2/28/2013 – Blowin’ in the wind

That’s where they say the answer is, my friends. If so, we should have considerably more answers than questions after the last week or so. Everyone is getting a chance to test their ground tackle and anchoring techniques this week. It’s been blowing stink almost continuously since we got back up here from El Burro Cove on the 20th. Last night was a doozie and tonight and tomorrow promise more of the same. It blew all night, probably in the 15-20 knot range with at least one recorded gust of 38 knots. Predictions for this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon are for winds in the 27 to 38 knot range here in the central Sea. I doubt that there’s any recreational boat traffic moving anywhere on the Sea of Cortez today as the high winds extend pretty much the whole way and, in fact, we heard a rumor that all the ports on the Sea are closed to vessels under 500 tons due to high winds and dangerous seas. Seas in the 8-15 foot range have been predicted before this thing blows itself out. And when, pray tell, will that be? Well, Geary (8.122 MB, USB on the SSB radio at 1445 Zulu or at http://www.Sonrisanet.org) and the grib files all point to the winds getting down to 20 knots on Saturday, lower on Sunday and downright light early next week and even turning around and coming from the south for a few days. If that’s true, we’re tentatively planning on scooting back up to Santa Rosalia on Monday or Tuesday to see if our immigration cards are finished. They were supposed to be done yesterday but we’ve heard rumors of very long waits for the paperwork to get back from Mexico City.

Neither of us slept very well last night. The wind blew hard enough to cause the boat to heel over first one way and then the other. And we were plagued with those mysterious thumps on the hull. These are NOT fish. If they were they’d have to be some real trophies as they sometimes hit the boat hard enough that we can feel it. Sometimes it’s the dinghy swinging around and smacking the hull but I’m pretty sure the rest of the time it’s waves. It has to be. There’s nothing else out there. Today I brought the dinghy aboard and lashed it to the foredeck and then pulled the boarding ladder and fenders aboard as well. This was partly because we won’t be going ashore until the blow is over (Saturday at the earliest) and partly to eliminate possible thump sources so we can narrow it down a bit. Just a few minutes ago I was in the v-berth “resting my eyes” and experienced some significant thumps. So, waves it is. Just knowing that might make it easier to sleep tonight. We’re confident that we’re well anchored and not moving, it’s just the noise and uncertainty that made sleeping difficult last night.

We haven’t been completely idle while confined to the boat. Yesterday we ran the watermaker long enough to fill our water tank and, since the sun was shining brightly, we didn’t even have to fire up the generator to do it, solar was enough. Lulu has made a couple of hatbands using the Peruvian bracelet format that she’s used extensively in making friendship bracelets. One is for our friend Caleb on s/v La Querencia and the other is for our RVing friend Gordon who, with his partner Lucy, have been so generous with rides to town since we’ve been here. Lulu also made a bunch of stuff sacks for organizing all the junk we stow in the cargo hammocks over our bunk. Things like spare bedding, the shower curtain, her Slanky, etc. Speaking of the shower curtain, ours is made of nylon (Lulu made it of course) and, after showers it’s nice to be able to hoist it like a sail and let it dry by flapping in the wind. Dries really fast that way. However, the wind has been so strong lately that it’s threatened to tear the loops off the curtain. Yesterday I sewed new nylon webbing loops on that are specifically made for this purpose. They’re made of a piece of 1″ wide nylon webbing, doubled over, and then sewed on both sides of the curtain using waxed sail thread. The finished loop is only about an inch long so that leaves 5″ of webbing left to sew onto the curtain. I still won’t hoist it in the kind of winds we’ve seen lately but at least if the wind pipes up when it is hoisted, I won’t have to worry about it too much. I also shortened our wooden oars and then dressed them up. I think I already wrote about that but now they’re all varnished and looking good. When the wind dies down, maybe we’ll get a chance to try them out.

February has been a weird month. We left Santa Rosalia on the 6th so we’ve been gone just over 3 weeks. In that time, we really haven’t done very much. We’ve gone ashore a few places but the water’s been too cold to swim and, what with the winds that have prevailed for much of the month, we haven’t done all that much ashore either. Even when we go into Mulege, it’s mostly to get groceries and do the internet. If we want to be sure to catch a return ride with whoever brought us in, we don’t really have much time for wandering around and exploring the town. I guess we could just take our chances and hitchhike back but we usually have a heavy load of groceries. All in all, Conception Bay has been a weird stop. Not an unpleasant stop but, mostly due to the weather, very weird.

