After Candeleros our goal was Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante, only about 7 miles away. The photos in the guidebook looked so spectacular I just had to go there. Only big enough for one mid-sized boat according to the guidebook, this cove via binoculars, was NOT occupied. What a coup! I was excited to grab this primo spot all for ourselves.
As we edged in closer it looked just as it had in the photos, beautiful crystal clear water, so inviting… we picked our way slowly, slowly, getting more and more closer to rocks…we got inside the rock-walled cove and immediately Brian yelled at me to back up. He didn’t like it, too close to the rocks, too many underwater rocks along the sides, just too tight, wind blowing from the wrong direction pushing us toward land instead of out to sea…my perfect Honeymoon anchorage, not gonna happen.
Sigh. I was disappointed. Visibly. Brian said I was mad. I was not mad - I agreed it was too tight. But I was irritated at the guidebook saying this was big enough for one boat when it wasn’t. I was irritated because every “single” anchorage we had tried to get into was filled to capacity with that one lucky anchorage-hogging boat, and this one was miraculously empty, the Valhalla of anchorages, and I can’t stay here. Maddening. My father-in-law says I only show pictures of me when I am smiling on the blog. Well, imagine me with grumpy-face all morning. I didn’t take a picture; it’s not pretty. Brian says, of all the things I could be disappointed about, it’s nice that that’s all it is, not being able to anchor in a cool spot. Of COURSE he has to put it all in perspective.
I gunned it and start motoring over to Puerto Escondido. Brian says, “Why don’t we sail”. I say no. He says “Why not? You’re just mad”. No, because it’s only 3 miles across the channel to the port and not worth it; we already have the sails put away; we are getting fuel here so there’s no need to conserve. We have never been here before and don’t know where we are going, it’s already noon, we have to travel at least another hour, then pick a mooring. I still have to get my scanner and printer out to do paperwork (this is a 1 to 2-hr production since everything is packed away - once I get it all out for just one copy I need to use it for all it’s worth). Then we have to get the dinghy out, blow it up, hope the motor works, motor to the dock and hope the marina is still open to check in. “Oh.” Yeah, I’m just putting it ALL into perspective. No Honeymoon; no sailing.
May 19 Puerto Escondido Mooring Balls
We drove into Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port), unique due to its huge, yet virtually land-locked bay, accessed only through a small 200ft wide, 9ft deep channel. There are a few slips here but no one can afford them at $2/ft/day = $70 per day for us - ridiculous.
We picked up a mooring for about $10 per day for our 34ft boat, well worth the fee for a good sleep. For our family who doesn’t know what a ‘mooring’ is, it is simply a chain tied to a large concrete block (heavy engine blocks are sometime used) at the bottom of the 50ft deep bay with a buoy that keeps the top portion of thick rope afloat. You simply grab and wrap the buoy line onto the boat cleat at the bow and the concrete block essentially becomes your anchor. Smaller, popular bays have moorings in order to pack more boats into the area.
These moorings were the best we’d come across - amazingly spaced a good length apart, and no stern-ties. Yay! Essentially mistake-proof. So you don’t have to worry about the wind pushing you into your next-door neighbor a mere 10 ft away like in Catalina… nor all the neighbors hearing you utter expletives as your wife overshoots the ball… or fails to pick up the stern line fast enough as you swing wide and side-swipe your neighbor’s dinghy (no, I haven’t done that, OK close). Those types have bow and stern buoys which require better timing and aim. Some even have bow and stern separately which require backing up or dinghying out to get the stern one tied, something we did once and never wish to repeat. Moorings can incite a special trepidation in our hearts… unacknowledged, never discussed, like He Who Has No Name, a disaster waiting to happen; but this time, we looked like pros.
Once you manage to tie up, not having to worry about your anchor dragging is nice. But moorings can and do drag in higher wind or surge. And often unmaintained by their apathetic government agency owners, lines or chain can break or rust away. We have friends who weathered hurricane Odile here in this very port. Several moorings broke and those boats went flying through the anchorage missing our friend’s boat by inches. So we still keep our anchorwatch on even when attached to a mooring. The good news is we have first-hand info that all the moorings here have been replaced with heavy chain, according to one cruiser who saw them being installed after Odile. Knowing we are on a new mooring is a sleep-inducing god-send.
After checking into the office, we promptly walked next door to the only restaurant in the tiny marina: a high-class, white linen, frou-frou restaurant called “Porto Bello” where we paid approximately the same price for dinner as we had for 5 nights mooring. $50 is nothing for a dinner in the states, but this was the 2nd most expensive restaurant we had eaten at since we arrived in Mexico. You have to TRY to eat that expensively here.
