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Last Leg of the 2019 INNcredible 1200 mile Migration from LA to La Paz

There's about 6 different types of SeaStars at Candeleros

There’s about 6 different types of SeaStars at Candeleros

The last leg from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz could be motored non-stop under favorable conditions in little more than 24 hours, but why? When cruising, the destination is simply the end of the journey. The journey is where it’s at, because once you’re there you’re in a floating trailer park, albeit a rich man’s trailer park. Nothing compares to the sensory fulfillment one enjoys when cruising, living onboard on the hook. Each new anchorage affords fresh beautiful views, new adventures both on land and undersea, and at night the peace, the quiet and lack of light intrusion not found wherever mankind congregates. So I set aside 8 days to savor the fruits of this last leg to La Paz.

Arriving at Marina Los Cabos in San Jose del Cabo at 1130 on 12/1/19 the wind was already on the way up again and the forecast had us inclined to hang tight here for several days. Prudent as it may be, that’s like tying me up on a short leash. San Jose is certainly worth a look and a walkabout which we did, riding the local Collectivo bus in and out for 12 pesos each way (Taxi would be about 150 pesos each way). Back at the boat to make dinner and watch a movie offers a relaxating comfort zone not found onshore. Lots of movies onboard makes the perfect distraction from weather limbo, especially a series with multiple seasons.

After a good night’s sleep I anxiously awake at the crack of dawn in hopes of calm. If calm in the morning, I muster my crew of now one to take off; if already windy, I go back to bed. By 0600 on 12/4/19 upon arising the winds were light, my spirits were strong and the weather forecast showed a short window of lighter winds starting by noon and lasting for a mere 24 hours followed by multiple days of high winds from the NNW. I could wait until the following morning for a leisurely 6 hour motor up to Los Frailles then hunker down for a few days. Or, take off right now, muscle my way up round the East Cape heading up into the Sea of Cortez in hopes to catch the early ease in winds and be ahead of the light wind window.

Overlooking Ensenada de Los Muertos

Overlooking Ensenada de Los Muertos

By 0615 Stephen and I were already motoring out through the breakwater into a very different sea with winds blowing 15 knots but offshore allowing us to motor sail with jib out at 7-8 knots SOG (Speed Over Ground- actual GPS measured movement). By 1015 Los Frailles was only 3.6 nm away. The next anchorage Ensenada Los Muertos was another 44nm north. As much as we both love Los Frailles, especially for snorkeling its reef in 80 degree water, we opted to push on to Muertos. Stephen had voiced his hopes to explore more of Isla Espiritu Santo. I saw that window of opportunity blowing away. Shortly after we rounded the Rock of Los Frailles the winds brought our SOG down below 5 knots, the plan was being challenged. And so it was all day – slow, bumpy but beautiful, sunny and steadily forward.

With Muertos already in sight, 20nm ahead, by 1500 our SOG increased to 6.2 knots ETA 1830. Sea state still building off our starboard nose, that’s what was holding us back even as the wind backed down. Arriving in the dark was inevitable but without anxiety, I’ve been there 10 or more times before and know the wide open anchorage well. Watching my depth gauge would be my most important concern. Looking around and up, the waxing moon was already high in the sky which meant arriving at dark would not be a problem at all.

Another push paid off  bigtime as the best day was still ahead of us and we were already here to enjoy it. We did even better than my predictions, anchor down and set by 1700. The next day was all ours: fishing, swimming, for Stephen kayaking and roaming about for photographs. In the dinghy or kayaks I always like to make the rounds of the boats at anchor and say hi. Everyone seemed resigned to the notion that we’ll be here for a few days while the Blow passes.

3 mile sandy beach at Southern tip of Isla Espiritu Santo - seldom visited

3 mile sandy beach at Southern tip of Isla Espiritu Santo – seldom visited

By 0630 12/7/19 I saw another weather window of calm on 12/8 , a perfect day to be exploring Isla Espiritu Santo’s anchorages. Anchors up I was willing to pay the price of slow go and bumpy seas traveling today for a picture perfect day or two manana. Just put your sea legs on and go, the INNcredible Sea Lodge will get us there if we’re patient. Our iron sails, two 54hp Yanmar diesels, like a little exercise and this captain knows how to carry on. Up through the Cerralvo channel all  day with the prize in distant view, we powered through winds gusting to 24 and waves 4-6 feet and lumpy. But by 1430 we were safely at anchor in 12 feet of crystal clear warm water off my favorite Playa Bonanza ready to play and explore with all 3 miles of sandy beach to ourselves both day and that night.

