Journey's Blog

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

We are in San Jose del Cabo waiting for a weather window for us to travel north in the Sea of Cortez towards La Paz about 120nm. In winter, strong northerly winds blow down the Sea and create challenging seas so planning is important. There are a few anchorages along the way to break up the journey if weather and seas create a challenge. We just survived our first Christmas away from "home." I will admit that I underestimated the impact on Journey. I also had thought we would be further along in our trip, settled somewhere so I could shop for some gifts and plan a nice day. We did decorate the boat and we are at a marina but Journey really missed being "home".
Sometimes the lessons we are learning on this voyage are very difficult. The concept of change for example. There is a reason people do not like change, it is hard. With that said, opportunity can also come from change. We spent Christmas Eve with 2 other boats, sv KiaLoa and mv Adagio. We had a great evening and then spent Christmas day playing at the beach.
 Playing on the beach with Kevin and Cindy from mv Adagio.
 Christmas eve aboard mv Adagio.
Christmas Day at the beach. All photos by mv Adagio


After taking our time traveling down the coast and discovering great areas and kind people, we were ready to embark on our trip to Mexico. We celebrated Thanksgiving with “new” friends at their home. We stayed in Chula Vista for a week as we borrowed a car to provision as well as enjoying a great marina with a pool. We then moved the boat back up the bay to La Playa anchorage which is just a weekend stay. We have grown our flotilla to include about 6 boats, most from the NW and Canada. We had several weather planning meetings to decide “the date”, spent many days finishing last minute projects, internet and getting paperwork in order.

We left late afternoon with our Flotilla family as we literally sailed into the sunset with a full moon. By morning we sailed into Ensenada where we had a slip space at the Cruiseport Marina. It was a challenge to complete all the bureaucracy. Thankfully, we had help by the Marina staff who got us through quickly. Exhausted, we went back to the boat and napped. Our stay in Ensenada was quick, 2 nights and then onto Bahia Tortuga, 350nm south. This meant 2 nights at sea and 3 days. We all faired well and were ecstatic to  be there. It is a little outpost, not much other than a few meager stores, a few small motels and restaurants and Pemex for fuel. The days were spent perfecting beach landings, using the internet, and getting together with friends. After 5 days anchored, we left for Abreojos, about 100nm south en route to Magdalena Bay. This outpost mostly makes a living with the whale excursions as the whales travel to a small estuary where they give birth and wait until the babies can survive. 
 Part of our flotilla family, dubbed the "Umbrella Dumpers" at the Southwestern Yacht Club, San Diego.
Namaste under sail leaving San Diego heading to Ensenada. Photo by sv The Red Thread.

What it means to cruise

When we disclosed to many people our plans of taking off for a few years and sailing south, we received lots of different responses. Some supportive, some questioning our sanity, some just couldn’t understand how we could just “leave” our land lives (ie. security of jobs, home etc). 
I don’t have a great answer other than we have curiosity to explore, meet new people and have adventures.
One question we heard a lot was, “What will you do, won’t it be boring? What will you do everyday? As a cruiser, our lives are typically very busy-it is just busy with other tasks. We spend hours reviewing weather, meeting with other cruisers to discuss weather and passage making. We plan our passages, plan on where we can provision, provision (which typically means shopping and sorting food), fixing or cleaning the parts of the boat, school (after all, Journey does have some school work to be done), and explore whatever new surroundings we are in. 
We have had a few opportunities to do nothing-nap, read a book, or hang out with friends/family.
I welcome the opportunity to feel “bored” since it mostly feels like we are on the go.
We have taken some breaks from the challenges of cruising to keep us all sane and content.
For me, cruising is an opportunity to meet people, hear their stories, help others in whatever way we can, spend time with my family, and learn from various people. 
We have met so many wonderful people so far and from all different walks of life. We befriended a few younger solo sailors, a few families, youngish couples, and older couples. Some have
“bling” boats and others have boats that just have the essentials. Everyone is willing to help one another out if needed. We recently had to say goodbye to a boating couple we have known since Seattle. We planned together through our “getting ready” to cruise lists. We left before they did from PNW but we caught up in Berkeley. We have spent several months with them but they are moving on as they are headed to Australia in the spring. Are hearts were heavy to see them go but hope to see them again in the future. That is the difficult part of cruising.

Cruisers also use handheld VHF radios like cell phones. We all monitor a particular station and we all call each other to checkin or just chat. It is fun when everyone joins in the banter. I write this as I stare out the cockpit, underway for  Cabo, 166nm downwind. We have seen humpbacks the size of our boat jumping completely out of the water, we have seen grey whales slowly lumbering through the water and of course dolphins that perk everyone up.

The One That Almost Got Away

After a long run of 166nm from Bahia Tortuga to Magdalena Bay we were excited to drop hook,rest, go to the beach, and make a nice dinner. It is super frustrating when “plans” don’t come to fruition especially when one is sleep deprived from an overnight passage. 
As we entered the protected bay, the winds picked up to 20 knots on our nose as we dropped anchor. We quickly got the dinghy in the water so we could take Nanuq to shore for his business. The beach inside Mag bay is an easy beach landing with the dink (no crashing waves to surf over). Keep in mind Mag Bay is the size of SF bay but has very little development other than some fishing outposts. There was a bit of fetch (choppy seas) in the bay but we persevered and got to the beach. Nanqu ran around, happy to be a terra firma and complete his doggy transaction.
We found beautiful shells, soft sand and solitude which was quite nice. As we headed back to the boat, winds picked up again. We had a splashy ride back to the boat and decided to leave the dinghy tied up to the side of the boat as it was too windy to get the dink on the davits (davits are what is used to pull the boat out of the water). We went down below to sort our evening out. It was quite bumpy as the boat hobby horsed at anchor making it difficult to move around. We were disappointed that we would probably not get a restful night of sleep after being up for over 30 hours. I came up to check on our position when something didn’t look right. The dinghy had broken loose from the boat and was drifting quickly away, out towards sea!!!
In my calm voice (totally not!) I yelled (screamed) for all hands on deck. Within minutes we had 125 feet of anchor chain hauled up and we turned the boat to chase our dinghy. John pulled a great Starsky and Hutch move as he jumped into the dink as I positioned the boat along side. Journey had the boat hook which she used to hold onto the dink until lines were tied. After towing the dink back, re-anchoring, and methodically lifted the dink onto the davits, we were exhausted but the adrenaline was pumping through our veins. 
The night continued to have winds of 20 plus knots and the fetch kept us hobby horsing. We continued to do anchor watch every few hours but did manage to get some decent sleep. 

It is these experiences  that although challenge us, it also teaches us team work.