Monday, February 27, 2017

A Couple Days’ just Sailing betwen islands

[Kyle]We picked up a new forecast for our next leg south. The winds were supposed to be from the north at around ten knots until late morning and then begin increasing to nearly 20kts by sunset. If we waited until noon, we would have a fast trip. We were up with the dawn, though, so we figured we might as well get going.

We pulled the anchor up and as we were motoring out of the bay, one of the residents on a nearby Canadian boat called over to ask if we had the latest forecast. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I detected a little concern in his voice. Maryanne answered that we did and then he asked if we were going south. When Maryanne answered yes again, he seemed relieved and bid us Bon Voyage. It reminded us that we were sailing upstream through an increasing crowd of boaters who are trying to get to Bahia de Los Angeles by summer.

We unfurled the sails, the wind picked up a little ahead of schedule and we were soon skipping along nicely. On the radio, we heard several other boaters to the south talking to each other. They seemed to be planning on a rendezvous for the night on the north side of Coronados Island, before heading further north the next day. Coronados was where we were heading, except that we were planning on anchoring on the south side, where it would be protected from the waves. It seemed clear from listening to them that they didn’t check the weather too often. Now we were concerned since any northern anchorages seemed like they would be way too exposed.

Just before we got there, we could hear a lot of radio chatter about the worsening conditions, followed by one after the other changing plans to the southern anchorage - whew.

We were having a marvellous sail. We had pulled down the mainsail, leaving just the jib, and we were still going fast. The whitecaps were going almost the same speed we were, so the motion was nice and smooth. I thought about what it would be like trying to go upwind in this: We’d have at least a reef in each sail and would be taking a lot of spray. The wind blowing against us would slow us down, making for a long, miserable day.

Instead, we rounded the southeastern corner of Coronados just before noon. There were five other boats in the anchorage. We had a few minutes of really high crosswinds and rolly swell before we were tucked into the lee of the island. Yeah, going upwind would be bad.

A short, easy, sail had us arriving in plenty of time for sunset at Coronados

When we set the anchor, the wind was really howling but the seas were flat. We had cell phone service from the town of Loreto in the distance and there was plenty to entertain us on the VHF.

One of the other boats, a motor trawler, had cut through their dinghy’s painter when they were anchoring and lost it. One of the nearby sailboats saw it adrift and captured it for them.

There was a lot of radio chatter between the two parties offering thanks and then brushing it off as no big deal. The couple on the trawler was particularly concerned about the state of the painter. They were worried most of it had wrapped around one of their props. Fortunately, neither of their engines had stalled, so if it did, it wasn’t really tight, like the last time this happened. What!? Do you mean to say that this has happened before? Ha! If that were me, I would have solved that problem the first time by replacing that flimsy rope painter with a nice, thick steel cable. There is no way that I can think of any way that could possibly end badly.

Anyhow, the guy who rescued their dinghy returned it and even dove on their prop to retrieve the rest of their line, which was loosely wrapped, so everybody was back to normal again by sunset.

In the morning, as we were getting ready to leave for our next anchorage, we heard a lot of radio chatter to the effect of, “Hey, we’re going to give up on going north for a while and go back to where we were yesterday.”

Then some of them pulled up their anchors and headed to exactly where we were planning on going. It looks like our days of being the only boat in the anchorage are over for a while.

We were headed for a little cove called Ballandra on Carmen Island, which was the next one to the southeast of Coronados. The sail was so short that our normal engine runs to retrieve and deploy the anchor would have taken half the distance. (Our electric anchor windlass only works when the port engine is running. The boat is not controllable at low speeds unless the other one is running as well, and getting them up to a healthy operating temperature takes a couple of miles.)

Since we had plenty of space as there was nothing to hit downwind for miles, I got it into my head that we could save ourselves one set of engine starts by retrieving the anchor manually, thus allowing us to sail until we needed the engines at Ballandra.

It was tremendously satisfying to pull up the anchor and get underway without starting the engines. Still, I don’t think we’ll be doing this regularly. Pulling up 240 feet of chain (which, when added to the anchor, weighs 325 pounds) four inches at a time is hard work. It took nearly an hour of pumping the manual override lever back and forth to get to where the anchor was off the bottom and Begonia was drifting downwind. It’s good to know we can do it manually, but next time I think we’ll be opting for pushing a button, thank you very much.

With no immediate dangers, we took our time getting the ground tackle secured. We left the mainsail under its cover, unrolled the jib and then shot away from our anchorage at Coronados.

In just under an hour, it was time to roll the thing back up, start the cold engines, and head through the opening into Puerto Ballandra, on Isla Carmen, which has 300˚ protection.

Another fun, short sail, took us to another cactus strewn cove

There were already nine other boats there when we arrived at noon, including two from where we’d spent the last night in Coronados. All of the really protected spots deep in the anchorage were already occupied. We picked a slightly rolly spot near the entrance at the rear of the crowd, where we were getting just a little of the left over swell from the outside. Since we’re a catamaran, it wasn’t an issue and I ended up thinking it was okay for us to be there since monohulls can be pretty uncomfortable in a cross swell. The overall comfort of the group is higher that way.

It was really windy again, so most of us seemed to stay aboard and enjoy the desert scenery. The Cardón, which are the biggest cactus in the world, seem especially big here. Ballandra’s opening faces west, which gives us a clear view of the sunset and then the lights of Loreto in the distance. It’s a pretty nice spot to spend an afternoon gazing at the world from the cockpit.


Mommy Dearest said...

Here is a Real Comment for you on this special anniversary day!! No posts from you in a while and I am left to hope you are having some nice sailing weather and have figured out how to make it special for your 14th anniversary. No horror stories, please. I know how these things sometimes go.
Just returned from a weekend with Scott, Fred and the gang in Palm Springs. The remodel is finished and they celebrated that and Scott's birthday. We had a blast and the house makes this one look positively dumpy.
Otherwise, all is well here. I think of you every day and my friends and neighbors ask about you constantly. You made some devoted fans while you were here--other than me of course. I remain your #1 fan, always.
Hope to hear from you one of these days but in the meantime, happy anniversary.
Love you

SV-Footprint said...

Thanks Carla! We've been without internet for 3 weeks, and in that time have been fully relaxed and having fun in beautiful Baja. But by now you will know that, since there are a host of new blog posts to keep you busy. Thanks for all the love from AZ - we feel and appreciate it. :-)