Southbound on the Baja

After a long morning swim, we were happily relaxing in our cockpit when we both heard the distinctive sounds of bounding baitfish that could only mean one thing, a Dorado.  Instinctually we jumped into action. Brian grabbed the rod which was thankfully close and ready to launch. The 10lb male Dorado swam only feet away from Echo’s beam. Brian casted in front of his path. As soon as the gear landed, feeling the vibrations, the Dorado turned 90 degrees, jumped instantly, hoping to spot the direction of escaping needlefish.  As we witnessed this all from five feet above, Brian reeled faster and within a moment the Dorado was hooked! It was an incredible fight, including the aerial show one would imagine. We were completely honored to land this fish. Adrenaline pumping (especially from Lauren), and still in disbelief, we took care, as always, to clean him and get the meat in the freezer as soon as possible. Feeling as though we had enough fish, we graciously put the lines away and enjoyed the experience of watching them cruise the anchorage, creating a pop-corning fish frenzy that’s hard to ignore. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed witnessing these feedings in such crystal clear water several times a day. From the vantage point of our boat we are able to watch it all and the wild nature of the Baja continues to amaze us.

Slowly moving south, we found ourselves staying at another beautiful anchorage for a while. Being a popular one, we squeezed into a little nook, thankful for our range finder, helping us with determining distances (since everything looks SO much closer when on the water). We were thankful to catch up with some buddy boats, feeling happy to be plugged into such a connected and happy community. We were thrilled to participate in another raft-up, but this time we had met some really interesting ladies camping on the beach from Denmark and Germany, traveling in a Unimog that one of the ladies, Brita, built in Germany and shipped over to Canada. We invited them to a bocci game with all the sailors and then to the raft up and were thankful to share the unique experience with them.

The anchorage has three big lobes and the ladies were staying in a different lobe than us. As we drove them back at night, the swells were bigger near their beach and we knew we wouldn’t be able to make the beach landing, especially in the dark. Unfortunately for the girls, (but thankfully dressed accordingly) they had to bail overboard in the dark waters, but with good attitudes and positive spirits, they did it, laughing and joking back to the beach. 

Right time, right place, once again hanging out in the cockpit, a spontaneous guitar session started with a local 16 year old boy that a fellow cruiser has been helping after recovering from brain surgery. This little boy, Miguel, was adorable and he loved being on Echo. Brian and a fellow cruiser enjoyed teaching him some basics on the guitar. We gave him snacks to-go and even a pair of sunglasses. With enthusiasm he asked if Brian could play with him again the next day, and Brian happily agreed. The next day the whole family showed up at the beach with hopes of hanging out on Echo for the afternoon. Brian did a great job of handling the situation, taking them all for a dinghy ride, grabbing his guitar and playing with Miguel at the beach. Afterward, it was interesting to find out more about this village from a local cruiser’s perspective that had spent many years there. Listening to them talk about all the projects around the village that they’ve helped with over the years was inspirational. 

We shared the anchorage with another boat very similar to Echo that completed the most amazing circumnavigation with 4 young kids aboard. We were lucky enough to join them one evening for cocktails, get the boat tour, and pick their brains for a few short hours.  It was amazing to hear about their journey of a lifetime and how they wouldn’t change a thing. We loved the routes they took, generating new ideas for us, which is a blast to talk and dream about. As we cruise further south, it’s nice to be around more boats that have embarked on such adventures. 

With the freezer still full, Brian happily went out fishing with his fly rod. After tying a few new homemade flies, he was looking forward to the zen of casting. As he approached one of his favorite fishy hot spots, he was beyond excited to see surface-feeding dorado. After two casts and two nice dorado landed and released, he called Lauren on the VHF radio asking if she wanted to come share this amazing moment. Just as described, it only took one cast and Brian had landed another Dorado. There wasn’t just Dorado though, as the waves peaked we could see dorado and rooster fish aggressively chasing Brian’s “Dorado Candy”. When the fishing session was done, he had caught several dorado, roosters, a sierra mackerel, and a jack crevalle. To make this day even more grand, an enormous butterfly hatch was going off and the entire horizon was full of yellow butterflies. 

