Saturday, February 25, 2017

Turtle Bay to Asuncion

After 8 days in Turtle Bay, mostly to wait out 72 hours of weather, we finished up with a couple of nicer days where we could actually bare walking the town. It was nice to get out and on our feet, get some exercise and explore a couple of local restaurants. Strange thing, to us at least, was the 'open' hours of the town. Pretty much everything was closed until around sundown (except for the markets, which there were plenty, they were open normal hours and Thursdays are the days the fresh produce is brought in!). At sundown, however, the town of TB came alive. Taco stands, hot dog carts (several) and many more restaurants all started to open there doors. I can only imagine this is a result of normal summer weather around here where maybe it's so hot during ht day that no one leaves the house until it begins cooling off after sunset. Altogether, we had a nice stay at TB after the storm but 8 days was plenty. Onto to Asuncion.

Bahia Asuncion is about 55 miles away and thus a good daytime sail. We left at sunrise to light north winds but, of course, right after we got out of the bay into the open ocean, the winds picked up as the sun got higher and suddenly we were sailing in 30-35kts with 6-8' seas on our aft quarter beam (ie rolly and a bit of side to side motion). We kind of laughed it off, apparently SeaGlub only sails in 30+ knots in Baja. As we were settling in and making great time, running downwind and doing 7.5-8kts with a full genoa and double reefed main, the winds just stopped. Down to 2 knots. So after 2 hours of great sailing, we bobbed around waiting for the wind to return and finally powered up. After motoring for about 45 minutes, the wind returned this time from the WNW at 15 then 20 then.... you guessed it, 30-35kts again! It was pretty intense as this was the same direction as the medium swell running and the ride got a bit uncomfortable. We ended up making Asuncion before sunset and anchored next to our buddy boat Shamaya (look them up on Facebook, another Hylas). Landing the dinghy was a breeze in this protected bay, we went ashore where all the pangas were beached and then we went to town with Shamaya, walked the streets and found the friendliest face you could imagine waiting to serve us a delicious dinner at Loncheria Mary on the main street.

Asuncion is awesome, if we had a choice (weather not being a factor) we'd much prefer staying here than TB, although I'd be weary of Asuncion during summer south swells, anchorage would still be fine but landing the dinghy could become adventurous.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we are headed for Abreojos for a few days where we hope to do some whale watching in Laguna San Ignacio.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Not the start we were hoping for, but....

Monday Feb 20 11am

It's been about a week now since we left Ensenada and really began our cruising lives. We don't expect easy, in fact that would be disappointing, challenging is acceptable, but this last week was beyond that. And being our first week out, it was trying. This blog site has several purposes, to keep family and friends posted about our happenings and whereabouts, to tell a story to those interested, to educate those considering a similar adventure, but always to be honest, with the good and the bad. I've read blogs for several years, contacted many of those travelers, and learned much from their sharing. We hope in some way we can do the same for others. In that regard, here's what we learned in our first week out to sea....

We left Ensenada with the plan to day hop, 40-70 miles a day, almost all the way to Cabo. Not because we were weary of overnight passages, but because the one commodity we own a lot of is time and we're willing to take our time. The first night out we didn't reach our desired location before dark due to lighter than forecasted winds and fearing crab pots and an unknown anchorage, we set out to sea and aimed for our next destination. That evening was, of course, when the winds and seas picked up. We had no less than 30 knots of wind all night and uncomfortable mixed seas. The winds did, however push us far enough south to reach our next anchorage by morning and we had a great time there in San Quintin. The night passage was rough but not a killer, it just wore on us because we hadn't mentally or physically prepared for an overnight (meant: we didn't get enough sleep prior).

Leaving San Quintin after a nice 24 hours, which included a couple of romps on the beautiful beach, we headed to Punta Baja, a well known point providing some respite from the local northwest winds and swell. We arrived before dark, set the hook and then began to realize maybe this was a mistake. The anchorage was horribly rolly, to the point where things were flying out of cabinets and I ended up sleeping on the settee with the lee cloth keeping me put. Meanwhile, Monica toughed it out in bed but slept not at all. After checking weather (one nice thing is how well the SSB and modem have been working) we decided the incoming storm 4 days away was going to be a doozy so we aimed for an overnight trip to get to the safest anchorage we could, Turtle Bay about 175 miles away. We left in the morning, this time knowing what to expect.

