When I was a teenager I loved a book called “The Girl from the Sea of Cortez”. This story of a young girl who has an enchanting relationship with the Sea and who befriends a gentle manta ray has stuck with me over the years. There’s always been something magical about the idea of the ‘Sea of Cortez’ in my mind.
LEG 1: NEUVO VALLARTA TO MAZATLAN
Distance: 199 nm
Depart: 10am Thursday April 18th
Arrive: 9pm Friday April 19th
Somehow it’s impossible for us to leave earlier than 10am no matter how hard we try. Our excuse this time was the burst water main on Dock C in Paradise Village which meant we had to stop at another dock to fill our tanks. By noon we were rounding Punta de Mita and heading north.
The wind picked up and we had a lovely afternoon of sailing. And luckily we were sailing because we travelled into a field of long lines – fishing nets that are set up miles from land and are connected by plastic bottles and line that sit on the surface. I image that if you motor right into these there’s a good chance the line could wrap your prop and cause serious challenges. We changed our course and sailed alongside them for about 20 minutes. As soon as you think you’ve seen the last bottle, another one pops up in the distance. Finally Will was fed up and said “Screw this, we’re going straight over”. So we did – and it actually worked out fine (good to know for next time) and even scraped some of the gunk off our keel.
Will and John really enjoyed sailing together with the Hydrovane (who will be named soon – her name just hasn’t come to us yet!) They spent hours at the stern watching her in action, scrutinizing her every move, fine tuning, smiling and chatting, and finally sitting back and just watching her steer a perfect course.
Our watch schedule (suggested by cruising pros John and Karen) was 5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3. This starts by splitting the hours of darkness into two 5 hour shifts. The great thing about this schedule is that you get to have a “watch partner”. Between partners you can further split up the shifts so one person is sleeping in the cockpit while the other keeps watch. You never have to be out there alone at night.
5 hrs: 9pm – 2am: Sarah and Will
5 hrs: 2am – 7am: John and Karen
4 hrs: 7am – 11am: Sarah and Will
Lunch around noon
4 hrs: 11am – 3pm: John and Karen
3 hrs: 3pm – 6pm: Sarah and Will
Dinner at 6pm crossover
3 hrs: 6pm – 9pm: John and Karen
We made it into the Mazatlan harbour on Friday just as the sun was setting. We enjoyed our calmest night yet at anchor just off the old Club Nautico. Our real reason for stopping was to fill up with diesel (Ya, ya, we’re a sailing vessel, but with a forecast for wind on the nose the whole way, we knew there’d be a lot of motor sailing)
LEG 2: MAZATLAN TO ANCHORAGE OUTSIDE OF LA PAZ
Distance: 230 nm
Depart: 3pm Saturday April 21st
Arrive: 2pm Monday April 23rd
So let’s see, what happened on this passage? As usual, a whole lot of nothing. We saw one ship in daylight and just a few on the radar at night, had some wind up to 15 knots and some periods of no wind at all, we did a lot of reading, slept as much as possible, and just generally focused on keeping the boat moving in the right direction.
The sea turned from green to a clear brilliant blue about halfway across. We were visited by giant dolphins – far bigger than any we’d seen previously. I’ll never get over the dolphins, which is why I’m posting yet another dolphin video:
We approached land throughout Sunday night and at sunrise on Monday morning the mountainous ridges of Isla Cerralvo turned from ominous black to warm desert brown.
A large manta ray swam by us and I watched a smaller one do a huge leap out of the water…
We took shelter for the night in the beautiful anchorage of Caleta Lobos which is 10 nm north of La Paz. Finally the turquoise water I’ve been dreaming of! It is incredible.
Incredible? Hmm, maybe not. We knew from our awesome guidebook (Shawn and Heather’s ‘Sea of Cortez’) that this anchorage might have some pesky bugs called bobos, but we really didn’t realize what we were in for. About an hour after we took this video the boys (not the girls!) had a breakdown. Will was running up and down the deck waving a towel around his head and John was threatening mutiny if we didn’t pull anchor and find a new spot for the night. Luckily the bothersome bobos disappeared at sunset.