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~ Chapter Thirteen ~
Puerto Mexia to Punta Evaritso
Up at sunrise I was stoked to see that the Sea of Cortez was as calm as a lake, and the sky was blue and cloudless. Glancing at the tattered Auto Club map to plan my route it looked like I was less than 10 miles from the point outside La Paz bay, much further up the coast than I had thought I was. I was low on gas and knew La Paz was my last reliable chance for gas until Loreto, several hundred miles to the north.
Although the natural harbor at La Paz is large, access to the main marinas in town is through a very defined and narrow channel that parallels the beach. I pulled up on the main beach in La Paz and progressed through the normal paperwork dance at Immigration and the Port Captain's office. The walk along the seaside Malecon was beautiful as I headed back to the boat to fill up with fuel.
I soon discovered that the marinas in town offered diesel fuel, but no gasoline. So I parked the Vaka Viti at the far west end of the marinas, on the beach with a dozen other fishing pangas. The green and white Pemex sign was visible about two blocks from the panga beach, and it took me three trips to fill up my main tank and 6 portable gas containers.
Ordering up a fish and chips snack at the marina restaurant I started a conversation with two sailors at the table next to me. After a brief conversation we realized that our paths had crossed in Magdalena Bay, 200 miles up the west coast from Cabo the previous week. They said they had seen me cruising down the coast from their 23 foot sailboat, and I had remembered seeing them at anchor at the north end of the bay.
We couldn't figure out who was crazier...2 guys headed to La Paz from San Diego in a 23 foot sailboat or 1 guy headed to the Colorado River from Los Angeles in a 19 foot panga. They gave me the 'nut case' award, and soon we parted to provision up our boats. I bought some film, cookies and outboard motor oil and headed back to the Vaka Viti to figure out my next move. It was only 12:30 and I could hear the sea calling me. I had been to La Paz several times in the past and really liked the town and it's people. But it seemed that the best use of my time was to head north, so I pushed off and headed out of the channel.
Unfortunately the calm breezes that greeted me earlier in the morning had been replaced by much stronger northern winds as the day progressed. The sea was dotted with whitecaps as far as the eye could see and I began to have second thoughts about pounding the Vaka V. into the increasingly larger swells. But I continued out of the harbor and into the open sea with the hopes that the winds would die down as I headed north.
To try to minimize the impact of the wind I kept the boat even closer to shore, looping inside the huge crescent bay north of La Paz. The further north I traveled from La Paz the taller the mountains became, which seemed to help stop the wind. The afternoon improved hour by hour as the mountains grew taller and more spectacular, and the winds continued to diminish. I knew there were no established villages between La Paz and Loreto, but a spot on the Baja map called Punta Evaristo looked like it had the makings of a calm bay for dropping the hook.
As I neared Punta El Mechudo, about an hour south of Evaristo, I noticed a couple on the beach setting up camp next to their kayaks. After traveling all day near shore these were the only humans I had seen. I slowed down and gave them a big wave, but I did not want to intrude on the solitude that they had traveled so far to obtain. They waved back in the spirit of lost souls on a deserted beach, but I could not tell if they were open to a brief conversation with a wacky gringo. I saluted them both as I increased the throttle on the Vaka V., and they waved goodbye in preparation of a quiet night alone.
It was late afternoon when I pulled into the south end of the very protected cove at Punta Evaristo. I dropped bow anchor in about 3 feet of sand and soaked in another fabulous Baja sunset. Just before dark a large sailboat came into the cove trying to get their anchor lines set up before it got completely dark. I utilized the last few minutes of sunlight to give myself a wet rag bath with the melted ice water from the cooler, and then had an energy bar and a Snapple for dinner.
There were a handful of rugged looking houses spaced along the shore of the cove, and a few Mexican fishing pangas down the beach. As it became dark their generator came on, soon followed by the dim lights in their palapa-roofed huts. I enjoyed a Jimmy Buffet C.D. in the boom box, reflecting once again on how great the words to his songs are. Especially for people sitting in pangas in beautiful coves in Baja! The evening stayed calm and clear all night, and I slept under a blanket of one hundred billion stars.