With our arrival at Isla Coronados, we had successfully completed our first sailing trip of the season and have officially started our journey towards Panama. We had about three weeks until we had to be in La Paz, which was about 130 nautical miles (approximately 250 km) away. There we were going to pick up valuable cargo: our friend Flo from Switzerland will be joining us to sail all the way to Puerto Vallarta on the Mexican mainland.
Before that, we wanted to explore a few more anchorages on the Baja side. Although Isla Coronados was not entirely new to us, we had never anchored on the south side of the island. The day after our arrival was a Monday, a work morning for me, and David went ashore with Pete and Shinyi from SV Swan Song to climb the volcano. I probably should have gone with them because I wasn’t aware that it would be another five days before I could set foot on land again.
It’s Wet and Cold
It was north wind season, and the weather report predicted four days of strong winds up to 35 knots (70 km/h). Although we had anchored on the south side of the island, we were less protected than we had hoped. Waves sneaked around the southeast corner of Isla Coronados, making Milagros dance. We didn’t bother to launch our dinghy. However, Pete and Shinyi were not deterred by the wind and waves and came by Milagros several times – mainly for Settlers of Catan and internet connection, but certainly for us too. Bernie and Kate from SV Momo also didn’t miss out on the Settlers of Catan games.
Change of Scene
One afternoon, we also spent some time with Pete on Swan Song and tried to get his watermaker to make water. Unfortunately, we failed in the end due to a (presumably) faulty sensor, but Shinyi comforted us with delicious homemade sushi. The change of scene was good, although we were basically just rocked back and forth on another boat in the wind.
We Keep Sailing
As soon as the sea had calmed down from all the wind, we could sail on to the next island. Unfortunately, another strong, four-day north wind was forecast. Therefore, after our arrival in the new bay (Punta Perico), we wanted to quickly launch the dinghy and go ashore. Just as we started getting the dinghy ready, the only other boat in the bay pulled up its anchor. We liked that and were already looking forward to having the bay to ourselves.
Loss of Control
As the other boat motored in our direction, we thought nothing of it. The owner wanted to circle around our boat, greet us, and tell us that there were many bees. But suddenly, he was hit by a gust of wind, and his bow headed straight for Milagros. He lost control of his boat, and we weren’t fast enough to get out the fenders. Fortunately, he wasn’t going very fast, but his BBQ, which was mounted on his railing, scraped over our toerail, and destroyed a section of varnish of almost 3 ft (1 m). The BBQ then got stuck in one of our stanchions, bent the fitting on the deck and was torn off the other boat’s railing.
Just Saying Hello
Fortunately, we were able to prevent damage to our new paint job, and no one was injured. But we now had another damage that we hadn’t caused ourselves, just after we had repaired the last one on the bow pulpit. Our new acquaintance on the other boat could have greeted us and informed us about the bees over the radio. Or maybe not come within 10 feet of our boat for this kind of information? It is what it is. At least he was kind enough to give us his number and was willing to pay for the damages. But how should we quantify the damages? In disbelieve we shook our heads as we lowered the dinghy into the water.
Finally back on land
Shortly thereafter, Swan Song sailed around the corner. As soon as their anchor was set, the dinghy was in the water, and we all met on the beach for a walk. It was then I realized that I hadn’t set foot on land for 7 days. It felt good to walk over rocks and stones again. Luckily, I hadn’t forgotten how to walk. We enjoyed the calm before the storm and discovered the remains of all sorts of dead sea creatures on the beach. Various fish, a turtle, a small moray eel, shells, and corals layed scattered on the pebble beach to be admired. The dramatic rock formations of the island in all colors and shapes, dotted with cacti and low-growing bushes, were a sight to behold. The anchorage was Sea of Cortez at its best. As was the Norther that came up the following days.
It’s very windy
For 4 days, sustained winds of almost 25 knots (50 km/h) with gusts up to 40 knots (75 km/h) practically ripped at the boat non-stop, relentless and furious. And we could do nothing but close the hatches and endure the cold wind. So, we devoted ourselves to some boat projects. We had wanted to install a bilge pump counter and a bilge pump alarm for a long time. The former counts how often the bilge pump runs (ideally, never) and the latter alerts us if the water in the boat rises above a certain level (ideally, never). We also wanted to combine the alarm with the installation of a secondary bilge pump (which starts sounding ideally, never), but we were missing a small piece.
Our Starlink satellite dish had trouble with the boat’s movements in the wind. The dish constantly realigned itself. This used a large amounts of power, and with each realignment, the connection was briefly lost. So, we couldn’t work online. Therefore, we unmounted the backing plate of our dish and simply disconnected the motor from the power. The alignment will no longer be optimal in the future, but still good enough for us. In any case, we didn’t notice any difference.
One particularly angry gust one evening tore one of the old solar panels out of its mounting. David happened to be in the cockpit at the time and was able to prevent something worse from happening. We found out that some aluminium rivets were corroded, and it was only a matter of time until they failed. Thanks to our solar upgrade, in which we also equipped the old panels with connectors and switches, it was easy for us to take one panel off the power. With a few quick steps, we stowed the panel below deck. The next morning, we repaired the mounting and in no time the panel was producing power for us again. A quick fix, just how we like it.
Enough is enough
At some point, however, we had enough. The four days just wouldn’t pass. We kept checking the weather forecast, but it remained the same. It was really uncomfortable on the boat because the wind was one thing above all: loud. And the constant back and forth movement is incredibly tiring. You can’t sleep well with this noise either. But we both didn’t want to use earplugs to sleep, because if you can’t hear anything, you also won’t hear if something goes wrong. Your own anchor could come loose, or that of another boat in the bay, things could break under the strain of the howling, gusting wind outside. After the four days, we were exhausted and looking forward to quieter times.
Before we left Isla Carmen, we had to say goodbye to Pete and Shinyi, who had to make their way back to Guaymas. Pete is a firefighting pilot in Canada and the wildfire season will start soon. A day later, we also said goodbye to Bernie with one last round of Settlers of Catan. Bernie has been living on his sailboat Momo for 19 years, raised two children on her, and sailed around the world. We had an interesting conversation about the advantages and disadvantages of growing up on a boat. We could only think of one disadvantage: you don’t have roots, no home, no old school friends to go “back” to, because you’re at home all over the world. What do you think, do the advantages compensate for this disadvantage?
Did you enjoy this blog post? You can contribute to our beer kitty by clicking the button below. You can also become a monthly contributor by heading over to Patreon. Thanks a lot!