THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2005
Jacaranda Passage Notes #1: Greetings from Baja - Bahia de Ascension
After a delightful week visiting Linda's family in New York and Philadelphia over the Thanksgiving holiday we were back in SD and up to our eyeballs in last minute details before our departure. Linda did her last minute provisioning and Chuck continued to work on the autopilot and buy more spare parts. Jacaranda continued to settle lower in the water and started to bulge from all the items we loaded onboard. It always amazes me how many details have to be resolved before leaving on an extended trip. Needless to say these last few weeks were crazy.
Finally on Wed. Dec.7 we shoved off from the dock, stowed fenders and dock lines and headed SW. Our first stop would be the Coronado Islands off the coast of San Diego, located in Mexican waters. The wind was light and we motor sailed the entire way putting time on the autopilot trying to make sure all the adjustments I made worked as planned. We had not been out to the Coronados in more than a year and were very surprised at the large number of fish pens. The large circular nets hold tons of live tuna being fattened up for the markets. There were floats, lines and huge nets all within a couple mile radius making us glad we did not try to pass through this area in the dark. We anchored closer inshore to the islands and had a restful night.
The next morning found us headed towards Ensenada at daybreak and hoping the wind would fill in later in the morning. It was glassy calm all the way down (45 miles) and we continued to burn diesel. We arrived in Ensenada mid afternoon and anchored in the inner harbor directly off of Baja Naval Marina. The weather forecast was for little wind for the next 3-4 days. The next morning we did all the paperwork required by the Mexican Government. The government recently changed the policy and now only requires one major check in upon arrival in the country rather than at every port. Copies of vessel documentation, passports, drivers license, crew list, insurance, etc. were required by the officials. We were forewarned by friends who recently did this dance and were armed with heaps of copies. In Ensenada they moved all the officials together in one building so it made our check in so easy that we were finished in 2 hours!
After a few days in Ensenada waiting for wind, we headed south 225 miles to the San Benitos Islands. For the first 10 hours we motored in very light breeze but finally it filled in from the NW at 18-20 knots and we were able to sail for the first time since leaving SD. It was not as cold as we expected but some of that may have been due to our new plastic zip-in curtains in the dodger that allowed us to sit outside to keep watch yet inside the clear enclosure. During the day it reminded us of a solarium with just a little sun; we were toasty!
Linda did great on her first real passage (two days and two nights) and I was proud of her ability to easily move around in a seaway and stand her watches. We ate great meals, listened to NPR on our Sirius radio and tried to sleep when we were off watch. We stopped a couple of days in the San Benitos Islands to catch up on some sleep and then had a great 20 mile sail to Bahia del Sur on Cedros Island. Early next morning we headed toward Bahia de Tortuga (Turtle Bay). For the first part of the way we were able to sail and the fishing lines were out. No sooner than the lines hit the water we had a fish on each line. These small mackerel were 4-5 lbs and since we didnt care for mackerel we tossed them back only to hook another couple within a few minutesabout 8 in all. We were hoping for a tuna but no such luck. The route took us down the Dewey Channel and it contained a large amount of lobster floats. We dodged them the best we could but they were very difficult to see with the sun glare on the water.
The first indication that we might have a problem is when we heard the thump thump on the hull from a float passing by. One float passed on the stb side of the boat and the other float passed on the port side (1 float attached to a long line connected to the pot and a 6 foot line & float attached to the first float used as a pickup line). The line caught the propeller and held fast. We immediately dropped sail and tried to dislodge the line with no luck. I thought I might have to go for a swim to cut the line free but a couple of Mexican fisherman came by and helped us free the line. Luckily there was no damage and we were on our way again.
Turtle Bay has not changed much since I was there with friends Jack & Hermie 12 years ago. We obtained a couple jerry jugs of fuel from Jorge who came by in his panga. He has a small business tending to the needs of boats by filling jerry jugs, water taxi and anything else you may need. Again we waited a few days for the wind to fill in, passing the time by walking around the village, trying out our atrocious spanish, visiting with the other sailors in the harbor and doing projects on the boat. (Linda has completed a necklace that she had started in SD)
The next stop is where we are located at the present. 50 miles south of Turtle Bay, Asuncion is a village of about 2000 people tucked into the NE corner of a large bay. The primary business is lobster and abalone fishing. We met Shary, a Canadian expat and whale researcher, and her husband Juan, a lobster fisherman, and visited them at their house located on the cliff at the entrance to the harbor. What an incredible view they have both to the north and south. If this property were in the US it would be worth millions!
Its the same old story of the weather gods taking the wind away. The current forecast is for little or no wind for the next 4-5 days so we may just sit and hang out. Weve been invited to Shary and Juans house for Christmas where they are awaiting a visit from Sharys family for the first time in 17 years. There is a huge swell being generated by Alaskan storms and the waves are crashing with huge sheets of water directly in front of Shary and Juans house but little of the swell is making it into the anchorage. This village has much more to offer than Turtle Bay with the exception that you have to bring your jerry jugs for fuel ashore and get a ride to the Pemex station. The small stores have a much greater variety of supplies than those in Turtle Bay. Plus Shary and Juan will drive you to obtain whatever you might need.
The weather has finally warmed up and for the first time since leaving San Diego we are in shorts and tee shirts during the day and light sweats in the evening.