We had done all our calculations, taken into account all the weather forecasts, planned for contingencies, and we were ready to go. Friday morning we would wake at 3:30 am, and sail south on a nice 11-14 knot northwesterly breeze. At least that’s what the weatherman predicted the day before.
In the night, we woke to a decent swell entering the anchorage from the north, odd in that it had been glassy calm for two days prior. We should have known, but we left anyway, sticking to the game plan. As soon as we rounded the point that protected Cala Puertecito en Medio, we were greeted by a strong norther blow of 20 knots and 5 foot seas. We carried on. And we actually carried on northward, since we had to get five miles offshore to clear some reefs before turning south.
After pounding into the seas for two hours under motor, and seeing gusts of 30 knots and very large waves, we decided it would be prudent to tuck tail and run for shelter at the northern anchorage of Bahia Alacran, nine miles away, instead of turning south and heading for our destination of Bahia San Francisquito some 40 miles away. Our reasoning was twofold. First, a strong norther was projected to blow on Saturday, so we could be fairly certain that Friday’s weather would continue throughout the day, and perhaps strengthen. And second, our intended path would have carried us through the Salsipuedes Channel, in English that
means “Leave If You Can.” This channel is renowned for strong current and the waves can grow quite large when built up by strong sustained winds. We wanted to pick our weather window carefully for this one.
It was another good reminder that we can make a perfect plan based on weather predictions, but at the end of the day, they are indeed only predictions, not facts. It was hard for either of us to make the decision to turn around, and head back the way we came from, but given the situation, it was the only wise option we had. The rest of the afternoon brought a mix of 20 knot southerly gusts and 20 knot northerly gusts, so we do feel we made the right decision. It would have been a very squirrely and confused day on the water.
Luckily, we have no place to be and no schedule to keep, so we’ll just hang out up north for another week or so, resupply on diesel and some groceries, and try it again when the sea is feeling a bit more mellow.
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