Sea of Cortez, Part Two

Welcome back and thanks for checking in. If you haven’t already, please check out Part One of our Sea of Cortez adventures.

As I was saying, there were things we loved about the Sea, and some things, well…not so much.

The loving part was easy. The wildlife was so diverse, and we were treated to our own up-close and  personal display of the amazing-ness almost daily. See “Mooonlight Madness” for another example of nature’s quirks.

Chance loves chasing crabs!

Chance loves chasing crabs!

Roxie loves to lounge in the shallows.

Roxie loves to lounge in the shallows.

The first full night we spent in the Sea, near an anchorage named Los Muertos, we were greeted by the slap-slap-slapping of Mobula rays doing belly-flops and acrobatics just off our stern. At first, we couldn’t figure out what all the smacking noise was. It sounded like popcorn, but louder. And without that yummy smell. I was fortunate to have my phone handy, but I couldn’t catch one doing cartwheels and full 360’s. (But they do, I swear.) This was a sight we would be treated to many times in the Sea, and we never tired of watching.

We also saw lots of stingrays that hover on the ocean floor, sometimes partially buried by the sand they blend so well into. Pretty creatures. And fast! But beware, these little suckers will serve up quite a sting if you mistakenly step on one. Thus, the “stingray shuffle”, where you shuffle your feet as you wade near the beach.  They were reason enough for me to prefer jumping off the back of the boat in deeper water than risk getting stung.

The birds were plentiful and diverse, and I especially loved watching as they flew along with El Gato. Among them were pelicans, boobies, cormorants, hawks, egrets, seagulls, oystercatchers, yellowlegs, frigate birds and lots of diving birds.

My favorites were the lesser grebes that often swam in large flocks. They have eyes resembling red rubies, and, unlike other water-fowl, they have lobed toes instead of webbed feet, making them excellent swimmers and divers. (Interesting fact-the closest relative to the grebe is the flamingo. Huh!! Who’d a thunk it??)

Lovely little grebe

Lovely little grebe

Unfortunately, we saw hundreds of these fascinating little birds washed up on shore in the Sea, nearly all of them headless. We could only assume that their tiny size and diving proficiency gets them caught in the nets of the local fishermen, who then rip their heads off to remove them from their net. Even after three months, it bothered me greatly to step over their little bodies as I walked the beach.
Several times, we were accompanied by pods of dolphin, Chance’s favorite. I am  convinced they communicate with each other. He is always on “dolphin alert”, and knows when they are close, even at night, in bed, when they blow outside the boat.
We saw some whales, again no decent pictures. They breech or slap their tails so quickly, I don’t want to miss anything by being behind a camera.
Bees are a real problem at certain times, on certain islands, mainly in the Loreto area on Isla Carmen. They are on the hunt for fresh water, and, although not usually aggressive, a nuisance.
El Gato in San Juanico

El Gato in San Juanico

We learned that dogs are not welcome on certain islands that are part of the National Park System, and we tried not to anchor there. “Love me, love my dog”. Speaking of dogs, we have been pleased that nearly all of the local dogs we have met here are no more than vaguely interested in Roxie and Chance, and vise-versa. The only dog Chance had a run-in with was owned by an American and was off-leash.

Beautiful sculpted rock formations at Los Gatos

Beautiful sculpted rock formations at Los Gatos

Los Gatos

Los Gatos

There are several small fishing communities on the mainland in the Sea. We made a point to go ashore to shop in the little tiendas for basic necessities, if they had anything. Stock is dependent on what’s left after the latest run to the closest large town, that being Loreto or La Paz. Often, there were only a few shelves of canned goods and some rotten fruit.
San Juanico was a personal favorite. With numerous anchorages, hiking trails and beaches, it was easy to spend time here. There’s even an organic farm with lots of fresh veggies. They even make their own goat cheese and run horseback riding adventures.
This dog is at home among his goat herd.

This dog is at home among his goat herd.

One night. we, along with our friends on Redwood Coast hosted a bonfire, and drove through the anchorage inviting other cruisers. We had a good turnout and met some cool people.

Bonfire on San Juanico

Bonfire on San Juanico

 Aqua Verde had the most awesome little outdoor restaurant that served mouth-watering fish and shrimp tacos. They were OMG good, and we made a point to stop here, if even for a quick bite before continuing on.  Agua verde also had a cool hike to some caves with petroglyphs. It took two separate visits to find them, as our first attempt was thwarted by a local dog we called “Scout.” We were under the misguided impression he would take us there, (I know. So “Lassie, isn’t it??), and I feel a little foolish now, after telling him, for an hour, “find the caves, Scout,” and following him on a romp through thick underbrush, stickers and swamp. Turns out, Scout doesn’t speak English. Go figure.
We found them on our second attempt. Thanks, Nancy, for the directions!
Petroglyphs near Agua Verde

Petroglyphs near Agua Verde

 You have undoubtedly picked up on the fact that Jeff and I love to hike. And there is plenty of hiking in the Sea. From well-marked posted trails to “goat trails” to “make your own way” trails, there is something for everyone.
I think this means no pooping on the trail

I think this means no pooping on the trail

Hiking in Steinbeck Canyon

Hiking in Steinbeck Canyon

Hiking above the Sea

Hiking above the Sea

Terminus of the trail at Candeleros. This is the golf green overlooking the Sea.

Terminus of the trail at Candeleros. This is the golf green overlooking the Sea.

Our good friend Neil came to visit and we headed north to Bahia Conception. Here, many US and Canadian RV-ers come to spend the season. There are great structures built to use as a home base. I believe most of these are privately owned, but there are also RV campgrounds a plenty.sea9 sea8 sea10

We had heard there was good snorkeling here, so Neil, being the water-dog that he is, gave our method of “drive-by snorkeling” on the paddleboard a try. After that, he got a tour of the bay in grand style!

Neil, having a grand time "motor-boarding"

Neil, having a grand time “motor-boarding”

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A girl and her dog

A girl and her dog

The people are so warm, and despite our lack of Spanish conversational skills, always tried to engage us in some small talk. Hopefully, next year we can converse more than rudimentary courtesies and pantomime.

So, knowing what we know now, will we return to the Sea? You betcha. We’ll go back next year, with a working SSB, less expectations, and eyes wide open.

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Sea of Cortez, Part Two — 9 Comments

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to share part of this adventure. I have many memories and a few seashells to carry with me. Looking forward to more adventures ahead. Neil aka Water Dog

  2. Well I, thinking Pearl Jan 2 needs to make a stop at Bahia Comceptcion and Neil knows my trick! I ALWAYS carry my gear on the bungee of the paddle board Just leave your leash on your ankle and snorkel away!! Also fish looks amazing guys I want to come visit !!

    • Ah-ha! Someone else knows our secret of “drive=by-snorkeling”! Looking forward to following your adventures, as well!

  3. Pingback: The Sea of Cortez, Part One | call it kismet

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