Sunday, February 23, 2014

Water, Water, Everywhere!

I have often said that the "best" part of Living Loreto is on the water of the beautiful Sea of Cortez.  But for me there has not been the opportunity to enjoy that experience in over a year, due in part to increasing demands on my time from my Real Estate business becoming more of a full time commitment.  However, this past week I had the opportunity to spend a perfect afternoon on a 35 ft. Catamaran sailboat and I am pleased to be able to share that experience with you here.

The outing came about because a few weeks ago we started to organize weekly charter trips through our Loreto Bay Homes Office as a public relations exercise and the first trip booked up in a day or two. The next couple of weeks were soon booked in advance as word of mouth quickly spread, and on Tuesday of this week it was my turn to "Host" the trip.  We  had asked the people when they were signing up to check back at the Office the day before the trip to make sure the weather forecast was calm enough and the trip was a go.  Then the 18 passengers were to meet again at the Office to make sure everyone had a ride before we left in several cars for the 10 or 15 minute drive south of Loreto Bay to Puerto Escondido where we met Ward, the Skipper of the boat, his assistant Juan Manuelo and Bridget, the boat dog (who was actually in charge).

Normally this boat is chartered for private groups to go kayaking, snorkeling or just exploring the offshore islands surrounding Loreto through Wild Loreto a tour and guiding business that operates in town .  Since most Homeowners here do not have access to their own boats, we thought that it would be a good idea to organize these excursions through our Office and provide a way for a group of people to join together in larger numbers and experience the beauty of the "water side" of Loreto, perhaps for the first time.

In many ways Puerto Escondido looks similar to the way Nopolo (the area surrounding Loreto Bay) looked before this development constructed over 600 homes - there is a network of freshly paved roads, sidewalks and street lights making a grid of mainly vacant undeveloped land.  But in the last year or so the waterfront Marina facilities that includes dock area, some commercial space, a restaurant, fuel dock and boat repair facilities have been upgraded and new slips have been added.  Our Catamaran was waiting for us in a double slip in a new dock area of the Marina.

Our Skipper Ward was a live-aboard yachter who first visited Puerto Escondido and Loreto a number of years ago on a circumnavigation of the Sea of Cortez.  After visiting most of the ports around the shore of both the mainland and peninsula on an extended trip, he eventually returned here to put down the nautical equivalent of "roots", after coming to the conclusion that the marine park area that surrounds Loreto was the most beautiful place he had seen and the combination of the facilities of Puerto Escondido and the amenities of the town of Loreto made it the best place to settle down.  For the past three years he has been working with Wild Loreto as a Charter Captain introducing the beauties that the offshore has to offer to visitors and residents alike.

For those of you less familiar with nautical terms, the Catamaran boat we were on is a twin hull sailboat with the two parallel hulls joined by a deck that provides much more "flat" space for passengers than a traditional mono hull boat with a cockpit, so there was room enough for us all to find a comfortable spot to sit, either on the raised cowling over each hull or on cushioned pads on the deck in between.  One of the advantages of this wide stance dual hull design is that a Catamaran is much more stable than a single hull in choppy water, but fortunately for our trip the winds were calm and the Sea of Cortez was barely rippled as we motored along at a comfortable speed.

Once we were all settled on the boat with a cold drink in hand and Jimmy Buffet tunes on the stereo
providing the soundtrack, Ward got the boat under way and we headed out of the Marina and through the mooring bay off the fuel and service dock.  Just outside the entrance to the mooring bay is another sheltered area near the docks that will be the site of additional slips for more boats.  A large passenger ship was docked nearby and Ward explained to us that it carried kayakers up and down the Sea of Cortez, stopping at places like Escondido where the passengers could leave the "Mother Ship" on kayak excursions - a great way to see the amazing sights in this part of the world!

We continued past another cluster of live aboard yachts anchored in a bay at the approach to Escondido, referred to locally as the "Waiting Room", and then we headed for the open water of the Sea of Cortez towards Danzante Island in the distance.  Danzante is the most southerly of three Islands offshore from the area around Loreto; with Coronado, a smaller volcanic Island north of the town, and Carmen Island which is 18 miles long and an average of 2 miles wide extending from Loreto south of Loreto Bay.

Our course took us between Danzante and Carmen and we paused in Honeymoon Bay near the north end of Danzante before continuing across to the southern tip of Carmen where Ward pointed out a salt cliff which dropped into crystal clear, but intensely turquoise water that was teaming with fish.  Our relaxed cruise continued north along the shore of Carmen until we spotted a pod of Dolphins travelling parallel to us about 100 yards away.  As Ward adjusted course to take us closer for a better look a couple of the Dolphins leapt from the Sea and flipped over about 6 feet out of the water.

When we got to a comfortable distance from the pod we could see that there were a couple of dozen of them travelling together, both adults and babies, keeping in a close formation, surfacing and diving several times in a regular pattern before disappearing for a couple of minutes and then reappearing 20 or 30 yards further on and resuming their breathing cycle.  This tight knit group traveled that way beside us for 5 or 10 minutes, with adults on the perimeter slapping their tails on each dive, presumably conducting the pod and protecting the young ones.  At one point our boat was surrounded by the Dolphins who were swooping and diving around the prow of the boat, apparently playing in the currents created by our passage through the water above them.

When the pod eventually tired of "playing" with us they disappeared into the depths and it was time to make our way back to shore and our return to Escondido.  As the sun dropped lower over the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains to the west, we cruised over the still calm dappled water retracing our course back into the protected harbor and finally returning to the slip where our tour had begun.

And so ended another perfect day on the water, enjoying the "best" part of this beautiful place, creating memories for all aboard, both Visitors and Residents, that we will cherish as just one more part of "Living Loreto"!         

P.S. If you are lucky enough to be in Loreto, please drop in to the Loreto Bay Homes Real Estate Office across from the Hotel in Loreto Bay and sign up for the next available Catamaran Tuesday Excursion, we plan to continue to offer these trips as long as the demand continues!

And finally, I have added a new "widget" to the Blog for those of you who do not make a regular habit of reading it every week - now you can enter your email address near the top of this page on the right and receive a notification when I publish a new posting every week.  Never miss Living Loreto again!