Friday, June 10, 2011

Bahia Santa Maria

The Honcho remained in San Jose del Cabo for several days to refuel and provision. This would be our last stop before heading north around Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Falso on the long windward jaunt back to California. The next city we will visit is Ensenada, about 800 miles north. This leg of our voyage will be the most challenging as it is all upwind, with only a very few places to stop and rest along the way. Our course will be generally northwest, directly into the prevailing northwesterly winds, so instead of shorts and t-shirts, we’ll be in fleece and foul weather gear most of the time while under way.

We departed San Jose on June 2nd, at 2100, choosing this hour because it would place us at Cabo Falso around midnight. That is typically when the wind begins to lighten and we hoped to get a few miles up the coast before the wind builds back up to its typical 20-25 knots during the afternoon.  Cabo Falso collected its toll from us by delivering 25-30 knot headwinds as we rounded the cape, but after a couple of hours of that, the wind settled down and we experienced light 12 to 18 knot headwinds for the next 155 miles or so to Punta Entrada, which marks the entrance to Bahia Magdalena, or Mag Bay, as the yatistas call it. After rounding the cape, the seawater temperature began to plummet, going from the high 70’s to high 50’s in a day or so, bringing the air temperature down as well.  We entered Mag Bay at 0830 and motored toward Man-O-War cove, about eight miles up inside the bay, dropping anchor there at 1030 in twenty feet of murky, smelly water. 

Mag Bay was in the midst of a red tide of sorts, with millions of crawdad-like creatures that the locals call ‘Langostinos’ dying off. Their rotting carcasses filled the water all around us and created a powerful stench in the air.  To top off the situation, we were immediately swarmed by thousands of flies. We quickly fitted bug screens on the hatches, but still had to hunt down at least thirty of the pesky rascals with fly swatters.  I had hoped to run our watermaker at Mag Bay to top off our water tanks, but the water was so polluted with dead Langostinos, we not only didn’t make any water, we didn’t even launch the dinghy and go ashore during the two days we spent there. It was blowing 25 outside the bay so we were content to hang out on the boat until that wind calmed down, which it did in a couple of days.

We left Man-O-War cove early in the morning on June 6th, glad to get away from the reeking air, foul water and flies of Mag Bay. We cleared Roca Vela and set a course for Bahia Santa Maria, about 14 miles distant in about 10 knots of northwesterly wind.  As we approached Cabo Corso at the southern end of Bahia Santa Maria, the wind and seas began to build, and within a few minutes we had a 20 knot headwind and 6 foot seas.  I altered course to sail further into the bay, thinking we would get a little protection from the high hills at the northwest end of the bay, but the winds and seas continued to increase until we finally made it to the anchorage in the northwest corner of the bay, where we got the hook down in 20 feet of roiling water and 30 knot winds.

We’ve remained at anchor here, staying mostly inside the boat while the wind howled outside for three days in the 25-35 knot range, with occasional gusts to 40. With little to do besides checking for wear on our ground tackle and making sure things were secure on deck, we spent those days reading , watching movies and monitoring weather forecasts on the internet and the HF radio. The weather began to ease yesterday and it looks like we’ll have a nice window to make our next passage north beginning on Saturday night, June 11th.  Our plan is to clear Cabo San Lazaro around 0100, then work our way north toward our next planned destination, Turtle Bay (Bahia San Bartolome), about 225 miles distant.  Rather than banging straight up the rhumbline, we’ll sail a course well to the east where we can expect lighter conditions.  This course gives us the option of ducking into San Juanico, Abreojos or Asuncion, which are small anchorages along the way, in case the weather turns against us.

There are several other boats here in Bahia Santa Maria with us, all waiting for the expected weather window. Among them are the following:
Manta 42 Catamaran
Norseman 447 cutter
Catalina 400 sloop
Seawind 1000 Catamaran
Catalina-Morgan 45
CT-54 ketch

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