Chapter 1, Completed!

Cabo San Lucas. The tip of Baja California, the first milestone of the voyage, where the land ends and the ocean begins, where we enter a new phase. It already seems like long ago that we spoke of resting here, provisioning for our journey west, across the Pacific. Los Angeles and our life there have begun to drift into memory, as we settle into this new life on the sea.

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Actually, after hearing various accounts of Cabo – ranging from: “it’s like the zoo – nice for a day”; to: “it’s like Venice beach on steroids, stay away!”, we decided La Paz would be a better launching point. Tomorrow we will sail into the Sea of Cortez and explore the last of our relaxed Mexican anchorages on route to the ‘Peace’ city, where we plan on spending a week before sailing off into the great expanse.

For now though, we are at the zoo, and it’s fun for a day. Jet ski’s whiz past our little ship, as she sits snugly to two anchors overlooking the majestic rock formations that this town is famous for. On shore, hotels and designer brands line the beach while men yell ‘taxi’ or ‘fishing trip’ as we walk by. Still, it’s land, there’s internet and coffee and tacos and beer and we are happy.

The ride here was a bumpy exciting one! We left Bahia Asuncion with 25knot winds on the forecast – ready for a fast passage to Mag Bay. Sure enough, 25 to 30knot gusts pushed us to our destination, averaging over 5.5knots per hour. The wind was exhilarating, even pleasant… but the seas such breeze kicked up, especially as we were sailing relatively close to the coast, was challenging, at times terrifying! Huge walls of water rose up behind us, and just when I was sure it would rain down upon us, Portal would gently lift her stern, white wash would snow around us as it broke, and we’d surf down the wave. Well offshore waves tend to roll out, creating potentially bigger swells, but much longer and therefore smoother ones. Coastal sailing like this means short sharp waves that kick up in different directions, often pushing us 40 degrees off course. Constantly correcting our position, we were grateful for our short 2hour helming shifts.

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I was glad for the experience though, and proud to see our little ship so well handled by the crew. We made good, simple meals and even managed some sleep here and there. By Mag Bay though, we were beat and ready for rest!

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An overnight stop in Bahia Santa Maria, where we spent a memorable morning sunbathing, skinny dipping (dipping is all it was – the water was still freezing!) and lazing around in the little deserted anchorage, before heading 20miles up the road to Mag Bay proper. During that afternoon sail, we – at long last – caught a fish! What a delight!! A small tuna, a foot and half long, fed the four of us gleefully as we giggled around the table, bathed in our cozy cabin lights. This day was a real treat – simply relaxing!

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The next leg was 150nm to Cabo San Lucas. Our forecast read light breezes, so we pushed off around 2pm, hoping for a 4knot average – bringing us into the Cabo bay by early morning. We should have known though – Portal doesn’t ‘do’ slow anymore. She hurried along at 6knots and our new arrival time became more like 11pm. I am REALLY not a fan of landfalls in the dark (such stress and anxiety!) but seeing it was an easy to identify and open bay, I reluctantly agreed to enter whenever it was we arrived. Around 10.30pm, Charlie and Lydia put two reefs in the main and ran in under such reduced canvas. A good thing too, as the stretch between the two capes – Cabo Falso and Cabo San Lucas –  often have famously strong winds by the day’s end, and tonight was no exception. I heaved the tiller over to windward, holding it there with my thigh, working us closer to the coast. Beam on to the wind and waves, Portal and I would hold our breaths as large walls of water crashed into us, momentarily heeling us over with a deluge of spray into the cockpit. I begun yelling in an old-salt Irish accent, encouraging us on, despite my white knuckles and 40knot gusts.  The crew down below listened to my ranting and the crashing waves, while Charlie constantly confirmed our position on the charts. It was an exciting entry!

A mile offshore, the mountains finally blocked our breeze and the waves calmed down. We identified the large rocks at the entrance and rounded the point well clear. Thankfully the bay was surprisingly calm and uncluttered and we soon found a suitable anchorage spot. Another two hours later (!), and some very stereotypical husband/wife anchor yelling and grunting, we were satisfied with our holding and tackle – two anchors, cqr at the bow and danforth on the stern, with 3-1 scope on both. As I finally lay down to sleep that night, I wondered when the last time was that I had felt so utterly exhausted – mentally, emotionally and physically. A deep pride in our sturdy little vessel overwhelmed me as I drifted into slumber.

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We awoke to the sights and sounds of Cabo San Lucas, with all it’s circus and commotion. After a much needed cleaning of the boat inside and out, we splurged two dollars on a water taxi and headed ashore. Again, we have rejuvenated and reconnected – ready for the next and final leg of Mexico.

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6 thoughts on “Chapter 1, Completed!

  1. So wonderful to follow your adventure! Hello to Babsy! How is the motion sickness. I think of you often and wish you godspeed. Safe sailing across the big sea! Hugs!

  2. Lily, the blog is wonderful reading! Thanks for the great sea stories. But what inquiring minds really want to know is if Babsi is eating a hot dog! Pickings must be slim…

    • Haha, fear not, our food rations are much better than it seems – Barbara is just a rather odd fish (a vegan who’d choose a celery/carrot wrap over a cheesy one any day). It is a good indication of our laziness though – why chop when you can swallow whole?

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