Sailing Beyond Expectations

Instead of heading south, we use the time until David’s next work assignment in Hong Kong to sail north.

We had decided not to sail to Panama this year – again. This time, however, not because of any technical defects on the boat like last season. The boat is in top condition, and our to-do list (currently) consists mostly of nice-to-have things: scraping and oiling the toe rail, sewing additional cockpit cushions and more covers, installing a remote control for the anchor windlass, and possibly wiring its forward gear and replacing the membrane in the watermaker. Such things.

A bad move?

We have worked hard to get to this point and to have Milagros the way we like it. At this point, I must comment on various voices that have reached us with the tenor that Milagros was a bad move. This is not the case at all. Milagros is a solid, 45-year-old boat with normal maintenance cycles and quirks like any other boat.

Typically Swiss

Our work-sailing ratio would certainly be better if, firstly, we didn’t always do all the boat jobs for the first time and they therefore took longer, secondly, we weren’t in Mexico, where everything takes longer and good materials are hard to find, and thirdly, if we weren’t so perfectionistic. The third point means that we try to avoid shortcuts as much as possible, and try to do the necessary repairs, maintenance, and improvements properly, not just turn a blind eye or wait until it’s too late. Preventive maintenance, so to speak. But of course, there’s a bit of bad luck involved from time to time. But with another or newer boat, it would not have been any different.

It’s about demands

They say “Sailing is repairing things with a beautiful view” or “Sailing is the most expensive way to explore the world for free.” Sea and sun are a harsh environment for all materials, and wear and tear is high. All sailors are metaphorically in the same storm, and for everyone, it applies that “On a boat, everything is broken, you just don’t know it yet.” What mainly differs are the demands on oneself and the boat and the ‘good enough’ threshold, i.e., when and whether something is good enough. Some don’t mind if water leaks into the boat here and there where it shouldn’t, and others want to eliminate leaks immediately. Some don’t care if the boat looks run-down, others do.

Milagros is great!

Therefore: Milagros is a great boat and ready to explore the world! The problem is that we are not. About a week after our failed crossing to Topolobampo and a few days of doing nothing, we still didn’t know what to do next. We felt good about our decision not to go to Panama for now. But we didn’t want to go home directly either. So, we decided to explore the area north of Guaymas.

To the north

We went to Bahia San Pedro, about six hours north of Guaymas. The huge bay had plenty of space, offered many exploration opportunities, and was also suitable for the prevailing north winds. It was far from civilization, without houses or shops or bars. At night, we could hear the coyotes on the beach and even saw some cows during the day.

Varnish must go

We spent 10 relaxed days in Bahia San Pedro exploring, fishing, walking, doing nothing, and as always, a few small boat projects. David dedicated himself to the varnish on our toe rail and removed the pitiful remains, whose layers still held together but no longer to the wood.

Pan Pan

We had also replaced the broken pin on our sailing dinghy’s rudder, and David used the nice breeze in the bay for sailing. As he was already on his way back to Milagros because the wind had meanwhile reached 18 knots and was too strong, the rudder gave up the ghost. Unable to manoeuvre, he drifted away. I couldn’t save him because he was sailing our dinghy and the kayak was still stowed. Via radio, I asked the neighbouring boat for help, and they towed him back to Milagros. Oops.

Fish gift

One morning we saw a pink panga coming into the bay. We got into the dinghy and rowed to the fishermen to ask if they had fish for sale. It turned out they were two gringos from San Carlos who had just been fishing further out and knew a sailboat in the bay. When asked about the colour of the panga, one said it was theft protection. On the one hand, it was a conspicuous colour, and on the other hand, no Mexican would ever want to zoom around in a pink panga. We exchanged two cold beers for three delicious fish with them. One of these fish was turned into one of the best fish dishes we ever had on Milagros thanks to our new grill.

Campfire

The last days in the bay we spent practically alone, only the Frenchman Chris anchored next to us. He suggested that we use the pleasant weather to make a fire on the beach. He collected wood diligently, and we brought dough for snake bread. So, we enjoyed the sunset sitting around the campfire.

A new security system

He told us about an interesting security system that he was developing. It’s called ‘Barking Boat. Sensors mounted in the hull emit a Doppler radar signal with very low power and detect movements outside the boat at a distance of up to 8 meters. This triggers a barking sound from a speaker and imitates a watchdog. Pretty cool 🙂

There are problems

We only had two small “problems” while we were there. One was food. We didn’t have enough fresh food with us. We had left two weeks earlier thinking we would be in Mazatlán 5 days later, where we could shop again. It’s not that we were starving. We just lacked some essentials like butter, eggs, milk, tortillas, and fresh vegetables. But in a pinch, you get creative. So we just made our own tortillas, baked a Russian braid with coconut oil instead of butter and without egg, stirred powdered milk into the coffee, and ate canned vegetables. Not too bad.

Home made tortillas

We must leave

The other problem was time. David’s next trip to Hong Kong was coming up, and we had to return to civilization. We really enjoyed our time in Bahia San Pedro and didn’t want to leave yet. But it is what it is. With a nice north wind, we sailed back to Guaymas two days before David’s departure. But we anchored first around the corner in Bahia Catalina. From there, we took a taxi into the city to buy the essentials. Two of the stories from the last post ‘Journeys and Connections: A Week in Guaymas‘ came from that day. Only on the day of David’s departure did we go back to the cesspool in front of Guaymas, where I would spend another two weeks alone on the boat.

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