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: 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

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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INNcredible Solar System

inncredible-solarJust like when I installed a 40KW (40,000 Watts) solar system at our winery, I don’t hesitate to go BIG and put in a system that attempts to meet 100% of our needs. So when I finally got around to installing solar on our catamaran, I’m going BIG again. 900 Watts may not sound big in comparison but onboard that’s BIG.

The thing about energy on a boat, the use and needs vary tremendously. At anchor, the sun powers up my 720Amp Hour battery bank before noon leaving the solar system on float the rest of the day. The six solar panels are still producing power with no where to go. This means there is extra energy during the day to run the watermaker as needed and near everything else. I tried to calculate however the worst case scenario – under sail 24 hours each day with autopilot, radar, navigation, in addition to all the normal refrigeration, music, toilet flushing, water system plus at night with running lights. In this case we would start the night with a full battery bank and survived until sunrise pulling down what could be 300+ amp hours. Then our solar system would have to recharge the battery bank as well as keep up with the daytime ongoing use. That will be the challenge that only real time will tell if it works. The 1200nm Downhill Hill Run coming up in November will be the first test.

But from now on when at anchor, mooring or even at dock, our electrical needs should be fully met with the sun’s magical energy. This will not only make for a quieter existence but allow us the freedom to explore away from the boat for more than a half day. Now that opens up some great possibilities.

I procrastinated for over four years to install solar mainly because of cost. I originally envisioned solar power onboard but our dealer talked us into the need to have air-conditioning ($24,000+) which created the need for a diesel generator (another $24,000). Needless to say that set us back financially and took the wind out of solar plans. Sadly (and I knew it from the beginning) we don’t need nor use air-conditioning. I do like having the generator onboard however, if needed, and for my dive tank compressor. It was Diana that kept at me over the years to go for the solar despite the generator.

I could only guess that a near 1000 Watt solar system on our Cat might cost $10,000 or way more if I had a company take on the project. As most of my projects start, there was lots of homework to do. Fast forward after a couple years of serious thought about a solar system onboard, it was time to start. The first decision was I would take on the project to minimize the costs, realizing full well that I may end up putting way more hours in than if I hired a company but I figured labor costs would be the major costs. And if you include all the hours of planning/designing, acquiring all the parts, pieces and equipment, the installation and endless trips during installation to get more stuff, you could certainly justify paying out Big bucks to have someone else do it. The only way I pay myself is with the satisfaction that I saved almost all of those Big bucks by doing it myself.

Acquiring all the stuff which came from multiple sources included a trip to a warehouse on the Mexican border east of San Diego to pick up the panels (saving $400 in shipping), on the way back stopping at Downwind Marine to purchase the Blue Sky charge controllers and display, internet orders and I’m thankful for the close proximity of the San Pedro West Marine for wire and connectors. I was so lucky to find Tea to build the SS racks needed to hold 650 square feet of panels high up, out of our view shed, extending our roof line aft.

Hiring a neighbor sailor for two days to help me install the racks and secure the panels in place, the rest of the job was in my lap. The wiring… in any other application, like a new house, the wiring would be without challenges, not so on a boat. Everything you have to do is awkward, demanding contortions for which only child labor is suited. To make matters worse is my eyesight. After you wiggle and contort yourself into place with each hand full of tool and part you look up at the spot and it’s all blurry. Bifocals suck when you’re looking up in  a small space. Three hands would help a lot too. The simplest of jobs like finding the head on a screw with your screw driver became a frustrating challenge. Oh I let off steam quite regularly just to keep myself from exploding. But most of the time I settled into a slow steady form of progress.

After six days from the time we installed the racks it was time to let the sun fire up the system. Off came the double-folded brown tarp, that covered the panels from the sun so no power was being generated while I was wiring, after dark settled in. The system awaited the next morning’s sunrise. A sunrise that never came. A freak summer front had sneaked into SoCal and kept a dense cloud cover overhead all day. Not a problem, this system took right off, albeit modestly and by 1030 was producing 15+ amps per hour. Our battery bank took on a charge with the help of the Blue Sky charge controller that walked my bank to 100% capacity despite the cloud cover. On a sunny day we can hit 40+ amps.

With scars and all to prove it, I’m happy to say I did it, it works great and I saved at least $5k if not $10K too. And the joy comes every morning as I watch the sun rise and the display unit shows those amp hours accumulating. Diana is already tired of me announcing the amp hour production every hour or so.


