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Walt Drechsler

San Juanico – 2/3/2020

Pellucidar in San Juanico

The run from Escondido to San Juanico was pretty uneventful. We had the fishing lines out but never got so much as a nibble. Wind came up behind us at about 10 knots so we sailed for a couple of hours until Pellucidar’s speed dropped below 2 knots. (Admiral has a minimum 2 knot rule)

As we motored to the East of Coronado Island were suddenly aware of commotion in the water up ahead. As we got closer we were delighted to find the water was filled with a mixture of pelicans and smaller birds all in a frienzy. The water looked like it was boiling and they were diving repeatedly into what looked like a school of bait fish.

Then we noticed mixed in with the birds about 100 dolphins all hunting for food as well. They were not swimming in their normal pattern but in all different directions. The sea was a buffet and the poor bait fish were “the menu”! The bait fish were being attacked from both above and below and did not stand a chance.

Feeding frenzy approaching San Juanico

I had a thought; How would you like to be born into this world, look in the mirror and realize you are a bait fish? Gives you a whole new perspective on life doesn’t it!

We changed course, rolled out the sails and killed the Yanmar. We led our lures through the boiling sea area trying to get a piece of the action but no one “took the bait”. The wind was so low we were not trolling very fast and who wants to eat a floating piece of plastic with a hook attached? Back in went the sails as we breathed life into the Yanmar once again and head for San Juanico.

As we approached our anchorage, Punta Mercenarious, marking the extreme southern portion of San Juanico, stood magestic in the afternoon sun welcoming us to yet another bay to explore.

San Juanico is loaded with rocks so caution is the word of the day! We coasted in very slowly as the charts in this area are not the best. We dropped the hook in about 12 feet of water after making a wide circle to get the lay of the land so to speak. Unlike the previous bays we had been in, the water here is not as clear out where we anchored so we were extra cautious as we could not see the bottom. The rock formations around the shore were amazing and the colors exploded off the rocks as the sun began to set.

The wind had come up again just as we entered the bay. (This is typical for us when we anchor or dock) The late afternoon air had a chilly bite so we elected to hold off exploring until the next day. The evening was a bit rocky rolly and it continued through the next few days. We had fairly strong winds out of the West but there was a swell coming in from the East that we were not expecting. We later learned there was a storm along the mainland near Mazatlan blowing from the South and it was pushing waves all the way up into the Sea of Cortez.

I did get up early enought to catch the sun as it worked its way above the marine layer across the sea on the mainland. What a spectacular morning!

We launched the kayak and decided with the incoming swell to board from the ladder rather than the swim step. In heavier swell it makes getting in a little easier as you step straight down into the kayak while holding onto the side of the boat rather than trying to maintain our balance from the swim step. We took a tour around the bay visiting with some of the pellicans and marveling at the beauty of the hillsides worn away by wind and sea.

We pyt the kayak on the beach then went for a short walk where we met Whitney, Jan and their dog Heidi.

Heidi basking in the afternoon sun

Whitney and Jan were camped on the beach in their RV and have been coming here for about 6 years. Fully equiped to live off grid they are very familiar with the bay as well as some of the comings and goings of the community. They told us about some of the trails and how to get to the ranch where we may be able to buy some produce and goat cheese if someone was there. Whitney was the one who told us the swell was unusual and where it was originating from. The afternoon wind was building again so we decided to head back to the boat.

The tide was out so we walked the kayak out past the sand bar and paddled for home. Just as we reached the boat the wind really started to gust pretty significantly and created some larger waves against the hull of Pellucidar. Linda managed to get up the boarding ladder and safely on board but as I reached for the dry bag behind my seat a swell caught the kayak slamming it up against the boat and lodging it under the ladder. One moment I was in the kayak and the next I was swimming! Thankfully the water is still relatively warm so not too uncomfortable. The next 30 minutes was pretty exciting as we worked a plan to get me back on board, rescue a wayward flip flop, and get the kayak turned over and hoisted on deck so it could drain. Thankfully we had the camera and phones in a dry bag. Test results came back positive…. not a drop! No pics of the capsized kayak. We were just a wee bit pre-occupied to dig out the camera!

Next morning the kayak was in a “time out” so we took the dingy to shore. The tide was pretty low so we deployed the wheels and rolled the dingy quite a ways up the sandy beach just to make sure it did not float away.

Dingy wheels have proven themselves time and time again!

Once we felt the dingy was secured we set off to hiked the trail around the point to the East. There are some very nice houses up on the point. Apparently they once were used as a hotel but now it sounds like just guests of the owner get to stay there.

The views from above were breathtaking with rocky outcroppings dotting the shoreline.

View from the house

We could see the beach on the north side and it was getting pounded by wind waves. Very happy to be tucked in where we were.

Looking at San Juanico from the point you could see where it would be absolutely stunning in the summer when the water clears. We will return to this bay for sure.

