Bahia Frailes or Bay of Friars. November 7-9, 2017
This is a popular anchorage for those heading towards La Paz from Cabo. SV Lorien (Chris and Julie) and SV Bella Nave have been partnering along this path since Cabo San Lucas. They are an easy travel couple and we have shared tons of laughter. They are in a Garcia 48, a pretty amazing aluminum hull vessel that gives us storage envy. They are a bit quicker than us so often we are catching up when it comes to an anchorage. We are fortunate that we have the bay almost to ourselves with exception of another sailboat. We see a few pangas as there is a marine park called Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park north of us. At the tip of the cape is a dive site however the water is currently poor with visibility and pretty windy at the point. A call to the three dive operations confirm that they are not doing dives there for those reasons. In the national parks like this, you are required to go with a company so we aren’t just putting in like we are able. That’s disappointing as we haven’t put tanks in since Catalina Island. But that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the fruits of our travel!
It’s a Beach day! Snorkeling! There is a dive spot noted on the maps however the visibility today appears to be worse than previous day. We snorkeled along the perimeter and found if you were too close to the edge, the surf would really push through you! Before you know it, you would be on the rocks and the waves keep bashing you into the rocks. Below the water, it was surge and green visibility. There were a few eels, Moorish idols and the expected fish. Some coral is re-growing but it is mostly rocks and sand.
Chris from S/V Lorien talks about Julie as always accompanying him on his risky adventures but he always offers her an opportunity to opt out. I wanted to see a perfectly formed saguaro cactus off the pinnacle of the Frailes (Friars) and would have to hike to get there. Using Chris’s MO (Method of Operendi) “Hey Julie, you don’t have to go but I would like to hike up Cerros los Frailes.” It worked and off we went. That was easy! We followed what we “thought’ was the trail. There are a few cairns but it appeared that we had lost site about half way up and were destined to turn this hike into a rock hopping and crawling expedition. Hmmm….. we split our options and found neither of us had a good trail but neither of us were ready to call the end to this hike. So up we went, further and further. Lo and behold, we found a beautiful lookout view….but not the cactus. It was a photographic dream and not only did I capture her in a few photos but the beautiful bay and our sailboats. A few of the cacti had blooms even as we were in November. As we returned, John reminded us that we neglected to tell him where we were going. Chris smiled and knew that we would be okay. And the cactus? We obviously didn’t mark our sites well as we hiked far above where the perfect cactus grew!
The palapas seem, well a bit lonely. A few appear to be upside down, and well they just seem somewhat unattended. A larger shaded palapa rests behind and cordoned off area of several nests. A park ranger is there and offers quite good information and answering lots of questions. The fish camp on Bahia Frailes evidently has had a history of not fishing out where they should be, and not removing their trash as they should have been. As part of their fine, they have to perform community service by cleaning up all the debris (they have backhoes made available to them but we are unsure by who) and will burn off the dried limbs etc. This area has been hit by two tropical depressions that have brought down the debris from “the hills”.
Bahia de los Muertos 10 November 2017
“Deb, set the alarm for 4am.”. So knowing John, I set the alarm for 0345. He was up at 0330 anyway. For whatever odd reason, I too, was awake. At 0300! It was really warm inside, and at some point he mustered his way to bed. I, however, remained fast asleep from my after dinner nap the previous night on the settee. 0400 didn’t hurt as bad as I anticipated. So here I am again, making coffee and watching the sun rise at 0500. We are fast underway as we had planned to not take a beating from the short but steep waves that have picked up several hundred miles of fetch as we did getting to Bahia Frailes. Today we are heading to Bahia de los Muertos, or Bay of the Dead. The developers are trying to encourage a new resort here and have changed the name for obvious purposes to “Bahia de los Suenos” or Bay of Dreams. Frankly, I find the Bay of the Dead far more interesting. We arrived to find 86 degree water (this is seriously the warmest water we have been in) and we watch the blues change from deep navy to aquamarine and then turquoise. There are some rocks below and we come to rest in 16 feet under the keel to set the anchor. SV Lorien is already here even though we left at the same time. Two other sailboats are here as well. We don’t recognize them from other ports, however S/V Lorien believed they were at Tortuga Bay.
Anchors set, we have a bit of lunch while Chris and Julie swing by on their dingy. The plan will be 1400 beach day and dinner at the restaurant tonight. They are off to see what the restaurant is like and we are off to take a nap. At 1400 Chris and Julie arrive promptly and after a few minutes we decide to take a snorkel off the beach by the northern point. Chris is able to anchor the dingy in sand and we have much better visibility today. Another Moorish Idol YAY!! I do like the mystique of the Moorish Idol. John and his eagle eyes however, finds the gold nugget. Seriously, a bright yellow puffer which is the guineafowl puffer in a juvenile stage. Almost like a gold nugget! Yes, we do like to find unusual fish on our snorkels/dives and this one is a gem. Of course we have no photography equipment on us. We find a few green Moray Eels. The Giant Damsel Fish here are truly giant. Being that they can be territorial, and having been nipped at by a tiny one who drew blood, I would think twice about this one. However, these seem more skittish than the little guys. The coral is starting to regrow.
We head off to the beach. This sand is brown but soft and flour like. The dunes sweep steeply up from the beech and we see a few turtle nests that are surrounded by caution tape and have wire mesh over the top. One large hole sits way up the steep ridge. John looks in it and finds that is was a nest. The dried carcasses of tiny sea turtles that never made it are mummified. Cracked shell fragments are bleaching in the sun. This would have been quite the trip for the little sea turtles but more amazingly, the mama turtle who hoisted her 100+ pound body with flippers almost straight up the hill to lay her nest. She certainly was the most ambitious turtle. Knowing that they have the most sophisticated GPS system of all, I wonder if her original plan was there and as there have been a couple tropical depressions that may have moved the sand around, made her positioning increasingly more difficult. After a nice walk, and a few shells I found they were ready to go and back to the boats we went. Shower and clean up for dinner.
The restaurant is quite charming. Large, open air. Very Mexicanesque. The food and company was great and up until halfway through the meal, we were the only patrons in there. A second set of three men came in, they seemed to have some familiarity with restaurant. Perhaps someday, this will be “Bahia de los Suenos”. For what it’s worth, we have crossed the Tropic of Cancer and tomorrow it will be on to Balandra and La Paz! SV Lorien is off to Cerralvo and will join us at Balandra. We have so enjoyed traveling with them.