While David leaves Milagros for 2 weeks, our good friend Nicole from Switzerland visits me. Together we immerse ourselves in sailing life – with an unexpected ending. And I spontaneously travel to the USA.
The year 2023 began with a visit from my friend Nicole from Switzerland. She wanted to experience sailing life for two weeks, and we were more than happy to show her the ropes. After a long journey, we picked her up at the bus station and immediately introduced her to Mexican cuisine with our favorite tacos al Pastor, marinated with pineapple and peppers on a skewer.
Our first sailing trip was a mission to retrieve an anchor and chain that another boat had lost. Armed with a mobile diving compressor, we set off with six of us aboard Milagros. Despite ideal weather conditions, the mission was a failure as our generator was too weak to power the compressor. However, we still enjoyed the beautiful anchorage and had a delicious lunch of chicken tacos.
As it was time to head back home, we encountered perfect sailing conditions with 15 knots of wind. We sailed back at up to 8 knots on an upwind course and successfully tested our new autopilot setup. It was a successful day of sailing, which we capped off with a beer or two. With David off to Bangkok for work for the next two weeks, Nicole and I were left to continue our sailing adventures.
Hello San Carlos
For those of us who stayed, we planned a trip to San Carlos to pick up some orders from the USA. However, before we set off, we had breakfast with our friend Pete as a thank you for his previous help. This time, Pete chose a small restaurant in Guaymas with a lovely terrace and delicious food. However, when we arrived at the delivery location, we found out that there was no delivery that day. We were disappointed that we had almost driven the 45 minutes to San Carlos for nothing, but fortunately we had another plan in mind. We decided to go hiking.
A nice hike
Jesse, who was anchored in San Carlos with his boat, had suggested a hike into the Canyon de Nacapule, which was covered in lush vegetation. It felt great to stretch our legs and hike over hill and dale. Although it wasn’t a challenging hike, the coolness and fresh air were rejuvenating. We passed several pools filled with water, which were supposedly created by a volcanic eruption. Due to the presence of water, the area was lush and thriving.
The weeping rock
At the supposed end of the path, we found a rope ladder leading up to a rock. Jesse climbed up and disappeared. At first, I hesitated, but my curiosity got the better of me. I followed Jesse and caught up with him after a short while. It turned out that the trail wasn’t over yet, and the last part was much more challenging. My footwear (Crocs of course) wasn’t completely suitable for the terrain, but I pressed on. After 15 minutes, we reached the real end destination: the weeping rock. Water was flowing out of a rock face and filling a pool below, where tadpoles were frolicking. A dead rat floating on the water surface was not frolicking anymore. After the hike, Pete insisted that Nicole had to try the Margaritas at Charly’s Rock, so we stopped there on the way back and enjoyed the beautiful view among other things.
The bow pulpit is here
A few days earlier, our bow pulpit, which had been broken (you can read about how it was broken here), was delivered. Jorge had done an excellent job of cutting off the bent legs and welding on new ones, making it look like new again. However, reassembling it proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated. There were 12 screw holes that needed to be aligned and a cable for the navigation light that needed to be protected. Three of us managed to fit it by using a bit of force, securing it with only 3 screws. The final assembly and sealing were done later.
Despite having no plans, we kept busy with work, sleeping in, trips to Guaymas and San Carlos, walking, petting puppies, sailing, drinking beer with other sailors, and boat projects. Sometimes we did them one after the other, and sometimes at the same time.
Nicole sails and climbs
For example, Pete had some work to do on the mast, and Nicole volunteered to help. So Pete and I pulled her up the mast, where she sewed on spreader covers and hauled in a flag line. After getting her first taste of sailing with Milagros, Nicole wanted to try it herself. Dan’s small sailboat was perfect for beginners, but her sailing excursion was only partly successful. Although she sailed off the jetty like a pro, Pete eventually had to tow her in with the dinghy.
