2/3/2011 – Another Norther

The good news is that the water pump rebuild kit I ordered from the States less than a week ago arrived at Marina de La Paz yesterday. The bad news is that the anchorage was so freakin’ rough there was no way we could safely take the dingy ashore to get it. Normally UPS could just leave it at the Marina office and we’d pick it up when we can. However, we owe $450 (pesos, not dollars) in duty or whatever so they can’t drop it off until they get their money. The plan is that they will try again on Friday to drop it off and we will try to make it to the marina with the cash.

Well, we are just getting hammered with this norther. It’s supposed to start blowing out tomorrow (Friday) but probably not early enough for us to get ashore. Fortunately for us, we’re friends with two of the nicest people in La Paz: John & Vickie of m/v Doña Elena (formerly of the Westsail 32 s/v Elena). We met John & Vickie in Ensenada when they were tied up right alongside of us at Marina Baja Naval. They had us over for drinks and we all seemed to hit it off. They spend their winters on Doña Elena at Marina de La Paz and are very active in Club Cruceros, a cruisers’ club that hosts social events and organizes various fund-raising activities to help local families. They have a truck here and have done stuff like haul us to the airport, take us out to Costa Baja to check it out, and turn us on to the best tacos in town (arrachera at Rancho Viejo). I called them tonight to explain our predicament. Without batting an eye, they said they’d take care of it and for us not to try anything unsafe like dinghying ashore before the seas calm down. Others have said it over and over and I have to agree: you meet the nicest people cruising.

So, about this norther. Apparently there’s a big high pressure in the 4-corners area (that’s where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico come together). This pushes air towards the areas of lower pressure resulting in Santa Ana winds in southern California and northers in the Sea of Cortez. And, from where the Colorado River dumps into the Sea, all the way to the bottom of Baja, there is nothing in the way to slow the winds down. Reportedly they had winds as high as 50-60 knots in the Sea up north. Here in Bahia de La Paz (actually, we’re in Ensenada de La Paz), we’re seeing winds out of the north of around 25 knots. The seas, even here in the fairly well-protected bay, are pretty freakin’ gnarly. They aren’t 12 footers or anything but they’re pretty darn big for an anchorage. During the ebb tide, the current wants to point our boat one way while the wind wants to point it a different way so we dance around all over the place. Boats with fin keels tend to react more to the wind while the full-keeled boats, like us, are heavily influenced by the tidal current so everyone is pointing in different directions. Makes for an uncomfortable time, too, as sometimes we’re beam-on to the seas for a little while. Once the flood tide starts, things get better as the wind and the tidal current are both traveling in the same direction so we tend to stay put better and everyone points in the same direction.

Been watching our track on the GPS and the anchor seems to be rock-steady. There was one point yesterday when the tide shifted and we drug a little ways until the anchor reset itself. This was mainly due to the fact that the anchor probably came dislodged when we swung around it and it had to reset itself. Since then, the wind has been strong enough that we have stayed on the south side of the anchor regardless of tide so it doesn’t get dislodged and have to reset. Whatever, we’re feeling pretty confident with our ground tackle at the moment. Of course, I spent pretty much the entire day yesterday in the cockpit, keeping an eye on things, in order to gain this confidence. The wind died a bit last night which, along with confidence in the anchor, allowed us both to get a full night’s sleep.

The wind blew hard all day today. It was fairly cold on the boat and the ride was definitely unpleasant. We both wore our accupressure wristbands all day and they seemed to keep the queasiness at bay. We mostly just passed the time reading today. Yesterday, Lulu spent part of the day sewing a new cover for one of the settee cushions but that resulted in her not feeling too good later. So none of that today.

One of the local cruisers who’s been here for 6-1/2 years said that northers always take 3 days. One day to build (yesterday), one day to blow (today), and one day to die down (tomorrow), We certainly hope he’s right. That’s pretty much what the weather gurus are saying is supposed to happen. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that by Saturday we’re happily dinghying ashore for ice cream again.


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About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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