Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A milestone accomplished....

I can't tell you that I ever imagined we'd make it as far north as Bahia Los Angeles but when our friends on cruisingvolare.com mentioned that was a personal goal of theirs I started looking into the possibility of SeaGlub making it that far north. North. That was a foreign concept. Last thing I really wanted to do was go north. Recall I was the guy drinking a beer, despite the sea state, every time we crossed a latitude on the way south along the west coast of Baja, even if it meant a beer at 3am in 25-30 knots. This trip north up the Sea of Cortez has been a pleasant surprise. I'm not trying to say it's been the trip that some others have described when saying they could live in this area for a lifetime, or at least years on end, there's no way I believe we could that as the peaks of summer are frankly just dangerous (heat and hurricanes) and the winters are just unsettling with constant north winds and water temps in the lower 60s even 50s. It's just not pleasant 365 days a year. But what I'm saying is that it's been enjoyable for me to see the many parts of Baja I've missed after exploring this fantastic peninsula by 4-wheel drive vehicle since my first trip with brother Thom and the many excursions with best man Andrew. It's been refreshing to see that Baja is still Baja. Unpredictable. Our wind reports have been about as reliable as well, Twitter news. And the water temps got colder much more quickly than we expected, however the landscapes became more colorful the further we advanced up the road less traveled. After leaving Bahia Concepcion, with water temps in the mid 70s, whale sharks in the area and spear fishing with locals, Santa Rosalia brought a new view for me to a much visited but seldom toured city. Santa Rosalia turned into a pleasant surprise and I look forward to returning. As we headed north with Volare and Shamaya, the water temps quickly changed. Turns out the last bastion of cold water in the Sea is the western portion from SR to Bahia LA. We also found ourselves in a red tide condition so bad that when the water got 'better' and SeaGlub decided it was good enough to make water, we clogged our filters in just 75 minutes. The sailing actually was the upside, we started using sails more than the motor but we were no longer arriving at areas where swimming was welcoming (San Francisquito, Animas, Puerto Don Juan, Bahia LA, and Las Ventanas). The village at Bahia LA was surprisingly good for markets and reprovisioning, no cell reception but available wifi. We left as three boats to Las Ventanas, an intimate anchorage for three boats but we managed to set three anchors and felt good after viewing our boats from high atop the hills after a good hike around the island. Later that night the western Elephantes (winds) and a new moon tide tidal swing got the best of two of three boats as Shamaya had to reanchor at 3am and SeaGlub rubbed the bottom as we swung at anchor and were awoken by the rudder scratching over the rocky bottom. We reanchored at 5am to be more centralized and then drew in some chain so we weren't swinging so close to the shore but at sunrise we decided with Shamaya to exit the anchorage and head north to the next spot. Shamaya left first and followed the course prescribed by the Navionics app, that resulted in a near disaster. No sooner had Shamaya exited the anchorage and turned north they hit a rock underwater and the boat was hard aground with a quickly lowering tide and winds and swell increasing. and this is why buddy-boating can be so crucial. With three dinghies available we had Shamaya off the rocks and on her way fairly quickly. They're fine now and currently sit with SeaGlub in an anchorage 35 miles north, more in a second. Las Ventanas was, unfortunately, the place where we had to bid Volare farewell, where, after years of planning, Volare had a change of plans come up and had to leave to head south. We're sure we'll meet up with them again in a few weeks. In the meantime, SeaGlub and Shamaya had an uneventful (after the grounding) motor north to El Refugio. It's only been one night but this place is the ideal of what I imagined the Sea of Cortez could be. Admittedly we are here early in the season and the ocean water is still cool (66 degrees in mid May) but the water visibility is fantastic, the anchorage is gorgeous with a pelican and sea lion rookery so close that the noise from both almost interrupt conversations, and the fishing so good that Shamaya was throwing back keepers because they had more than they could possibly consume, and..... we've only been here 8 hours!!

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