4/20/2014 – Back on the mainland

After enjoying dinner (fresh yellowtail sandwich and a cheeseburger…we split them and shared), and a few beers at the restaurant at Play Buenaventura in Bahia Concepcion, we returned to Siempre Sabado and prepared to settle in for the evening. The weather gods had other things in mind. Right around sunset, the wind shifted to the north and along with it came uncomfortable swells. This put us on a nasty lee shore in an with an unpleasant ride. We opted to take the smart way out and split. We weren’t looking forward to sailing back to Coyote (the nearest north-protected anchorage) in the dark but, fortunately we had our GPS track to follow. Good thing because Conception Bay has a lot of very large, very hard islands sticking up which are really hard to see in the dark.

As we passed south of Playa Santispac, we were amazed to see all of the super-bright lighting coming from the carnival rides. It must have been like daylight to be anchored there. And LOUD! The north end of Coyote was somewhat quieter than where we had been on the south end where the Tecate stage was set up. Took us a couple of tries to get anchored properly as it was hard to see the unused mooring balls and one particular little, unlit sportsfishing boat. But we got anchored successfully and spent a nice, fairly quiet night.

Our plan was to move up to Santispac on Saturday morning, although, with what we now knew about the carnival lights, that may not have been such a great idea. However, I listened to Gary’s weather on the Sonrisa Net and decided that, if the other weather reports jived fairly well with Gary’s predictions, Saturday and Sunday looked like great days for a crossing over to San Carlos (the “Northern Crossing”). By Monday it was supposed to start blowing again. Nothing really keeping us on the Baja side any longer and it would be good to get over to the mainland so there’s no way we’ll miss getting Lulu to Tucson to catch her flight to Portland on May 3. As it turned out, the weather reports jived close enough so, figuring a 22 hour trip across (starting at Coyote), we headed out at about 12:45 PM.

We were getting 10-15 knot winds just off the nose as we headed up the channel. The water was a little lumpy but not really too bad. We were making lousy time heading into the wind and sea but we knew things would even out sometime during the trip. As we passed the anchorage at Santo Domingo at the very top end of Point Conception, I began to wonder if I’d missed something. The seas were still about the same, as was the wind. But there were an even dozen sailboats anchored at Santo Domingo. SD isn’t a very protected anchorage so typically boats anchor there if they’ve:

a.) just completed the northern crossing and need to rest
b.) are waiting for a weather window to go across to San Carlos
c.) just arrived from San Juanico to the south and want to rest up before heading on. d.) waiting to head south to San Juanico so that you arrive in daylight.

Option “a” seemed likely, although if I’d made it that far and it was still early afternoon, I’d push on to Santispac or someplace else in Conception Bay. Option “c” also seemed sort of unlikely for the same reasons as option “a”. Option “d” would be a likely choice for us as San Jaunico is about 10-12 hour trip so we like to leave at night so we arrive at SJ in the early morning. Not sure if others think this way or not. Option “b” seemed like the most likely reason although, if it was, I wondered what conditions they were waiting for. The predictions called for a mostly motorboat trip across unless time meant absolutely nothing at all. Maybe they were waiting for favorable winds. As long as we have ample fuel, we don’t worry too much about favorable winds unless they are strong on the nose, thus slowing us down, or are causing uncomfortable seas. The predictions I read called for neither of these. And, of course, 12 boats could have had 12 different reasons to be there. Anyway, ignoring the herd instinct, we decided to press on. And we’re really glad we did.

The crossing could not have been nicer. We motorsailed the whole way. Most of the trip we had moderate to light winds just off our nose. With the motor running, we could “sail” close-hauled, the sails adding stability and an extra knot or so to our speed. There was a slight swell but the seas were far enough apart that they weren’t uncomfortable at all. The sky was clear all the way across and we had a gibbous moon lighting our way after midnight. By 10 PM or so, the wind died completely and the seas were almost completely flat. We took turns sleeping, read our Kindles, ate food, etc. Oh, and since the engine was running, we made 33 gallons of drinking water as well.

We were nearing the Sonoran coast by daylight and, when the sun really came up, we could see the unmistakable outline of the twin spires of Tetakawi Mountain looming over San Carlos. We got into port and anchored by 10:30 or so making it an almost exactly 22 hour trip. Just before dinner I realized that I wasn’t really sure what time it was here. Baja California Sur is on Mountain Daylight Time. San Carlos is still Mountain Time but, supposedly, they stay in line with Arizona which doesn’t recognize Daylight Savings Time. So, presumably, our clocks were an hour ahead of the locals. Tried getting a time check on the VHF radio but either no one knew or no one had their radio on as I got no answers. Finally hollered over to the boat next to us and he confirmed that it was, indeed, an hour earlier than our clocks said it was. Does that mean we made the trip across in 21 hours?

