So we’re sitting in Puerto Ballandra on Thursday morning. I’ve just listened to the weather on the SSB and Ham nets. Basically, it sounds like the next couple of days are our kind of traveling weather: little to no wind and, what there is, is behind us; smooth, flat seas. Who could ask for anything more? So our plan was to either take a really easy trip to Isla Coronados (8 nm), spend the night, and then, on Friday, hit the road to San Juanico (15 miles or so from Isla Coronados). Then, on Saturday we could do a 12 hour trip from San Juanico to Conception Bay, some 40+ miles away. At that distance, we would probably leave late Saturday so we could arrive at Playa Santispac (in Conception Bay) early Sunday morning. But, the weather reports were a little wonky on Sunday and Monday. Sounded like maybe it might blow from the NW again on Sunday or Monday. No huge problem. It’d just mean we were “stuck” in San Juanico a couple of days. Definitely worse plights than that.
But then I got to figuring…
What if? What if we were to skip Isla Coronados, San Juanico, and Punta Pulpito altogether? That’s right. What if we just took off from Puerto Ballandra on Thursday morning and went through the night, arriving at Playa Santispac some 20 hours after we left? Arriving say at 10 or 11 o’clock on Friday morning. Just seemed such a waste to blow a couple of days that were predicted to be our perfect traveling weather. We’ve been to Isla Coronados. It’s beautiful. But, if it was just to be an overnight stop, who cares how beautiful it is? Same with San Juanico. So, we decided to take off no later than noon and just press on all the way to Playa Santispac.
True to form, we were underway by 10:15 instead of noon.
We were motoring along with the mainsail up for stability. We got a little bit of a breeze from behind, so I let the main out and we added another 0.4 to 0.5 knots to our speed. The seas were like glass. We were enjoying life.
Let me just take a second to say how much I love my Westerbeke 30B Three marine diesel engine. She’s a little workhorse. I love listening to her chuckling along below the cockpit sole. We were lucky on this trip to be able to run her at 2000 RPMs which is just a nice, comfortable (and comfortable-sounding) speed.
Our trip north was planned for overnight. We figured it’d take us 20 hours or so to reach Santispac. So, let’s see… 20 hours after our departure time of 10:15 AM puts us at Santispac at 6:15 AM. But wait! The sun doesn’t come up until after 7:00. Is this going to be a problem? We decided that, since we’d always seen our speed drop somewhere in a trip, it’d probably all work out. Uh-huh….
We were scooting along at a steady 4.0 to 4.3 knots and the GPS is showing arrival times on the dark side of dawn. No matter. I’m sure we’ll slow down somewhere along the line resulting in a later arrival time. As it turned out, not so much.
We had a very pleasant “sail” through the night. Almost no contacts at all and the ones we did see were very far away from us and showing no evidence of closing the gap. We had a bright moon for much of the trip but the cloud cover obscured it at various times. Even though we’re very tired when we complete one of these overnighters, we really love these trips. Something magical about the big old empty Sea at night and the fact that the next morning we’re far away from where we left (in sailboat terms anyway) is just cool.
I had the watch during the final leg into Santispac and I wasn’t too happy about stuff. We were definitely going to get there before sunrise. We have good GPS waypoints to allow us to enter in the dark but, the GPS doesn’t show us the boats at anchor. And, since about half the boats in any given anchorage either show no anchor light or use an anemic garden light which, by dawn, is generally so dim as to be useless, I wanted to figure out how to slow down enough to NOT arrive before sunrise. The first, most obvious, thing to do was to slow the engine down. I dropped down to 1500 RPMs. Checked the GPS-predicted arrival time and found that the slow-down helped, but maybe not enough. Forty minutes later I dropped to 1200 RPMs. The engine is basically almost idling in gear at this point. However, it was still dark when I reached the last waypoint before turning in to Santispac. Knowing we needed some time but not a lot of time, I chose to turn a couple of big donuts before making the final approach. This seemed to finally do the trick.
We are now safely anchored at Santispac, Bahia Concepcion along with 4 other boats. We went ashore to Ana’s Restaurant/bakery/bar for some cervezas and tacos (camarones for Lulu, pescado for me). Most of the RVers are gone but there are a few Mexican family camps already being put together. Next week is Semana Santa (Holy Week), and Mexicans generally see that as a reason to party for a week. And they like to do it at the beach. By next week, the beach will be chuck-a-block with tents, RVs, etc. All pumping out music at an incredible volume. The jet-skiers will be having a ball and it will be a generally noisy place for about a week. That’s when it’s nice to live on a boat anchored offshore far enough to have a little privacy.
So, we’re going to hole up here for a week or two. We’ll be watching for a really calm forecast for our crossing to San Carlos. It’s almost exactly the same distance as we went last night so 2 days of great weather will be perfect. But for now, we’re just chillin’.