Playa Bonanza

Bonanza is a lovely anchorage with a two mile long beach on the southeast side of Isla Espiritu Santo. What’s special about this beach is it’s loaded with shells and it makes for wonderful pickings. Scott and I spent some time walking and collecting. It’s also great for snorkeling as there’s a few reefs here and scattered coral in the clear waters of the anchorage.

The beach at Playa Bonanza.
The beach at Playa Bonanza.
Just after setting down our anchor at Playa Bonanza.

Mobula Rays abound here as well. So much so that the dark patches in the middle of the bay that we thought signs of deeper water were actually schools of Mobula Rays! These dark patches would move as a whole, sometimes part, and occasionally would pass around the stern. While the water lacked more than a few feet of visibility, it didn’t prevent me from slowly lowering the GoPro with hopes of catching them on video. We might upload something once we find some decent bandwidth.

The rays are most active at night and they start jumping out of the water around sunset. It’s really cute when they gather right below the surface, their fins sticking out of the water in such a way that it looks like ears. Then one will break and start jumping and the others sometimes follow. It’s unknown why they jump. Some researchers theorize it’s to rid themselves of parasites while others think it might be for fun. They are intelligent fish, so we’re leaning towards the latter.

Because Espiritu Santo is uninhabited, the night sky is quite vivid. The milky way is clearly visible, and there’s phosphoresce in the water. Agitate the water, and they flicker and glow, which Scott couldn’t get enough of.

We actually came to Bonanza twice. First, only for two days back in May. In May, we met the awesome folks on S/V Coastal Drifter (Debra, Phil, and Ethan) and this time we swung by S/V Mambo (Peg and Tony), although we didn’t get to spend time hanging out with Mambo as planned. On our second day here, we awoke to a rocky boat and then all hell broke loose as winds picked up to well over 20 knots. We poked our heads outside to see S/V Mambo leaving the anchorage and the other boat that had anchored overnight gone as well.

The setting sun lights up the mountains behind SV Endeavor.

Peg from Mambo radioed us, urging us to leave and follow them. There was just one problem. The night before, we had rigged up our two awnings and had no way of getting them down with winds blowing like they were. Unlike most of the awnings one sees out there that are attached to the boat via a halyard, tarp-like, these have carbon fiber poles running through them that attach to the lifelines of our boat so that they are freestanding. They’re actually awesome because you can walk under them and it’s like an additional shaded living area, but they take time to put up and down, and unlike the awnings that are held up by a halyard, it’s not so easy to just “drop and run” like we wanted to.

So there we were. Everyone else had abandoned the anchorage and we were standing around wondering what we should do while the carbon fiber poles within the awnings banged against our shrouds and dodger, making an awful, stressful noise. We were not unsafe in this anchorage, just uncomfortable, and these awnings removed our ability to choose to leave if we wanted to.

The kicker? It was also our one year wedding anniversary!

So what did we do? We made the best of it. I baked cookies, we popped open a bottle of champagne, tied up the awnings the best we could to minimize noise and banging, and waited it out. After a few hours we were able to take down the awnings before the winds picked up again (the very strong awnings which can withstand 30 knots winds had a few tears). We actually ended up having constant 20+ knots of wind for three additional days. The upside is that by wind generator alone we got our battery charged to 100%!

We are so over the coromuels and strong winds in this part of Baja. Looking forward to moving north and away from La Paz and the strong summer winds found in these parts. Onward!

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