We felt out of place in our boater clothing, flip flops and scrubby hair, but we also felt the restaurant was out of its element. While delicious, we were befuddled as to why such a fancy establishment was there, and how it did any business. This was not a Newport Beach yacht-club marina crowd. Cruisers are notoriously cheap. We were the only ones in the joint. A fish taco stand with cheap local beer would have been a much more frequented establishment. How bizarre, how bizarre. Well, my mango crème brulee was worth it.
May 20th – Shower Day
Got up late… didn’t even bother listening to the weather…what a treat. Slept great, quiet and still all night. It seems here it’s calm at night and during the morning and evening, but the wind always picks up in the afternoon. We walked to the Tripui Hotel about a half mile away along the road leading out to Highway 1. They have a restaurant with internet and so we obviously had to check that out.
Today we happily got to take a shower - for the first time in 15 days. A real, bonafide shower… with actual water pressure…and as much water as I wanted to waste… and as hot as I could get it. I washed my head at least 3 times, just for good measure. While we have enough water for showers on deck every couple days, I just can’t wash my head good enough, not with all my hair (Brian doesn’t have this problem). Our pump-pressure shower bag is good but nothing beats real pressure from a real shower to get all the salt out …and whatever else is stuck in there from swimming in salt water with microscopic critters. Don’t EVER shine a light at night down in the depths of the sea. You will see creepy crawly things not visible during daylight. I try not to think about what organisms could get stuck and die in my hair.
May 21st - Steinbeck Canyon
Today we made the trek to Steinbeck Canyon. We walked at least a mile and a half out to the main highway, and then a dirt access road continues for another ½ mile toward the mountain. The trail began at what appeared to be the construction site for a man-made reservoir. We crawled down into the arroyo from an expansive bed of rocks tented with chicken wire fencing. A few construction workers milled about.… moving rocks with wheelbarrows, placing them by hand. Old school.
We started up the trail, climbing over and around rocks as big as my old 4Runner. As we made our way upwards, the walls loomed high overhead and the canyon floor became smoother, ground down by eons of rushing water. We came to small, clear pools and miniature, gentle waterfalls, dropping into the next pool then disappearing underground and reappearing from nowhere again downstream. Beautiful and peaceful. This is supposedly where Steinbeck went hunting for bighorn sheep during his trip up the Sea.
We came to a rock wall about the height of a person and a half. The only way to get up it was to climb, and with barely any handhold crevasses. Brian made it up. While I like climbing on rocks, I am no rock climber. And my shoes were too flexible and the toes too fat to fit in any of the dinky toe holds without sliding and crashing on my behind, so we stopped. I am sure it was even more pretty over on the other side of that 80-degree wall… it’s always greener on the other side.
We hiked back along the smooth, weather-worn rock pools, around the gigantic boulders, back up the man-made arroyo. Along the access road we scared a big bull cow chewing his cud. He turned around suddenly and looked irate, like he was about to charge. We stopped and stared at him and he stared at us. No one moved for about a minute… and then he promptly went back to chewing. We had spooked him with our loud shoes crunching on the dirt.
We walked back down the road to Puerto Escondido and again sampled the Tripui restaurant for lunch, exhausted from walking at least 5 miles. Exercise for the week = done and done.
Circle of Knowledge
That afternoon we entered The Circle of Knowledge. This is an unofficial get-together of cruisers from 2-5pm every day next to the tienda. Beer-drinking, ice-cream munching and bullshitting is the name of the game involving 5-10 people, upwards to 20 on a particularly busy day. We walked through the circle the first day here and it was a bit intimidating maneuvering through this group of people just to get to the store, like you are walking a gauntlet. This time, we pulled up a chair and joined this famed Circle of Knowledge… otherwise known as the Amoeba of Awareness, since it’s rarely a perfect circle… to get some schooling.
This is where we got all the local info: where to get internet, rent a car, best grocery stores, anchorage and weather info, etc.. And everyone starts asking you questions….where you are headed, where you’re from, how come you’re so young to be retired, etc, etc. Everyone seems to be very nice… and helpful; the complete opposite of Marina de La Paz with its majority population of grouchy liveaboards.
Our first question to The Circle: what the heck was making that noisy racket every evening? Sitting below the first night, we heard a staccato “rat-tat-tat”. Sometimes it was 4: “rat-tat-tat-tat”. Evenly spaced intervals, no pausing, like a jack-hammer. Not loud, just loud enough to annoy. It sounded like it was coming from inside the boat. Rat-tat-tat. Then again on the other side of the boat, like an echo, rat-tat-tat. Then again, back and forth, over and over. It was driving us crazy. We looked all over the boat, inside lockers… is it the bilge pump, the refrigerator? No. We went outside, tried to listen and see if it was another boat. We assumed it was mechanical. It had to be, it was too precise, no hesitating between tats, always the same number of tats, either 3 or 4 tats. It eventually stopped later at night, but started up again every evening.
