Change of Plans and Background Noise

Before we wrap up our first sailing season, we’re treating ourselves to a week at Santa Rosalia Marina. For this we must dock Milagros in a marina slip for the first time, which puts our nerves to the test. We’re enjoying the marina time before sailing through the night to reach our summer break destination. And we find the cause of a noise that has been bothering us for a very long time.

Before our big jump to the other side of the Sea of Cortez, we wanted to relax in the small marina of Santa Rosalia. Since we had already heard from several other boats that they also wanted to go there, we reserved a berth early on. It’s not usually necessary, but this year there were an unusual number of boats sailing the Sea of Cortez. We do not know exactly why. It’s probably a combination of Corona traffic jam, i.e. sailors who couldn’t come to their boat during Corona, and newcomers who decided to finally live their dream after Corona. The boat market was and is hot – prices are high and good boats are quickly off the market.

Change of plans at the last minute

We left the anchorage in front of Isla San Marcos just before sunrise and reached the port entrance of Santa Rosalia 2 hours later. We were in contact with Katie from SV Alegría via WhatsApp during the short crossing and informed her that we wanted to dock on the port side (with the left side of the boat) at the end tie. I was at the helm and David was preparing the boat for docking. Mooring lines and fenders were ready. As soon as we passed the harbour entrance at a snail’s pace, we got the message from Katie that the marina had other plans for us. They wanted us to dock further in. On the starboard side. Which is not the one we had prepared.

The marina in Santa Rosalia

Mooring in the marina?

For a short time, things got a bit hectic aboard Milagros. We didn’t have much time because the marina was just to the left after entering the harbour. So, David had to quickly change all the lines and fenders to the other side. And I had to adjust my manoeuvre at short notice. We chose the end tie in the first place because it was the easiest to dock at. We had never moored alone in a marina with Milagros. After all, we didn’t want to damage our boat, the dock, or anything or anyone else.

Stress is useless

But the conditions that day were ideal – there were no wind or waves. So, I slowly maneuvered Milagros into the marina. Slowly, that she was just about manoeuvrable. “Slow is pro” – I took that literally. But that wouldn’t have worked with more wind, because the boat offers a fairly large surface for the wind to attack, push, and tear, and that could have pushed us onto other boats. Then, driving in swiftly would have been the better option. But there was no wind. Katie and two marina employees were waiting at the dock and helped us with the dock lines.

The marina is full

Once again, we were able to successfully tick something off our list of ‘first timers’. The only damage done was to David’s forehead. When changing lines, he hit his head on a solar panel. As a comforter, we toasted the successful manoeuvre with a beer. And Thomas welcomed us in the Swiss alley – we had docked right next to Robusta. A short time later, Susimi and Mar de Luz also docked in the marina which now was definitely full. Finally, we were back in Santa Rosalia. Iñaki, David and Carmen had previously stopped here when they brought Milagros to Puerto Peñasco.

Finally air conditioning again

We enjoyed life in the marina. Tacos, ice cream, shopping – all within walking distance. A few days later, Marga, her father and her sister joined us with Dogfish, and anchored in Santa Rosalia harbour. It was crazy hot in the marina, there was hardly a breeze making it to our boat. Katie would invite us onto air-conditioned Alegría, so we could escape the heat. Unfortunately, we had left our AC in Puerto Peñasco. But we found out that Marga had an AC unit for sale. Deal!

Historic Santa Rosalia

Despite the heat, we explored the cultural side of Santa Rosalia. The city owes its existence and foundation to the rich copper deposits discovered in the region in 1868, which were mined there until the mid-1980s. Then the permanently loss-making operation was stopped. A Korean company has been mining copper ore again with hydrometallurgical plants since 2015. There is a museum and many slowly decaying buildings that characterize the cityscape, dating back to the days when the mining operations were still active. We visited the museum and were guided through an old power station. With combined Spanish forces, we managed to ask the guide about the old days. He patiently answered all our questions. With the cultural came the culinary amenities of being in a marina.

Fish for everyone

David had expressed an interest in a fresh yellowtail through a contact at the local fishing shop. We had gotten used to not necessarily seeing promises as given, but rather as an opportunity. We were all the happier when David received the call that a 10 kg fish would be brought to us. Actually, we didn’t know what to do with so much fish, but for 50 pesos (2.50$) per kilo you can’t say no. We fileted the beast on the dock, invited our friends over and started with sashimi (raw and unseasoned 3-4 mm fillets). We’ve also made sushi, pasta with marinara sauce, and soup. And we gave half of it away. Everything was super tasty, but after 3 days we had definitely had enough.

