3/26/2013 – Isla Coronados and Puerto Ballandra

Yesterday, after breakfast, we rowed ashore to check out Isla Carmen. There was a small sandy beach just opposite of where we were anchored which was nice for dinghy landing. We followed a trail up away from the beach to get to the other side of the sand spit and over to the bay we’d been anchored in before we moved. The island is part of the National Park of Loreto so there are no buildings other than a couple of palapas and an outhouse. The trails are well marked and maintained and one is supposed to stay on them to protect the habitat. The trail we were on was sand and lined on both sides by a continuous line of 2-5 pound rocks. What a job that must have been as there aren’t many rocks in the brush alongside the trail so I assume they were all wheelbarrowed in. The trail meandered through typical harsh desert vegetation. The plants are all mean and spiky but they’d have the most delicate looking little flowers that looked like they’d never survive the desert environment.

The trail eventually dumped us out on what has to be the most picture-perfect beach we’ve seen to date. The crescent of sand was almost snow white. The water was crystal clear and went from a gin-clear near the edge through the various shades of magazine-photo turquoises and greens and ended in a deep blue out where it was deeper. The bottom fell off very gradually and, if it had only been a bit warmer, we would have waded out among the rocks on one side of the beach looking for tide-pool critters. Pat and Ali, if you’re reading this, this is a perfect beach for the kids. PERFECT I tell ya! Being a park, there are no commercial establishments on the island. This is nice although we wouldn’t have really minded a Pacifico tent if you know what I mean. There are 2 palapas with wooden tables and benches along the sides for picnics, etc. There’s also a large sign explaining (in Spanish and English) the park system and the park rules.

When we arrived at the beach, there was one sailboat anchored out but he got underway soon after. So, when the panga with the 3 gringo tourists arrived for some snorkeling, you can imagine how confused they were to see two people on shore with no visible means of explaining how we got here. Once we explained that our sailboat was on the other side of the sand spit, they had a lot of questions about what we were doing, how long we’d been doing it, how long we planned to keep doing it, etc. One of them said, as we’ve heard so many others say, “Man, you guys are living my dream.”

Since the water was too cold for swimming or wading, at least for us, and there was no Pacifico tent, we soon tired of the beach and returned to Siempre Sabado, vowing to return and anchor here for a week when the water finally warms up in another month or two.

It was only a little after 11:00 by then so we decided to just go ahead and get underway for Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen. It’s only an 8 mile trip so wouldn’t take more than 2 hours. The wind was coming up from the NE so we’d be able to sail the southerly course all the way. The reason for moving to Ballandra in the first place, besides “just because” was that Tuesday’s winds were supposed to start coming from the S and SE making this anchorage untenable. We weighed anchor and were underway by 11:30. We were doing between 4 and 5 knots under genoa alone and were able to maintain this all the way across. Once out of the protection of the island, we started hitting some fairly rough water. The waves were coming from the NE and hitting us on the port quarter and the genoa kept us pretty well heeled to starboard so the ride wasn’t too bad. I worried about Babalooie which we were towing. He looked so small back there among those waves but he shipped nary a drop of water. Still don’t like towing the dink, though and don’t plan to make a habit of it. One of the best parts of any trip that includes rough water is that point when you enter the calm waters of the anchorage. It’s always such an amazing change and this was no exception.

We arrived at Puerto Ballandra at around 13:30. There were 6 other boats when we arrived. We chose a spot fairly close to the beach and anchored in 12-17 feet on 70′ of chain. The wind continued to blow until late afternoon when everything just went flat calm and stayed that way all night. One other boat came in at sunset making a total of 8 boats in the anchorage. As it got dark the lights of Loreto came on and made a very pretty picture looking across the channel. Loreto’s about 9 miles from here and I was able to get a very weak cell signal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t strong enough to get our e-mail so what the heck good is it? But we had an almost full moon to make up for it.

Isla Carmen is also part of the National Park of Loreto so no Pacifico tents here either. Guess we’ll just have to learn to make-do.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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9 Responses to 3/26/2013 – Isla Coronados and Puerto Ballandra

  1. joe says:

    So … rum won’t do for a sundowner?
    It’s just that beer is Soooo bulky, plus it needs to be refrigerated.

    What is so easy while living ashore is far more difficult to maintain when cruising.

    • Steve says:

      Rum would do for a sundowner but an ice cold beer is so much more refreshing. We really don’t mind the fact that we have to go back to civilization occasionally to replenish our cerveza. It’s been just shy of 2 weeks since we last provisioned and we won’t be completely out of beer until tomorrow morning. Could have gone longer except it’s been so hot during the day that we indulged ourselves. Besides we need fresh produce. When that ice cold stream of Pacifico or Tecate hits the back of our parched throats, we don’t begrudge the amps the fridge consumes at all.

  2. Don says:

    Gawd, I wish I were anchored in Ballandra instead of sitting at this desk!

    • Steve says:

      I feel your pain, man. You have a better internet connection but I can see the bottom of the bay 15′ down. There are a whole bunch of fish lounging around in the shadow of the boat. I’m in a tank top and swimming trunks and still sweating. Just about to dinghy ashore for some tidepool exploration. At least it’s hump day, right?

  3. Don says:

    You gonna hike inland? It is a wonderland of geography, desert plants, desert bighorn sheep droppings, and it is all owned by Mr. Slim (of Carlos fame). D

    • sryoder says:

      Not entirely sure that’s accurate. Isla Carmen is part of the National Park of Loreto and, from what I’ve been told, all of the islands in the Sea of Cortez are owned by the government, though not all are parks. However, I have no written authority to cite. Just what I’ve been told.

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