Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

Isla Coronados

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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.

Comment

2 Comments

  1. We held our breath as we read about your almost grounding…it’s horrendous feeling to know you can literally drive your home, family, and all of your life’s possessions into disaster. So glad that it worked about…we don’t want you to go home just yet! ~N+J

    • Yes! Now that we’re away from the boat we’re trying to catch up on blog posts. It’s hard work being a cruiser! The next part of our journey may include an RV until we’re back to the boat in October/November.

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