The next island on the route was Isla Partida, shown in the guidebook to have two anchorages, one with protection from northerlies and one with protection from southerlies. The forecast called for moderate northwest wind, and it looked like we’d have decent protection where we were on the south side. Au contrere.
But first let’s step back a moment, to the highlight of that day. Casting a 10 weight from the rocky shoreline, I see baitfish getting worked, I present, and at the end of the retrieve, right there in 6 feet of water, I hook a nice little 14” yellowtail, the pinnacle of table fair for Sea of Cortez winter fishing.
Skin on, laid right over hot mesquite coals on the stern rail bbq, cooked for 5 minutes each side, it was some of the best fish I’ve ever tasted. We had a little wasabi and soy dipping sauce, but it didn’t need it. It was swimming an hour before.
But, it was difficult to fully appreciate, because just as we sat down to dine, the wind clocked to the northeast and started howling. Not good for where we were anchored. What’s worse is that we dove on the anchor earlier in the day and we knew that we didn’t have a great set. We had dropped and pulled the anchor three separate times before when we couldn’t get a set. It was simply a nasty, rocky bottom and we were barely holding on. Scratch that…we were no longer holding on.
Just as I was putting that last bite of delicious fish in my mouth Katie yelled “we’re dragging.” And we were dragging fast and we were dragging toward the rocky shore that was less than 250 feet away.
I started the engine immediately, and put her in reverse. The anchor was behind us, however, and the nylon anchor rode was directly below us. We couldn’t reverse or we’d wrap our prop, and we couldn’t go forward or we’d hit bottom. We would swing a bit and clear the line, and I’d reverse for a few seconds to gain some room, then Katie would yell back when the line was beneath us again and I’d go to neutral. We repeated this process for five or ten minutes until we had a little breathing room, but the dinghy, Bojangles, was still in the water and the anchor was still on the bottom.
We swung once more and the anchor line caught the dinghy line. Holding the dinghy with every ounce of strength in my body, Katie raced over and cut the dinghy line. I passed the dinghy off and she tied a polypropylene painter onto the dinghy and cleated it off. We were then able to motor over the anchor and finally lift it off the bottom. Crisis averted, right? Nope, just getting started.
We look around and to the north of us is a slight indentation in the island that looks to be providing a bit of shelter from the wind and swell, so we decide to motor to it so we can lift Bojangles onto the foredeck in preparation for an unplanned open ocean night passage in large seas and 20+ knots of wind. We get to the sheltered spot, and I’m on the foredeck letting the anchor down and all of a sudden I see Bojangles floating away from the boat, and I hear Katie shout “Oh shit, she’s come loose!”
The polypropylene bowline knot had abraded through the 3-strand nylon loop and there she went, but at least she was floating toward the island. The rocky, boulder strewn, wave smashed island, possibly a certain demise for Bogangles. Katie’s about to jump in after it, but I talk her out of that, worried that the anchor would drag again, and I’d have no way to motor and pull anchor alone. She then has the idea to pull the anchor back out, I’ll then motor in circles in the calm water while she jumps in with the oars and swims to shore to retrieve our beloved Bojangles. This sounds more reasonable to me.
In she goes and away I motor. She gets the dinghy, nary a scratch to be seen, and rows back out where I pick her up and we proceed to drop anchor, lift the dinghy on deck and then pull the anchor back up (anybody keeping track of how many times we’ve pulled the anchor up? No electric windlass, either). After we catch our breath for about 15 seconds, we decide our best option is to head off into the night and point for Baja. So much for a quiet evening!