Sleigh Ride Down the Baja Coast! Anchored in Bahia Santa Maria!

We made it to Bahia Santa Maria!  250 nautical miles in 50 hours.  We estimated it would take us three days but we did it in two!  We had a strong NW wind 15 – 20 knots for most of the passage and only ran the engine the first night when the wind died to less than 6 knots.  The first day we sailed with the code zero gennaker and made 6 – 6.5 knots.  The second day the seas got very lumpy and mixed so the code zero would collapse and shake the rigging so we pulled it down and raised a full main sail and rode that south at an average of 6+ knots for the remainder of the passage.  The only maintenance was jibing, reefing down the sail when the wind piped up and shaking out reefs when it eased off.  The monitor wind vane is amazing and it steered an almost perfect course the entire passage (almost because Alyssa swears it wouldn’t hold close to dead down wind and she hand steered for an hour or so because she wanted to let me sleep some more – thanks babe!).

It was a pretty raucous passage with a relatively large opposing mixed swell from the NW and from the S, making it tough to keep the sails filled so they wouldn’t flog. We found the best solution was flying the main with a single reef in and a jibe-preventer tied tight; under this arrangement we were able to make 5.5 – 6.5 knots in 14 – 20 knots of wind and keep the monitor wind vane happy.  The mixed swell created some large seas at times and a few of them threw Ellie down on her beam-ends and stuff got thrown around the cabin.  The seas also made sleep much more difficult.  We are not as rested as upon our arrival in Bahia Tortugas.

A huge cruise ship bound for Puerto Vallarta passed within 2 miles of us last night.  I picked him up on radar about 12 miles out but couldn’t make out his nav lights.  It just looked like a huge moving oil derrick.  I hailed him and spoke with the captain on the bridge.  I gave him our location, course and speed and he said we could safely maintain our course.  I held our course until he was about 6 miles away, but the angle of approach on the radar was not changing – meaning we were on a collision course.  I decided to jibe away from him and pulled a very reluctant Princess out of her bunk to help me.  I’m glad we jibed because if we hadn’t we would have passed within a half mile of each other instead of the 2.25 mile berth after the jibe.  The cruise ship was still enormous even from two miles away.  Speaking to the bridge on VHF was cool – he even addressed me as Captain.  I think he was Italian based on his accent.

Ellie performed flawlessly and the only minor issue was a clog in the primary bilge hose.  The waves were tossing us beam-to-beam so the water tank vents were spilling into the bilge.  We heard it running but it wouldn’t suck up the water so out came the screwdriver and headlamp and I went about finding the clog – yup, predictably it was full of blonde mermaid hair!  I even put screen over the bilge so this wouldn’t happen, but alas, mermaid hair wins another round.  I was able to clear the hose and we were back in business in short order.

We still have a ton of tuna in the fridge and freezer so we didn’t put the lures out this time.  Need to make a dent in the fish stores before bringing more in.

We are three miles out and coming in to the anchorage.  We are excited to explore ashore.  There is a small fishing village on the banks of the estuary on the NW side and the guide book says you can trade water and fishing gear for lobster; we’ll keep ya posted.  It’s also finally green on the mountains!  Great change from the barren desert landscape of northern Baja.

We will be here for a day or two before heading ~25 miles down the coast and entering Bahia Magdelena.  Bahia Magdelena is a huge natural harbor, almost the size of SF bay, but as you can imagine, MUCH less developed.  We plan to gunkhole around Mag Bay for a week or so before heading south again.

Hope all is well.  We look forward to reading your comments once we get internet again!

I will also post some great pics once I find WiFi.

Cheers,
Lewis & Alyssa

November 19, 2013

Thank You

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