MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2006
Jacaranda Passage Notes #3: Hola from Loco-land!
Our last note left off from Bahia Santa Maria about ¾ of the way down the Pacific coast of Baja. Santa Maria is such a stunning place and we enjoyed it so much that we stayed 9 days! Terrific hiking, fantastic beach walks (a 4 mile beach all to ourselves and excellent shelling), lots of wildlife and really nice weather led us to say just one more day. In the evenings our anchor light located on the stern quarter about 6 feet above the water attracted numerous Mexican pelicans. The light attracted schools of small fish that these magnificent birds would scoop up in their huge bills. These large birds would float in the water not more than 2 feet away from the side of the boat. Linda would quietly sit in the cockpit for hours watching them fish, so close she could reach out and touch them. She called them her Bobbles (like those bobble-head dolls people have in the back window of their cars) as they just floated along side the boat occasionally giving a few kicks to remain on station and bobbing up and down, like rubber duckies in a bathtub. One night after dinner, not sure what I was seeing, I peered out into the darkness only to see a pelican looking in! We were both very surprised!
The next stop was around the corner to Bahia Magdalena, 20 miles south of our anchorage in Santa Maria. Magdalena is a huge bay with numerous entrances but only one deep enough for boats larger than shoal draft fishing skiffs . Its one of the three major areas for whale calving on the west coast of Baja. We were too early for any viewing but enjoyed a few days anchored here - it was so calm that it seemed as if we were in our slip in SD. We spent two days in the village of Puerto Magdalena and a couple days anchored further up near Punta Delgado just off another long desolate sandy beach. We hiked across the sand dunes of Delgado to reach the southern end of Bahia Santa Maria Bay (about a 30 minute hike) and had terrific beachcombing finding lots of shells, clams and all different things washed ashore. Once again we had this long beach all to ourselves and spent hours walking in complete solitude.
Listening each day to the light wind conditions forecasted we picked a day with a bit more breeze (10 knots) and began our jaunt down to Cabo San Lucas (165 miles). We sailed on and off during the day and even flew the spinnaker for an hour just before sunset. By 7 pm the wind had dropped to about 5 knots so we motored until the wind filled in at 2 am. The wind continued to build all through the night peaking out at 25 knots just before sunrise. We had a great sail all night in beam reaching conditions and 4 am found us with no main and sailing with the jib, power reaching at 7-7.5 knots. As soon as the sun peeked over the horizon the wind dropped back to 5-8 knots and we motored the rest of the way to Cabo arriving early afternoon. As we were sailing past the large dramatic rocks that make up Lands End at the entrance to the bay, we looked across the outer harbor, and there, framed by the rocks, was a large Costco building! We knew we were in trouble!
I was amazed at the growth of the city since I was here last in 1993. The population has more than doubled . There are new hotels, shopping malls, and a Costco; the inner harbor is totally filled with marinas and hundreds of large power boats. The marina rates are more expensive than San Diego. Friends paid $157.00 for a one night berth for their 42 foot sailboat. The development has been so rampant that many of the local areas only get water turned on once a week for a couple of hours. Each house has a large cistern used to store water. A desalination plant is currently under construction due to be completed in 2008.
We anchored out in the outer harbor, attacked each day by hordes of jet skis, water taxis, paragliders, kayaks, wake boarders and at least 1 cruise ship every day (with abundant tenders). By 10 am we were rolling so intensely that it felt like we were on the high seas. The first few days we provisioned, did laundry (5 weeks worth), got fuel, etc. . Because the forecast called for a couple of days of extremely high winds (35-40kts) between Cabo and Puerto Vallarta we stayed and had a few days to sightsee. One day we went to San Jose del Cabo, a pretty colonial town that is a short bus ride from Cabo. Linda and some girlfriends took a 1 1/2 hour bus to Todos Santos, a charming town known for its art scene composed mainly of expat artists from Santa Fe and other American cities. I stayed and worked on a few pieces of gear that needed mending and capped off our heater vent (yeah, its now warm!).
We are quickly learning that when it comes to wind in Mexico its either feast or famine: light, nonexistent, or very drafty. And any forecast greater than 2 days is extremely suspect. We departed Cabo San Locos for Puerto Vallarta (PV) on January 18 - the first day that the winds eased with forecasts of 15-20kts the first day, 10-15kts for the second day filling back in to 20kts the third day.
We are now (Friday) 75 miles out of PV, motoring more than we would like but having some good sails too. We are seeing whales, the ever present dolphins, a marlin jumping, and lots of small tropical flying fish. We are planning to make landfall sometime tomorrow night.