Puerto Balandra

This anchorage is beautiful. It’s the most beautiful anchorage we’ve seen so far. Gorgeous turquoise and clear waters. Little beaches along the shore. It’s stunningly and ridiculously beautiful. We can’t help but laugh at our good fortune in being here. It’s that insane. We enjoy the end of the first day, have a glass of wine in the cockpit and go to bed. The first night at a new anchorage is always a bit of a restless night, as we get used to new noises, pay attention to our anchor alarm, and check on our anchor snubbers. This night is no different. A little windy, but nothing we haven’t dealt with before.

On day two we launch the runabout. We marvel at the color of the water. We just cannot get over how beautiful this place is. The water is so shallow in places that you can just walk across it from one beach to the other. At one point, we ground the dingy and Scott gets out and walks us off the shoal, dodging sting rays hiding under the sand. We stop on one of the beaches, lay down our blanket, and enjoy some Pinot Grigio* while gazing at the water.

Checking out the beaches of Puerto Balandra
Checking out the beaches of Puerto Balandra

Back on the boat we enjoy a nice dinner in the cockpit and are treated to a gorgeous sunset of red and pink streaks across the sky. We amble to the bow of the boat, wine glasses in hand. There’s a slight breeze that’s picking up. I’m feeling a chill in my tank top and we head below.

All hell starts to break loose. The boat is lurching, hobby horsing, and it feels like we’re on a particularly rough passage in open seas. We hear the wind rattling through our rigging, the swells are moving us around pretty hard, things are shifting inside the boat as we move from port to starboard, starboard to port, and buck from bow to stern. It is so bad that we can barely move around the boat, much less go to sleep in the v-berth at the bow. Scott and I pull out the lee cloths and sleep in the main cabin. If you can call what we did sleep, because the both of us were kept awake by the noise, the motion, and the constant need to check on the anchor alarm that keeps giving us false alarms.

The rocking and rolling and nausea inducing hobby horsing doesn’t stop until late the next morning, 11am to be exact. And then all that motion is replaced by a placid calm. After exchanging conversation with Scott that’s mutually embedded with profanities and frustrations (What the HELL is up with this place?! We’re not staying here another night! This place is NUTS! OH.MY.GOD I DIDN’T SLEEP.) we stepped outside and just had to explore this bay again. I mean, this can’t happen again, right? RIGHT?

We launch our runabout and head to a different beach. We’re alone and it’s a gorgeous day. We set up our beach umbrella, break out the blanket and the wine. Scott goes for a snorkel, and while I watch him, a whale breeches in the sea behind him, a good distance away.

Puerto Balandra is not too shabby.
Puerto Balandra is not too shabby.

Back in the boat, we enjoy a nice dinner in the cockpit, another beautiful red and pink sunset, and then the hobby horsing begins. This time, in preparation for craziness, Scott launches our flopper stopper (a product that disrupts the harmonics of the roll and motion of the swells), but as the night goes on, the rolling back and forth gets more pronounced, not as bad as the previous night, but more rolly even, causing us to roll back and forth in our bed. Scott manages to fall asleep but I cannot adapt to the movement, and instead move to the main cabin and wedge myself against the lee cloth.

We wake up the next morning to calm seas and discover that our flopper stopper is gone! I immediately jump to the conclusion that it was stolen while Scott assumes that the pressure on the line attaching the flopper stopper to the boat was so great from last night’s adventure time that his cleat hitch got worked off. We take several looks around the boat and don’t see it at all. Because the water is so calm and clear, I decide to hang out at the bow of the boat and see if I can eventually spot it. After a while, I spot the flopper stopper by our anchor chain, in 20 feet of water.

By the time we get ready to lower our runabout into the water, the wind starts to pick up. By the time we’re both in the runabout, the waves begin. We row upwind in a vain attempt to reach the spot where the flopper stopper is resting in the sand. While I think we managed to find the spot, we don’t know for sure as we’re unable to maintain our position and the wind and waves are increasing. Frustrated, we row back to the boat. Back at the bow, I can no longer spot the flopper stopper in the water, as the wind and waves make it impossible to see clear to the bottom.

Scott drops a waypoint on the chartplotter as to where the flopper stopper is resting with hopes that when we come back this way the water will be clear enough and calm enough for us to spot and retrieve it, assuming no one else has. We pull the anchor up and head out, frustrated by the loss of this expensive product, and frustrated by the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this devastatingly beautiful anchorage.

*Bright side: at least our freezer/fridge is working as a fridge right now. We’re still troubleshooting, but we’re able to keep things at a safe 40 degrees.

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