Puerto Los Gatos & Bahia Agua Verde
July 24, 2016
Well, we didn’t end up staying at Puerto Los Gatos for very long. Although it is a spectacularly beautiful bay with unusual red rock formations, the rest of our stay was a bit of a bust. There are some extensive reef systems around the bay and we were excited to do some snorkeling. However, we didn’t end up staying in the water but a few minutes because the visibility was so poor. So, we decided to try fishing instead. We went up and down the coast in the dinghy trying to catch a meal. Mike says that fishing takes patience and determination, two things that I seem to lack in the fishing department. I gave up after a couple of hours, but Mike was determined to catch something worthwhile. Unfortunately, all he caught was triggerfish after triggerfish after triggerfish. I think he pulled in over 20 of those little guys. We know the locals eat them, but there really isn’t much meat on them. We just don’t want to kill something that isn’t going to give us a few meals off of it.
And, the last straw with Puerto Los Gatos was the BEES. We had heard that there were bees in the Sea of Cortez, but this was our first encounter with them. They are looking for fresh water. They send out scouts, and if they find water they will bring back all of their friends. So, at first we just saw one or two bees, but pretty soon there were 20 or 30 of them buzzing around the boat trying to get in. We have screens up on all of the opening ports and hatches, but that didn’t stop them from making an effort. If we ran the water in the sink in the head, they all showed up at the port window in the head. I think they must be able to smell it or something. Anyway, we couldn’t exactly sit outside in the cockpit with the bees. They stayed around all day and then disappeared after dark. But, first thing in the morning they were back. We had to shoo them away as we were pulling up the anchor to get out of there. One even flew up my shorts! I’m glad it didn’t sting me, because bee stings make me swell up like a balloon.
We decided to head north up to Bahia Agua Verde. It was a beautiful, calm morning. There was no wind and the water was as smooth as glass. Beautiful, but not ideal for sailing. So, we motored our way up toward the San Marcial Reef, which is a large reef sitting off the coast of Punta San Marcial. To get to Bahia Agua Verde, we had to round the tip of Punta San Marcial without hitting the reef. Because the water is fairly shallow in this area, we used the GPS waypoints in our cruising guide to get us safely between the point and the reef.
When we entered Bahia Agua Verde, there was only one other boat anchored in the bay. There are several anchorages, and we choose the southern most anchorage, which looked beautiful and very protected. It is a small cove, only big enough for a couple of boats. It has a white sandy beach in front and an unusual rock formation called pyramid rock off to one side. Pyramid rock is a large, triangular rock that sits out in the water, surrounded by smaller rocks and a few cactus growing out of it. It looks like something a landscape architect would design rather than something naturally forming.
Bahia Agua Verde is home to a small fishing village. We read that there were a couple of stores on shore, so we dropped the dinghy in the water to go check them out. We didn’t really know where we were going once on shore. We started down a dirt road and were suddenly surrounded by goats. Apparently there is a goat dairy here! Like everywhere else we’ve been in Mexico, the livestock are “free range.” We saw some women sitting on a porch of a small house and asked them where the tienda was. They pointed across the street to another house. It didn’t look like a store, but we headed over there anyway.
As we approached the house, a woman came out and greeted us. She walked to a small building next to her home, about the size of a one car garage, and opened it for us. We had found the tienda! We were able to get some fresh eggs, onions, bananas and milk. (The great thing about buying milk in Mexico is that it comes in boxes that don’t have to be refrigerated.) It only cost us about $10. But, she did not have cerveza, which Mike was looking to replenish. The women told us to go to the “otro tienda.” There was another store in town.
So, we wandered further down a dirt road and had to stop to ask for directions again. We eventually found the otro tienda, which was very similar to the first one, except she had beer! We also picked up some tomatoes, jalapenos, oatmeal and granola. Overall, a pretty good score for a tiny village!
On our way back to the boat we stopped and made friends with the only other sailboat anchored here. Bob invited us aboard his catamaran for a few beers. He has been solo sailing for the last 16 years and had quite a few stories to tell. This was his second boat, as he lost the first one in a hurricane in the Caribbean some years back. We got to visit with Bob some more a couple of days later when he invited us and another boat that showed up over for happy hour.
Yesterday morning we decided to try our hand at snorkeling again, hoping that the water was a bit clearer here. From what we understand, this is an unusual summer for both the visibility and the fishing. The water is still in the high 70’s, which is a lot colder that it should be for this time of year. For whatever reason, that makes the water less clear and the usual great fishing is basically nonexistent. Our fingers are crossed that it improves! Anyway, we had about 15 feet of visibility, so we got in the water anyway. We swam over to the pyramid rock, a couple hundred yards away. Despite the somewhat murky water, there were fish everywhere! We had to free dive down in some places to get a good look between some of the large boulders, but we saw all kinds of fish lurking down there. We were having quite a fun time and doing out best to ignore the jellyfish that were stinging us relentlessly. We couldn’t even see them, but you’d be swimming along and suddenly feel the sharp sting on your arm or leg. Eventually, we had enough of the stinging and swam back to the boat. It took a couple of hours for the stinging to subside and the welts to go down. Next time, I’m wearing my wetsuit!
Some clouds rolled in that afternoon which gave us a bit of a respite from the heat. We decided to check out one of the hikes we had read about in the book. We took the dinghy over to the north side beach and started on the trail up the hill. We scrambled up and over the hill into the valley below and past a small, old cemetery, which was quite in disrepair. The gravestones showed they were from the 1940’s and 50’s, and we wondered how hard it would have been to live here then. We tried following the trail around, but it seems to have washed out in the arroyos, and we couldn’t quite find the right path. We started down one of the arroyos, which kind of dead ended into a forest of palm trees, many of which had been felled, and we had to pick our way through them. We had seen cow droppings along the path, and I suddenly heard a noise behind us. Sure enough, through the palm fronds, we saw a large white cow staring at us. We headed further into the palms trying to find the path, but every once and awhile I would turn around and see the cow, who had now started following us, just stop and stare at us. I was beginning to get a little nervous about the cow. Mike thought I was being ridiculous, but if you read my bicycling post in San Jose, you’ll remember that we were chased by a cow a few months ago. Those suckers are big and I did not want to piss it off! But, eventually, the cow meandered by us and left us alone.
We were told that the trail led to a beach were there were caves you could see ancient petroglyphs (cave paintings). Well, despite our efforts, we could not find the trail that led to the beach. Maybe we’ll try to get more information about it before our next stop here in the future. (Bahia Agua Verde will be on our path back down south after hurricane season.)
Our next stop is going to be Yellowstone Beach on Isla Monserrat. At least we hope that will be our next stop. Bob told us he got swarmed with bees there. So, if the bees are too bad, we’ll be moving on pretty quickly.