The INNcredible Sea Lodge anchored near the Rock at Candeleros - an easy swim to snorkeling the reef around the Rock

The INNcredible Sea Lodge anchored near the Rock at Candeleros – an easy swim to snorkeling the reef around the Rock

 

12/8/19 That day we paid forward started out beautiful and at 0800, anchor up, we were headed through the San Lorenzo channel on our way up the westside (inside) of Islas Espiritu Santo to Candelero where some pretty fine snorkeling awaits. But first Stephen read about a Blue-footed Boobie rookery farther up near Ensenada Grande. That had him salivating for photos capturing these blue-footed curiosities of the ocean sky. Cruising into this quiet multilobed cove, we panned the volcanic walls of welded tuff whose trapped gaseous pockets left perfect sheltered housing for these birds to breed and hatch their chicks. Turned out to be a Boobie trap as no birds were in residence now, maybe being the wrong time of year.

A perfect day snorkeling at Candeleros

A perfect day snorkeling at Candeleros

Heading back down past the island’s many fijords we found a perfect spot to drop the anchor near the Rock at Candeleros in 21 feet at 1200. Not wasting any time  we suited up for a long snorkel and were close enough to actually swim over and slowly circumvent the Rock’s extensive reef. Wonderful resident schools of different types of fish each roaming their preferred area seem not to be bothered by our presence on this gorgeous day. There was only us. The sun was high, the lighting perfect and the water was clear and warm. I like to check on each community down under each time I’m here like the SeaStars (aka Starfish) around the outer tip and the Crown of Thorns combing the rocks on the southside. Stephen captured some cool pics.

Crown of Thorns, a seastar, on the southside of Candeleros reef

Crown of Thorns, a seastar, on the southside of Candeleros reef

As is typical when the North wind stops blowing for a moment of calm, it’s not long before a SW and then W wind fills in. Later toward the summer they call these Coromels and they can quickly render these otherwise protected anchorages totally uncomfortable with wind waves charging right in. That started to happen and went through the night but not at the intensity of the Coromels. In the morning we still had one objective yet to do – the hike up the canyon to the Oasis. Launching the dinghy in these conditions is a lumpy bouncing rodeo ride for me until I’m detached from the mother ship then not so bad. Hooking back up, is the same , a rodeo.

View from canyon trail overlooking Candeleros with our INNcredible Sea Lodge anchored all alone - not typical

View from canyon trail overlooking Candeleros with our INNcredible Sea Lodge anchored all alone – not typical

This hike is spectacular and moderate in ability required and short. In its short distance, it really delivers a lot with interesting botany and geology and spectacular views. This year with all the recent storms, the canyon’s creek was still running and the vegetation was a vibrant fresh palette of greens. Stephen was clicking so many photos that had it been with film he would have run through a dozen rolls or more.

Back at the boat the sea conditions let it be known that this may not be the place to stay tonight. So we headed for a more suitable anchorage called Bahia Falsa cut into the mainland of Baja within Bahia La Paz. On the way the wind and sea conditions improved so much so I diverted to the iconic and most celebrated beach in La Paz called Ballandra and dropped anchor in 12ft at 1400. Although we were for a moment the only boat anchored the shoreline and shallow waters were teaming with folks walking up to their waists and swimming with snorkels all around these shallow clear waters.

Tempted after our long swim/snorkel to stay put for the night here, my past experiences told me not to. It was so calm and beautiful, I was torn. Torn until

Coming into La Paz after 22 days of adventure finishing up the annual 1200 mile commute from San Pedro, CA to Baja Sur's capital city of Peace - La Paz

Coming into La Paz after 22 days of adventure finishing up the annual 1200 mile commute from San Pedro, CA to Baja Sur’s capital city of Peace – La Paz

about a half hour before sundown a immense cloud hovered into place as if it was a UFO and the wind and waves started up and heading right at us with no protection. That’s the way I know this place. So up came the anchor and into the twilight we headed under that great cloud that stretched for a mile or more. Passing suitable coves to tuck in for the night, they seemed already full of boats with the same in mind. It’s right off the entrance to the big port Pichilingue that my go-to anchorage Bahia Falsa lies. Heading in racing the darkness overcoming the twilight, I saw a hole amongst 6 other already anchored boats that I could maneuver into and set my hook. No boater ever enthusiastically welcome another boat to snuggle up with them but I really had no other choice and there really was plenty of room too. All tucked in, non too soon as the wind came at us steady all night but the INNcredible Sea Lodge offered us its usual comfort regardless of the conditions.

The Joy of meeting up with cruiser friends from years past. Here singers/songwriters Alaina and Patrick of the Band Tennis aboard their SV Scout motor by close to say hello on their way out.

The Joy of meeting up with cruiser friends from years past. Here singers/songwriters Alaina and Patrick of the Band Tennis aboard their SV Scout motor by close to say hello on their way out.

Next morning we were up and headed toward Marina CostaBaja, our homebased for the next 6 weeks. But upon check-in, they claimed they had no room. The number of Catamarans has exploded on the West coast and in the Sea of Cortez over the 8 years since we brought our cat over from France. Also the rich guys buy fabulous boats but seldom use them. Over time they just permanently fill up most of the berths in all marinas. We may be homeless in La Paz. Manager Gabriel came forward and offer to put me amongst the mega yachts in a 90 foot slip temporarily. Thank you Gabriel. And now we just moved to a more appropriate sized double berth on F Dock, the same Dock we started at in 2013.