We walked back down the beach, crossed in front of several RV’s greeting everyone as we passed and turned up the road toward the ranch. The road came to a “T” and we realized if we would have continued our walk around the houses on the hill we most likely would have ended up on this road. We turned left, walked across the cattle guard and started up the low rising hill before us. The cliff sides along the road reminded us of the sandstone on Sucia Island. We took our time exploring some of the unique formations and took a few pictures.

Even G2 got his picture taken while climbing in the caves.

We arrived at the ranch but saw the gate was locked and it seems no one was around with the exception of a few goats and a cat. We snapped a couple pictures and as we turned to head back a young man came out to greet us.

The Ranch in San Juanico

We think he was eating his lunch. He welcomed us warmly and invited us in. He then took us to a series of green houses where he helped us collect some radishes, cilantro, lettuce, and green onions. Next he led us around the back of the ranch house where he got us a large quantity of fresh goat cheese.

All total he charged us 150 pesos. That is about $8.00 US. It all smelled so good it made my mouth water on the walk back! We gathered our supplies, said goodbye but G2 had to make a “stop” before we headed back to the beach.

G2 wanted to pose for a few pictures with the local vegitation. We told him it was ill advised but you know how stubborn young giraffes can be!

This had been a rough outing for G2. He had a little trouble crossing the cattle guard but we finally found a way around it for him.

The wind was up for the rest of the day and the temperature had dropped considerably. We were going to attend the daily happy hour on the beach but we only got about ½ way and turned around. We didn’t see anyone out and it was darn cold. We found out later they were looking forward to us attending and could not figure out why we came in that far and turned around. We actually had to turn the furnace on in the boat for the next two evenings! The next morning we got a very slow start. Just kind of puttered around the boat. Cut up vegetables for a salad with no major injuries and just relaxed waiting for the temp to rise so we could explore without freezing to death. We finally got going and took the dingy to shore wandering along the beach for a bit and visiting with the campers. One of them mentioned they see alot of sailboats come into the bay but rairly see them sailing. We made a mental note to change that perception if we had the chance. We returned later that evening for happy hour and said our goodbyes as we were heading to Punta Pulpito in the morning.

Punta Pulpito – 2/7/2020

Punta Pulpito was only about 14 miles up the coast but it would do two things for us. It would cut down the distance to Bahia Concepcion and help us hide from the strong Northerly winds predicted over the next few days. The morning sun was already sparkling off the water by the time we rolled out of bed on our last day in San Juanico. We enjoyed this bay alot and like many of our other anchorages we plan to be back again. Wind was really light in the bay. We took our time getting the boat ready and gave the wind a chance to fill in. I know, I know. We complain if there is too much wind and we complain if there is not enough wind. Then we complain if its not blowing in the right direction. There is just no pleasing us sailors. Remembering the conversation from the day before we pointed the bow out towards sea and rolled out the main. As the boat began to creep forward ever so slowy we hauled in the anchor. Once the anchor was aboard we rolled out the jib and sailed out of the bay under full sail and turned North for Punta Pulpito. We passed our friends Rich and Sharon on Bumblebee as they were coming into the harbor. We spoke briefly on the radio and he asked if we were going somewhere or just drying the sails. We agreed to catch up later as they would be heading North in a day or two. The wind soon filled in enough for us to take a reef in the main and Pellucidar settled in for a nice upwind sail under reefed main and yankee all the way to Punta Pulpito. Punta Pulpito is basically a large rock that sticks out far enough east to provide wind and some wave protection from the North. We tucked up into the head of the bay in about 15 feet of water behind the large rock. We dropped the anchor as the boat was blown backward when the wind gusted. It dug in and caught immediately which brought the boat to an abrupt halt. I think that is the hardest we’ve ever felt the anchor set. We just prayed we were not caught on something! We spent a couple of days here waiting for the South wind to fill in for a run up to Bahia Concepcion. There really was no where to land the dingy ashore so we puttered around completing some minor boat projects, did a little reading, did a little fishing off the dingy, and watched the rising and setting sun paint masterpieces across the sky.

As we were facing East so the sunsets were more reflections but still beautiful.

Below is the sunrise our first morning in Punta Pulpito. We thought this was pretty amazing and a tough one to beat. The bar was about to be raised.

The guide books said there were hiking trails but we never did find a way to access them in a way that was comfortable for us and honestly we were good just hanging around the boat.

The forecast called for lighter north winds turning to south and our next run to Bahia Concepcion was about 45 nautical miles. Today was the day. We hoisted the anchor and thankfully it was stuck well but not caught on anything.

Wind was light as we headed out of the bay following another spectacular sunrise. I put together a little video below. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

We motored for about an hour until the wind filled in. We rolled out the main and jib. Initially we had full main and yankee but the wind built to the point where we reefed the main and the boat settled down to a comfortable downwind sail. As we rounded Punta Concepcion the wind died. We motored into the bay and settled into our anchorage. We will spend about a week in Bahia Concepcion but….. I’m all outa words and it will take a bunch to share our week there. I need to buy a vowel!

Stay safe out there. Hope you follow as we explore Bahia Concepcion.

Walt & Linda

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