We’re going on a night sail

After 8 days in Santa Rosalia, we had a suitable weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos where we intended to haul out our boat for the summer break. We calculated about 15 hours for the 75 nautical miles (approx. 140 km). Since we wanted to arrive in daylight, we left the marina in the late afternoon. We weren’t really looking forward to the night crossing. When it’s dark, everything is more threatening – the wind, the sounds. And since someone should always be awake, we decided on 4-hour night shifts. We don’t like sailing at night.

Dark clouds on the horizon

The journey actually started out well. We were accompanied out to sea by dolphins on the bow. But the predicted wind did not come and only after dark we could sail. Because we wanted to be careful, we had reduced the sail area to reef 2 before sunset. Suddenly, dark clouds began to form in the distance and lightning began to flash. The wind also increased steadily. Of course, the thunderstorm was sitting exactly where we wanted to go. And we didn’t want to go where the storm was. So, we changed our course to the north and checked for anchorage alternatives.

Hello San Carlos

We didn’t want to anchor much further up the coast if it wasn’t really necessary. Strong southerly winds were forecast for the coming week, and we had made an appointment for the haul out with the marina in San Carlos. We had built in enough buffer days to be able to catch our flights to Switzerland even in the event of complications. But going down the coast against southerly winds is no fun either. Luckily, the thunderstorms gradually abated, and we were able to set course for our actual destination, Bahía Algodones.

It’s rolly

Shortly after 8 am we anchored in the northern part of the bay. Originally, we had planned to anchor in the southern part in front of a rockface to be protected from the southerly wind forecasted. But we went past the rocky cliff, didn’t find it very pretty and crossed the bay to the other side. There were a few other boats anchored there too, so we figured that would fit. It did, too, until after sunset. Then the rocking started. Waves from the south were swept around the corner straight into the bay where we were anchored. The boat rocked from left to right, more and more. In the galley, dishes rattled and anything that wasn’t perfectly secured was thrown around in the cabin. We cursed ourselves for not just anchoring in front of the rocks.

Let’s get out of here quickly

So, the next morning we got the boat ready again. As soon as we saw the first rays of sunshine on the horizon, we started the engine and crossed the bay again. Another boat also escaped, but unlike us, they left the bay. We wanted to check the situation in front of the rockface. Lo and behold, less than 30 minutes later we were anchored in calm seas. And we cursed some more because we could have had calmness all night.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

But we got something else in return: Our anchorage was next to the entrance to Marina Real of San Carlos. As soon as breakfast was over, the first jet skis showed up. Then the motorboats came together with the water skiers and the loud music. All day long they passed in front of and behind us, making Milagros rock with the wakes they produced.

There is a noise

And then there was that one noise. Since the launch, it has bothered me. As I lay in bed, I heard a “pock-pock” right next to my head when the boat rolled to starboard, but only then. When she tilted back the other way, you couldn’t hear anything. I had searched every single cupboard in the cabins, head and cockpit looking for the source. I had also checked the engine room and under our bed as we suspected occasional play in the rudder stock. For example, I sat on the floor in front of our bed in the dark (the noise only bothers you when you want to sleep), shined a flashlight on the steering gear and tried to find the physical movement to the noise. Unfortunately, unsuccessful.

What can it be?

What annoyed me the most was that the noise was asymmetrical, so it wasn’t something that rolled back and forth. And it was pretty loud, so it had to be something heavy. I had imagined every possible object and mentally went through our inventory to find something that fit that description. But I just couldn’t find anything.

What a relief

Checking the lockers in the cockpit again, I caught a faint movement out of the corner of my eye. I took a closer look, and the movement matched the rhythm of the sound. I couldn’t hear anything, but I asked David to listen downstairs while I held the object to test. And I almost started crying when David confirmed that the noise downstairs was gone. What a relief! What was it? The pulley of our genoa (headsail). A small movement that was barely visible to the naked eye. And the boat acted as a sound box, amplifying the sounds below decks. I had searched for it for hours, but I would never have found it. Unfortunately, the discovery came a little late – just before the haul out. But it will save us a lot of nerves in the future.

That’s it!

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