by Captain Woody
You all may recall I was moving a 40′ Leopard sailing cat from Panama to Washington. We pick up the adventure as we depart PuertoVallarta, headed across the beautiful Sea of Cortes for Cabo. Onboard is our core crew, owners Paul and Sheila and myself.
We fueled up and got out early in the morning. It’s about 300nm from PV to Cabo, across the entrance to the Sea of Cortez. I’ve crossed with 15 footers rolling out of the sea but this time it was nice and calm. Early 0n in the ‘crossing’ we did a little sailing, odd for a north bound trip. We even spotted some turtles, south of the prison islands, the Tres Marias.
Our destination was San Jose del Cabo. It’s a little east and north of Cabo. It’s more quiet, less expensive and closer to the airport. We got parked and dinghied over to the main dock. While the kids got us checked in and rented us a car, I got a shower. They had a new bar there next to the office. It was called the Container Bar and, you guessed it, it was cut out of a big shipping container. They had done it up real nice with a grill and everything. I got a message from Robin at the Lats office that our friends on the fishing boat Scrambler were in SJC. I looked around and spotted one of the Scrambler shirts. I walked over and said hi to Frank. Frank and the boys had been killin’ it down there, pulling in Tuna after Tuna in the over 200 pound category. He pulled out his cracked Iphone and showed me some great pictures.
You can’t sail around southern Baja without a visit or two to Cabo San Lucas. We hopped in the car and made the trek to town. Cabo has changed a lot over the years. It went from a sleepy fishing village to a brothel for ‘El Norte’ sport fishermen, to it’s recent incarnation, a nicer resort/timeshare city. The best thing about a spot like Cabo is that you can get boat parts. And we were desparate for some pieces to keep the Volvos running. On the way back to sleepy SJ we stopped at the Costco for some consumption abuse, Us style.
We prepped the boat for what would likely be the harshest leg of it’s long adventure up to Washington.
It is over 700nm from Cabo to San Diego. Ideally we only make one stop on that trip at Turtle Bay, a little more than half way up. That first leg to Turtle is over 400 nm so you want to get as much fuel in the boat as possible and take it at the last possible fuel dock. That dock was back in Cabo. We had a nice sail down to Cabo. The intense sea traffic started about a mile out. Cabo is Sportfish central. Add all that to the tourist boats and jet skis and a few cruisers and you’ve got some traffic.
We ducked and dodged and slid into the fuel dock sideways, just aft of a big Perini Navi. We had come a long way together and docking had become second nature. When we were close to a port the kids would whip on lines and fenders. We would discuss the plan. I would get one of the swimsteps close and Paul would step off. Sheila would hand him the spring line that he would make fast to the dock. He would signal me and I would pivot in the ends of the boat so they could secure them. Well, almost that smooth. With two fuel tanks and 16 five-gallon jugs all full we headed out to start our slow, rough slog north.
But it didn’t start out rough. We left busy Cabo with a few sunset cruise boats to port and nice vacation villas on the cliffs to starboard. A couple miles on we left them all behind. The water turned glass smooth and the sun set quietly over the orange horizon. This was a clean start. I told the kids to not get too excited.
I was awoken on my off watch, in the dead of night, by the words, “We’re really close to this boat”. Those are words that should never be spoken with the rules we had in place. We were well beyond the point where I needed to be consulted on every boat seen. We had advanced to the stage where I was to be consulted when there was any doubt. I arrived on deck as we passed close astern to a mid sized fishing boat. I went back to bed figuring my words would be more measured after breakfast.
Magdelena Bay might be your first stop if you want to see a beautiful spot or haven’t rationed your fuel well. We had had a fast perfect leg to that point over oddly smooth water, very lucky. To celebrate our crossing the entrance to Mag Bay a whale breeched off to starboard, all the way out to it’s tail. Knowing that the smooth conditions couldn’t last, we topped up the tanks with a few fuel jugs while we could.
That version of the Leopard 40′ had two 40 horse diesels. It was way overpowered. We only ran with two motors when parking. At sea, even against current we ran with one motor. In flat seas the boat would easily reach hull speed with one motor. When the chop would kick up and the boat would slow down we would still be going as fast as we wanted to. With all the catamaran banging I didn’t want to break anything by pushing her harder.
As it does, the wind kicked up to over 20 kts. A little swell was generated by the winds and the bangfest began. With the added pressure of the wind and chop, the starboard motor started to heat up. We switched over to the port motor and I found the impellor was down to two and a half fins. Impellors to fit Volvo motors were one of the things that we were not able to find in all of Latin America.
Our last day before making it to Turtle was beautiful. It had calmed some and we had a clear view of the best of baja, drifting by to starboard. We pulled into Turtle Bay in the evening and we took a free mooring off of Anabell’s, just to port as you come in. They are so nice there. Rueben and his son-in-law fueled us up first thing in the morning with filtered fuel from their own bright green, mini fuel barge. Then they offered to give us a lift into town.
And sometimes you just get lucky. It was the town of Turtle Bay’s 60th aniversary. Turtle is a great place but it is a dusty little Mexican town, far removed from … anywhere. But that doesn’t slow down the locals. They are very proud and put on the best aniversary celebration that I have ever seen. There were costumes and floats, booths and games, speakers and mariachis. There was a new king and queen crowned every year, and this being a new decade, all the old kings and queens had to dress up and attend. It was all on and it was a spectacular event.
Whales led us out into the bay. It was perfect.
-Quality, Balance and a Clean Wake-