November 14, 2014
We’re at anchor in Bahia Santa Maria, 240 nautical miles south and east of Turtle Bay. It’s about 60 miles north of the Tropic of Cancer here, and the night sails on the way here were the first time on the trip when no one needed polypropylene long johns. It’s warming up! The sea water temperature is now 76 degrees F. We had no fog, and a pretty steady northwest breeze.
Hannah is now doing watches on her own, which breaks the four-hour-on, four-hour-off routine into a much more pleasant schedule.
We got out fishing gear, but no luck so far, even though a small flying fish and a squid jumped up on deck during the second night. We saw a big sea turtle paddle away from the boat as we sailed along one afternoon.
As crowded as much of the earth may seem, Baja California south of Ensenada is a pretty empty place. We’re anchored in a huge bay, with sandy beaches, dramatic, dry mountain peaks around us, and the population of the entire 50-some miles of shoreline isn’t more than 10 or 20 people, and that estimate may be on the high side.
This leg of the trip confirmed that Serafina is a sailboat. It took us about 50 hours to get here, and all but 16 of those hours were under sail. Very cool, leaving her with plenty of fuel, no matter what the wind and weather may offer, to make the next 465 miles to Puerto Vallarta. We’ll set out in a few hours.
Internet is limited to what we can get on Birgit’s Mexican SIM card – which is working here in Bahia Santa Maria, but doesn’t when we’re at sea.
The next update will be from Puerto Vallarta in four, five or six days…
November 11, 2014
We arrived in Turtle Bay yesterday, just as the sun was coming up over the rocky, nearly barren hills – 67 hours after leaving San Diego, now 330 nautical miles away. We had all sorts of weather except rain, including nearly 20 hours of dense fog – but the systems and the crew all performed well. A little seasickness for Hannah, which cleared up after a good sleep the second night out. Birgit also felt a little queasy after preparing an excellent pasta Bolognese in tumultuous seas, but recovered as well.
A wonderful part of this leg was the nearly full moon each of the three nights, bright enough to make it seem like it never really got dark – even in the fog. Also a treat was enough steady wind to sail for nearly half of the distance, mostly at 5 knots or more. Not that we were close enough to see the details, but Northern Baja, after Ensenada, is a severe land, nearly barren, apparently empty of both vegetation and people.
But not completely barren. There were enough people for someone to put a lobster pot in the channel leading past Point Eugenia – about 15 miles before Turtle Bay. We were motoring in the dark with lumpy seas, and we nailed it square on. We heard a thump and our speed promptly dropped from 5.5 knots to 2.5, occasioning comment not suitable to a family web page. The, ah, captain was at the helm.
Talk about odds: think about how many billions of square feet of ocean there are, and how few of them are covered with crab pot floats. The chances of hitting a crab pot, or any other flotsam, should be way less than the odds in the Irish Sweepstakes.
We snagged the trailing line with the boat hook and cut loose the crab pot and one of its buoys, dropping the 200 pound pot where we hope it will be found. Once we had the anchor down in Turtle Bay a quick dive and a small hand saw got the rest of the line and a float loose from the joint between the rudder and the hull. No propeller damage or line wrapped around the shaft. Lucky us.
Turtle Bay (a.k.a. Puerto San Bartolomeo) is a name used by cruisers that has, at least for the time being, stuck. It’s a safe anchorage, almost always above the hurricane belt. A tiny town, maybe 500 or a thousand people, it’s centered around shellfish, including a marine snail (caracol) canning plant.
A few minutes after we dropped the anchor a guy, maybe in his early fifties and looking perfectly well put together, paddled out to say hi, and to ask for a piece of chocolate. We’re anchored next to a large local fishing boat, and, perhaps embarrassed by the chocolate addict, the cook motored over in their panga to offer us coffee and a package of sweet rolls…
Next step is to set out to cover the 700 miles to Puerto Vallarta – maybe in one shot. We’ll see how we, the weather, and the boat hold out. There may be some intermediate stops… For some of the crew, it was the first swim in salt water since Hainan, China.
Although hurricanes are very unusual after November 1, tropical disturbances have threatened to become organized cyclones – which is bad, for those of you who are not sure. Anita has been updating us via the satellite phone on the evolution of the systems. We’ll be paying close attention as we proceed further!