Wednesday, August 27, 1997
Tuesday, August 26, 1997
August 27, 1997-Mysterious Midriff Islands, Sea of Cortez
Right in the middle of the Sea of Cortez there is a place of magic and mystery, a high rocky island surrounded by cool water and mists, populated by sea lions and eagles. The Midriff Islands don’t seem to be like anything else in The Sea, or anywhere in Mexico for that matter.
We sailed here from the mainland side of The Sea of Cortez. All day we followed a compass course and ran across a glassy sea with our spinnaker, lost in a thick haze which surrounded us and hid the rest of the world from view. In the afternoon a tall island slowly materialized ahead of us and just before dark we rounded a high sand spit and anchored at Isla San Esteban. We thought we had been transported to another world.
What a change! Instead of the hot, thunderstorm plagued, Sonoran Desert shoreline on the mainland side, where days are still and the blistering hot sun heats the air and spawns violent afternoon thunderstorms crackling with lightning and where gusty winds swirl around anchorages and the sea water is almost too hot for swimming, we had arrived in a place of cool misty islands and steady sea breezes.
We anchored behind the rocky, mile long, sand spit which protected us from the southerly winds and we looked up at high rock cliffs with their tops lined by trees disappearing into the low clouds. There was surf on the beach and surge at the base of the cliffs and huge boulders had fallen into the sea forming caves big enough to take a small boat. In the water around the boulders at the base of these cliffs we could hear the barking and splashing of hundreds of Sea lions, and Sea Gulls, Pelican and Great Blue Herons flew overhead.
The temperature was much cooler here, the sea water was cold. As darkness fell low clouds swept in over the island and its peaks were lost in them. At night there was a steady 20kt wind. This didn't seem like Mexico; how can an island from the Aleutians exist here?
Our Mexico cruising guide told the story. Apparently upwelling from the nearby 4000 foot depths of The Sea of Cortez brought cold rich sea water to the surface. The cool water changed the climate of Isla San Esteban and the surrounding islands, and brought abundant sea life which, in turn brought the Sea Lions. There is no local population here, but a few cruisers know of it, and it offers a cool stopover for sweltering sailors.
During the night the swell began to come around the point and a tidal current turned us sideways to the waves. Rolling made the anchorage uncomfortable. Sea Lions were around us breathing and splashing, and ashore their mates barked and yelped. The surf was getting louder as the waves built and the anchor chain rumbled on the rocky bottom. We slept nervously.
In the morning, at first light, we hauled up the anchor and sailed away from Isla San Esteban.
As we sailed into the haze and we looked behind us, we saw only a glimpse of a cloud covered mountain quickly disappearing from view to tell us that this magical place was real and not just a dream.
Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Sea of Cortez
The Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Saturday, August 23, 1997
The Lonely Coast-Sea of Cortez
Friday, August 22, 1997
August 23, 1997-The Lonely Coast
We are cruising the lonely parts of the Sea of Cortez now, north of San Carlos on the east shore.
Most boats cross over from the west side of the Sea of Cortez and head directly for San Carlos to haul out for the summer. There is a good facility there for taking boats out of the water and storing them and there are a lot of people who need a break from cruising. So San Carlos is the end of the line for many cruising boats. Those that aren't hauling out for the summer stay on the east shore, but we think they are missing some good cruising locations because beyond San Carlos there are a lot of beautiful spots and they are virtually deserted. We've been in 5-6 anchorages and this one, Las Cocinas, is the first one where we have shared it with another boat.
Here we found GISELLE, a beautiful boat with a couple from Australia, David and Gaye, whom we met last year in Bodega Bay before they bought their boat. (They were touring in an RV and had stopped by the marina where WINGS was moored to look at boats.) Mostly it has been long empty beaches with only the sound of the surf and the splashes of Pelicans and predatory fish to interrupt the silence. You can get up in the morning and take a swim without your swimsuit if you want. You can walk a beach for hours. The landforms here are rugged and colorful. There are rocks as yellow as cake batter and others as red as bricks. There are layers of gray and brown and purple and almost white. One beach is tan, another chocolate brown. The hills are green now since there has been some rain. Every gray dead bush in the desert has now bloomed with green leaves and lots of cacti have red flowers on them now, if you look close.