 
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Heading in the Right Direction – The INNcredible Migration Part Three

Punta Belcher inside Mag Bay

Punta Belcher inside Mag Bay

Planning when to leave really is the back end of what time will you arrive at your next destination (always better in the light of day). Like decisions in general, more than one dimension is at play. Again realizing this may be the last time and my mates have never been into Mag Bay plus the fishing is better in the morning, we pulled anchor on 11/30/19 at 1200 and scooted sailing 6.5-7.5 knots down the outside of Magdalena Bay and into its mouth and up to Punta Belcher (an old  1800s whaling station) to anchor for the night ETA 1600, a short run. Chris couldn’t release the Bonitos fast enough underway but the bonus was a couple young Yellowtails coming both in and the next morning out through the mouth to Mag Bay.

Another two day run to Cabo San Lucas started 12/1 at 0645 and this time finally we be sailing  winds starting out 13-18 knots right away and predicted to remain the whole way. Our SOG was beautiful 6.5-9.6 mostly in the 7-8 knot range almost all day. Chris is catching fish as fast as he can clear the lines, including a nice Dorado. Winds backed off in late afternoon and we slowed to 5 knots but not for long.

Chris with the first Dorado

Chris with the first Dorado

With full main and full head sail out, we looking for a little more wind. After sunset the wind freshened up a bit and we were moving again 6.5-7 knots SOG. By 1900 our SOG roared to over 10 knots averaging 9-10. Where the wind was going who knew but I was hoping nowhere so I wouldn’t have to reef in the main. Gusts were pushing beyond the mid 20s but the INNcredible just accelerated with each puff. I eased the main to spill some air and reduced the jib size but I did not want to reef (basically I missed my safe window and I was gambling the wind had peaked). But the gusting continued, testing my commitment to having full sails up. In the dark we were flying like a Mack truck barreling down a hill there was no stopping us. Earlier in the day we were passed by a motor yacht which was now 4-5 miles ahead of us. Within hours we passed them near midnight and left them in our wake (actually under sail we hardly have a wake).

Our ETA was changing rapidly and plans to arrive in the light of day had disappeared. Then out of nowhere at 0200 the wind stopped. We began motoring but we were so far ahead of schedule that I near idled our way at 4.5 knots. In sight of Cabo Falso by first light, my crew fast asleep, I just enjoy the moment, especially now that this moment was in shorts and t-shirt, barefoot because we were south of the Tropic of Cancer and life was good. We rounded Land’s End and were at anchor in front of the beach hotels at Cabo San Lucas by 0800 12/1/19. After breakfast, enjoy a great swim in 82.4 degree water.

Always welcome the sight of Dolphins and they seem to be attracted to our multihulls

Always welcome the sight of Dolphins and they seem to be attracted to our multihulls

One thing was on Chris’s mind this Sunday in Cabo – watching two games the 49ers and his beloved Patriots. Everyone had different agendas while roaming Cabo San Lucas, mine was to get back to the boat for another lovely swim.

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas

Next we were on our way to San Jose del Cabo by 0745 arriving there at 1130. Winds were predicted to run high down the Sea of Cortez so we stayed put for two days.

 
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Another INNcredible Migration to Baja Mexico 2019, Part Two

After a good night’s sleep, we cleared into Mexico and made our pilgrimage into the barrio to gorge on my favorite street tacos pescados. Chris had another mission to accomplish – buy a surfboard to bring along. With Google’s help he found an open air surf shop and bought a used ‘beater’ board, delivery to the boat included.

Back at the boat we hustled and set sail at 1540 for San Qintin. Under full sails and good intentions we sailed and sailed, slower and slower until at sundown there wasn’t enough wind to go 2 knots. Dropping the Dacron sails, up with the iron sails making great time all night arriving the next day at a favorite bay near San Qintin at 0900.

sunset at San Qintin

sunset at San Qintin

Being our last time here, we lowered the dinghy and ventured way up this enormous estuary in 5jsearch of the Old Mill for oysters and margaritas. Questioning how much farther to go, we stopped short at a little enclave and walked up a path in search of. A local, whose property we were trespassing greeted us and conversation ensued. Turned out Wayne Thomas is an Expat from West Creek New Jersey, a town on Route 9 just across Barnegat Bay from LBI (Long Beach Island) where I grew up. Owner of West Creek’s Homestead Fence and avid fisherman, Wayne fell in love with San Qintin on a fishing trip and never left quite a few years ago. We dinghied that extra mile and found our Old Mill Restaurant and enjoyed the spoils.

