The last of the States and our last night in SD:
We made it almost through the whole night on the public dock. Jon woke at 1 am and heard people talking near another boat next to us that had been towed in by customs. Instead of pushing our luck we decide to leave ASAP before we started to get questioned, good thing we all went to bed at 7 pm. We casted off from the dock at 1:45am with no wind and a swell hitting us broad side once we were out of the lee of point Loma and out of the SD channel. We motored till we could turn south and with the turn came the wind, a perfect 7 knots or so. We were moving right along, passing into Mexican waters just before dawn, at which point we all thought about taking a shot of tequila ( we didn’t) as we passed all the on duty coast guard boats right on the boarder.
We all stayed up till day break and then I was the first to hit the sack and catch up on some sleep. When I woke, Jon and Sean were setting the spinnaker. This is the first time we had ever used the Asymmetrical spinnaker not only on PRISM but a first in general. We had read how to, and this and that along with helpful tips from friends we launched it. Up was no problem…. however we forgot to use the spinnaker halyard and just used the jib’s ( that was a no-no as we found out later as we watched the chafe point at the top of the mast). We sailed under the spinnaker alone till we were just outside Isla Todos Santos, I had just made a late lunch as the wind started to build, we decide to eat and then take down the sail…. we should’t have waited….
Just as we were getting up to take the sail down I spotted a whale spout off our port side, less than 50 feet away. I lost track of where the whale went but Jon saw it and we were on a collision course with a huge Blue Whale! AHHH! We quickly changed our course to STBD and watched the whale swim just feet behind the boat. BAH that was close… now it was time to attempt to take down the spinnaker ( note that we do not have a sock, or the main up to shadow and are going to attempt this like racers do..) With that said, it was a nightmare. I was at the helm trying to keep the sail back winded so it could fall on the deck like we do with the big drifter, Sean was controlling the halyard and Jon was man handling the sail. It was more like Jon getting into a fist fight with the sail. We got the sail down sure enough with Jon all wrapped up in it on the deck and we were all laughing. That is one HUGE sail! We decide that our drifter was about the same size and way more easy to handle.. so we will only bust out the big blue if we really really have to. We sailed in with the main up into Ensanada Harbor and got a slip with Baja Naval Marina. They are the only marina that offers full services including hot showers, free internet and they help get all your forms ready to go check in. They are beyond friendly, speak english, put up with us trying to speak spanish, and all around helpful with anything you want or need. We checked in on Friday with almost no problems. We made it through to the last step of the check in process, that was to get our TIP ( temporary import pass) and the problem is that in 2008 the previous owners were here in Mexico on PRISM and did not cancel their TIP. So this boat had an active TIP with different owners. So we had to leave the “do it all in one place” building and walk to the official immigration building just down the street a few blocks. We had to walk though metal directors and were welcomed with armed guards and were escorted into the very nice/ new building that looks like it is ready for some kind of zombie apocalips. No one spoke good english and we speak very bad spanish, but with a lot of hand pointing and broken spanglish we got what we needed which was a letter saying the other TIP was lost and were were applying for a new one with an official stamp on it. We walked back to the other building and finished the check in process. The TIP had to be put under my name and not Jon’s because on our documentation it shows Jon as Jon Neely, and Jon’s passport is Jonathon Neely = 2 different people in Mexico. ( we are going to have to get the fixed when we renew our documentation). With all that sorted out, and paying about $160.00 US we were out and officially checked in! Only took us 2 hours.
We were all starving and now that the sun was out and in full force we headed back to the boat, dumped our papers and dawned on shorts and t-shirts ready to explore some of Ensanada. Our first destination: Any taco stand that looked good! Once found we stuffed our faces with some of the best fish tacos any of us could remember having. Our next stop was a local exchange place, we found one just down the street from the marina, with a good rate and no commission. Score! the exchange rate was 13.25, we made our exchange and headed right back to the boat (not wanting to walk around with wads of pesos in our pockets) to get ready for our departure for the next leg of our adventure.
