Monday, December 21, 2009


After our nice snorkel at Chileno Reef, we pressed on in flat seas towards the next anchorage on the Baja coast, Los Frailes. But as we rounded Punta Gorda, we ran into very steep seas. With green water coming over the bow, the prop cavitating, speed down to under 3 kts, and 15 miles to go, we decided flexibility was the order of the day and changed course for Mazatlan, 160 miles away. We'll be back to Baja next spring.

The first part of the crossing was fast, with 15-20kt winds out of the north and a beam reach. Midway across the Sea of Cortez, the wind started dying down and veering to the NE, and we had to alter course accordingly. For a few hours, winds were actually on the nose, and we just kind of wallowed around in very confused seas, tacking slowly and not making much progress. We were entertained by brown boobies trying to land on the boat. One stayed on the bow for a couple of hours.

Finally the wind died entirely, the seas flattened, and we fired up the diesel and continued on. Unfortunately we were now going to arrive in darkness, so we had to decide whether to heave to or push on. After consulting our charts and guidebooks, we decided to head into the old port, with its simple and well-lit harbor entrance.
One of the world's tallest lighthouses guided us in from 30 miles out. We contacted a cruise ship on VHF after determining that it was headed directly for us, on its way to Cabo. With AIS, it was no problem hailing them by name, and getting an immediate response. With a slight change in course, we were safely out of their way.

The harbor entrance was very straightforward, and our position was accurate on both the C-map and Navionics charts (we have 2 separate navigation systems, one of them running on a Mac laptop). With plenty of room in the anchorage, we were soon asleep in the calmest conditions we have encountered since leaving Ensenada nearly 3 weeks ago.

We have friends here, and will probably stay here through Christmas.

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