Posted by: Lare | July 16, 2011

La Paz to San Diego Travelogue – From Larry

About a month ago I received an email from my friend Steve on Lady J. He and Rita were cruising in the area between Puerto Escondido and La Paz, and were making plans to bring Lady J back north. Rita was to return to Seattle from La Paz and Steve would sail from there to either Hawaii, Ensenada, or San Diego. I had told Steve some time back that I would help him out and crew for him on this passage. We agreed on a date, (Tuesday, June 28th), to meet in La Paz.

Ah, this is the weather I missed….

I walked off the plane in Cabo San Lucas to blue skies and 90 degrees. After meeting Steve and driving up to La Paz we made a float plan that had us sailing Lady J overnight to San Jose Del Cabo and then onto Cabo San Lucas to refuel before turning up the west coast of the Baja Peninsula. We had a great weather window, and left La Paz on Thursday the 30th. For the Baja Bash, a good weather window has winds under 25 knots, (seems like it always come from the northwest), and swell under 10 feet with a swell period of 10 seconds or more. Of course, your window

Arriving early on Saturday morning in San Jose Del Cabo, we refueled and found a nice anchorage for the night. Bahia Palmilla I would recommend as a great place to drop the hook. It’s within probably 7 miles of San Jose Del Cabo on the way to Cabo San Lucas. I wish we had known about it on my first trip through here. The water was clear and great for swimming. I’ve been told that on certain nights of the week the beach parties can go late but the night we stayed it was quiet—except for the fireworks—which we enjoyed.

Cabo San Lucas, a great place to drop lots of money……

The next morning, Saturday, July 2nd, we weighed anchor and sailed the twenty or so miles to Cabo. While we were refueling we asked about taking on some water from their dock hose. The marinero at the dock said, “Great, that’ll be $0.50US a gallon.” Our response was something like, “Wow, that’s really expensive,” although using much more colorful language. We decided to pass on the water and asked about tying up for a couple of hours while re-provision at the local store. The marinero said, “Great, that’ll be $63.00US.” Our response this time was much like the previous one and shortly we were back on the briny headed for Turtle Bay.

And then the Bash….

Turning the corner at Cabo San Lucas we experienced what makes a lot of people change their minds about making this passage and had our first taste of the “Baja Bash.” We had 25+ plus knots of wind, (We were thinking “so much for our weather window”), in our face and very unsettled seas but after a few hours things settled down to 15 knot winds and 4 -5 foot swells. The next morning brought even less wind and seas. The rest of our three-day leg to Turtle Bay was pretty uneventful with calm at night and in the mornings with higher wind and seas in afternoon/evening.

We arrived in Bahia Del Tortuga in the early morning and refueled from a panga captained by Enrique, Jr. Having been here once before with the Baja Ha Ha I expected, (probably unreasonably), things to be a little livelier. Oh well, we quickly checked the weather and headed back out.

Not unexpectedly, conditions had deteriorated a bit so we decided to shoot the channel between Isla Navidad and the point of land north of Turtle Bay. This meant sailing to the inside of Isla Cedros which turned out to be a good decision. We had a beautiful sail for the next four hours until we reached the north point of Cedros. That’s when things got a little more exciting…..

As we neared the point the wind picked up to 25+ knots and we were crashing into large swell and wind waves. This was good preparation for when we cleared the point where we saw gusts up to 45 knots and larger waves. As had been the case for most of the time up to now we had a 1 to 1.5 knot current against us but now waves were breaking on the bow splashing over the cockpit stopping us dead frequently. This only lasted for about 3 to 4 hours and things settled down again eventually to winds under 20 knots and smaller seas. That night, like some other nights on this passage, the water was like glass.

Luminescent torpedoes……

Although we didn’t have the moon to light up the sky the stars did a great job illuminating our surroundings. We’ve talked before in the blog about phosphorescence–the light produced by the bioluminescence of living organisms ranging from bacteria to the many species of plankton—and on this night it was spectacular. To stand a late night watch and see dolphins looking like blazing torpedoes flashing by the boat is really a special experience. After another night like this we arrived in Ensenada just south of the American border.

I liked Ensenada. It was my first visit and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. We stayed in the Cruise Port Marina where they handled all the paperwork required for legally exiting Mexico and took time to do a little shopping. After a couple of nights there we continued on.

Leaving Ensenada in the afternoon we arrived in San Diego the morning of July 8th after six days of sailing at around 5:30am and pulled up to the Police Dock for customs inspection. It had been a very calm night with more boat traffic in one hour than we saw during the entire trip between La Paz and Ensenada—about 900 miles.

This was my first Baja Bash and here are my thoughts:

  1. After we left Cabo the air and wind were much colder than I expected they would be. I started out wearing sweats at night and ended up going to foulies over them for most of the trip.
  2. When sailing with only two people aboard I prefer three-hour watches to the two-hour watches we did.
  3. I think we were fortunate with the weather. Most people I talked with before the trip said to expect a true multi-day bash and be ready to anchor for days at a time in many places waiting for weather.
  4. The number of whales we saw was incredible. Although most of them were in the latter third of our trip, I thought they would be farther north by now.
  5. Even knowing the weather can be much worse, given the time I would do it again.

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