Saturday, May 23, 2009

One last push north

Friday the 15th dawned cool and foggy but the sun peeked through enough for us to see our buddies Outkast had found the anchorage in the middle of the night. After visiting Odyssey, a 44-ft Petersen and having nice chats, we went to visit Outkast with our cereal. The winds were coming up, but the fog was still lingering. What to do? Pisces had already left to cross to San Carlos and Scheherezade who was supposed to meet Outkast had been forced to return to Puerto Escondido due to engine troubles. A plan was hatched- let's head north, go on a long passage (for the Sea), a couple days if this wind holds and 100-nm up to Bahia San Francisquito. And we were off; around 1 pm we weighed anchor and sailed out into the finally clearing fog. Enjoying watching Outkast tack around, we made one tack bee line and came rather close to the low lying Islas Santa Inez, no problem since it was day and the fog had left only a haze behind. The winds were abating and Chris caught a little grouper (or cabrillo, we really need a fish ID book) but returned it to the Sea. We decided to head between Isla San Marcos and Isla Tortuga as the light slowly faded with the wind until it was pitch black with no wind and unfortunately a 2-ft swell from the south making the windless sails bang around so much we reduced to bare poles and drifted until about 3 am when a little westerly breeze joined the now south and north swells. At least we were moving, however slowly, in the right direction.

The next morning dawned windless with still sloppy seas, and hot. At this pace it would take several more days to make San Francisquito. Outkast decided to turn east and head for Guaymas to haul. We stayed on the rest of the day, under drifter alone relaxing, resting, reading, and even baking bread as we drifted toward our hopeful destination. That evening as the sun was lowering toward the Baja peninsula and we hadn't quite made 15 nm all day with 65 or so still to go, and NW flow forecasted the next few days (which would turn our journey into a beat to windward), we decided to take the evening ESE breeze that filled in and start the journey across the Sea a little early. Yet another lesson in non-attachment as our northbound plan just wasn't destined with those conditions. It was sad as we watched the sun set one last time behind Baja but felt good to be sailing east on favorable winds. And it was a most beautiful night. Five knot steady breeze on flat seas, phosphoresence in the water with pitch black skies marked by millions of brilliant stars. Even the fog that loosely surrounded us didn't mar the beauty of our crossing.

The next morning the winds relented briefly and then filled in from the forecasted westerly direction, building and pushing us directly toward our destination- mainland Mexico. As the winds veered to the NW we kept changing sails but in general flew along between 4 and 5 knots under some combination of drifter, full or reefed mains'l, or 100% jib alone. As the winds built and we approached land faster and faster, we realized that we weren't yet ready for the "big city" craziness that is on our schedule for the next few weeks. So we set a course for an isolated bay a bit north of San Carlos called Bahia San Pedro. About 8 nm off, as we were passing Isla San Pedro the fishing lines went taught! Not just one, but two fish on! Shawn hove the boat to and Chris enjoyed the fight that the bonito gave him as he reeled them in. We must've gone through a school of them because we had caught two large ones at the same time. Sure that we couldn't finish both we freed one and thanking the ocean, kept the other for dinner.

We got back under sail and headed upwind toward our hopeful anchorage while Chris cleaned Mr. Bonito on the high side of the boat. Just as the now fish-filled tuperware went into the just chilled refrigerator we reached Bahia San Pedro a beautiful little isolated bay where we found great protection from the solid NW winds. We sailed onto the hook under jib alone and started preparations for the feast that ensued. Shawn cooked up some rice and made an olive oil and vinaigrette dip for the fresh cooked garlic loaf and Chris grilled up amazing butter drenched bonito and in celebration we shared a COLD beer. In case you were wondering, Grizzly absolutely LOVES fresh caught bonito! The next day we slept in, recovering from our 3-day, 2-night passage and slowly sailed out figuring we'd head toward San Carlos and share the rest of our fish with Pisces. But the winds didn't cooperate so after an hour or so of becalmed bobbing around in sloppy seas, we brought down the sails and motored back into Bahia San Pedro figuring it must not be time yet to head into the city. We were quickly hailed by the other two boats in the bay and invited to a red meat burger BBQ. Day 46 since La Paz, fresh red meat sounded wonderful and we enjoyed the 10 person gathering on a boat even shorter than ours!

We were awaken soon after falling asleep that night by building waves. The winds had shifted to the south and were now coming directly into our anchorage. Although much further out than the other two boats in the anchorage, Juce and Circe, we were hanging toward the beach. Worried that the conditions would worsen, we immediately weighed anchor and motored to the south end of the anchorage for more protection. Of course there was no moon, and unfortunately we had not perused the south anchorage as we motored in earlier, so we conservatively set the anchor as close to the cliffs as we felt comfortable and settled in for a less-than-restful night. The protective cliffs were creating a huge eddy of wind and Tao sailed around strangely on her anchor often ending up beam to the swell that managed to wrap around the point. Trying to make sense of the wind patterns after setting the anchor, Shawn watched as a random gust flip Eeyore tethered too far from the protection of Tao. Luckily we always remove the Seahor, our 2hp engine, when conditions seem at all questionable. When the sun rose, we saw that the true sweet spot was closer to both the cliffs and the beach, but we were happy to have gleaned the protection we had and took it as a reminder to always scope out the alternative anchorages when possible. Since the winds were solid (although from the wrong direction) we weighed anchor and started our beat toward San Carlos and lots of changes.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy I can live this adventure vicariously through you guys. I have already chastised three of my friends for having slacked off on their blogs (e.g., "You guys have averaged, like, two posts in the last six months... My friends Shawn and Chris post once a week from the middle of the fucking ocean off the third world. What's your excuse??"

    Keep up the good work, and that ever-fiery spirit of discovery.

    Meanwhile... any idea what your longview is? When are you next SF bound?