Blog Post 31 - Bahia Concepcion to San Juanico

Fri 18 Mar 2016 23:40

Blog Post 31 – Bahia Concepcion to San Juanico

1/31/16 – 02/04/16

26:22.09N – 111:25.94W


After the excitement of the swordfish wore off we settled into a comfortable cruise. The plan was to be in Bahia Concepcion by 3PM. Bahia Concepcion is a large narrow bay that is protected by a 25 mile long peninsula that juts out in the sea. The numerous anchorages throughout the bay are protected from the north, south and east by the mountains and the peninsula. Bahia Concepcion is known for its beautiful bays, beaches and anchorages. It is a water sports playground. There is kayaking, fishing, jet skiing, snorkeling diving and hiking all within the bay. We chose to anchor in Bahia Coyote as it provided the best protection for the upcoming weather and it had a couple of palapa cafés on the beach. After a week of cooking three meals a day, I was ready for someone else to prepare and serve the food, as I am sure the boys were too!



After setting both a bow and stern anchor we all jumped into the dinghy and set out to explore. We took the dinghy around to some of the other anchorages to check them out. In all of the bay's here the cruisers share the space with the RV’ers. That is a first for us.  Mexico Hwy 1 skirts the entire bay so it has easy access for vehicles. RV’ers and cruisers actually have a lot in common. They are both working within confined spaces, the three W’S (WASTE, WATER, and WATTAGE) rule your life, they are natural conservationists and they are adventurous and self-sustaining. They are fun and like to party too! We went around the bay to El Burro cove. This interested us because one of the major sources of our weather is called “the Sunrisanet” and it is broadcast from a tiny hut in El Burro cove. We are so dependent and thankful for this accurate weather source for the Sea of Cortez; we just had to check it out. We found the hut, and a hut it was! You couldn’t miss it actually as it is the only dwelling on the beach with huge antennas towering above the roof.  But no one was home. Bummer. There is no power or internet here we cannot fathom how this guy does his weather forecasts!




We ate across the highway at JC’s. We kind of lost track of the time and 2 margaritas later we got up to retrieve the dinghy. It was now dark and the wind was howling. Nico was the designated dinghy driver as we tried to return to our cove. Not so easy. The water was being churned up by the wind. It was pitch black and we forgot to turn on our anchor light as it was daylight when we left. The boat was a good 2 miles away, you can't see shit and you have never been here before.  It is times like these that you are thankful that you always dress to get wet in the dinghy and protect all your electronics with a dry bag. And get wet we did. Nico finally found the boat, with no help from Jirig and I, we were just two drunken sailors laughing and joking around.


After that night the wind howled for three days. It was so bad we could not get off the boat. No enjoying the water sports of Bahia Concepcion, we couldn’t even launch the dinghy. It's a good thing I always have plenty of food on board and lots of things to read and do so as not to get bored. Nico and I dove into school work and Jirig worked on the boat. At one point on the 2nd day I coerced Jirig into taking me ashore so I could go hiking. You start to get stir crazy on the boat and the constant howling of the wind through the rigging starts to drive you nuts. We found a strategic landing spot that did not get us too wet and I took a nice long hike all by myself. We kept ourselves amused by braving the dinghy to go ashore at night and have dinner or drinks in one of the little palapa restaurants on the beach. Brenda’s was our favorite. We met so many interesting people there. One night we had a bush pilot from Alaska, a world famous kitesurfer and his wife and an Israeil couple from San Francisco and who sold everything and bought a camper and were on their way to Chile. Nico fell in love with Carla, the Chihuahua at the restaurant and begged to take her with us.


