Saturday, November 15, 2008

Viva La Paz!

A quick update on our trip...

After the awards ceremony, parties, etc, we left the hubbub and fracas of Cabo and headed up the Sea or Cortez for a couple days of sailing en route to La Paz. Our first stop was a very chill little bay called "Los Frailes" which took us the better part of an entire day/evening to get to. We again anchored successfully in the dark and passed out.

The next day, we fired up the dinghy and outboard and cruised around the corner a few miles to a bay called Pulmos for some snorkeling and R&R. This was a very cool, very chill bay, almost empty save for a few hardy souls who had arrived by 4x4, and was recently designated as a national marine sanctuary. As we laid out the sarong on the sand and had a PB&J picnic, we had one of those moments where we looked at each other and wordlessly shared the sentiment of "yeah, this is what we came here for...this is what it's all about."

Note to adventurous readers: if you need serenity and a place to get away from it all, this is the place to do it, and you should do it now. Apparently developers have their eyes on this area, and unless the economy continues its freefall, in a few years this will likely be covered in condos or at a minimum, hotels. At the moment however, it's just empty sand, great reefs for snorkeling, and a few palapas on the beach. Perfectamente.

Our next day had us sailing up to "Ensenada de los Muertos", where we dropped anchor and again passed out early. The following day turned out to be the real action. After rounding the protective headlands of Muertos, we were faced with monstrous 10-12 foot swells and 20+ knots of wind. We needed to sail upwind through this mess.

I took the first shift, and was enjoying bashing over the waves so much I stayed at the helm for about 6 hours. I got into a rhythm of turning the boat into a swell, then pivoting at the top, analogous to the way a mogul skier pivots on top of a bump.

Eventually Naomi relieved me and I laid down on the floor of the cabin to rest. The winds and seas continued to build and each time we launched over a particularly big wave, it sounded like the boat was exploding, and of course my boat-hypochondria-worry-angst was in high gear with each foreign sound.

Day turned to night and the wind and waves continued unabated. The VHF radio chatter at this time was interesting, as other boats making the same passage were having various engine problems, etc. Eeeee-ven-tu-al-ly, we got some wave protection when we entered the lee of Isla Espiritu, but after trying to reach an anchorage, we realized we had to keep sailing on, toward a small bay called Balandras. Finally, we reached it, dropped the hook, and got some rest.

After such a wild day--which started at 5:30 am and didn't end until midnight, or roughly 18 hours of "bashing" (and being bashed), it was rewarding to wake up in this beautiful little cove. We snorkeled around El Hongo ('mushroom rock') and made pancakes for breakfast, then set off for Palmira Marina in La Paz, a short 12 miles away.

Which brings us up to the present. We spent all day yesterday cleaning the massive salt deposits off of Hurulu-- owning a boat is basically a constant battle against corrosion, rust, mold, etc.-- and then Roger, a friend and fellow Ha-ha-er on the boat La Palapa, came by at sunset for margaritas, grilling steaks, and a few rounds of Yahtzee (Roger won).

A few observations:

+Anchoring in daylight is for wimps: We are feeling very proud of ourselves given that every time we've anchored this boat--save for one time in bahia santa maria-- it has been in the dark. However, this bravado was quickly humbled when we pulled into our slip at the marina and nearly took out two very large concrete posts.

+Our fellow cruisers seem to like to motor a lot: We get a lot of kudos from fellow boaters when they learn we sailed the entire way here. Apparently, most just motor North from Cabo, into the prevailing winds and seas. This is perplexing to me, given that most sailboats are pretty poor powerboats. We can go a lot faster under sail than we can with the diesel, even if it means zig-zagging in long, broad tacks. Or perhaps they just have more powerful motors?

+Manta rays are cool: We saw no dolphins or whales this trip, but during a particularly hectic moment, a manta ray flew 6 feet out of the water, flipped twice, and landed back in the drink. Was this for fun, or was he escaping a predator? Who knows, but pretty exciting to see.

+The Maltese Falcon is following us: Ok, given that it sails at like 24 knots and we average about 5, technically I suppose we're following them. The maltese falcon, in case you are unawares, is the world's largest sailing yacht at 289 feet, owned by VC Tom Perkins. When we left our slip in sausalito on October 15, we motored right past it en route to the GG Bridge. Then, off the coast of Baja, we saw a large white shape which turned out to be the Falcon as it got near. Naomi even radioed them and flirted a bit. Finally, as we pulled into La Paz, it was anchored just outside the channel. Apparently Tom has a submarine on it that he's going to use to follow the migrating!

Ok, that's it for now....time to go polish some chrome and stainless steel.


Unknown said...

as i mentioned this am i can only presume the game was fixed with me getting the 6 1's. i can only presume i am being set up for the big scam, especially after my karaoke challenge was rejected! (and yes some sail boats do motor faster into the wind than they sail to weather). cheers, roger :)

Dee Dee said...

YAGOOOOOOOOO! I'm so jealous - I want to play Yatzee on a boat in Baja!