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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

May 9, 2017-Ensenada Carrizal

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Wings in Ensenada Carrizal

The gusts rip through Ensenada Carrizal; from ten knots to twenty, then over twenty. The boat swings and pulls on the cable and the awning flogs. We let out more chain and we listen to the awning flogging. Should we take it down? The shade is nice, and it looks solid. We leave it up for a while. Then, just as quickly, the gusts pass and it is momentarily calm.

Two days ago when we motored here from Barra de Navidad there was no wind to speak of, maybe four knots at best. We didn’t even set sail. The wind came up after we got here. Now the is wind frequently strong and coming from the head of the bay but it does keep the seas in here flatter and lessens the rolling, so we don’t object.

We think our anchor is well set but we left the anchor alarm on to alert us if we move at all.

We wanted to get out of Barra and Tenacatita where we’ve been for over a month. We came here because it looked interesting on the chart and we had heard good things about it. Well, the scenery is nice and the snorkeling here is good. After swimming along the rocky reefs yesterday when the wind was down we were amazed at the coral and fish and again we wished we had an underwater camera to capture the beautiful fish. Maybe next year.

Yet we wonder why people rave about this bay. Yes, it is sort of pretty, in a dry sort of way, and the crashing swells surging along the rugged shoreline are stunning to watch, but it is not a quiet place to anchor. In calm weather outside it is rolly in here due to the refracting swells bouncing off the rock walls. When the wind comes up from the north outside it is gusty in here, as it is today. In a south wind it will be untenable. We like calm anchorages better and Ensenada Carrizal is rarely calm.

We were the only boat here when we came in. Last night another boat arrived, Vicarious, from North Carolina. We talked on the radio and then I visited with them at the side of their boat, and asked if they had any coriander which we needed for our pasta sauce, but they didn’t. Vicarious has come up from Panama and are headed for Alaska, a long way north in all of the strong northerly winds which are present in this time of year. They came in for shelter, tired already of bashing against the northerlies. I think that 3000 miles more to the north is going to take them a long time.

At this time of year, when almost all the other boats have already turned north, we’ll be alone in most places down south here so we make friends quickly when we encounter another boat. This reminds us of our time in Vanauatu when all the other boats were headed back to Australia but we turned instead towards Papua New Guinea. That was a very lonely feeling for us then, and we felt it for weeks as we followed our own path going north among the isolated and rarely visited islands seeing no other boats. When we did encounter another cruising boat, and there were a couple, we stayed together in anchorages even though our schedules beckoned us onward and we clung together like lost strangers meeting unexpectedly in the wilderness.

This is not like that. Now it’s just part of doing our own thing. Whether or not this is a good anchorage it is a good season to be here, the weather is still cool and, obviously, crowds are down. We are not sure why everyone else heads north so soon; probably it is just a mob reflex, but we have never been followers. Anyhow, we are only two days away from La Cruz, one day in a pinch, so it’s not like we have ventured into a new hemisphere.

Finally we take down the awning. We will sleep better if it is not making a racket all night, and we’ll put it back up tomorrow if we need the shade. We have already put the dingy on deck after a gust nearly blew it upside down on the side of the boat where it was hanging. With these two preparations the gusts don’t seem so daunting.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Wreck of Los Lanitros

On the passage here we passed the wreck of the Los Lanitros, a 700plus foot cargo carrier which was driven ashore off the headland at Barra de Navidad in Hurricane Patricia in October, 2015. There is little I could find about how they came to be driven ashore there, just some speculation that they were late to leave Manzanillo when the port was closed just before the hurricane, and that the vessel was unable to make headway to sea and instead ran north along the coast. Maybe the captain hoped he could weather the rugged point at Barra and find some shelter in the bay, which I doubt he could have done anyhow since the bay is not large enough or protected enough to shelter a large ship.

At any rate they did not clear the point; they missed it by about a quarter of a mile. It must have been terrifying for the crew to realize that, against all hope, they were converging with the shore, and then to strike the rocks at the base of a large mountain.

The 27 persons on board survived and were airlifted off after the hurricane and the ship remained largely intact.

One writer noted with astonishment that the Mexican authorities took no action after the wreck to protect the environment or remove the vessel. He noted that their official position seemed to be it was the affair of the owners and they were satisfied to watch from afar. This is pretty similar to how the local authorities in La Cruz deal with shipwrecks in their jurisdiction. For example in April when the sloop Atoz went adrift the Port Capitan appeared mildly concerned but simply stated that it was the owner’s problem.

Jody, from the yacht Pickles, and two of her teenage boys and attended by the cruisers from Katie G, streaked over the rough waters in their dingies with their own anchor and rode, and in the rough seas, somehow got onboard, secured the vessel, and set the new anchor close to the beach in Bucerias. I thought this was an act of amazing seamanship, the waves were big and even coming alongside must have been exceedingly difficult, but they got it done. Mike Danielson pleaded with the Port Capitan to be permitted to go to rescue the vessel before it went up in the beach in Bucerias, fearing the temporary anchor wouldn’t hold. Finally, after an hour, they gave Mike authority to do so. I went with Mike in a borrowed a launch from the sailing school (while the Port Captain’s panga remained idle at the dock), and along with Jody and Guy from Pickles we rescued the Atoz, towing it into the marina. The point of this is that the Mexican authorities, whether by culture or policy, seem shockingly reluctant to step in even when an environmental disaster threatens. I don’t know, maybe it is the same in other countries, but it seems odd.

Since we have been here in Ensenada Carrizal we had one interesting problem aboard Wings: We were awakened during the evening by the sound of water sloshing back and forth in the bilge. We are not currently equipped with an automatic bilge pump (that is another story) so the sloshing water was our first warning that we had a leak somewhere. Pulling up the floorboards we found about an inch of water in the bilge and were mystified about how it got there. Reluctantly (because bilge water is always foul stuff) I tasted it and found it to be salty. OK, it was not water leaking from our water tanks; it was coming from the sea. But where was it coming in? We checked all the through-hull fittings, and they all looked OK. We pumped the bilge and went to bed. In the middle of the night the sloshing was back. There was another inch of water, which I pumped at 03:30 AM. We were not panicked, but there was obviously a leak and it needed to be found and fixed. After breakfast we dug into it. I methodically checked every opening in the hull. All were secure and no water was seen running in from any of them. Then I noticed a drip under the sink in the head. Pulling some pipes out of the way I found the problem: a plastic pipe nipple in the sink drain was broken, and with each roll of the boat in the waves of Ensenada Carrizal, the water level in the drain system rose up enough to flow out of the broken pipe into the bilge. Well, no harm done and it was an easy fix since we had spare parts on board, but we don’t know how it became broken or how long it’s been that way. When we left the boat last week to go to Vallarta we closed all the through hulls, including the sink drain. Glad we did that since the automatic bilge pump is out of action. It’s fixed now.

That is cruising life. We don’t know how long we’ll be in Ensenada Carrizal, or what we’ll do next.

We’ll let you know.

Click here for more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Ensenada Carrizal

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