Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

May 26, 2015
by Nate

Isla Coronados

Our next stop after Honeymoon Cove was Isla Coronados, about another 20 miles away. Again we motorsailed between ports passing the town of Loreto to the west. We initially intended to anchor on the south side of the island, but decided to divert once we made it to our intended anchorage . Natalie and I decided to anchor on the western side because there was a hiking trail to a scenic overlook of the island and the wind was different than predicted.

Here comes the story of how we almost ran aground and sunk our home. I’m not proud to tell it because our problem was completely avoidable. I scoped out the chartlet in the Sea of Cortez Bansmer/Breeding guide book and it showed recommended waypoints and a route to follow to get to the nice anchorage on the west side of Isla Coronados. After looking at our chart plotter and the book I saw that if we followed the southern coastline of the island out and then turned northeast that we’d be able to safely navigate around the southwest side of the island and into our next anchorage.

So here we are at anchor, in the middle of the island according to our chartplotter. Can you see why I wasn't trusting the chartplotter's position display (but should have been using my waypoints instead).

So here we are at anchor, in the middle of the island according to our chartplotter. Can you see why I wasn’t trusting the chartplotter’s position display (but should have been using my waypoints instead).

One note on the electronic charts our plotter uses for Mexico. The vast majority of the country is covered by large overview charts, not precise harbor charts like we’re used to navigating with in the United States. Some of the land points are off by miles. In our case I saw that we had passed by the southwestern tip of Isla Coronados and decided to head north between it and another island to the west. Looking at our chartlet it showed the end of the island had navigable water, 12 ft deep at a minimum. I made a mental note to keep an eye on the depth sounder, that if we saw the sounder go below 6 feet (we have a 6 foot offset for the keel to show us the navigable water below) that we’d stop and reevaluate. Well, Natalie came up to the cockpit from cooking down below right when the depth went from 12 ft to zero in about 30 seconds. I threw the helm over hard to port and threw the transmission in to reverse. Natalie peered over the side and could see the rocks crystal clear below us. For a few terrifying seconds we continued forward slowly until the depth increased. I stopped navigating by line of sight, zoomed out on our chartplotter and saw the waypoints and lined up between them to safely navigate through the known channel.

The hardest part about nearly running aground was the realization that because of a navigational error on my part we were almost out of our home of three years and almost all our stuff. The loss would have been devastating to have to return home and start over.

We were very lucky that the keel didn’t hit the bottom or a rock in front of us.

We motored in and anchored in the somewhat rolly northwest swell. After we anchored we got off the boat and motored over to say hello to our neighbor boats, something we have decided to do in each new anchorage we visit. If only we’d have done that in Mazatlan we’d have already known our neighboring cruisers instead of meeting because we had stuff stolen. It’s the best way to learn more about the port and the people in the area and make new friends, too.

The next day we went ashore and Sully had a blast playing on the beach. I got out to do some snorkeling around the underwater reef on the island. The reef was easily accessible and pangas lined the beach with tourists who came for a day trip to the islands. Other folks camped out on the other side of the rock outcropping.

There's a definite lack of accurate detail for our electronic charts. Yup, the chart shows we're anchored pretty far inshore.

It really felt like cruising being able to check out all the underwater life

It really felt like cruising being able to check out all the underwater life

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A Mexican panga that brings tourists out to the island

A Mexican panga that brings tourists out to the island

Isla Coronados is a must visit stop in the Sea of Cortez or if you fly in to Loreto!

It's not all sunshine and beaches! Sully likes to play dress up on the boat too.

It’s not all sunshine and beaches! Sully likes to play dress up on the boat too.

May 14, 2015
by Nate

Honeymoon Cove

After a one night stay at Puerto Escondido we made a quick motor out of the harbor to Honeymoon Cove. There were already some boats anchored in the cove, so we tucked into another cove south of Honeymoon for the night.

