January 31, 2020
In her invaluable book MexWX: Mexico Weather for Boaters, Captain Pat Rains writes, “Mariners should stay put if a Norther is blowing or seek shelter if one is predicted.” She explains, “Northers commonly abrade the sea surface and raise the short, steep chop for which the Sea of Cortez is notorious.” And so, with northers blowing, Estelle can be found bouncing on a mooring ball in Puerto Escondido, 14 miles south of Loreto.
With no cell coverage nor internet access on the mooring balls, cabin fever quickly sets in especially as northers are cold and windy making deck time uncomfortable. Captain Rains explains,
“However, it’s not until everyone on board has been cooped up below decks for days on end, bundled in every shred of warm clothing available, even in their bunks at night with their lips turning blue and snapping irritably at each other…that’s when a Norther becomes known as a “Screaming Blue Norther.”
Feeling the effects, the crew of Estelle rented a car and headed to Loreto.
(Aside on Puerto Escondido—can’t beat the $100/week fee for a mooring ball in a fully protected bay. The scenery of the Sierra de la Giganta is beautiful and the marina showers are the best yet. Still, it’s a huge draw back that there is no bus service into Loreto (14 miles north) from the harbor. Taxis are $30 one way into town and rental cars, picked up at the marina, are $45/day–though better rates are available for multi-day rentals.)
Loreto is a sleepy little town–pretty but small. We parked near the town center plaza, visited the church (its the oldest mission in Baja and all of California), poked our noses into a few shops, and had lunch before ending our Loreto visit with a stop at the local grocery store.
The next day, on the advise of several guide books, we headed inland, to San Javier, site of the second established mission in California, dating to 1699. It was worth the side trip. Its a beautiful drive up a twisty well-paved road into the mountains, about 35 km west of Loreto. The history of the 300 hundred year old mission and the small surrounding settlement was interesting and the setting picturesque. There is a small museum on the back side of the church but bring your dictionary as all signage and display information is written in spanish.
Most interesting to us was the 300 year old olive orchard and irrigation system–still in use–around the back of the church. What an amazing oasis of orange and olive trees and farming! Hard to believe that it dates from the end of the 17th century. There is a restaurant in the village and a small mini-mart. We recommend the “coyotes” – small pastry filled with jam – for a snack. Yummy!
Several of our tourist resources recommended driving another 15 km from San Javier to visit some cave paintings. These paintings are on private land and reported to be rather small and few–so we gave it and it’s 200 pesos per person fee a miss.
We returned the rental car and will end out the week on the mooring ball in Puerto Escondido, waiting for a weather window to make our escape. In the meantime, we’ve set our sights on some local hikes. The mountains and views of the Sea of Cortez promise good things.
Puerto Escondido: Screaming Blue Norther Smileys and Frowns
- Side trip to Mision San Javier
- Puerto Escondido protected harbor
- Puerto Escondido reasonable mooring ball fee
- Loreto – in a quiet, small sort of way
- Good marina showers!
- Good internet on shore at the marina
- No cell or internet reception in the mooring field
- No public transportation into Loreto from the harbor
- Screaming Blue Northers! We are ready to head back to the islands as soon as the weather permits