Category Archives: Sailing South 2018

San Jose del Cabo to Mazatlán

Mar de Cortez Sunset

If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, Quaint little villages here and there… At the River, Groove Armada

I motored out of Marina Los Cabos on Saturday morning, 12 January 2019. The sky was blue, the weather warm with a hint of a breeze. Once clear of the marina breakwater I raised the sails, shut off the outboard, and sailed for Mazatlán.

I’d had a wonderful time in San Jose del Cabo. It has a relaxed coastal California atmosphere, beautiful weather, a charming old town with art galleries and great restaurants. But I was at the end of California and could not go north until the winds change in the spring.

The 180 nm passage to Mazatlán was expected to take about 45 hours – a nice, slow, and comfortable beam reach. I’d selected a weather window with moderate winds from the north as I didn’t want to be rolling around in in steep wind waves on the beam. At just 4000 pounds Barchetta Veloce can get a little uncomfortable in disturbed seas.

Barchetta Veloce is also a fast little boat. Saturday afternoon and night the conditions were fantastic, pure Zephyr whistling on a wine dark sea. We sped over the swells, all through the night till dawn sailing on, and by morning we were two thirds of the way to Mazatlán and had raced through the carefully selected weather window. The wind increased, the swells became breaking wind waves, and Barchetta Veloce raced on, unable to slow down now, even with just a scrap of sail raised. We surfed down the waves, accelerating to exhilarating speeds, then crashing into the wave ahead, sending water cascading over the little boat.

All morning and afternoon we surfed on, and at sunset we were at the breakwater to Marina El Cid. I started the outboard, furled the sails, and motored into the marina, the little boat covered in salt and squid. The little boat and I were both beaten up and bruised, but after a good cleaning and some rest we are ready to get back out there.

There Is a Beautiful Beach Down There
Frigates
El Centro Viejo
Cart

Bahia Santa Maria to San Jose del Cabo

Barchetta Veloce Amongst the Super Yachts at Marina Los Cabos

I sailed out of Bahia Santa Maria at 9am on Sunday 9 December 2018 and arrived at Marina Los Cabos before noon on Tuesday 11 December, exactly two months after leaving Alameda.

The final 3 days and 2 nights of my journey south were amongst the finest sailing days I’ve ever had – a warm gentle breeze wafting me along on a run or reach over smooth azure seas.

Sunrise Rounding Cabo Falso
Cabo San Lucas

What a finish to a sensational voyage! For 2 months most of my power has come from the sun and wind. I’ve met the most interesting people from around the world. I’ve sailed the coast of California from San Francisco to its southern terminus at Cabo San Lucas. I’ve anchored in nearly deserted bays and docked at luxurious marinas. I’ve visited beautiful villages with the friendliest people you can imagine. I’ve sailed my little boat alone for hundreds of miles.

A few weeks ago another sailor was asking me what I had on my boat – a watermaker, refrigeration, radar, AIS, a liferaft – and I answered no to everything. They said well, you must have a dinghy to get to shore. I said no, but I have an inflatable kayak, and they said wow, you really are a minimalist. I replied no, if I was a minimalist I would swim to shore.

There is a theory of design that perfection is reached not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. In many ways this trip has proven that theory. With next to nothing I’ve had a wonderful time. Barchetta Veloce has nothing extraneous, but sails phenomenally well. I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life.

I’m taking a break for about a month.

Colectivo
Wall
Piñatas!

Bahia Tortugas to Bahia Santa Maria

Red Sky at Night…

I pulled up the anchor at 10am on Monday 3 December 2018 and sailed out of Bahia Tortugas under jib alone on a moderate breeze from the north. Around noon I raises the mainsail as the wind speed dropped. By morning I had passed Punta Abreojos, 100 miles south of Bahia Tortugas. The weather was warm, the sea calm and a beautiful azure.

The nights were moonless and with no other lights in sight the stars were brilliant, lighting the cosmos and reflecting from the sea. Sailing before a light breeze, far offshore, at night, listening to Waters of March is an unforgettable experience.

On this leg of my journey I was accompanied by a plethora of sea life – whales, dolphins, marlin, tuna, many species of birds. For a short time I was taking waves over the boat, and afterwards there were a dozen squid stuck to the deck. Thirty miles offshore from Bahia Santa Maria a sea lion followed me for an hour, probably debating if she should come aboard for a rest or not.

