Monday, 12 January 2015

A New Years trip to "the islands"...

Caleta Partida sunrise
Took off to the islands for New Years. Two nights at Caleta Partida (between Islas Espiratu Santo and Partida): not crowded, but the occasional charter power boats, with their many guests, personal water craft, all-night lights and generators tended to "take over" the anchorage. Their loud fireworks didn't help either. Both nights we had light Coroumel winds and somewhat cloudy skies. (It was pretty smooth/comfortable in Caleta Partida, but boats in Bahia San Gabriel reported a very lumpy uncomfortable night.)

Pelagia at Caleta Partida

Third night we expected a moderate/strong norther to begin so we moved next door to "El Cardoncito" (I. Partida), a small/narrow inlet where northerlies supposedly didn't gust do much. It was a beautiful little anchorage (we were the only boat) with a nice sandy beach (and a Spanish-era well) at its head; however, the northers did indeed gust strongly through (although, with little-to-no seas). As usual, with northers there were sunny, cloudless skies.

El Cardoncito

The well at El Cardoncito (there was water in it, but looked pretty dicey...)

Northers were still forecast, so we sailed south a few miles to Bahia San  Gabriel (I. Espiratu Santo). We normally stay away from "Gabby Bay" unless some north winds are forecast, as this bay gets very lumpy in southwest/west winds (being completely open to winds -- Coroumels -- from this direction). First night, we were treated to an almost still night waves wise, although the northers were blowing 10-15 kn in the bay (enough wind that a charter power catamaran with a local skipper dragged his poorly set/too short scope anchor 100 m to come within 10 m of us until David noticed and caught his attention).

Panoramic view of Bahia San Gabriel (from the beach)
The preceding night was so comfortable, the sunny weather so beautiful, we decided to stay a second day/night at San Gabriel. Bahia San Gabriel has a long, beautiful white sand beach, so we dinghied ashore. There is a good walk over to Playa Bonanza along a flat mostly-open arroyo, requiring about 1 hour in each direction.   Bonanza had two boats anchored and was windier and wilder -- although the anchorage seemed reasonably calm. An even more beautiful beach -- yes, bright, white sand  with clear turquoise water -- than Gabby bay.

Trail to Playa Bonanza (from Bahia San Gabriel)

Playa Bonanza (looking south to San Lorenzo channel)

Collecting shells on Playa Bonanza (anchorage in 15 kn northerlies behind)

Required selfie on white sands of Playa Bonanza
Of course, the tide was way out when we returned to our beached dinghy, so we had a bit of a drag/carry to get to it the water (of course, the dinghy wheels we have just for this purpose were back on Pelagia...). Not too bad, however, as we have a light dinghy and tiny motor.

Of course, later that afternoon the North winds picked up even more, so we had a somewhat more lumpy, bumpy night (albeit, with no worries about our anchor dragging).

Next day, we decided to use the Northers to sail south towards La Paz, perhaps stopping for another night at either Caleta Lobos or Bahia Falsa. To do so, we had to cross the San Lorenzo Channel. The channel is a gap for winds and swells from the Sea of Cortez to come through with greater strength, sometimes accentuated by currents. We debated whether we should stay put... the weather seemed no big deal for Pelagia and crew....

Well, not really a big deal, but for about 1.5 hours while sailing across the channel, we felt like we were in a washing machine, having to hold on tight as we were thrown around by waves coming from multiple directions. (And kinda wished we had stayed put....) Nothing at all dangerous, just uncomfortable (indeed, it would have been better if the wind had been 5-10 kn stronger so that we would have been thrown around less). We were just about to pack it in and head in to the closer Caleta Lobos for the night, when the seas became regular and the sailing comfortable and fun. So we continued on and headed to Bahia Falsa.

Winds were gusting 22 kn as we turned the corner of Pichilingue (the La Paz commercial port and ferries terminal) into the smooth waters of Bahia Falsa, where only 3 other crusing boats were anchored. We had a very quiet, wind/wave free sleep. Next morning, we left at 730am and motored back to our slip at Marina Palmira, arriving at 830am, before the northerlies picked up again.

Full moon rising over Bahia Falsa

Easy to access, beautiful white-sand, clear turquoise water anchorages so close to La Paz were a major reason why we returned to La Paz this Winter.

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