The Sea of Cortez at Rest
Soon after I returned from a visit to the States, I knew the time was right to head back to the Baja Peninsula. Friday, the day after Valentine’s Day, I filled up the last of the jerry cans of diesel, and went to the Mega for a provisioning run. Saturday I washed Willow and got her ready for an early Sunday departure. The weather was forecast to be quite benign for the crossing, and it looked like it would be a long motor. I said my “See ya laters” to the wonderful people I’d met and hit the hay early. Sunday morning, I was up, and off.
The conditions for the Sea of Cortez were incredible. Rarely have I seen any water that calm. The Sea was at rest, and I was benefitting from it. Originally, my plan was to head for Los Frailes, but since things were so calm, I decided to cut my losses and head for Bahia Los Muertos instead. On a coastal run, it would add another 50 nm or so if I went to Frailes and then Muertos, but this way, I added only another 17 nm running this angle. Another 4 hours instead of 12 or so bashing was good for me!
I let my trusty minnow jig out and trolled the distance. I filled my nice BIGger water tank with fresh water from my watermaker. I relaxed in the bright sun, and was just amazed at the calm of the ocean. For the majority of the time I was home, the norther was howling right on down the Sea. And in a day and a half, it completely flattened out. Amazing the changes… I had humpbacks off the bow, turtles everywhere, and the only other vessel traffic was the ferry from Mazatlan to La Paz. They are large radar targets, and show up well with AIS. I had a bright half moon for a large portion of the night, and with no city lights, the stars and planets were amazing. I saw the Southern Cross for the last time until I head back south, and I thanked it for its guidance.
The sun rose on another glorious day, and as I enjoyed a cup of coffee, the clicker on my fishing reel went off and line was singing off. I had hooked a large dorado, and looked forward to bringing it in, but I didn’t set the hook firmly enough, and it broke free. That started the day off with a bit of excitement and anticipation, and I looked forward to catching instead of just fishing. In the early light, I passed tens of sleeping marlin, their dorsal fins above the water, as well as their tailfins. They lazily would turn away as I approached. Before that dorado hit, the water was so flat, I watched as ‘something’ carved a chevron in the water off my port beam, and I passed it on by. Twenty seconds later, it hit the jig. When the Sea is at rest, if you’re looking, it shows you a bunch of its secrets…
Where’s the Line Between Sea and Sky?
The only less than stellar part of the trip was when the engine quit. Dang it! Clogged fuel filter? Bad fuel? How ’bout no fuel? I had a full main tank when I left Mazatlan for my trip home, and should have had a range of about 300 nm on the main tank. For it to go empty at 125 nm makes me wonder where the other fuel went? My bilges were clean and dry. Luckily, the jerry jugs did the trick in the totally windless channel, and I was on my way after a quick filter change and fill up. Before things heated up, I roasted some chicken in the oven and had a few days worth of meals.
As I sat outside watching the Sea go by, I was amazed at the life in it. There were plovers, turtles, different forms of baby/micro sea life such as schools of what looked like bubbles, but would actually swim from each other. I saw three small fish swimming together, about 3″ long, purple with brown spots, round in shape, with a gaping mouth almost as big as the fish was. Obviously, at least to me, a plankton feeder, it was so neat to see. All I had to do was LOOK, and the ocean offered up a few windows to the life within. I love being out here!
Heading into Bahia de Los Muertos
I got the added gift of a calming, soothing sunset that showed me how far I had left to go. About 15 nm from Bahia de los Muertos, I began getting Willow ready for anchor. Expecting all of the shoreline to be dark, I was surprised by the lights indicating neighborhoods, villages or resorts. As I closed on the bay, I carefully watched the radar and checked my course and waypoint often. I hadn’t been in the bay for twenty five years, so it’d be foolish to say I had any local knowledge. As I entered, I saw three other boats anchored, and dropped my hook safely in 25′ of water, away from the other boats until the morning when I could suss out their anchors locations and scope.
I had a weak internet signal, so I posted a quick note to my family of my safe arrival, and promptly fell into a deep sleep. In the morning, I moved Willow to shallower, more sheltered water, pumped up my SUP and took an amazing paddle across the bay. About a mile away, there was a rocky reef close to the surface. The colors were muted and soft, and I found myself distracted between thinking my skeg would bottom out, the different layers of corals, the sea urchin and anemones, and needlefish! I’m amazed I didn’t go swimming! I went another couple of miles in the calm waters and turned back for Willow. After having a snack, it was time for a nap.
The following day saw southwesterly winds in the mid-twenties, but the anchorage was still well protected. With my feeble internet signal, I was able to get snippets of weather forecasts, and people travelling through the area all had versions of their own. I think I will determine my own predictions based on my own observations, as the differing guest opinions were at times quite conflicting. With a steady strong north breeze running through the anchorage, I thought I might be staying at Muertos for at least another week. I checked my own information, watched as the wind dropped Thursday evening, and made a run for it under double reefed main and tiny jib. Willow did a fantastic job in the short steep sea, keeping me and her decks dry the entire way! I plotted my course through the Cerralvo Channel, and then through the San Lorenzo Channel. All I can say is, I am so grateful for my trusty radar! Holy cats, that sure helps on a dark channel passage when the charts call for rocks, shoals and buoys. I rounded the point into La Paz Bay just before sunrise, and slowed Willow down for the entry into the channel. I wanted to have no doubts as to the channels’ markers, as it shoals around the channel dramatically. I checked in with the Port Captain prior to my entry into the channel, and was able to secure a slip in Marina Palmira. It’s a lovely marina, and I’m happy to be here, as it has continued to blow pretty much stink since I arrived. I have a beautiful view of the bay from my slip, and the sunsets are gorgeous. I’ve been into town a couple of times, but I think I may be going for hikes and paddles only for awhile, since I just got my taxes done. Yikes! Time to make an adjustment with my deductions…
I think this brings me up to date in the news department. I hope you all are enjoying your incredible weather, and finding time to be in our great outdoors. Happy, Happy, Happiest of Birthdays Mom, I love you greatly and dearly! Everyone, have a wonderful rest of the week, and I promise the posts will be more frequent!