Tag Archives: crossing the sea of cortez

Crossing the Sea of Cortez: from Mazatlan to La Paz 

We left Marina Mazatlan May 14th around 7:30 am, timed with the tides again. The swell was down, unlike coming in, the timing this time around was not as crucial. We had a minimum 2 day if not possibly 4-5 day crossing ahead of us, so an early departure was not necessary for the purpose of timing our arrival. Mike on SV Easy departed just before us to buddy boat across. We planned on communicating via predetermined SSB frequencies once our VHF was out or range.

The first day out was pretty mellow. We were forced by the wind to make a more north, northwesterly point of sail, which was fine. We motored for about an hour, just enough to get out past Isla Pajaro and catch a zephyr of wind. It was Mother’s Day, the sun shown brilliant, and dolphins came to swim off of our stern. Christian tried to join them in the water by tying himself off with a rope and filming with the goPro. We are pretty convinced that dolphins can hear our heartbeat, because as soon as he got in the water they swam away. When he just had the goPro in, they stuck around. Me with my Happy Mother’s Day smile after the dolphins visited.

The next day, was my birthday. I turned 36 and it was my first birthday celebrated out at sea. The day started out calm. I had planned to talk with my travel nurse recruiter via Satellite phone to try to pin down a travel job for the summer. We had already been conversing but nothing was final. I knew I needed to get something pinned down, but we were ready to set sail, so IridiumGo to the rescue! I had my nursing recruiter call me via satellite phone to secure a job while in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. I was shocked at how well the reception was. The call was dropped a few times, but we were able to get what needed to be done done and secured a job at Kaiser San Francisco for me in the summer! That was a pretty good birthday gift. This is where we were mid day on my birthday.

The kids loving Birthday cake in the middle of the crossing.

Later on that afternoon, the wind picked up to the mid 20’s and by evening was in the high 20’s with gusts of low 30’s on a close reach (upwind). We were double reefed with our Mainsail and furled in jib to about 90% for most of the night and the next day. Despite that our boat was handeling it well, and the hydrovane kept us steering perfectly, I got a little sea sick. The kids did too, but thankfully, no one reached the point of vomiting. They still were able to eat my birthday cake. Although I was able to maintain good spirits I was rendered almost completely useless. I can’t go down below to cook at all, let alone help the kids with anything. Tacking, trimming sails, steering is fine though and is actually helpful, so I don’t mind being “on watch” when I get sea sick. By nightfall I was feeling fine as long as I stayed focused and outside. I did end up taking a Bonine to help me keep from throwing up and fall asleep during my limited time off watch.     Love this “tilt boat’n” action! Water spilling over the rail, SV Shawnigan holding strong and steady.

The kids just relaxed or slept in off under the comfort of our dodger or they clipped their harnesses on and went outside for fresh air. No boatschooling was happening this crossing. So far no one on our boat has gotten so sea sick to the point of throwing up since we left in August 2015. I’ll take it as a sign that we’re getting the hang of it. All clipped in on the aft deck, singing songs into the wind to pass the time. Ellamae lounging in the dodger.

By the end of the third day the wind had us going north again, north of Muertos off of Isla Ceralvo. We tacked up before being able to tack back towards La Paz. We made it up until the channel below Isla Espiritu Santo before turning on the engine for that last hour. We made to Anchorage just north of La Paz, called Caleta Lobos, just after dark. Fortunately we’ve anchored here many times before, so coming in at dark was not ideal, but ok. The anchorage was flat and we slept so well!

More pictures:

 Taj fell asleep, clipped in to the back stay! Then again in the dodger…Nina perched up in a hammock on our first day out, while it was calm.

Mike on SV Easy at Caleta Lobos (just north of La Paz).
Stay tuned for our adventures in La Paz and up the Sea of Cortez via the east coast of Baja.

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My visit with my sailing family in La Paz

Last week, December 2nd, my friend Rachael and I flew down to San Jose del Cabo and rented a car to get to La Paz, where Christian, Nina, and Taj * were anchored on Shawnigan. We spent 5 days exploring around La Paz and REALLY loving being back together after a whole month of not seeing each other.

Renting a car is cheap, but they make up for it with the price of insurance!

The road trip up from San Jose del Cabo was just over 2 hours. All of the main roads were surprisingly very well kept and I was surprised to see actual seat belt signs along the way.

When we arrived I was pleasantly greeted with a huge hug from my kids and a loving kiss and hug from my husband. It had been too long. I felt immediate comfort and relief. The whole that was growing from being away had vanished.

We were all starving for good Mexican food, so we went to this place called “Super Burro”. And boy did they have some good super burros (super burritos) as well as many other tasty treats. I had been missing this part of sailing in Mexico.

