Partida Island

~ 19 April - 23 April 2019 ~

For Easter weekend, Club Cruzero coordinated a "race" to Partida Island - the second closest island to La Paz, about 25 miles away. We hadn't done any cruising around La Paz since we had arrived, so we thought it would be a nice break between the first few weeks of work.

It was super calm in the morning when we pulled up anchor so we motored out the La Paz channel. We weren't sure if we were late to where we thought the start was, but the decision had already been made by the "race" committee to keep motoring until they found some wind to sail in. We motored for a few hours before there was sufficient wind to sail. It was light and abeam of the boat but we were itching to sail so we spent a little time getting our new-to-us cruising chute setup.

We hoisted the kite and were able to fly it about half the way there! The wind was less than ten knots and trying to creep forward of the beam but with a little fiddling and some clever helming we were able to keep if filled and sail for the next few hours. The sun was warm and it was so nice to finally be out sailing again. It was a great way to start off the weekend.

We arrived at the islands and after carefully entering the big bay between the 2 islands we found most of the club boats already setup.

The anchorage is formed between Isla Partida and Isla Espirito Santo with a shallow channel between the them. At high tide, you can take your dinghy through the channel, but at low tide, you would have to walk across.

All three sides of the bay are surrounded by high desert hills, covered only in rocks gravel and cacti. The islands are actually national parks, and the local college does research in the bay we were in, so we found out that there are about 30-40 turtles living in the bay. We would regularly see them popping their head out for the water to see what was going on. Seeing the turtles right next to the boat was probably my favorite part. In the morning, I would be sitting in the cockpit and I could hear what sounded like a person taking a big breath - then I would look over and it would be a turtle! They seemed very shy though, if there was a noise or if they could see anything move, they would dive down and you wouldn't see them again. But sometimes they would stay at the surface for a bit and take a few breaths. They were all probably 2-3 feet long. I never got a good picture of one though.

We had a lot of fun hanging out with the club members, first night we did appetizers on the hosts boat. I'm starting to learn that the cruisers here eat more like Ohioans than Californians. The edamame I brought was not a hit. We met a super cool English couple that night, Alison and Derek - they weren't part of the club, they were just hanging out waiting for the wind to turn then they would be taking off for Fiji! They were so relaxed about it! But it wasn't their first crossing, they had already spent several years in the Pacific.

It was a wonderful end to the day and a great start to our easter weekend.

The next day we were off on an adventure through to the east side of the islands. Our friends Mark and Cindy on Delta Swizzler who are from Alameda, but are down here full time cruising their big power boat lent us their old 8 hp outboard for our dinghy. It was a test for us and them. They were looking at selling the engine but had not run it in a while and we wanted to see how a larger outboard would push our dinghy.

It started up first pull and with just Paul in the dingy it flew. So we met up with the other 3 dinghies and ventured through the gap between the islands to explore the east side. Despite the larger outboard our dinghy was still the saddest in the fleet. The rubber strip around the outside has fallen off - so she looks pretty rough with that missing and she doesn't hold air all the time, on the sides or the bottom. It is one of the jobs on the list. So she can go pretty soft, not fully deflated, but this sometimes happens over a week, but sometimes overnight.

The 8hp engine on her pushed her along nicely, we could get it planing if the bulge in the deflated floor was in the right place. It was at least nice to feel the difference in what more power would be like. I think we'll upgrade soon enough.

On the east side of the islands Mark knew of a couple cool caves. He flew down there, we were definitely the slowest but not too far behind. When we got there he and another dingy had disappeared inside the cave. We waited until they left but there would have been room for all four dinghies in there. The geography of the east coast of the island is very different than the west coast. The Northerly winds pound the coast into jagged cliffs and sea caves.

We took our time heading back, we went for a swim and then cruised back through the channel to the rest of the boats.

That night was a the pot luck easter dinner, which we were looking forward to. They had planned to have it on the beach but the wind had started to pickup, so it was moved onto Delta Swlizler.

We made a dessert, a version of a chocolate ripple cake, using Principe chocolate hazelnut cookies and Kahlua. Whilst the food was not of the quality of the Sequoia Cruise-outs we had a great time, and were one of the last people to depart.

The next day we relaxed and enjoyed the water, most of the boats were headed back that afternoon to La Paz. But we wanted to catchup with Derek and Alison again and were in no hurry to leave.

The Queen's subject had been reminiscing about tea times, so the English couple had us over for afternoon tea. They have a beautiful boat! She was like a Royal Venture 2.0!

She's also a Ta shing built, so there were many similarities. But she was a center cockpit, 7 feet longer, the teak on the inside hadn't faded yet, she was just beautiful!

They had already spent about 15 years cruising the Caribbean, South America and mostly the Pacific. Then they sold their boat, bought a new one in Greece, and were working their way back to the South Pacific.

We spent the best part of the afternoon chatting away about their adventures and cruising life.

We were planning to leave the next morning to go back to La Paz, but we just didn't want to head back so we took the dinghy out of the bay and spent the morning snorkeling around the reef at the entrance to the bay.

It was our first time snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez. We anchored off the little reef and there was a little current.

Our free-diving skills weren't up to par, but we did our best to swim with the fishes. We headed back in as the breeze started to pick up. There was a lot more room in the bay with most of the Club boats already back in La Paz.

It was later than we expected, and since Alison and Derek hadn't left yet, we invited them over for dinner so they weren't eating their crossing supplies. We had an Easter dinner on Royal Venture! We really enjoyed meeting them and hoped so much that our lives cross paths again!

Overnight the wind picked up - the English couple called it a Corumel. It was so strong, the chop really kicked up and I was up for several hours during the night. At 4am, when it was low tide, I heard yelling and looked out to see a boat we had watched anchor near the shallow water. They had laid their anchor out parallel to the shallow water, and so when the wind picked up they swang right over it.

The wind dropped out early in the morning and we dinghied across to Alison and Derek to drop off our fresh vegetables, pick up their garbage, say our good byes.

It was around 10 am when we started the motor back to La Paz. We cut in between Isla Espirito Sango and a small island where we found some wind so. We sailed for just an hour before the wind started to get too light to continue.

We ended up motoring back, but we had made some new friends, explored a little of the Sea of Cortez and had a great Easter break.