Snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez is usually so great that there isn’t much motivation to scuba dive (other than to clean the hull of the boat!), but this past week, we did a great wreck dive that we’ve been wanting to do since we arrived in Mexico.
The Fang Ming is important to Mexico as it was the first intentionally sunken ship to create an artificial reef in all of Latin America. This ship has a happy ending, but a sad tale overall.
The Fang Ming was a 180′ Chinese fishing vessel that was seized by authorities after discovering that they were smuggling almost 100 Chinese migrant workers trying to reach the USA. There were 88 men and 7 women kept aboard this very confined space. Everyone was rescued, processed in the USA and eventually returned to China; it was sunk in November of 1999 and currently sits in 65′ of water.
We anchored just north around the corner at Ensenada de Gallina and took our dinghy to the dive site.
It’s marked with a yellow buoy, which isn’t attached to the ship, so it’s a bit confusing if you dive it alone. You have to follow the buoy line down and travel south on the bottom for another 40′ or so until you reach the hulking shadow of the ship.
Today, the ship is host to an abundance of wildlife, and there are cool swim throughs and dark corners to explore. It’s in remarkably good condition.
On the day we dove it, we were the only ones there, and we were going to anchor our dinghy near by, but the water was rough, and our dinghy anchor wasn’t holding in the sandy bottom (we likely need some chain rode for our dink anchor), so we just tied off to the buoy on the surface. We saw 8 large Loggerhead and Olive Ridley turtles, parrot fish, box fish, puffer fish, wrasse, hog fish, trigger fish, grunts, angel fish, grouper, jacks and more!
Coming up was a bit of a challenge because the visibility was only about 25 feet, and we overshot our dinghy location, so we had to swim a ways back, but it was a fun afternoon adventure!
I’ve always said that intuition was born of wisdom, and this couldn’t be more true in these days. While most of our friends and family are in quarantine in the USA, navigating the frustrations and heartbreak of this new life, we also have unique challenges being in another country, out on the sea.
We deliberately left corporate jobs, sold companies, sold our house, downsized, started new digital nomad careers, and sailed away – relying on a retirement portfolio and new reduced income streams to fund our new way of life. We don’t have any regrets, but it’s created a new host of uncertainties we hadn’t expected. In truth, I was worried about the following things happening when we took off two years ago – two of which have already happened:
A rogue wave
Getting caught in a hurricane
Boat breaking down in the middle of the ocean (happened twice)
Hitting a whale (already happened)
We certainly didn’t have Zombie Apocalypse on our global Bingo card!
Like most natural and human made emergencies, nothing is a problem….until it is. Mexico was late coming to the emergency of COVID19 and still is pretty sleepy compared to many other parts of the USA and the world right now, but if you believe it’s coming, then you have to prepare. And, while we have it pretty good on a house that moves (our sailboat), there are still many restrictions that limit our mobility.
In the past 48 hours, Mexico has locked down whole cities and towns, making it impossible to go in and out unless you can prove residency. They have made it illegal to do any kind of recreational activity, and this means sailing. Mexico has also locked down national park islands and coves where we normally anchor, and some ports have now made it illegal to enter/exit unless you can prove you are transiting to another port or entering for fuel or provisions. Something that has never happened before. So, we are now locked down in a marina – sailing season is effectively over.
And, this brings me back to trusting your gut.
When you start to gain knowledge, stay calm and listen to your inner voice, it almost always tells you what to do. I’m not just talking about a Fight or Flight mechanism. I’m talking about what is right for you and when – even if no one else seems to be following your lead. Kirby and I have watched enough pandemic, apocalypse films and TV to know that you must keep moving forward – at all costs. If you stand still or freeze up, you have a greater chance of something worse happening. Yes, I know it’s TV, but I also believe it to be real life, and it’s served us well over the years – even during times of much less strife.
So, when we decided to leave Puerto Vallarta 2 months earlier than planned (after my trip to Turkey was canceled) to get back to La Paz, where we have our car and a safe marina slip reserved for our boat this summer, we decided to do it. Some people told us we were overreacting, we should wait for a better southern wind weather window, and that it would be fine. Now, just two weeks later, as anchorages and ports are closing, with the coast guard patrolling daily broadcasting warnings, we feel so much better to be snug as a bug in our boat in one of the safest marinas in the southern Baja. If things get a lot worse, we can always jump in our car and drive north or sail north…
Stop negative spiraling thoughts by refocusing your brain on what you see, hear, smell, or taste
Try to live your life and carry on as normally as possible
Empower yourself with knowledge
We are still happy to be on a sailboat looking out at the water, enjoying the sunshine, and watching the sunset, even if we cannot really leave our boat. As long as our internet holds out for us to continue to do work and communicate, we’ll be just fine. And, in the meantime, the wildlife here reminds us that the Earth is healing herself.
We planned to spend time in and around some islands outside of La Paz, but the Coromuels were starting to get a bit heavy, so we decided to duck into La Paz earlier to be safe and comfortable.
*Coromuels are a SW wind that blow in late spring/early summer. It’s a condition that happens around La Paz when the Pacific Ocean and land and sea temperatures are at odds with each other, creating a whipping and gusty SW wind that comes up around 11pm and lasts until sunrise. It’s usually blowing in the opposite direction as the day winds, and they can come up suddenly, without much warning. When they blow, they can also gust at 30-45 MPH, making for a dodgy anchorage or a very uncomfortable night on the boat.
Because we needed to get into a marina relatively fast, we opted for a marina that several of our friends were staying at: Costa Baja. http://www.marinacostabaja.com/ A beautiful marina, relatively new, fancy with hotels, pools, spa, lots of services, but with bad wifi, etc…..and, as we learned quickly and a long time ago – marinas with:
Mega Yachts + Mostly Powerboats ≠ Not Our People
SO, we moved down to Marina de la Paz (which we arrived at on the first day of Bayfest http://www.clubcruceros.net/TheClub/2018BayFest.html) and already love. It’s very laid back, low-key, right downtown, filled with sailors/cruisers who just want to work on their boats, talk sailing and share experiences. No fancy clothes, no dripping in diamonds, no sitting on a boat that never gets used…..http://www.marinadelapaz.com/ We thought of my mom, who has coffee with her friends every day in the early afternoon. Here too, there is a coffee hour – where people gather, share referrals, stories and tall tales. Every morning, on VHF Channel 22, there is a radio broadcast of sorts that covers everything from weather to requests for swapping or bartering. It’s very helpful and highly entertaining.
The winds are expected to get worse in the next few days, gusting up to 40 mph on Saturday, so we are pleased with our decision, as there aren’t really any anchorages around here that can protect us from this crazy wind phenom.
As Jodi leaves for a work trip to NYC in about 10 days, we decided to make this our home base for the next month before we head north to Espirito Santo, Isla San Francisco, Loreto and beyond. (see www.SVLodos.com for our tentative itinerary).
For those of you considering a visit, there are several options:
Come NOW and hang with us in La Paz – we can do some fun day sails, swim with whale sharks, sea lions, cook, picnic and relax together
Meet us mid-May north of La Paz or in Loreto (Alaska Airlines flies there) – we can explore this beautiful region together for the first time
Join us in San Carlos in early June & help us prep the boat for hurricane season (mainland Mexico) & maybe join us as crew to cross the Sea of Cortez
Come to Turkey and stay with us at our house there – anytime late July until early October
Island hitchhike (literally) with us back from Turkey to Greece in early/mid October