Next morning we had no need to leave early because we had to time our arrival at our next stop, the archipelago Los Benitos, in the light of day due to its treacherous rocky entrance and encroaching kelp beds. Underway at 1015 the light 5-6 knot winds only warranted motor-sailing with head sail out and motors purring at a perfect efficient 1700 rpms moving along at 6+ knots SOG. The weather had improved and we could settle into a steady but bumpy ride. With the dominant NW swell being  challenged by the recent SSW storm wind waves, the ocean splashed like a washing machine. Our official Pescadore Chris got to work running two trolling lines plus a meat hook underway. Still within the southern most reach of Pacific sea kelp, fishing lines get false catches and demand slowing down to yank in what can be heavy hauls of long strands of kelp.7bWe did so well with our SOG over night that on my watch starting at 0400 I had to slow down so we wouldn’t arrive before enough morning light to navigate our way into this tight cluster of three islands. By 0630 11/25 we were dropping anchor in 22 feet of water right off the beach that reside a hundred or more Elephant Seals.

7w

Pescadores at Benitos playing a little spoof on visitors with their Café sign

Another first since this will be our last time here, we dinghyed over to the fishing camp and went ashore. Greeted by a group of local fisherman (the same fisherman who stopped in their panga at our boat and happily received a gift from me – a TJ PoundPlus of chocolate), we chatted, then roamed around the remnants of greater days past.

7u

The anchorage at Los Benitos with the INNcredible way off in the far left

Chris’s fishing efforts came alive here in the Los Benitos, reeling in delicious Cabrilla, Leopard grouper and Yellow tail.

With our only take on the upcoming weather obtained from my InReach satellite device, we made plans accordingly. Another storm coming up from the south was on its way and it looked prudent to get going early 0600 the next morning and make a two day run to Bahia Santa Maria, bypassing a regular stop at Turtle Bay. The plan would get us to Bahia Santa Maria before the storm where we could hunker down and wait out its passing in relative security.

One day into this run, the weather changed and the southern storm was on our nose already and we paid the price. By 1700 on 11/27 our SOG dropped from 6+ to 4- with winds clocking 24 knots on our nose. It sucks when conditions changed radically in the dark and maybe its good too that you can’t actually see how rough it really is. Our SOG (speed over ground – an actual measurement by GPS of moving forward) continued to drop  by 2000 into the 3s. We were in a Bash – a Bash typically only experienced on the way back to LA that I have experienced 7 years now in a row each late April into May. At this rate we won’t be going anywhere and the ride was miserable. Then by 2300 all hell broke loose with the winds accelerating to 42 knots. That’s enough wind to take the ocean’s water and fly it horizontally as if its pouring rain sideways. That’s enough wind to rip your canvas and anything not lashed down good enough to shreds. And I’m on watch by myself and its no time to think about leaving the helm. Miraculously the SOG started improving, the gale force winds were shifting slightly around enough so that with bare poles we were running at 6.5 knots. All night our SOG remain 6+ despite the heavy winds which slowly eased down into the 20s. All this time lightning and squalls with rain came and went.9b

Our dashed ETA was resuscitated and we actually dropped anchor at 0915 in beautiful Bahia Santa Maria in still very windy conditions but protected from the washtub seas. We played our weather forecast cards, lost a couple hands and then recapture some of our losses not counting our nerves and Chris’s chewing Dramamine helped. Luckily Stephen and I don’t succumb to such inner disruptions, at least this time. We hunkered down here for a couple days as winds kept blowing and the seas boiled.

 
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Not just another Downhill Run 2019 Part One

Diana with our H Dock neighbor Frank as the INNcredible Sea Lodge leaves for the last time

Diana with our H Dock neighbor Frank as the INNcredible Sea Lodge leaves for the last time

I didn’t realize that pushing off November 19, 2019 from H Dock in Cabrillo Way Marina (San Pedro CA) would fill me with so much emotion that I was speechless. Afterall I’ve done this every year in late November for the past six years and return each year in May, an annual migration much like the Grey Whales, birds and butterflies. This INNcredible migration will be different – with no planned return.

I knew then that every buoy I pass, every lighthouse I see, every familiar island I pass or approach and every anchorage I drop our hook will probably (or maybe) be the last time Captain FitzWine (that’s me) will be in their presence.

Against all Cruiser Code of Good Judgement, and not the first time, I mustered my crew of 2, veteran INNcredible mates Stephen and cousin Chris, and pushed off into the dark with full knowledge of heading out in a storm. Hell, I had a schedule, a commitment to arrive in San Diego at the Driscoll Boat Works the following morning before noon. And Hell may not be far away.

Once through the breakwater past the LA Harbor 1928 lighthouse, reality strikes and the Downhill Run was on. The starless skies well lit by the glow of LA offered nothing but trouble to continue heading South under sail. Time to hoist the iron sails. It hadn’t rained hardly two drops in LA for six months until this night and despite being suited in full foulies when you’re on your 4-hour watch at the helm you become ONE with the weather – WET and COLD.

