The sailing world is a small world. We meet old acquaintances at practically every anchorage and exchange the latest news. Also, we experience something we have long wished for. And we would love to be offline as often and as long as possible, but we also need to be online. So, we’re still trying to figure out how to balance the remoteness of the Sea of Cortez with our internet needs.
We had postponed our departure from Isla San Francisco and thus almost used up our holiday and/or internet-free time. For the 80 nautical miles to the next bay with internet reception, we had two days left. We split the route into two 8-hour trips. Our first destination was San Telmo, which was also the destination of Marla and Dave on SV Cavu.
On the day of departure, we pulled up anchor almost simultaneously with them, just after sunrise. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough wind to sail at first. That’s the downside of needing to connect to the internet. Since I must be connected to the World Wide Web on certain days, we can’t always choose the best sailing weather. So, Burrito was forced into action. But not for long, since in the second half of the trip, we had nice wind. So we could sail all the way to our anchorage of choice which was “San Telmo”.
And on we go
San Telmo is known for great snorkelling and spearfishing. However, we didn’t feel like jumping into the water that day. I had sprained my foot when closing the sail bag. I won’t be snorkelling for a few weeks now. As our dinghy was stowed away on deck, Marla and Dave picked us up on theirs for a sundowner on the beach. A little later we were joined by Brad and Sarah from SV Perspective, on their Kelly Peterson 46, the bigger version of Milagros. The next morning, we lifted anchor shortly after sunrise. Again, the day was not ideal wind-wise, but due to the topography we had spotty sailing conditions almost all the time. Only when the wind could funnel through the mountain valleys we did have enough wind to move forward without the engine.
So, we reached our next stop “Candeleros” in the afternoon without any problems. This stop was also of a more utilitarian nature, and the mood after arrival was rather grumpy due to an anchoring disagreement. The bay itself is beautiful, but there’s a large hotel resort on land and is therefore not necessarily a place we want to hang out at for too long. Especially as there are small, secluded and beautiful bays all around. But we need the internet – tough life, I know. However, in the meantime we have received more and more reports about how well Elon Musks satellite internet “Starlink” works on other boats. Maybe this is our solution?
If you think there is no routine on a sailboat, you are mistaken. As was the case before we moved onto the boat, every morning the person who wakes up first – usually me just after sunrise – makes coffee. Then it’s coffee time in bed. That’s how every single day starts on Milagros without exception. If it’s a weekday, and we have internet and it’s not a sailing day, then I usually work until 12 o’clock. After lunch and coffee, we do something like snorkelling or a beach walk and/or a boat project. And then we have dinner and maybe a sundowner. And then repeat.
Limes are missing
So, we spent a rather unspectacular week in Candeleros. The highlight was David’s first spearfishing success, while I sunbathed in the dinghy with my injured foot. A triggerfish was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were in the mood for ceviche, but we didn’t have enough limes on board. So, we treated ourselves to two completely overpriced beers at the resort’s beach bar ($5 per can!) and asked if they would give us limes, which they did. At least, the ceviche came out delicious!
A message we received on our InReach from Cavu requested us to do the short crossing to Isla Montserrat. We complied immediately, of course, when I no longer needed the internet. At the beginning of the 2-hour trip, we finally got to enjoy something we had waited for sooooo long: Dolphins on the bow. As a catamaran passed us, three bottlenose dolphins which had previously surfed with them on the bow, hopped over to us and accompanied us for the next hour or so. It is an incredible experience to see these animals, about 2 metres long, gliding in the water only about a metre away. I could watch for hours!
We anchored off the very beautiful Yellow Stone Beach, which is at the northern tip of the small Isla Montserrat, where Cavu and Alegría were already anchored. The next day we all met up at Mike and Katie’s and took their boat Alegría to two small islands known for good snorkelling. Armed with ankle protection, I was even able to snorkel along for a bit. But I often just drifted on the surface. That’s why a big school of pallet surgeonfish dared to linger just below me. That was really cool.
All of a sudden, from afar, we saw more and more catamarans heading towards the anchorage. By the afternoon, Milagros and Cavu were surrounded by over 10 of them. Later we learned that Yellow Stone Beach was the destination of the first leg of a catamaran rally. Although the idyll was over, we were invited by Lowell on SV Gato Loco (the crazy cat), one of the organisers, for an evening hot dog BBQ at the beach. The next morning, we were suddenly alone in the bay again as the rally continued and the boats moved on to the next anchorage.
We spent a couple of days at Yellow Stone Beach (which is named after they yellow rocks on the beach) swimming, snorkelling, reading, hiking, drone flying, drinking beer on the beach, watching the movie Big Lebowski and kayak paddling. As we explored the island’s rugged and rocky coastline by kayak, a huge school of dolphins passed by. As we had our snorkelling gear with us, we weren’t fast enough to jump into the water and snorkel with the dolphins. Still, it was great to see a whole clan of dolphins, young and old, big and small, heading north.
