May 1, 2008 — Honeymoon Cove, Isla Danzante — N 25 degrees 48′ 24.3″/W 111 degrees 15′ 24.1″

15.3nm for the day; 551.9 nm cruised on the trip overall

Things got pretty wild last night. We’d anchored on the east end of Yellowstone Beach because it offered best protection from the stiff southeasterlies we were getting there. As night fell we still had no swell refracting into our spot. However, shortly after we went below, the boat began pitching badly. I went on deck and saw that the wind had veered about 90 degrees, to the southwest. We were still protected from direct swell, however, the refracting swell could catch us squarely on the beam, with the wind holding us abeam of the incoming seas. I worried that the wind might continue to clock, to the point that we would get hit with direct wind and swell. I didn’t like the prospects of raising anchor in the dark and searching for a spot at the west end of the bay. Visual observation of the bottom is important in hooking well. If you miss the sand and drop on rocks or weeds, it could spell trouble. In the end, I decided to sit tight and do regular anchor checks through the night. If the wind moved into the west, we would move.

I set the spotlight out in the cockpit, just to be ready. Every two hours I got up and checked wind bearing, speed, and boat position by GPS. The wind stayed steady at 15 to 17 knots all night, and stayed in the southwest. I knew I’d dropped anchor in a good patch of sand, set it well, and let out 7:1 in scope. I would have let out more, but for the fact that the lee shore was too close to allow it. The anchor held solidly all night.

It was a long and very dark night. The sliver of a moon didn’t rise until 5 am. I know because I was up to see it. The motion of the boat under these conditions was amazing. I suspect the mast swung an arc of 25 degrees or more at times. We rocked, we bounced, we pitched, we shook. We heard noises below that we’d never heard before. Stuff slid off the table, and one of the drawers refused to stay latched and shut. I had no trouble rousing myself on my 2 hour schedule, but surprisingly, I was able to sleep pretty well in between, despite the chaos all around.

As dawn approached, I explained my plan to Sandy. As soon as it got light enough to see, we would pull anchor, run over to the west corner of the bay, and reanchor as close to shore as we could. I figured that would finally get us out of the swell, and it did. We enjoyed our breakfast in peace, listened to the weather forecast, and prepared for our crossing to Danzante Island, some 12 miles distant. The wind was still in the southwest, but only 10 to 12 knots when we got underway. The swell was still big and whitecaps were still showing. The wind was forecast to die back, but I put a reef in the main to be on the safe side. We sailed on a beam reach with reefed main and full genoa at 4 1/2 knots for the first couple of miles, easily riding the swell. Then, as predicted, the wind slackened and our speed began to fall. I shook out the reef, but we soon dropped down to 2 knots, so we motor sailed the rest of the way across.

We pulled into Honeymoon Cove, at the northwest end of Isla Danzante, intending it to only be a lunch stop, before proceeding the short distance across to Puerto Escondido, where Loreto Fest was kicking off today. However, before we even set our anchor we were enchanted with the place, and decided to spend the day and night here. Loreto Fest could wait until tomorrow.

Honeymoon Cove actually has 3 distinct coves, in close proximity with each other. The water is crystal clear, and owing to the bottom configuration, the water color transitions from deep cobalt blue, to tourquoise, to deep emerald, and finally pale green. The steep hillsides which surround and define each cove are beautifully landscaped with several varieties of cactus, agave, and other distinctive desert species. We quickly at lunch, went ashore, and ascended the trail to a vantage point high above our little cove. The view of the water’s colors, with our boat looking small and insignificant as she floated above emerald green, was enchanting. The perfect cure to a hot, dusty hike is a snorkel in these clear waters. We pulled on our wetsuits, and swam out in the 70 degree water. Unlike other places we’d snorkeled, this place offered both the near shore rocky shallows, but also allowed us to swim along a steep dropoff. We saw a large variety of fish, including several kinds which were new to us. We also saw quite a few large fish, which favored the deeper water. In one spot, we stopped swimming altogether and just hovered, watching an incredible array of fish swimming just a short distance away. It was like being at an aquarium, seeing so many fish.

After an hour or so in the water, we started to chill, so returned to the boat for fresh water solar shower rinses and a nice drink in the cockpit. While sipping our rum and cokes, a big gang of manta rays moved in and put on a spectacular aerial display, at times very close to the boat. We even saw some do complete back flips.

For dinner, Sandy fixed up a barbque chicken pizza, which needed to be baked on our backpack oven. This is a rather tricky operation, which is greatly facilitated by a steady boat. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I placed the pan on the propane stove, out in the cockpit, a swell kicked up and started kicking us around on the beam. It seems a west wind was coming over the Sierra de la Giganta, creating the swell. However, the wind in our cove was coming in the opposite direction, which created all sorts of unpleasant movement. Somehow, we managed to bake the pizza to perfection, despite the challenge from the elements, and we enjoyed another gourmet meal.

Our wind has now swung into the northwest, at perhaps 10 knots. Not unbearable, but we do prefer those nights when the wind politely dies after sunset. I guess you can’t always have everything. We do have protection from the northwest, so as long as things stay as is, we shouldn’t experience anything close to last night’s ordeal.

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