So, like I said above, our plan right now is to head back up to Santa Rosalia early next week when the winds die down to reasonable levels. Hopefully our immigration cards will be done, we can tie up to the dock and recharge the batteries, go to the store and restock our supplies and then start heading south. Previously I was saying that we didn’t figure we’d be to La Paz much before April. At the time that seemed like a long way away. Tomorrow is March 1st. At this point I’ll be surprised if we actually make it to La Paz before the end of April.

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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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3 Responses to 2/28/2013 – Blowin’ in the wind

  1. Jim C. says:

    Sounds like you are getting a pretty good blow. I am in Torrance in Southern California and we are experiencing the same Santa Ana winds.
    It makes for nice warm days with offshore winds. Some areas along the coast like our area do not get any wind at all so the ocean is like a lake.
    It is probably 75 out right now. I have caught up on the blog from day one till now and have learned a lot about the conditions and what it is like to be on
    the Sea of Cortez in different areas at different times of the year. Where do these swells come from? Do they build from the wind blowing in from the North?
    Do they come from the south and mix with the North wind so they stand up? 15 foot swells that are close together sounds like a real mess.

    I have only visited Mexico from the shore. getting out on the water to surf, fish or just snorkel. I had heard about the weather but have not been there to experience it.
    I thought you dropped anchor in a cove, threw out a fishing line, popped a Pacifico then ate fish tacos all week from the Sea. I can see that it is a little more work than that.
    It did not cross my mind that so much travelling would be done by motoring too. I have a Beneteau 28 foot boat that would be great to cruise to the Sea of Cortez
    but I would not enjoy bringing it back. Maybe sail down and pay to have it trailered back after a couple of seasons or buy a trailer then sell the trailer?

    Thank you for sharing your adventure. It is really interesting

    Jim

    • sryoder says:

      JIm, glad to have you aboard. The swells are mostly wind-driven as far as I can tell. Certainly in the northern sea there aren’t many other forces at play (offshore storms for example) so it must be the wind.

      There will certainly be lots of days where you drift in, drop the hook reel in the fish and down Pacifico after Pacifico. However, you still always have one eye cocked watching for sudden chubascos piping up in the middle of the night.

  2. sailmama says:

    Steve,
    we are in San Carlos again, after driving down from Tucson yesterday. Nice day, but definitely a “daylight” drive only! NO shoulders along the highway down, even on the toll sections; many stretches of rough pavement (looks like someone cut short the paving formula there); construction EVERYWHERE (they don’t seem to work one section at a time from start-to-finish but rather, so the same identical step in a hundred different sections at once). This method means one is constantly shifting from a nice four-lane, even divided at times, to a dangerous cross-over into two lanes and two narrow ones at that! One has to pay constant and close attention. But, the good thing is that Tucson to San Carlos really did only take six hours.

    Crossing over the border at Nogales was a snap. Route is very well-marked, and nobody asked for any of our papers, even though we fretted for days perfecting/organizing everything. I guess we looked like “RV geezers” not up to any kind of trouble!! The only conversation was with one guard who asked if we were heading to San Carlos. That got to be a joke as everywhere we stopped for gas or food, someone always asked “going to San Carlos?”! Must be THE destination for gringos when leaving Nogales, I guess.

    Anyway, wanted to tell you that the wind is blowing hard every day over here, too. We drove up to a lookout north of the main anchorage and took photos of the big whitecaps…we have never seen the Sea this rough. And, indeed there are no recreational or any other kind of boats visible anywhere.

    We bumped into friends who anchored in the little bay just opposite the storage yard (think “around the corner” just south from the main anchorage, and they said it is considerably calmer there – something to note if you are over here any time in a strong norther. They made friends with people in houses along the beach, and were able to cable their dinghy onto a resident’s so it wouldn’t take a walk while they were ashore.

    The little RV has been a blessing – I hope you guys find one, too, and make the trip down. Bill & Ellie were a terrific resource for driving tips, etc. and the Vagabundos decal was the secret, we think, to a “pass” at the border. Everyone here is grumbling about the lousy weather and waters too cold for swimming, so you are not alone, but as you are doing, most here are making it a good time anyway.

    Keep on writing – we LOVE your blog, especially since we aren’t “out there” this season ourselves.

    Keith & Kay

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