So, here we sit at the Isla Estanque anchorage. Again.
As I wrote yesterday, we intended to head out to Isla San Esteban early this morning, weather-permitting. Yesterday the winds were much lighter than predicted. Moderate winds had been predicted for yesterday, lighter today and stronger tomorrow. In wind measurement terms, “moderate” means 11-16 knots. This would normally be a nice sailing breeze except for the fact that it was coming from where we were going. So, we decided to stay put yesterday and wait for lighter winds tomorrow. As the day wore on, if the conditions in the anchorage were any indication, the winds were somewhat lighter than “moderate”. However, by the time we had this data it was too late to take off and still arrive in the daylight.
As evening wore on, the wind started to pick up some. And then, in the wee hours of the morning, we were both woken from a deep sleep by the boat rising way up and then plunging back down, just exactly like a large swell ran through the anchorage. I got up to look around and found it was blowing like hell outside. Everything was secure so I didn’t pay too much attention and just went back to bed. The big swell never repeated but we did have some rolling during the night. It continued to blow for a couple hours and we were both thinking that there was little chance we’d be leaving today. We figured the weather guys were a day or so off on their predictions. However, when I woke up at 0530, the anchorage was flat and still. Just a light breeze. Our big wind last night was probably our first chubasco of the season.
I was pretty surprised that the anchorage wasn’t more rolly following the chubasco. Maybe, since a chubasco is typically of short duration, there wasn’t time to build up any seas. But, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I started the engine and weighed anchor. As we approached the point where the anchorage meets the Sea, we started getting some large, smooth swells. The closer we got to the Sea, the closer together the swells got. Just on the other side of the swells, the Sea looked pretty churned up for a ways out. But beyond that it looked fairly smooth. I figured this had something to do with tidal currents.
Lulu was down below making coffee, pouring juice, etc. while we hobby-horsed through the swells, the bowsprit alternately 10 feet in the air and then suddenly smacking the surface of the sea. Don’t know how she does it. As we got further from shore, the seas did not lighten up at all and may have even gotten a little worse. By the time we were about 2 miles out, we took water over the bow several times and I could see that the sea beyond was getting worse with lots of whitecaps. This was all out of proportion to the wind strength and must have been left over from this morning’s chubasco although it could also be associated with some thunderstorm activity on the mainland. Would the seas flatten as the day went on? At that point I didn’t know and frankly, didn’t really care. Only 2 miles out and this was already looking like a bouncy, wet ride. This is what we told ourselves we’d try not to do to ourselves anymore. So, for the first time ever, we aborted the mission and returned to the anchorage at Isla Estanque. Naturally, the closer we got, the smoother it looked and felt but I was determined not to be fooled.
We figured that we’d check the weather reports and then decide whether to venture out to Isla Partida, a mere 15 miles away, later in the day. We thought things might have calmed down by then and getting to Partida would at least get us partway to Isla San Esteban. However, after reading 3 different weather reports we decided to stay put. We are supposed to get moderate SW-SE winds today and then stronger through the weekend. Two of the reports show things settling down around Tuesday. The other report only does 3 days at a time (smart). We looked at the guide book and Isla Partida looks like a pretty good anchorage except that it’s so small. It’s only about 1/4 mile across. If we got there and there were another boat or two there already, it’d be pretty crowded. Also, it doesn’t look as well protected as where we are. And here we know there are NO BEES. Don’t know what would await us at Partida. It’s just as well that we didn’t try to tough it out and go on to San Esteban. The anchorage that we would have been waiting out the strong southerlies in looks marginal at best. Way too small and not a whole lot of land protecting one from the south, just a small spit. Or, at least that’s how it looks on the drawings in the guide book.
So, here we are again. Since we’re pretty likely to be here a few more days, I think we’ll go ahead and launch the dinghy so we can go ashore for a little change of scenery. Here’s hoping that the weather guys are right and we’ll be able to be on our way again come Tuesday.
By the way, since we left Puerto Pesco on Sunday, we haven’t seen a single boat. Not a sailboat, not a fishing boat, not a motor cruiser, not even a panga. Nothing, nada, zilch. Back in 1940, John Steinbeck commented from near this very spot that the northern Sea of Cortez was a lonely place. Still holds true today.