I dropped anchor in Bahia Santa Maria at 4pm on Wednesday 5 December. It is gorgeous. There are a dozen fishing shacks on shore, but other than that it is undeveloped. There are mangroves along the north shore that are teeming with life. I’ve been swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking most of each day. Several boats I’ve met in various places before are here. They all check on me and make sure I make to each anchorage.

I plan to leave Sunday for San Jose del Cabo, where I will take a break for about a month.

Orange Sunset
Red Sky at Night…
Dolphins Marching Through the Sea
Dusk at Bahia Santa Maria
Bahia Santa Maria

Ensenada to Bahia Totugas

Sunset

I departed Ensenada on the morning of Saturday 24 November under overcast skies. It was dead calm so I motored across Bahia Todos Santos. As I passed between Punta Banda and Islas de Todos Santos the wind picked up and I raised the sails. From there there it was a beautiful downwind sail along the coast then outside of Isla Cedros and into Bahia Tortugas. I dropped the anchor just off the village on Tuesday morning, 27 November and slept all day.

I’ve had a wonderful time here. There have been 6 other boats here in the past week, today just one other boat and me. Thursday night we went to a fiesta for the new priest. We naively thought it would end by 9pm. Dinner was served at 10pm, and music and dancing were still going when we left at 1am.

Other boats here have been from the Bay Area, Victoria BC, the Yukon, Coeur d’ Alene, and Ventura. I went to high school with the aunt of one person I met here.

The locals are incredibly friendly and generous. On Tuesday night I was wandering around town with a couple from another boat, looking for an atm, a market, and a restaurant. We asked a policeman for directions and he drove us all over town showing us where things were, waited while we bought some groceries, then drove us back to the dock.

Tomorrow morning I will sail to Bahia Magdalena.

Approaching Bahia Tortugas at sunrise
Bahia Totugas from the deck at Maria’s Restaurant

Marina Coral, Ensenada

Marina Coral

Athena called a favorable wind, pure Zephyr whistling on wine-dark sea. Telemachus commanded his companions to seize the rigging; so they did, and raised the pine-wood mast inside the rounded block, and bound it down with forestays round about, and raised the bright white sails with leather ropes. Wind blew the middle sail; the purple wave was splashing loudly round the moving keel. The goddess rode the waves and smoothed the way. The quick black ship held steady, so they fastened the tackle down, and filled their cups with wine. They poured libations to the deathless gods, especially to the bright-eyed child of Zeus. All through the night till dawn the ship sailed on.

– The Odyssey, Book 2

I’m leaving. I’ll be in La Paz in about 2 weeks.

Ensenada

As I entered the breakwater to Marina Coral on Friday 9 November my outboard motor started making a loud grinding noise. I motored for another minute before it quit, and was able to glide into my assigned slip. A mechanic looked at it later that day and confirmed that it was now an anchor. Since then I’ve learned that it takes one day to drive to San Diego and buy a new outboard, and one week to complete the paperwork required to import it into Mexico. In my case it also involved driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic towards the border crossing, once at the direction of a Customs officer and once at the direction of some car window washers who rode on the bumper of my rental car and moved a concrete barrier so I could take a shortcut which saved me 3 hours of waiting at the border. I bought full insurance on the rental car and thought I might as well put it to good use.

The queue at the border is horrendous because of the additional security to protect us from the women and children in the migrant caravan from Central America. When I was at Customs, every few minutes there would be a rumor that the caravan was approaching and everyone would run outside to see it.

On the way back to Ensenada navigation wasn’t working on my phone and I got really lost in Tijuana. It was like Mad Max or East Oakland out there. I decided it was safer to drive through stop signs and red lights than to stop. Apparently everyone else thought the same thing. The full insurance on the rental car turned out to be a real bargain.

My new outboard is installed and I’m ready to sail South. I love Ensenada and I’ve had a wonderful time here. I’ve met so many people and everyone is incredibly friendly. The marina is very quiet and peaceful. The weather has been beautiful. But it is time to go. I will restock my provisions tomorrow and take care of a few other things, then when everything feels right I will say goodbye to my friends and sail away.

Street Art

Avalon to Ensenada

Last Look Back at San Diego, California, and the USA

I departed Avalon at 6am on Saturday 27 October with clear skies and stars overhead. A light breeze from the west wafted me towards Oceanside over smooth seas. Soon after the sun rose thick fog descended and I sailed the rest of the day blanketed in fog, sometimes thick, sometimes thin. I arrived in Oceanside at 3:30pm and tied up to my guest slip in front of the Jolly Roger restaurant where I left the boat for a week and flew home fr a quick visit.