After a wild night with Mother Ocean, the first glow of light, even if it forever hides the day’s sun, brings on sense of renewal and the promise of some additional thermal units, San Diego now in sight. If you’ve never experienced sailing from A to B where you can’t initially see B (in this case 70+ miles away), once your destination is in sight it takes forever and a day to get there.

Like a well run railroad, the INNcredible Sea Lodge arrived a little early at Driscoll’s in San Diego. Our Mission that day was being lifted out for a professional marine survey. Giant straps in place, a huge dark sky was overtaking us and within minutes rain poured in buckets and held the San Diego mission in limbo. All parties present and waiting, patience was the tactic, Mission Impossible the game.

Up for a survey at Driscoll's in San Diego on a stormy November 20, 2019

Up for a survey at Driscoll’s in San Diego on a stormy November 20, 2019

A thorough survey was completed and she (my INNcredible Sea Lodge) eventually impressed the surveyor and satisfied all present. Back in the water we tied to their dock for another stormy night and a good sleep. Up at 0400, pouring rain, gave in at 0500 leaving the dock before first light, utilizing the glow of the city lights we starting another leg of our journey in the rain – to Ensenada Mexico. More than just rain, lightning added a little excitement to the roaming squalls that had their way with us all morning. Our good intention ETA 1600 gave way to the weather bully. We made it not long after but in the twilight, always a bit confusing crowded with boats everywhere, I seized an empty endtie foregoing my assigned slip – done, made it.

 
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2019 Dates Available for Adventures to Catalina Island starting June 20th

Summer Fun onboard our INNcredible Sea Lodge – Live your Dream and join us this summer to experience Catalina Island onboard our Lagoon 450 catamaran. Gather your family or Friends (up to 6) and enjoy 3 private staterooms en suite with lots of room to move about on deck and spread out inside. Brian & Diana offer personal customizable adventures making the experience as easy as ‘Welcome Aboard’.

Hurry to secure your dates. Book a minimum of 3 days ($2000) and preferably 5 ($3000) to maximize your fun. We can accommodate up to 6 guests (2/stateroom). $35/person/day covers all additional costs including freshly prepared meals, linens, towels, mooring fees and fuel and the use of 2 kayaks (Some snorkeling gear onboard too – not all sizes).

With CA license in-hand you’re welcome to fish trolling underway or casting at rest. Bring your own gear and scuba dive – I can refill your tanks onboard. Swim, snorkel, sunbath, read, relax or go ashore for hiking remote anchorages or exploring Avalon. Catalina Island has lots to offer. Bring your camera to catch all the action.

Leave from San Pedro/LA Harbor we recommend arriving the night before to settle in and get an early start to Day One. And you can make your last day last all day if you choose. Unheard of in the Charter business, we make things easy and convenient for you.

Dates Available: JUNE 20-25, JULY 18-23, AUGUST 15-20, SEPTEMBER , OCTOBER

Email: brian@inncrediblesealodge.com or Call/text 530-651-3890 Ask for Captain Brian to answer all your questions

Fully self-sufficient solar system, entertainment system blue-tooth compatible

Fully self-sufficient solar system, entertainment system blue-tooth compatible

 
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Christmas and the Holiday Season is coming

Our flip-flopping friends always amaze

Our flip-flopping friends always amaze

Give the gift of a lifetime experience this Holiday season. Gather your family or closest friends and spend a week or more living a dream aboard our INNcredible Sea Lodge exploring the World’s Aquarium aka the Sea of Cortez. Imagine everyone not glued to their electronic devices and instead swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and just taking in the excitement of seeing whales, dolphins, rays, sea lions against the backdrop of the Sierra Gigante rising dramatically out of the Baja desert right next to the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez. You really can’t imagine it but you’ll never forget your experience.

We’d love to share that experience with you and we have some dates open in December and January in La Paz. Then in February through April we’ll be exploring the islands and anchorages around Loreto. If you act now and reserve a 7-day adventure we’ll call it 5 days, better yet book a 10-day INNcredible Adventure for the price of 7 days. Request your dates and we’ll give you all the details.

Sometime after January 15, you can join Diana and I for an exciting hop/on – hop/off adventure leaving La Paz and tying up 10-14 days later in Loreto’s Puerto Escondido. On the way we’ll explore Isla Espiritu Santo, Isla San Francisco, Isla San Jose, fishing villages San Evaristo and Aqua Verde, Isla Carmen and Danzante and in awe of the awesome beauty of the Sierra Gigante rising skyhigh from the water’s edge.

Hurry while dates are available and make this Holiday season and the New Year

a once in a lifetime dream come true for the whole family.

 
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INNcredible Sea Lodge Heads South into the Sea of Cortez

Another Summer past, it’s time for the INNcredible Sea Lodge to head South to the Sea of Cortez along the rugged Baja coast.

