Saturday, June 14, 2014

Homeward Bound: Bahia Santa Maria to Ensenada

Finisterra remained in Bahia Santa Maria all day waiting for more favorable winds, and by 2200 the strong northwesterly had died down to about ten knots. We got the anchor up and slipped out of the bay at 2330 under a beautiful gibbous moon and rounded the south-facing Punta Hughes around midnight. From there we headed northwest toward Turtle Bay, about 225 miles up the coast. We headed offshore a couple of extra miles as we passed Cabo San Lazaro, giving it plenty of room. The last time we passed this way, in 2011, we watched a large sailing yacht that had strayed too close break up after it was stranded on the rocks there.

Once past San Lazaro, it's a straight line to Turtle Bay and we motored comfortably into the northwesterly wind and swell, which remained mild until the next morning. By 1000 we were punching into a fifteen knot headwind and a short, steep swell. Fifteen knots of wind on the nose translates to 20 knots of apparent wind, which is enough to send spray flying across the deck. These conditions stayed with us well into the night, then eased around midnight. The next morning we were greeted with the same lumpy conditions, which finally eased about ten miles out of Turtle Bay.
Finisterra's route to Turtle Bay. Notorious Cabo San Lazaro is the point just north of Bahia Santa Maria

We made the entrance to the bay at midday and were tied up to the fuel dock at 1245. We took on about sixty gallons of fuel and checked the weather forecast. It looked good for us to continue north, so we headed out again at 1330. From Turtle Bay, we could go inside Cedros Island, which is roughly the size of Catalina Island,or head further out to sea and pass to the west of it.  We chose the westerly route and headed well out to sea, passing to the west of Cedros and its neighboring islands of Natividad and San Benito. This turned out to be a good decision because that night we passed well to the west of a very large fishing operation instead of threading our way through it. We could see the bright lights of a dozen or so large fishing boats and many smaller lights around them. Throughout the night we could hear the radio chatter of other sailboats that were dodging their way through the fishing fleet. I was glad have a few miles between us and the fishermen, which were most likely after squid. Commercial squid fishing operations use "light boats" and purse seiners. The light boats are fitted with very bright lights that are shined into the water to attract large schools of squid. The purse seiners deploy a net around the school and reel it in close. With the net drawn up close to the boat, a pump is lowered into it and the squid are pumped aboard. I love calamari!
Turtle Bay to Ensenada

The passage from Turtle Bay to Ensenada is about 280 miles. It was all upwind and into seas that varied from easy swells to vicious lumps that we slammed into, making life aboard something less than comfortable. We had those lumpy conditions until we were about 40 miles from Ensenada, where conditions eased and we had a smooth ride between Isla Todos Santos and Punta Banda, and on into Ensenada harbor where we secured a berth at the Cruiseport Marina at 1230 on June 12th. Total distance traveled from San Jose to Ensenada was 824 nautical miles in six days and three hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment