Last year I attended the First Annual Women Who Sail Rendezvous in the BVI. It was an amazing experience and when the 2nd Rendezvous was announced, the entire crew that I sailed with in the BVI signed up within three days of the announcement. As I had never been to Mexico, the idea of sailing in the Sea of Cortez was just too tempting – budgets be damned! Click here if you want to read about the First Rendezvous.
If you aren’t familiar with Women Who Sail – it’s a closed Facebook group that now has over 8000 members worldwide. When I joined a few years ago, there was just over 2500 members!
This year my role in the event changed from purely a participant to more of an active role helping with coordination of various activities. As some of you know – I can be a bit obsessed with details. Quit laughing – I know some of you actually appreciate when someone else lines up the ducks! For my part, I had the privilege of working closely with Captain Holly Scott of Mahalo Sailing in getting t-shirts ordered, ground transportation organized, and gathering items for the raffle events.
Enough about that – let’s chat about the trip. There were six charter boats – four catamarans and two mono hulls and I was assigned to a catamaran. Since I had never sailed a cat, I figured it would be a good learning experience. Spoiler Alert – I prefer my monohull in spades!
Our starting point was La Paz and Saturday night was the first get together at La Costa, a local restaurant. Introductions were made with all participants including a number of women from BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat). Boats being somewhat unpredictable, some of the BYOB’s that had planned on sailing with us had mechanical issues and were only able to join us for that first night. Such is the life of cruising!
The Sea of Cortez is a beautiful area – but very different from the northern waters that I am accustomed. The landscape is stark without a great deal of vegetation. The colors of the cliffs have intense shades of yellow, gold, and red – such a complete contrast to the ranging shades of green that are part of the Great Lakes area.
Snorkeling and Sea Lions!
One of the highlights of the trip was snorkeling at Los Islotes (a little tiny rock islet) which is inhabited by a large colony of sea lions. We were all given preliminary instructions that the males would start to bark loudly if they felt we were getting too close. Well they barked pretty much the entire time but they stayed up on their sunny perches barking (or belching) away.
The younger sea lions came and joined us and I watched an amazing underwater acrobatic dance between Captain Suky and two of the youngsters as they twisted and rolled. The sea lions are so awkward on land but are so fluid when they are in the water.
We enjoyed ourselves so much that we made a point of returning on our way back to La Paz. On the second visit, one of the frisky pups tried to wrestle with Lisa’s flipper and another took a nip of Nancy’s shoulder – no injuries, more like a puppy bite.
We also saw rays, the largest parrot fish I’ve ever seen, and hundreds of Purple Tangs, and Sargent Majors.
We also snorkeled at Isla Cayo which would be better described as a large pile of boulders jutting up from the seabed. There was a little bit of coral but the real treat was the sea life and the icy cold and super-hot springs that were coming through from below. In this weird environment I saw my first scallops, a moray tiger eel, small string rays, oodles of sea urchins and three different types of starfish. Unfortunately the clasp on my GoPro cracked on day two eliminating the option for any underwater photos. Good thing others had their underwater cameras along!
You wouldn’t expect to have a fashion show on board a charter boat but First Mate Anne brought dresses for everyone from Salaam Clothing, which is owned by a friend of hers.
Kudos to Anne for guessing sizes correctly! With many oohs and ahs, we each paraded around the boat showing off our new outfits. And later in the week when we had a surprise birthday party for Anne, we all wore our dresses for dinner. The party was complete with birthday hats, funny glasses, and a Dora the Explorer piñata that she whacked open with a winch handle.
Don’t you just love exploring boats?
Some of the BYOB’s offered to show off their boats during the week. It’s always fun to see how cruisers live and the layout of different boats. I got a chance to see a Passport 40 and a Fuji 40, both serious cruising boats! The stories of their cruising adventures were amazing and their willingness to help each other was inspiring.
What a wonderful experience! San Evaristo is a tiny town five hours away from anything with narrow dirt roadways leading in and out. The town has its own water purification center and ice plant – the crushed ice drops in through the ceiling of cement block building and is shoveled into coolers using the equivalent of a horse-stall mucking shovel. After days without ice, we went a little crazy and filled our giant cooler with this treasured commodity.
There is one tiny family-owned restaurant in the town called Lupe Sierra’s & Maggi Mae that served our group of 60+ a never ending buffet line with fish, ceviche, homemade tortillas, and many other wonderful foods. Our hosts were very gracious and when Maggi Mae requested one of the WWS burgees, we had to comply. They promptly hoisted it on their flag pole!
Prior to the trip we were requested to bring items for donation to the children and families of San Evaristo – we started a small pile at the beginning of the evening and by the end it was a huge stack of books, backpacks, toys, solar lights, coloring chalk, and toothbrushes.
Oh, remember that comment I made in the beginning about “budgets be damned”? During the raffle that night I won a copy of Larry and Lyn Pardee’s Cost Conscious Cruiser. Hah – guessed I effed that up but good!
Seriously – the trip was another amazing adventure loaded with experiences that I will cherish. I am so appreciative of the many, many women I’ve met through Women Who Sail and their never-ending willingness to help and support each other. Sail on Sisters!
Click to see more pictures from Women Who Sail – Sea of Cortez.