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Back to Baja - Cruising the Sea of Cortez - Part 2
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Part 2: Isla Partida and Isla San Jose

By Capt. Bill Pike — October 2001


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The couple slept late the next morning, which worked out marvelously. Shuler and I had plenty of time to devour huevos rancheros with fresh salsa for breakfast, launch a couple of kayaks, explore the shoreline, walk the beach, and eventually stroll into an arroyo filled with purple sagebrush, tall cacti, and great red boulders. On the way out we stopped on a slight rise to admire Sogno in the distance, anchored in a spectacularly blue ocean incongruously framed by the desert’s earthy tones. Frigate birds wheeled overhead. Other creatures fidgeted in the dusty skree. It was hot, close to 100 degrees, but comfortable due to a noticeable lack of humidity. We sat on a rock. “It must be weird,” said Shuler, “coming back here after all these years.” “Second honeymoon,” I theorized.

Upon returning to the beach, we encountered first mate Jose Amador, who’d come ashore with Sogno’s Novurania at the behest of Almaguer to see if we needed additional drinking water. I liked Almaguer. A former Mexican naval officer, he ran a tight ship, from safety-conscious anchor watches at night to English classes in the galley for the crew. I suspected he’d dispatched Amador to check on more than drinking water. Shuler and I’d been gone a long time.

Amador helped us talk with one of the shark fishermen, a guy named Vicente who spoke no English. What Vicente told us about the circumstances of his life was especially poignant against the backdrop of tattered huts and long, lonely vistas. He fished every day, he said, using squid for bait. Shuler photographed him beside his outboard-powered panga, a look of pride on his face.

The short hop to our next anchorage on Isla Partida that afternoon was edifying on two counts. First, the abundance of sea life we encountered en route was astonishing. While Cabo San Lucas has been zealously fished and visited for years, La Paz and its environs, a mere 100 miles to the north, remains virtually untouristed today, a state of affairs attested to by the hundreds of porpoises swimming near Los Islotes, a rocky islet not far from Isla Partida, as well as the hundreds of sea lions and fur seals that live there. It was the sheer numbers of these animals and the incredible vivacity with which they seemed to enjoy themselves, I think, that prompted the second bit of edification. As Bev and I stood on Sogno’s foredeck watching a huge, sparkling school of dolphin disappear to the south, she told me about how a heart attack Bob had a couple of years ago had deeply changed their lives. “We stop and smell the roses now,” she smiled.

The couple proved it the next day. Leaving Isla Partida about noon, Almaguer headed Sogno north 21 NM to Isla San Jose and an anchorage called Bahia Amortajada. What got the good times rolling shortly after we’d arrived here was a thin blue line on the chart. It indicated a “river” ashore, hidden somewhere in the sprawling mangrove wilderness to the east. Bob said he remembered it, sort of. Bev thought she did, too.

So with Amador back at the helm and Sogno’s passengers hanging on for dear life, the Novurania sped off at full throttle in search of adventure. The reward was immediate—a small-boat tour of paradise. The river turned out to be a glycerin-clear salt channel winding through a vast, lush jungle inhabited by ibis, egrets, herons, and other birds as tame as Labrador retrievers. We went swimming. We collected stones on an empty beach. We enjoyed the day.

The trip back to La Paz the next afternoon was smooth and uneventful. Cruising comfortably at 10 knots in a sea as flat as a tortilla, Sogno covered the 50 NM from Isla San Jose to Marina Palmira in five hours, which left time to treat the crew to dinner at a nearby restaurant, La Panga. After dessert a mariachi band strolled over and began to play an old Mexican song.

When I asked Bev why she’d gotten so quiet all of a sudden, she replied, “It’s La Vikina...the same song they played the night Bob and I first met.”

“Perfect,” I said.

A one-week charter aboard Sogno costs $20,000 including food and fuel.

Interpac Yachts Phone: (619) 222-0327. Fax: (619) 222-0326.

Next page > Baja Photo Gallery > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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