Tomorrow we’re going to see if we can get a slip in the marina so we can get started on projects. Need to go visit Flipper, too. And get my Banda Ancha card renewed so we’ll have internet access again. And get some produce. And…

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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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5 Responses to 4/20/2014 – Back on the mainland

  1. Elli and Bill S/V Cada Dia Mas says:

    welcome back to san carlos…wish we were still there, but have been gone about 10 days…will catch up with you eventually…glad you are safe and sound, and can get some of your projects done 🙂

  2. Jacaranda says:

    Hi Steve & Lulu
    Been enjoying your posts when we can get internet. Just curious now that the season sounds like its wrapping up how much actual sailing did you do?

    On another front we have been using opencpn (free) and GE2KAP (free) on our laptop. The GE2Kap allows us to quickly make charts using google earth. So when we are in internet range I sit down with the guide book and the computer. Zooming in on places I want to explore and potential anchorages. I think it took me an hour to make 50-60 chartlets of the Perlas Islands.

    With the laptop on and plugged into a GPS this allows me to see the boat on the chart & with a click of the mouse a Google Earth chartlet almost in Real time. The program will also allow you to do overlays of the regular charts as well. Its really made our navigation sooo much simpler and a major boost in confidence entering anchorages at night or weaving thru reef strewn areas. We the mark the reefs/rocks on the regular chart then jump over to look at the same image in GE and if the mark shows exactly on reef or rock we know the regular chart is spot on.

    Cant save enough about this and its now one of the top 10 items we figure make our life so much easier in cruising.

    Warmest regards

    Chuck & Linda
    Boca Chica, Western Panama

    • sryoder says:

      Let’s see, how much actual sailing did we do? Well, if you count all the times that the sails were up and the engine was off, even if we were making no actual progress, I’d say we did, let’s see, something like, oh I don’t know, maybe zero hours of actual sailing. Just not sure this sailing thing is my bag. I like the simplicity of motoring. If the sails can add a knot or two to the motor speed without having to futz with them too much, all the better. No matter how much actual sailing I intend to do each time, I always manage to find a reason not to. I see a good solid motorsailor in our future. Know anyone with a Fisher 34 that they are just dying to give away?

      The charting stuff sounds way cool. The first person who told me about using Google Earth for charting was Jim on s/v Pochteca. he was using the Google Earth cache which I wasn’t really familiar with. The way you’re doing it sounds great. Are opencpn and GE2KAP available in a Mac format? Going to have to check it out. Thanks.

      Fair winds (since you know what to do with them) to you and Linda. Enjoy Panama. We’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

      • Jacaranda says:

        We have been using Google Earth cache for a 3-4 years with a gps interface called Goops. Its works really nicely and puts the boat right onto GE. But I have found that the Ge2KAP is another flavor. You can put routes, waypoints, marks, etc on the opencpn chart and that layers right on top of the GE2KAP chartlet. This allows you to check the accuracy of the chart (God knows Baja charts suck) and also easily and quickly switch back and forth. Its like having google earth in a charting pgm which is what it really is. Plus another perk is you can overlay the chart with the GE2KAP chartlet and true it up so its spot on.

        Not sure if you can get it to work on a MAC but I do know Eyoni uses opencpn on his MAC book .

        And No I have no financial interest in GE2KAP just a very pleased user. We did send the creator enough $ for a nice meal. One more tool in your arsenal

        Why a motor sailor better just a nice little trawler? Going to the dark side is well …. enough said 🙂

        Regards

        Chuck

      • sryoder says:

        A nice little trawler would suit me fine. The dark side indeed. Let’s see, they say: sailboat -> power boat -> RV. Well, I’ve got the sailboat and the RV. Guess I just need the powerboat to fill my dance card. We spent the occasional happy hour with John and Vickie from m/v Dona Elena (former sailboaters) in La Paz. I gotta say, it was really nice sitting up on the top deck looking out over the marina, sipping cervezas. Not to mention the view from inside if the weather was funky. On Siempre Sabado, the “view” from the inside is through 4 little bitty 6″ ports that give us an awesome view of the inside of our bulwarks and not much else. And the only way to get a view from higher than 4′ above the waterline is to climb the ratlines. Hard to do that without spilling your drink. The attraction of the motorsailor is that you get the seaworthiness of a sailboat. And, maybe, one might save a little fuel occasionally. But, a trawler would be pretty sweet. Just watch for those basically windless days to make our moves which is pretty much what we do now. So, yeah, if you know of a small trawler that burns no more than a gallon an hour at around 5 knots (twice what we burn now), we might be interested.

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