We leave the most beautiful bay and continue our way north. Isla Coronados and San Juanico are up next. Once again, we fix things with a beautiful view and meet a fellow Swiss traveler who is on a long journey.
In V-Cove (or El Refugio) on the north side of Isla Carmen things turned a wee bit uncomfortable after a few days. The wind had shifted, bringing waves into the bay, and the wind forecast remained unfavourable. So, it was time to move on. The next stop was Isla Coronados, about 10 nautical miles north. It wasn’t easy to choose one of the anchorages on this island, as the forecast announced winds from all directions. Eventually we anchored in the popular south-western bay, which proved to be a good choice overall.
On the way there, our tiller autopilot on the wind steering system gave up the ghost. We’d been struggling with a loose contact before, but now even shaking and twisting the plug didn’t help anymore. This meant that we now had to steer by hand under engine. But in these last 1.5 years on the boat, we have become creative solution finders. Since we quickly identified the socket in the deck as the problem, we removed it. It must have gotten grimy, dirty and corroded over all the years. We couldn’t find a replacement for it here anyways.
Without further ado, we rebuilt our spare tiller autopilot in a way so that we could connect it to the power supply with snap plug connectors. We closed the hole in the deck with a plastic plug and ran the power cable through it. This way, once we have the new socket ready, we can just fit it in and use the original, bigger autopilot again.
Because we had now entered a fixing flow (and since sailing is “fixing things in exotic places”), we also devoted ourselves to other projects at this beautiful anchorage with white sand beaches and turquoise green waters. Since we had not yet eliminated our mast pumping fully, we mounted our running backstays. These are 2 steel cables give extra support to the upper third of the mast. David also took the opportunity to clean up the rest of the rigging and found that the rigging was quite loose around the top spreaders. This was not good, but manageable for the time being. As we would soon meet Dogfish with Marga and a rigging tension gauge on board, and did not expect any crazy headwinds with the according waves any time soon, we would deal with that problem later.
We got more shade
Milagros also finally got a bimini. After months of just sailing around with the frame, we sewed a makeshift cover out of shade cloth and also repaired our Mexican flag, which was already looking a bit desolate. Also, our 12 V socket, which we use to power the inverter for Starlink, needed a larger diameter cable. When we started Starlink, the inverter sometimes had problems. Now it doesn’t anymore.
The first day there were 3 boats with us in the anchorage when we pulled in. Every day, the number increased. One evening we did a nice hike that took us over loose pebbles and big boulders to the island’s extinct volcano. Before the last and very steep big climb, however, we abandoned the exercise because, as usual, we had only mounted our Crocs. We still had a full overview of the bay and now counted a mere 17 boats. Now that was not a remote Sea of Cortez anchorage anymore. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the view with a beer. On the way back, we met a few sailors who had arranged to meet on the beach for drinks. Among them was Thomas from Switzerland, who has been sailing on Robusta with his partner for 8 years.
The adventures of Robusta
Considering that tiny Switzerland is a landlocked country, we have already met quite a few Swiss folks here in the Sea of Cortez. We enjoyed being able to converse in Swiss German again. Thomas invited us for a beer at Robusta the next day. On her long journey Robusta had already sailed from Germany across the Atlantic, around Cape Horn, then to the South Seas, New Zealand and Japan, Alaska, and all the way back to Mexico. Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet his partner Anya yet, because she was visiting her parents in Switzerland. We also talked about our big plans, which is not a big plan at all. Haha. We would like to sail to Panama next season, but that’s about it for now. We shall see.
One evening we heard we overheard on the radio that there were two humpback whales in our anchorage. David and I immediately grabbed the kayak and paddled in their direction. As soon as we saw them appear somewhere, we tried to guess where they would appear next. Since these gigantic marine mammals dive for about 15 minutes on average, that was a bit like playing the lottery. We still managed to get pretty close to them. What a cool thing to experience. Unfortunately, there are no photos. We had no time to waste, we had to paddle!
When the whales left the bay, we were quite far away from Milagros, but right next to Bodhisattwa. We knew this boat from the Cabrales boatyard. The owners had started preparing the boat for a new paint job just before we left. Mike and Wendy spontaneously invited us for a beer, when David suddenly noticed that he was only sitting in his undies in the kayak. Never mind. We had a good laugh about it. Where else do you have a beer with quasi-strangers on their terrace in undies? And no, there are no photos of that either.
