We’re back in the Sea,
back in the Sea,
back in the Sea of Cortez….
and we DO know how lucky we IS!! 🙂 (think Beatles…)
So, yes we are back and it feels incredible. I’m sitting here in the cockpit drying off from a swim in crystal clear water as we float 20 feet over the sand, watching the shadows play on the face of the cliff nearby as the sun sinks toward sunset. A school of dolphins just swam by, leaping and dancing, and the frigates are gathering on the mangroves. We are sipping on rum and pineapple, and Norah is serenading us as we wait for the sunset show. Yep, awesome to be back.
So how was the crossing you ask? Well, it was long, but quite easy as passages go. We left La Cruz Wednesday morning and dropped anchor in Bahia de los Muertos on Friday at about noon. Fifty one hours, 328 miles, a dozen or more turtles, two each of sunsets, moonsets and sunrises, a couple of whales, dolphins, and about 5 hours of sleep! Sleep is definitely a precious and rare commodity on a long passage, but we are getting better at making sure we rest in between our watches.
The first day was mostly under sail, with some unexpected 15-20 knot winds as we left Banderas Bay. There is a group of islands just to the Northwest of the entrance to Banderas Bay, that are called the Islas Marias. They are the Mexican version of Alcatraz and are an active penal colony, so it is a requirement to give them a 20-mile clearance on all sides. In order to give the islands the proper distance and go on the outside (west) of them, we would have had to carry the wind on a close haul, so we decided to head inside, and pass the islands on our port side so that we could sail on a reach (with the wind coming across the beam). A reach is a much easier point of sail and keeps the boat from heeling quite so much.
It was a good sail up the inside and we finally passed the 20-mile limit on the north end of the islands and made the turn West at about 0330 Thursday morning under a 3/4 moon. At that point we were motor-sailing as the winds had steadily slowed as darkness had come. At night we reef the mainsail, in order to be prepared should a sudden strong wind show up, and also help keep the boat stable while giving us an extra tenth of a knot or so of speed.
As the sun came up the second day of the passage, it was very calm with just about a 3-4 knot breeze, so I shook out the reef and was able to keep the sail full. Marty was sleeping after his last shift, and I started seeing turtles all over the place! A couple of times I even had to take Happy Dance off auto-pilot to avoid sleeping turtles. I woke one poor guy up and as he suddenly started frantically flapping his flippers to get away, I could almost hear him cursing at me for waking him up. The funnier thing was to see the sea gulls sitting on top of the sleeping turtles as they floated on the surface.
On the second night of the passage, we were both a bit more weary so sleep came easier when we were off watch. While on my watch from 0130 to 0430 that night I found myself looking around and thinking how our world had shrunk down to a 16 mile circle. When you’re so far from shore that all you can see is water, the limit of your view is 8 miles in any direction. It suddenly feels small and you begin to wonder where your little pond is located on the face of the earth. We have friends that are currently crossing the Pacific on their way to the Marquesas, and even though they’re over 1000 miles from shore, their view is just the same as ours, when we’re 100 miles from shore! When I was looking at the chart I got to thinking that what if…what if…what if the chart was wrong, and we missed the peninsula entirely! We’d be sailing along forever under our 16 mile snow globe cover that would keep moving along with us, until hopefully the edges would get near enough to land to see a different view!
So we finally pulled into Bahia de los Muertos on the southeast coast of Baja at about noon on the third day, dropped anchor and jumped in the water…ahhhh. It’s amazing how different the water is on the Baja side of the Sea. Crystal clear and gorgeous. We enjoyed a quiet night at anchor, then headed up toward the Lorenzo Channel in the morning. We entered the channel at 3pm today, and saluted the Gods of all that is gorgeous in the Sea with a toast and a salute of Mexican Pacifico beer…it’s become a tradition since this is now our second entrance into the Sea! As we passed through the channel we were met by the Cortez welcoming committee; a turtle, 3 whales and Perry the Pelican! I think they missed us!
We’ll be here for a few months or until we melt in the heat. Either way, we’ll enjoy the beauty and serenity of this magical place. More to you all later, but we wanted to let you know that we’re safe across the Gulf, and back in the Sea of Cortez feeling incredibly happy. And on that note, we just heard the slap of a manta ray in the distance so we went up and sat on the bow for awhile while a pod of dolphins slowly passed us huffing and chuffing along, and watched 20 or so manta rays flying and flipping into slapping belly flops. Flips and flops of joy – just like we’re feeling!