The case of the Unsatisfactory Slip

I mentioned on a previous post that we were not satisfied with the slip we were assigned at the marina in San Carlos.

Here’s the scoop.

A large number of cruisers of the Sea of Cortez take a break during the summer months, the main factors being:

– statistically, the highest probability of hurricane impacts inside the Sea lie in the months of August through October

– it gets hot, really hot

Initially, we thought of plowing through, and keeping on cruising all along the season. But we had a few chores to accomplish on land. Moreover, when Blanca hit us in Puerto Escondido very early on in the hurricane season, the decision was made to also seek shelter for the peak months.

Guaymas and San Carlos in Sonora, on the mainland side of the Sea, are the go-to place for these cruising summer interludes. Renowned for having appropriate facilities, they also receive a less  serious storms annually than the Baja side, and thus become a magnet for cruisers.

Accordingly, we struggled to secure a slip there, for all had been booked far in advance. We stood in line for many weeks, calling and emailing the marinas regularly, until finally we got confirmation of a slip for Pesto at Marina Terra in San Carlos.

San Carlos is a quaint little town, reminding us of a place close to our hearts in Brazil – Ilhabela – and surrounded by a beautiful geography. The marina lies at the far end of a secluded bay tucked behind the unmistakable Tetakawi peaks. Built on an even more secluded inner basin, the marina is really well protected from the elements.

Unfortunately for us, however, the slip they were able to assign to us was outside this super-protected inner basin. Despite being well secluded from the open sea, the outer bay is large and has enough fetch to build large wind waves in the case of a serious storm. Besides, the docks looked somewhat flimsy. Moreover, the extreme restoration services ongoing to the next dock nearby weren’t encouraging.

A beautiful place, conveniently located ... but that slip didn't work for us
A beautiful place, conveniently located … but that slip didn’t work for us

One thing we have learned on the cruising life is that if something looks like a duck, you don’t even have to wait for it to quack – it IS a duck. I started “interviewing” people informally and collected evidence that the place could indeed be vulnerable in major storms. The problem was: how to fit Pesto inside the inner bay, given that it was already full ? There was in fact one slip not occupied on the inner basin, even though it seemed too shallow. To ensure we weren’t fooled by perceptions, we went there and took soundings, only to confirm Pesto could not slip in. We even asked the marina staff whether a shallower-drafter boat could be moved to that slip, so that we could take a deeper one, but understandably it wasn’t an option.

Taking soundings on the only other slip available ... but it was too shallow for us
Taking soundings on the only other slip available … but it was too shallow for us

The situation was growing serious, as there was no way we could leave Pesto that exposed, when luck smiled to us: a slip opened up at the only other marina in Town: Marina Real in Bahia Algodones, on the other side of the Tetakawi peaks. It was not a decision without compromises – Marina Terra is surrounded by facilities, whereas Marian Real is built inside a residential area, a bit more isolated. Moreover, we would definitely lose money in the transition, for we had already prepaid Marina Terra and there would be cancelation fees. But there’s no price for safety, and it doesn’t even compete with convenience here, and we took the slip in Marina Real without blinking.

PEsto safely secured on the bomb-proof basin of Marina Real, in Bahia Algodones
Pesto safely placed on the bomb-proof basin of Marina Real, in Bahia Algodones
Once at the new slip, the work began to secure Pesto well. It took me almost one full day to set up the final mooring line arrangement.
Once at the new slip, the work began to secure Pesto well. It took me almost one full day to set up the final mooring line arrangement.
Double spring lines, with proper anti-chafing protection
Double spring lines, with anti-chafing protection
Quadruple stern lines, tied directly to the float and the concrete pillar ... ok, that looks sturdy enough now
Quadruple stern lines, tied directly to the float and the concrete pillar … ok, that looks sturdy enough now

With Pesto now safely secured in the tranquility of Marina Real, we took off on a two week road trip (more on this later, it was truly spectacular!). The night we arrived back, a strong night squall known as Chubasco hit, leaning Pesto over with winds of up to 45 knots, thus confirming the importance of being at a safe place.

One reminder of the importance of details here. I left the bottom portion of this fender in the water for three weeks and look what happened: a colony of goo spawned on it, and now I will have one entertaining afternoon cleaning it up :-)
I left the bottom tip of the fenders touching the water, so that they would not climb onto the dock while we were away. Three weeks later, look what happened: a colony of goo spawned on them, and now I will have one entertaining afternoon cleaning it all up 🙂

 

Adriana now went to Sao Paulo with the kids for another three weeks or so. On the meantime I am running a number of projects on Pesto, preparing her for the upcoming next step of our Journey. Over the following weeks I will be publishing posts about our cruising life, the spectacular road trip, and the progress in San Carlos.

Stay tuned.

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