Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo to Los Frailes

Passage: Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas
Travel time: 51.25 hr
Average speed: 3.8 knots (5.1 day-1 and 2.5 day-2)
Approx. mileage: 172 nm
Engine hours: 0.75 (because of Cabo craziness)

Passage: Cabo San Lucas to Los Frailes
Travel time:17 hrs
Average speed: 4.9 knots
Approx. mileage: 43 nm straight line plus at least 15 (more?) extra miles tacking upwind
Engine hours: 0

We have been having so much fun that our blog updates have fallen behind. We left you last heading out of beautiful Bahia Santa Maria. As whales waved goodbye with their tails we were reintroduced to the swell that we had been sheltered from. We cruised by Magdalena Bay in order to catch the last of the Pineapple Express (clouds that signify trade winds) for the first leg of our passage. Starting with 15-20 knots of wind, we decided against our drifter as we were moving nearly 6 knots under 100% jib alone. As we moved south, the sun set, planets rose, and winds mellowed as we watched the bling of passing cruise ships far off shore. As the sun peeked up behind the Sierra de la Lagunas the winds lowered down to near-nil. Up went the drifter and out went the fishing pole until we were becalmed enjoying the sun but waiting for the wind outside Cabo Falso. Through another star filled night we slowly made our way toward the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. As we rounded Cabo San Lucas under double heads'l it felt as if we'd left the wilderness of the Outside and found Disney Land. We were welcomed by two large anchored cruise ships, 6 parasailers, innumerable jet skis and water taxis, New Zealand and Australian America's Cup boats racing, and whale calls reverberating through our hull. So much traffic made us nervous enough to turn on our trusty Yanmar for the first time since Isla Cedros.

We found a safe spot to anchor, several hundred yards off the beach just inside the massive cruise ships and outside all the anchored sail and powerboats. We sat down to rest for a moment and a little power-boat-turned-clown-car dropped anchor 10-ft off our starboard bow. Mexican children spilled out onto its transom to take turns rounding our boat on one of two rented jet skis. Luckily just before sunset as we were trying to decide where else we could anchor, they pulled anchor and disappeared. We spent the next day touring the town away from the main drag. We rode Eeyore into the marina and found yummy street tacos, frozen tropical (and chocolate) drinks, a purified water store, and several little mercados. We picked up a little food that we could carry and some cold cerveza and headed back to the boat flanked by pelicans, with a stop at the now docked America's Cup boats along the way. We ate a grilled out amazingly fresh meal and then shared a box of vino tinto (red wine) with our neighbor boat Andiamo. We started the next day with a swim in 72-degree water, 10 degrees warmer than Bahia Santa Maria, and had a mellow day prepping the boat for our next passage.

We left Cabo around 5pm with the winds and a beautiful sunset behind the arch of Cabo San Lucas off our port quarter. As the stars came out and we made our way up the coast we enjoyed shoreside Carnaval fireworks as the winds veered. Soon we were fully beating into building wind and 5-ft seas with a very short period (4-sec) which felt quite different than 5-ft 12 sec at our back that we had become accustomed to on the Outside. Welcome to the Sea of Cortez! It must be called "beating" into the wind because your boat bashes up and down while heeled over 20-degrees. We decided if we ever buy another boat, we must have a sea trial beating into the seas of some size because we were able to find every leak that Tao currently has under these conditions. Nothing unexpected (we finally learned to plug the haus pipe with rags and put a lift in the bilge pipe which had initially caused our bilge to fill in these conditions) but our shrouds as well as our entire toe rail need to be rebedded. Put it on the list of boat projects. Chris was the rock star of this passage as he loved every second of tacking up into the building winds and seas through the night. Just after sunrise we could see our destination- Los Frailes ("the friars").

We sailed into Los Frailes, and what a sight to see. We were welcomed by about 10 friendly sailboats, including our long lost buddy boat Pisces that we have been looking forward to meeting up with again since Christmas in Cat Harbor. We toured the anchorage a few times and picked the biggest spot that we could find on the shelf and set anchor upwind of (and maybe a little too close but luckily they had assured us it was ok) Julia and Jacob on Pisces. Los Frailes has been amazing. The snorkeling is fascinating with a series of coral reefs just around the corner and schools of manta rays jumping and flipping 10 feet out of the air have captivated our attention. Plus this is our first taste of social life in the Sea as we shared tea-time, cocktail hour(s), and many meals with Pisces, Andiamo, and new cruising friends aboard Cats Paw. We're running low on fresh items as it is now day-31 since we left Newport Beach which makes creativity important for group meals and reprovisioning in our near future... Besides snorkeling and sharing amazing meals, we've also been busy scrambling up the ridge of the beautiful granite peak that is providing us shelter from the north winds here to find views of the reserve just north of here, taking walks ashore and finding a classic southern Baja half-completed-palapa-restaurante, and a definite highlight was a very adventurous sail on Pisces' 7-ft Fatty Knees sailing tender in 15 knots of wind. It only took us a second to plow the nose underwater and Chris was bailing the rest of the time as we laughingly tacked it back and forth across the bay (thanks for trusting us in it J&J!). We could spend ages in each spot as it's warm (which we love but long-haired-Grizzly's not so sure about) and sunny and there is so much to explore, but slaves to the weather we're planning on heading out this evening to avoid having to beat directly into big winds and seas that are forecast to pipe up tomorrow afternoon. Sorry for the long post, we'll try to keep up and look forward to adding pictures when we get internet in La Paz in a week or so. Thanks for continuing to check in on us...


  1. Sounds awesome you guys! Glad to read of your travels, and fun to see your location on satellite view. (couldn't zoom in close enough to see your pretty faces, though...)
    Family friends used to have a house in Cabo Pulmo, near Los Frailes- we went there for the solar eclipse in the early nineties. Fond memories of that part of the world.
    We had snow 2 days ago in Portland. Have some tacos and cervezas and waves for us!
    Hugs, Hata