Our Eventful First Anchorage

The engine was running again and we could continue our journey. So, we left Puerto Escondido to anchor for the first time with Milagros in a beautiful little cove. Although Honeymoon Cove is not particularly remote, it was a good place to become accustomed to life at anchor. There were boats coming and going and there was always something happening – but not to us this time.

Everything was fine with Milagros again – as far as we knew – so we could finally start to plan our onward journey. Until we knew what exactly the problem with Milagros’ engine was, we didn’t want to make any plans. After all, it could have been possible that our burrito was no longer salvageable. In that case, we would have taken the next plane to Switzerland, looked for a new engine from there and declared the sailing season over. But fortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.

Honeymoon Cove

Opposite Puerto Escondido is Isla Danzante, where “Honeymoon Cove” is located at the northern tip of the island and can be reached in about an hour from Puerto Escondido. We chose it as our first anchorage so in case of a problem, we would quickly be back in Puerto Escondido or at least be able to get help, even with our dinghy. It was also well protected against the currently prevailing north winds. From there we could continue our journey south.

Gold diggers

Before we left, Anne and Colin from SV Paulina were kind enough to give us a lift in their car when they went shopping in Loreto. They run a gold mine in Canada on the Alaskan border. They extract gold grains and dust from gravel using water and gravity and melt them down into bars that contain about 80% pure gold. The business is seasonal, though, because up there in the far north, temperatures reach -45°C from October to March, so the gravel is frozen and not workable. Super interesting!

Refuelling

So, we stocked Milagros up again with water, propane and fresh food, and only diesel was missing. For us beginners, manoeuvring to the relatively tight diesel dock in the Marina felt too demanding – we packed our jerry cans into the dinghy and refuelled the boat this way. For us, refuelling is always interesting as our fuel gauges don’t work properly, so we only know mathematically how full our tanks are. And we only know approximately how big our two tanks are. We assume 30 to 35 gallons (115 to 135 litres) each.

We need certainty

However, my most recent calculations resulted in about 40 gallons (150 litres) each. But how much of it is usable, since a tank can never be completely emptied, is another question. If the opportunity arises, we will empty one of the tanks completely and fill it again, then we will know for sure. What is certain is that we could fill both tanks with 15 gallons each from our jerry cans that we brought from the diesel dock. This means we had an average diesel consumption of 2.5 l/h on our maiden voyage. And we usually calculate with 3 l/h (0.8 gph). That’s a good start.

Farewell to Puerto Escondido

20 days after our arrival, we left Puerto Escondido at 10 am for “Honeymoon Cove”. As we always take turns at mooring and casting off, this time it was my turn, and I did my first casting off manoeuvre from a buoy (if you don’t count the casting off manoeuvres in the sailing course on Lake Thun). The 45-minute trip to the island flew by and once there, I was also in charge of the anchor manoeuvre.

It wasn’t easy

The thricky part about anchoring in Honeymoon Cove is that the water remains very deep for a long time and then suddenly becomes shallower almost at a 45° angle. The anchor only held on the third try, but finally sat as planned in 9 m (30 ft) and we let out 55 m (180 ft) of chain – recommended are 5 – 7 times the water depth.

Already the first emergency

We realised that we had chosen a rather difficult terrain for anchoring when we observed other boats trying to anchor several times. The next morning, we suddenly saw a small boat gliding backwards out of the anchorage next door. Their anchor must have come loose! We radioed them immediately, seeing no one on deck, and started launching our dinghy so we could head over to them and help if needed. But luckily, we saw two people climbing on deck in their underwear shortly after, who quickly got the boat under control and set the anchor again.

Exploration tour

On the first day we explored the bay by inflatable kayak, our eco-friendly second car. On the island itself, there are many small paths leading up the different hills and to different bays. The landscape is very Baja style: barren and stony in reddish and greenish tones with cacti and tiny trees. In some places it looked as if a gardener had created our surroundings, since the many desert plants seemed to have grown in an almost too regular pattern. The waves crashed against the rocks on the north side and the north wind wrapped around the cliffs. On one of the hills, we even had mobile phone reception and a great view over the bay.

Anchor watch

As the wind was getting stronger and stronger and we had not yet gained confidence in our anchor and anchoring skills, we decided that one of us would always stay on the boat. It was somewhat irrational not to trust the anchor itself, as it had probably been on this boat since the beginning and must have served well in the past. But we activated our anchor alarm apps and regularly checked our position on OpenCPN. Better be safe than sorry.

Two birds with one stone

When David went fishing with the kayak, I took the opportunity to polish our stainless-steel railing and other things. In doing so, I killed two birds with one stone: I could observe the position of the boat and finally get rid of the rust spots that had been bugging me for a while. And finally, polishing not only serves visual purposes, but also prolongs the life of the material.