A few minutes ago two people came by in a Avon dingy and when I saw them I looked around for a yacht, but they said they came from a house on the beach. Robert and Marian, he's a retired fireman from Arizona who has a house on the beach up the coast. She's also a firefighter, but still working. Ten days at work in Arizona, then six days down here. She commutes 300 miles which includes the last 11 miles from the end of the blacktop road. They have a 4x4 in addition to the Avon. No electricity except solar panels. They live here year 'round and call people who only come for the winter "tourists". We met them because when they see a boat they like to visit and talk to people.
Yesterday we caught a Dorado, and today we gathered some of the brown clams the call "Chocolates" The seafood helps keep the food budget down. Tonight, after the sun gets low and things cool off, David and Gaye are coming over for a drink and a bite to eat. In a day or two both boats will continue on north. We may skip some of the coast north of here because it is just too desolate, even for us, and cross back over to the other side. We'll write more then, and send this if we ever get cell coverage again, right now it is pretty rare, you know..., no towns, no cell coverage.
Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Esta Ton Shoreline, The Lonely Coast
Sunday, August 17, 1997
August 18, 1997-This seems like the good life to us
I don't know if it was the two splashes of rum I had since we anchored here today or just the overall ambience of this place, but when Judy started to hand dinner up from the galley I knew this was the good life, for sure:
We are anchored just outside of Guaymas, behind a scenic little island of red rocks and cactus. The place is very still and surprisingly cool for the Sonoran desert in August. Dinner is barbequed chicken mole over rice, fresh coleslaw, bread, and a bottle of good Mexican red wine (yes, there is such a thing). We had a nice 13 mile sail today, after a morning swimming and finishing a bottom cleaning job on the boat. Tomorrow we'll go on into Guaymas harbor to check it out. Right now we can hear the rush hour traffic leaving town (they are crossing a bridge to the east side suburb of Empalme, if you can believe that) and a fishing boat or two moving out the channel to the north of us. There are Pelicans diving nearby. Tonight I'll finish the Tom Clancy book I picked up at the book trade counter in San Carlos, then, maybe write another Email or two.
Yep, no question, this is A-OK.
August 21, 1997
We went into Guaymas harbor, found a good spot to anchor, and had a nice stay. This is a town the tourists don't bother with, it is mostly industrial. The harbor has large ships, several hundred medium size fishing boats, boatyards, shipyards, naval station, etc etc. The town however is pretty much normal Mexican city, sans gringos. We dingy'd in, found a good restraunt, had fine shrimp dinners and lots of ice cold beer, bought some supplies including a bag of ice and went back to WINGS. Since then we have had one Chubasco wind (sudden 45kts at night and pouring rain) which caused us to re-anchor and stay up for a couple of hours watching the situation, one cell phone problem which we solved with the help of the local cell phone distributor a computer nerd and shrimp boat owner who has three land lines, two cell phones, and two computers on his desk, very friendly and knowledgeable, and the problem turned out to be theirs, and one engine problem which turned out to be a plastic bag stuck in the water intake screen. I wouldn't dive in the harbor to fix it due to the filthy water there so we used an alternate intake until this afternoon when we were out away from Guaymas proper. All in all it was a very pleasant stay, we like Guaymas.
Now we are motoring north, the wind is light and we want to run the water maker and charge the batteries, plus we want to get to the next harbor before dark, so we are not sailing. We'll stop in San Carlos again for a couple of days, then head towards the northern portions of the Sea of Cortez for a month.
Esta Ton Beauty
Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Guaymas, Mexico