After continuing further south, we started to hear reports of a late tropical storm, Raymond, predicted to head up the sea. Because of where we were anchored, we decided to head 45NM north for the best protection. Thankfully the storm was uneventful for us but, never the less, we felt comforted by the radio community, whom even set up a 6PM Raymond report so the fleet had the most current weather reports (Thanks Jake on Jake!). As Raymond passed overhead, we didn’t experience much wind but we got a lot of welcomed rain that cleaned our boat of the built up salt. That evening, we started noticing lightening and it didn’t take long until the storm seemed to be sitting right on top of us. As lightening lit up the sky, it also produced enough energy to temporarily charge our solar lights around the boat. We hunkered down below decks, watching the solar lights echo the lightening strikes and counting seconds between the lightening and thunder, and we were thankful to hear it roll on by. This was our first experience being in our sailboat in a lightening storm. Anchored with just one other sailboat, we were thankful the anchorage was a bowl shape with high rock faces all around us. The storm was over by 8PM, we were becalmed once again and happily settled into an early night’s rest. Around midnight we woke up to Echo bucking wildly up and down. We went outside to see big westerly swells moving straight into the anchorage. We debated firing up the engine and moving anchorages, the closest option being 10NM away, but doing this in the middle of the night didn’t seem like the best idea. We decided on another sleepless night on Echo, but we made the most of it, preparing the boat for an early morning departure. The seas finally started to lay down around 4AM and we got a little sleep, waking up at 6AM to once again move south. 

After Raymond, we made way for La Paz, and arrived at the picturesque Isla San Francisco, only to hear news of yet another late-season storm looming at the far end of the forecast. We called the various marinas around La Paz, all booked from either the recent rally arrivals from California or other sailors seeking refuge. The universe gave us green lights once again as it seems we got one of the very last slips available. Although the storm was forecast to go straight over us, we felt extremely lucky to be in the safest place possible. For us, being in the marina meant the storm only ended up pouring down heavy rain, flash flooding the area and turning the streets of La Paz into rivers for a day. We spent just over a week in La Paz with various projects to work on, errands to run, endless hot showers, clean laundry, and a big provision on fresh veggies. While in the marina we were able to replace our rudder’s packing gland, as it had developed a steady leak, replace a clogged fuel filter after some rolly seas stirred up the tank, and take care of a bunch of smaller items on the list that had been accumulating since we’d left San Carlos. 

Once we leave La Paz, we will move down the Baja and wait for a weather window to cross the sea back to the mainland. Our sights are set on Chacala, a roughly 300NM passage, our longest yet!

3 thoughts on “Southbound on the Baja

  1. I’m so jealous that you’re there and I’m here. Everything you’re writing about is something I’ve gone thru myself and it warms my memory bank to read your blog. I was fibbing when I wrote “everything” – I never had the fishing skill you guys have. (As you no doubt recall). My life here is coming into focus a little – I’ve jumped thru all the hoops for the USCG Captain license, now just have to wait for the bureaucracy to lay its blessings on all the paperwork. The goal is for me to get a boat capable of powering between San Carlos and La Paz, move onto it, sell the single wide in Tucson, and start a new chapter in my weird life. See you in April if not before.

    On Mon, Dec 2, 2019 at 2:03 PM Adventures of SV Echo wrote:

    > svecho77 posted: ” After a long morning swim, we were happily relaxing in > our cockpit when we both heard the distinctive sounds of bounding baitfish > that could only mean one thing, a Dorado. Instinctually we jumped into > action. Brian grabbed the rod which” >


  2. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and details of your life on the sea. It looks wonderful! How did the Dorado taste? What an amazing looking fish! I love the photos of Crater Lake, too. When were you there? I hope you made the passage to your anchorage with no difficulties. Will you be spending the winter in Mexico?

    Wishing you two a lovely holiday season!


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