Escondido – V Cove
Well, Honeymoon cove on Isla Danzante sounded great in theory, but we were immediately swarmed by bees and I received my very first jellyfish stings when I jumped in the water to snorkel – baptized by sting. Kessel was the first to pull the hook and leave, but once dried off we were very close behind them… but not close enough to sail over the reef that Olivia just barely missed while at the helm. “Don’t do what I just did” she said over the radio. I gave her a bug thumbs up over our dodger and could hear her laugh echo off the cliffside. V Cove
With full canvas up we sailed on a reach to Puerto Escondido for the night where we grabbed a mooring beside our friend Reid’s boat, I’Mua, that we hadn’t seen since our time in Morro Bay. Next to I’Mua was Reid’s brother Garrett’s boat, Rediviva, the gorgeous wooden vessel that Garrett and his wife Ruth built by hand in Napa, California. To see her in person was awe-inspiring, especially against the Baja landscape. The golden glow of the evening sun painted the surrounding mountains red, amplifying the warm desert tones across the still anchorage.
Once settled, we were picked up by the Kessel crew in their dinghy, Jabba, and made our way to shore for a little luxury.
Pit Stop in “Paradise”
Puerto Escondido, often referred to as “The Hidden Port,” is a natural harbor situated on the eastern coast of the Baja California peninsula. It provides a safe haven for cruisers and boaters seeking refuge from the sometimes unpredictable Sea of Cortez waters.The surrounding cliffs and landscape provide excellent protection from prevailing winds and rough seas – but we were truly here for the amenities.
While Puerto Escondido is still technically more of a “rustic” destination compared to some larger marinas, it does offer a range of basic amenities that cruisers appreciate. In addition to the mooring field, there is a small marina with laundry and shower facilities as well as a store with basic (but pricey) provisions if you choose to restock supplies before venturing further into the Sea of Cortez. Puerto Escondido also has a restaurant and bar that attracts cruisers like bees to new sailors in an anchorage – a confident comparison.
A saxophonist played his heart out while we enjoyed a lovely dinner and drinks with our dear friends. The sun finally retired as the stars took its place, turning an otherwise dark sky into one full of diamonds. “Hot tub?” Olivia asked as we pushed our chairs in. With nothing left on our plates but crumbs we thanked the waitstaff then walked over to the pool and hot tub for a night time dip. It was still warm outside, but there was a certain chilled bite to the air that made me settle into the hot tub a little deeper. I could see how many cruisers in the Sea consider this the epitome of paradise, but for our salty souls we were seeking a little more seclusion.
V – Cove
After an incredibly still night of blissful sleep, we woke up and made our way to the fuel dock. “See you there” Peter said on the VHF, always determined to beat us to wherever we are going even if no one formally declared a race. While Chris refueled, I stopped by my clients and friends at West Coast Multihulls for a very long overdue in-person introduction. Guinevere, their marketing manager, was just as bubbly in person as she was online. It was almost surreal to finally be sitting in her office after all our years chatting virtually. After catching up, we promised to return sooner, for longer, then made a quick stop in the market for some fresh veggies before pushing off towards our next destination: V – Cove on Isla Carmen.
In the Spring/Summer, the dominant SE winds funnel through the Salinas flats and rocket through these northern Isla Carmen anchorages. It’s offshore, with no fetch, but the breeze can be, shall we say, impressive. But V-Cove is visually stunning, somewhat technical anchoring (it’s a narrow wedge of space) with high walls and pretty good snorkeling. Throw in some truly impressive sea caves and a very welcoming beach, and you can see why a number of cruisers keep this place very near the top of their list of favorites. There is room for a half dozen boats here in settled conditions, with some coordination. Otherwise 3-4 is probably max. You will find soft sand right up the middle of the wedge of space, with some rocky slab bottom in the eastern 1/3 of the wedge. It’s 40 feet or so at the mouth of the cove, and you can anchor in about 15 feet at the narrows as you approach the beach. Expect your stern to become friendly with the rock wall on the west side, so it’s best to favor the east when dropping the hook.
Despite leaving nearly an hour before us, we arrived in the anchorage right as Kessel was setting her hook. We were the only two boats there and were able to anchor side by side with our stern hooks dropped close to shore (Anchor coordinates: 26°3.407’N • 111°5.165’W) The water was the clearest I had ever seen! While I settled in to get some work done, the Kessel crew and Chris loaded up to go on a snorkeling adventure. Fishermen in pangas circled Avocet, visibly frustrated with the placement of both our stern hook and Kessel’s. “Hola” I said, waving to the crew. They dipped their hats and continued to cast their nets, filling them with silver bait fish. Eventually they motored off, and our boys returned around sundown, just as I had finished prepping a bag for dinner on the beach.
Over a fire, we fried fish that was freshly speared the day prior by Peter in a beer batter mixed by Olivia. While admiring the first batch of crispy fish, Peter accidentally dropped one in the hot oil, splashing his hand in the process. He spent a few moments pacing around our sandy galley, refusing our offer for burn gel until I urged Chris to go back to the boat and grab one of our 6 bottles of burn gel. “Wait… this actually helped” Peter said as the gel took effect. He reached out to me with the bottle in his good-hand. “Keep it” I said, watching him slip the small bottle back into his pocket.