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INNcredible Adventures await you in the Sea of Cortez 2016/2017

Inncredible Sea Lodge

you’re home wherever you are – it’s INNcredible!

INNcredible adventures await you in the Sea of Cortez. I know. I keep going back now for the fifth year. And you are welcome to join us from December 2016 through early April 2017 as we explore the waters, the islands, the fishing villages and the historic towns of La Paz and Loreto. With our eyes out watching for whales, dolphins, turtles, rays, whale sharks, etc., we witness what Jacques Cousteau called the World’s Aquarium. Witness that and the magic below snorkeling close up, kayaking or even diving. The water clarity is amazing. As we sail/motor along, the fishing lines are always out. If we’re not so lucky that day, we’ll solicit a local fisherman for the catch of the day. Nevertheless we always start our trips with fresh provisions from the farmers market and local purveyors. We eat like kings aboard the INNcredible Sea Lodge.
To get your exercise and enhance your adventure, you may want to stretch your legs on land hiking the unique coastal desert landscape. Kayaking can tone those muscles and offer some great shoreline encounters. Simply swimming open water laps or hours of discovery snorkeling will give you that feel-good exercise and adventure all in one. After that or anytime, our catamaran offers many places to sit and relax and just stare off and absorb the unique majesty of the Sierra Gigante and the stark beauty of the desert that touches the sea. And good thing you don’t need film anymore because you’ll be clicking plenty of photos along the way.
In your group of family or friends the idea of a perfect adventure vacation is an individual thing. When you’re not inclined to be active, you can choose to relax, take a nap, snuggle up to a good read, lie in the sun or enjoy refreshments in solitude. You’ll have no worries. We provision, we do the cooking, the cleaning, the boat thing and you need do nothing. How’s that for the busy modern day parent/professional. You’ll be unplugged much of the time, that’s just the way it is out there. That’s a beautiful thing, I promise. You’ll get used to it and rediscover how to appreciate that freedom. If absolutely necessary there are ways to stay connected and we can discuss that ahead of the trip.
Fill your 3 cabins with either family or friends. Each cabin has a double bed and private bathroom. You’re welcome to have a total of 6 people onboard. Our floating B&B delivers the whole package and for a price that will surprise you. That’s because we love what we do and are happy to share our dream life with you.
Our schedule has room for you from December 15th through January 25th out of La Paz, then from February 13th through early April out of Loreto. Even Christmas break is wide open for that lucky family or friends, so sieze the opportunity NOW.
This is the TIME to SECURE your DATES with us so we can plan together an INNcredible adventure vacation, that will recharge your batteries both physically, emotionally and spiritually, and create a lasting wonderful memory to share for a lifetime. As a fair warning, don’t take for granted that I’ll be in the Sea of Cortez again in 2018, maybe, but then again we may be off to the South Pacific.

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Come hear the Blue Whales sing – February 2016

The INNcredible Sea Lodge is leaving for Loreto’s National Marine park where the giant Blue Whales hang out for the winter to raise their young. Watch the Sea rise as they surface and blow and sing their songs sometimes all around. Mantas, dolphins and turtles add to the entertainment as the INNcredible Sea Lodge explores the many islands and anchorages. Snorkel, kayak, swim, dive, fish and just look and enjoy life aboard our Lagoon 450 catamaran. Only two weeks still available February 12 through March 2 and they could be yours. Contact us asap to come join us. Fly in and out of Baja’s historic capitol Loreto.

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The Downhill Run 2015

The Downhill Run is my 1200 mile commute from the incredible see lodges summer home in San Pedro (LA Harbor) to our winter playground in the Sea of Cortez, base port being La Paz, the City of Peace and capital of Baja California Sur.

After weeks of gathering stores of prized foodstuffs not readily available in Mexico or dearly overprice there, plus accumulating all the spare parts our forward thinking could remember, not to forget harvesting our tomatoes and canning them into sauce, picking and drying three burlap sacks of walnuts and chain-sawing and splitting enough firewood to help keep the fires going in my family’s three households, it was time to pack. Pack the wagon and leave our cozy little foothill lake house and start the overland first part of the commute.