We move on
Here in Coronados we met Hazel and Paul from SV Susimi again. We had a similar schedule – it turned out that we both had made a reservation for the same date at the same marina in Santa Rosalia. And over a drink on Susimi, we realised that we also had chosen the same anchorages in between. So, we also used the same weather window to sail the 20 nautical miles north to San Juanico/Ramada. Unusual swell, about two metres high, unfortunately made it impossible for us to make progress under sail in what was actually good wind, so we mostly had to use the engine.
Change of plans
With the prevailing south-easterly wind at this time of year (and the unusual swell), we wanted to head for the northern bay “Ramada Cove”, which according to the guidebook offered space for two to three boats in southerly winds. Shortly before we arrived, we heard a radio call from a boat asking how many boats were in Ramada. When we heard the answer “five”, we changed our plan and headed for the south bay of San Juanico. On this day we tested our new “day captain” concept for the first time, so that we interfere less in each other’s decisions when sailing. David was the captain that day. And I would say it worked quite well. But we still need some practice 😊.
Another first time
For the first time this season, we anchored in 13 ft (about 4 m) of water. We hadn’t dared to go into such shallow water before. With our draft of just under 7 ft (2 m), that means only 6 ft (2 m) of water left under our keel. The wind picked up more and more in the afternoon and now blew into the anchorage at 20 knots. A shallow reef protected us somewhat from unpleasant swell. Nevertheless, we explored the coastline by kayak and walked along the beach. In the evening, Paul and Hazel came over for a drink. Later, as we were leaving, we switched on the deck lights and attracted about 20 golden cownose rays. They swam in circles next to our boat, making for a very pretty sight.
Snorkelling in ice-cold water
The next morning, we tried snorkelling on the reef, but the water was so cold that David could only stay in the water for 2 minutes and I had to deal with brain freeze. Unfortunately, there were only the usual suspects to see. There’s really not anything bad to say about the snorkelling in the Sea of Cortez, but sometimes we get the feeling that there are only about 10 different species of fish swimming around, which of course is rubbish. We think the main reason for the lack of diversity is that we almost always choose the same structures and water depths when snorkelling. Consequently, we always see about the same inhabitants.
That same day we decided to try our luck in the northern, more scenic part of the bay. Paul and Hazel went first. The anchorage is wedged between two big rocks, doesn’t have much space and is not very deep. A place we would normally not dare to go. However, we anchored next to Susimi and they signalled us with a “thumbs up” that we were not too close to what felt like a veeeerrrrrrrrrry close rock face behind us.
Exploring the area
We then explored the area with Paul and Hazel – the close by farm selling fresh vegetables was unfortunately closed on Sundays. When we came over the hill into Ramada Cove, there were already 7 boats anchored in what is actually a really nice little cove. And the row of boats furthest out seemed quite unprotected against the swell. Back on our side of San Juanico, we saw that the wind had increased significantly. And with the rising tide, the reef here also offered less and less protection from the waves. Our boats rocked back and forth and up and down.
We need to leave
Needless to say, shortly after we decided we didn’t want to stay any longer. The weather forecast showed consistent south easterly wind for the entire week. No thanks. But in the end, we were rewarded for our stay with blatant bioluminescence during the night. After we had stayed for a couple of drinks on Susimi way beyond sunset, each of our paddling movements in our kayak led to disco in the water. Tiny single-celled algae react to any external disturbance with bursts of light that last only a fraction of a second. They do this for their own protection. They illuminate approaching enemies and attract the enemies’ enemies in this way. There’s always a bigger fish!
An uncomfortable night
During the night, the wind shifted a little, causing us to be anchored sideways to the waves. It was not easy to get enough sleep for the 10-hour trip the next day, which was supposed to start at sunrise. In the middle of the night, David woke me up to show me the Milky Way. Far away from any light pollution and barely any moonlight, we had a breath-taking view of our galaxy. I guess every negative moment has a positive side to it…
A big part of cruising is meeting new people and old friends – of course beer is usually involved. Wanna support us with that? Then feel free to offer us a drink by clicking the button below! You can also become a monthly contributor by heading over to Patreon if you want! Thanks a lot!