Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cabo San Lucas to La Cruz

Three days in Cabo are more than enough, so Finisterra cleared the breakwater of that picturesque port at 10:00am on January 23rd, bound for La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. There was a cruise ship anchored just outside the harbor so the bay was thick with tour boats, paragliders, jetskiers, fishing boats and pangas loaded with vacationers. We picked our way through the crowd and it wasn't long before we were sailing in clear air. The wind, however, stayed light and we began to motorsail again.
A cruising boat struggles to keep his spinnaker full on a light air Bahia Banderas morning.

La Cruz is located on the north shore of Bahia Banderas, about 290 miles southeast from Cabo San Lucas. I plotted a course that would take us 20 miles south of the Islas Tres Marias and then through the channel between Punta de Mita and Islas Tres Marietas, which mark the entrance to Bahia Banderas.
Pretty little trawler in the anchorage at La Cruz.

For the next 30 hours we motorsailed over a glassy sea with winds never getting above five knots or so. With these conditions it is easy to see all the sea life that abounds in this region and we saw so many whales that we stopped counting them and focused more on avoiding running into them. Birds were plentiful and we were entertained by the incredible diving of the blue-footed booby's that fed on small fish that were stirred up as the boat passed by. A bird would dive into the water and swim after its prey under water, usually coming up with a fish dangling from its beak. This is also frigate bird country and we were never without them soaring overhead. At night the boobys and frigates often try to land on the boat. They can wreak havoc on masthead instruments and antennas so we do all we can to keep them off the mast. We had one booby hitch a ride with us for a short while but it didn't harm our masthead gear. I've found that the best way to keep them off at night is to have a powerful flashlight ready and shine it at the bird just as it makes its final approach to the masthead. During the daytime there is little you can do to keep them off.
An overloaded Freeport 36. If you truly need to carry this much stuff, you may want to consider a bigger boat.

Here is another F36 in the same anchorage. Which would you rather sail?

About thirty miles out of Bahia Banderas the wind turned around and blew hard straight out of the east so we found ourselves punching into a nasty chop with spray flying over the dodger until we reached the mouth of the bay at 0130 the next morning. Once through the pass we turned northward and anchored just off the village of Punta Mita. It was about 0300 by the time we got the hook down and the boat secured.

The next morning we lazed around on the boat for awhile, then sailed the last nine miles to the anchorage outside of La Cruz, arriving around 1500 in the afternoon. There were 46 boats anchored there when we arrived. We anchored on the southwest side of the group, a couple hundred yards from the nearest boat,  then went ashore where we met friends for drinks and dinner at the famous "Tacos in the Street" restaurant. Naturally just after we got our anchor down, another boat arrived and decided the best thing to do was anchor as close as possible to us in spite of all the open water all around us. Thus began our stay in beautiful La Cruz.

The voyage from Long Beach to La Cruz is for all intents, the first leg of our journey. To summarize it, we sailed just over 1,400 miles, traveled from a temperate to a tropical latitude and traversed two time zones. It took a total of 23 days, and we made stops at Newport Beach, Dana Point, San Diego,  Ensenada, Turtle Bay, Cabo, and Punta de Mita. During that time we had excellent weather, though the winds were lighter than we would have liked. The boat, aside from a balky refrigeration system performed flawlessly.

Here in La Cruz we'll make the decision whether to hurry south to Panama by May, or spend another season cruising in Mexican waters.

Reunion at Ana Banana's in La Cruz. The crews of Scout, Finisterra, Hotel California and Sirena share a table.

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