Monday, July 12, 2010

North into the Sea (written 6/30/2010)

Passage: San Carlos to Algadones to San Pedro to Puerto Refugio (6/24 – 6/28)

Distance Traveled: 211-nm (7.5-nm, 15-nm, 188.5-nm)

Time Traveled: 62.75-hr (4.5-hr, 3.75-hr, 54.5-hr 3-days 2-nights)

Engine hours: 8.4-hr (0.5-hr, 0-hr, 7.9-hr)

After three weeks anchored in San Carlos project-making, we finally put the sails up and started to move. Thursday June 24th after getting Pepe washed and stored in San Carlos, taking one last fresh water shower, filling Tao’s diesel tank, and freshwater rinsing the deck we set out. At 1445 we pushed off the fuel dock, motored to the anchorage, turned Yannie off and set sail as we watched Randy and Jenny aboard Dulcinea (20-ft Flicka) tacking out of the anchorage. We were quick to follow suit and Tao raced ahead, excited to be back under sail, moving at 2 to 3-knots on a light 5 knot breeze. Just before the sun set, we anchored in Bahia Algadones; 7.5-nm sailing, but a mere 2.25-nm as the crow flies from where we were anchored for the past weeks. Once Dulcinea sailed in and got their anchor down they joined us with the bright nearly full moon overhead for a late night pesto pasta meal and shared stories of shaking the San Carlos Vortex.

The next morning SE winds filled in for a beautiful sail to Bahia San Pedro- so beautiful we nearly passed it to make some miles northward toward the Midriff Islands. After 10.75-nm of downwind sailing, we did a sailby to check the south protection in Bahia San Pedro. We tacked back out to discuss our plan and sailed halfway to Isla San Pedro discussing whether to continue on while the winds were in our favor or stop for another evening with Dulcinea. Finally we reached the right decision, and tacked back, having added another 5-nm to our journey sailing onto anchor in the bay for more fun times in Bahia San Pedro. We enjoyed a huge meal in Tao’s cockpit with fresh ceviche (ala Randy and Jenny), grilled veggies and chicken, and even chocolate brownies (ala Chris). The story filled night was topped of with a full moon and the morning we awoke to a lunar eclipse!

Unable to talk Dulcinea into continuing northward, we waved as they sailed off to start their beat back to San Carlos and shifted our thoughts toward passage making. After listening to Don’s weather, making contact with Estrella, and a quick head plumbing rerouting, at 1035 Saturday the 26th, we weighed anchor and started our passage north into the Sea. The next 3-days and 2-nights we worked our way into unknown (to us) territory. The north end of the Sea of Cortez (where the Colorado River ends) is new territory for us. In our experience, if you see white caps you can safely assess approximately 10-knots of wind from that direction. However, here splashing lines of white coming toward you are not necessarily due to wind, as or more likely you are seeing either A) a pod of dolphin hunting, B) a flock of birds floating, or most frequently C) a current moving in a certain direction building the waves to breaking; very confusing. However, we toiled our way northward dealing with situations as they arose.

We had a beautiful first day of downwind sailing on SSE winds out toward Isla San Pedro Martir in the center of the Sea. As the sun set the haze cleared and we realized that we could see the Midriffs to the north as well as the outlines of the Baja to the west and Mainland to the east. We continued to work our way north through fresh winds from the WNW to no winds and sloppy seas. The morning of day-2 dawned with winds from the NE and as luck would have it, we were at the passage between Isla Esteban and Isla Tiburon at the perfect time, just as the tide was turning in our direction. Winds shifted around from the NW and then further west for WNW and a near 7-knot sail on the beam with the current between the islands. After the channel, the winds went very light around noon and abruptly died. An hour later, still caught in the eddy just north of Punta Willard on Isla Tiburon and no wind, we fired up Yannie for 2.5-hrs of motoring through glassy seas until the slightest of breezes filled in and we sailed on.

Night-2, at 2330, smart winds finally picked up from the west and we started to sail again. Little did we know we were about to meet another wind phenomenon called the “Elefantes,” or at least a mellow version of them (catabatic winds accentuated by topography). Half an hour later we had gone from no wind and engine on to engine off, all sails up, to a double reefed main with 25-knots of wind gusting to 30+ and angry looking seas picked up to 3-4-ft at 3-seconds. After an hour of making way beating into this and no sign of winds abating with a 15-nm fetch from the lee of Isla Angel de la Guarda, we chose to heave-to. We dropped the 100% jib and lashed the tiller hard over making for much more comfortable motion, monitored and rested. By 0300 winds had abated to 15-knots but still gusting to 20+, it wasn’t until 0500 when the seas stopped looking quite so menacing and we raised the jib to continued on. Unfortunately, a mere 2-hours later, winds abruptly dropped and we found ourselves again bobbing, becalmed. By noon the winds shifted from the south and ever so slowly we ghosted toward Puerto Refugio at the north end of Angel de la Guarda (AdlG). At 1500, still over 10-nm out of safe anchorage although we could see white caps, we were again becalmed with currents in charge. Instead of spending another night out, we turned Yannie on and headed in.

At the north end of 42-mile long national park, Isla AdlG, we noted that water temperatures had decreased nearly 10-degrees to low 70's and over the next two hours as we made our way inshore, we were welcomed to the northern Sea by a variety of sea life; sea lions, finback whales, sea turtles and many species of birds- rookeries everywhere and even the beloved boobies. Although the guidebook information we have seemed to point to the “East Bay” of Puerto Refugio as the favored anchorage, we decided to motor to the “West Bay” to see it and get a waypoint in case a middle-of-the-night move was required for protection from NW winds.

We stumbled upon paradise and set the anchor in bright blue waters with clearly visible sand 25-ft below us off the little island, Isla Mejia, on the NW side of Isla AdlG at 1700 on Monday June 28th. Happy to have the hook down, we cooked a steak in celebration, sat back to relax surrounded by thousands of calling birds, and watched the sun set on the mountains, as the tides moved toward their nearly 14-foot swings and the currents created "rivers" of water passing by with the flood and ebb.

1 comment:

  1. We'll put up more fun pictures when we have a fast internet connection. Love to you all. s/v Tao