Coming down the coast of Baja, our internet connection was mostly cruddy, which pretty much ruled out blog updates. Even with the Telcel dongle, we found ourselves generally without a reliable connection. In Turtle Bay, it took days and days to pay for our fuel, because the town’s cell signal was kaput and the fuel guy’s card reader needed a cell signal. Honestly, I expected the signal to be unavailable part of the time, but I wasn’t worried. I figured we could just make do at an internet café. Guess where there aren’t any internet cafes? Yeah, so anyways, here starts all the backlog of blog posts from our journey down Baja to Puerto Vallarta.
It took us 51 hours to make it from Ensenada to Bahia de Tortugas and we racked up a bunch of landmark moments along the way: first time underway for longer than part of a day and a night; first time sailing out of sight of land; and first time sailing well offshore. Steve and Eli had been harboring a lot of anxiety about these particular milestones—since the moment we hit the water in San Francisco, there’d been a lot of cajoling and arguing and anguish and handholding going on regarding long passages and sailing more than 5 miles offshore. And even though we’d already logged a lot of underway time getting from San Francisco to Ensenada, the longest passage we’d made so far was only 89 miles—from Monterey to San Simeon.
Naturally, once everyone got over the starting-out jitters, they handled the 300 mile trip to Turtle Bay like old pros. When we hit the 24 hours of being underway mark they were all, “Ho. Hum. What’re you making such a big deal about?” And when we rounded Punta San Antonio, where the land starts curving sharply to the East, and suddenly found ourselves 60 miles offshore, they were all, “Yeah. Whatever. No big deal.”
Exerpts from the log of S/V Landfall:
2330: We’ve been underway for 36 hours now and we’re sailing wing and wing. There’s nothing but clouds moving across the face of the moon and 360° of empty graphite sea gently rolling itself beneath our keel. Last night we watched a trawler crawl up our backside like we weren’t even there. At night, other boats start out like bright, starry pinpricks on the horizon. After a while, they blossom into individual solar systems of white, green, and red lights, which bob and duck and hover about the dark space of a boat below. That trawler looked like it was going Warp 7 right at us and the closer he got, the more convinced we were that he had no idea we were even there. We tried hailing him on the VHF a bunch of times without success and finally Steve hit the spreader lights to make us more visible. The trawler veered off hard to starboard and we were left feeling that even with all our running lights on and the radar reflector hung high in the rigging, sailboats aren’t all that easy to see at night.
0230: Holy crap! Getting close to Bahia de Tortugas and I just got totally spooked. I’d plotted our course to run about 6 nm off Islas San Benito and expected some turbulence there, because in a short distance, you’re going from like 5000 ft. deep to maybe 600 ft. Anyway, the moon’s already set so it’s dead dark and all of a sudden I hear the unmistakable sound of a wave. Breaking. Off my starboard side. I bust out the iPad and check the charts only to find that the obstruction I already knew about and was skirting has a notation only visible at the lowest zoom. It says, “Breakers.”
A quick search of the area (still at the lowest zoom, mind you) reveals a couple more of those sneaky Breakers notations and I’m going back and forth about should I continue on my plotted course or bring us 5 or 6 miles further out when out of the corner of my eye I catch another wave breaking. Off the Port side, now. Uncool. The next couple of minutes were a blur of centering the main, hauling in the jib and getting the hell out of Dodge. The next hour was a festival of suckitude, since the following sea we’d had was now hitting us on the beam.
Eli popped his head up, “Uh…Mom? Is everything ok?” “Yeah, kiddo, everything’s ok. We’re just changing course to avoid some breaking waves.” “Soooo….everything is really ok?” “Yep.” “And we’re just gonna go this way for a while and then we’ll go back to our regular course?” “Yep.” “Ok. I’m going back down below.”
Steve woke up a little while later and wanted to know why the bleep we were so bleeping far off course. Bleep. Because he and Eli are of the opinion that if they let me have my way, I’d just run us 100 miles offshore all the time. By this time, the adrenaline rush had tapered off and I was bone crushingly tired. “There were these waves here….and some on the other side…and the main…and the jib…and then we…it’s only for a little while longer.” The essence of coherent, no? Steve relieved me of the helm and made me go down below and sleep for a couple of hours.
The only other thing of note that happened was a bunch of dolphins showed up right outside the bay—which was cool– and the stupid iPad died, right as we were coming in the entrance and trying to avoid all the underwater rocks.