Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bahia San Juanico

[Kyle]The next protected anchorage, Punto Pulpito, was just over 38nm away. We had the anchor up at first light, left Santo Domingo, and rounded the corner into the Sea of Cortez and motor sailed south on one engine. A couple of hours later, the wind picked up enough for us to shut it down. It cost us a little speed, but it was much more peaceful.

Another early start past some fantastic scenery

We passed high mountains made of crumbling dirt, all covered in cardon cactus and other prickly things. It’s very pretty, in a brown way. It’s still the middle of February, so there’s still a slight chill in the air, but even so, this place just looks really, really hot. I imagine that in the summertime it would possible to cook anything you wanted by just throwing it on a clean rock. The only problem is that you have to stand there in the oven with it to tend to your cooking. Prickly shrubs are no good for shade.

The wind picked up gradually and by the time we were approaching Punto Pulpito, we were going fast enough to make it to our next planned stop at Bahia San Juanico, where it was supposed to be much prettier. We pressed on and made it there with about an hour or so of sunlight left – just enough to get everything secured before we ran out of light. Getting there an evening early saved us having to get up to do it the next day, so we would be able to sleep in.

There was supposed to be strong tailwinds for our trip between Punto Pulpito and San Juanico. Since we were already in San Juanico, we just hunkered down and rode it out aboard as an extra day. We deployed the dinghy and I tried having a test row to see if I could overcome the wind and make it to the beach, but I was barely making headway with just me aboard and I was taking a lot of spray over the bow. We decided to hold off until the next morning, when it was supposed to be calmer.

Resigned to a day at anchor we enjoyed morning coffee in the cockpit
and views of horses on the beach in the evening

Calmer, it was. We were up early to make the most of a day ashore.

We started with a dinghy ride around the various beaches and rock formations in the bay. Eventually, we landed on one next to an arroyo that looked like a mini Bryce Canyon, plus it had a dirt road behind it.

We climbed the arroyo until we were stopped by an inconveniently placed Private Property sign. Oh, well. Back to the road.

About the minute we stepped out of the cooling breeze of the beach onto the road, we were both remarking to each other about how hot and shadeless it was. This is some stark country.

Exploring by dinghy and on foot

After climbing a while, we were rewarded with sweeping views of the blue bay and of Begonia below. Each of its beaches is separated by dramatic outcroppings of rock. Three pangas arrived and deployed their nets. They then raced around the bay pounding their hulls with sticks and stomping their feet to scare the fish toward the nets, which the pelicans patrolled for escapees.

New (to us) method of fishing

The road we were on didn’t seem to be going the direction we wanted, which was toward a pair of beaches northeast of us, so we returned our landing beach to see whether we could find a way through on foot or we would have to make the trip in the dinghy.

As we were walking to the other end of the beach, we came across Brian, the owner of the other catamaran in the anchorage. He and his five guests had just landed in their dinghy and were headed in the direction of a lagoon tucked into the valley behind the beach. We talked for a while, met his guests, and then continued as one big group into the interior.

The lagoon was a little oasis of green in an otherwise parched land, where cranes and herons stalked fish in high, green grass along the edges of a meandering sliver of silver water. We pressed on past the edge of the green along an increasingly narrow and thorny path which occasionally stumped us with one dead end or another. Just as Maryanne and I were starting to think maybe it was time to give up and turn around, the trail emerged at a graded dirt road.

On the other side of the road was a small ranch, where the owner kept a variety of animals including an unexpected pair of peacocks. He also had several types of vegetables growing in raised beds. We bought some green onions and some carrots, which he pulled right out of the ground for us. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.

The one man farm was a treasure to discover

We bid farewell to Brian and his group and continued along the road for a while until we crested a ridge which gave us an expanding view of a beautiful white beach lapping with turquoise water. We meandered along it to the other end, poking into little caves and examining tide pools along the way.

We rejoined the road for a while, then took a well-marked path over another ridge. Here, we got more high views of Bahia San Juanico, before finally descending to our target beach. Brian and friends could be seen already hoisting their mainsail as they left the bay.

Back down at sea level, we could see the yellow-orange speck of our dinghy three beaches away.

Exploring along the beaches - we even found a red tailed hawk!

The first two beaches were an easy, flat walk. We passed by half a dozen campers who had all come in sturdy off-road vehicles to get there. After that, it was necessary to go inland for a bit to cross over the intervening ridge between us and the lagoon path.

Along the way, we found several places where the clay sediment had covered what was mostly a huge variety of shellfish to create dense fossil beds. There is so much around here that is fascinating. {Maryanne: This whole area is famed for its marine shell fossils, and we found layers of fossils in many of the rocks on all the beaches}

Plenty of cool formations for the geologist in us both

At length we made it back to the Pudgy. I waded us through the surf, climbed aboard and took us back to Begonia. It was still hot. For some reason, I decided that since I was already half wet, a swim sounded pretty good. Nope. I bounced, but it did instantly get rid of the day’s accumulated heat.


Mommy Dearest said...

I get lost in your posts and amazing photos and forget to say HI in the comments section once in a while. I wasn't exactly planning to spend two hours catching up with the blog posts tonight, or would have started a bit earlier, but I love reading about your adventures and seeing those photos, which MUST be fake photos--they're too good to be true.
Sending love!

SV-Footprint said...

Thanks Carla - we love hearing from you (and all our friends). Primarily the Blog is a diary enabling us to relive our travels in our future, but the fact that our friends and family get to travel with us on our various journeys is a huge plus and we LOVE to hear from everyone. Kyle gets especially excited when I tell him there is a new comment.