Coyote Bay, where we had been anchored with Marga for a while, was crazy. The heat in the place gave us a glimpse of what summer in the Sea of Cortez had to offer temperature wise. Namely sweltering heat. We sweated our a**es off! Every night at sunset, we would meet up with Marga on Dogfish for a cold drink and we’d reflect on the days passed. Wasn’t it hotter today than yesterday? How many liters of fluid did we loose? Will we ever leave Coyote Bay again?
Hot hotter hottest
Physical exertion was out of the question, especially during midday. The sun literally blasted from the sky, and we had over 40°C in the boat. I usually lay on the sofa under a fan while Pati was reading on her eBook reader out in the cockpit and so we sweated away. If there were any small tasks on Milagros, we couldn’t and didn’t want to do them until after sundown. Not that it would have gotten cooler then, but at least the sun was gone. Given the circumstances, we were satisfied with very little.
Apart from the rigging, we didn’t do much worth mentioning either. In fact, we simply enjoyed being anchored next to Marga and Dogfish in the beautiful Coyote bay without having to worry too much about the onward journey. A little swimming here, a little snorkeling there, all garnished with fine food and the obligatory sundowners. One evening Marga’s dad François also came to visit Dogfish and so our group of three became one of four. Marga’s dad would travel to Santa Rosalia with her and Dogfish on her way back north.
But, as it always is, time passed and slowly but surely, we had to think about moving on again. So, we sat down to plan the next jumps towards Santa Rosalia. First stop was a return visit of Santo Domingo at the entrance to Bahia Conception. From there we were able to move further north and to Santa Rosalia if a weather window was favourable (with a southerly wind). Marga and her father decided to stay in Coyote a little longer. So, Milagros set off alone to a short and unexciting hop back to Santo Domingo.
As soon as the southerly winds picked up, we set off on a longer sail in the direction of «Isla San Marcos». From there it was only a stone’s throw to Santa Rosalia, the city that we actually wanted to head to on our absolutely insane ordeal of a maiden voyage. We lifted our anchor at the same time as another boat and set sail for the first time directly from the hook without engine support. We first watched our neighbours sail away and then just imitated the process. Worked out great and was fun! Yet another newly learned skill.
A race that isn’t a race at all
The conditions for sailing that day were really great. The wind was good enough that we were going over 5 knots at times, but not strong enough that we peed our pants from fear. We tried to keep up with our neighbours. The longer the journey lasted, the clearer it became that they were traveling in the same direction as us. We constantly compared our tactics to those of the other boat. They tended to stay closer to shore while we tried our luck further out.
No wind and big waves
As the day progressed, it became clear that our competitors had probably chosen the better of the two tactics. While the wind dropped steadily further offshore where we were, closer to shore the wind seemed to be more constant and we were gradually being left behind. At the same time, a rather impressive sea was building up. Big waves in rather long distance gradually came from the south. Which was actually unusual in the Sea of Cortez, which is known for the fact that unpleasant waves can build up in a relatively short time, which can make life difficult and uncomfortable with short wave spacing.
Cape Verdean style waves
The strange southerly swell gradually increased. At some point we felt reminded of our very first sailing trip in 2018 on Cape Verde, where the sea was simply powerful and impressive. At the same time the wind dropped. We initially refused to use the engine to help, but eventually the sails just made too much noise. The more waves there are, the more wind is needed to keep the sails taut. The boat can tilt all over the place and if the pressure in the sails is not sufficient, they start flapping back and forth. This is firstly annoying and secondly it can put unnecessary strain on all the material. So, at some point we decided to stop the whole exercise. Down with the sails! Burrito-time.
New acquaintances on the water
The other boat was stuck in front of us on the east side of the island and stood practically still as it rocked in the waves and sails flapped left and right again. So, we quickly caught up with our fellow travelers. During our overtaking manoeuvre, the owner of the “Mar de Luz” radioed and we learned that he was the only one on board and had the same plan as us. Stop at Isla San Marcos and then continue to Santa Rosalia. Luckily, we had a reservation for the Santa Rosalia Marina as the general trend at this time of year with virtually all boats is to head north to avoid the summer hurricanes.
Before spending some marina time, we spent some Sweet Pea Cove time on Isla San Marcos. As we rounded the north side of the island, we found SV Susimi huddled into a corner. Our attempt to do the same failed due to poor visibility in the water. We knew of nasty rocks underwater that we couldn’t see now, so we stopped trying and found shelter just around the corner from Paul and Hazel.
On a discovery tour
So, after a good night’s sleep we went to visit the two on Susimi. They knew that were exciting things to see nearby. On Isla San Marcos, too, the water masses had carved sensational rock formations and caves into the stone. Paul and Hazel paddled along on their paddleboards while we were being lazyasses and chose our dinghy over the kayak. One of the caves could be entered under a rock arch and we were amazed when we met a group of Mexicans on the other side who had apparently camped there. There are definitely worse places to stay! At first, we laughed at Paul’s comment about smelling smoke (“Paul smells cavemen!”), but his nose was right after all!
Coffee and fish
After our little tour of discovery, we found ourselves at Susimi’s for a round of coffee. Back on Milagros it was time for yet another bonfire on the beach. Therefore, a fish was needed! So, we saddled up the dinghy, grabbed my spearfishing gear and rounded the corner to a promising rock formation. I shot a fish as soon as I got in the water. I didn’t have time for a second one, because while I was still in the water, something weird happened.
Suddenly a wall of murky water moved towards me. Within minutes, visibility dropped from about 20 meters to zero. The cloudy soup came from the north and from one moment to the next spearfishing was out of the question. When I was back with Pati in the dinghy, we had to take a closer look at the situation. And it was really weird: the brown water didn’t seem to mix with the “normal” water and an edge formed between blue and brown. However, the brown water never found its way into the anchor bay. It seemed to stop at Isla San Marcos. Currents? Sewage from Santa Rosalia? If any of you know what this phenomenon is, please enlighten us!
We ended up in such a beautiful place
After a short walk ashore, we collected driftwood for a fire, made potato wedges and the fish and enjoyed the evening atmosphere. It was the last night at anchor before heading to the marina in Santa Rosalia. Our very first season on and with Milagros was slowly but surely coming to an end. Later, as the sun went down, the Sea of Cortez revealed all its glory. Just Pati, a bonfire and me. A full stomach and a full heart. And around us all the colours that a sunset here in Mexico can give off. What more could I possibly want from life?
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