Sully liked walking on the smooth rocks that lined the beach and peering in to the tide pools. I hopped in the water to unfoul a fishing line that was wrapped around our rudder skeg and was stung a few times by tiny jellyfish.

A starfish or Estrella del Mar in Spanish

A starfish or Estrella del Mar in Spanish

Like a Jimmy Buffet song, Sully's a "Tidal pool explorer from the days of his misspent youth"

Like a Jimmy Buffet song, Sully’s a “Tidal pool explorer from the days of his misspent youth”

A picturesque anchorage all to ourselves

A picturesque anchorage all to ourselves

A new favorite activity for Sully is sword fighting with sticks

A new favorite activity for Sully is sword fighting with sticks

The little climber at it again

The little climber at it again

We found lots of agave plants with the long flowering stem still standing. It reminded me of my Grandma and Grandpa Ness when their agave bloomed and all the attention it brought to Park Street in Loganville.

We found lots of agave plants with the long flowering stem still standing. It reminded me of my Grandma and Grandpa Ness when their agave bloomed and all the attention it brought to Park Street in Loganville.

Sully and I tried fishing but our trip ended up being more of a motorboat ride than about catching fish

Sully and I tried fishing but our trip ended up being more of a motorboat ride than about catching fish

Swabby Sully

We found this rock in the center of the picture had most of the bottom supporting it eroded away by the sea

We found this rock in the center of the picture had most of the bottom supporting it eroded away by the sea

May 14, 2015
by Natalie

Agua Verde and Puerto Escondido

After two fun days exploring the beaches and red rocks of Puerto Los Gatos, we hauled the anchor up and headed north towards Bahia Agua Verde on April 21st. Nate decided to try out our drifter again (we hadn’t used it since our trip down Baja towards Cabo). This time instead of dropping the jib from the roller furler and attaching the drifter through the track, he flew it loose luffed (the front of the sail is not connected) and it was much easier to work with.

We threw up the drifter and it increased our speed motorsailing by about a knot and a half. We tried flying it loose leech and it worked well but didn't give us optimal performance.

With the drifter up it increased our speed motorsailing by about a knot and a half. The sail shape wasn’t great but it was easy!

Continue Reading →

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May 2, 2015
by Nate

On to Isla San Francisco

On April 13 we got underway from La Isla Marina in Mazatlan bound for Isla San Francisco, north of La Paz. We decided to skip La Paz and head to the Islands to relax and get away from it all.

We motored and motorsailed across the sea and I got some interesting data about motorsailing in to the wind. Yes, yes we’re on a sailboat and can sail almost everywhere we want to go, but heading directly in to the wind requires tacking back and forth to catch it at about a 45 degree angle on our sails. So if we want to sail in to the wind it can make a crossing take twice as long. Plus, we’re cruising, not on a sailing vacation. If it’s going to take twice as long, in this case an extra two or three days to get somewhere I’m all for firing up the engine.

Our passage across the Sea of Cortez took 2 days, 7 hours. We used 46 gallons of fuel in 55 hours of engine runtime giving us 0.8 gallons per hour usage. We travelled 249 Nautical Miles and got 5.4 Nautical Miles to the gallon and averaged 4.5 knots. We run the engine at 2000 RPMs when motoring, and if we’re motorsailing efficiently we may run the engine at 1500 RPMs. Most of the engine run time was at 2000 RPMs.

With all the bashing into the wind and waves, we had a lot of water splashing over the bow and coming down through the anchor windlass and hawsepipe under Sully’s berth and in to the bilge. The water accumulated and we found we have a faulty bilge pump, but we have two backups to keep the water out. The propellor shaft packing was dripping excessively adding more water to the bilge, so I adjusted it while we were underway to keep the bilge drier. The water was also finding it’s way into Sully’s bed. Natalie went in to get him after our first night and found the poor kid in a puddle. She emptied his who berth to air dry in the cockpit.

