Monday, December 2, 2013

San Jose Del Cabo to La Pax (with a detour to the Bay of Dead)

Today was scheduled to be the last leg of the Fubar 2013 with a trip to La Paz (24.13N x 110.18 W).  122 miles to the north west, La Paz is the best provisioning port in Baja according to the guides.  

For the second time during the FUBAR, Seafox (Nordhavn 55) got weather routing information claiming the next day to be difficult.  They left Mag Bay a day early to avoid bad weather and the rest of the fleet just missed the weather as reported in my earlier comments.  Again they left the fleet a day early to avoid bad weather. This time Seafox’s weather router got it right.  The wind was on the nose the entire trip.   While we where bashing our way north, they were in La Paz enjoying cool breezes and rest. 

Weather dominates the discussion of most cruising efforts.  When to move the boat, how far to move, crew comfort and above all, safety are all tied to the weather.  Getting good weather information is pretty easy in the US.  NOAA weather has a dedicated marine forecast.    Passage weather  is also very useful both in the US and outside if you can get an internet connection.    Many cruisers use a professional weather router who provides his best forecast based on the planned trip.  Seafox uses such a professional and he provides consistent weather advice tailored to your boat, trip destination and your level of comfort requirements.   For most of us, the boat is much tougher than the crew.  

We began our journey at 6:30 AM with just Mary, Keela and me on board.   Felt a little strange leaving the harbor with David and Lori on the dock waving goodbye.  Perhaps they subscribed to Seafox’s weather router.  Within an hour of leaving the port wind began to build from the north.  By 11 AM seas were in the 3 foot range but very close together.   This makes for a bumpy and wet ride.  The Nordhavn fleet ranged from 40 to 76 foot.  At lunch time all of us under 55 foot had spray or worse on the windows.  The 76 footer reported some mist but no water drops that had run together.  In rough seas “size matters”.

As common strategy is to have a bailout location in hand for any passage.   If the weather or something else crops up, a plan to shelter until things improve is critical.  For our trip this would be Muertos Bay.  Located about 80 miles north it provides good protection for the prevailing north winds.   With this as our new goal we kept moving in hopes of getting there in the daylight.   This cove gets its name for 6 train axles buried there in the 1920’s.  They are referred to as dead-man anchors or “muertos”.  They held barges carrying silver ore.  On a commercial note, developers are working on the area and given the name have renamed it “Bay of Dreams”.  Perhaps easier to sell than bay of the dead.

Seas continued to build into 3-5 ft chop, with an occasional sneaker much larger thrown in for fun, on the bow with 20-25 kt wind gusts.  No real challenge for the boat but uncomfortable for the crew.   First to feel the effect was Keela.  She gave back breakfast, (for such a small dog she apparently has a large stomach).  For the next 6 hours she was in my lap in the pilot’s chair.  As soon as we anchored she recovered and was eating and playing.  

ENDURANCE (Nordhavn 43) took some wonderful pictures of us while in the soup.   The first is WORKNOT launching off a wave at about 7 kts.  

Here is our landing!   You can just see a fishing rod on the lower left corner of the boat giving you a perspective of the spray. 

The fleet made it to Muertos (23.59 N x 109. 49.3 W) anchorage just as the sun was setting.  We were treated to a very lovely evening with mild breezes and settled seas.  For the first time got to watch my anchor set in about 15-18 feet of clear water on a sand beach.  Plan to repeat this treat often.  Within a few hours of sunset almost every boat was dark as fatigued crew, captains, dogs and cats turned in early to sleep in peace. 

80 miles, 51 gallons (heavy weather reduces fuel economy) 10 hours.

The FUBAR 2013 is about to end, the final leg from Muertos (23.59 N x 109. 49.3 W) to   La Paz (24.13.07 N x 110.18.47 W)  is only about 43 miles.

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