Despite the minor injury, it was a picture perfect night and finally setting in that we had made it to the place we had always dreamed of. Somewhere warm, with calm clear waters, sitting by a beach fire with our sweet friends. Our boats floating gently in our view… it was all postcard perfect.
Hyper Husbands and Working Wives
Unlike the night prior, our new anchorage had returned a bit of motion beneath our keel inspiring Chris to build and deploy the flop stopper for the following night. Although a bit tired from our involuntary tossing and turning, a little bit of coffee and sunshine was just the cure to help us jump start our day.
“Can Chris come play?” Peter asked from across the water. I looked at Chris who looked back at me with big doe eyes and said he can do whatever he wants, but if his to-do list suffers that’s on him. We only had two weeks before our haul out, and the more little projects we could do on the water meant the less time we would have to spend aboard on the hard under the hot summer sun. Our list wasn’t too bad thanks to our general upkeep (and knocking out all of the big projects before we went cruising) but there were still some time consuming aspects like retouching the exterior varnish, sewing sun shades, and of course deep cleaning everything.
Soon the boys were wakeboarding, doing circles around Avocet and Kessel while both Olivia and I worked from our respective cockpits. “Are you having fun yet?” I called across to her. Ginger’s ears perked up as she laid in the sun on deck. Cleo’s unbroken stare across the water intensified. “I mean, I just wish they would have a little less fun, you know?” she asked as Peter banked a turn sending Chris wide. Balancing work and play was new territory for me and my business, and on gorgeous days in places like V-cove I felt the temptation sweep over me. I completed my necessary to-do’s then shut my laptop, slathered myself in sunscreen and hopped on our paddle board to explore the sea cave nearest to us.
When the boys tuckered themselves out (sort of) they joined me on a paddle around the anchorage and surrounding area. There were plenty of cliffs to climb and jump off of; Chris scaling the side of the rock like a lizard and plummeting into the crystal clear sea below. The fish scattered at his impact and their scales glistened in the light as they quickly swam in every direction. Peter showed off his rock climbing skills and made his way a good 50 feet up another cliffside, reevaluating his choices from high up. “I haven’t done this in a while” he called down to us. He could have fooled us though, he made it look easy. A little further around the bend we paddled into a sea cave, admiring the maroon and green walls that opened like a mouth inviting us inside.
Back at the boats, we had just put the paddle boards away when I’Mua was spotted coming around the bend. Both Chris and Peter hopped aboard Jabba to be the official welcoming committee and bring Reid into the anchorage.
“How did you sleep?” was the question I led with, already afraid of the answer. It was another rolly night and I was concerned for Reid’s new crew, Kinsey, who was not akin to boat life. Luckily, she was a trooper and said she got sick but got over it. Atta girl. Ellie, Reids sweet pup, wagged her tail as she curled up by the helm. She and Cleo have a mutual understanding when it comes to respecting space, which is why Ellie is the only dog allowed below deck, but while the three boys did wakeboarding laps around the boat us girls hung out in the cockpit.
Kinsey came to be I’Mua’s crew through social media, and connected with Reid who was looking for another hand while sailing the Sea. She flew into Loreto, and was thrown right into boat life with us salty folks but handled it well as a seasoned land traveler.
Eventually the boys tired themselves out then let us girls take a few laps around the anchorage. I hadn’t wake boarded in years, let alone ever done it on the ocean. I was sincerely hoping it would be like riding a bike, but as I looked down at the adult-man-sized wakeboard (which was actually a kiteboard) I felt the nerves rise. My hands gripped the makeshift wakeboard rope and soon Jabba was on a plane and I was skating across the water, over coral and bat rays. Just like riding a bike, but even better.
As the sun began to set we all took to the shore to build a new fire and watch the day fade into night. The dramatic desert landscape would cease to amaze me and I took great detail in observing Mother Nature’s unmolested work. The fire cackled and as my eyes followed the smoke up they settled on the night sky that once again filled itself with glistening diamonds. Two shooting stars fell across the sky. I should have wished for a better night of sleep.
“What time is it?” I aggressively asked Chris through a very tired voice. “Too early” he said as he pulled his shirt on. It was barely 5:30 and the swell had picked up, reverberated between the walls we anchored between, making our little slice of paradise absolutely unbearable. “Let’s get out of here” Chris said, but I was already ahead of him. Through sleepy eyes I looked out of our stateroom portlight only to find that Kessel was gone. We later learned that they punted out of there as soon as it got rolly, whereas we stuck through most of it after being so well seasoned to the ever-rolly La Cruz anchorage.
Before we could leave, Chris had to assist Reid with the retrieval of his stern hook. With no windlass, Reid brought up his primary hook up by hand, like the manly man he is while Chris pulled I’Mua’s stern hook from Winglet, returning it to the cockpit where Kinsey took note of the process. Soon, Chris was back aboard the mothership and we were chasing down Kessel on our way to Isla Coronado which would hold some of my most cherished memories from the Sea during our spring 2023 season. Oh, and did I mention it was our fifth wedding anniversary? Time flies when you’re having fun… and getting evicted from an anchorage by mother nature.
More coming soon,
Marissa (and Chris and Cleo)