Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Fishing Village of San Evaristo

The southern Baja Peninsula is dominated by the truly magnificent (and giant) mountain range, Sierra de la Giganta. Running northwest to southeast, these striated peaks come right down to the water, forming a dramatic backdrop to the few anchorages in this area.

Crossing only 9 miles from the islands to the Baja mainland we were excited to visit the first village north of La Paz. By dirt road, San Evaristo is 75 miles from La Paz. About 20 families live there, and in recent years it has become a bit of a cruisers’ hangout, which seems to be benefiting the economy of the village. At the marina in La Paz it was advertised as a place to bring donations of clothes and school supplies. One of our friends gathered kids’ clothing from second hand stores in La Paz and delivered them.

A very well stocked store -- subsidized by the govt we heard.

There is a water desalinization facility at which the villagers and some of the cruisers fill their 5 gallon jugs. Fresh produce is delivered by truck once a week and the tienda also stocks up on extra groceries to sell to cruisers. In the past 2 years, a beachside cantina has opened.  Dinner can be ordered in the afternoon, to be ready that evening, and just this month a satelite payphone was connected which can (sometimes) allow calls to the States or Canada.

Note the scale for weighing our produce. El hombre is tallying our bill.

We spent a couple of windy and coolish days in the anchorage and had a great time. The bay is large and the wind was whipping up waves but we went in to the beach to walk the town and buy groceries. 

The catch is in...

Two cabrillo for the freezer ($8 total). Would we like that filleted?

The Pelican to Human ratio is much more desirable here is the northern climate.
They seem to get what they need without sticking up the bays.

 About 3 in the afternoon the panguaros were on the beach with their day’s catch, so we bought fresh Cabrillo (similar to cod) which they filleted at a bench on the beach. We met up with some VHF radio acquaintances anchored next to us, Canadians from the boat Euphoria, and took a walk, finding the elementary school, the abandoned salt ponds, and the local burros (who found us worth watching).
Walking to the salt ponds and looking out across the Sea of Cortez.

The school  and playground. After elementary school, the kids go to boarding school in La Paz.
Cruisers have contributed a lot to the school funds and are getting ready to help paint it.

Just a little nicho along the road on our walk.

Having gotten soaked with 4 of us in the dinghy on the way back to the boat, we put on our foul weather gear and headed in again for a family style dinner at the palapa, meeting Sipreana, who does the cooking, along with her mom, dad, brother and 4 adorable children. I took gifts to the kids, including 2 Emerald City Football Club jerseys that say DEAL on the back. They were thrilled!

The 3 hermanos that "help" out and play around Sipreana's restaurant.
They loved our gifts and are all learning some English from the cruisers.
They have an 11 year old sister who does help her mom in the kitchen.

The enclosed palapa where dinner can be ordered

Close up of the beautiful palapa roof on Sipreana's  restaurant

Our day often starts with the 7:30 Sonrisa Net, with a weather forecast that is not very accurate in specifics – there is no such thing -  but does give everyone something to talk about and provides a big picture if major weather changes are on the horizon. The talk was for more and stronger winds to continue, and since it was going south we decided to take off with following seas to start our trek back to La Paz. We crossed back to Isla Partida, catching a large skipjack on the way, and getting anchored just before a real windy nightfall.

For the next 36 hours we were holed up in Ensenada Grande – described as a decent north wind anchorage. We didn’t find it so. Our first spot was clearly in a wind tunnel where 35 to 40 kt gusts swept down the gully in the surrounding hills. We were putting out a lot of scope – 175 feet of chain in 25 feet of water. Our anchor continued to drag and reset multiple times, until we were too close for comfort to the rock walls behind us. We pulled anchor and found it embedded in a 4 foot by 4 foot mound of slippery seaweed – no wonder it wasn’t holding in the roaring wind and surf. Sorry, no picture, but try to imagine Melinda lying midway off the bow, banging at the big green ‘Cousin It’ on the end of the anchor chain, Lanham unable to see or hear any progress as he steers and throttles to keep the boat in one place while it wants to be swept in all directions, including toward those rocks over there… Doing this kind of stuff in the dark adds greatly to the dramatic effect. For our second gusty night we moved to a more protected spot. Lanham napped during the day, kept watch at night. With GPS we are able to note down to 6’ intervals how far we have swung from our previous spot. Swinging is OK, drifting not always OK. Twenty feet is OK, one hundred and twenty probably not. We count the GPS, the electronic anchor watch, and the electric windlass (motor to pull up anchor chain) as things we are very thankful for these days.
The National Geographic Tours boat that was holed up in windy seas next to us for a couple days.

The light never ceases to amaze!

The wind has subsided, no more predicted for a couple days, and we will be back in La Paz to meet Anna and Ellie on Saturday! Stay tuned for news of their visit…

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