On our 16 day trip, we stopped at two different anchorages on Isla Partida (Ensenada Grande and Ensenada el Cardonal) and one on Isla Espiritu Sancto (Bahia San Gabriel). The first week we stayed at Ensenda Grande, a popular anchorage for both powerboats and sailboats at Isla Partida.
Ensenada Grande was a great location for staging ourselves for diving the second day of our trip. The dive boat from La Paz picked us up right from the Ursa Major and we spent the day diving with California sea lions at Isla Los Islotes. We followed a rock wall around the southern side of the island while the sea lions swam at or near the surface as we dove down to approximately 70 feet. The highlight of the dive was watching a juvenile sea lion play with a large lobster shell like it was a rubber ball.
The next day, our friends from the sailing vessel Om Shanti, pulled into Ensenada Grande. The authors of Sea of Cortez-A Cruising Guide, Heather and Shawn, were completing updates for the next edition of their book. They stayed in the anchorage a few days and taught us to play beach bocci ball, which in combination with rum, pineapple juice, and Zambian tea wine makes for an entirely entertaining afternoon.
We also began a series of projects while in anchorage at Ensenada Grande. Josh and I first constructed a work float from which sanding and painting could take place. By using an giant intertube, plywood, and fenders, the float supported both of us easily. We did find that in high winds, the work float only held for one person.
Josh's Laser 2 sailboat, which was acquired in San Diego on the way to La Paz, also proved to be a fantastic distraction from work in Ensenada Grande. Between the two of us, Josh easily has more time on sailboats. Learning to sail this little boat has proven to be a hilarious and worthwhile experience for the two of us. We hope to use it every time the wind blows, which in this neck of the woods is almost every afternoon....
Other highlights from our time in Ensenada Grande included clamming with Heather from the s/v Om Shanti and viewing the blue-footed boobie colony in La Cueva, a cove just south of Ensenada Grande. A resident sea turtle also made occasional appearances in the anchorage. That would explain the lack of jellyfish stings acquired while in Ensenada Grande.
Ensenada el Cardonal
After a week in Ensenada Grande, we moved to the next anchorage down the way, Ensenada el Cardonal. We continued our work on the Ursa Major but also spent time exploring our new surroundings. Ensenada el Cardonal contains the ruins of an old pearl aquaculture site. Rock and coral were the substrates of choice for the structures. These submerged ruins stretch across the bottom of the bay and terminate at what appears to be an old pier or ship careen. Clams were “planted” within these walled structures and allowed to grow and reproduce in the hope that one of them produced a priceless pearl.
Bahia San Gabriel
Following six days in Ensenada el Cardinal, we moved further south to our last anchorage of the trip, Bahia San Gabriel. We were only one of two boats in this large anchorage and rode out two days of coromuel winds with relative ease. A coromuel is a land breeze that occurs when the land and sea cool at different rates and typically blows from the southwest beginning in the early evening. Sometimes these winds will last all night, fall off the next day, and return the next evening. In our case, we were able to wrap up our Ursa Major projects during the day between the coromuels.