Mazatlan to Loreto

Spring 2013

Hiking Isla Danzante while Romany Star honeymoons


Bonnie met Paul in Mazatlan to spend some time provisioning and learning more about the boat before running off to the wild Baja coast. This was three days of boat lessons, trying to remember Spanish, and of course some very yummy food.

This is THE mercado, started in 1899. It takes up a whole city block downstairs, with extensive vegetable and meat markets along with the trinkets. Uptairs are the restaurants, including Bernal (on the left), Paul's favorite cheap lunch.

Bernal doesn't worry about the decor, but the kitchen is clean and the food is yummy.

We recommend the chile rellenos and chicken mole ($2!), and sitting outside watching the world go by.

Later we dressed up to eat at Topolo, another favorite from past visits.

It's a bit classier in music and decor . . .

. . . and the food is so amazing we're still dreaming about it. Mmm . . . cilantro butter . . .

Crossing the Sea of Cortez

The full moon was so bright we could almost read by it. If Paul howled at it while taking this picture, it couldn't be heard over the engine.
As this was Bonnie's first offshore passage, everyone was watching to see if there would be issues. She did get a bit seasick the first couple hours out, but that was largely attributed to Paul hazing her by making her drive around the marina on the way out. Once the sails were up and the engine off, seasickness was forgotten in the joy of sailing. The night watches were beautiful, with a full moon rising to light the dolphins who regularly visited during the night or early morning. The bright moonlight made it hard to see the bioluminescence of the fishies, but made it much easier to see the land and stay away from it. The wind was very light on this trip, making us use the engine about half of each day from late evening to mid-morning. This meant a sleepy, late-night engine check in rough water one night. Paul was bending down at the same time the boat was coming up, and he seems to have kissed the edge of the engine compartment. Apparently his blood was an adequate offering to the engine gods, since the engine was happier after that night.

Sunrise and sunset were magical times to be cruising across the water under sail, appreciating all the colors reflecting.

Paul's sacrifice to the Romany Star to keep her running well.

Isla Coyote was the first settlement we saw after three days at sea. The historic town is a very picturesque jumble of houses stacked on the lee side of this tiny island, with a lovely reef extending out where we saw a squadron of bat rays.


We got to the Baja islands early in the morning, and decided to continue up the channel to shorten our trips on other days. The last couple hours were a very fast and fun sail, in a 15 knot breeze, up the channel to Nopolo, a little fishing village.

Romany Star is so obviously happy to go fast with a reefed main, and Paul reflects the joy with a huge grin when she heels over.

We took turns at the helm, as the pull was hard enough to work our muscles. This was the fasted sailing of the trip.

There wasn't any treasure in the caves around Nopolo, but plenty of crab moltings from the Sally Lightfoots that skittered away from us.

Los Gatos

We spent a couple days at the Los Gatos anchorage, a double-lobed bay with striking rock formations around it. We celebrated Easter here with a sumptuous dinner and Paul's famous chocolate kahlua pecan pie. We enjoyed testing out the new inflatable kayak, which worked better with it's keel attached, and exploring the tide pools and beaches.

Despite some frustrations with the kayak, Paul resisted any urges to bop Bonnie with a paddle.

This headless whale carcass had been well picked-over, and is mostly buried in the gravel. It still smelled impressive.

These were the beautiful "easter eggs" we found on our Easter morning excursion to the further beach.

Romany Star preens against the striking red-rock formations. We had this lovely anchorage almost entirely to ourselves.

Hiking the red rocks was challenging, but better than fighting with the giant and determined burrs in the grass.

Our attempt to escape the burrs took us up a steep shale hill, where Paul climbed on a boulder to try to plan a way back.

Isla Danzante

Our route from Los Gatos took us through a series of small, steep islands created by volcanic activity. The underwater rocks and reefs add to the excitement, making exact navigation important. The steep islands are beautifully dramatic, and the desert ecology is surprisingly varied. There was a bee colony in a mostly-dead cactus husk; we didn't feel the need to bother them, having plenty of honey on the boat. We never did find any snakes, though the lizards were plentiful.

This whole area feels like sailing through a flooded Grand Canyon.

This series of rocks and small islands, called Los Candaleros, made for a slightly tense half hour of steering.

Honeymoon Cove lived up to it's reputation, with lovely blue water and a tiny cove separate from the main bay.

This majestic Osprey poo'ed emphatically in our general direction before flying away.

Paul wasn't interested in climbing this saquaro to be lookout, though it was a fine specimen.

If it weren't for it's beautiful turquoise necklace, Paul would never have noticed this perfectly camouflaged lizard.

Looking backward . . .
We explored the rock formations on the other side of the island, looking for an untouched beach where we might find interesting shells. After an exciting climb down and a narrow squeeze, we were dismayed to discover that our private beach had been visited by plenty of people who came down the much easier trail on the other side.

. . . and forward.

Isla Carmen

We stayed in Puerto Ballandra for a few days, enjoying kayaking the big bay over shallow coral, and attempting to clean our hull. The water was still chilly, so hull-cleaning went in quick bouts before Paul would jump back onto the boat shivering. Bonnie was practicing deck-fluff skills - reading rather than hull-cleaning. At night we could see the lights of Loreto across the channel, looking like a string of Christmas lights.

We became quite attached to the school of fish that hid from the sun in our shadow, though they never liked our table scraps.

Looking for a bathroom while hiking through a dry stream bed.

Bonnie enjoyed the desert in springtime, until the heat-exhaustion took over and we realized it was an ill-timed hike.