San Evaristo: a family visits to sell us
"Gosta" said the toddler, eliciting proud smiles.
Puerto los Gatos is rimmed with smoothly rounded
red rocks. Utah on the ocean.
Sedona meets the Sea.
Vibrantly striated cliffs along the Sierra de La Giganta mountains lining the Sea of Cortez.
Punta Gavilán ("Oarlock Point").
Sea cave at Ensenada de la Ballena.
Inside the sea cave was a
Brilliantly colored crab.
Cactus grows among the rocks on the beach at
Ensenada de la Ballena (Bahía Berrendo).
A whale's pelvic bone sits on the beach at aptly
named Ensenada de la Ballena ("Whale Cove").
Those guys are big!!
Groovy braces for the norther at
Bahía Santa Marta.
The results of a
Two days later Agua Verde
is the mirror of tranquility.
"Roca Solitaria" evokes the Grand Canyon's "Point Imperial."
The red rock cliffs tower above
the sailboats at anchor.
A sailboat disappears against Baja California's
Cactus and pretty water
at Agua Verde.
Agua Verde's picturesque bay.
Agua Verde village church.
Goats wander freely.
Everyone rests in the shade
Mini Market Miguelito with a solar panel out front.
No fancy gourmet goods, but the basics are all here.
Outdoor refrigerators contain chilled vegetables.
Agua Verde is all about fishing.
Sea kayakers travel
this area frequently.
Agua Verde's old cemetery dates from the mid-1900's.
Where's the beef? Free-range cattle
make a meager living out here.
Groovy is boarded by La Armada de
México (the Mexican Navy) once again.
Path from town to the beach.
Agua Verde, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Late April-Early May, 2011 - We left Isla San Francisco to head north knowing that a "Norther" (several days of big north
winds and seas) was due to arrive in a few days. So in the back of our minds at each anchorage we visited we asked
ourselves "would this be okay in northerly blow?"
Our first stop was San Evaristo, a small pair of coves on either
side of a fishing camp that houses a few families. As the sun was
setting a panga loaded with people came out to visit our boat. It
turned out to be a family, including a baby.
"Negocios!! Quieren langostas?" (Let's do business! Do you want
lobster?). I explained that we don't really like lobster but we love fish.
To my astonishment, the young driver told me they had no fish on the boat but he would be back in an hour with some for us.
When they came back, as promised, it was dark. A young girl held up the toddler. "Escucha!" (Listen!") she said, and then
prompted the toddler to say "langosta," the word for lobster. "Gosta" the little girl said hesitantly. The mom beamed at me
with pride and everyone in the boat laughed. There's nothing so cute as a baby struggling to say its first words, even when
they don't quite say them right. If only my feeble efforts at Spanish were met with such delight!
We decided to move further north and stopped at Puerto Los Gatos.
This is a stunning cove, just big enough for a few boats, where
beautiful, smoothly rounded red rocks roll down to the water.
Before we had a chance to explore ashore, we were suddenly
chased out of the anchorage by a horde of thirsty bees. They
buzzed all over Groovy looking for fresh water. There are so many
fresh water sources fit for a bee on our boat (faucets, shower
heads, sinks and toilets) that it was easier for us to leave the cove
than to persuade the bees to leave the boat.
The Baja coast along this
stretch pierces the sky in
mountains, cliffs and rock
formations. In many places
the carved rock faces are
striated in a rainbow of
whites, reds and browns.
We stopped briefly at Ensenada de la Ballena, also known as Bahía Berrendo, a
small gravel beach tucked into the south side of a craggy point. High up on the cliffs
is a perfectly round hole giving the point its name "Oarlock Point" or "Punta Gavilán."
There is a small sea cave in this bay as well,
and we snuck inside and listened to the waves
echoing off the back walls.
Lots of little bright red legged crabs crawled
around the inside of the cave.
It still amazes me to see this junction of the
desert and the sea. A large stand of cactus
filled a valley behind the beach and ran up the sides of two mountains.
Here and there, tucked into the beach rocks, we found baby cactus
A little further on
we came across
a whale's pelvic
bone. It was very
some very long
There are three anchorages in this area
that offer north wind protection, and we
chose the prettiest one, Bahía Santa
Marta, to wait out the Norther. There was a beach with a
collection of palm trees at one end, and the red rocks
rising behind the beach were layered. In hindsight a
better choice would have been Bahía San Marcial (also
known as Bahía San Marte). But you don't necessarily
know these things ahead of time.
Once the wind started to blow it seemed like it would
never let up. We saw gusts over 30 mph, and later we
heard that a few miles north in Puerto Escondido where
"Loreto Fest" was taking place the gusts got into the 40's.
The last day of their activities had to be canceled as no
one wanted to leave their boat. Some boats broke off
their mooring lines and other boats dragged their anchors.
We had no such trouble, but the swell was merciless.
Groovy rocked and rolled and the two of us fell all over ourselves
and each other as we tried to move about the boat.
I snuck off in the porta-bote just to get a change of scenery during
each of the three days, but the conditions were downright scary in
the dink and I didn't go far. Our anchor chain got hung up under some
rocks and pinned the boat on a very short leash for a while. This made the
jerking motion even worse as the bow of the boat yanked at the chain like
a wild dog. At one point Mark came up into the cockpit asking if I'd seen
the kitchen knife. We use this knife many times every day, and it never
goes missing. "I left it on the counter..." I said. He found it stuck in the
floor like a javelin. The force of one of the boat's rolls had flung it off the
counter with such power it had landed point down and stuck in the floor
about a quarter inch. Thwang!!!
