Our surprise was a success. Pati’s mom Silvia didn’t have a clue that we were on our way to see her in La Paz. As much as we enjoyed spending time with her, it was unfortunately time to say goodbye again way to soon. Our trip with Carmen and Iñaki on Anila was on the agenda. Silvia flew home to beautiful, cold Switzerland. We started our trip back north.
After a few nice days with Silvia it was time to say goodbye again. Early in the morning Patricia and Carmen accompanied her to the airport. This was the official start of our trip back to the north of the Sea of Cortez on Anila. But first, there were a few more clarifications and discussions to be had. There were two main reasons for this.
San Carlos instead of Peñasco
First of all, where would our journey lead us exactly? We only have a limited time frame because Carmen and Iñaki will be flying back to Switzerland to work in mid-June. In addition, they now tended to haul Anila out on the boatyard in San Carlos instead of Puerto Peñasco. San Carlos is about halfway from Puerto Peñasco and right next to Guaymas, where the two of them refitted their boat last year. The reason for this is simple.
Mexican welding skills
Anila’s rudder is showing its age and needs to be completely replaced. Since the rudder stock consists of several pieces of stainless steel, it has to be welded. The rudder is such a fundamental part of a boat that there is no room for error or problems. During their refit, Iñaki and Carmen found a welder who delivers top quality. Which is why San Carlos turned out to be their first choice for haul out. So it was decided. We’d be heading to San Carlos instead of Peñasco. And Pati and me would take the bus instead of boat for a large part of the way back to Milagros. We’d do the same bus trip as upon arrival in Mexico in January.
An unbeatable offer
The other point was that the two had stumbled upon a used Spectra watermaker. Bill from the Watermaker Guys, an expert on desalination on boats in the area, had this topnotch device on offer at an unbeatable price. They did not have a choice, so to speak, and took their chance. Since Iñaki wanted to install the watermaker before leaving, we postponed our departure from La Paz for a few more days. No problem, because now there was more time to prepare for the trip and leisurely watch our neighbors, the dolphins of La Paz. Lucky us, since they were swimming back and forth all day, every day, right next to Anila.
Faster, harder, scooter!
There was also time for a little partying of course. During the day Iñaki worked on the watermaker, in the evening beers were had with fellow cruisers. Either on Anila, with Ray on Sea Note, at SV Fickle, SV Bouby (a fellow sailor from Switzerland!) or SV Scooter. We took turns meeting on one of our boats, and good times were had way beyond cruiser’s midnight (which is approximately when the sun sets). It was particularly important that we were able to introduce Hank and Taylor on SV Scooter to the techno group of the same name, which is well known in Europe. Faster, harder, scooter! How much is the fish? The list of hits is long and the music is top notch.
Heeere we go again!
The installation of the watermaker went smoothly. And so it was time prepare for our trip back to the far north of the Sea of Cortez. In contrast to our delivery of Milagros, this time we’d have time to move comfortably from anchorage to anchorage. This combined with training sessions with Yachtmaster Iñaki. The first hop would lead us to the anchor bay “El Mezteño” in the northwest of the island “Espiritu Santo” north of La Paz. Mezteño has become a popular destination for Iñaki and Carmen in the last few months. So it was a matter of planning the passage, preparing the boat, lifting anchor. Off we went, early the next morning.
The most beautiful sail in the Gulf of California
The journey started perfectly. We had just enough wind to hoist the headsail and sail from the anchorage into the canal. Anyone who has read the blog post about our arrival in La Paz with Milagros knows the geography already. 😉 In the canal we hoisted the huge, sleek Oxley Levante Parasail from Anila about halfway. What a sail! We have already heard many hymns of praise for the Parasail from Iñaki & Carmen, now we were finally able to see it live in action. The Oxley Parasail even sports the same colours as Anila! It must have been a magnificent sight as we sailed up the canal. Unfortunately we didn’t have our camera drone with us. We would have been way too afraid to fly it anyway. We’ll need quite more training until we can do epic drone shots of a moving boat for you. The sail itself is worth its own blog post, more on that another time.
Mezteño, we are coming!
The trip to the anchor bay “El Mezteño” was pretty chill. At just under 20 nautical miles (37 kilometers) it was a short hop. On the way, Iñaki and Carmen explained the basics of light wind sailing and how to navigate to the anchorage. Since the island of Espiritu Santo is right at the gates of La Paz and has many beautiful anchorages, the frequency of other boats is correspondingly high. We had to keep our eyes open, even if we were only traveling at an average speed of just under 3 knots (5.5 km/h). When the wind got weaker and weaker, we had to take the sail down and turn on the engine. This way, we chugged to the anchorage.
The El Mezteño Anchorage
The anchorage itself is magnificent. Sea of Cortez at its best. Crystal clear, turquoise water surrounded by dramatic rock formations. The entrance to the bay is easy, with enough space for anchoring maneuvers. We weren’t alone, a few excursion boats and charter catamarans had also made themselves comfortable. The residents were already busy snorkeling, paddling, swimming or sunbathing. No problem at all, Anila always finds a place somewhere with her 1.50 m draft.
Of course, the paddleboard immediately was made ready and lowered into the water. Pati and Carmen went exploring the rocks while Iñaki and I did a little work on the boat. Cleaning the windows and underwater hull was the order of the day. Said and done. Equipped with snorkeling equipment and plastic spatulas, we plunged into the water and got to work. It had been some time since Iñaki cleared the hull of underwater growth. It was relatively soft, easy to remove and was populated by millions of tiny crabs. Deprived of their accommodation, they decided to reside on our wetsuits. What I didn’t notice, however, was that they were also looking for shelter elsewhere.
When we finished cleaning, Iñaki and me were packed with krill from top to bottom. We were lucky that there weren’t any whales around. After we’d cleaned Anila’s belly, it was our turn. After a lot of scrubbing ourselves, repeated jumps into the water and a little patience, we were soon uninhabited again. I thought. Pati quickly discovered secret crab hiding grounds. In my beard! Since this of course offered the best holding, protection and moisture, a whole legion of little critters had made themselves comfortable way back in my facial hair.
There was only one way!
After a comb brought out the full extent of the beard invasion, there was only one solution. My beard had to go. So Pati got down to work with a hair trimmer. My beard couldn’t have stayed. Because soon, I would have carried a fishy smell on me. An Eau de Sea of Cortez perfume, so to speak. I don’t know what the sight of a beard teeming with sea life looks like, but I could read it off from Pati’s facial expressions. Goodbye beard, hello babyface. I don’t want you to take a before-and-after picture. Nope.
See you next time, Mezteño!
Then it was time to start planning the trip to the next bay. The “Isla San Francisco”, another favorite place of Iñaki and Carmen and again almost 20 nautical miles further north was our destination. If you consider that in November 2020 we had left the entire Sea of Cortez behind us in just two passages, this could only get better. Slowly but steadily forward, with enough time to linger and enjoy what the Sea of Cortez has to offer. Just the way it should be.
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