Thursday, March 10, 2016

Coronado Islands, Mexico

Not to be confused with "Coronado" which is on the outer peninsula of the San Diego Harbor, The Coronado Islands are 4 small islands located 18 miles south of San Diego in Mexico.

Ever since we started thinking about keeping our boat in Sand Diego, one of our bucket list destinations has been Mexico. Later this summer we have a trip to Ensenada planned. So this shorter, day trip to Coronado serves and a shakedown expedition.

Getting the proper permits and paperwork turned out to be quite a hassle. In fact, we were scammed into paying $600 for permits to someone who we thought was legit only to find our he was not. We ended up soliciting the services of the same documentation company that did the doc for the boat.

It's amazing how many documents you need to travel to Mexico by boat.

1. Ten year permit
2. Certificate of Insurance x2 (for the yacht and the dinghy).
3. Certificate of Title x2 (for the yacht and the dinghy).
4. Passports for everyone on the boat.
5. Drivers license or picture ID for everyone on the boat.
6. 2 crisp $100 bills just in case.

Around San Diego there are 2 camps of thought - 1) The first camp loves sailing to MX and says that there is absolutely no reason to worry. And anyone who does worry is a pussy. 2) The second camp says that most of the Mexican Coast Guard is comprised of 16 years olds with machine guns who love to screw with gringos. I tend to believe camp #1. As long as you have the proper paperwork and aren't trying to buy drugs or hookers, you're probably safer in Mexico then walking down 22nd street in Tucson on a Saturday night.

I pulled out of the slip around 9:30am and set a heading for Coronado Islands. It's exactly 18 miles south of the bay. On most clear days you can see the islands from The Bay. Today was a very calm day but it was hazy, so I couldn't see the islands until about 5 miles out.

Cruising out of the bay I was joined by a whale watching excursion boat. For a moment I had a fleeting thought to abandon my trip and follow them to the "secret" whale watching spot. But opted to continue on as planned. And I am happy I did because as I got closer to Coronado, I saw several pods of whales and dolpins. In fact, as I rounded South Coronado I spotted a very large gray whale gliding along the surface and ran parallel to him for what seemed like 10 minutes. As he lifted his dorsal fins and head out of the water I wondered if there were more in the area? He spouted mist out of his blow hole then finally his large tail fin came out of the water and he was gone.

I also saw several pods of dolphin. For some reason they like the wake of the boat. You can see them racing toward me and then jumping across the wake.

I tried to catch some of these sightings on video, but each time I reached for my phone I missed the action. I have about 10 videos of empty water with me ranting on the audio. Eventually I decided to go for the binoculars instead of the camera and just enjoy the experience for myself.

As I was returning to San Diego Bay I noticed a large Navy Warship doing maneuvers, along with 2 Navy helicopters that seemed to be doing surveillance, flying in formation around the mouth of the bay.

I noticed 2 orange tug boats and I as got closer I saw that they had hold of a submarine and were spinning her around and pointing her back out toward open ocean. There were also 4-5 Navy machine gun boats forming a circle around the sub. I invented several conspiracy theories in my head as I was watching the happenings. At the end of the day, there are probably lots of things going on in this bay, right under our noses that we know nothing about.

This is whale watching season. Several of these boats filled with anxious whale watchers come and go every day

Coronado Islands consist of 4 small islands.

On the largest Island there is a cover called "Smuggler's Cove", where a couple of shacks are located. There were 6-7 guys outside working on the grounds when I passed by close to shore. They all took a pause and waives "hello".

If you look closely on my chart plotter (left screen) you will see a black dot. That is Joyride outside of Smuggler's Cove. I made a salad for lunch from the leftover barbeque chicken from the night before.

Two orange tug boats turning an old submarine. I think it is a pre-nuclear sub. Probably diesel. No idea what's going on here.
US Navy Warship on patrol. Tijuana, MX in the background.

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