jerry jug run!

Going for a ride in a "Pulmonia".

After the jerry can excursion, we met Lee and Serena near Olas Altas which is a seaside boardwalk in the older part of Mazatlan. It was jam-packed with vendors and mexican families vacationing. There were also several small vista platforms built into the rocky shoreline, which we climbed.

A hot walk from Old Town to Olas Altas.

Looking out towards the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific.

Serena and Ash (with the roses Elan bought for us).

We climbed this arch, which is built into natural rocks above the crashing waves.

Waves near the malecon.

Thats it for now. We hope you are all doing well! Please keep in touch, we’ve been loving your comments, texts and emails.

Lots of love,

A & E






4 thoughts on “La Paz North to the Sea of Cortez, then across to the mainland

  1. Wow, it’s like you guys are in a movie. Love the pictures and updates. Holy tan Ashley!! I’m super jealous of that and just your trip in general. It looks amazing!!

  2. Great pic’s. Your trip looks awesome… And you both look great. Really enjoying all the little stories. Looks as if you found some fun travel amigos in the Solent. Safe travels on your way south!

  3. What a great adventure. I love the pics and will gladly live vicariously through your adventures. I’m super jealous of the sea lion experience…looked awesome!

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