I’m back in Seattle now with Sheri, staying with our son Joe and his wife Audrey. Naturally, lots of news since the last posting from the WiFi at Marina Mazatlan. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my written log from the boat with me, so this post is missing much detail. I will add that once I return to the boat in a few months.
Upon paying my bill in preparation for leaving Mazatlan, the resident Capitania de Puerto noticed that my ship’s documentation had expired. He couldn’t give me my clearance paper. While trying to update that online, I wondered if he was going to accept my status without the actual piece of paper in hand. I decided to slip out of Dodge without proper permission. As I motored out the long harbor entrance channel towards the open sea and freedom, I kept looking back to see if he was sending his launch to detain me. Thankfully not, but as I turned around the breakwater at the seaward end of the channel, what did I see but a Port Captain boat sitting a few hundred yards away! I decided to play it cool and just motored right past him, then raised sails and began the voyage across the sea. He paid me little attention.
The wind was a decent strength but from the direction of my destination (on the nose, as we say), so I began heading south of the Baja peninsula on a starboard tack. Once across (a few days later) it was great to see the stark Baja landscape again.
I got to practice my man overboard drill as I sailed up this coast. Sailing downwind with the spinnaker, I decided I needed to jibe. As I released tension on the port sheet and pulled the starboard sheet tight, everything felt fine. But when I looked up at the huge sail, there was a wrap in the center of it. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it out, so I lowered the sail on deck and removed the twist in it. Meanwhile, we had turned sideways to the wind, as we always do while drifting, so when I went to start raising the sail again, it went up over the starboard side of the boat. When I had it about halfway up, I noticed the white shape of the bow seat in the water under the forebeam! Somehow the sail had caught it enough to break it free from the 3 legs it had been glued to. So now I had to quickly decide whether to try to retrieve the seat or build a new one once I reached Puerto Penasco. I chose the former, as a rebuild would be quite time=consuming. So I dropped the spinnaker and raised the genoa then jibed back to try to spot the white seat amongst the white=capping waves, no easy task and definitely not a sure thing; in fact I gave it about a 50=50 chance. But there it was, about 50 yards downwind of my path. I jibed for it, but couldn’t quite reach it with my fishing net. Next I sailed a bit, tacked back, spotted the little devil again, and sailed for a spot upwind of it and lowered the genoa in order to drift down on it and net it. It was barely out of reach as I stood on the port stern, and then I spotted my 50’ safety line on deck near my feet. If I put the loop in the line over my shoulder and dove in for the seat, I could possibly get it back aboard. But I had to be sure this plan would be totally safe, as the alternative could be deadly. Epic drifts pretty fast with a good breeze. Thinking through the plan a second time, I decided it would be safe, so I went for it and several hard strokes later, got hold of the seat and pulled us back to the safety of the boat.
Three nights and days after leaving Mazatlan I had gotten just north of Isla Cerralvo at around 2100 when the current wind died. Frustrated because I just wanted to get a bit farther to a beach for a long=awaited anchorage and rest, I waited for some new wind. Well, be careful what you wish for! A breeze came up and before I knew it, was blowing over 20 knots and starting to create a nasty chop. I had lowered the mainsail but was still moving at a very good clip with the Genoa. It kept building in strength so I headed for the lee side of Isla Espiritu Santo, which offered a lot of relief from both wind and sea. I even raised the main again, and debated lowering both sails to drift and get some rest, but had remembered seeing one of these windy events on an online forecasting tool. In that case it had been very localized, so I decided to sail on north and out from behind the islands, expecting far less action from the wind and sea. Wrong! Blowing just as hard as before, I lowered the mainsail again and was lucky to get the boat to sail unattended for an hour or so. Around 0500 the winds started to let up a little so I turned for Isla San Francisco, arriving at 0830 with about 10 knots of wind. The maximum wind I saw during this ordeal was 46.3 knots, a new record aboard Epic. I slept for a while, since the previous night only netted me 3 hours and this had been an all-nighter.
i left the next morning before sunrise, eventually reaching the Loreto area, where I was able to make phone calls. Just north of town I anchored along the south shore of Isla Coronados after dark, then took off at sunrise the next morning. Mostly drifting to the east shore of the island on a tidal current, as I caught wind and headed north again I could see clearly that this island is an old volcano.
Several miles north along the coast I sailed past Punta Chivato, which also must be an old volcano. It has a pretty dramatic look to it.
I motored about 22 miles to reach the San Sebastián anchorage at the mouth of Bahia Concepcion just ahead of a wind event that lasted a few days. When you face wind and swell, the anchor chain and bridle lines collect a lot of sea grass, which becomes a mess to clean up when time comes to bring the anchor back aboard.
Earlier I posted a photo of my nighttime view, the compass and inclinometer making a devilish silhouette on the cabin wall. Well, here is my usual daytime view, my reflection and other stuff looking back at me from the salon window.
Farther north again I passed the southeast corner of Isla Angel de la Guarda. It has an off-lying island that would make for an interesting anchorage, in northerlies or southerlies, on some future passage.
After a strong breeze got me just north of the island and the Puerto Refugio area, I lowered sails to get some sleep. When I awoke around 0500 to wind, I got going until dawn on a port tack under Genoa alone, as it was blowing in the mid-teens and was dark. Then I raised the mainsail and went over to starboard tack to see if I could point any closer to Puerto Penasco; no luck. After an accidental tack to port, I noted that both tacks, given the sea state, had me below my destination by about 50 degrees, so I stayed on port tack out of laziness. An hour or so later, the wind had lifted me a few degrees, and over the course of the day it slowly shifted until I was headed right on target. Arriving around 0145, it was great to get the anchor down off the harbor entrance. A beautiful sunrise greeted me off the town that first morning.
I launched the dinghy and went to town, only to find that the boatyard was closed until Monday, so I took the time to do some resting up and cleaning in anticipation of hauling out.
Arrangements were made by phone Monday morning and Epic was settled on the hard by noon.
Able to get thing cleared up overnight for the yard to redo the top sides, I took the bus north to Phoenix the next morning.