Neither Stu nor I had much idea about what we’d find in La Paz. Since departing Puerto Peñasco, Everyone spoke of it as the next best place for boat items, shopping and all around provisioning. I wasn’t particularly excited about getting back to a ‘big city’ but we had a shopping list of things we wanted to get organized, and La Paz felt like the logical place to get started. Between (hopefully) steady access to services, as well as many of the trades we knew we were likely to engage, it was time to get down to work.
Ask around and you will get a number of differing opinions about anchoring in La Paz. Some have done it for long stretches of time, and just accessed the town via the ‘dinghy dock’ at Marina de La Paz, and had absolutely no issues. Others have found the mix of wind, currents and tides to cause endless issues, particularly with other boaters dragging their anchors, and a general game of bumper boats ensuing. Knowing we had things to do, and that we wanted steady access to wifi, we decided to head for a marina instead of anchoring in La Paz. Unfortunately, we should have called ahead a lot further out than the few days before arriving, as the only marina that had the space for us (remembering that a catamaran is wider than the typical single-hulled sailboat, and usually takes up 1.5 slips at a dock) was the most expensive one in La Paz, Costa Baja (otherwise known as ‘Costa Lotta’). That being said, the cruising guide told us that there was access to amenities such as wifi, potable water, showers and laundry machines, a free shuttle to downtown La Paz, as well as access to a pool, so we figured it might well be worth the price. Unfortunately, it turns out Costa Baja is really a marina set up more for luxury yachts (that have their own services aboard) and charter vessels (who have offices there at the marina), than it was for cruisers. Sadly, there were no laundry machines, the showers left a little to be desired, the wifi was very weak and the pool they directed us to was the Beach Club next to the marina, which charged $20 USD per adult, per day, for entry. In addition, the shuttle to La Paz went three times a day, between 9:30am and 3:30pm, which wasn’t ideal for all the errands we wanted to do. Not exactly what we’d read.
That being said, we settled into life at Costa Baja in due course. We figured out that if we went to the hotel attached to the marina, and just walked into the pool like we belonged, asked if we could be there, and be sure to buy a beverage, we were welcomed without a fee. The girls absolutely adored the pool, and we spent many long hours there as they grew increasingly more comfortable with floating in their life jackets and puddle jumpers.
We also decided to rent a car, so we had a much more convenient means of doing our errands, seeing that the marina was a solid 20 minute drive out of downtown. Having the car meant we were able to explore some more, and that we could do trips to Sam’s Club, Walmart and other shops, which wouldn’t really have been possible with the girls via Uber or taxi. This also allowed us to find a laundrette in town. You really can’t beat having your clothes washed, dried and folded for you for less than you would pay to use a laundromat back in Canada!
On the long list of things to do in La Paz, our main priority was picking up our new 40 gallon-per-hour CruiseRO watermaker, and connecting with an incredible artist named Sergio Galindo of La Paz Welding and Fabrication for the purpose of some stainless steel work on the boat. Sergio isn’t just an artist in the figurative ‘he’s good at his job’ sense, but an actual artist who worked on some very famous steel sculptures. He’s incredibly talented, and we’ve now seen his work on many other boats, and are looking forward to the new arch he’ll be installing on the stern of Skookum V to hold some additional solar panels, as well as new davits for raising and lowering our dinghy, and some other bits and pieces throughout.
In addition to Sergio, we connected with a woman named Christy Flores, who helped us finally print and install the name, logo and hailing port on the boat. We finally have a name! Christy was a character, and we were reminded of the endearing element of having work done in Mexico, where they’re very quick to say ‘yes’, but timing is always optimistic for actually getting things done.
We also connected with Hector Escalante, who we had heard was excellent for canvas work. All of the canvas surrounding our cockpit was getting pretty tired, and the metal snaps and enclosures corroded. Hector did an awesome job of cleaning the lexan panels and replacing the snaps so we can hopefully get another long stretch of life out of the canvas before having to replace it entirely.
Over the months prior to our time in La Paz, our dinghy was getting sadder and sadder, to the point Stu would have to pump it up every time we wanted to use it. We figured there were a few decent holes throughout, so contacted Bob at La Paz Inflatables to see if he could help out with repairs. Bob spent a week repairing the dinghy in his awesome little workshop where he and his wife live and work tirelessly. He also spent the week trying to convince us to buy a different dinghy he had on site, which we momentarily considered with its console and electric-tilt motor. Alas, it was too heavy for our current davits, and he returned our little dinghy, newly freckled with patches. So far so good, as we haven’t really had to pump her up since!
As we’re nearing the 12 year age mark for the boat, and the standing rigging (ie. The metal cables that hold up the mast and sails) is getting ‘past best’ we knew we’d be likely facing a ‘re-rigging’ this year, especially since we intend to sail south of Mexico come the late fall. Often this involves hauling the boat out of the water, de-stepping the mast, and can come at considerable time and expense. Fortunately, we were able to find a rigger in La Paz who can handle the rigging work right at the dock. We will be coordinating with him when we return to La Paz in June for Sergio to install the stainless steel.
Finally, being in La Paz with consistent internet access meant we could get on ordering the various boat ‘things’ we had been thinking about over the last few months, such as new dock lines, some new running rigging (ie. The ropes attached to the sails etc), and a washing machine! Yes, once we have our new watermaker installed, we will be able to wash our clothes on the boat without needing a toilet plunger and wrecking our wrists wringing everything out! For those who have young kids, you’ll understand our excitement with this.
It wasn’t all work and no play in La Paz, thankfully. We were excited to meet up with fellow boaters Rick and Cynthia on Catspaw, who had been incredibly generous helping us out when we first arrived in Puerto Peñasco, and to get to meet their friends, Rob and Sarah on their boat Mapache. We also met a single-hander named Cheryl on her aptly named boat, Wahina Toa (meaning ‘Warrior Woman’), and fellow sailors Paul and Hazel on Susimi. We all did a trip to the Serpentarium where they have rescued and are rehabilitating many of the animals we’ve read about but never seen in the wild (like rattlesnakes!). Some margaritas were consumed on the Malecon for Rob’s birthday, and we were introduced to our first shopping experience at Soriana, another of Mexico’s grocery stores.
In addition to gallivanting around La Paz trying many of its tasty treats, we decided to take the opportunity of the rental car to zip down to San Jose del Cabo for a few nights to visit our friends Andrew and Gabriella from SV Journey. Andrew and Gabriella had set themselves up in a lovely Airbnb outside San Jose del Cabo for the month while Andrew was taking care of some back-related matters, and the owners had another unit available right next to them, so we took a little weekend trip to see them. We have always loved road tripping, and the girls do incredibly well in the car, so we all enjoyed getting to see a little more of southern Baja, with pit stops in Todos Santos, El Pescadero and Cabo San Lucas. While Cabo is definitely not our speed, the pace in San Jose del Cabo was much nicer, and a lunchtime visit to Flora Farms was a definite highlight of our time there (save for the visits with our friends, of course!).
Two weeks on the dock went by in a flash, but we really didn’t want to be there longer than we needed, as we had friends on their way south from Puerto Peñasco who we were really looking forward to seeing, and we wanted to head north toward them as soon as we could. After tearing the boat apart and putting it all back together again with the boat projects and provisioning, we were on our way with a very early morning departure through the busy waterways surrounding the town.