Sailing Along The Sea Coast

You see the Sea Of Cortez coast differently than by car

BY VIC KUSSKE

Jack Kranz, a longtime friend and accomplished sailor and I left La Paz in our 32 foot sailboat Just Dandy, headed north to a small bay and marina called Puerto Escondido 25 miles south of Loreto. It took us a week to make a trip that could be done by car in five or six hours, because we stopped to explore. We were happy to find that a village on a small bay called San Evaristo provided us with welcome protection against an increasingly fierce wind storm.

As we sailed into this bay, it appeared to us to have some activity even though we were to learn that only a handful of people live in the village.

Jack, a civil engineer by trade, spotted what appeared to be a desalination plant at water’s edge. His suspicion proved true as we launched the dinghy after anchoring and approached a sign near the blue and white structures indicating water was available by calling Tony Agua, meaning Tony Water on VHF radio channel 16.

Even though we didn’t need water, Jack contacted Tony Water who instead on giving us a tour of his plant. Tony, along with Mrs. Water and Son Water, came out, opened it up, and explained the equipment and process. They were a delightful family, very accommodating and friendly, showing us how to get to the village store where we picked up a few necessities, enjoyed some cold drinks, and even found a cell phone signal.

There were several fishing pangas in this village along with the owners’ shacks, but not much activity as the wind precluded even the fishermen from going out of the bay. The village had a small church and a school but neither had much activity going on. Some would say it was desolate.

We met George and Janet aboard a motor vessel named Susie which was also anchored in the bay and we were invited to dinner prepared by Janet which was washed down with cold refreshments concocted by George. George and Janet are both retired educators from Yellowknife Northwest Territories Canada and they spend their winters on the Sea of Cortez, aboard Susie.

After an excellent dinner and some great conversation, Jack and I needed to take our dinghy back to Just Dandy, but in the dark we could not see her even though I’d left the anchor light on at the top of the mast. We motored in the general direction and after a few minutes we spotted her silhouette against the darkened sky. The anchor light was not lighted even though the switch was on; we discovered I had failed to monitor battery usage and we were forced to listen to our little Honda generator beating away for the next couple hours, as it charged Just Dandy’s three batteries.

We had decided to follow Susie north early the next morning as they were also headed to Puerto Escondido, but since Susie was making about seven knots and we could only do about five knots, Susie began to pull away from us. We were able to keep in radio contact even after Susie disappeared over the horizon and it was determined that Just Dandy would not reach Puerto Escondido until after dark. So, not wanting to enter an unfamiliar port after dark, we decided to duck into a bay and village called Agua Verde. Green Water.

Agua Verde is a very special place with clear, clean, green water that allows one to clearly see the bottom  over 30 feet down. The large sandy beach has a goat farm at the south end and a small beach restaurant with shower and toilet facilities with places for RVs and campers. There were only a couple of RVs there, as access from Highway 1 is via a gravel road that is a tedious 25 miles long.

We anchored at the east end of the bay off a small beach and between two large hills. The beauty of the location made the trek worthwhile and we walked to town via the road. We came back on the beach, only because it was low tide.

We met Enrique and Leona at the beach restaurant, a modest little structure built on the sand with a couple tables and a cooking area in the back. Leona manages the restaurant and Enrique fishes from his panga.

We spent five days there at Agua Verde, as we were weathered in. All we had to while away the time was to walk through the little settlement which consisted of two churches and two small stores. There was no cell service but we could access Wi-Fi at a store for a buck and a half an hour. There was a lot of chatter on the VHF radio in Spanish, as residents keep in touch with each other via radio.

We finally managed to sail out of Agua Verde after five days, although we should have stayed longer as the last part of our trip to Puerto Escondido was fraught with fighting tall seas and high winds. But we arrived in good shape, vowing to return some day to spend more time in the serene environments of San Evaristo and Agua Verde.