Friday, January 27, 2017

Begonia Enters the Sea of Cortez

[Kyle]A nice tailwind assisted us leaving Bahia Santa Maria for the coastal trip to the tip of the Baja peninsula. Around sunrise the next morning, it started to die off enough to make deploying the spinnaker seem like a good idea. We had it up the whole day, flying along in light winds and beautiful flat seas.

We sailed past Cabo San Lucas and into the lee of Baja just after sunset. We switched back to our working sails for the turn upwind and ghosted past the town. Early in the morning, at San Jose del Cabo, the north wind returned in earnest and we started zigzagging our way up the Sea of Cortez on the east side of Baja. We were able to get a good enough phone signal passing San Jose Del Cabo to get an amended forecast, which indicated we would have to wait a day longer for favorable winds than the prior forecast had indicated. We decided to beat upwind just to the next protected anchorage at Los Frailes and stop there for the night until the winds got better.

We didn’t spend enough time there to go ashore or to see anything, but it was nice to be relieved of the need to keep constant watch and to be able to enjoy dinner together.

We were up early for more upwind sailing in light air. It took us another day and a half to make it as far as La Paz. There, the wind backed to the west and we were able to start pointing the direction we wanted to go, eliminating all of the extra mileage of tacking.

About midway through Maryanne’s night watch, I awoke to the sound of building wind and the rush of water streaking past the hull alongside our berth. I heard her reef sails and then reef again and the noise continued to increase. I poked my head out in the cockpit to find Maryanne struggling to lower the mainsail to the next reefing point. The mainsail is most easily reefed while the boat is pointed into the wind, but when she turned upwind, it and the chop would slow us to a crawl. The rudders would lose effectiveness and the autopilot, which had just a few seconds ago had been making small corrections for large heading changes, suddenly needed it to be the other way around. It would react too slowly and then Begonia would be blown downwind, plastering the main on the shrouds and frustrating Maryanne’s attempt to get it out of the building wind. I took over the helm and was able to keep the boat straight enough to allow her to get the sail under control.

Sailing around the tip of Baja - was not all bad at all
Dolphins, Chocolate Cake, sunsets and sunrises

The rest of her night watch was pretty bad. The seas got rougher and rougher and the wind would occasionally gust high enough to need two quick reefs to be put in in a real hurry, with fears of needing another.

It wasn’t as dramatic for me on the backside of the night, but it was still pretty uncomfortable. At least we were finally eating up the miles, but it would have been nice to find some sort of medium.

The subsequent night was more of the same. We were both getting pretty sleep deprived and sick of the conditions. When we got a new forecast for big headwinds coming in a couple of days, we were glad to pull into harbor for some rest at Santa Rosalia.

We anchored as the only boat in the basin in the calm before the storm. The next day, we checked on the rates at the marina and decided to spend out the blow there.

Santa Rosalia is a decent sized little town with a real Old West feel. We were able to stock up on a few much needed provisions as well as source some parts for some minor fix-it jobs. We also found a pretty good fish taco stand.

First views of Santa Rosalia - and with plenty of time to explore

After only a couple of days, we had walked every street at least three times and have a good feel for the place. We will likely be almost another week before the wind dies down and we’ll be able to resume our push north again, so I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to see all there is to see a few times over.


Mommy Dearest said...

I hadn't yet read this when I talked to you, but hope you find some entertainment in this quaint little town while waiting out the bad weather. So good to hear from you and where did you get that chocolate cake???? Yummy.

SV-Footprint said...

Thanks Carla - and I made the cake - which used way too many dishes/appliances and took way too much effort (I won't be using that particular recipe again)

Ross said...

When reefing under these conditions do you ever start an engine to support pointing up to relieve pressure on the sails or do you always try and do it by easing up on the main with the jib providing forward motion & rudder control?

By the way, I've been a follower of your blog since the beginning and it's nice to have fresh posts!

SV-Footprint said...

Hi Ross. Happy to have you aboard (I think we've seen your comments before :-) )

We rarely start an engine in order to reef, but we have done it. Mostly, to reef the main it is just like you suspect... we alter course to sail close to the wind on the jib alone, and let out the main boom so that the main is not catching the wind. If we are working/sleeping shifts and down to one person managing the boat, then we need to rely on the auto-pilot to keep the boat pointed well while we work at the mast to adjust the main sail (it is much easier when there are two of us).