Cruising with Playpen
Installment 2 - Turtle Bay to La Paz
11/22/02 Turtle Bay to Bahia Asuncion 27 08.01N 114 17.37W 52nm 8 ½ hrs.
We can wish for more days like today, but they can’t get any better. We chugged along in the flat Pacific under warm sun and calm breezes. The browns and reds of the desert and mesas were sandwiched between the blues of the sky and sea. And the entertainment! We cruised with a pair of huge amorous gray whales breaching to show off, a hundred or so porpoise trying to out-jump each other, tuna flopping around to tease us, and pinnipeds grinning at us from their kelp beds. Then the humans came. A pongo with 3 fishermen and a Dalmatian came peddling lobster. They wanted beer, but alas, we had none; so we traded 3 diet Pepsis, a can of Spam, and some dog treats for 4 lively lobsters. We hated to turn off the sea into the anchorage, but the timing suggested anchoring and making the next run an over-nighter. We anchored off the village in Bahia Asuncion with one other cruiser and enjoyed the sunset off our bow and the church bells tolling the hour. After our lobster dinner, the Capt. worked on our fishing rods, we planned for tomorrow, and star gazed before a good night’s sleep. What a beautiful day!!
11/23-24/02 Bahia Asuncion to Bahia Santa Maria 24 46.49 N 112 15.02W 182nm 25-¼ hr
We passed 1 small turtle, and I was despairing of not seeing any more wildlife when we decided to fish. We had a 180+ nm run, and decided to do it at 1800rpm—7.5kn. Right in the middle of a pod of porpoise at sunset we hooked a yellow fin. After cleaning it and the back deck, it was time to settle in for our over-nighter. I absolutely love being at sea at night; so I took the midnight to dawn watch. It’s impossible to describe or even fully appreciate the perfection of God’s universe under these ideal conditions. I got out the Reed’s Almanac to try to ID constellations, but I needed more info. The porpoise jumped at night too, there was enough boat traffic to keep it interesting, and I listened to a story, show tunes, and country music. As Venus came up over the mountains and the Eastern sky turned pink I relinquished the wheel and headed to bed. Only 1 ½ hrs later I was summoned to drop the hook in lovely Bahia Santa Maria. There were 2 sailboats and us. Shortly after we were settled a panga came by to drive a hard bargain—some cookies and candy, 2 Pepsis and a can of Spam for 4 lobsters. We spent a few hours lulling in the sunshine on the back deck, and I went for a swim in the perfect water, freeing the stabilizers of their kelp beds. I began thinking maybe, just maybe, Alaska cruising could be rivaled. Those who cruise AK in the summer and Mex. in winter really know how to live! Bahia Santa Maria had brown hills on one side leveling down to golden sand dunes at the rest of the crescent-shaped harbor. There was a small settlement where the mountains met the dunes, but the surf made landing a dinghy difficult.
11/25/02 Bahia Santa Maria to Bahia Magdalena 24 38.02N 112 07.78W 27.5nm 4.5hrs
We got brave and took the Whaler through the surf and into the mangrove lagoon where we saw fish camps. The largest camp had 5 or 6 huts with solar panels, propane, a tiny chapel, and lobster holding pots. Then we anchored the dinghy in the lagoon and walked on the beach collecting large sand dollars from the soft, gushy, sand. After an adventurous ride out across the breaking surf we raised the Whaler and weighed anchor for Bahia Magdalena (Mag Bay). We’d expected to see several boats as this was a popular port, but we were the only travelers we saw. We spent a quiet night (except for barking dogs onshore) and planned our next overnighter.
11/26-27/02 Mag Bay to Cabo San Lucas 22 53.09N 109 54.61W 198nm 26hrs
Walt the Weatherman said, "Go now;" so we went. The day and night were cloudy, and while I enjoyed my night watch, the Capt. couldn’t sleep. We couldn’t seem to slow Playpen down en route and ended up doing 4 kn for the last couple of hours so we could arrive in daylight. The Cape is every bit as beautiful as all the photos of it. We tied up at the only available marina (at $2.00 a ft, the most expensive on the entire west coast of North America!) We were both wiped out; but we strolled to the Port Office to check into Cabo ($154), strolled the harbor wall admiring all the fish boats, and stopped for a fish taco dinner before crashing. Then the rain came…and came…and came! Since there were no storm drains in town the flooded yards spilled into the streets, which dumped into the harbor in torrents. Normally this town gets 1 week of rain a year, and no one was happy about the unusual deluge.