Calm weather underway after a rough night meant we could air out Sully's stateroom in the cockpit

Calm weather underway after a rough night meant we could air out the contents Sully’s stateroom in the cockpit

Continue Reading →

We saw a tiny crocodile from the boat, this big one was in the refuge

April 23, 2015
by Nate

Bye Bye La Cruz to Bug Bitten in San Blas

We spent a lot of time in La Cruz and it was hard for Sully to say, “Goodbye” to his best friends Ollie and Emma. They were his first real best buddies, but that’s how it goes for cruising relationships. One day you have to go your separate ways.

After one last playtime Sully had to say "Bye" to his best friends, Ollie and Emma

After one last playtime Sully had to say “Bye” to his best friends, Ollie and Emma

 

We planned to leave La Cruz on April 3 and head to Punta Mita for a night’s rest before continuing on towards San Blas, but the going was good so we headed straight to San Blas. The passage was relatively uneventful, light wind and calm seas. A powerboater’s dream, but not good for sailing. We motorsailed all the way through the night and arrived at 5:00 am in the wide open bay at Ensenada de Matanchen just outside of San Blas. Once the anchor was set we took a long nap to make up for the lost sleep the night before. Continue Reading →

outboard

April 12, 2015
by Nate

Robbed in Mazatlan

This post is out of order. We’re trying to do quality posts about our trip, but I wanted to let everyone know what happened to us our first night in Mazatlán. We plan to cross the Sea of Cortez tomorrow and head northwest towards Isla San Francisco. The area is remote and we won’t have cell service, but you can follow our trip via the “Where’s Astraea” page on our blog. 

I’m sad to report that at around 0130 on April 7 there were some brazen thefts in the Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra) Anchorage near Mazatlán. We woke up to listen to the cruisers net and I went outside to fire up our Honda EU2000i generator and was very surprised when it wasn’t on the cockpit seat where it was left the night before. We had our 8′ Walker Bay dinghy hauled out of the water and tied to the rail and the 4HP Johnson outboard, gas can and oars were stolen from inside. They also attempted to take our 6HP Johnson outboard that was stored on the stern rail, but they were unsuccessful because it has a broken motor mount.

outboard

From 1973 and still working! What saved me was not replacing the handle that holds the motor to the boat.

 

The thieves also took Sully’s favorite flip flops from the dinghy. He was not happy to find they were gone!

S/V Mis Gale reported that they were awoken by a crash outside their boat. They went up on deck to find that two men in a white panga had cut the lines holding their dinghy on davits and the crash was their dinghy landing on the panga. The thieves took off in the panga with their whole dinghy and outboard aboard. Mis Gale got on the radio and called the Port Captain and Navy on VHF Channel 16, but were unable to raise anyone for assistance. They did make contact on VHF 22, the local cruisers hailing channel, and Mike from S/V Tortue responded. He was able to hail the Port Captain but the Port Captain and Navy were unable to provide assistance.

We moved our boat from the anchorage the morning we found our stuff was stolen and attempted to talk to the correct government officials, including the Tourist Police, Port Captain and Navy. By the time we located the Port Captain’s Office they were closed but we’ve since gone back to file our reports. We were lucky that our boat wasn’t entered and that we slept through the theft. From talking to regular cruisers of Mazatlán, the last time thefts were reported in the Stone Island Anchorage was about a year and a half ago and the last time anything was recovered was about seven years ago. Like many cruisers, we only carry liability insurance. The insurance company won’t be cutting us a check for the stuff we lost. We’re hoping to get our stuff back but aren’t counting on it.

My advice to our fellow cruisers and what we’re doing from now on. If you want to keep it on with your boat, lock it to or lock it inside your boat. For the dinghy outboard, many cruisers will lock it to the dinghy. In our case case they didn’t want the dinghy, just the outboard. Perhaps if our outboard was locked to the dinghy they would have taken everything because they couldn’t just take the outboard they wanted.