Well that was easier said than done. Once we got back to the boat I started to pick up the boat and ready the galley for a passage… needless to say it wasn’t long till I found myself in bed, sound asleep. Out, cold. That was 1pm ish, and to my surprise I woke around 5pm to a quite boat. Not only had i taken a nap, but so had Sean, Jon watched a movie and paid for another night all the while letting us sleep. We all took a trip back into town as the sun was going down, dock cart in tow and in search of getting our propane tank filled. Our destination was about 7 blocks away and we got a good look at all of Ensanada in those few blocks and did not want to linger much after dark. Only making a few stops at the liquor stores in search to re-stock our rum supplies… we had no luck.
We departed Ensanada the next morning around 7am with the idea of day sailing to Punta San Jose. As we were in route I was looking into our destination and could not find anything about where we were going. After really looking into it we figured out that we had confused one anchorage with another and that the one we really wanted to go to was another 60+ miles south. Alright then, sailing throughout the night we go new course to San Quintin. To insure we would arrive at day break we tacked out with the wind off our port quarter, and around 3 am we jibed and headed back in toward our destination screaming along on a beam reach with just the main up. The wind died about 6 miles from our anchorage, so we fired up the iron pony ( my term.. Jons says its an Iron Genni.. yea yea thats boring) and made our way in past the reefs. The anchorage is a little confusing as there are about 3 different points and you should only anchor off one of them… it took all 3 of us to come up with what point was what one. We all agreed on what one the anchorage was off of and dropped the hook. The tricky party about San Quintin is that the bay is HUGE and it looks like you could anchor in way deep out of the way of the swell. But the shore sholes far our from the beach, its a big trick! 🙂 We took the dinghy to shore in look for surf for Sean and to check out the dunes.
We walked around the point checking each spot for a wave and taking in the beauty. It was so pretty and we were the only people out there! This kind of place back in the states would be so crowded and filled with hotels, condos and who knows what else. It was remote and we were enjoying every minute of it. The last beach we came across Sean spotted a left and went for it. Jon and took different positions to get the “perfect” shot of Sean surfing. He caught a few waves and then realized that he was surrounded by sea lions… they were all checking him out, most likely cause most people don’t get in the water here, let alone surf it. He caught one more wave and came in before something bigger came to check out the sea lions and him. I told he was over reacting and that a GWS (great white shark) was not going to make a meal out of him. We took the dirt road back to the beach where we left our dingy and made our way back to the boat. Sean swam his board out while Jon and I rowed.
After checking the weather forecast and seeing that the winds were going to get quite strong in the next few days we decide to make a dash for the pacific islands. First stop would be Isla Benitos which is 3 small islands bunched in a group with only 1 good anchorage. It took us a little over 24 hours to get there, the only thing that was tricky was that the chart plotter was off and we had to navigate though the Canal de Peck which is filled with reefs and rocks on either side to get to the anchorage. With all eyes watching every inch of water we creeped though and dropped our hook in the crystal clear water on the SW side of Benito del Oeste. We were quickly approached by the local fishermen, We asked if they had any lobster for trade and they said they would be back the next morning. Sure enough the next morning we traded cheap wine, an old sail magazine and some candy for 7 lobsters. We fished the rest of the day and feasted on fresh fish and lobster… I know, I know, it’s real rough! The wind and swell did pick up like predicted which was a bummer cause by the time we went snorkeling the water had gotten all turned up and we could barley see anything unless you dove down 7-10 feet.
3 days later we sailed over to Isla Cedros, about 15 miles east. This was said to have the best anchorage in a strong NW blow and we knew that 30knts of wind was due at any moment. We made our way into the bay where all the books say to anchor, we asked some local fishermen (in spanish I might add 🙂 ) where the best spot was. They pointed to the whole area and said we were good. We were escorted by a bottle nose dolphin to our anchor spot and then never saw it again. The water here is not as clear as the other island and we think it has to do with the large swell that is passing. The locals wanted to trade with us but we had nothing the wanted, which was Coke and Candy. We really need to stock up on this stuff for trade including: wine, toys for their kids, books with lots of pictures, CANDY, COKE, whiskey and school supplies. We would get in the dinghy and check out the other bay and get closer to the reefs for better fishing.
