Dolphins for Breakfast

In this episode of Sailing Milagros: I travel around the world, a little love for the dogs of El Mero, commuting in Thailand, we have to say goodbye again, a big crossing, dolphins everywhere, and yet another change of plans. So much has happened in the past few weeks, I almost don’t know where to start and where to stop. After long and busy weeks at the dock of El Mero, we finally make our way south and thus towards Panama. But first, there´s some things to take care of! Some more important, some less.

I’ve been working for a Swiss company for almost 10 years now, which includes assignments abroad every once in a while. This time around, I flew to Bangkok for a little over two weeks, which I´ve spent working long days at our office there. It was great fun to immerse myself in working life again, to see my colleagues again and to be out and about in a noisy, big city. Time flew by and I even had time for some sightseeing. And who would have thought? Of course, I chose a boat trip. My dad has travelled Thailand a few years ago and always highly recommended a Bangkok river cruise experience to me.

Boat traffic in the big city

The Chao Prayha River meanders through the middle of Bangkok and is frequented by all kinds of boating traffic. What the bus, the regional train or the tram are for us in Switzerland, the boat is for the population of Bangkok, among other means of getting from A to B. The river is frequented by various boat lines, which are distinguished from each other by colored flags. I decided to take the slowest of them all, which is marked by an orange flag and stops at most piers on both sides of the river.

The wild ride begins

I stood at the pier on our free Sunday and waited for a fast, long boat with a waving orange flag, which arrived after a short wait. Powered by a large, noisy diesel engine, the boat snarled my way, only docked with the stern and I was escorted onto the boat by a whistle-wielding attendant. The trip cost a whopping 16 baht (50 cents), which you had to pay to another employee who, like in the good old days, walked up and down the boat with a small, rattling cash register to issue the tickets.

Thai engines have to work hard

I quickly realized that Burrito (our diesel engine) lives a really comfortable, almost luxurious life aboard Milagros. The captain of the longboat let his engine roar, especially on the piers the forward and reverse gears were engaged with revs increased to five digits. I almost pitied the screaming engine in its box a bit. Who knows, maybe Thai diesel engines like it hard. The communication between captain and attendant on the back of the boat took place via whistle and rear-view mirror and was very well-rehearsed. Pati and I can only dream of such seasoned communication on Milagros. Maybe, we may also need to order a whistle and rear-view mirrors.

Pati is doing good for the canine world

While I was enjoying myself on rivers abroad, Pati, along with a few other residents of the Kingdom of El Mero, did something good for the dogs that lived with us on the dock. SBPA San Carlos is a non-profit organization dedicated to neutering street and family dogs free of charge. Mexico, like so many other countries around the world, has a huge, unmanageable stray problem, and SBPA is trying to help. After a quick phone call to the organization, an SBPA employee arrived in the wee morning hours at 7am on a Sunday to capture and neuter all the unneutered dogs that roam the docks.


Dingo, Rubber Ball, Cheesecake, Einstein

As if suspecting, the unneutered dogs were nowhere to be found and only two unfortunate remaining animals were captured and had their surgeries. Einstein and Cheesecake (other dogs got names like One Year and Two Year, Rubber Ball, Dingo or Mamacita, the residents of El Mero are extremely creative) had their balls and ovaries removed. As soon as the procedure was completed and the SBPA lady took off, all the unneutered dogs reappeared out of nowhere. Clever, clever. Unfortunately, I missed the action because I was still in Thailand.

Please help the dogs of Guaymas: We know that all of you have a few dollars, francs, euros or baht to spare to help SBPA. Opens your wallet and do something good for the canine world of Guaymas, Mexico! A castration costs around 20 bucks. We’ve already donated 100 dollars, so off you go, too! You can donate easily for example via Paypal here. It is worth it!

A long, long journey back from Thailand

My time in Bangkok passed quickly. My return voyage not so much. It was one of the longest I have ever undertaken, and God knows I have traveled a lot in my lifetime. One hour by taxi to the airport, 7.5 hours from Bangkok to Tokyo, just under 13 hours from Tokyo to Mexico City, 24 hours of layover in Mexico City, 3 hours from Mexico City to Hermosillo, 2 hours bus to Guaymas, a 45 minutes drive from the bus terminal to Milagros. All in all, complete madness, but in the end the trip passed relatively quickly and you can never go wrong with spending time in Mexico City. We can only recommend a visit to the capital of Mexico to you all! If you want to dive into the capital with us – here`s the first part of a two part blog post about our visit a while ago.

Home at last

When the bus finally turned into its destination in Guaymas, Pati was already waiting for me. It was late evening and dark night. We didn’t even have to take a cab since she was allowed to borrow Keith’s car. My return from Bangkok also marked the official start of our journey south. This year we want to make it to Panama and finally catch up with Iñaki and Carmen. We wanted to take another week or so to prepare the boat and complete a small upgrade that has been taking far too long.

