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.
Being our last time here, we lowered the dinghy and ventured way up this enormous estuary in search 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.We 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.
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.
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.
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.