The next day we sailed off the hook from La Paz anchorage and straight in to Caleta Lobos. It started as a downwind sail and turned to an upwind sail, we tacked back and forth out of the channel. I realized I was out of “ship shape”, my heart was pumping, breath was working and my arms were getting pumped. It ended up taking 5 hours to go, not even, 10 miles to Caleta Lobos. It was Rachael’s first time really sailing on our boat. She was surprised with all the motion and how easily we just “sit there” in the cockpit for that much time. I love getting new perspectives. It felt so good to be sailing again! There was a decent amount of wind but that didn’t stop us from an afternoon snorkel and hot tea to warm us back up afterward. That night we had a light show from the weather gods. Lightning, thunder and rain out on the hook. We stayed nice and warm and dry as we watched out from the comforts of our hard dodger. The next day was mostly cloudy so we hiked on shore and did another snorkel-tea session and set up the hammock on our new arch. Our last morning, the sun finally came out and the sea was calm so we got one more snorkel in. We got to show Rachael some of what the Sea of Cortez is really about. Trigger Fish, King Angel Fish, Urchin, Scallops, Comb Jellies and we even saw an Eel.  (I have to apologize for the lack of underwater pictures on this post. I did’t take the time to get my underwater camera set up.)Not sure why these mega yachts think its ok to anchor so close when there is so much room…guess I’ll sit here and knit and take the free entertainment.

The next few days we spent back in La Paz. More good food, fish tacos, fruit cups, Mexican ice cream from “La Fuente” and a quick road trip in the rental car to surf  Todos Santos. Seeing last year’s cruising friends and meeting this year’s new ones gave me something to look forward to when I return full time on December 22nd.   I loved listening to the morning “La Paz net”, “Amigo Net” and “Sonrisa Net” with chatter among the cruisers. We even celebrated Saint Nicholas Day on December 6th. I loved being more disconnected from the Bay Area business and traffic, and social media. Most of all I loved being close to my family. It was so nice just to sit there and watch the kids play and sit there and read with them while our boat was gently rocking back and forth. I’m looking forward to many more years if cruising.

 

Leaving wasn’t quite as hard this time around. I know that 2 and a half weeks will go quicker than I might imagine. Plus I brought Nina back with me, so at least I have a little bit of the family love!

The cruising continues as I finish up my travel RN assignment at UCSF.

As I write this, Christian is sailing Shawnigan across the Sea of Cortez with just Taj and his dad, Gene, aboard. The plan was to sail straight to Isla Isabela from Caleta Lobos. They might have stopped in Muertos, but I’m unsure if they actually did. The last I heard of them was on the 8th, the morning after I left. They were heading out from Caleta Lobos. They had just pulled up the anchor and found, wrapped on it, the fishing line with fish bling that Taj had accidentally dropped and lost 3 days prior. I find this quiet amazing and worth mentioning. What are the chances??? Glad we saved the ocean from our accidental plastic litter too. Taj was super excited.

 

 

*Ellamae was not present because she is still with her bio-father in Florida (we missed having her around).

Mazatlán to La Paz crossing 

We just completed our longest passage yet, a four day sail across to an anchorage just north of La Paz. We motored a half of an hour out of Marina Mazatlán, then hoisted our sails. The motor only turned on again on the Baja coast for an hour in the Cerralvo Channel and then again for another 45 minutes from the channel marker buoys in San Lorenzo Channel to Puerto Balandra.We dropped the hook a few hours after sunset. We were happy to be able to both get a full nights sleep after 3 nights of splitting night watches.

The sail over started slow, picked up for a few, then slow again, the picked up again. Our first two nights we had low, to no wind. Our mileage actually went backwards at times of no wind. We turned around in circles and drifted backward with the current. A little frustrating at times. Most days, the wind would pick up enough in the morning to make forward progress, and later in the day we would pick up speed before the wind dropped off again. We had the most consistent wind the third overnight and through the next day.

On the third day, before the wind picked up, we decided to jump in the water and trail behind the boat. Don’t worry we were all tied on. Christian went first, and Taj had to follow of course. Afterward, I hopped in and then all three kids found their way in. They loved it as was evidenced by screaming, “I feel like a mermaid! I feel like a Dolphin!”. This brought back some life to our stagnant bodies and brains. The girls called it PE underway. Taj definitely needed it. Having a toddler, and a boy to top it off, is challenging at times. When he doesn’t get the energy out, he starts to get a little rambunctious to say the least.

The girls did their school underway and even did it through the weekend in order to have a few days off upon arrival to La Paz. I’m convinced their brains work slower while we are sailing. School seemed to take twice as long underway. It doesn’t help having their little brother climbing all over them, taking pens and pencils away, and hiding books from them. He’s a little bugger I tell ya! Not really, but he keeps us on our toes. I guess that’s fine though, since there isn’t much else to do.

We had our hand line fishing lines out during the day everyday. We only caught one Bonito during the first three days. On our last day, just west of Muertos we caught a shark! As exciting as it was to bring it in, we had no clue what to do when we saw that it was a shark. It was about 5 -6 feet and we definitely weren’t going to keep it. We ended up cutting the line as close to the shark as we dared to get.  We’re not sure what kind it was. We are thinking a Silky Shark. If you know, comment below please!

On the night of our fourth day we anchored in Puerto Balandra. What a beautiful sight. Well, actually it was pitch black with only a sliver of moon. We normally avoid night time anchoring, but the entrance is fairly open and well marked. We arrived under glassy conditions. Shortly after dropping our 65# Mantus Anchor, the wind picked up strong. Thank god we have a good anchor. We slept so well that night! It felt great to be on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez.

 

 

Life through polarized lenses is even better than rose! Thanks Teeny Tiny Optics for the awesome glasses. The kids were counting jelly fish to occupy time! 


Don’t worry this shark was two days later!
I think we might need a new hand reel after this catch!