Wednesday, May 10, 2023

A Beautiful Place

Puerto Refugio, Sea of Cortez

Middle Bight, Puerto Refugio at sunset

After spending several days anchored in the calm waters of Puerto Don Juan, we set off for Puerto Refugio yesterday morning and arrived in the afternoon.  This is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.

Last time we were in Puerto Don Juan in 2017, I discovered a mother lode of clams in the shallow waters off the main sandy beach. I was looking forward to another delicious clam dinner so at low tide on Sunday morning, I anchored the dinghy in the shallows, hopped out and started digging with my feet. There were even more clams this time! I had two dozen in my bucket in less than 15 minutes. With the clamming done, I took a nice long hike through the desert in beautiful cool weather. I ate the clams for dinner. Yum.

Puerto Don Juan at low tide, clam bed extraordinaire 

In my last post, I wrote about how Puerto Don Juan was teeming with sea lions feeding on sardines. Well, I guess sardine hunting must require a full or nearly-full moon because it seems most of the sea lions departed on Monday, three days after the full moon on Friday. Many of the pelicans left with them. It was like the Thanksgiving holiday had come to an end and all the visitors left with full bellies, leaving the house feeling quiet and empty.

The sail here was easy, mostly motoring in light headwinds, an hour or so of sailing on just the jib with a nice breeze. Puerto Refugio is located at the northern tip of the large, long island of Angel de la Guarda. We sailed between the island and the Baja peninsula through the Canal de Ballenas (Whale Channel) but didn't see any whales.

Angel de la Guarda is a beautiful island. The closer we drew to it, the more beautiful it became. The rugged terrain stands out in three dimensional relief, the light blue sky its backdrop, the dark blue sea like an apron,  the land striated by geology of many colors - ochre, slate grey, brown, tan,  smokey purple, burnt maroon, olive green - muted, like pastels, but majestic and captivating.  My writing does not do it justice. Photographs help, but still fall short.

Isla Angel de la Guarda

Puerto Refugio is formed by two points at the northernmost end of la Guarda, between which are three bights separated by rock reefs. The anchorages in the bights are well-protected from south, east and west winds and waves. A small island, Isla Mejia and two islets provide some shelter from northerly winds and swells. It is a jewel box of an anchorage, mountains rising steeply from the shoreline, vegetated with dark green cacti, a yellow vine-like grass, and light green desert shrubs. It is very beautiful.

We anchored in the middle bight along the north shore of la Guarda yesterday which provided great protection against the strong westerly winds that blew hard last night and early this morning. However, later the wind shifted to the north sending swell into the anchorage. The island deflected the wind so that we were sitting broadside to the swell, rolling quite a bit. So I moved the boat into the little bay between Isla Mejia and la Guarda, a very pretty spot and much more comfortable.

This afternoon I explored the bay on the paddle board. As I ventured down a little finger of the bay, the gulls on the shore started yelling at me.  Then several took to flight and started swooping down upon me in a very hostile and aggressive manner. I'm getting pretty good at not falling off the paddle board, but these gulls were getting me worried. It was then that I noticed fuzzy grey gull chicks among the gulls on the shore. I was an unwelcome intruder into their nursery and was being told to leave in no uncertain terms. So I left, ducking the gulls and brandishing my paddle at them while struggling to keep my balance. It would have been a funny video.

The northerly winds should be finished tomorrow. Southerly winds are suggested for Friday which is when I plan on leaving for Bahía Willard, Stop #9 on the trip to Puerto Peñasco.

Exploring by paddle board, before the gulls

Puerto Refugio landscape

Intermezzo anchored in the West Bay of Puerto Refugio, Isla Angel de la Guarda beyond