Pati Home Alone 2.0

David was once again abroad for two weeks, and I was accordingly left alone with Milagros. During his absence, I continued to take care of our to-do list. Additionally, I had big plans.

On the day of David’s departure, we dropped Milagros’ anchor back into the Guaymas (or Guymanese?) cesspool. From the beautiful, clear, pleasant, turquoise, swimmable water into the murky, stinky mess. From the tranquillity and the gently splashing water on our hull to the circus and the traffic noise. What a delight. But as I have explained in a previous blog post, it was a necessary evil. There was no better option within a reachable radius. However, there were tacos à la carte, access to project materials, and nice people. This time, however, I didn’t want to spend the time at the marina dock out of sheer convenience, but rather at anchor – preferably not in Guaymas.

Goodbye, David

The first mission in Guaymas was to take David to the bus. We chugged along with our fully packed dinghy to the marina. From a distance, we saw César, our trusted taxi driver, and punctual as always, already waiting. His little blue Chevrolet is unmistakable. After saying goodbye to David at the bus terminal, I went straight to the second mission: restocking supplies. Fully loaded, I returned to the marina. A few friendly workers helped me there to load everything into the dinghy.

There was something else

Back on Milagros, I wanted to put my feet up after storing all the purchases. But then I remembered that I had to lift the dinghy out of the water for the night. Although nothing had been stolen from the boat so far, and our 3.3 HP engine is not exactly the most attractive target, there is a significant social disparity here, and poverty means that even a small outboard motor can somehow be turned into money. Therefore, we adhere to two principles: “better safe than sorry” and “don’t be the easiest target”. It would be very annoying if something disappeared and the issue could have been prevented with 2 minutes of effort.

A simple crane design

With two people, stowing the dinghy is much easier, so I had to come up with a system to do it as simply as possible on my own without a possibe back injury. Using a halyard, the whisker pole, and a block and tackle, I built a kind of crane that allowed me to lift the dinghy with relatively little effort and then lift the outboard motor on board at a comfortable height. Voilà.

That’s too close

The next morning, before the first coffee, I received the next mission. After I had put the water on for the coffee and was waiting for it to boil, I looked out of the windows on both sides of the boat, as always, to see what was going on outside. And what I saw, I didn’t like at all. A 70-footer was getting pretty close to us (or we to it). When we had anchored the day before, the wind was coming from a different direction, and the distance was fine. Overnight, the wind had shifted, and now the situation looked different.

Wait and see

But I couldn’t immediately haul up the anchor because the other boat had positioned itself right over it. After every anchoring manoeuvre, we mark the estimated position of the anchor on the chart to check if our anchor is holding and everything else is okay. So, I let out more chain first so that I felt more comfortable. By then, the coffee was ready. I sat down with it in the cockpit and watched the situation. I was ready to start the engine if necessary. But I knew that fortunately, the wind would turn a little later and the situation would look different again. And I knew that I would immediately re-anchor. I asked Lucas if he could help me with its after his morning coffee. Together, we then parked Milagros a bit further away.

Something’s happening

In the following days, I felt like I didn’t have a quiet minute. Civilization had me again! In addition to working online in the morning, managing the boat, and running the household alone (and also doing the dishes – the worst!), I tinkered with various projects. Soon, Milagros was enriched with two new cockpit cushions, two triangular leaning cushions, and a new mattress cover. On Facebook, I stumbled across a small ad for custom-made cutting boards in a local group. Despite our bad luck with custom orders, I held a nice new board in my hands two days later.

The sailing demographic

And of course, there was a bit of socializing. Demographically, Guaymas is rather one-sided: mainly retired, white, male single-handed sailors from America and Canada are to be found here. Nevertheless, there are occasionally women or sailors my age. So, I spent pleasant hours with Annette on her ‘Ananda’ at the dock or met up with Skeet and Amanda, two fellow sailors my age. In the evenings (after sunset, haha), I sank into bed and slept soundly, unless the wind was howling through the bay at 30 knots (about 60 km/h).

On a Mission

When the weather forecast showed a calm window without wind, I prepared for another mission: I wanted to take Milagros out alone for a little excursion. I had chosen the Carricito anchorage, 3 hours away, as my destination. Since David and I always take turns with all manoeuvres, I knew exactly what I had to do. And since there was no wind, I had all the time in the world. The conditions were perfect: a boat and its manoeuvres that I mastered, an area I already knew, a bay we had already been to, with local language skills and acquaintances. Moreover, Gavin on ‘SV Petra’ was also going to come along later. What could go wrong, right?

