Departing our anchorage this time was a little different than usual; we had to take into account the 120 or so boats that were about to trace the same path as us. Taking in to account how slow we sail; our average speed is only 3 or 4 knots or the speed of a person walking, versus 6 or 7 knots on most boats, we decided to leave in the evening right after the beach party. The official departure time of the flotilla was 6am the next day. That made us one of the first boats to leave, but throughout the next 48 hours of our passage, we watched as boat after boat passed by us, until we were eventually one of the last boats to arrive in Cabo San Lucas. As we were arriving, our friend Mike called us on the VHF to point out that he was the boat right on our beam. He had had a rough start with some engine issues and got delayed by a day, but here he was now, caught up with us.
Rounding the cape right at the evening golden hour, we were treated to the sight of majestic Lands End Arches, glowing in the sunlight. We had seen pictures of it, but even with dozens of tourist boats surrounding it, we had to admit that it was lovely. In the hillsides, world class golf courses and mansions overlooked the expanse of the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Sea of Cortez in the east. The weather was treating us well, with calm seas and warm temperatures. We were officially in the tropics! Suddenly, we saw some fins in the water, approaching us. 5 dolphins broke to the surface, and started playing on our bow. They wove effortless trails, swimming under and around our boat, matching our speed. What a perfect welcome into Cabo! The dolphins followed us for 15 minutes, as I sat on the bow pulpit and dangled my feet into the water, almost able to touch them. Then, as if saying goodbye, they started jumping out of the water and somersaulting back in with a splash, and left us in their wake.
Over the next 24 hours, we crashed both Baja Ha Ha parties; one in the evening at El Squid Roe bar, and one the next afternoon at the Mango Deck beach restaurant. Admittedly we only spent 5 seconds at the bar party before having to leave because it was far too loud to have a baby in, but it looked like a lot of fun with paper hats, singing and walking on tables. Instead, we treated ourselves to tacos and ice cream. We have lousy appetites on passages because we always feel seasick, but then proceed to gorge ourselves upon arrival. The lunchtime party was more manageable, and Travis sat and drew, while Rowan wandered around on the beach sand floor and charmed other cruisers. The funny thing about flotillas is that it is harder to socialize when surrounded by a sea of people. If there were only one other boat in our anchorage, our option would be obvious and we would eventually spend all our time visiting each other.
Cabo as it is known colloquially, is a stereotypical party city, filled with bars and nightclubs. Tourists outnumber locals near the waterfront, English is used more than Spanish, and prices are more often in US dollars than in pesos. Even jokes cater to Americans’ sense of humor. It was bizarre to see Mexican handicrafts with logos of American sports teams on them. Boats speed around at all hours of the day, filled with strobe lights and speakers, their decks modified into bars. Water taxis and jet skis crowd the anchorage, as music blares from beachside hotels into the early mornings. Mega yachts hundreds of feet long obscure views of amenities. We had been warned by other cruisers about how commercialized Cabo would be, but witnessing it first hand drove home to us how much we appreciate serenity in our surroundings and sincerity in our interaction with the local people.
But besides all the man made attractions that are available in Cabo, the original draw of this area is its natural beauty. The water here is warm and turquoise, and in the small reefs and rocks surrounding the arches, there are tropical fish to be found. On Cannery beach, so called because of the old abandoned fish Cannery found there, locals arrive on the weekends to enjoy the sun and surf. Children laugh and roll around in the waves, as couples sit together and have picnics in the shade of the surrounding cliffs. We rowed our dinghy, careful to avoid the rocks, and beached unceremoniously on the far side of the breach, whereupon I pulled out my snorkel mask and jumped into the water. The reef here is small, but it was astounding how many types of fish could be found already. Brightly colored angelfish, cow fish and needlefish, among others, swam around the submerged wreck, and it was interesting to see them engaging in their natural behaviors. Small fish grouped together and swam as a unit for safety. I floated and watched a fish protecting its nest, as other fish surrounded it, trying to get in. A blue cow fish with spots that almost seemed to glow inspected the reef languidly, not seeming to be afraid of my presence. I had the reef all to myself, a few yards off the beach, as others were content splashing in the shallow areas.
Cabo would remain to us an interesting speciment of a city in stark contrast with the rest of Mexico that we have seen so far. Large, flashy establishments and herds of tourists represent the commercialized side of the country rarely seen in Baja California, where vast deserts and mountain ranges, only dimpled sparsely by small fishing villages is the norm. There are spectacular marine environments ahead of us; vibrant coral reefs, awe inspiring whale nurseries, warm sandy beaches and beautiful desert features, as we transition into the Sea of Cortez, and we can’t wait to get there.