Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Anchorage
21 November 2007 | Isla Partida, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Although we were very much enjoying La Paz we decided to "get away from it all" for a couple of days before Thanksgiving. (We plan to attend the Thanksgiving potluck dinner at Marina Palmira along with our friends from Duetto and Tin Soldier.) Since we're only about a 4 hour sail from Islas Partida we decided to head out Monday for one of the anchorages there. We heard good things about Ensenada Grande (good things = good holding, protection from weather, pretty, etc.) so made that our first stop. We arrived around 2:00 pm and immediately fell in love. The anchorage was just gorgeous: crystal clear and tranquil jade-green water, steep rising volcanic cliffs on either side, and two perfect little beaches. One of the beaches seemed to be set up to receive folks on a day charter with a volleyball net, outdoor showers, tents and eating areas. But it was quite deserted while we were there. After setting the anchor we just relaxed in the cockpit and took it all in. The water became calmer and calmer as the evening wore on so that by the time we were done with dinner it was like a swimming pool. As I went to bed that night I couldn't even tell I was on a boat because the motion was so still.
The seduction was complete.
And then... around 3:00 am the honeymoon was over and our sweet little anchorage revealed her true nature: the wind and swell began to build, and our boat began to rock. A little while later the swell trains rolling in were even more pronounced and the boat began to hobby horse so dramatically that John felt his best course was to maintain an anchor-watch in the cockpit to assure himself that we neither drug our anchor or chafed through our snubber. That went on all through the rest of the night and well into the morning. The girls and I even resorted to seasickness medication... at anchor! We got on the radio and listened to the weather report to see if an un-forecasted weather system was moving in but the report called for no wind to speak of in the Sea of Cortez. (Oh, really?) Well, we weren't going to put up with this for long so we figured we'd just hightail it back to La Paz where the anchorage is quite protected from south winds (which is what these were).
We felt a little wimpy taking off without even having visited the beach though, so we decided to first make a run to the beach, and then take off for La Paz. The dinghy ride was a bit sloppy but no matter, the landing was a cinch. We played volleyball on the beach for a bit and then decided to get back to the boat so we could head for La Paz. As we dinghied back we noticed that the swell had decreased significantly. Back on board it decreased even more. Was it just some fluke of weather that had given us such an uncomfortable night and morning? By lunchtime the "World's Best Anchorage" was back to her sweet self so we decided to stay and enjoy another lovely evening. (Suckers.)
Sure enough, late that night the pattern repeated: big swells charged into the anchorage and the boat began to jerk and pull on the anchor snubber while those below trying to sleep got bounced around. Once again John felt compelled to spend the night in the cockpit so he could look around every hour and make sure we didn't drag. He noticed that of the 3 boats that anchored here the previous evening, 2 bugged out in the early hours. Clearly they'd had enough. As for us we just kept thinking of that old adage:
"Fool me once..."