Shortly after our arrival at the Cabrillo Way Marina, my crew began arriving, Caleb from Prescott Arizona followed shortly thereafter with our long time friends Chris and Kathy from Santa Barbara with their teenage grandson Jacob in tow. The next 24 hours were full of chores readying her (the INNcredible Sea Lodge) for the near three week journey through the Pacific waters of coastal Baja California.

Pushing off the dock in San Pedro, one stop remained – topping up with diesel at Jankowitz fuel dock. The long time lure of cheaper fuel prices in Mexico had disappeared just two years ago, so filling up in LA Harbor saved almost $2 per gallon compared to the over $1 (18 pesos) per liter price in Mexico. That done we motored outside the breakwater of the world’s fourth busiest harbor, raised our sales and set our course for Ensenada – ETA 26 hours later.

I like to keep two lines out trolling for dinner but the floating big bulb kelp is such a menace that all lines come in at night because even in the daylight we still snag a floating island of kelp now and then. That cursed fiasco demands a complete slowdown of the boat to muscle the long trolling line back to the boat so we can release the kelp.

The predicted weather showed a big blow coming in late that next day shortly after our projected arrival and I really wanted to experience that event snugly tied to the dock at the Cruise Port Marina in Ensenada. We made it not only in time to miss the blow but in time to walk the 10 blocks to our favorite fish taco street vendor in all of Ensenada Los Flores – 18 pesos for taco pescado, 23 pesos for taco camerones with all the fresh fixins. With a crew of non-drinkers, the idea of partying the night away on the strip in Ensenada was not even on our radar for this Sunday night. A good night’s sleep after our first overnight sail was everyone’s desire.

Ensenada, our port of entry into Mexico, is so unique around the world in that the clearing process can be accomplished all under one address, in one building, in one big room with counters for the port captain, immigration, customs, the bank even fishing licenses. Brilliant idea that has not inspired anywhere else in my cruising halfway around the world.

Officially entered and free to roam about we pushed off early at the reasonable hour of 0815 heading out round Bufadora and 120 nm (nautical miles) down to the big shallow mouth of the estuary at San Qintin arriving the next morning at 0630 just before sunrise. After breakfast, a little extra shut eye, the crew kayaking to the beach and back, the consensus was to catch the present wind and sail all the way toIslas Los Benitos about 30 hours away. But the winds blew a perfect 8 to 15 knots propelling us at 6 to 8 knots SOG (speed over ground) sailing wing-on-wing then back to a reach all the way to the land of the elephant seals.

Anchored in 28 feet in a patch of sand amongst rocks in this remote mini archipelago some 50 miles offshore of the mainland, we could hear and smell the elephant seals a little better than we could see them as they blend into the hard scape along the shore. Visible unaided when they rear up there heads and with more detail through the eyes of binoculars, the lure of the elephant seals pull me back each year both coming down in November and going back in April.

Another lure and treat of the Benitos comes from the local Pescadores, of which there are only a few, who trade with us for lobsters – a bottle of wine, five beers, some fruit and other foodstuffs got us 15 lobsters to enjoy. Barbecued for dinner, added to our scrambled eggs for breakfast and made into a lobster salad sandwich spread for lunch we had the taste of lobster in our mouse for the next 24 hours all the way to Turtle Bay.

This being my sixth visit to Turtle Bay on my commutes back and forth to the Sea of Cortez, I have never seen a turtle here and on the navigation chart it’s officially named Bahia San Bartolome . Yet this dusty oasis of a fishing village, which is a stop on every boat’s journey for both fuel and some provisioning, is always referred to as Turtle Bay. My first mate Caleb mentioned that Turtle Bay just got a new ballpark filled with Astroturf. As we were anchoring we could already hear the cheers and the announcers chatter from a several thousand feet away. By the time we lowered the dinghy and got ashore this Sunday late afternoon the ball game was over but the ballpark was no less impressive.

The next morning came after a good night’s, a full nights, sleep and by 1000 our sails were up and she was headed out on a two day/two night nonstop run to the broad sweeping well protected Bahia Santa Maria. But first we had 255 nautical miles of open seas to cross. Here is where the mainland arcs way in to the east and we beeline straight across putting us 50+ miles offshore when we’re more than 125 miles from land on the north/south axis. But not to worry, for if you can swim in 10 feet of water, you can swim in 10,000 feet of water – the same goes for sailing. I know both are true for I sailed across the Atlantic and swam in the middle of it too.