Someone was generous

It took me about 1 hour to lift the anchor because the anchor chain was so dirty, and I had to spray it off inch by inch to avoid having this dirt in the anchor locker. Moreover, Lucas had been very generous with letting out the chain when anchoring. At a water depth of 4 meters, I would normally let out about 20 meters (5:1 the water depth is said). He was a bit more conservative and let out 50 meters, all of which I had to spray off.

Alone on the Move

It was a great feeling to start the engine, lift the anchor, and head out. Out of the noise, along the canal, past tankers being loaded with cement, past fishermen pulling in their nets, feeling the wind in my face, and hearing the sound of the water being displaced by the bow. The only thing that disturbed the idyll was the dirt that Guaymas had caused on our deck: slimy, black mud from the bottom and bird droppings. A night heron had decided that it liked our bow pulpit and wanted to spend the night there. Then it cheekily did its business on our deck. You won’t be surprised that this strained our hospitality quite a bit.

You can watch a little video of my trip here:

Successful Mission

The outing flew by, and soon it was time to prepare the anchor. I had chosen an anchorage in the small bay, and the anchoring manoeuvre went smoothly: steer slowly to the desired point, turn into the wind, go forward, and when the boat has no forward motion, lower the anchor. Then slowly let out the required amount of chain, go back to the helm, engage reverse gear, and slowly give throttle until the anchor sits well and no change in position is visible on the deck bearing. Later in the afternoon, Gavin appeared on his boat, and we toasted to our successes.

A Short Break

We spent a few days there in the bay, Gavin on his side and I on mine. Now and then, we met for a coffee or a beer – very peaceful. I explored the area alone, swam a few laps around the boat, and enjoyed the tranquillity in the cockpit. Soon it was time to go back to Guaymas, as David’s return was imminent. Gavin and I lifted the anchor at the same time. Unfortunately, there was no wind, because a little race under sail would have been fun. I won anyway, because even under engine, Milagros is a machine. I anchored Milagros again in the cesspool of Guaymas, this time I had to take two attempts because the anchor did not hold the first time. And to avoid having to re-anchor, I placed us nicely far out. How far out I only realized when I rowed ashore later. Nevertheless, the mission was 100% successful, and I will surely have the chance to sail Milagros alone at some point.

Flea Market

The following day, I participated in a flea market for sailors in San Carlos. Rendt and Marea, two New Zealanders with their son Nico on a Swiss steel boat, kindly took me in their car. The flea market started at 8 a.m. I had a few good things to sell, but they were not in demand that day, and by 10 a.m., the flea market was already over. Afterward, we treated ourselves to a delicious Mexican breakfast and visited a historic coffee house in Guaymas.

A Fun Sailing Day

Unexpectedly, I was also invited to a sailing day. Lucas had installed a new autopilot on Matt’s boat, which now needed to be calibrated. When I boarded the boat at the marina, it was ready to cast off. There was just one small problem: Matt had found diesel in the oil but thought that it was now fixed. So I mentally prepared myself to jump overboard. In the worst case, diesel in the oil can cause the engine to run away, meaning the RPM gets out of control and the engine virtually destroys itself. Normally, this can be stopped by cutting off the air supply; otherwise, the engine explodes. Spoiler: Nothing happened. We spent a fun sailing afternoon on the small ketch. Back at the dock, we were even invited to Annette’s for lasagna. Since David was going to arrive in Guaymas early the next morning at 3 a.m., I left our dinghy at the marina for him, and Gavin drove me home.

David is back

In the middle of the night, the soft clattering of our bathing ladder woke me up. David had forgone the outboard motor and sneaked up with oars because he wanted to surprise me. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out. He was laden with goodies from Switzerland (chocolate and raclette cheese) and fine Asian sauces, and I was happy that he was back.

Preparations are underway

The next day, we started preparing for a crossing to the other side of the Sea of Cortez. Water, propane, and diesel needed to be refilled, as well as our supplies. And we had found a buyer for half of our lead that was still unnecessarily lying around in our bilge. Doug, a sailor we had met in Puerto Peñasco in 2021, needed some ballast for his boat. In exchange for the lead, he invited us to lunch and told us about his adventurous sailing trip from Peñasco to Guaymas. Along the way, he lost, among other things, a propeller blade and the ability to use his mainsail, so he had to be towed to San Carlos, unable to manoeuvre.

One last mission

But before we could leave Guaymas, there was one last mission to complete: sewing sail bags for Lucas. I was kindly allowed to use Corky’s Canvas’s sewing machine at the marina. Over two afternoons, the machine rattled, and voilà, two sail bags were born. Two Pati Bag originals that will be worth a lot someday 😉

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