We eventually gave up; it had to be someone’s generator noise or such traveling through the water into our hull. Come to find out through the Circle of Knowledge … that the noises we were hearing are FISH! Again with the noisy fish! Apparently they tap on your hull, picking algae or other goodies that are growing on there. I guess we need another bottom cleaning. We thought they were pulling our leg at first - it CAN’T be fish, it’s just so jack-hammer-like. Apparently not. If it’s not slapping fish, it’s rat-a-tat tatting fish.
May 22nd Shopping Day
We rented a car from Alamo for the day. There is only a tiny tienda at the marina, so going into Loreto for groceries is highly inconvenient. You either have to take a taxi for $26 each way or rent a car for about $75. Since we wanted to take our time, we opted for the car.
We took a side trip to Nopolo, a retirement village/golf/resort area we’d passed on our earlier road trip, just 7 miles south of Loreto. Driving along these little streets are perfectly paved, with real sidewalks, and little California type houses everywhere in the older part of Nopolo. Near the Hotel on Loreto Bay, which is a big resort with a beautiful golf course, there is a miniature condominium village with cobblestone streets. Little shops line the road with condos overhead…an architect, contractor, tour operator, boutique clothing, and a small coffee shop called Corazon where we had what we like to call “second breakfast” of pan frances (French toast), bacon and eggs and a white chocolate raspberry scone that was to die for.
We meandered through the condo area along quaint cobblestone paths, lined with cacti, flowers and rock gardens, only wide enough for walking or golf carting. I don’t see where these people park their cars; there are no garages. This must be like The Villages in Orlando it seems, and ironically it’s called the Villages of Loreto. Super cute, I felt like I was in a retirement village in La Jolla.
After perusing the resort beach and golf course we headed to Loreto, casually driving around town to see what we could find. We parked downtown and toured the small Mission de Loreto, then noshed on pizza and salad at Pepegina's Pizza. Probably the best pizza crust in Mexico. While we were there, Brian was on the phone much of the time while we got a good cell tower signal. The owner noticed he was talking the entire time we were eating; she scolded him in Spanish “no more talking on the phone, it’s muy malo”. I had to explain in my limited Spanish that it was OK, we live on a boat and haven’t talked to our familia in many days. She understood and I also got out of her directions to the store.
Pretty much everything I needed was available at Leys grocery store, except oatmeal packets. And eggs - I couldn’t find eggs. Weird, I had heard about this problem from another boat. So I asked a young kid and he brought me to the vege section to wait while he went in back and talked with someone. Then after seemingly 3-4 minutes, he came out holding 2-18packs of egg trays. Too big. Oh, lo siento, puedo tener doce? Solomente doce? I just want 12. He comes out and brings me 2 packs of a dozen eggs after several more minutes. Are the chickens laying them back there? Does he have to bribe the egg manager to let him in? I feel bad and take both even though I only want one. I didn’t want to have him have to go back in again and put it away. Dumb, I know, but I just wanted out of there.
Shopping complete, we drive the 15 miles back to Puerto Escondido. By this time, it’s after 6pm. On a boat everything has to be done before sunset - darkness creates exponential difficulties. We load everything into the dinghy, including our two gas cans for the dinghy motor and generator (which we loaded with Premium fuel at Pemex). Whew…long day.
May 23rd Internet and Taco Saturday
Today we got up dropped off the keys to the car at the marina and headed to Tripui yet again for breakfast, or more importantly, to use their free internet. We stayed 2 hours putting up blogs until it died… on purpose?… maybe we overstayed our welcome.
Back at the marina we attended the famous Taco Saturday (that just doesn’t sound right). The tienda cooks pork tacos and you pick your toppings - limed and roasted poblano peppers, fresh radishes, onion, cilantro, tomato. A little bit of awesome. And we sat there and met more cruisers.
Traveling back to Indigo, we swung by a boat named “Tardis” to convey how much we liked their boat name. We had been watching the TV show “Dr. Who” on Netflix, and the “Tardis” is the telephone booth time machine that The Doctor travels in, saving the world from disaster. They invited us to come back on board later and gave us a tour and a ton of downloaded books and videos on our terabyte drive. We now have loads of TV shows to keep us occupied, including of course, the entire Dr. Who series. Thank you Doctor!
May 24th, Last day in civilization
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Puerto Escondido. But we will be leaving tomorrow after extending our stay one more day due to higher winds. The weather looks perfect for the next week.
So today we readied the boat for sailing: Filled the jerry jugs with diesel at the fuel dock. Cleaned the boat. Dinghied into the marina for one last perfect shower. Dumped our trash. Met some more cruisers. Ate at the fancy shmancy restaurant again just because we could. Put away the dinghy and outboard. One last good night sleep. Off again tomorrow to enchanted islands…