The Baja HaHa ended in Cabo San Lucas. When our terrific crew departed and the haha fleet began to disperse, it dawned on us – here we are, the two of us, alone on Footloose. With no more planned itineraries, which way do we go? This is what we dreamed of, the two of us on our floating home, free to choose our way. We decided to travel along the “East Cape” to La Paz. First to San Jose Del Cabo for a quieter Cabo experience. We were tired and this provided a few days of rest. We walked around the sleepy marina and quaint town, we swam at the hotel infinity pool, we met with other Baja HaHa cruisers. So, we’re not quite alone yet really.
Michael & I are obsessed with the weather and so it turns out are other cruisers. We think about it all the time. We talk about it a lot. We study it plenty. We compare strategies and models. We use PredictWind with uneasy confidence. But eventually you just have to decide when to go. We are warned that the East Cape is tricky and the wind and currents can be rough traveling north. Michael & I wait an extra day for what looks to be a better weather window to sail to the Bahia Los Frailes anchorage with moderate winds, predicted to average 10-15 knots. We leave the dock at 0930am under calm seas and little wind. We hear Serafina, sailing ahead of us, call cheerfully on the VHF, “beautiful sailing conditions out here”. It is light wind and we are motoring. I was hoping to sail, but instead I start reading a book. A chapter in, Michael says, “it’s time to start sailing.”
The wind is picking up as we raise the main and unfurl the genoa. Within the hour, I see the apparent wind clock 20, “I think we should reef”. We do and quickly add a second reef. Serafina and Paradisea warn – “it’s very lumpy out here.” And it is — with a strong northerly blowing right on our bow. The waves, 5 feet at 5 seconds, are right on the nose. The spray is over the bow, coating the boat and our skin with salty residue. I’m queazy, but determined not to barf. With a bash like this, your goal is to get it over with as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately with the wind direction, we could not point at our destination. We try tacking to see if the other tack will give us any edge, but after the second tack, we acknowledge that we’re losing ground. We turn the engine on, leave the main up and point the boat directly at the anchorage. The waves are crashing and so is something else down below. Neither one of us cares to venture down for food or head. Serafina and Paradisea opt to turn back to San Jose, sailing downwind with speed and comfort. Footloose and Single D continue on. We’re more than halfway there after all. Michael encourages me with PredictWind promises, “this will ease up by 2.” It never does. Six hours later we cover the remaining 20 miles to Los Frailes, arriving shortly before 6pm, and anchor just as the sun is going down.
The anchorage is filled with familiar HaHa boats. We feel welcomed and relieved. I coin the trip a bitchy bash, because she was. We sleep well and awake to a nearly empty anchorage. The fleet had been holed up waiting for a weather window to travel on and now they were all on their way, prompting Michael to get on the radio and ask “Was it something we said?” Single D responds with a laugh. They need to get to La Paz to get some electronics fixed. Rough seas take a toll on boats as well as crew.
Now truly alone in the anchorage, we recuperate and rest for a day. More boats join us that evening, including Paradisea and Serafina, who quickly pull anchor the next morning to head on to La Paz. We opt to stay for another day before heading out again.
The next morning at 0600 am we’re off. We motor sail, a perfectly boring calm trip to a gorgeous anchorage, Ensenada de los Muertos. We sail our Hobie kayak for the first time in Mexican waters. We meet a couple walking the beach who have been cruising in Mexico for 7 years. They are waiting to cross over to Mazatlan, while we are continuing north to La Paz. They tell us about Sonrisanet.org, for “definitive” Sea of Cortez weather news. Another resource to either affirm or confuse our departure decisions. (Sonrisa means “smile” in Spanish.) We wait another day.
The next morning, we tune in to our single side band radio to listen to Geary’s report on Sonrisanet. His report doesn’t match PredictWind. We weigh our options. A new system is coming in. If we don’t leave Thursday, we may be holed up here for another week. We decide to go. We want to land in La Paz on Thanksgiving. Thursday is a beautiful day, including the best stretch of pure sailing we’ve had in a long time through the Canal de San Lorenzo. We turn toward La Paz and dock mid afternoon, leaving time for a siesta before Thanksgiving dinner at the Dock Cafe, Marina de la Paz.
I’m thankful for the wise captain (my love), family and friends back home, our strong boat, new cruising friends, beautiful vistas and safe passages. We plan to stay here for a while, so I’m also grateful to give PredictWind, Windyty, NOAA weather and Sonrisanet a rest — for a few days anyway.