Yesterday would have been a great day to sail from Playa Bonanza to La Paz. Unfortunately for us, we were going from La Paz to Playa Bonanza (on Isla Espiritu Santo). The wind started to pick up shortly after we exited the La Paz channel. Well, actually, it kicked up before that. About the time we wanted to leave the marina, we started to get a wind that was pushing us away from the dock sideways, directly towards the big motor vessel “A New Beginning” moored next to us. Lulu tried to get our friend Lorenzo to help handle lines as we got underway but she couldn’t find him and all the yard workers were busy getting a charter boat ready for what appeared to be a wedding cruise. No problem, we could do this ourselves. And so we did. It took us quite awhile to walk Siempre Sabado to the end of the dock and then some pretty good revs on the engine to get us the rest of the way out before we smacked up against A New Beginning’s bow. But we got underway without hitting anyone and without looking too foolish in the process. This bode well.
Our trip up the channel was pretty fast as we were riding an ebbing tide. Still seems like it takes forever, though.
Once out in the bay we raised the main and sheeted her in amidships as the wind was right on our nose (of course!). It was a pretty slow trip against the wind which was building up the seas so that we also had 2-3 foot waves to deal with. Biggest problem with them is that, if we hit them just right, they bring us to a complete halt for a few seconds. They also make for a pretty uncomfortable ride.
This was one of those trips where, not matter which way we turned, the wind was always right on our nose. Probably following the same contours of the land that we were following. Once we finally turned into the San Lorenzo channel, we did hit a period where the winds and seas, while not allowing us to sail, did allow us to motorsail in a groove that let us actually gain some speed and allowed the autopilot to do its job with almost no effort at all. Once we turned up towards Playa Bonanza, however, our speed dropped by half. Oh well.
Not long after we made the turn, I looked down at the GPS and saw there was an AIS contact off our port stern. I turned and looked and almost lost it. It was the California Star, a ferry that runs from La Paz to (apparently) Topolobampo. I clicked the contact on the GPS screen and found that she was going to cross our path in 5 minutes and would only be 0.2 nautical miles away. She was traveling at 18.9 knots! Holy crap! But, according to her projected path, she would be running right through a known shoal area. She must be planning a course change to head down the channel. Sure enough, when I looked back, she’d already started to make her turn. Whew!
We’d never been to Bonanza before but had heard what a great beach it was. One of its attractions is that it’s protected from the SW coromuel winds that are so common in this area this time of year. However, as we approached, the wind was from the north and Bonanza is only sort of protected from the north. However, we could see 4 other boats anchored there so maybe we weren’t the only idiots. Naturally, as we approached the anchorage, our depth sounder started acting up. It does this from time to time and I haven’t figured out what its problem is yet. No problem. I’d studied the chartlet in Shawn and Heather’s book and knew about what to expect as far as depths went. I went up on the bow to handle the anchor while Lulu took over the helm. At one point I looked over the side and saw the bottom quite clearly. We should be in 30′ or so but it sure didn’t look like it. We slowed down a bit and proceeded cautiously. Finally, not knowing the depth but being able to see the bottom got the best of me. I had Lulu stop and we dropped the hook. We were a ways south of the other boats. I dropped about 80′ of chain. The anchor bit and the wind was enough to set the hook good and proper although we backed down on it anyway. Then I made a lead line out of some knotted parachute cord and an old motor mount. Dropped the “lead” over the side. It dropped much further than I expected. Turned out that, instead of the 11-12 feet I assumed we were in, we were in 23′ of water. Perfect. I let out another 40 feet of chain and called it good.
It wasn’t a very nice late afternoon/evening, weather-wise. The sky was pretty well obscured by clouds. The wind did die down after awhile but the swells from the north wrapped around the north point and made for a kinda rolly night. Nothing too major but a little uncomfortable. The rest of the evening was routine: dinner, check in with the Southbound Net, clean-up, shows, bed. Went outside a couple times during the night. It’s hard to believe how dark it is away from the lights of La Paz.
This morning (Saturday), after breakfast, we moved the boat further north in the bay to get better protection from the seas and maybe a little bit better protection from the wind. Three of the other boats left this morning to go to the other side of Espiritu Santo. The other remaining boat turned out to be s/v Solana with our friends Al and Sharon aboard. After we were anchored, Al dinghied over for a gam. Sharon remained onboard Solana since they had guests aboard. (note to Shelly and Randy: their friends are from Potlatch although they relocated from Pullman).
We may regret our decision to stay here another night as the winds are predicted to continue form the north, then the NE before finally turning from the south tomorrow sometime. However, as long as they’re coming from the north, we’re fine. The wind is howling through the rigging and causing us to heel over occasionally but, we’re close enough to the shore to disallow a build-up of seas and we’re not on a lee shore, so we decided that staying put is a lot better option than heading out as the winds are now up around 20 knots and, outside the bay, the Sea looks pretty lumpy and white-cappy.
It’s good to be back at anchor and out of the marina and out of town. We find we’re having to relearn some of the stuff about being at anchor that we’d sort of forgotten during the past 10 months. But it’s coming back pretty quickly.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ll head north but we’re not sure where to or by what path: Ensenada Grande via the south end of Espiritu Santo? Endenada Grande via the north end of Espiritu Santo? Isla San Francisco? It remains to be seen which we pick.