Sleepless Nights at Anchor

Between making headway, relaxing and enjoying ourselves, we regularly devote ourselves to one boat project or the other. Also, we keep getting to know new people or meeting Cabralians somewhere and suffer from sleepless nights at anchor. And we lose faith in humanity every now and then.

Before we took off from San Evaristo, David had another mission. Sooner or later, every little sound the boat makes under way or at anchor starts sounding familiar. On our way to San Evaristo, a new noise at the boat’s propeller had suddenly showed up in the San José Channel. It sounded a little scrapy and squeaky. At worst, the new cutlass bearing was already worn through, at best all was fine. So, David squeezed into my wetsuit and armed with snorkel and goggles, jumped into the almost 20°C cold water. Fortunately, the visual inspection did not confirm our fears: everything looked fine.

Squeaky mystery

There was a second sound we noticed when we got waves on the bow at a certain angle. It came from somewhere in or up the mast. After some observation, we noticed that our mast “pumped” in the upper third when the bow rose and fell in the waves. You can imagine this as if you put a twig on the table and put pressure on it from the top – the twig bends a little somewhere in the middle. And of course, this pumping shouldn’t happen. The squeeking nose seems to be correlated to these movements of the mast. It became almost unbearable. Because every time we heard a “Squeak!”, we knew that the mast was pumping. But what exactly caused this noise and whether it just happened to always occur together with the pumping, we couldn’t figure out.

We tighten the rigging

So, we gathered information about what was causing the mast to pump. The answer was that the rigging was too loose. This made sense, because we knew that the new steel cables would stretch a little. Hence, we tightened the rigging all over, but only the pumping got better – the squeaking did not disappear. But when the swell (waves that travel long distances) subsided, the squeaking stopped, and disappeared from our minds again.

On the dream beach

With the next favourable weather window, we headed for the dream bay, which was only 2 hours away: Isla San Francisco. The huge bay offers room for countless boats and its sandy bottom makes for an easy anchorage. Turquoise-green water, a white sandy beach and red rock formations were our backdrop for the next few days. The anchorage is a popular destination, especially at weekends, so unfortunately it is not always as idyllic as it could be. This time, too, there were some motorboats with the blue LED underwater lighting and party tents on the beach. But, it’s just beautiful there.

Isla San Francisco

Stretching our legs

We took the opportunity to stretch our legs a bit and walked along the crest of the bay. We had a wonderful view of the Sea of Cortez. To the east, we could look down the rocky cliffs to the rough sea. On the other side, we saw the expansive bay with its perfect beach and sparse desert vegetation. David also fished us a delicious dinner right away.

German acquaintance

Unfortunately, the water was still too cold to swim and snorkel. Also, the visibility was not yet as we had imagined. But that time will come soon enough. A German flag was flying at the stern of one of the anchored boats. Of course, we had to go by and say hello. Jost was on his way to La Paz on his “Serenity” with his niece. And he invited us right away for a sundowner. We absolutely must get a national flag – or at least our cantonal (state) flags – so that we can “reveal” ourselves. At the moment we are travelling rather incognito: no home port on the transom and we only fly the Mexican courtesy flag.

Bahia Falsa

As we wanted to be in La Paz for my birthday, we only stayed two nights at Isla San Francisco and then said “Good bye San Francisco”. Other Cabralians and Iñaki and Carmen had recommended Bahia Falsa, about 8 nautical miles from the centre of La Paz, as an anchorage. There we had mobile phone reception and could easily take a taxi into town. When we turned around the corner into the anchorage after 8 hours of sailing, the Milagros classic move reoccurred. Sentences like “It’s far too crowded and there’s no room for us” or “Under no circumstances should we anchor too close to this boat, the damage would be far too expensive” could be heard.

It’s OK

But we overcame ourselves again and anchored behind all the boats. And again, it turned out that we had more than enough space around us. Our eyes still need some training. In the evening we met up with our friends on “Freyja” in the beach bar and treated ourselves to a cold beer and mediocre tacos.

Working on Milagros

Here in Bahia Falsa, we worked on our rigging again, as we were not quite happy with the mast yet. We tightened the forestay a bit more and pumping seems to be a thing of the past now. We also finally turned our attention to our watermaker and replaced the old membrane. But even after this service we were still not happy with the performance and water quality. But we would talk to the “Watermaker Guys” in La Paz.

Squeak Squeak Squeeaak

As the week progressed, westerly winds were forecast on and off and our anchorage was protected against everything except, of course, that very wind. This resulted in the swell rocking our boat up and down. And yes, as mentioned above, it was just such waves that made the mast squeak. And as is always the case, of course we don’t have waves during the day, when a bit of squeaking isn’t too bad. No, the wind came up in the evening, of course, when we wanted to sleep. And rest assured, falling aslee to with a regular squeaking noise is impossible. The situation was annoying to say the least.

