Last month we had our very first brave visitors along our journey, my mom and stepdad Gary. We were so excited to share a bit of our new life with our family AND to have some new faces onboard… after all, Jonah and I spend A LOT of one on one time together. It was the perfect cure for a little homesick bug that I was coming down with.
We planned for a little road trip with them before returning to Orion. On the day of their arrival we made sure the anchor was good and set in the La Paz anchorage, rented a car, and drove the 3 hour or so trip to San Jose del Cabo to pick’em up. It had been a few years since we’d driven along the Baja highway and we again marveled at the desert mountains covered in cardon cacti older than our great grandparents. We easily located the pasty-white pair, fresh off the plane from snowy Colorado, at the airport outside bar (of course). We packed everyone in our little car, and backtracked about an hour to Todos Santos (All Saints) where we had planned to spend a couple of days. Todos Santos is a small, charming artist colony on the Pacific coast of the peninsula. Although it has a thriving community of gringos and expats from around the world it has maintained a colorful and quaint charisma. Jonah and I spent a good bit of time there several years ago with Jonah’s dad, Odell, who used to frequent the town as a relaxing retreat. It had been around 7 years since our last visit and we were excited to return, especially since you can’t sail to anywhere near there.
We didn’t even recognize the place. Unknowingly we timed our visit alongside the nearly complete destruction of the roads of the historic downtown to put powerlines underground and update utilities. It was a mess and frankly a little dangerous to walk around at night, particularly after a couple margaritas. We had already booked our cute little hotel online so we made the best of it and enjoyed the town’s delicious restaurants (like Hotel California- OMG so good!) and art galleries and stuck to the most intact roads. We gravitated to rooftop bars. We hung out at Cerritos Beach, a popular swimming and surfing spot in the neighboring town, Pescadero. And Jonah and I enjoyed (sorely missed) long hot showers, air conditioning, and wifi at the hotel!
We crossed the peninsula, back to La Paz, stopping along the way to do a big provisioning, which is infinitely easier with a car. The air temperature on the gulf side is about 10-15 degrees hotter and it is particularly poignant in the cement-lined cities. The miracle of being at anchor is that the climate is much more fresh and cool on the water. We lugged our crew, luggage, and food in several dinghy trips. Because they are awesome their bags were full of all kinds of goodies for us: our mail, items we bought and had sent to their house, and presents (Thanks guys!). We spent the evening acquainting them with the boat and readying Orion to set sail the next day.
About 25 nm north of the entrance to La Paz Bay is the tip of an uninhabited island lobed with turquoise coves called Espirtu Santo. This was to be our home for the next four days. We weighed anchor and put Gary at the helm where he remained for much of the trip, a natural skipper. We found some breeze and had a lovely sail to our first anchorage at Bahia Gabriel. We arrived to steeps cliffs and plateaus in every shade of red and brown, contrasted with electric blue of the water… just in time for swimming, warm sunset, cocktails, and dinner.
As we cooked we had our first meeting with the elusive yet revered Coramuels. These are strong winds that come up at night, cool breezes from the Pacific side, pulled by the hot land and warm Sea of Cortez, funneled across the thinnest and lowest-lying part of the peninsula and exiting at La Paz, shifting the usual northern wind direction clear around to the southwest, affecting most of the good anchorages on the island, which are west facing. Like clockwork the sun gave a final wink, we felt a gust, and Orion zoomed around an arc of a 180 turn. So began a bumpy night. Everyone earned their sea legs and we moved to a much more protected anchorage in the morning.
We spent the next few days anchored in the first of three long thin finger coves, called Ensenada La Gallina, which shoaled up to a vibrant mangrove forest inhabited by a variety of birds and the occasional sea turtle surfacing for a breath. We spent our days exploring new coves in the dinghy, swimming, snorkeling, relaxing on secluded beaches, reading, and watching the wildlife fly and swim by. Gary learned how to paddleboard and Jonah speared us dinner. There is freedom and timelessness when bobbing alongside a desert island with animals for neighbors and no agenda. We got to let go and really take in the company of our loved ones that we miss so much.
Jonah and I were super impressed by these two. Living aboard a boat at anchor is really different from life on land. Dealing with the persistent movement (especially when the wind comes up), being sparing with water, constantly climbing up and down our long ladders into or off the boat, watching your head, keeping cool in the sun, even having to figure out a safe place to set down your beer can be an adjustment. They fell right in step with boat life and were easy, gracious, and helpful guests… and a huge plus is they don’t get seasick. It was a good initiation for us and we are excited for them to return and for more family and friends to join us in the future.
Sun-tanned and relaxed we sailed back into civilization, nestled into the La Paz anchorage, and readied Orion to be left for a few day. We rented another car and headed to San Jose del Cabo for the night so they could catch their flight the next day. The historical downtown is sweet and clean and chock full of amazing restaurants and shops. We wandered around, found another rooftop bar to imbibe within, ate an amazing meal (holy mole!.. literally, we each got a different kind of mole and did blind taste tests), and enjoyed our last night together.
It was an awesome, successful visit… it’s a good sign that they are already talking about when to come back. I feel so blessed to have fun, able, adventurous parents that are also great friends. We love you guys and miss you already!