By the 3rd day we were over it. We checked the weather and although it was bad we were going to go for it. Jirig and Nico went to retrieve the stern anchor. Here comes our 4th big mistake. After being hauled out of its storage locker, the stern anchor must be deployed in the dinghy. You have to schlep the anchor from the locker at the back to the side and drop it in the dinghy without banging up the boat. An oh, did I mention that the anchor has 10 feet of heavy chain attached to it? Carrying the chain is always my job. It is a pain in the ass and no easy task. It takes all 3 of us to do it.  After 3 days of pitching and rolling in the wind, that anchor had wedged itself into the sand and mud pretty good. The main bow anchor is attached to a winch that raises the anchor effortlessly with the push of a button. The stern anchor must be hauled up by hand. They struggled with it for a while and then decided that we should bring the boat over and haul it up with the winch. It sounded like a good idea at the time. The problem is that our boat is very difficult to maneuver especially in small spaces. After numerous attempts to get the boat close enough to the anchor to haul it up all of a sudden we hear a terrible noise. SHIT!!!! Jirig and Nico had put a small float attached to the rope to mark where the anchor was set. That rope was now wrapped around the left propeller. Now the boat is in shallow water and the tide is going out. We needed to get that anchor freed from the propeller ASAP. Everyone jumped into action. Jirig was giving orders and Nico and I did the step and fetch. We may not know exactly what to do, as he does, but we can certainly follow directions. All the equipment that we needed was buried in the storage lockers on deck. Everything needed to come out. Jirig needed his diving equipment and tools. He was going into the water AGAIN to unfollow the propeller. The whole thing took about 2 hours. We had missed our window to get out of the bay. We re-anchored the boat and settled in for another day. Another lesson learned. Note to self: Do not try to retire early the stern anchor with the boat. Always use the dinghy.



By the next morning we were more than ready to go. We checked the weather. It was bad. The winds were howling at 25kts in the sea. If the weather forecast says. 25kts. you should add 10-15kts to that. The wind speed is always underestimated in weather forecast. Here was our logic that day. The weather was going to be bad for the next 3-4 days. There was a small window for us to get out or we were going to be stuck in that cove for another 4 days. We were over it. We wanted to. See what our boat and we could take. We took a vote and everyone voted to go. We rushed to put the boat together and pulled the anchor and got the hell out of there. The wind was coming from the north right on the nose of the boat. Even in the protected bay the seas were rough. We knew that as soon as we got away from the protection of the peninsula we were going to really get the brunt of it. Time to face the music. Jirig had a strategy. We had gone as far north up the Sea as we wanted to go. It was time to head south back to La Paz. So as we headed out of the bay we could not take a hard right south as the wind and waves would smash into us from the side. Jirig wanted to head out into the sea for a distance and then tack south at a 160 degree angle. I prepared the interior of the boat so that everything was tied down and/or stowed away. I had learned my lesson the last time.


As we cleared the point we got slammed by the wind. We had expected the wind but had not anticipated how big the swells would be. The swells were 10-15 feet with an occasional rogue wave up to 20. We have a wind meter that is set to sound an alarm when the wind hit 30 kts. The damn thing was ringing with one solid alarm sound that never ceased. It was driving us crazy. After about an hour of this Jirig assigned Nico the task of reading the manual and figuring out how to shut the damn alarm off. The boat was rocking so badly that you had to hang on to something worth both hands. I preferred to stand with Jirig and Nico was glued to the bench seat in the cockpit. No one panicked but it was a serious mood in the cockpit. Jirig had to shut off the auto pilot as the seas were too rough for it. No he had to hand steer the boat up and over the waves and keep it on course manually. It sound simple but it is not. If you take the wave at the wrong angle the boat could get slammed on its side. As you crest the wave you need to optimally steer the boat down the crest of the bay just so. It takes a lot of skill. Jirig was focused like I have never seen him before. Our boat is a beast! She took the waves and the wind no problem. We have a huge bow on this boat and we weigh 39 tons. That means this boat displaces 39 tons of water as it ploughs through. She just cuts through the waves and slams them down. Water was spraying over the cockpit ceiling which is a good 20 feet above the water. At one point the wind was steady at 40 miles per hour. The biggest gust was 44. We all settled in for the 6 hour ride to San Juanico. Nico went to his room and went to sleep. I stayed next to Jirig to help him when he needed something. You had to see him at the helm. He was in his element and loving every minute of it. No one panicked, everyone was calm, but alert. There was some last minute scrambling to secure things on deck that we had not anticipated would fly away but that was it. At one point we watch one of our cushions fly off the boat only to land on the bow. It got wedged up against the railing and managed to stay there for the duration. There was no way anyone was going up there to retrieve it!


We rolled into San Juanico cove at 3:30 in the afternoon after 6 hours of the most exhilarating sailing we had ever done…..Now we know what we can take!




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