North Sea Cruising 2020

Part I - Puerto Peñasco to La Gringa

Escaping Puerto Peñasco

We are so enjoying ourselves out on the water!! It has been so nice to get out of lockdown in Puerto Penasco and have fun again! It was mostly a great sail down to Refugio, but we could have used a bit more wind. But we had amazing skies - beautiful sunset, crazy clear Milky Way, then a full moonrise and a nice moon to sail with most for the majority of the night.


The whole time we were at Refugio, we had the anchorage completely to ourselves. We didn’t waste any time once we got in - we were going snorkeling twice a day! We were just so excited to be back on the water and having fun! Over the last 11 months on land, we got 2 full sets of dive gear and we each got freediving fins and hadn’t been able to play with any of it yet! To be honest, the snorkeling was only average, but it was just so fun to be back in the water again. After a few days we had to take a day off and just rest our bodies!

There were some strong notherlies forecasted to come down our way and Refugio isn’t the best in a northerly. We debated about sailing south in them or riding it out in the anchorage. We ended up riding them south, and we still haven’t decided if it was the best call. We thought if we caught the very beginning of the winds, they wouldn’t be too strong and it would just be a nice ride down to BOLA. They were supposed to come in the evening, but during the day the southerlies quieted down and we had no wind for a little bit, then we had the tiniest bit of a northerly and we thought - great, it’s coming early we can head out now and sail south in daylight. We went through the channel in Refugio and were headed for Ballena Canal when the wind changed and we had a 25 knot southerly and very choppy waters - it was like being in the South Bay of SF. So we turned around and went back to our anchorage to wait for the real norther. We kept waiting, and waiting. Finally, we decided it was too late and we might as well just wait for daylight before leaving. We were up before the sun and we had maybe 10 knots of northerly breeze. We made our way out of the channel and by then the wind was around 20, and the waves out in Ballena Canal were BIG. Those first waves leaves the protection of the islands were way bigger than I like and not what I expected. Paul said it was like some of the islands up north in Canada with the large tide swings. Of course they were side on as we needed to stay north of Sail Rock - about 2 miles out. Paul did an excellent job driving. We had the main up before we left of the protection of the islands and as we rounded Sail Rock, we pulled out the genoa and were sailing pretty much DDW (Dead Down Wind). The winds really weren’t too bad - mostly in the low 20s with occasional gusts. It was the waves though - we probably didn’t get out there earlier enough so the seas has already built up. But they were still building - so they were very close together. Again, Paul did a great job driving. The only bad parts were the spots with very strong and weird current. About halfway down Isla La Guardia the waves started separating and the sailing was more enjoyable - but you still had to pay attention. At least Paul got a break from the helm and I could do some driving.

We made record time getting to Don Juan - we decided to skip La Gringa because we didn’t want to deal with the channel next to Smith Island nor the angle of the waves there. It only took us X hours to make the X mile trip to Don Juan!

La Gringa

We only spent a night at Don Juan before heading up to La Gringa - we heard that’s where the whale sharks were, so that’s where we went!

We’d been out for over a week but, still getting back into "cruising shape" and getting the boat back together. It took us nearly a week to find enough time to actually clear off one of the beds to sleep in! It’s hard to leave land after being there so long, and both cabins were stuffed full of stuff. But by the time we got to La Gringa, the dinghy was up and running, paddle boards were on deck, we had shade and a working fridge and freezer compressor controller!

We were still snorkeling at least once a day. We got to swim with whale sharks 4 days in a row! It was amazing! They were juvenile whale sharks - between 20-30 feet and you could tell they loved swimming with us! If you put your hand out they would come up to you! It was magical!

In La Gringa we hooked up with our good friends Migration (another Cincinnati girl!) And had a great time snorkeling and playing together! Our first night in La Gringa we actually had a pizza night with Skyline Chili Dip because there were 4 of us from Ohio, 3 from Cincinnati! There were 14 boats when we got to La Gringa but within a few days, it had mostly cleared out (including the whale sharks) as people headed off in various directions.