 

After an incredibly busy and productive summer, punctuated with several INNcredible adventures out to Catalina Island, it’s time to hoist the sails and slide down the coast of Baja California enroute to our beloved Sea of Cortez.

 

Before I share my plans for the winter, I must share my amazing close encounter at 75 feet down under. Late September, we grabbed a mooring right next to the iconic Casino building in Avalon on Catalina Island. We were the only boat there right next to the Marine reserve. Suits and tanks on, Brennan and I jumped into amazingly warm water and swam, snorkeling our way to the other end of the Marine reserve before descending. Rumor had it that a couple giant Black Sea Bass hung out way down in the kelp forest and I had never taken the time to investigate.

 

Brennan and I descended down, weaving our way through a magical kelp forest taking in all the beauty. The water temperature however began plummeting at 40 feet and progressively dropped near 20 degrees by the time we neared the bottom. There was no retreat because the chilling beauty was breathtaking.

 

There they were, near the base of the kelp ‘trees’, a group of three gigantic Black Sea Bass. Near 6 feet long and who knows how heavy these docile giants were just a few feet below me. Not startled a bit, I’m talking the fish, we just hovered and stared at each other before moving on.

 

Floating, more like flying, through the kelp forest is an experience like no other. A few kicks away yet another pod of these Black Giants – AMAZING. What else was amazing was the delightful sensation of warmth as we ascended slowly toward the surface back to an INNcredible 74 degrees – that’s water temperature.

 

Each fall, along with the birds, whales and who knows else, the INNcredible Sea Lodge migrates south along the rugged coast of Baja on its 1200 mile journey down around and up into our winter home of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. There we can enjoy warm sunny days and cool starry nights and frolic in the crystal clear sea below, swimming, snorkeling and diving. Paddling around in our kayaks opens up our range of exploring the details of this unique interface where the desert meets the sea. Going ashore we can penetrate the desert flora and open up even more discoveries that Nature creates. All the while we’re getting much needed exercise too. Add to all that the abundance of fresh locally grown vegetables, fruits and seafood and life is good here in the Sea of Cortez.

 

What’s even more incredible is that Diana and I open our hatches so that you can join us on our amazing INNcredible Sea Lodge – a Lagoon 450 catamaran. Take this invite seriously because short of buying your own million dollar luxury catamaran, you will not find a better deal anywhere in the charter world of catamarans. And who knows how many more years we will be exploring the islands and coastline of this Gulf of California so LIVE TODAY for there will not be another one.

 

Gather 4-6 family members or friends (kids are welcome and thrive) to fill three cabins complete with private bathrooms. There’s nothing more that you need to bring than the clothes on your back, a swimsuit, hat & sunglasses, a good book and maybe a light wetsuit top if you plan to frolic in the water for extended periods like I do. Otherwise we’ve got you covered.

 

Pick some dates and we’ll talk details to customize your adventure. Five days is a minimum, a week is better but 10 days is best; any longer and you won’t want to leave. Book now for 5 days and we’ll call it 7. Book for 7 days and get an INNcredible 10 days. And to make your travel day more productive we invite you to arrive onboard and spend the night before we even set sail at no extra charge. Need I say, What are you waiting for? Dates available from December 18 through April 5, 2019

 

ATTENTION CAMP FIRE (or Woolsey Fire) SURVIVORS: If you’ve lost your house or business, an adventure like this would be perfect to de-traumatize and think outside the box and return energized to tackle a new start. Come stay with us for a week or two at HALF our all ready ridiculous charter price.

Captain Fitzwine

brian@inncrediblesealodge.com

INNcredible Sea Lodge anchored in the Sea of Cortez

INNcredible Sea Lodge anchored in the Sea of Cortez

 
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Just Imagine it’s the wee hours onboard the INNcredible Sea Lodge alone and…

Occasionally the peace and tranquillity of life onboard is broken with the unexpected and without warning. This is that story aboard the INNcredible Sea Lodge.

After a wonderful 15 day run down the Pacific Coast of Baja with my Hawaiian crew, Ivo and his sons Brigham and Spencer, and a couple of days together enjoying La Paz, my crew had to start their journey home. After heartfelt goodbyes to my new friends, I had the INNcredible Sea Lodge all to myself, tied up at D-dock wedged between two Mega Yachts here in Marina Costa Baja.

Alone, quiet, a bit lonely, after the day’s boatwork was done and back from trekking all over town, it didn’t take long before I was sound asleep. That’s a funny expression ‘sound asleep’ because it doesn’t take much of a sound, even just a slight change in rpms while underway or a whale blow in the distance to alert my mind while asleep. And so it was at 0220 last Thursday night.

A big thud on the starboard’s transom startled me. However there are these schools of fairly good-size fish in the marina that roam around splashing and bashing all day long, so I thought that’s what it was. But to be sure, like an animal being stalked by prey, I listened motionlessly for any more sounds. Then, ever so faintly, and totally not expected, I heard a couple footsteps. Holy shit! WTF!