David had his speargun with him and wanted to practice a bit. Just as we brought the kayak ashore, the pod of dolphins returned. While David struggled with his fins, I swam out to the pod and could see the dolphins swimming past me and under me. And I could hear them talking to each other. So cool! Also, David got lucky afterwards and we made delicious beer battered fish out of his catch.
Can we stay?
When it was time to go back online, we lifted our anchor and sailed almost all the way to Puerto Escondido. We hope that sometime in the future we will be able to stay somewhere for a little longer than we have so far. Getting the boat ready to go and settling in again after arriving is quite time-consuming. We stow everything away, because we want us and Milagros to be prepared for the worst along the way. Should we run into unexpected weather conditions we want to be prepared as best as we can.
Arriving is time-consuming
Therefore, after arrival, the stowed dinghy must be hoisted back into the water, the crane for the outboard motor must be mounted and the outboard motor itself must be lowered. The kayak also must be inflated again. All the covers and the sun canopy must be put back in place and everything that was safely stowed below deck can be brought out again. The sails need to be covered to be protected from UV and all halyards secured so they don’t make any noise. Our wind steering system also must be dismantled again, as its rudder would disturb our night’s rest with knocking noises. And so on and so forth. As you can see, it’s a lot of work to just stay in an anchorage for a day or two.
Just as we had moored at the buoy in Puerto Escondio, Jake and Paloma from SV Sirena, whom we had met in Puerto Peñasco, paddled over to us. Like us, they had refitted their boat, but unlike us they had also painted the deck. Over beer and pizza after sunset on Milagros, we exchanged all the stories that had happened since we left Peñasco 3 months ago. What I always find so funny among sailors is that a conversation can also simply revolve around toilets. Who talks to others about toilets in ‘normal life’?
Once again, we were lucky
In Escondido we took the opportunity to get diesel mechanic Lauro on board again. We still had oil leaks and a coolant leak. One oil leak was quickly fixed, for the other we would have had to lift the engine with a jack, remove the gearbox and replace the seal there. Too much for now. The coolant leak was not that dramatic, and we could seal it with a little epoxy. But, his visit saved our asses, as he discovered that a bolt was missing from the shaft coupling and one was loose. We hadn’t tightened the nuts enough and had not used Nylon nuts. Oops.
We did it
Cavu also joined us in Escondido a few days later and Dave helped us analyse our inverter situation. We knew that a fuse was missing. But now it turned out that too small cables had been used for the installation. In order to use our 3000-watt inverter safely, we would have had to invest quite a lot in bigger cables and install it in a different place. Dave also pointed out that it wasn’t worth using the inverter for what we wanted to do. Namely, for the Starlink satellite dish!
After meeting a catamaran in Yellow Stone Beach who had ordered Starlink to Puerto Escondido marina and raved about it, we quickly ordered one too. But since it only runs on 120 V, we had to look for an inverter. The result of our latest consultation with Dr. Cavu Dave was that we should buy a 400 W mobile cigarette lighter inverter. The Starlink satellite dish ‘only’ draws about 90 watts.
Milagros is ready
Ray from SV Sea Note, with whom we had sailed from Peñasco to La Paz in May 2021, had been living near Puerto Escondido for some time. When we met up with Cavu and Ray for lunch, and on the way looked for a portable inverter at Autozone, Ray remembered that he still had one lying around. Yay. So, we were now ready to receive internet on Milagros.
The Swiss are everywhere
We also met another fellow Swiss here in the Sea of Cortez. Karin, originally from Thurgau, had emigrated to America 20 years ago and is now on a sailing adventure with her husband and 2 kids. It turned out that they were travelling with Tom and Shelly from SV Empyrean, whom we also know from Peñasco. Of course, this had to be celebrated with a beer or two. It’s a small sailing world. We also met Lowell again when we wanted to treat ourselves to a pizza at the Marina restaurant. As all the tables were occupied, we sat down at the table with him and his new crew. And afterwards we helped with our dinghy to haul luggage onto his catamaran Gato Loco. Lowell had a portable 150 W inverter on board, which he also no longer needed. So now we are ready for Starlink! Exciting!
We visit the capital
Besides internet access, the main reason we returned to Puerto Escondido was our upcoming trip to Mexico City. We had bought concert tickets for Greta van Fleet and had arranged to meet Nick and Janine from SV Rua Hatu, our former neighbours in Peñasco. And we wanted Milagros to be somewhere safe while we were away for almost a week.
Want to know what other music is playing on Milagros? There’s a playlist on Spotify called ‘Milagros Metal Journey’. There we take you on a journey from the Beatles to the modern metal of today. Have fun listening!
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