“About noon we arrived at Puerto Escondido, the Hidden Harbor, a place of magic.”
~ John Steinbeck~
The Log from the Sea of Cortez. 1941
Seamore Pacific quietly drifted away from the mooring ball while unspoken variations of “good bye and thank you,” emanated from the crew’s thoughts. Exiting Puerto Escondido’s harbor through a narrow, mangrove lined channel, it’s just a stone’s throw to make it around the rocky point, before settling into a compass heading almost due north, with views of Isla Carmen off our starboard. With this year’s cruising season coming to a close, it just felt right to the Captain and I, for Puerto Escondido, Baja California Sur to be our jumping off point back to mainland Mexico; back to Seamore Pacific’s home in San Carlos. Our initial “take it or leave it” feelings for the Hidden Harbors have been replaced with a deep fondness. In the moments leaving her harbor, it was as though she gave us a warm hug, wishing us a safe crossing, and admonished us to “hurry back, real soon…I’lll be waiting for ya.” In Steinbeck’s opinion this place is magical. In my opinion it’s the Magic Kingdom-friendly smiles and fresh produce at Carole’s Tienda, daily weather forecast via the cruisers net, and a bit of paved road for my running fix.
Our first visit to Puerto Escondido was back in the winter of 2013. Cold, windy, and surrounded by dismally unoccupied boats and barnacle encrusted mooring balls, I couldn’t sail out of there fast enough. Trapped by one northerly blow after another, we were stuck in the land of hidden misery for 13 days. We watched boats come in and quickly leave. Heading south to warmer waters, they had little reason to stay. But we needed to get our boat north. And so, we begrudgingly waited, making promises to never, ever, come back…never and forever.
Four months later, entrenched in a daily grind of alarm clocks, traffic jams, and project deadlines, our memory of Puerto Escondido took a new shining. What we wouldn’t give to cozy up in a hidden harbor, patiently sitting out storms…one novel at a time?
Eating humble pie, we returned to the hidden harbors this year to get weather info, internet, and because there was a rumor that the defunct Loretto Fest, an annual cruiser’s rally, was coming back. After anchoring in one remote bay after another, I was ready for a change of pace and the Captain was probably ready for some peace and quiet from my whiney about no place to run, no restaurants, blah, blah, blah. There is nothing like a little visit to the Magic Kingdom to restore crew morale.
Steinbeck, in his book The Log from the Sea of Cortez, was clearly captivated by Puerto Escondido. Concealed by illusions cast by nature, I wonder if the narrow entrance to the hidden harbor was discovered by a lost sailor or one who was wandering for the sake of wandering. If one didn’t know about the harbor, one could literally be a dozen feet away and sail on by. It’s bizarre. To picture it, picture sailing past ridges, a mountain, and rocky shore- it is impossible to see the harbor that lies just on the other side…a few feet away. Without knowing where the inconspicuous entrance is, the revelation of this beautiful place would be missed.
A secret? Not any, more.
We shared the harbor with over 30 boats, met some very nice folks, and enjoyed the music, seminars and food at Loretto fest.
A summary of our simple WOW moments:
- Attending a talk by Stan Honey and meeting is wife Sally. Sally has been named Rolex Yacht’s Woman of the Year twice and Stan is an inventor, sailor, and navigator aboard large racing yachts. Boat US Article
- Having “kid” boats around. Nothing like squeals and laughter lofting across the water when kids from different boats get together.
- Becoming acquainted with a family of 5. Cruising fulltime for 2 years, homeschool is the boat, and their classroom is the ocean. They have cruised the Caribbean, Eastern Shore of the USA, and Mexico.
- Watched Blue footed Boobies dive bomb the waters and manta rays shoot out of the water.
- Met numerous musically talented sailors. Listened to their music as the sun set over the harbor…guitar, ukulele, violin, vocals.
- Attended cruiser’s potluck and enjoyed some AMAZING stuff. Sushi from a Japanese captain, grilled salmon from a sailor who splits his time between Alaska and Mexico, homemade breads, curry dishes, salsas of every type, pasta…
- Rented a car and drove into Loretto for the day. Visited the Mission, courtyard, market, malecon.
- Taking my flashlight out at night, and looking to see what lurks in the dark waters. Saw plenty of fish but no squid this time. (In Punta Chivato a 6 inch squid jumped at my light.)
- Meeting Kiora. Getting to know Luna Sea better as we stood in line at the farmer’s market chatting about garlic, cilantro, hospice, music, retirement, and internet frustration. Seeing Trinity Sea (kid boat) “roll into town” after seeing them at Santispac, and San Jaunico.
- Copa Verda drink at Tripui Restaurant….blended cactus, cucumber, and lots of other green stuff after hiking that morning with the Captain. On the way back to the boat, watched a little red fox dash across the road.
- Finding fresh limes, potatoes, carrots, avocadoes, cucumbers, onions, pineapples…at Carole’s tienda. Imagine going to a store like Circle K or Git & Go, way out in the boonies, and finding the garden of eden?
- Listening to the 8 a.m. morning cruiser’s net (VHF channel 22) with my coffee, while sitting in the cockpit watching boobies and manta rays.
- Crossing paths with a boat that we almost purchased in 2012 (San Diego), but the deal came to a bitter sweet ending. Now, being able to talk with the current crew and share in some laughs about the boat. BTW, the boat is up for sale again.
- Vagabundos. A name we gave a little dog that was abandoned after someone cut his ears off. We would run into his sweet little face poolside at Tripui, then on the road to the marina, and then at Loreto fest…back and forth he would go. Needless to say, the cruisers adopted him.
- Getting to run. I’d put on my music, sunscreen, and run up and down the marina road (safe from traffic on the narrow Mexico Hwy 1) while the Captain talked with other cruisers or used the internet at the marina office.
People ask, “what do you eat on the boat…where do you get your food…how do you stock up?”
The crew on Seamore Pacific, like all the other boats I know, eat well. It’s important to have food that is healthy and tastes good. The challenge (I like this part of cooking on the boat) is to be creative with what is on the boat. It may be days that we go without fresh fruits, lettuce, tomatoes, meat. I stock basic staples (boxed tomato sauce, mushrooms, pasta, flour, yeast, olive oil, etc) and items that keep months (butter, cheese, carrots, celery, garlic, onions). I borrowed a recipe from Captain’s niece who lives in Boston and then tweaked it for the boat. It is delicious and it works because carrots and celery keep a very long time and give the sauce a nice texture.
Ingredients: carrots, celery, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil, butter, red wine (or sugar), tomato sauce, bulgur wheat, pasta.
- 1-2 carrots chopped fine
- 1-2 celery sticks chopped fine
- 1/2 onion chopped fine
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
Sautee this in a large pot with Olive Oil (1/3 cup) and a few pats of butter. When almost soft, add oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover it with a lid, turn off the heat, let marinate for an hour our so.
Either mash (or put in blender) the mixture. Transfer back to the sauce pot and add 2 pints of tomato sauce, add more oregano, a splash of red wine. Simmer. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add a cup of Bulgur Wheat to give it the texture of meat sauce and cook for another 20 minutes.
Serve over spaghetti.