The winds helped, blowing 30-35 all night and pushing us in the correct direction, but that much wind in the absolute dark of night will keep you from sleeping much. We arrived at Turtle Bay 30 hours later and settled in happily to a comfortable anchorage. This occasion was bettered by the running into friends of ours on Shamaya, another Hylas. We got together and discussed the incoming storm, consensus was we'd all move to the south anchorage before the storm hit. That night was comfortable at anchorage but we awoke to the south winds already blowing and decided to pick up and move. An hour later we were settled in and watching winds build.

The winter storm that ensued was like something I've only seen from the dozen or so hurricanes I've encountered as a traveling surfer. We experienced 59 knot gusts, sustained winds of over 40 knots for 6 hours, then a complete 180 degree reversal of winds at 230am, in the dark, with torrential rains. Our anchor held, as did the 5 other boats with us, and we all basically stayed awake until sunrise. That morning we motored back over to the north anchorage as the winds were now blowing 30-35 out of the west and the south anchorage had become too uncomfortable. Well... the north anchorage wasn't much better as the large west northwest swell rolled in, even into Turtle Bay we had 10-12 second period 6 foot swell lines rolling at us from beam to beam. Yet another extremely uncomfortable night.

But if days like these are able to make you stronger, and allow you to enjoy the better days that much more, than consider us ready. Now two days after the storm, we are sitting in 70 degrees and sun, a smooth anchorage and enjoying taking Tessa to the beach and having a cold beer or two. And the weather reports look promising for the next week or so. Our plan is to stay put for 4-5 days, relax and enjoy the sun and tranquility of just staying still. Looks like Friday we will start heading south again with Mag Bay our next long term stop maybe a week later.

So in summary, we've fought through an ugly week, but still have our spirits up (but certainly tested) and are comfy where we currently sit.

Some stats:

Days out from Ensenada: 7
Miles traveled: 330
Nights at sea: 2
Nights at comfortable anchorage: 2
Nights at sleepless anchorage: 3

where we anchored during the storm

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Southbound down northern Baja

Four days ago we left Ensenada and began our cruising lives in earnest. Ensenada was a great town, don't get me wrong, in fact we enjoyed it more than we thought and could've possibly stayed longer, but alas, we were excited to see other places (and spend a bit less money). Our mission statement for this lifestyle is "we're going to the next place until we're bored or can't afford it any longer", not 'we need to get to the place because supposedly it's so much cooler!' Ensenada was falling into the "we don't want to afford this anymore" at $720/month for the slip. Our plan was to day trip down the coastline making my favorite northern Baja surf spot our first longer term anchorage, hopefully coinciding with a decent swell. Prognostications from the surf forecast guys looked very promising, with swell hitting from 275-280 degrees, almost straight West and about as good a swell direction as I've seen for this place in 25 years. While it was 10 days out it looked very promising, especially since weather forecasters, windytv, predictwind and saildocs / weatherfax were all calling for moderate winds from the northwest, which we would be protected from.....

Then reality starts to set in. That first day we left called for 10-15kts of favorable wind which would take us to our first anchorage, Cabo Colonett. No dice. First of all in the morning the winds didn't start up until 3-4 hours after predicted so we were now tight on getting to the anchorage in daylight. Then when the winds did come up we enjoyed 5 hours of downwind sailing wing and wing (for the first time ever!) and were feeling great but beginning to realize we wouldn't make our anchorage in the daylight. As we took down our wing and wing set up and prepared for night time sailing (always reefed, never running more than a single reefed genoa and main) the winds picked up to 30+ knots and lasted all night. We covered 130 miles but a long night was followed by a successful anchoring in San Quintin Bay, a beautiful place to stop with sand bottom and nice beaches for Tessa to run around on.

From there we aimed for a short day trip to Punta Baja, had to motor the whole way and when we got there we were thoroughly disappointed in how rolly the anchorage was. No flopper stopper would've saved us. We decided to power through a night and wake up and go in the morning. In the meantime, I checked the weather over my SSB, now 5 days out from the large swell I'd been anticipating. Well, and I kick myself for this but at least we were diligent enough to check repeatedly and not trust old information, but the wind forecasts had dramatically changed. Now the day of the swell arriving coincides with 30-35kts of wind out of the south, which completely obliterates basically ever anchorage in northern Baja. I should've trusted the surf forecasters and known that a 275-280 degree swell means that you're probably pretty damn close to the center of the low. Now we've got to decide what to do.... we can't stay around here. North to San Martin Island? Pretty protected from the south winds but what about the large west swell which may wrap around the island and fill the anchorage? There was even a mention of high tailing it back to Ensenada....nah. So we've decided, especially since we awoke to favorable winds this morning, that we're taking this adventure 155 miles south and pulling into Turtle Bay to ride out the storm....

Live from the Pacific Ocean, SeaGlub...out

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