Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trip Log: Sea of Cortez Bareboat Charter

Five young at heart men on an intrepid voyage in the Sea of Cortez. We flew in to Cabo

on Saturday afternoon the 12th of March. Our van driver was waiting and we took off

for 130 mile drive through the desert to the town of La Paz. Arriving about 7pm, we off

loaded our gear on the 41' Morgan Out Island Ketch and headed to dinner.

After a great night sleep, we needed to do a walkthrough with the boat manager and provision the boat. Time was of the essence however, we did not depart until 3pm.

Winds were light, so we motored to our destination for the

evening. We were headed to a small bay north of town. We got the hook down in a

wonderful spot with several anchored boats in an adjacent bay. As soon as we toasted

our arrival, a panga is heading our way. Could this be the the lobster fisherman we had

heard about with fresh lobsters for trade? Not so fast. Turns out it was five federales

with machine guns. The skipper boards our vessel as the boat circles with guns at the

ready should we make a sudden move. He wants to see our papers and boat docs. They

were very professional and there were no problems. At the end he hands me a form to fill out. I need to rate his performance and was he courteous, etc. I look over at the machine

gun and figure I should give him high marks. They depart and we continue our fiesta and

the BBQ comes out for some Thai Chicken. We have a nice night looking at the stars

and go for a late night kayak around a small island. The pelicans don’t like it and 100’s

fly off in the night. We have a great sleep and lots of dreams.

Day 2 we take off after an egg breakfast and head to the first island group called Isla Espiritu Santo. Huge island that broke away from the mainland many years ago. Lots of cool coves and beaches surrounded by towering mountains. We head to Gabriel Bay and

anchor in 8 feet of water. Swimming, kayaking and some hammock time are in order.

Burritos are served in the cockpit along with cold cervezas. At 2pm, I call for a sail and

we load up and head out. The wind is up and soon we are doing 6 knots on our 41’ 1973

Morgan Out Island. All the sails are up and it is a glorious reach towards the Baja Peninsula. We sail for about 3 hours and then head in to a cove on the island for the night. It’s a bit windy but we find a nice spot and anchor for the night. Murray cooks up some steaks and we have

another round of Margs to celebrate our arrival. We have a tender that we are towing

and jump in for a tour of the bay. Dinner is awesome and we have a very warm night on

board. The stars are brilliant and we have an amateur astronomer on board and he gives a

tour of the heavens. Rigel, Spica, Aldebaran, Plelades, Betelgeuse and many more are visible as we are in the middle of no where. We head to bed around 11 for another round of dreams and snoring.

Day 3 starts with a motor to Isla Partida. The "parted island". The geology suggests an

active fault that has moved this land from the mainland as the San Andreas lies under the surface and is still moving things around at the pace of an inch a year. We anchored and

the kayaks hit the water and swimming in the 72 degree water commences. We relax,

have lunch and by 1pm we are setting sail for another run up the coast. The winds are

not as strong as the day before but we are heading north at a good clip and it is another

glorious day. The boat is on rails and we sit back with a cerveza in hand. After 3 hours

or so we head in to another cove for dinner and sleep. We find a beautiful cove but we

are inundated by friendly bees and need to pull up anchor and find another spot away from these creatures.The food on the trip is prepared each day by one of the crew and tonight is chili. All the food has been great so far. After some excellent conversation and a fine meal, I head into the master suite and watch a movie, Salt. Very fun. Also reading a great book on the iPad and loving the new 2. Did not sleep well but got lots of reading in.

Morning is sunny and we have huevos rancheros prepared by Arnie and we enjoy a float

in a beautiful bay. About 9am we head to a small island inhabited by seals. We all

dive and swim with these social beasts and it is a highlight for the crew. Lots of tour

boats out of La Paz and groups of kayakers. About noon we head off for our northern

most destination of Isla San Francisco. Winds are light and we are sailing the 16 miles

at about 3 knots. Takes 5 hours and we motor in to the cove. Lots of jellies so no

swimming. We meet a boat next door and they are cruisers from the Bay Area. Arnie out

does himself again and we have another awesome meal with lots of wine and more fine

conversation about Paul’s love life. Arnie and I continue our backgammon tournament

and I walk away with a few more victories. Sleep is fine and we have a restful night. It’s

Paul’s turn to cook today and we are hopeful he keeps the bar high.

Up around 8am for a breakfast of rice and eggs. After cleanup we discuss the day. We

are hanging around for another night at The Hook so we need to decide our itinerary for

this glorious day. We decide to head north and check out the next couple of coves and

maybe head up to another anchorage for lunch . We see the next seal rock and do a little snorkel as the boat idles around ready to pick up the divers. Lots of great fish and more seals. We head toward a fishing village on Isla Coyote and find a nice spot to anchor. We snorkel

the area and lots of fish abound this beautiful place. Two crew head to the fishery and

pick up a couple pounds of fresh yellow jack for dinner. We set sail upon their return

for a magical afternoon of sailing in light winds. The water color is very deep blue and

perfect. All the sails go up and we relax, joke and talk story. It’s amazing. After three hours of spectacular sailing, the wind dies and we motor back to the anchorage for sunset. We hike up to the bluff for one of the greatest sunsets of my life. We are 500 feet above a perfect anchorage with about 10 boats on the hook. As the sun sets, we can see blue whales spouting, dolphins in the anchorage and and fish jumping on the surface. Since this is a small island, we have a 360 view of the Sea of Cortez and sheer cliffs on both sides. I have a perfect perch and the sun goes over the Baja Peninsula. Wow!! We paddle back to the boat and dinner is served and it pasta with fresh fish off the bbq and some white burgundy. The best meal of the trip. We continue to open wine and the conversation is lively. We have a very warm evening in the cockpit and lots of laughter. Everyone heads to bed but I linger in the hammock in the bow and enjoy some great tunes and the almost full moon and a 20 knot breeze that has sprung up.

Delightful!!! A memorable day indeed!!

We depart before 8am for our trip home. It's a beautiful day but there is no wind. We motor back to the seal rocks and do another swim with the seals. One is circling me and we began a little dance where I chase him and then he chases me. How cool. After everyone returns to the boat we take off and continue south. We anchor in a nice cove and I go for a quick jog on the beach. Then It time for the sunset and Murray makes a quick call home. Rain and more rain in the Bay area as he says hello to his wife. We head back and two kayakers join us for the last round of margs and dinner. Our last night is grand and we have a windy, bumpy night in our berths. Up early, the wind is about 15 knots and we get to sail out of the anchorage. It's a little chilly but not too bad. The wind is on our nose but we are making way towards the harbor of La Paz. The wind dies around 11 and we motor the last two hours. What a fantastic seven days in Baja. There are no bars or services in this area as it is very remote and primitive. If you are looking for quiet anchorages, starry nights and great sailing, I highly recommend a week long charter out of La Paz!! If you are interested, please contact these folks.


Debbie said...

What a great trip! I look forward one day to experiencing more of Mexico.

Sailing Camelot said...

Sounds like you guys packed a lot into seven days... We are fulltime cruisers from SF and are heading back into the Sea for the Summer. When we came down with te Ha-Ha last fall we made it as far north as Caleta Partita and look forward to seing points north and of course the warmer waters of summer.

Tom & Lori
SV Camelot
San Francisco, CA
Currently: Banderas Bay, MX