Wave Crests, Chubascos and Choppers – Oh My!

After picking up the pieces a bit after hurricane Odile, we left Puerto Escondido and traveled North to explore more sailing ground than we had covered with our prior trip into the sea. We made stops in Bahía Chuenque with Luna, Island Princess, and Luna Azul. We had an amazing clam bake, blew off some steam on our SUP, and enjoyed their company. The water remained flat, and still. A huge contrast after Odile.

Next, we headed toward Isla Coronados which quickly became our new favorite place.

Sandy Beach

We met up with our Tasmanian friends on Sonrisa and couldn’t get enough of this beautiful spot. Its white powdery beach and crystal clear water provided hours of entertainment as we explored every part with our new tour guides, Ben and Huon.

The Boys: “May I tell you something?” Us: “Of Course.” The Boys: “We must watch out for the rock fish because you wouldn’t want to step on it.” Us: “Can you show us what it looks like?” The Boys: “Yes. It looks like a rock, because that is why it is called a rock fish.”

Personal Tour Guides Dinghy Anchor Check Loading The Water Taxi Taxi is waiting Swimming Looking for creatures Isla Coronados Sand Art Our Favorite Bay Fun with Sticks

We continued sailing North to San Juanico another beautiful large bay with many interesting rock formations. We anchored and took our dinghy to shore checking out the multiple beaches this bay had to offer. The beaches were chock full of shells, and rocks obviously left there from Odile.

Maluhia At San Juanico

Rocky Shore

The cruisers shrine was completely disheveled. Huge rocks surrounded the shrine and many mementos cruisers had left behind were strewn all over the place. Thoughts crossed our minds to pick up the debris and reassemble the shrine but then we thought better of it. These mementos didn’t belong to us and were placed there by someone else. Not all of the mementos left behind were meant to survive a hurricane.

Looking at what was left.

Cruisers Shrine

Visitors from 1987

Out of the corner of my eye there was something I saw stuck between a few rocks that spoke to me. A perfectly intact backside of upside down conch shell. I picked it up to examine it, and on the other side saw it was beautifully painted.

I nearly gasped when I saw what it said, Sailing Vessel Wahkuna! I shrieked with delight at the thought of seeing our friends again! I dusted off their shell and put it back in exactly the same spot.


After sailing for awhile and dealing with storm winds, and waves, and any other unpleasant crap that comes along with it, you quickly learn about the point of no return. The point of no return is when the conditions around you have deteriorated so much that there is nothing more you can do with your boat to improve the situation. The preparation window has expired.

A Chubasco is a summer time convection storm that can hit at anytime from late afternoon to early morning. It is a violent short-lived squall, usually accompanied by thunder, lightening, rain and strong winds. The following afternoon the winds starting picking up and we noticed a peculiar looking black wall cloud on the horizon. We anticipated large gusts of winds, but we didn’t anticipate the waves, or how long it would last.

As the clouds started heading straight towards us from the East we remained anchored in a spot that was also open to the East. Major wave action headed straight into the anchorage. At this point we decided we did not want to be on a lee shore riding out five foot waves and 40 knot gusts. Two hours too late we made an attempt to raise the anchor.

This resulted in an epic FAIL as we tried to fight against the waves with me at the helm and Grant at the bow! The waves were too strong and raising the anchor was no longer an option. Instead we left out more scope and started a watch to make sure we weren’t dragging.

Six hours later we hadn’t budged, a good test of our anchor and chain. As we waited for the wave action decrease, we sat together on the bow. The wind had decreased but the waves remained. Just then, over the South East corner of the bay a helicopter appeared. We watched as it flew over the bay and then circled back around. It continued circling around the bay making tighter and tighter circles until it was hovering directly over Maluhia.

Our eyes were wide as the helicopter propellers nearly touched our mast and the pilot stared back at us. We remained still, making no sudden movements so as not to send the wrong message. We weren’t in danger but now we were freaking out. As the helicopter clearly marked MARINA backed away we ran down below to listen to our VHF radio. Maybe they were trying to communicate with us? But, we heard nothing but dead air.

Flabbergasted, we looked at each other for a few moments and contemplated how it was possible for a Mexican Navy chopper to be that close and NOT chop our mast in half.  It was also strange that we didn’t get much wind wash from the blades themselves as you see sometimes with USCG choppers mid-rescue. “What the hell was THAT all about?”  The helicopter arced away and continued its journey north over the mountains.

After the initial shock wore off, we came to the conclusion that the Navy was looking for a vessel in distress and had to buzz that close to us in order to see clearly the name of our boat.  With Maluhia’s canoe stern and our solar panel setup, it would have been almost impossible to see our boat name from the air.  Nevertheless, all this was a good deal more adventure than we hoped for so quickly after Odile.


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