Nicole got a 360-degree view of sailing life, missing only a longer crossing and life at anchor. However, she had the opportunity to cross the Sea of Cortez with Pete and spend a few days in Bahia Conception. Without hesitation, she changed flights and set sail, ending our time together 4 days earlier than planned, which was worth the experience for Nicole.
Nicole’s take on sailing so far is that it is a nice way of life. She finds the feeling of adventure and freedom particularly positive, and the ability to take your home with you wherever you go. Although she found the need to save water and electricity sometimes frustrating, she was amazed at how much of it you can actually save without giving up many comforts. She also finds the community of sailors to be extraordinary, with a natural inclination to help each other, openness, and support from all sides.
It was quite strange to suddenly be alone on the boat after 2 years of practically always being with David. But as Nicole said, the community here is fantastic. So I was alone, but never lonely. I dedicated myself to other boat projects and always had a helping hand when I needed it. For example, Tyr helped me finish assembling the bow pulpit, as I couldn’t hold the screw above deck and screw on the nut below deck at the same time.
Tyr also helped me lay out the anchor chain on the jetty, so I could check and re-mark it, and put it back in. Everything had to be done by hand as the windlass was out of service. I had taken it apart because it had lost oil. But the new seals weren’t there yet, so it hadn’t been reassembled.
A little trip to the USA
There were also other things I had to take care of, such as my Mexican visa. My visa was set to expire at the end of April, but according to our current plan, we wouldn’t leave Mexico until May. So, I had to get a new visa, which was only possible with a trip to the border. Luckily, Keith, one of the princes of El Mero, was going to drive home to Arizona and was kind enough to take me with him and even organize accommodation for me with his friend Cornelia.
The drive to the border was surprisingly uneventful, but things got exciting when we crossed the border. First, we had to drive through the X-ray scanner, stop and put our mobile phones on the dashboard. Then we had to get out and were taken to a waiting room. I was then taken to the immigration counter and asked what I wanted in the USA and where I wanted to go. When I couldn’t give the address, I was a little worried. Especially in the USA, you never know where you stand. But they had Keith’s address to hand, I assume because they had scanned his passport beforehand. But I was allowed to enter and pay the $6 fee and, on the way, back to the car, I even had a nice chat with the border guard.
One card less
When we got back to the car, I spotted a clearance prompt on my phone from my credit card app for a purchase from a Mexican online shop. My credit card had been hacked. The card was quickly blocked in the app and after a call to the customer center, the new card was on its way. Luckily, I had another credit card and cash with me.
It gets cold
30 Minutes later, I stepped into Cornelia’s cabin in Patagonia. Her traditional Navajo Indian hogan, which she had built 20 years ago, was a welcoming sight after a long day of travel. After a burger at the “Wagon Wheel”, a clichéd American pub out of a picture book, we helped her install a new stove pipe, as the cabin’s heating relied on a wood stove in the middle of the room. The temperatures were supposed to drop below freezing during the night, so the heating was urgently needed.
But before we snuggled under our warm blankets, we met up with Cornelia’s friend Paula for dinner at Queen of Cups, a quaint and cozy bistro serving local food and wine. It was a pleasant surprise to find such a place in a village of only 900 people. I was grateful for the warm hospitality of Keith, Cornelia, and Paula, who made my stay comfortable.
The next morning, it was time for me to return to my boat, Milagros. I had mentally prepared myself for potential complications at the border and even booked an exit flight out of Mexico as a precaution. Like the USA, Mexico is sometimes unpredictable. But my entry back into Mexico was smooth and easy, with the border guard only asking me how long I planned to stay and where I was going. She stamped my passport without taking a second glance.
After a 6-hour bus ride back, I was picked up at the bus station by two princesses from El Mero and soon I was back on the boat. In the evening, I was invited for dinner and a game of Settlers of Catan at Bernie and Kate’s boat, “Momo”. The week ended on a high note, with a victory in Settlers and the anticipation of David’s return, as we prepare for our journey to Panama.
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