I swiftly and quietly scooted out of bed, trying to stay in complete silence so to hear any further sounds, hearing none. Totally naked, taking no time to change that fact, I tiptoed up the stairs and stood in the salon door’s threshold. Eight feet away was the silhouette in complete darkness of a tall man. My Jersey tough-guy voice took over and I boomed, “What the fuck! What are you doing on my boat? Who are you?”

I shocked the intruder more than he alarmed me. He hadn’t heard or seen me coming and it was darker looking inside where I was then looking out, or so I hoped since I was standing butt-naked and without a club or weapon. His response was timid and defensively apologetic, “I didn’t think anyone was onboard, I just need a place to lay my head, I’m drunk and I can’t find my cousin’s boat.”

Could be bullshit, but I believed him and softened the confrontation a few notches. “What’s the name of the boat?” said I. “Tir na nOg” says the man with an accent. “I know that boat and you have an Irish accent”, softening my voice even more so as to not wake the dead. “I do, I do indeed, I’m from Dublin and I just arrived. I’ve been drinking in town and got dropped off here (the outer marina).” “You’re a lucky man”, says I, “for I am Brian Fitzpatrick and have a soft spot for everything Irish”. He introduced himself, “I’m James Dolan from Killiney, where the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel be” “I know it well, been there meself”, getting down now to just conversation. “Well come on in, you can lay your head on the bench sofa and we’ll sort this out in the morning”, as I bid my intruder good night.

Needless to say, as I lay back in bed, I didn’t sleep well, thinking maybe I was the fool who maybe was too blind to see a con, Irish or not. Eventually I fell back asleep. Up early I rose and put the tea kettle on, looking forward to chatting with my Dublin invader. Hearing the tea kettle whistle, Jimmy Dolan rose from the dead and was quite grateful when I delivered a pot of Barry’s Gold Irish tea. “Good choice, Barry’s”, said he. And that was the beginning of a long chat sharing each other’s roots and everything Irish.

Turns out Tir na nOg’s skipper John is James’ first cousin-once removed (if you don’t get it, well that’s a whole blog in itself) and James has flown over to help crew the 36 foot sailing vessel across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan. Three of them left Sunday night and should arrive 40 hours later, if the Sea is good to them.

I invited the whole crew, other cousins were visiting, over for drinks on Saturday eve, then we all went into town for dinner, all the while sharing many good hearty laughs as to what had just happened and how lucky James was that he wasn’t sleeping with the fishes.

New friends were made with a bond not easy to forget.

 
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Exciting Downhill Run 2016 LA to La Paz in 15 days

Setting out pass the LA Harbor lighthouse into a mounting storm on Sunday November 21 with a new volunteer crew was sure to test each sailor’s mettle. Answering my Crew Wanted listing on Cruisers’ Forum, Adam flew in from Illinois, Garret and Min flew across the border from Ontario Canada and Phil rode the train from Flagstaff Arizona arrived on H-Dock where the INNcredible Sea Lodge was ready to set sail for my annually Downhill Hill Run 1200 miles to La Paz. Adam actually came a day early to lend a precious hand going up the mast for a good look and some preventative maintenance. Checking in to their assigned cabins, followed by some boat orientation, dinner and a good night’s sleep, the crew’s dreams of what they signed on for were about to be realized.

The weather showed chances of rain and southerly winds in our face for our first leg to Ensenada. We could have delayed a day but…

Leaving early Sunday morning our Downhill Run would start with motoring into head winds with partly cloudy skies. Each crew member medicated themselves with sea-sickness meds in anticipation of personal probabilities. I have been lucky enough to not succumb to such feelings so far since I step aboard this INNcredible Sea Lodge in June of 2012 in France. As usually the predicted light winds and 20% chance of rain lasted for an hour or two.

By afternoon the clouds dominated the sky and the winds increased setting up for a Bash. An already chilly day turned chillier as cloudbursts drenched whoever was on watch. As night fell we had the Pacific Ocean to ourselves, no one else choose to Bash into this storm, except for a couple 1000 foot cargo ships. Our 130 mile first leg to our mandatory check-in point took only a little longer than planned because by 0400 the wind started clocking around. With head sail let out with two reefs we were motor-sailing up to 7.5 knots until the winds slowed after sunrise to only 15+. By 1330 Monday we had squeezed into our slot at Cruz Port Marina and were out of the Pacific as the storm blew and dumped its last buckets of water throughout the day.

The next morning we were first in line to get officially cleared in to Mexico. And by 1500 we raised our sails in hopes to catch the new winds coming from the NW. The winds got a little squirrilly around dusk but finally started to fill-in as the black starry skies surrounded us. Our 4-hours on / 4-hours off watch schedule was about to really settle in as we headed overnight for San Qintin. The plan was to stop at San Qintin, Los Benitos, Turtle Bay, Bahia Santa Maria, Cabo San Jose, Los Frailes, Los Muertos, Playa Bonanza finishing at Marina Costa Baja in La Paz. With such light winds predicted we were sailing with full main and head sail and making modest speeds under sail.