We were grateful when the norther finally blew itself out. Rounding the
point we finally made radio contact with the rest of the cruising fleet and
were relieved to hear human voices and stories once again. We
discovered this had been supposed to be a "mild late-season norther," and it caught everyone a
bit off guard. Everybody was amazed that a blow like this could hit with such ferocity as late as
When we arrived in idyllic Agua
Verde, where the water was
smooth and the wind just a
pleasant breeze, it occurred to
us that the Sea of Cortez has a
Jeckyll and Hyde soul. One
minute the Sea is a raging
terror, and the next minute it
is a tranquil paradise.
We took the dinghy out at
daybreak one morning and
slipped across mirrored water.
The rock pinnacle "Roca Solitaria"
stands sentinel at the mouth of
Agua Verde bay, and it stood out
in sharp relief against the striped
rock cliffs on the shore behind it. I
was reminded of "Point Imperial"
at the Grand Canyon's North
Rim. But the glassy water at the
foot of the cliffs planted this place
firmly in the Sea.
Agua Verde is very popular, offering
three unique and delightful spots to drop
the hook. The boats were dwarfed by
the rocky mountains rising behind them.
We took a hike up and over the hills that
rise behind the northern beach. The
views looking back down at the bay were
Wandering into the village one morning,
we walked the dusty streets. The
nearest town, Loreto, is 60 miles away,
25 miles of which is a mountainous a dirt
road. This little fishing village is isolated
Goats wander freely, their little bells tinkling as they walk. Spring
had been good to the goats, and almost all the goats we saw were
mothers with their babies.
Days are hot and still, and everyone takes shelter in any kind of shade
they can find. We passed a school and watched the children walking
home in their tidy little uniforms carrying their school papers and
We were in need of a few
supplies and had heard that
Maria's Tienda (Maria's Store)
had a few supplies. The only
thing that distinguished Maria's
Tienda from the surrounding
homes was a little bit of writing
outside the door on the front wall.
She had some staples, but not what we were looking for, so she sent us
on to the other village store, telling us to look for a red building. "Mini-
Market Miguelito" was much better marked and a group of moms was
hanging around inside chatting with each other. These village stores are
not supermarkets or even convenience stores, by any stretch of the
imagination, but the few shelves had a surprising variety of items.
When I asked about vegetables I was led outside to some
large top-loading refrigerators under the trees outside. I
peered in one and was astonished to find peppers, celery,
cucumbers and apples. What impressed me even more is
that these refrigerators -- as well as almost every building in
town -- were powered by a solar panel or two outside. A
simple wire ran from the panels to the charge controller, car battery and inverter.
Agua Verde lives and dies by fishing, and the dads went out in
their pangas twice a day six days a week to fish. Early in the
morning the men would suit up in bright orange foul weather
gear and cast off, waving goodbye to their wives on shore. In
the early afternoon they would return and a whole commercial
exchange would take place. Fish were unloaded from the boats
and carefully counted and loaded into coolers in pickup trucks.
One by one the trucks would take off, including one small
refrigerator truck. Another truck carrying gasoline tanks would
arrive and run a hose to fill the gas tanks on the fishing boats.
Then the beach would clear out for a few hours and return to the
possession of the gulls and pelicans. As the sun was setting the
whole process would repeat, with the wives and kids waving off
the fishermen as they left for the night's catch. Long after dark
we would hear the pangas return.
I was reminded of my great-grandfather who was a lobsterman on Massachusetts' north shore in the
early 1900's. He rowed his dory from lobster pot to lobster pot faithfully every day, hauling them by
hand. His village was small and tight-knit too, made up mostly of Scandinavian immigrants and
situated at the end of a long journey from Boston. Agua Verde lives in the early 21st century,
however, and the Honda outboards were big and powerful and the pickup trucks were late models
from Dodge and Chevy. One fisherman was putting in his iPod earbuds as he zipped past our boat,
and they all had VHF radios and antennas. The trade is the same, but it is a different era.
This part of the Sea is traveled by kayakers
as well as fishermen and cruisers, and we
met several who were kayaking and camping
en route to La Paz from Loreto.
One day we hiked over the hill past an old
cemetery. The tombstones were from the
1930's to the 1960's, and some still bore
adornments lovingly placed there by living family members.
The hiking trail
follows a wash
out to the
the free-ranging cattle were
Laid out on the ground in
one spot we saw the
skeleton of what we thought
was a horse, complete with
skull, vertebrae and leg
bones. All the bones were
bleached white in the sun, and a jawbone laid off to one
side showing a full row of molars.
One afternoon a Mexican Navy boat entered the bay
and anchored. All the cruisers kept an eye on the boat,
waiting for the inevitable moment when we
would all get a visit. To our surprise the Navy
boarded several fishing pangas as the
fishermen headed out for the evening's catch.
This business of being boarded by the Mexican
Navy is an equal opportunity affair. A few
lagging pangas snuck out of the bay on the far
side to avoid being detained, but another went
straight to his buddy who had been waylaid and
waited for him to finish with the Navy so they
could go out to fish together.
The cruisers' turns came the next
morning, and as before it was an
easy process. This time it was
more like a US Coast Guard
boarding: along with the usual paperwork they wanted to see that our flares were up
to date, our fire extinguishers hadn't expired and that we had life preservers for
everyone on board. We have now been boarded three times in two months (the
second was so trivial I didn't mention it on these pages). Seasoned cruisers say it
was never this way in the past. It's just a sign of the times.
Agua Verde was a classic Sea of Cortez stop. Clear turquoise water, calm nights and
a dusty but vibrant fishing village, all set against the soaring jagged peaks of Baja
California's Sierra de la Giganta mountain range. By the time we left our sprits were
completely restored after the wild ride we'd been given during the late season
Norther, and we were ready for more Baja adventures in the Loreto area.
Find San Evaristo, Puerto Los Gatos and Agua Verde on Mexico Maps.