We are currently anchored on the south side of Isla Coronados, about 6 miles NNE of Loreto. This location is reputed to be one of the few places along the island anchorages in the Sea of Cortez where one can pick up a cell signal and thus access the internet through banda ancha. Well, we’ve found that to be sort of true. I am able to connect to the internet if I take the computer topside. I tried using a USB extension cord but had mixed results. However, even when I do connect, I can’t always stay connected. I’ve been able to download e-mail and an occasional blog but that’s about it. I’m not even going to try to upload any photos until we have a better signal which will probably be when we get to Puerto Escondido which, I heard on the Amigo Net the other day, now has cell service.
We departed San Juanico on Saturday morning, not really sure where we were going. We had been in SJ for 6 days which meant we were dangerously close to the capacity of our holding tank. We knew we had to get out into the Sea to dump the tank but the weather on Friday had certainly not looked conducive to an enjoyable trip anywhere. So, although it was pretty flat and calm in the bay Saturday morning, we headed out not knowing for sure if we’d be coming back in or going somewhere else.
As we got nearer to the entrance of the bay, it looked like everything was very calm and we decided to continue on. But where to go? We were pretty sure we wanted to go to Isla Coronados which has 3 different anchorages. One is protected from the south and east, one is protected from the north, and one is protected from the west. The winds the past few days in San Juanico had been sort of flaky, often blowing pretty hard from the east all day only to turn around and come out of the west all night. The predictions were for winds from the N and NE until Tuesday when they were supposed to shift to the south. However, local conditions around the islands are often quite different from the predictions. Our first plan was to head to the east side of the island in case of westerlies at night. However, partway there, I noticed that the swell was coming from the SE which would make that anchorage pretty rolly. So, we adjusted course and headed to the anchorage on the west side of the island.
It was a very pleasant trip. We motorsailed into a light headwind and watched for whales. At one point we did manage to spot a whale a ways off ahead of us. However, it soon sounded and we never did see it very close. However, not long before we reached Isla Coronados, we passed a feeding frenzy. You could see the dark mass of sardines below the surface. Hundreds of dolphins were feeding from below and hundreds of sea birds were feeding from above. We had to alter course a bit to make sure we didn’t plow right through the middle of things. It was quite a sight although the sardines probably weren’t appreciating it all that much.
A few minutes after we passed, I turned to look behind us. Holy crap! The dolphins were in hot pursuit! There were tons of them chasing after our boat and having little trouble catching up. Soon we were surrounded with what could conservatively be estimated as about a gajillion large-ish grey dolphins. These are the ones that have a white belly with the white continuing up their sides a little bit. They were all around the boat. If I’d been quick enough and so-inclined, I could have reached out and touched them with a boat hook. I got a ton of photos as they gave me lots and lots of opportunities to shoot. They stayed with us for a good 10 minutes before losing interest and dropping behind. It was definitely our best dolphin sighting to-date.
We furled the sails as we neared our anchorage. There were already 5 boats anchored but there is a lot of room. This isn’t really a bay, more of a bight protected on the south side by a long sand spit. We anchored in about 16′ of water but were still quite a ways from the beach. It being late in the day we opted to stay aboard and ensure we were well anchored. It was quite hot in the cockpit once we got out of the wind but we opted to not hang the awning just yet as nighttime was approaching and the sun felt pretty darn good. The night was quiet and the seas dead flat.
Yesterday we decided to move around to the south side of the island. It would be better protected from the north-ish winds, which were actually pretty light anyway, but mostly we thought we might get better cell reception (we didn’t). This also put us in a better position for heading over to Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen where we plan to go on Tuesday morning as the winds shift to the SE. Just finished listening to Geary’s weather on the Sonrisa Net and that’s still the prediction so that’s still the plan.
It took us two tries to get anchored to our satisfaction yesterday. The first attempt left us a little too close to the rocks to allow a really comfortable sleep, although we’d been closer in San Juanico. Our second attempt left us a little further away from the beach but still close enough not to have to put the outboard on the dink. However, when we backed down on the anchor, it felt like it pulled loose, bounced over rocks, set, pulled loose, bounced over rocks and then finally set. I didn’t have an awful lot of confidence in it so we stayed aboard and watched our position on the GPS. It soon became clear that we were solidly attached to the ground.
Today we’ll go ashore and have a look around. There’s a “challenging” hike to the rim of the extinct volcano that formed Isla Coronados. So far we haven’t been able to spot the trail from the boat, which is where it’s usually easiest to see the trails from. Not sure if we’ll find the trail and, if we do, not sure if we’ll hike it. My knees haven’t felt up to anything “challenging” for awhile. We’ll see.
Tomorrow we plan to make the 8 nautical mile trip over to Isla Carmen for a stay of a few days at Puerto Ballandra. We’re running low-ish on a few supplies (beer, fresh produce, cheese) so it’s reassuring to know that Loreto and Puerto Escondido are close enough to visit any time we wish to.