Then the winds freshened. We began scooting along. You could feel it. One glance at the instruments verified that with 7-8 knots flirting with 9+ on occasion not counting surfing down swells. The wind was pushing into the mid 20s which would have been reefing time but we were downwind sailing wing-on-wing and reefing would be quite a chore bring in the head sail, turning up into a rambunctous sea state in the dark, motors would need to be on to assist. I didn’t want to do it so I watch intently the apparent wind, never exceeding 15 knots. When the winds would spike 25+ the boat would accelerate but the apparent wind would not.  I was satisfied just to harness all this speed and keep going.

We past San Qintin without stopping, then two nights later we blew past the Benitos without stopping. We rode that wind right into Turtle Bay only because I wanted my crew to experience somewhere along the Baja coast and I was ready for a good night’s sleep too. And oh yes,the weather report warned of a bigger blow was coming. So we took refuge for two nights but not two days. I didn’t want to wait for calm, I want to sail.

So out we went, this time with a conservative 2 reefs in the main hoping for more wind. One of those ‘wouldn’t you know’ moments, those big winds must have passed through already so we sailed along at 4-5 knots for a good while. Shake it out? Or not? Not too fast, just hold your horses and let some time pass. Keeping the reefs in lets me sleep a little better off watch. Before long the winds picked up and we sailed our way to Bahia Santa Maria in a respectable 38 hours.

Bahia Santa Maria was packed (relatively speaking) with a fleet of 8 fishing boats, a navy ship and 8 cruisers, all tucking in to get out of the building winds and seas. Watching to see if any boat made an exit to get back out there, seeing only one, we weighed anchor by 1000 the next morning, hoisted our sails and scooted out of their toward Cabo. Another double over-nighter ahead of us and already three days ahead of schedule, where we’d stop next was up for discussion. But once around Land’s End and heading North everything changes. I wanted to get a weather report past Land’s End to see what the Sea of Cortez was up to.

Rounding Land’s End at 2000 on 11/30, already motoring into those pesky North winds, I decided to take hopeful advantage of a little lesser winds during the night hours and power it all the way to Los Frailes. That would put four days ahead in the bag for what-ifs. Anchored by 0500, everyone went back to a calm sleep. With the whole day here to swim, snorkel the good reef and explore before a full night’s sleep, we were up and moving by  0600 the next morning. Heading up the Sea of Cortez for Los Muertos, getting an early start is most often a good thing.

With yet another Norther predicted, Muertos had 8 cruisers already anchored when we arrived. Coming and going, Muertos is both a stop to get out of the swells and a launch point for those heading across the Sea for the mainland like Mazatlan or PV. Two nights and one full day here and while most everyone else was sitting tight until calmer conditions I said let’s go at 0600 hours and head for Playa Bonanza at the bottom end of Espiritu Santo.

There was good reason to stay as the skies were dark and squall after squall were passing through bringing gusts of high winds and dumps of rain. We paid the price and bashed our way up the Cerralvo Channel. But ti was worth it to get to beautiful Playa Bonanza.

next morning it was time to head for our final destination – Marina Costa Baja in La Paz. I didn’t say much about fishing, actually I haven’t said a word about fishing on this trip. We started out fantastic with two Big-Eyed Tuna five minutes apart a half day south of Ensenada – then nada. Pulled in a Bonita, actually a tasty one but that was it, even past the land of the Mahi Mahi/Dorados. So as we were approaching Costa Baja I was a little disappointed overall with the fishing. Then Adam reeled in a handsome Sierra and that put some icing on a great Downhill Run aka my 1200 mile commute.

 
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An INNcredible Holiday Season Adventure is a Dream that you can make happen right now

Give the gift of a lifetime experience this Holiday season. Gather your family or closest friends and spend a week or more living a dream aboard our INNcredible Sea Lodge exploring the World’s Aquarium aka the Sea of Cortez. Imagine everyone not glued to their electronic devices and instead swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and just taking in the excitement of seeing whales, dolphins, rays, sea lions against the backdrop of the Sierra Gigante rising dramatically out of the Baja desert right next to the clear waters of the Sea of Cortez. You really can’t imagine it but you’ll never forget your experience.

Our flip-flopping friends always amaze

Our flip-flopping friends always amaze

 

We’d love to share that experience with you and we have some dates open in December and January. If you act now and reserve a 6-day adventure we’ll call it 5 days, better yet book a 10-day INNcredible Adventure for the price of 7 days. Request your dates and we’ll give you all the details.

Hurry while dates are available and make this Holiday season a once in a lifetime dream come true for the whole family. Call Captain B 530-651-3890

 
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