We caught our first fish, this first day of December, and a real treat – a big eye tuna. Within five minutes after the tuna hit the deck, I had both thick fillets stuffed in the fridge to chill all the while sailing along.

All eyes were on the big eye tuna as it appeared again, this time thinly sliced cross cuts served on a communal platter with a special wasabi sauce. Anyone’s reluctance to sashimi (a.k.a. raw fish) disappeared after one bite melted away as smooth as butter, unless you overdid on the wasabi and singed some of the hairs in your nose. Not even the finest sushi restaurant could compete with this simply spectacular sashimi experience.

This double overnight sail was conveniently punctuated with an early arrival at 0230 because we did so well sailing along at 6.5 – 8.5 knots SOG. By 0245 all were fast asleep peacefully rocking at anchor in Bahia Santa Maria.

The sun rising has a way of luring me up and out of bed to witness the awakening of a new day regardless of what time I had laid my head down – and so it was. Bright sunshine, albeit windy, with the water warmed to a balmy 77°, I decided to suit up in my dive gear to deep clean the bottom of my catamaran’s two hulls and two saildrives. I sucked in every drop of air in my tank over the 75 minutes to scrape off the white crusty growth acquired in the INNcredible Sea Lodge’s summer home in Southern California.

Meanwhile this beautiful day was the crew’s day to get out and explore – and so they did. The long sandy beach here is littered with sand dollars and shells and fronts an estuary alive with birds of many different feathers. The bay is so shallow that although we anchored in only 19 feet of water, she laid more than a quarter mile to shore. Against the offshore relentless wind made for a vigorous kayak in, the alternative being a good long swim.

When at anchor the batteries need a good charge each day. Our 13.5 KW diesel generator on board is mighty enough to do that plus everything else all at once. So after dinners the generator runs, all rechargeable devices are plugged in, the water maker is making 20+ gallons per hour, and we all sit down to enjoy a movie on the flat screen. By movie’s end all is turned off, the batteries nicely topped up, and total quiet returns aboard the INNcredible Sea Lodge – perfect for a much-needed full nights sleep.

Deciding when to leave is based on our ETA to the next anchorage. It’s always best to arrive in daylight unless you have intimate knowledge from experience of that next anchorage. Also the first part of this multiple day/night run has in the past, delivered the most awesome whale watching. So we started our run on December 3 at 1400 with an ETA 0700 on December 5 at the famous Cabo San Lucas.

Whales cited yet no showstoppers breaching like last year here, at least not yet.

Soon after dawn’s first light I let out the trolling lines on both rods. We were making good speed, 6+ knots, which is important to interest the exciting more athletic predator fish. ZZZI IINNNG! The sound of the line running wildly out and Jacob is the first to the portside reel. Reeling in but getting nowhere, this fish, whoever it was, was giving this modest reel and Jacob a fight. In short time Jacob claims he’s reeling in pain. I take over and slowly make little bits of progress reeling in this deep diver.

And wouldn’t you know minutes later, the starboard side reel starts to ZZIINNG and only Jacob is up to get it. Pain aside, Jacob starts reeling in albeit much easier on this larger rod and dual speed real. Jacob has this fish in before I have mine close enough to see what it is. Jacob pulled in another big eye tuna and eventually so did I.

For lunch the crew powered down two platters of the best fresh raw tuna on earth. And there was plenty more to enjoy served in other ways for meals to come. The day wasn’t half over when about 45 nautical miles north of Land’s End the much anticipated multicolored speed demon struck our painted cedar plug. Always a challenge until on board and knocked out, the Dorado (a.k.a. Mahi-Mahi) likes to jump, leap, wiggle and flop and find ways to get free even when already on deck. Bracing my crew over–enthusiastically with that bundle of knowledge all within 30 seconds, we were all ready to successfully bring this one in. And so it was.

Reminiscent of crossing the Atlantic, this same beautiful hot sunny day prompted me to suggest we stop out here 20 nautical miles off the coast near Todos Santos, sails down and motors off, and everyone go for a refreshing swim. Thousands of feet deep, so crystal clear and warm, once in, we all just swam, frolicked and floated for nearly half an hour reluctant to get out.

We made such good time on this run that instead of arriving at our ETA 0700 we rounded the famous Land’s End in the glow of the beach resort’s lights and set our anchor right off the sandy beach at midnight. A whole day of fun swimming, snorkeling and crowd watching looking in from our anchorage was ours to enjoy when we woke.

