Jan. 27-30: Big Boats, Small Boats: Adventures on the Sea of Cortez


Baja ferries 2

Before boarding the immense Baja Ferry at midnight, we were subjected to hours of security checks, sniffing dogs, and multiple fees, with drivers separated from passengers and men from women. Our reward was a tiny but luxurious cabin and a good night’s sleep before disembarking at La Paz, Baja California, in time for a hefty breakfast overlooking the beautiful malecón.

Baja Ferries

Our home for the next three days was Suzie, the 37-foot wooden trawler built in Asia in the 70s, and winter home of John’s friends, George and Janet Diveky (she was back in their Yellowknife home, so we missed her). While the plan had been for us to sail around the Sea of Cortez, predictions of stormy weather kept us docked but still enjoying the mariners’ life, reading and cooking on the boat, and delighting in George’s tales of his dramatic childhood in Europe or his decades as an educator with Inuit communities in the Arctic.

The gastronomical highlight of our visit was a collectively produced feast of lobster, tiger shrimp, and fish accompanied by John’s original margaritas. With calmer waters on our last morning, George took us for a few hours spin around and outside of the harbour, following sea lions and birds, cooking a big breakfast as we rocked, and pretending to be serious co-pilots.

(See images from George’s boat (the big one belongs to Carlos Slim!) below by clicking on FS in lower right corner for Full Screen, click to move to next image or let it run.)

Adventures on the Sea of Cortez


We managed a day on Playa Balandra, walking 15 minutes in inch-deep water to get to the mouth of the bay so that we could have a hearty swim and view the volcanic rock formations. Back on the beach, John followed the sea gulls with his camera.

Beach with George

La Paz beach 2

bird photographer

We also took a bike ride along the malecón (seaside promenade) and beyond into the hills past amazing rock formations, and then back through the town of La Paz.

John looking at rock cliff  La Paz plaza

Crossing the Sea of Cortez back to the mainland offered an unexpected adventure. Approaching the port, we stopped to take photos of what we thought was our ferry; by the time we parked to buy our tickets, we learned that the ferry had just left, but it wasn’t our ferry. While the Internet indicated our ferry to Mazatlan was to leave at 5 PM, it failed to offer the update that the ferry had broken down two days earlier. The ticket seller told us we had to wait a day or two, mentioning no other options. As we were about to return to George’s boat, a helpful port employee told us about a freighter from a competing company leaving that night for Topolobampo. It may not have been as grand or luxurious as the passenger ferry, but it was free of security checks and provided endless entertainment. We watched the big trucks loading and sat in our van as it was lifted up to the top level. We then joined the 20 or so truck drivers, eating a basic meal in the cafeteria and struggling to sleep in a stuffy salon while the sea rocked us through the night.

Deb, car and ferry

in line for the ferry

John photographing truck loading

Only one week into Mexico, and we had experienced a wide range of sleeping quarters, from seedy hotels to elegant ferry cabins, from Suzie’s cozy bow to the freighter’s plastic salon seats.

(See images of our sleeping quarters below by clicking on FS in lower right corner for Full Screen, click to move to next image or let it run.)

Sleeping quarters

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