Cabo to La Paz

Reaching Cabo San Lucas was a huge milestone for the trip, the end of my traveling along the Pacific coast of the peninsula and putting me in sight of my destination, La Paz.

View Cabo to La Paz in a larger map

I didn’t stop in Cabo though — I had enough supplies and don’t care for the town that much (aside: Cabo is an odd nickname for the place, the word just means “cape”). Instead, I continued on to try to reach Cabo Los Frailes, 50 miles further, before sunset. The coast between Cabo and its neighboring town, San Jose del Cabo, is continuous resorts, but afterwards there is very little coastal development, just occasional clusters of houses.

Still, this trip up the coast wasn’t great. It was cloudy, some spitting rain, with a headwind and rough water for most of the day. Big change from the gorgeous weather I’d had for weeks. Made it up though and got to Los Frailes in the early evening, exhausted from some 55 hours of continuous travel since Punta Hughes.

Another guy motored in shortly afterwards (we were the only two at the anchorage) and talked. I’d recognized him as coming through Punta Hughes several days before, though he had the sense to stopover in Cabo and learned about a storm coming towards the peninsula, the reason for the unsettled weather. I hadn’t checked the forecast in days and didn’t know about this, and the next morning downloaded and beheld this forecast for the following day, October 16:

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was Hurricane Paul, a storm that peaked at Category 3 and was I think still hurricane strength as it headed north, following the coast of Baja Sur along the same path I had finished up just days before. If I’d still been at Punta Hughes I could have sheltered in Bahia Magdalena, if I’d still been to the north I would have had to either race down to Magdalena, retreat to Turtle Bay, or stick it out wherever I happened to be; there are no other well protected anchorages in these 300 odd miles of coastline.

Having inadvertently located myself some 200 miles from the storm’s path, I would have to prepare some for its passage but had no urgent steps to take. That day I went kayaking around the point and snorkeled a few times on its north side. This is a few miles south of Cabo Pulmo, a coral reef (the only one in Baja) I dove at several years back. I was hoping to do some snorkeling up there but skipped that given the weather. Still, Cabo Los Frailes had some good snorkeling, with lots of fish and small amounts of coral.

Snorkeling the north side of the point also let me check it out as an anchorage, and in the afternoon I moved my boat there to give me protection from the southeast winds the storm would be generating. The evening and early in the night were rolly and uncomfortable as winds were still northerly, but in the middle of the night the winds shifted to the southeast and increased in strength, and were pretty strong by dawn. Things were still uncomfortable through the morning, bouncy and with several squalls, but were I’m sure far better than on the south side of the point. The view from the boat at dawn:

In the afternoon conditions started to settle, and I resumed heading north to take advantage of the tailwind, sailing well into the night before the wind slacked. In the morning it picked back up a bit, and I sailed the last 20 odd miles to my target anchorage, halfway up the west side of Isla Espiritu Santo. This is a large island not far from La Paz, almost perfect for cruising by boat as its western side is a long series of protected bays. I’d spent some time here on a dive charter in 2008, and have been wanting to see more of the island. Beautiful desert scenery, great water.

I only had a couple days before I needed to be in La Paz. Spent the first kayaking around the anchorage, snorkeling and photographing at a couple outlying islands. One is a small frigatebird colony; all day long the birds would display for each other, or lazily circle above the island.

The next day I went kayaking to some of the bays to the north, more snorkeling. The island has great, protected kayaking, keen on doing more in this area in the next couple weeks.

Several hours of motoring the following morning brought me in to La Paz, finally. I needed to fly back to the states this week for work, and will be returning this weekend for a couple more weeks exploring the area before the trip ends.

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