Astillero Cabrales – the right Decision?

The Astillero Cabrales, with its many different names will be our home for the next few months while we renovate our boat. There are some good reasons why we chose this place. After the first few days on dry dock, it turns out that our choice was the right one.

Growth on Milagros' hull

As I write these lines, I am already back in bitterly cold Switzerland. It’s hard to imagine that Carmen, Iñaki and I almost froze to death last week at 14 ° C in the Astillero Cabrales.

Milagros is now on the hard in Puerto Peñasco. Astillero Cabrales, Rocky Point Boatyard or Cabrales Boatyard, our dry dock has many different names.

The explanation:

  • Cabrales is the last name of the owner family. Astillero Cabrales is the Spanish version, “Astillero” means “boat yard” in English.
  • Cabrales Boatyard should is self-explanatory.
  • “Rocky Point” is the American version of “Puerto Peñasco”. Hence “Rocky Point Boatyard” for all our American friends.
Boats behind the fence of Cabrales Boatyard
Cabrales Boatyard in Puerto Peñasco

Why Astillero Cabrales?

The small town of Puerto Peñasco is located in the north of Mexico in the state of Sonora. One of the main reasons we chose the Astillero Cabrales is its proximity to the USA. The drive to Lukeville in Arizona is very manageable at just under an hour to drive. Phoenix is also a stone’s throw away, as it is just under 4 hours away. That should make it easier for us to order and pick up the necessary materials.

The greed for shrimp

The Astillero Cabrales used to specialize in work on shrimp trawlers. Since overfishing is known to have caused damage all over the world, the Sea of Cortez and its north were of course not spared. The world’s seafood demand has exploded to such an extent that despite government restrictions, shrimp stocks have been practically overfished to the brink of extinction. This is of course also done with trawling nets that are pulled along the ground, destroying the seafloor. The shrimps’ livelihoods deteriorate year after year. Not to imagine how much other marine life suffers from trawling. And then there’s the bycatch.

The Vaquita

As such, the Vaquita (which means “little cow” in Spanish) ends up in Mexican fishing nets. The one-and-a-half-meter long animal would be one of the rarest marine mammals already anyway. Unfortunately, it invariably inhabits the same small area in the north of the Gulf of California as the “Totoaba“. This fish can grow up to two meters long. Its swim bladder is (who would have thought) used on the black market in China as a medicinal and anti-aging agent.

This means that Vaquitas regularly end up as bycatch on fishing boats. While 567 of the animals were counted in 1997, only 20 are now likely to swim in the Sea of Cortez. An amazing mural right next to the Astillero Cabrales testifies to the disaster. If only it wasn’t for that damn stake in front!

A mural next to the boatyard showing a mermaid with a Vaquita
The beautiful mural in front of Astillero Cabrales

Astillero Cabrales got it

The Astillero Cabrales probably also noticed that it would not end well with shrimp fishing. Thus, in addition to working on the huge steel ships, the sailing community has become a source of income. We’re all on the other side of the spectrum. When sailing we have a direct connection to Mother Nature like hardly anyone else. We don’t overfish. Fortunately, we cannot end up as bycatch either, so a steady supply of sailboats always finds its way to Astillero Cabrales. We generate money, too.

Salvador – the heart of the Astillero Cabrales

Another reason why we found accommodation at the Astillero Cabrales is our research. All the reports and other blog posts that we have found tell stories of the great community among the sailors and the management. The phone call with Salvador, the owner of the shipyard, was also thoroughly positive. A sailor himself, he helps the salty residents of his place wherever he can. So just to make sure: In no way do we want to make anyone at or around Astillero Cabrales responsible for overfishing and the sitation of the Vaquita!

A little preview

We got a little foretaste when we arrived and hauled-out Milagros at Astillero Cabrales. When Milagros was lifted onto the square by the travel lift, curious faces came emerged from all around. People wanted to see who the newcomers were of course. During the cleaning of the underwater hull and the moving of Milagros, we got into conversation with many residents of the yard.

Campfire à la Astillero Cabrales

So, it’s no surprise that the Astillero Cabrales family has their own little rituals. For example, we enjoyed a small Friday ritual. Every Friday evening, whoever feels like it, meets around a small fire. Warmth was sorely needed during our visit because it got quite cold in the evening. All that’s missing is a daily coffee ritual with Captain Max and Sophia, then the circle would be complete.

Preparations for departure

Barely arrived at the Astillero Cabrales, it was already time to prepare for departure again. Of course, there was time for a little bit of shop talk here and there. After all, fellow cruisers wanted to know what we were up to with Milagros and what kind of work was pending. But more about that another time. Fortunately, we are gone only for about two months. In the middle of the desert, all sand and dust would quickly accumulate. Carmen and Iñaki can tell you a thing or two about that. A lot of boaters have their vessels wrapped in plastic shrink wrap before leaving.

The big cleaning

But now we first had to get rid of the leftovers from our 1500 nautical miles. Carmen and I scrubbed the whole deck, removing the salt as best we could. The three of us removed the sails, of course not without an incident. In the last third of the lead on the forestay (the front mast support) the headsail got stuck and couldn’t be brought down. So climbing was due again and I was able to recover our Genoa. When we had stowed the head- and mainsail, it was time for a fresh water bath for the lines. It’s unbelievable how much exhaust gas residues from the cruise ships in Ensenada could still be found. Water mixed with a little soap and vinegar turned brown immediately as soon as the lines were immersed.

David climbing the forestay and trying to lower the headsail

Carmen and Iñaki are going home

Then it was time to say goodbye. Carmen and Iñaki made their way back to Anila. Our taxi driver made a short stop with us halfway to the bus station – Taco Take Away was the order of the day /evening. After we had enjoyed the tacos in front of the bus station, it was already time for boarding. Bye Carmen, bye Iñaki! Back on Milagros, I had to get used to being alone first. The biggest advantage of being on board solo was that I was finally able to take back our huge, super comfortable bed in the aft cabin again.

Au revoir, Astillero Cabrales

After I also cleaned the interiors of Milagros and gave away the last contents of our refrigerator to our fellow sailors, it was time for me to say goodbye too. My bus left at 11 p.m., so I was all alone on the Astillero Cabrales when the taxi was waiting at the entrance. There she now stood in the dark, our Milagros. Ready to be spruced up for good. I knew she would be in good hands.

Milagros is prepared for my departure at night
Farewell, Milagros. Farewell, Astillero Cabrales.

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