I returned to Oceanside on Saturday 3 November and departed early Sunday morning for San Diego. I spent 4 beautiful days there completing my entry paperwork for Mexico, provisioning, and enjoying all that San Diego has to offer.

I sailed out of San Diego Bay on the afternoon of Thursday 8 November for Ensenada, my first port in Mexico. It was a gorgeous afternoon and evening, with just a sliver of the waxing crescent moon after sunset and setting not long after the sun.

Sunset over Islas Los Coronados, MX

The stars in the moonless sky were magnificent. I spent the evening sailing South with Mars directly ahead of me. I sailed slowly with light winds from the WNW pushing me towards Ensenada over flat seas. Then at 4am the Santa Anna winds that were fanning fires further north in California hit me suddenly and ferociously. I put a double reef in the mainsail and furled the jib, but still had the rail buried. At sunrise I was 4 miles from the entrance to Marina Coral and not making much forward progress against the fierce wind. I lowered the mainsail and motored towards the entrance at full throttle. It took 3 hours to cover the 4 miles, and as I entered the marina my outboard made a loud rattling noise and quit. I coasted into the dock and tied up. The wind died completely an hour later.

I’ll be in Ensenada for a few days as I figure out how to get a new outboard in Mexico. It will probably involve a trip north to San Diego. There are worse places to break down. Marina Coral is the most luxurious Marina I’ve stayed in on this trip with pools, spas, gym, excellent restaurant, and feudal service. Ensenada has been upgraded since I was here last, with a wine trail, afternoon jazz concerts, and upscale restaurants.

Going South

Santa Barbara to Avalon

Sunrise Leaving Channel Islands

I had a wonderful time visiting Santa Barbara, one of my favorite towns. The weather was perfect as usual, the harbor is just at the end of State St. next to Stearn’s Wharf, a great central location for exploring. I had excellent Mexican food at Carlito’s, breakfast at the first and last Sambo’s, and great seafood at Brophy Bros. I hiked up to Elings Park and wandered around town.

On Tuesday, 23 October I sailed the 28 miles to Channel Islands Harbor in about 5 hours, arriving around 3pm. Two other boats I met in Morro Bay arrived shortly after me,

Wednesday, 24 October I departed at 6am for Two Harbors on Catalina Island, 56 miles distant, with the setting harvest moon lighting my way. The morning was calm so I motored until 10am, then sailed. It was a gorgeous day with dolphins playing around the boat all afternoon. Zoom in on the photo below to just in front of the boat and there is a dolphin jumping completely out of the water.

Dolphins

I arrived in Two Harbors a bit before 6pm, just as the sun was setting. Two Harbors is on the isthmus, the narrow part of the hourglass between the north and south parts of Catalina. It is a short walk across the isthmus, so I saw the sunset over the ocean and the sunrise over the water the next morning. I hiked around Two Harbors Thursday morning, then sailed to Avalon in the afternoon. I spent Friday hiking in the hills and kayaking in the Bay. I’ve never been to Catalina before. I’ve had an outstanding time.

Sailing to Catalina
Barchetta Veloce at Two Harbors
Barchetta Veloce at Avalon

Tomorrow I sail to Oceanside.

Morro Bay to Santa Barbara

Central Coast Sunset

20 October 2018. I departed Morro Bay in the dark at 6am. I motored for an hour until I felt a bit of breeze, the hoisted the sails. It was an exhilarating day of sailing. With a brisk breeze and gentle swell both from the NW we surfed South at 10 – 12 kph for most of the day. It was a lively ride, but one of the best days of sailing I’ve ever had. In a small ultralight boat you feel very connected to the sea and wind, feeling the motion of every wave and any slight variation in the wind. I flew down the coast past Point Arguello and rounding Point Conception turned East as day became night. The wind and waves died away and soon we were gliding along on a warm gentle offshore breeze.

21 October 2018. What a beautiful night. The waxing gibbous moon casts a shimmering light on the smooth water, and meteors occasionally shoot across the sky. At 7am the wind dies completely. I furl the sails, start the outboard, and motor into Santa Barbara at 9am in time for breakfast. I spent the morning and afternoon walking in Santa Barbara, then after being awake for 38 hours I slept like I haven’t slept in a long time.

Central Coast at Dusk
Sunrise approaching Santa Barbara
Barchetta Veloce in Santa Barbara