An upgrade for our solar panels

Our solar panels were previously only supported by two plastic stands made by the previous owner, which were not screwed to the solar panels. So, it happened again and again that the wind lifted the solar panels out of their stands and they banged down on the railing. We decided to put an end to this problem once and for all by ordering fancy stainless steel stands from local metal worker and welder Jorge Garcia. As is unfortunately often the case in Mexico, he took far too long with the production of said stands. Unfortunately, the whole project degenerated into a last-minute project with which we are satisfied with overall, but which did not turn out as we had imagined. Nevertheless, our old and new solar panels are now safe from the wind. The installation also marked our final touches on Milagros in the beautiful kingdom of El Mero, before attempting the crossing back to the Baja California Peninsula.

Goodbye, dear kingdom!

Of course, we couldn’t leave El Mero without hanging out one last time on the dock with all the lovely people that have made our stay so enjoyable. We haven’t experienced such a great community since Cabrales Boatyard. We will miss you guys! And then, just in time for the beginning of a new week, we started our next great adventure. Upon leaving, we almost broke off our two new solar panels on one of El Mero´s big bollards. They are only still attached to the boat thanks to Lucas’ quick intervention. The moral of the story: We always have enough time to think through the departure maneuvers and do a quick briefing, but for some inexplicable reason we just don’t.

Thanks for the great shot, Tyr!

A sporty start to the crossing

The weather window we chose promised light wind sailing or motoring. Ha! Not even close! As soon as we turned the corner out of El Mero, the wind picked up and we were flying in 15 knots of wind with an average of 7 knots. Instead of light wind sailing, Milagros was in racing mode. Even with a double reefed (reduced) mainsail, Milagros didn’t lose a bit of momentum. We had exactly the same experience as at the end of 2020 when crossing from Ensenada to the boatyard of Puerto Peñasco – once the wind picked up Milagros has chosen her speed, you can reef all you want. So, we raced out of the bay of Guaymas and had a lot of fun. We definitely feel our experience growing more and more.

The sea calms down

After almost 5 hours of high-speed sailing and as it got dark, the wind steadily decreased. That was actually what was predicted in the forecasts. After a beautiful sunset it was time to furl the headsail and Burrito had to get to work. We chugged out into a clear and freezing cold night. During my 8pm to midnight shift, I could practically watch the waters calm down. A few hours ago, we were being pushed around by the Sea of Cortez, now she was smooth as a mirror and calm. Pati had decided to sleep in the cockpit because of the movement of the waves, for my resting time, I went to V-berth since the waves had subsided.

Dolphins for breakfast

The next morning, just in time for coffee, visitors. As usual, they arrived completely unannounced. All of a sudden, there they were. Dolphins! A small group of bottlenose dolphins gathered at the bow of Milagros. Little did we know then that this small group was only the vanguard of a large school of probably several hundred animals. Suddenly we noticed that dorsal fins could be seen everywhere behind the boat, plowing through the water.

The dolphins are catching up

Just wow.

The dolphins were on exactly the same course as we were. While the few animals in front had already made themselves comfortable, the rest stayed at a distance behind the boat, which didn’t last long though, because suddenly the dolphins took off like crazy until they caught up with us. Hundreds of dolphins stayed all around the boat for a little over an hour and so we became part of their group. What an awesome experience. Seeing wildlife from such a perspective is probably one of the greatest privileges that comes with living on the water. These are the very memories that will last a lifetime.

Land Ho!

After the dolphins had said their goodbye, our anchorage of choice “San Juanico” was already in sight. Anyone who has been reading along for a while knows that we anchored there with Hazel and Paul on the SV Susimi last summer on our way north. What a stunning place to be! In San Juanico we wanted to wait out the strong northerly wind. We were already preparing for anchoring when Pete from SV Swan Song and Bernie from SV Momo radioed in. They had been there for a few days so we asked about the situation.

A small change of plans

Pete had just set out to sail towards Isla Coronados, hoping it would be a little quieter there. Apparently, San Juanico was rather shaky even without a strong north wind and there were already a few other boats anchored in the bay. After our experience on Isla Espiritu Santo, we want(ed) to avoid a repeatition very, very much. All in all, the info and a very nice wind and wave situation made us decide to just follow Pete and sail with him straight to Isla Coronados. Turns out the decision was the right one and it was a really comfortable trip with nice light wind sailing over flat, calm water. Our little “Champagne sail” resulted in some great pictures of Swan Song and Milagros.

Back on the beautiful island

We were amazed when we turned the corner at the southeastern tip of Isla Corondos and only two other boats were anchored on the long, sandy shore. So, we took our time to choose an anchorage spot and found ourselves for the umpteenth time on the paradise island of Coronados that impresses with everything that the Sea of Cortez has to offer. White sandy beaches, hiking trails, beautiful surroundings, a large city nearby which provides cell signal and lots of sea creatures.

Time for an anchor beer

The water was crystal clear and as soon as we anchored, the first puffer fish found themselves near the anchor chain to look for food in the sandy seabed, which had been churned up by our anchor chain. A pod of dolphins swam by, the water was turquoise green, the clouds drifted by and hung themselves on the mountain peaks around us dramatically. What a great start to the new season. It was time for anchor beers and making plans for our stay. Good times ahead!

So, that´s it for this weeks blog post. This time around, we´re not asking for beer donations, but for donations to the SBPA neutering service in Guaymas. Please do something good and help contain the amount of homeless dogs roaming the streets of Guaymas. You choose how you want to donate on SBPA´s homepage by clicking the button below! It´s very easy! We promise! Thanks very much! Wooof!

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