SATURDAY, JANUARY 1, 2006
Jacaranda Passage Notes #2: Feliz Año Nuevo and a Prosperous 2006!!
Our last note left off with our stop in Bahia de Acension.
One evening we had our new local friends, expat Shary and Mexican Fisherman Juan over for dinner and the next morning Juans 20 year old daughter Marta and her friend Cindy came by for breakfast. It was the first time for either of the girls to visit a velero (sailboat) and it was fun for us to see such excitement! Well Marta and Cindy took tons of digital photos and that afternoon when we were in the village, people recognized us and came up to us saying Ahhh, youre the gringo friends of Martas! (Like celebrities being big fish in a little pond).
We spent Xmas evening with Shary and Juan and their family. Her brother, sister-in-law, and nephew flew down from Canada to San Diego, rented a car and took 2 days to drive down to Bahia de Acension. It was the first time she had seen them in 9 years and as you can imagine was jumping for joy. Juan is from this area so he has many relatives in the village and surrounding countryside and we were able to meet many of them. We couldnt imagine what the culture shock must be for her brother and family with no running water and an outhouse, plus packed into a tiny house but they seemed to cope rather well. The house was primitive but the location on a seaside bluff overlooking a reef and blowhole was a 2 million dollar view!
Xmas Eve in Acension was not quite what we had expected but interesting. During that day we went with Shary and her sister-in-law to every little store in town (10) looking for fresh cream so they could make some pumpkin pies. No such luck as everyone was completely sold out but it gave us a great chance to meet all the shopkeepers and view the available merchandise. Late that afternoon we went ashore with some garlic mashed potatoes, deviled eggs and a cucumber salad Linda made to contribute to the feast (turkey and lobster). We were told that dinner was to be served at 8pm with Mass at 10. Shary said to come anytime in the afternoon. So we arrived about 5:30 not realizing that things really didnt get started until after Mass at midnight! Well a number of folks came and went throughout the evening and we finally managed to get some Xmas dinner about 9:30 and headed back to the boat by 11 (Way past our bed time). Next day we found out that they didnt get to bed until 6:30 a.m. Christmas here really requires quite a bit of stamina!
We had planned to stop at Abrejos so we could visit San Ignacio and view the whales. Linda did this trip with the boys many years ago and has raved about it ever since. We had not seen any whales while coming down the coast and Shary (a retired whale researcher) said we were way too early. So with sadness we passed on stopping at San Ignacio and headed directly towards Bahia Santa Maria (180 miles SE). Leaving early on Boxing Day (Dec 26th) we were able to sail within an hour of hoisting anchor. A light NE breeze continued to build all morning and by 11 am we had put in a couple of reefs giving us a pleasant sail at hull speed. Early that afternoon we saw a huge whale breaching (jumping out of the water), spyhopping (poking their upper body out of the water to look around) and tail/fluke thrashing less than ¼ mile away. (Linda was very excited about the show and I was excited it was so far away. About an hour later I heard a very loud splash right next to the boat. Jumping up I could see a whale making a dive and turn to miss us. It was so close we could easily see the white markings on its flukes and underside. Enough already! You definitely dont want a collision with one of these giants!
The rest of the trip required quite a bit more work on our part. There was a large swell generated in the Gulf of Alaska (W) a confused cross sea (NE & NW) and it made for a bumpy ride. In addition the wind stayed out of the northern quadrant moving from the NE to N to NW to WNW during the next 30 hours. The constant wind change, at times directly behind us required numerous jibes (moving the head sail from one side to the other and also required us to move the spinnaker pole along with the jib).
About 20 miles from Santa Maria the wind started to drop and we decided to turn the engine on and motor sail. We could have continued sailing but an arrival of 9pm versus 4am made the choice fairly easy. This would be our first nighttime landfall but with a large open bay with no obstructions and newly installed radar we felt reasonably comfortable with the approach. But we have found that the electronic charts and paper charts were off by up to on half mile based on the GPS position making us leery of any GPS chart plotting closer than a half mile. Amazing - as soon as we crossed the Mexican border the accuracy of the charts stopped! The approach into the bay went without any problems but as soon as we started to turn into the bay we ran into a pea soup fog bank. It was perfectly clear with heaps of stars one moment and the next we could not see the bow. The radar worked very well and we anchored safely in 25 feet of water at 10pm.
We awoke in the morning to foggy surroundings and later that morning the sun burned off the fog to reveal a stunningly beautiful bay. Plus its getting warmer!! Bahia Santa Maria is a large 4 mile wide open bay formed by the coast line making a sharp 90 degree turn so the indent runs north to south. On one side is a ridge of small barren mountains (large hills) and the rest of the bay is a 4 mile sandy beach. A tiny fishing village is nestled in one corner alongside a small estuary.
Today we went for a long walk out to Point Hughes and enjoyed great scenery. The surf here is normally high but now is exceptionally large fueled by the big swells coming down from the Gulf of Alaska the same swells causing beach closures in Santa Barbara, CA. and chaos for lifeguards in San Diego. The exercise was something we both were craving and we returned to the boat tired in body but refreshed in mind.
We will probably stay here a few more days before heading down to Magdalena Bay about 20 miles further south. From Mag Bay the next stop will be Cabo San Lucas.