The strong onshore middle of the night wind scenario happens on a regular basis in many Sea of Cortez anchorages
. It is almost a nightly occurrence in Ballandra, on Isla Espiritu Santos, Isla Partida, and Isla San Francisco
. It is also common on Isla Carmen and Isla Coronados. We've also suffered 20+ knots onshore in El Gato, Puerto Refugio, BLA, Ventana, Salsipuedes, La Cruz, Tenacatita.
During 1000 nights of anchoring
in Western Mexico
- I suspect we spent over 150 with dead onshore winds exceeding 20 knots.
We have set for weeks in exactly the situation you describe with nightly onshore winds of 15 - 20 knots gusting to 35 or 40 knots. The wind chop often builds to three feet.
You set a good anchor with lot's of scope
(usually 8:1 all chain and a 66# Spade on a 40' boat), test it carefully with the engine (3000 RPM
in Reverse with a Maxprop is equivalent to 30 some knots of wind) and keep a close eye on the wind/waves the first night or two. I also suspect I've spent 20 or 30 nights sleeping, or not sleeping so much, in the cockpit
while keeping an eye on things.
The Salsipuedes Islands in the Sea of Cortez
- about 120 miles NE of Santa Rosalia- translate to "Leave if you Can" in English
. I've spent several nights there, wide awake watching the leeward rocky cliffs just 10 yards away, as the wind and waves build to scary levels. The problem is the current
runs fast and strong between the islands and as soon as the wind builds onshore it is impossible to even motor into the current
We (four boats) got trapped there when we anchored close to shore for protection from the predicted 15 - 20 knot
NE wind. What we got about mid-night was 15 knots from the SW - dead onshore and directly into the 2 knot
current for six hours.
Two years later went back to Salsipuedes and did the same thing again.
You do have to trust your ground tackle!
And, have an escape route
. At least one GPS
is always running with a waypoint set to get us safely out to sea. And, if is really windy, I keep the radar
in standby mode. The escape waypoint displays on the radar
and the GPS
will drive the autopilot
to the waypoint as I scramble around cleaning
Tried all that once in 55+ knots dead onshore with waves breaking over the dodger
at 3 AM - it did not go so well!