Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Passage: Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria

Passage: Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria
Travel time: 53 hours (2/11 1100 - 2/13 1545)
Average speed: 5 knots (the average was brought down by one near calm night with sloppy seas)
Approximate mileage: 250
MVP: Steady-Hand-Moni, holding course while repeatedly being surfed in 10' seas

We were watching the weather carefully from Turtle Bay (and it's internet cafe) and decided to head out on Wednesday February 11th. With several big lows working their way down the west coast, we were hoping to get south enough to be out of their southerly winds and enjoy some time surfing in "the bight" an open section of coast that cuts in 50 miles or so, well protected from common northwesterlies, but exposed to anything south or west. We flew out of Turtle Bay into 15 knot winds and 6 foot swell.

With the wind at our backs and the sun shining, we pulled out Stripes, our guitar, and kicked back for a roaring passage. We were going so fast that we thought we'd have to pass Punta Abreojos our first intended stop because we'd make it there in the middle of the night. We figured that'd be okay, we'd just head on to San Juanico, our second planned stop, instead. But as the moon made it's appearance around 9pm, the winds dropped and for the rest of the night we were basically drifting and bobbing in the leftover messy seas.

The morning dawned with fresh wind and a couple hours after sunrise having put a double reef in the main, we had to douse it entirely. We were flying toward Abreojos, a reef laden anchorage while listening to the weather. Forecasts assured us of southwesterlies all the way south to Magdalena Bay by Sunday. We had reached a decision point. Do we chance it to check out one or both of the surf breaks in the bight, or do we play it conservative and head toward the protection of Mag Bay? We decided to continue on, changed course, and immediately witnessed one whale breech repeatedly as another whale couple escorted us past the point. We took this as a sign that it was the right decision and pushed on taking advantage of the freshening northwesterlies toward the safety of Mag Bay. With a nearly full moon, 20 knot winds and 10 foot seas, Shawn had the most exciting shift that night as we surfed repeatedly down the waves reaching 10.5 knots in the biggest and longest surf and consistently sailing
between 6 and 8 knots. So we got in some surf after all...

Since we would be pushing it to make it to Mag Bay and anchor before sunset, we decided to pull into Bahia Santa Maria, a beautiful and often overlooked bay just north of Magdelena Bay early the afternoon of the 13th. Once in the bay, protected from the swell there was world class sailing in the 15-20 knot winds funnelling over the shore. Since we were a little early, we took time to tack up under 100% jib alone to the northern anchorage where several sailboats were already anchored and sailed onto anchor. We hadn't even finished putting the boat to rest when the welcoming committee arrived; Eric full of energy, singlehanding an Ericson 29' north, and our age, we could tell this was going to be a fun stop!

And it has been. We spent Valentine's Day making new cruising friends taking 5 minute all-you-need-to-know lessons on kite boarding and fishing, catching surf with Eeyore on the way into the lagoon, hand lining for bass in the mangroves, having fresh lobster tacos (the lobsters are much smaller here than on Isla Cedros), and congregating for a night full of wine, tequila, pictures and sea stories. The next morning our new friends from Nanu and Swamp Angel headed north, while Kaalelewa and Andeamo headed south leaving us to enjoy Bahia Santa Maria alone. As the updated forecast did NOT contain southwesterlies (we only mourned the missed surf for a second as we got to meet so many wonderful people), we stayed on and hiked up the tallest peak on Punta Hughes for views across Bahia Santa Maria into Magdalena Bay, of San Carlos, lagoons and mangrove forests, and of course the Outside conditions. Beautiful. On our dinghy back, we stopped at the only other sailboat in the bay, First Light, and made more new cruising friends unfortunately (for us) also headed north. We stayed on one more day to walk the sand dollar filled beaches and possibly catch some more surf, but too small for a short board, we played around in it in Eeyore. So after 3 fun filled days, today we're gearing up to head south toward the tip of the Baja peninsula on more solid northwesterlies, we'll see if the forecast holds.


  1. sounds just blissful. so Eeyore surfs too, eh? Who knew such a grumpy craft could be sneakily so mischievous? Great updates, Shawn! Still no news here, by the way, but thanks for all the lovely emails from you both. i really appreciate them!

  2. You guys should insert some maps for us. That way I can spy on you from my satellite.