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Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018
History in the making

Marina Puerto Escondido: A dream come true
The first time I saw Puerto Escondido was in 1969 on my very first trip to Ed Tabor’s Flying Sportsman’s Lodge in Loreto.

Those who had heard of the protected bay, surrounded by countryside even more rugged than that of other remote areas surrounding Loreto, whispered and even fantasized that maybe it was a dream back then. Regardless, for many years, slowly in fits and starts, the bay became well-known to boaters, either sailing or cruising the Sea of Cortez. It became well-known for its shallow depths as well as being an ideal anchorage to hide from the winter North Wind.

MANY AGREE THAT Marina Puerto Escondido will be a game-changer for the area, allowing boaters access to a gateway offering some of the best the Sea of Cortez has to offer.

When I began driving Mex 1 with family and friends in 1973, it was one of our favorite stopping places – just a bay that someday would be developed.

However, it came with a rich history. Hernan Cortés, the namesake of the Sea of Cortez, sent his first ship to explore Baja California in search of pearls in 1533. Others followed in his wake and in 1940, John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts visited Puerto Escondido, inspiring Steinbeck’s classic novel, “The Log From the Sea of Cortez.”

Steinbeck wrote: "After noon we arrived at Puerto Escondido, the Hidden Harbor, a place of magic. If one wished to design a secret personal bay, one would probably build something like this little harbor... we went on a sheep hunt with Leopoldo Perpuly in the mountains in the back of the port... where a tiny stream of water fell hundreds of feet from pool to pool. There were palm trees and wild grapes and ferns, and the water was cool and sweet."

The first real attempt at development was 1976 when the Mexican Federal government agency, FONATUR (National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism) began to implement a Three Step Development Plan approved by SEMARNAT (Mexico's environmental ministry) in Loreto that included development at Puerto Escondido as a harbor with zoning and infrastructure for marina, hotels, restaurants, golf course, condominiums and private residences.

From 1977 through 1982, FONATUR dredged the Marina Puerto Escondido entrance channel, increasing the width and depth to support a marina; dredged and created two of the three planned artificial islands in the bay; constructed a protective ellipse with seawall and jetty, dug a well, built a water treatment plant and roads; built a marina, launching ramp and dry storage.

In 2007-2008, the Bank foreclosed on the island residential real estate, which some of the current Marina Puerto Escondido partnership directors then purchased.

Then, in 2016, Hamann Companies and Inmobiliaria JEP created a partnership, combining assets purchased from the Bank and FONATUR. This began their ownership and management of the harbor and real estate development at Marina Puerto Escondido.

During 2016-2017, the marina entrance channel was dredged to restore the original depth implemented at the time of construction by FONATUR.

By 2017, a partnership with Poralu Marine, Hamann Companies and Inmobiliaria JEP proceeded to install more than 80 state-of-the-art slips, after which they completed construction on the first Waicuri-model home, Casa Palo Blanco, featuring a 100-foot private dock.

This brings us to my visit last weekend, [Nov. 4] for the Grand Opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony during a fiesta and dinner for nearly 300 dignitaries, locals and visitors.

Throughout the day, until the festivities began at 5:30, guests were invited to examine the 100-plus slips, along with 100 mooring balls, breakwater, and all the premium services, amenities and stores that are now available at the marina.

After the tours, they enjoyed a meal served with an extensive selection of Baja wines and featuring authentic Mexican roasted pig that had turned on a spit for hours until the meat was falling off the bone.

Mariachis entertained before dinner and a Mexican Folkloric dance troupe entertained after the ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the marina.

Many agree that Marina Puerto Escondido will be a game-changer for the area, allowing boaters access to a gateway offering some of the best the Sea of Cortez has to offer – islands that are deserted and protected from north winds, snorkeling, sportfishing and an opportunity to explore with friends. For those without their own boats, there are several charter fishing boats already operating out of the marina, along with several cruising options for extended trips available.

Almost 50 years have passed since I first saw this remote bay. The once rugged, hidden anchorage now offers a dream marina, Marina Puerto Escondido — a dream come true that has definitely been worth the wait.

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