It’s exasperating

At that point we felt like pulling our hair out, which would have been a hard thing to for David. We just couldn’t figure out what exactly was causing that noise. We had optimised the tension in the rigging and the pumping of the mast was gone, but the squeaking was not. There was only one thing left to do: David had to go up the mast. Armed with lubricating oil, he greased every moving part possible up there. And that’s when he finally found the culprit. A #@ç%3 spinnaker block, with no line hanging from it yet dangling squeakily and happy at the mast top. The noise it made was amplified by the hollow mast. David removed the troublemaker – now we can finally sleep peacefully again!

Taxi into town

We were told that one can easily order an Uber from Bahia Falsa. We had to go get some groceries, so we paddled ashore, tied the kayak to a parked panga and opened the Uber app. But there was no available driver to be seen. Well, bad luck, we thought. When a sombrero vendor passed us, we asked him if he knew a taxi driver. He pulled out his mobile phone and called his hermano “Turbo”. Less than 15 minutes later, we were in his taxi heading for La Paz. It wasn’t really worth it, though, because the taxi there and back cost 25$, which is quite a lot for two 20-minute trips here in Mexico.

Swiss taxi drivers?

Three boats we had met in Peñasco were just anchored in La Paz. We arranged to meet them (the owners of the boats, that is) for tacos in town the next day. Given the taxi fares, that would be pretty expensive tacos, but if you don’t spoil yourself who will? And no, combining that with grocery shopping would certainly not have been possible *sigh*. We called Turbo for a ride into town. When we got into his taxi, we just had to ask him out if he had some Swiss blood. Because he was there exactly on time – we are not used people being reliable and on time anymore.

Beach Bar Safety

After a fun ex-Peñasco meet-up, we were lucky enough to find a taxi back immediately, because Turbo was off work at seven. Any fears that someone might have stolen our kayak in the meantime vanished immediately when we arrived at the beach and were immediately stopped by the night guard. For future evening trips into town, it was good to know that someone was there keeping watch.

A snorkelling trip

Jost also turned up in Bahia Falsa and spontaneously invited us on a snorkelling trip. It was a lucky coincidence that this was planned exactly on my birthday (my second here in Mexico). I thought it was an extremely fitting programme. We postponed the planned birthday dinner at El Toro Güero until the next day. And I decided anyway that I should celebrate a birthday week.


At 6am (on my birthday!) Jost picked us up with his dinghy. We left Milagros alone at anchor for the day and sailed on Jost’s 42-foot Sun Odyssey. Our destination was a rock about 60 km away at the northern tip of Jacques Cousteau Island, which would offer a great snorkelling experience. There was also the possibility of seeing orcas, so diving instructor David also came along. Shortly before noon we anchored in front of the rock. As we approached, we saw several pangas fishing around the rock, and lowered our expectations. But before we put on our diving gear, we prepared a fish we had caught on the way for lunch.

Dave and Jost cleaning the fish

Once upon a time…

Unfortunately, our concerns came true. The rock formation must have once been a beautiful snorkelling experience. But unfortunately, there was not much left to see. Still, here and there, for example, there were small blue glowing fish or the usual inedible suspects. And also, some fishing lures. I guess we can mentally prepare ourselves for encountering this kind of thing more often. Humanity is merciless. It’s pretty depressing.

We make the best of it

Three sea lions watched us from a distance, but no orcas, dolphins or whales made an appearance. The visibility was also only average. But that wasn’t too bad, because all the tiny animals in the water are the reason why the Sea of Cortez has or had such a great diversity of species. On the way back we looked at a few other possible snorkelling spots, but unfortunately the visibility was even worse there. So, we just enjoyed sailing. At least a humpback whale showed itself very briefly. We toasted the day with a beer and enjoyed sailing into the sunset. The diving was not what we had imagined, but the trip was still worth it.

A beautiful evening

On day 2 of my birthday week, I caught up on sleeping in, followed by coffee and pancakes by the bed. In the evening we met up with Nick and Janine from SV Rua Hatu, our former neighbours and fellow sufferers from Cabrales Boatyard. It was great to see them again! And the grilled octopus and the molcajete (ceviche in a stone barrel) at “Mariscos El Toro Güero” tasted great. Taking yet another taxi to the city was definitely worth it. It was a successful start to my birthday week – it can continue like this.

Wanna celebrate my birthday with me? Click the button below to offer some beers. Cheers!

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