Sleepless in Isla San Francisco

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico

024-49.704 N
110-33.961 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from Isla San Francisco!

Sierra de la GigantaIt's well before sunrise and I'm sitting here typing a log. "Why?" you ask. Well, it's because we thought that we were going be to smart and anchor on the east side of the island instead of in the normal anchorage which is well protected from everything other than W to SW winds, and that turned out to be a bad decision. "Why did you do that?" is probably the next logical question. Well, if you read my last log, I described these things called "coromuel winds" which occur at night around the La Paz area and and can blow quite strongly out of the W to SW. The coromuels appeared the night before and gave us a bumpy anchorage and the conditions were good for them to appear again last night, so in our infinite wisdom we decided to anchor on the E side of the island where we'd be well protected from them. That's a great theory and we'd be a genius if that had actually occurred. Unfortunately it didn't. But, before I get to that part of the story, let's back up a bit.

AnchorageYesterday we departed Isla Partida and we actually had a great sail for for most of the way to Isla San Francisco. The winds started out of the S, went W and then eventually went E. Believe me, those wind directions weren't in any forecast that I saw. It's only a 15 mile trip, but the scenery changed considerably. Instead of the low desert land that surrounds the La Paz area, we were now at the start of the Sierra de la Giganta mountains, which will grow to 2000' over the sea as we move north. In the photo above, that little white dot on the ocean is a sailboat. When we got to Isla San Francisco we had very light winds out of the E and they were supposed to go to the W. We anchored in a beautiful little cove in calm seas. We then headed out to explore the area.

According to a guide good, the beach at the end of the island was supposed to be covered with shells. We took the dingy down there, but we didn't find any interesting shells. We then came back and hiked across the island to the anchorage on other side. That was pretty interesting as it appears that the area in between is a salt pond which at this point in time was almost dry. You walk over salt which is inches (feet?) thick, yet somehow or another plants survive in this environment. At the other side we found a beautiful horseshoe shaped bay in which about a dozen boats were anchored. That should have been a clue...Then we went snorkeling and eventually settled in for the evening.

West AnchorageThe winds started to pick up out of the N and it got a bit bumpy despite having protection from the N. Slowly they went around to the NW and we were feeling confident that they would continue to swing and that by morning they'd be out of W to SW. Well, at 1:30 we awoke to the boat rolling side to side easily 15 degrees each direction. It's funny that it really doesn't take that large of a wave to do this. You just need the right period between waves and the boat gets in sync and happily rolls along. Sue didn't feel comfortable moving between unknown anchorages at night, so we stayed put and listened to things slide around, groan and creak. Needless to say, not a very good night's sleep.

Today we're headed to some nearby locations and by this evening I can assure you that we'll be somewhere with good protection!

-- Geoff & Sue

P.S. We moved a few miles to Isla San Jose just after writing this and found that at the anchorage we had NE winds and a swell out of the E. When we got clear of Isla San Francisco, we had NW winds.

For the cruiser: We were anchored at 24-49.704N 110-33.961W in about 18' over sand. Good holding.

Log ID: 1448

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Photos/Video: Photo Album Isla San Francisco 

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