Learning the La Paz Waltz
Well, we made it. To La Paz that is. This is the largest city on the Baja peninsula, and one that we have driven through a couple times but never stopped to explore. It is also a huge cruiser’s town, with many long time cruisers using it as home base for years or a launching pad to cross the Pacific Ocean. It’s sorta the best place to resupply or fix the boat, so it is heavily used. It would be our first time living in such a community, complete with the “cruiser’s net” each morning at 8am on the VHF radio. The “net” is a short, very well organized, broadcast of information to and from all the cruisers in the area, and helpful it was.
Visiting town had to be planned along with the tides as our little electric dinghy motor could not fight against the 3-4 knot currents that would flow in and out of the La Paz Channel where we were anchored. If at all possible we would ride the end of flood tide in to the marina, do our chores, then ride the start of the ebb tide back to Meriwether about a half mile from the dinghy dock. We were luck enough that the timing of those tides were reasonable during the week long stay, but they did cause some trouble.
See, Meriwether is a full keel boat (we have a full length fin under our boat that works as ballast and stabilizes the boat when sailing). Said keel is extremely susceptible to the water flowing under the boat, such as the tidal currents. If we are anchored in an area with a current, the direction in which Meriwether will point will be into the current – no mater what the wind is doing. The problem lies in that boats without a full keel will rotate to face into the wind, and we could be facing (and stretching our anchor rode) and completely different direction. They call this the La Paz Waltz, and it is quite common. Of course, on day-2 we were having this problem, causing us to move even further from the dinghy dock to avoid collisions with neighboring boats.
This brought us a new problem when one of the local super yacht crews decided to anchor directly beside us. I mean, directly. This is a boat that would be dropping hundreds of feel of anchor chain, and it decided to do that only a boat length off our boat. It would certainly wipe us out when the current switched, or a breeze blew through, which ever came first. I tried to radio the Captain and got no response. Obviously they were too busy doing something silly as it took them over an hour, and multiple attempts, to finally get their anchor down blocking the local ferry dock completely. We moved to avoid any issues, and to hang out with our new Aussie buddies anchored a little closer to the marina.
During our two stays at La Paz – we would return after a week long trip to the islands – we ate at just about every restaurant a mile or more away from the dingy dock. Apparently, the good places to eat had to be achieved with a mile or more walk, and we ate out a lot. The same applied to the grocery store, which was not only way out there but we visited it numerous times *and* carried back the payload on our backs each time. This is the life of full time cruisers… and I *do* get to complain about it – that’s the deal.