Posted by: Carol | March 31, 2008

The Sea of Cortez

PHOTO GALLERIES
2008 Mexico 2 – Barra to La Paz

CBParker_D3_20080331_LaPaz_Edit2-038From Ensenada de los Muertos we continued on to La Paz where we have a slip reserved starting April 1. This will be Raven’s home base through hurricane season and probably until next March or so, when we put our 2009 cruising plans into effect. This will give us plenty of opportunity to thoroughly explore the Sea of Cortez over the next many months. While waiting for our berth to open up at the Marina Palmira we’ve just been cruising nearby. Tomorrow we’ll claim our berth, head into town to reprovision, clean the boat and generally regroup – then depart again for more exploration.

La Paz is an inviting city of nearly 200,000 people, but with a nice laid-back traditional Mexican flavor combined with modern amenities. Not the touristy madhouse of Cabo San Lucas some 160 miles south. Just north of La Paz is a wonderful pair of islands jointly named Islas del Espiritu Santo (Islands of the Holy Spirit). The entire western shore of both islands is gouged out with inlet after inlet along the entire length of both islands, each spectacularly beautiful in its own way. On a sunny afternoon the shallow water in the coves is an astonishing aquamarine color like sea glass. The surrounding cliffs are red rock (think Sedona), both sandstone and volcanic, studded with giant cardon cacti, with curving white sand beaches at their base, occasionally bordered by mangroves. It still is not warm enough to tempt us into the water although we did come across some good snorkeling and diving locations to remember for later in the season.

I’ve been doing a lot of kayaking – the guidebooks say that this area is the premier kayaking destination of all Baja and I can certainly see why. It’s a great way to see nature up close and personal, and it has gotten a lot easier since my acquisition of a high tech carbon fiber paddle. I always take my camera, go out in calm wind and water for a couple of hours, usually very early in the morning. I try to protect the cameras with a dry bag and a microfiber towel, and cross my fingers against a capsize! Floating along a few feet from shore I coast up close to seabirds and whatever else I can approach. Yesterday I was trying to shoot pelicans diving for fish – a very graceless way to catch a meal! I got a couple of fun photos of a big splash with wings, but it’s pretty hard to keep the diving birds in focus while twisting around in a bobbing boat (they always seem to do most of their dive-bombing behind my back)! I just keep shooting and figure sooner or later I’ll get lucky. Today my focus was on cormorants (very shy) and brilliantly colored crabs (also shy) which I have since learned are called Sally Lightfoots.

There is a wind in the La Paz area called the Coromuel – it comes from the south or southwest and starts up in the evening and blows through the night, dying off in the morning. We had a pretty gusty one the first night in the area, up to nearly 30 knots and Raven yanking hard on the anchor chain. Not a good night’s sleep! I guess in the hottest part of the summer it provides some welcome relief.

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