It had been over 8 days sense we had our last weather forecast, we knew that wind and swell was coming but we didn’t know for how long. While we were at Cedros we watched 2 different systems go by us, we would watch the barometer go up and down, back up and back down. Once it was up and stayed up we pulled anchor and sailed off to our next destination…. Isla Natividad. Not known for the best anchorage, but is said to have good surf, fishing and snorkeling. It was 15 SE from Cedros and we should be there by noon. When we left Cedros we had almost zero wind. Then we got into some really weird mixed swell, large swell coming from WNW and then short choppy annoying swell from the east. That should have been a warning. Swell from the east… a little red flag was going off in my head and I could not remember why.
Wham! before we knew it we were getting hit with 20+ knts. Santa Ana Winds BABY! WHOA get down the drifter QUICK! Good thing Jon is quick on his feet. We raised the staysail and reefed the main. We scooted along doing 6+ knots on a beam reach. At this point we realized that the “so-so” anchorage at Natividad was a no go. So we pushed on to Turtle bay another 20 miles south. The wind was very gusty, it would be howling then go back down to 15 knots. Jon and I raised the yankee and we scooted along doing 7 knots! After a while the wind picked up again so we took down our staysail. We were coming up to the entrance to the bay and we thought we were going to get a break and be welcomed with warm sunny skies and tequila sunrises. That was not the case… as we got closer to the bay the larger hills that were acting like a small wind breaks (ones we didn’t realize that were causing a wind break) slopped down and we were hit with over 30 knots. Coming out of the the exact location of the anchorage.. OF CORSE! We dropped yankee first, short tacking with just the main up… that wasn’t working… Next step: Turn on the engine.. mortor sail to make some head way. Still nothing,…lower the main and raise the staysail. YES! Here we go. We short tacked into the bay getting so wet from the wind swell and spray. The 30+ knots was making a nasty, nasty chop that we had to beat though along with short tacking. I have come to realize that I do not like beating into chop and was ready to drop the anchor where we were at that moment ( in 40 ft) and just ride it out. But we pushed through and made it to where the other boats were. It was not the prettiest of anchoring jobs we have ever done, we could not hear each other, the wind was blowing sand into our faces and even with Sean and a middle man relaying what Jon was saying to me, we were all over the place. But we did it! The anchor grabbed and set hard in 25ft. We stored the sails and made sure everything on deck was tied down and halyards were away front the mast and we retread inside.
Wow that was different. We all had hot showers to rid our selfs from the sand and all enjoyed the peace that the inside of the boat offered. Its pretty amazing how it can be just blowing like stink outside and yet you can be inside, drinking tea and… wait we don’t drink tea…lets try that again… we can be inside drinking our dark and stormys, playing card games all nice and warm. Its an amazing thing people, an amazing thing.
Well now it is Tuesday morning, Jon just made some fresh coffee and it is still blowing 25 knots out side. We are a bit far to row the dingy to shore in this kind of wind.. although it would be quite the adventure.. Nah its just to nice inside the boat out of the wind.
We plan on staying in Turtle Bay for at least a week… for sure till this wind CTFD (* calms the F* down). Thanksgiving is in 2 days, first one on the boat away from our families. We got in late yesterday and have not had a chance to check what the other cruisers might be doing.
BAH THIS WIND! Its a damn shame we don’t have a wind genny cause we would be having disco parties with color strobe lights flashing, ice machine turning, music loud, blender blending….so much energy we would not know what to do with it all.
Lets see if Turtle Bay is ready to handle what the crew of S/V PRISM has to offer!
Happy Thanksgiving! and sorry that there are no captions for the pictures. Computer is going to die!
Cheers till next time!!