11/28/02 Happy Thanksgiving! Lay Day in Cabo San Lucas
We awoke to garbage in muddy water steaming behind the boat, but we donned raincoats and walked through town. We went to Bimbo’s for limes and bread, and after a lunch of fish tacos
Fred rested on the boat while I did some shopping (mostly the window variety). We called home to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and then we walked to a new complex across the harbor. The architecture and stone and concrete work were exquisite! This was a new, truly upscale, project with beautiful staircases, pools, a viewing tower, some shops, and several restaurants. We chose a restaurant, Cinamomo, for our holiday dinner, but decided to walk more before eating. We hiked to the beach on the ocean where the anchored boats were rocking and rolling like crazy in the strong winds and surge. We were so-o-o grateful for our quiet slip inside!! The beach had several beach-type cantinas but not many customers as the wind and rain blew in. Walt was right on the money telling us to be in Cabo by Thurs. After counting our blessings about our secure moorage and countless other blessings, we returned to Cinamomo for what was billed as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It started with a huge coconut shrimp followed by an avocado, tomato, cheese salad, lobster bisque, turkey with roasted fruit and nuts and potatoes and mango gravy, and finally a fancy pumpkin Napoleon for dessert—all accompanied by champagne and perfectly served. The 2-hour feast left us stuffed (as T’giving dinner is supposed to). We missed our families, but were thankful to be here safe and sound; and we enjoyed our unique Thanksgiving experience.
11/29/02 Another Lay Day in Cabo
The weather forecast was "iffy"; so we stayed in our secure slip for another day. We talked to a sail boater who came in from the anchorage. She used some sailor language to say it was horrible out there. A large motor yacht said he ended up cutting his mooring line and coming into the fuel dock last night because he was swinging in the surf. We still had on and off showers as I found a very nice supermarket with better-than U.S. prices and variety. Then I talked with a realtor who, of course, said his is a booming area. The new golf courses command $200 greens fees, and the remaining beachfront is being gobbled up for condos, haciendas, golf courses, and marinas. Better buy now! Capt. Fred straightened out fishing lures and took himself to Johnny Rockets for an artery-clogging lunch.
11/30/02 Cabo San Lucas to Los Frailles 23 22.03N 109 25.20W 47nm 6 hrs.
That was 6 grueling hours of 20-30 kn winds on the nose with 8’-12’ swells and 3’-6’ wind waves on top. The extension definitely helped with hobby-horsing, but it still wasn’t pleasant. Then the anchorage! The surge was so bad the aft stabilizers were out of the water on the rolls. Even the 85’ and 110’ yachts were rolling. We couldn’t wait to leave even though the weather was to be the same for the next day.
12/1/02 Los Frailles to Los Muertos 23 59.20N 109 49.55W 45nm 8 grueling hrs
The conditions were no better, but the anchorage was much less rolly. Several boats rolled in this very pretty cove. Surrounded by mountains, beach, and sea, the sunset was lovely, and we slept until dawn.
12/2/02 Los Muertos to La Paz 24 11.75N 110 18.19W 54nm 7 ½ hrs.
With a slight change in direction and a slight reduction in wind we had a slightly more comfortable ride. It felt soooo good to be tied up securely at Marina Palmira 2 miles from La Paz.
La Paz is the capital city of the state of Baja California, Sur (B.C.S.). It sits on a lovely harbor facing the western sunsets with cactus and palm covered hills on the east. The people are super nice, accommodating our very poor Spanish and always being helpful. The weather is HOT and still very breezy. The Northers blow down from the Arizona desert and wreck havoc with Sea of Cortez boaters in the winter. Summers are supposed to be beautiful in the Sea with pleasant weather for exploring the many islands and anchorages. There is a Cruiser’s net with cruisers helping one another and locals always ready to jump in and help. It’s a great cruiser location. We went to an elegant hotel for dinner—Chateaubriand for 2 was $16.00 U.S. (that’s right---$8.00 a piece), and it was delicious. The docks are full of locals who do a great job of washing and waxing boats, and the marina has all that we could want, including a French Bakery with hot bread at 0730 everyday. No wonder cruisers stay here for years!
We’re leaving 12/13 to spend the holidays at home. We’ll return 1/9 and wait for a weather window to cross to the mainland. So we’ll sign off for now. Feliz Navidad!!
The Captain's Thoughts
CAPTAIN FRED 11/22/02
Back to Stories