I had a couple weeks on the boat between my week back in the states and the end of the trip proper. I didn’t have anything horribly ambitious planned here, but took the time to see the area around La Paz some more and go to a couple spots — Isla Partida and Bahia la Ventana — I’d really been wanting to spend some time at.
Leaving La Paz in the morning on October 29, I spent the first day at Puerto Ballendra, about 12 miles to the north. Nice snorkeling, with a small lagoon in the back that had some great birding.
That night I headed to Bahia la Ventana, about 25 miles away. This is a fairly laid back area with a lot of small resorts, rentals and vacation homes, and a very popular area for wind sports. The bay is backed by a small plain which heats through the day, drawing thermal winds fairly consistently in winter afternoons. My interest here was in kiteboarding, but the day I arrived conditions were calm with nothing forecast for several days (maybe should have checked before making the trip over).
I took this time to head back towards La Paz and turn north to anchor at Isla Partida. This island is just north of Isla Espiritu Santo, separated by a very narrow channel, and has similar great anchorages all along the west side. I stayed in one of these for kayaking, hiking and snorkeling in the area. The main highlight here are Los Islotes, shown below, two small islands off the north end of Isla Partida and a few miles from my anchorage.
I kayaked up to the Islotes twice with snorkeling gear in tow. Back in 2008 I did a couple excellent dives here (90 to 150 minutes each, yay for rebreathers), one of the main highlights of that trip. The snorkeling here is first rate too, great stuff ringing the islets right near the surface. The main attraction are the many sea lions living on the islets, fantastically, even aggressively curious in playing with divers and snorkelers. Good tidal currents and deep surrounding water bring a tremendous amount of fish life, with very clear water and small amounts of coral. For much of the day when I was there the islets were crowded with boat traffic, with day boats from La Paz bringing snorkelers, divers, and kayakers, and plenty of chartered and private boats doing the same. Still, it’s easy enough to get away from the crowds and on both days I was in the water for hours, great time.
With my remaining time I did a nice kayaking trip circling Isla Partida, and several short hikes on trails around the island. All the area around La Paz got a lot of rain in the fall, and Espiritu Santo and Partida were both much greener with plants than even when I passed through a couple weeks earlier.
From Partida I made my way back to Bahia la Ventana in time for the winds to pick up. I stayed here the rest of the trip, and ended up kiteboarding for seven days in varying conditions. This was a great setup. Just inside of my anchorage was a concession, La Ventana Xperience, setting up on the beach for the season. The folks running the place, Jeff and Ozzy, were great, and I took a couple short lessons from them and spent a lot of time in the evenings talking. The lessons, practicing and good weather helped tremendously in building my skills in the sport, and as time progressed I went from not really knowing what I was doing to the point where I could easily launch and ride the kite, and reliably tack and ride upwind.
Kiteboarding is an interesting sport. Intimidating from the outset and with a steep learning curve, but once I got a feel for the kite things suddenly became smooth and simple, and lots of fun. Really want to work more on the sport, and looking forward to spending more time with it on future sailing trips.
Eventually it came time for me to head back to La Paz and fly back to the US. I’m still working on absorbing and making sense of the whole trip, but it’s been an incredible experience. I think that at the most basic level I conceived this trip as a litmus test for whether I should proceed with my longstanding dream of sailing the Pacific. To that end the trip was a resounding success; I’ve really just had a glimpse of what can be done, traveling the world by boat, and even now I’m consumed with the desire to see more.