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Hurricane Norma Inflicts Damage on Mexico’s Boating Community

Hurricane Norma crossed Mexico over the weekend, leaving some areas with damaged docks and sunken boats, and other vessels beached ashore. The storm had been approaching Cabo as a Category 4 hurricane, but was downgraded to a Category 1 before touching down on the Baja Peninsula. Nonetheless, local residents and businesses spent Saturday morning boarding up their windows and preparing for the onslaught.

The busy tourist town of Cabo San Lucas received 80 mph winds as the storm crossed the coast around 47 miles to the north and unleashed its fury on Todos Santos. Norma then crossed the peninsula and headed across the Sea of Cortez, but not before causing widespread damage and flooding in the the nearby townships.

Hurricane Norma La Paz
The path of Norma crossing over the tip of Cabo.
© 2023

Vince Maggiora from Sausalito called this morning from aboard his Mikelson 50 sportfisher Coco in Marina de La Paz, saying most boats in the marina fared well. He’s headed out this morning with others to help with beach cleanup around the many boats that came ashore during the storm. He reports that many beautiful boats at Marina Cortez have sunk at the docks.

Hurricane Norma La Paz
Perhaps this one will come out OK.
© 2023

Bay Area sailor Garrett Caldwell, who currently lives in La Paz, says dozens of boats in the region have sunk or run aground. Garrett’s own boat Oceanaire, a Tayana 47, is currently in Alameda.

sunken boat
Thankfully, more boats appear to be afloat than underwater.
© 2023 Garrett Caldwell
A sad sight for mariners.
© 2023 Facebook/Jason Hite

As we were preparing this story, Jason Hite, whose photos we share below, sent us this report:

“It is very sad what happened to La Paz. There have been a lot of people saying, ‘I told you so!’ and a lot of people saying, ‘Don’t be mean!’ The reality is if you’ve ever spent 24 hours at anchor in La Paz, you are familiar with the huge currents that affect the bay. The ‘La Paz Waltz’ is what they call the boats moving in unpredictable and unpleasant directions, which requires additional rode to be used. Additional space between boats is necessary, and you need to reset your anchor every few days to avoid its getting tangled and fouled. This is a normal day in La Paz. During king tides and Northers, it’s normal to have boats dragging. Some end up on the beach, but more often they stop when they foul another boat or two.

“To consider these [appropriate] conditions to endure a hurricane is simply irresponsible. You’re basically betting that there won’t be a hurricane. If there is one, you’re done! Every boat that is still floating out there is floating for two reasons: 1) The owners did an adequate job protecting their boat; 2) They got lucky. Even if all your stuff is good, there is always the risk of another boat that did not have their shit together colliding with you and taking you out. This risk is very high in La Paz due to the tidal current and the number of unmanaged, unoccupied boats in the anchorage.

“There is no reason to be in the anchorage during a hurricane. Thanks to technology, there is adequate time to relocate. If your boat is broken, then shame on you for being anchored in a dangerous place during hurricane season with a disabled boat. If your boat was at Marina Cortez, then you should have known by looking at the design of that place that it’s debatable if it’s any safer than being anchored.

“The good news is there should be [fewer] derelict boats in the anchorage this season when the Ha-Ha fleet arrives. Enjoy Mexico; it’s awesome!

“Here’s the latest info I have as of this morning:

“People: Bob on SV Adios died from a heart attack on his boat during the storm. He was in a slip in a marina.

“Boats Damaged/Sunk/On the Beach: Ingenium, Luna, Tangler, Seamentress (owner died earlier this year), Indecorous (looking for a health and safety check on the owner), Eloc A III, Pani Jensen, Cassandra, Mixed Tape, Spellbound, Go for Broke, Dispursor, Rock Bottom (owner died earlier this year), Pirisea, Calypso II, Callisto, Encore, Oyster House, Pelagios.

“Heard that they were drifting but do not know the status: Integrity, Sea Wolf.

“Marina Damage Report: Marina Cortez had dock failures, five boats sunk, most damaged. Marina Costa Baja — damage to outer-basin docks, 5-7 boats lost. Marina Don Jose had dock failures, one sunk boat.”

We hope many of these boats can be salvaged and returned to service.
© 2023 Facebook/Iker Cano Mendoza
Ingenium looks as if she has a chance. Perhaps she can be refloated on the tide?
© 2023 Facebook/Bev Jmaiff Garrett

From the information we’ve seen it appears most boats and docks in Marina de La Paz and Marina Palmira are in much better shape. Additionally, we have heard the Marina Cabo San Lucas fared OK. There is lots of damage assessment going on this morning, so we may get more updates as the extent of the damage becomes clear.

Tropical Storm Otis is set to strike southern Mexico on Tuesday morning.

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8 Comments

  1. Kelvin Meeks 9 months ago

    This reminded me of Hurricane Marty that struck La Paz on Sept 22nd, 2003.

    This YouTube video clip may be of interest, for comparison
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wyzlZdTiHo

    • douglas nicholson 9 months ago

      I had my boat on the hard at Abaroa for Marty, and it was fine, while 100m away in MDLP the docks broke up, boats sunk and many many where damaged.. boats blew down in the Palmira yard.. not a concrete surface like Abaroa. If you leave your boat in Mexico for Hurricane season.. choose wisely and hope to be lucky.. I felt very lucky.

  2. PJ 9 months ago

    Spent 2-3 months in Marina Cortez in late 2017. Wanted to be in Marina de La Paz, but no openings A benefit to that general area is that there are several good marine stores within a reasonable distance. BTW, Banderas Bay has Very Few!!

    At that time, whenever there was “strongish” wind, Marina Cortez became a VERY uncomfortable place to be. Lots of big waves forming inside the marina; lots of fetch between its outer floating surround and the marina docks. The maximum winds that we encountered at that time were likely in the low 20s. Easy to understand why they had so many problems…

  3. El Jay 9 months ago

    And who can forget Hurricane Odile in 2014? Cat 5 basted Cabo and La Paz. If Norma had been that big the damage would have been much worse.

    • Conni Livsey 9 months ago

      Yes – I do remember Odile. We were on the hard in Marina San Carlos across the Sea. Lots of destruction in the La Paz area. I agree with the comments that being at anchor there in a hurricane or even a lesser blow is an invitation to disaster.

  4. Wanda Turner 9 months ago

    Jason is awesome… stay safe my friend.
    🌴💦🧜‍♀️

  5. Jo 7 months ago

    Hi, I grew up on the Rockbottom and my dad and our family built it and lived on it for 22 years and sailed it from Olympia Washington to LA Paz, where because of family problems my parents had to sell it and care for there children in distress. So sad to see she is grounded. Five girls grew up on that boat with their loving parents and built it as a family. Best memories of our lives. I was even married on that bow in the ocean. Breaks my heart I could never tell my parents it would kill them to see where our amazing home ended up because they gave it up to help there daughters out of love. Rest in piece rockbottom thank you for the amazing memories!!!

  6. Jolene 7 months ago

    I am jo who left the last comment. I appreciate your articles because you featured our boat rockbottom in. 2014 with hurricane odile. We did not own the boat at that time and was only months after my parents sold it. But because of your article we knew what had happened. And once again you posted about our beloved rockbottom. Please if you ever find out if it was saved or not I would greatly appreciate any info on our childhood home. If it was sold or salvaged we are dying to know

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