Sunday, June 8, 2014

Homeward Bound: Los Cabos to Bahia Santa Maria

We stayed about a week in San Jose del Cabo at the luxurious and expensive Marina Puerto Los Cabos. Actually it’s not really luxurious. It doesn’t have a pool or much in the way of amenities for cruising sailors. Instead it caters to sportfishermen and mega yachters, a totally different type of clientele. It is very well maintained and has a nice little open air restaurant where you can get a hamburger for only about $13.00. That’s dollars, not pesos. The marina is beautifully landscaped and the docks are perfectly maintained, while the staff is mostly quite friendly and helpful. On the other hand, it has a sterile, soulless ambience along with plenty of security. I credit this to the mostly absentee ownership of the boats that call this place home. Of the hundred or so boats in the marina there were only five or six sailboats, most of which had people living aboard who were, like us, simply waiting for a weather window to head north to the US.

While we waited for the window to open, we spent a little time preparing the boat for the arduous 900 mile trip up the outside coast of Baja, but there really wasn’t much to do, as Finisterra was pretty much ready when we left La Paz. I had the bottom cleaned, changed the fuel filters and gave the engine a thorough inspection because we expect to be motoring or motorsailing for the nest 900 miles. There are very few places on the outside of Baja that have fuel or any kind of marine services so we want the engine systems in tip top shape. We also want the sails and rig to be in top form. There was nothing to do in that respect except give it all a thorough once-over. The only thing on the to-do list was to make a set of sail ties for the reef points. With all that done, we spent the rest of our free time checking out the beaches and hanging out in the very upscale environs of San Jose. It really wasn’t a very fun place to be and I confess that I checked the weather forecasts several times a day, looking for the first opportunity to get out of San Jose.

One of the new “attractions” at the marina is a Dolphin Discovery exhibit. It consists of three or four large pens next to the marina where they keep a half dozen or so dolphins in captivity. Tourists pay for the experience of getting into the pens with the dolphins for a personal encounter. We walked past the place several times in the early mornings, before the customers arrived and watched the captive dolphins swimming around in the pens while the “trainers” got ready for the day’s show. The poor dolphins looked pathetic compared to the exuberant ones we always see in the wild, and the whole concept of keeping these animals in captivity for profit disgusts me. I hope you never pay to pet a dolphin.

My primary sources for weather information are Predictwind and GRIB files. GRIB’s provide a good overview of winds in the region while the information from Predictwind is more detailed and specific. By Monday, June 2nd, the forecast started looking good for a Saturday departure, but as the week wore on, the forecast for the area around Cabo began to worsen. So we could either leave on Friday morning or wait for the forecasted adverse winds to pass by, which could be another week or more. We decided to take advantage of the current conditions and quickly checked out of the marina and got underway at 0930 on Friday, June 6th, bound for Bahia Santa Maria.

The wind was light when we left San Jose but quickly built to 20-25 knots on the nose as we approached the Cape. In the twenty miles between San Jose and Cabo San Lucas the sea temperature plummeted from 83 to a surprising 68 degrees and we prepared for a chilly passage. But after rounding Cabo Falso, the last point of land before we could turn northward, the wind began to ease and the sea temperature rose to a much more comfortable 77 degrees. For the rest of the day and throughout most of the night we motored in balmy seas and a light wind. It was still on the nose though.
Finisterra's route from San Jose del Cabo to Bahia Santa Maria

That night there was a waxing gibbous moon amid scattered clouds until around 0200. After the moon set the overcast sky cleared and we were kept company by the vast Milky Way, with Polaris, the north star off our starboard bow. The next day we continued in lovely light conditions until around noon when the wind and seas built. By 1500, when we arrived at Bahia Santa Maria it was again blowing 20 with a bumpy sea throwing spray over the dodger.

We are anchored in the northwest corner of the bay now. The wind is still blowing hard outside the bay, but I expect it to lie down a bit this evening. If it does, we’ll get underway around midnight, and head toward Turtle Bay, 220 miles away.

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