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Running from San Carlos to La Paz

4 December 2021 - La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico


We made to La Paz on Thursday, 2 December, after a quick 2-day run down the Sea of Cortez. The winds were super light, and we had people to meet in La Paz, so we motored the whole way.


Our original plan was to leave early in the morning and sail right across to Isla San Marcos. The Guymas Port Captain and the Marina Real manager conspired against us on that plan. The port captain inexplicably (literally, they would not tell us why) closed the ports of Guymas and San Carlos and the marina manager would agree to let us go. The weather was benign all up and down the Sea of Cortez (hence the motoring). We found this out on Monday afternoon and the manager said to check back in the morning. There is a new restaurant in Marina Real called Altamarea we had not tried yet so we decided to make the best of it and make the long, 1-mile, walk around the perimeter of the marina and try it. We are very glad we did! It was absolutely fantastic and the staff were the best we have encountered in Mexico, if not anywhere in the world. At dinner, we reviewed the weather and ran a bunch of weather routing scenarios and decided to leave after we settled up with the Marina in the morning around 9:00 AM. The route we chose would take about 24 hours and put us deeper into the Sea of Cortez.


Tuesday morning, 30 November, around 9:30 AM we "snuck" out of the marina as one does in a 30 ton vessel moving at walking speed and finally, officially headed out on the cruising phase of our lives. The first thing we did was to calibrate the new autopilot so it could help this 2-person crew steer. That went smoothly and we locked in a course of about 165 degrees magnetic and headed out. We had been told that the authorities sometimes chase wayward yachts who leave without permission, so we kept our eyes out as we crossed the entrance to Guymas. No one took any interest. (Side note, the Calla Lily loses about 1/2 knot of boat speed when the swim ladder is down. We try ton keep it up and stowed.) Calla Lily cruised at about 6.5 knots at 2500 RPM and we had calm seas and wind.


Both of us became aware that for the first time in weeks, we were relaxing and doing nothing. It felt great! Time to settle in an take in the scenery and sensations of wind, rolling seas, and the rumble of the little mighty old British diesel.


At 4:00 PM we chose a destination called Bahia San Marte on the Baja peninsula. It looked picturesque and protected from the north winds and would be a good place to rest after our almost 24 hour long journey. Next we decided on a watch schedule of 3 hour watches beginning at 7:00 PM. That worked great until the alarm on Mike's watch failed and Shelby had to rouse him. She was very compassionate and let him have an extra hour's sleep. The night was beautiful with the sky chock full of stars and occasional schools of fish and dolphins. The schools of fish and dolphins left trails of bio luminescence behind them in the dark water! We arrived in San Marte at 9:00 AM, anchored, shut down and put the boat to sleep. The we both had a swim and planned the rest of the journey to La Paz. The plan was to motor to Bahia San Carlos AKA Timbobiche, where there are ruins (modern day) and lagoon for bird watching. We arrived around 2:00 PM and explored, had dinner, and napped until we left at 10:20 PM for Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida, a popular spot just a few hours from La Paz.


Our windlass (the machine which raises and lowers the anchor) struggled mightily when raising the anchor. We'll look into that in La Paz. Mike helped it out and we got the anchor up.


Ensenada Grande is a beautiful place in a protected park. The other resident in the bay was a catamaran who had put their boat literally in the exact center of the bay. We had to maneuver around them and drop our anchor closer to them than we are sure they wanted. Sucks to be you and we'll be gone before lunch. We had a great snorkel in the rock walls surrounding the bay in the comfortable 78 degree water.


Next stop, La Paz, where we will meet up with Kelli and Dave Friday night. We were thinking we would avoid the inner harbor in La Paz because it is a challenging place to anchor because of the strong 2-3 knot tidal currents, but Kelli and Dave encouraged us to just send it so we could anchor in front of their hotel. We did it successfully. Like most everything in boating land, as long as you think it through first and communicate well, it's probably doable. You just have to always be ready to make a second try.


We arrived about 3:30 PM and got settled and then dinghied to Marina De La Paz and did a little exploring. The marina has a protected dinghy dock and for 30 pesos a day you can fill you jerry cans with purified water and dump your trash and used engine fluids. They will even wash your clothes! Friday, we topped up our provisions and walked all over La Paz. La Paz is pretty awesome. It is definitely the most refined Mexican city we have been to. We met up with Kelli and Dave, whom Shelby had met on a delivery trip from the Bahamas to Florida in June and had dinner and then they let us enjoy their shower!


Today, Saturday, we will get our provisions for the week-long flotilla delivered and get organized. We can't wait to get out and explore islands near La Paz with Kelli and Dave who know them very well.


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