A call for help

There was a lot of traffic in the bay, and one afternoon we saw a superyacht anchoring next to us. Our new neighbours stayed for one night and travelled on the next day. That same afternoon we heard a “pan-pan” call over the radio on channel 16, the standard channel that all ships (should) monitor. A pan-pan radio call is the weakened form of “Mayday” and means that a ship or person is in danger, but the situation is not life-threatening.

Water ingress

The vessel in question reported that it had run aground on a rock 5 nautical miles south-east of Puerto Escondido or 1 nautical mile south of Isla Danzante and had holes in its hull, but that the bilge pumps were able to cope with the water ingress. The crew of the boat asked for assistance and towing if necessary. When asked about the size, the vessel said it was 53 m (175 ft) long. According to the captain, no one was injured, apart from a few egos. Then we remembered that it was our former neighbours who were in distress. The crew of the superyacht “Moonstone”, whose dinghy also had towed us to Puerto Escondido, immediately rushed to help. We also offered our help, but it was not needed.

What now?

As far as we understood, divers examined the hull and found that both stabilisers were damaged and had holes up to 20 cm in diameter. Also they had decided against towing the boat and in favour of professional salvage so that no diesel tanks could be damaged when the boat was pulled off the rock. The rock in question is in a nature reserve, is treacherous and lies about 1.5 m (5 ft) below the water surface at low tide. It would have been interesting to ask the captain how this could have happened. And we wondered if he is now out of a job and can never be employed again as captain of a superyacht after such a navigational error. Does anyone know what happens to a captain after such an incident?

Not exactly comfortable

Slowly we got used to life at anchor. Despite being sheltered from the roughest winds and waves “outside”, Milagros rocked in the light swells that still made it into the anchorage. And she was swinging back and forth in gusts of up to 30 knots (55 km/h) on the windiest day. Not exactly pleasant, especially as everything sounds ten times worse below deck: the gusts sweeping over the boat, the creaking of the anchor snubber and other sounds of the boat here and there.

Below deck

Since this wind from the north was quite cold and uncomfortable, we devoted ourselves to projects below deck. For example, we re-tensioned wooden slats from creaking floor hatches. We also reinstalled a floor support we had taken out when removing the water tanks and ran the watermaker daily and repaired a broken cockpit chair. Every now and then, one of us would row the kayak either to a cove around the corner on the outer edge of the island or ashore and climb the mountain to get some phone reception and see what was going on in the world. And we were amused by a group of about 20 kayakers camping on the beach. The opening of their toilet tent pointed directly at Milagros and none of the travellers feeling particularly observed by any boats in the anchorage when doing their business..

Further south

We could certainly get used to listening to music, reading, watching films. Or sitting in the cockpit watching the blue-footed boobies and pelicans dive for from the sky like projectiles. Or sighting dolphins. But we’re looking forward to warm enough water to swim and snorkel. And to spend a few nights at anchor without a strong north wind. So now we’re heading further south now.

We really enjoyed our first anchor beer! Feel free to offer us a beer or two by clicking on the button below. Or you could become a monthly supporter on Patreon if you feel like it. Many thanks!

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2 Comments

We spoke with the captain in the bar at Puerto Escondido and he filled us in on what took place. At the time of the grounding the first officer was in charge of the bridge. The captain was down below. A crucial turn / waypoint was missed that would have kept the vessel clear of hazards. The vessel, Vixit, struck the underwater pinnacle at a speed of 13 knots. Fortunately the fuel tanks did not rupture and no fuel has been spilled – if a spill had occurred apparently the captain would be arrested and jailed under Mexican law. At this point he was still employed and actively involved in the salvaging effort. Divers were in the process of attempting to repair several 3′ holes in the hull. Plan is to refloat and take vessel to San Diego for repairs.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! liebe Patricia, ich wünsche dir alles Liebe und Gute zu deinem heutigen Geburtstag. Ich lese ja fleissig Euren Blog – übrigens Danke dafür und die schönen Fotos – und bin echt beeindruckt und begeistert wie Ihr Eure Herausforderungen angeht und bin überzeugt Ihr werdet dafür belohnt oder werdet es bereits, wenn ich die letzten Fotos in diesem Blog anschaue. Zurück zu deinem Geburtstag 😉 ich wünsche dir auch weiterhin viel Spass, schöne Abenteuer und einfach eine gute Zeit, die du / Ihr geniessen könnt. In diesem Sinne HAPPY BIRTHDAY! und geniesse deinen speziellen Tag. Herzlich, Jacqueline

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