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SAILING the SEA of CORTEZ - Chapter 2.1: Bahia de La Paz
Final preparations for a life at sea...
It took me ten days to complete all of the maintenance, repairs, and final provisioning of the boat. Setting sail was the only step left toward the rest of my life . . . Excerpt from the journal and ship’s log of the sailing vessel LOCATION . . . A single-hander’s memoir of voyages, challenges, and adventures sailing the coast of Baja, the Gulf of California’s Sea of Cortez, and the Mexican Riviera…
Ship's Log - s/v LOCATION
March 28, 2009 (Saturday)
Thursday night the wind picked up from the southwest and drove the temperature down to the low sixties by sunset. I didn’t feel like cooking after a long day of engine maintenance and banking so I walked up Calle Topote, past the navy barracks, to the bayside restaurant El Patron, for dinner. The sun had already dropped below the Mogote peninsula, but there was still a bright violet glow bouncing off the horizon into a few thin, white clouds.
I ordered a Negra Modelo beer. The waiter recommended the shrimp, and after talking for a while I decided on a Caesar salad and shrimp tacos. The waiter, whose name I forget, spoke very good English, and I wondered why so many people here speak better English than the Mexicans in the United States. He was a good looking kid, clean cut, and he explained that he couldn’t get a good job in a restaurant unless he spoke English well. Mexico, and La Paz in particular, are trying to attract more Americans and U.S. money to the area, so it’s important to speak English. Most visitors from other countries also speak English as a second language if they don’t speak Spanish.
There’s a new resort development going up across the bay on the El Mogote peninsula now; high-rise condos, a golf course, and rumors of a new marina. The economy here is still somewhat schizophrenic, feeling the effects of the economic debacle in the States, but with a lot of cash floating around looking for a home, or maybe looking for a way to be washed through the system, legitimatized, legalized, bankable. The drug trade continues to flourish world-wide, of course, and that money needs to go somewhere. At some point though, all of this development has to crash . . . the rest of the world isn’t buying real estate anymore.
After dinner I walked along the Malecón. A cool, crisp breeze blew across the bay and it felt more like fall than spring. The lights along the seaside walk trailed off to the north following the coast line up the hillside below the Pedregal development, above the new waterpark, and then disappeared around the point toward La Concha Hotel and Marina Costa Baja. The walkway lights reached out reflecting on the ebony water of the bay. The red and white lights of the power plant smokestack, north of Costa Baja, jutted into the night sky above the coastal hills, and the clear, dark night allowed even the harbor lights from Pichilingue, further to the north, to glow across the dark water of Bahia de La Paz. A thin, crescent moon floated on the western horizon. I felt that boded well for my coming voyage.
Friday morning I took a taxi to the CCC Super Mercado, and spent fourteen-hundred pesos ($100 – NOT bad!) on the remaining provisions I needed. I was back at the marina by eleven o’clock. After packing away the new supplies and food, I checked-out at the office and motored LOCATION north, back across the bay to Costa Baja. It was a bright and breezy spring day, and the gray desert mountains were visible faraway in every direction.
Coming into the marina I stopped again at the fuel dock to top-off the port-side fuel tank. This time I did the fueling myself and the tank took exactly the forty liters indicated by the fuel gauge onboard . . . another lesson learned, and confirmed.
Pulling into my berth, I decided to back the boat in, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea with the wind blowing as it was. I didn’t get the bow high enough before I started backing, and the wind swung LOCATION over into the other side of the double-slip. The neighboring boat was not there so no harm was done, but it was still an UGLY bit of seamanship, and I was a bit chagrined as other boaters and some of the dock crew rushed over and helped muscle my boat into our half of the slip.
Later Friday afternoon, I signed onto Skype to check my email, and was interrupted, surprisingly and nicely, by Amanda and Steve Morris, friends from Newport Beach. We had a great conversation and it was fun to actually see Amanda’s smiling face on my computer screen as we yammered back and forth. Unfortunately, I did not have my webcam hooked up so they couldn’t see me. I also had an email from another friend, Joe Cecchini; he and his wife Rosalie are in Costa Baja now. They just arrived from Guadalajara where they were ordering furniture for their new condo in La Paz, which is under construction now by our friend Robert Heffner. I called Joe’s cell phone via Skype, and we scheduled cocktails and dinner for later.
Joe Carbonne also surfaced on Friday, dressed in his typical faded Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and flip-flops. He and Robert had been fishing for the past couple of days, which he had neglected to tell me before. They came by the boat, three-sheets-to-the-wind, with a cooler full of dead fish, and offered me a beer. I got off the phone with the other Joe, and we talked about their trip and drank a couple beers. Joe Carbonne paid me for the outboard motor then, so all was forgiven.
Around seven o’clock I went up to the condo where the Cecchinis were staying. It was nice to see some old friends from the States, and it felt a little like the bon voyage party before the Baja Ha-Ha, three years ago — good friends all wishing each other well before setting off in different directions. Phil and Stephi, from the Twin Palms Terrazzo, came by also with a good bottle of Mexican wine. And then Robert Heffner dropped by, all shaved and showered, but still a couple-sheets-to-the-wind. We had a couple of cocktails there, and then took the Costa Baja shuttle to dinner in La Paz at Molinari’s. The restaurant seriously screwed up our service, but the food and company were good. And of course, it’s hard to screw-up shots of tequila, which Robert continued buying, and we all had too many of by the end of the night . . . I’m still not exactly sure how we got home, but I woke up on LOCATION.
This morning I finished the repairs on the dinghy — I think they will hold. I had lunch with Jim and Judy, from Great Escape — they are planning to head north tomorrow. Zeke, the boat guy, brought the teak floorboards and hatch boards back in the afternoon. He did an excellent job oiling and varnishing them, and they look great. I took a two hour nap after Zeke left, and my hangover from last night’s over-indulgence is almost cured.
I’ve decided to postpone my departure until Monday. . . I need a day off! I’ll wash the boat one more time tomorrow, and then I’m GONE!