I'm going to write this web page about the search for two of the three essentials needed to cruise in the Sea of Cortez - food & water. The third essential, in my opinion, is wind but that is another whole topic.
By boat it is about 500 nautical miles from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Refugio on the north end of Isla Angel de la Guarda. That area is the normal cruising grounds for all the boats that talk of spending time in the Sea of Cortez. That is about the same distance as from New York to Beuafort, NC or Tampa to New Orleans, or San Francisco to Los Angles.
The only places in that 500 miles north of Cabo along the east coast of the Baja Peninsula to get fresh food are La Paz, Puerto Escondido/Loreto, Mulege, Santa Rosalia, and the Pueblo de Bahia de Los Angeles. There is no moorage and no safe overnight anchorage at Loreto and Mulege. Usually the onshore wind and waves come up around mid-day and you've got to have your boat underway by 1 PM at the latest. There is also good food shopping in San Carlos on the Mexican mainland but that is 75 miles across the Sea of Cortez from Santa Rosalia.
There are limited quantities of canned goods and occasionally fresh produce in San Evaristo, Agua Verde, and Playa Burro. And, of course, you can buy fresh fish at every fishing camp. Or, try to catch your own fish,
So - much of your travel planning, if you're going to be spending much time in the Sea of Cortez, is based on how often you need to get to a store for food, water, or beer. This is especially true once north of Santa Rosalia where the only food in is in BLA until you get to Puertocitos, 235 miles NW of Santa Rosalia.
The boats anchored in Puerto Escondido all go to Willy's Market for light shopping and into Loreto for major provisioning. The 36 mile round trip taxi to Loreto is $50 US. Most of the time three boats will go together and use one of the nine-passenger vans that sometimes hang around the dinghy dock in the morning.
Lets take a trip from Mirador up to Willie's. if we're smart we leave the boat by 9 AM and get there before the sun comes up to high and hot.
Here is the view as we leave the dingy dock and stroll along one of the many semi-finished roads in the Puerto Escondido complex. The roads have curbs, light standards, and underground utilities but were never paved.
You can see the top of the white dinghy dock steps just to the right of the pickup truck. Heading off to the right from the yellow boat in the background will take you out of Puerto Escondido into the Sea of Cortez.
As far as I know nothing ever is taken from the dock or the dinghies and I don't think many folks even lock their dinghies to the dock when they leave for the day.
To the left is the view looking back toward Puerto Escondido from halfway up the hill to Willie's. There is no shade and that asphalt really radiates the heat after the Mexican sun has baked it for a few hours.
Both of these pictures were taken from the same location .
In the picture to the right you are looking at the Sierra Gigante mountains and Willie's is right at the base of them.
At this point in the trek it appears that you will never get to the top of the hill where shade and cold beer wait at Willies.
The elevation gain from the dinghy dock is only about 300' but it seems like a lot more walking up there.
The Sierra Gigante mountains are indeed gigantic (the highest peak in the range is 5,600 feet) but that is not what they are named for. When the Spanish first started exploring this area around 1670 (Loreto was founded in 1700) they were looking for a mystical land known as Calafia which was inhabited by very large women known as "Gigantis." Thus the name. The Spanish were here because it was believed that the Gigantis had huge treasuries of gold and jewels hidden in these mountains.
There is considerable debate as to the origin of the name California. Some believe this land (originally everything from Cabo Falso north was claimed and named by the Spaniards) was named after that mystical land of Califia, inhabited by the Gigantis. Others believe the land derived it's name from the Spanish word californax which means "hot oven" which sure does apply to most of Baja California.
Willie's Market, once we drag ourselves all the way up the hot dry road, is a double wide trailer mounted on cinder blocks about 100 yards from where the Tripui/Puerto Escondido road joins Mexican Highway 1.
Willy's Market carries frozen meats, fresh produce, some milk products, a few canned goods, bread, beer, and liquor. And, they do laundry.
Depending on who you talk to, i.e. how hot was the sun, it is 1.5 to 5 miles UPHILL to the market. My brother Jim swears it was 5 miles but I think that was just 'cause it was a hot wind less day when we walked up the hill at 4 PM.
The nice thing is that Willy will drive you back down the hill to the dingy dock if you buy enough stuff.
I guess we survived the trip to Willies but it sure is annoying when you get back to the boat and discover what you forgot.
Fresh water is even harder to find if your boat is not equipped with a watermaker. Fresh water is only easily available in La Paz, Escondido, and Santa Rosalia. It is possible to get some in Bahia de Los Angeles but it all comes from a reverse osmosis system run off a diesel powered generator. I don't know the cost of a a six-gallon jug but I do know that a 12 oz glass of fresh water in a BLA restaurant costs $1.00 US.
Easily available water means there is water at a dock or sea wall faucet. In La Paz and Santa Rosalia there is no public dock where you can tie up and take on water. In both places you must pay for a night's moorage to take on water. There are no docks in Puerto Escondido so you must bring your boat alongside an eight foot high concrete seawall to take on water. Many boats that anchor out take a six-gallon jug to shore each time they head that way. Then they fill the jug before returning to the boat and siphon the fresh water out of the jug into the water tanks.
Here is a picture of SV Dry Martini, a Morgan 38 from San Francisco. Jimmie is on the foredeck hauling anchor chain back in after they backed up to the sea wall and took on water from the hose that is permanently mounted there. The water costs about $1.81 (US) for 52 gallons.
Puerto Escondido water is very clean and fresh since it comes from springs several thousand feet up in the uninhabited Sierra Gigante mountains you can see in the picture above.
The problem with taking on water at the seawall is that there is only 3' of water from the base of the wall out about three feet. The rip rap then slopes quickly down to 12' or so. It is almost impossible for a monohull to tie up alongside.
Most boats go in bow first using a previously set stern anchor to keep the boat from swinging. Jimmie chose to back until his rudder was just about in the rocks at the base of the seawall.
The strange thing is, although it doesn't seem too strange after being in Mexico for a while, is that about 50 yards to the left of this spot is a dock with permanent fenders, bollards, and deep water right up to the dock. If "the powers that be" would extend the water pipe 50 yards then any of the 300 or 400 boats that use Escondido each year could take on water, gladly paying a much higher price than is currently being charged. No Mexican official will allow the water line to be extended to the existing dock despite the best efforts of the cruisers.
One of the important things I've learned since arriving in Mexico is that you make due with what you have. I eat what I can find onboard Mirador and provision with the stuff I find in the easiest store to get to. There are only a few things I work hard to find and those are coffee, (Starbucks whole Columbia that I bring from the States), good chocolate (which I also bring from the States or buy in a Mexican store if the chocolate is made in the US - Mexican chocolate is waxy and too sugary), and Crystal Light (a zero calorie water flavoring that is very tasty and makes it much easier to suck down the gallons of water I need each day in the summer).
Other that those few things I just eat what ever is easy and available.
More next time about spinnakers, torn genoas, and bee infestations.