Then late afternoon Caleb, Jacob and I took the dinghy into the harbormaster’s dock to explore the town. Walking the barrio, then into old town so Caleb and Jacob could shop for gifts, we found our much sought after destination – Mi Casa restaurant for dinner. The ambience of this iconic cantina is well worth the extra effort to find, a true dining experience.

After dinner we hopped onto a small collectivo bus to meander through the barrio’s out to the big box store Soriana to gather some major provisions for our next weeklong journey up the Sea of Cortez. The collectivos are the way to go where the equivalent fair of $1 instead of $20 for a taxi gets you just about anywhere you need to go. But on the ride back, all loaded down with our bags full of provisions, the collectivo we hopped on smelled like it was leaking gasoline – bad. We just figured it was coming from the engine. One stop along the way a man came from the back of the bus carrying a car battery and got off. Behind him came another man carrying a large plastic container full of gasoline and thank God got off too. Had a cigarette been lit well, I wouldn’t be writing to tell this tale.

Now it was time to turn the corner and start heading up the Sea of Cortez. The challenge is this time of year the wins like to blow down the Sea of Cortez bringing with them steep, close together, confused wind waves that can bring even the best of cruising sailboats to their knees.

So were up with our anchor at 0400 in total darkness saved by the rising third quarter moon beaming that perfectly lit our pathway out through the other boats anchored off Cabo. Made good SOG 5.5 to 6.2 knots until about 1000 when the wind quickly built to 25 knots on our nose and stayed there all day bringing our SOG at times down to 3 to 3 1/2 kn.

Nevertheless we made it to anchor in the lee of the big rocky mountain called Los Frailles and put out about 150 feet of chain just to make sure we weren’t going anywhere.

The idea was to get up again at 0400 and muscle our way up to Ensenada de Los Muertos to sneak in those precious hours of relative calm before the northerly winds howled again. 0400 came, the captain and his crew mobilized, but the wind had never backed down and was already howling. So I said to my mates, “Back to bed, we’ll try again tomorrow”. No one argued.

That gave us a day of leisure – each and everyone free to do whatever- great snorkeling here. Two fishing boats had pulled in and anchored off and behind us. Quiet all day after their night of fishing, the deck came to life late in the day. Seeing a neighboring sailor returning to his sailboat in his kayak with a load of shrimp, I lowered our dinghy with two bags in a bucket in hand and motored over to get some of this action. “Queremos a comprar camerones, por favor. Tres kilos.” The deck hands duty fully filled our two bags and weighed them showing us the scale to verify – 4 kg. But they said 300 pesos the price for 3 kg will do. So the US equivalent $18 bought us 8.8 pounds of fresh shrimp.

Back at our boat I portioned, bagged and froze more than half for later as our feasting began. Here it is December 18, were enjoying some today and probably enjoyed more well beyond Christmas.

By 0400 on December 8 conditions improved a little but it was time to take the bull by the horn and muscle our way to Muertos. Bashing up to Muertos wasn’t pretty and a long day going only 3 to 4 knots but with INNcredible muscle we made it – alive.

Anxious to start exploring Espiritu Santo, we were under way by 0500 the next morning. To my surprise the conditions kept improving as the day went on and we made anchor in 9 feet of water off Playa Bonanza, at the lower end of Espiritu Santo, by 1300. That early arrival gave us plenty of time to swim, beachcome and explore before the long swim back to the boat almost a quarter mile offshore yet in 9 feet of water. There was even time for me to help Jacob with his geometry and algebra worksheets. We powered through the problems over the next couple quiet hours as the others napped. I enjoyed remembering geometry all over again.

Totally beyond where we needed to go, I took us up to a favorite anchorage called Caletta Candelero where we enjoyed the most perfect day of the whole trip. Candlero has a tall rock in the middle of the bay around which we snorkeled an exciting reef. Then went ashore for a hike up the canyon sculpted by time and lush with vegetation and fig trees before returning to the INNcredible Sea Lodge for our Last Supper on the hook December 10.

Next morning we headed for our final destination Marina Costa Baja whom I had emailed days before and said we will arrive by 12 noon. And just like a well run railroad Captain Fitzwine was tied up the fuel dock to check-in at 1155 after 18 days and 1200 miles at sea.

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