SEA OF CORTEZ LEG TWO – Puerto Escondido to Bahía Concepción

SEA OF CORTEZ LEG TWO – Puerto Escondido to Bahía Concepción

7/14/2020 – Puerto Escondido to Puerto Balandra, Isla Carmen

15nm / 299.6

The wind was fairly light, but we managed to sail about half the way, taking advantage of a favourable SOG despite the low boat speed.  Motored into pretty Puerto Balandra, and the only boat there.  Colin enjoyed the bay on the SUP, and we went for a walk on the beach, and the rocks connecting the sections of (not perfect) sand.  Bees!  A warm night, and Julian spent the night on the foredeck. 

7/15/2020 – Puerto Balandra to El Refugio (‘V’ Cove), Isla Carmen

11.5nm / 301.8

We left early to avoid the bees, but ended up motoring in light air.  Despite the reports of going over a shelf and easy Dorado fishing in the summer, we caught nothing!.  It was a spectacular arrival into El Refugio with the cliff sides to the small bay, sea caves, a few pangas coming and going, and a pod of dolphins arriving soon after we anchored.  Colin headed off on the SUP and had the dolphins around him.  We did a great tour of the surrounding cliffs by boat, and walked on the beach.  While we were securely anchored the wind got up in the evening and with the boat only a couple of boat lengths away from the surrounding cliff edges, it was unfortunately a nervous night, but a truly spectacular location.  Certainly one of our favorites to date. 

7/16/2020 – El Refugio to Los Coronados

14.5nm

Leaving El Refugio, we had a wonderful 15 knots of wind for a while and were having a great sail, when the wind died to a flat calm.  Still no fish!  We both enjoyed the approach to Isla Cornado, with the impressive volcano, and the interesting shallow water approach between the two Islands.  There were a number of boats (including Totem) in the west anchorage, but we decided on a spot closer to the main beach.  This later proved a wise choice as some generator running, and partying boats seem to fill into the area closer to the spit.

We spent five nights in the Coronados, enjoyed the somewhat spotty data connection.  A highlight was the hike to the top of the volcano, which was quite a scramble at times, but totally worth it for the spectacular view from the top. 

There was a bit of excitement one evening as some guest from a large charter Beneteau were dropped off at the beach late in the day, and then apparently get lost for the night.  The crew spent the whole night with one of them on the beach, and there were police around the next morning, but the lost charterers turned up on the beach and returned to the boat.  We presume they had decided to hike the volcano, not realizing what was involved, and then got lost in the dark.  Having walked that trail in the day, it was clear it would be impossible to find the barely marked trail over the rocks in darkness.

It was quite a thrill to share the anchorage with ‘Totem’, a sailing family boat we had read, seen, and heard about for years (Behan and Jamie write for Cruising World).  As they offer a coaching/consulting service we reached out to them to see what we could learn, and were happy to discuss with them a possible ‘check your own rigging’ session, and also some help with weather resources and routing.

We really enjoyed our relaxing few days in the Coronados.  The temperature was great, the hike was wonderful, and there was plenty to keep the binoculars busy, but five nights at Isla Cornado and we were feeling like a local, so time to move on.  The evening before we left we went to the spit to get the best signal, and did a quick video call with friends Diane and Diana and it was a real treat to touch base.

7/21/20 – Los Coronados to San Juanico

18.3nm / 305.1

We pretty much sailed off the anchor, and after 30 minutes the wind filled in nicely, so we enjoyed a spirited beam reach up to San Juanico.  The fishing improved, and, to our astonishment, we caught two striped bonito, and kept one.  San Juanico is a large bay and the north part is particularly pretty with anchorage possible amongst some dramatic pinnacle rocks, however, we had experienced fairly healthy southerlies over the last few evenings and chose the less attractive, but better protected south end, along with three other boats already there including Totem.  We had a chat with Jamie from Totem on the VHF and agreed to meet the next morning.

The night was rather rolly, but quite tolerable, but after a morning session discussing weather, reviewing the rig, and gleaning a whole bunch of items (and a long ‘To Do’ list) we decided to head around to a small bay around the point north of San Juanico.

7/22/20 – San Juanico to La Ramada

3.1nm / 306 hrs

This was a quick 3nm motor around the point and into the La Ramada cove, but we were extremely pleasantly surprised.  The bay is well protected, has two perfect white sand beaches, and a rocky side that looked perfect for a bit of fishing.  Colin explored in the SUP, we went to the beach and then decided to try fishing from the dinghy along the rocky shelf.  Unfortunately, the only thing we caught was a pelican (Yikes!), but after we had half dragged it, half motored towards it, Colin managed to grab its beak and extract the hook from its leathery bill.  It was interesting seeing the bird so close, and I have to admit to be getting quite an appreciation for pelicans, with their dive bombing the water, and gentle gliding just inches over the surface of the water. 

The next morning we took a walk over to the other side of the peninsular, back over to the north part of San Juanico, and took at look at the ‘cruisers shrine’, some of the mementos dated back to the late 80’s.  Of course, we were unprepared and had nothing to leave. 

7/24/20 – La Ramada to Santo Domingo (Bahía Concepción)

45.6nm / 311.2hrs

After a short motor, the wind soon filled in and we got the spinnaker up and had a great run for a while.  With the wind backing more, we successfully poled out the tack of the asymmetrical to windward and continued until the boat was surfing along in a building 16 knots.  We were joined by a group of birds who were clearly enjoying playing in the draft off the sails (we think these birds are brown boobies). the birds also showed interest in the lines we were trailing, and given the pelican experience, the lines were quickly pulled in.

Of course as soon as we got the spinnaker down the wind abated and the poled out jib was not going to get us to Bahía Concepción by dark, so we motored and sailed, to make our way. The water at this part of the Sea of Cortez is not protected by any islands and the sea state more resembled some lovely friendly ocean rollers, which made for a really enjoyable sail.  The turn into Bahía Concepción late in the day was beautiful, and still under sail, we rounded the headland and into the bay.  The Santo Domingo anchorage is a wide bay and, although less dramatic than most, is very pretty.  A lovely night, warm wind, stars, and a crescent moon. 

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