sailing homepage : trip reports : 2: baja-haha : day4: calm, finish

Nov 2, day 4: Arrival at Turtle Bay with frustratingly light winds before the finish line

The night shift watch - Sean, Sara, and Briana - thought they had left Will in good shape to finish in just a few hours, with an idiot proof course and lots of wind. Everything was fine until 2AM, when the wind decreased a little and the boat slowed to 5 knots. Okay, no worries, we'll finish at 4AM instead.

Sara and Briana before handing the boat over to Will
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No wind equals no forward movement
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At 3AM the boatspeed was 4 knots. Half an hour later we were down to 3 knots. By 4AM the wind had disappeared, and all Will could muster was 2 knots. We only had four nautical miles to travel, which would take just an hour and a half to walk. The sleeping crew was woken to sounds of frantic trimming and clanking as Will tried to keep the boat moving. Too many sail changes and not enough wind had driven him more than a little insane.

Sean joined in the fun about 4:30AM, and the pair did their best to get the boat moving in the tiny amount of wind. No matter how they were trimmed, the sails were flogging wildly in the light choppy waves. Flogging sails have a way of wearing you down; the sound and jarring action will make you try anything to mitigate the noise.

By 7AM everyone was awake and we were within sight of the finish line (actually just a set of GPS coordinates about 5 miles from the anchorage, beyond which you can motor without penalty). We had managed to drift closer, but we still had one nautical mile remaining, and we officially had no wind. It totally sucked, and we were all going crazy.

Sara watches us inch towards the line
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Briana prays for wind, just a little wind
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Sean and Will broke out the dinghy paddles and tried paddling. No shit. Let's just say that a 22000lb boat doesn't move like a canoe. One by one, other boats still within sight gave up and motored across the line. But this was about pride, baby, and the crew of Wanderlust was committed to sailing the first leg without any engine assistance whatsoever.

The wind finally picked up at the same time as a morning greeting from some friendly dolphins. They didn't stick around too long, since at 0.5 knots we weren't too much fun to play with. We crossed the finish line at about 7:45AM and all were overjoyed.

Woohoo! Finished!
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Will and Sara as we cross the line
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We had sailed three days and three nights - the first such a passage for any of us - all without turning the motor on once. We had eaten well, relaxed, taken pictures, and enjoyed the hell out of the first leg. We were so happy to finish.

Will and Sara prepare our courtesy flags
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Sailing into Turtle Bay; nice lean!
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Now the party begins! We triumphantly announced to the fleet on channel 69 that we had made it across the line, and immediately fired up the engine. Ironically, coming into the anchorage at Turtle Bay an hour later, the wind picked up and was just off our nose; we were close hauled and motor-sailing at 7 knots - our hull speed!

Go figure. Stupid wind.

Briana and Sara hold on as the lee rail goes way underwater!
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Will gives the official Wanderlust sign
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We screamed into Turtle Bay under full sail and headed to the huge northern portion of the naturally-protected bay. A beautiful place, it was wild to see it so full of boats and masts. As we were -ahem!- a little slower than many of the bigger boats, most of the fleet was already anchored and waiting for us.

We picked out a nice spot and with all the boaters around us watching - as they always do, it seems, cocktail in hand - we carefully dropped and set the CQR. We could not get the damn thing to set on 4 (!) successive tries, Sean manning the anchor windlass, Will helming, and the gals trying to avoid the glare of the boat next to us. Oh CQR, you have trifled with us for the last time!

Briana took us back out into open water and maintained a holding pattern while Sean and Will removed the CQR anchor from active duty. The Bruce, our initial anchor of choice and long an eager leader of the B team, became the official alpha anchor for Wanderlust. It doesn't fit as nicely on the bowsprit, but it sets immediately, holds like crazy, and is way better than our stupid CQR.

We confidently returned to our spot in the fleet, right next to the boat that had stared us down earlier. We now had something to prove, you understand. We dropped the Bruce, backed down on it, and it set solid right away with less than 4:1 scope. We let out some more line and were done with it. Man that anchor rocks.

Our CQR is a knockoff, which maybe does make a difference! The CQR is supposed to be an excellent holding anchor, but it's always noted to set less often, and it's just too finicky for our liking. Back of the line, buddy.

Eager to get ashore and stretch their legs, Sean and Will launched Purpeat, now a practiced art, while the girls settled in for a chick flick. When the boys announced that the shore craft was leaving, they received a muffled 'mmmff ok' from below. Ok, that's fine, we'll just have to ride around and ogle other boats by ourselves!

Wanderlust at anchor in rustic Turtle Bay
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Will at the helm of Purpeat
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Legs draped over the side of the dingy and clutching cold bottles of beer, Sean and Will went boat to boat and greeted our fellow Haha-ers. Almost everyone was eager to recount some sailing story, have a picture taken, and say a general hello. The Patricia Belle receives special mention for most resembling a pirate ship - even the crew look like pirates!

Patricia Belle from Purpeat
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These peppers were soooo hot!
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We brought the dinghy up to the commercial pier, with rusty iron ladders leading up to the raised boardwalk, and left Purpeat in the capable hands of some local Mexican kids. Um, we'll come back to that fiasco. The two wandered happily around and allowed the feeling to start sinking in: we're in Mexico!

Smiling faces and filthy streets seem to be the norm. Know what? It's cool with us. We ended up at a small hillside cantina overlooking the harbour, blissfully removed from the large cantina right next to the pier that was full of gringos. In quiet solitude, we enjoyed our first (and um second and third) beers in Mexico, along with some fabulous lobster tacos.

That's right, fresh lobster tacos, US$1.50 each. Gotta love the place! We were told that finding fresh lobsters would prove extremely difficult given the Mexican fisherman's collective, which prevents selling lobsters to anyone except restaurants, so we were happy to enjoy them prepared for such a reasonable price! An error in calculation of a Mexican's sense of spiciness led us to eat whole chilis of some unknown variety. Mistake. We barely recovered in time to pay la quenta and head back to the boat.

Enjoying the restaurantita
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Turtle Bay pier and dinghy dock
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On returning to the dingy we were assaulted by dozens of kids, some wanting to sell things, some just jostling for position to be near the rich gringos. The ring leader got the $2 he was owed for watching Purpeat, and we watched as he extricated the dingy and associated line from the collection of boats and disaster of docklines that were tied willy nilly to a steel railing.

Happily we crawled in and headed back to the boat. About halfway there, Will noted that the boat seemed awfully soft; Sean eventually located a small tear in the front of the dingy where it had been dragged across the razor sharp edge of the stairs at the pier. So much for looking out for our dinghy! Purpeat was unable to plane, and was barely afloat when Sean and Will pulled up next to Wanderlust and quickly climbed out. A patch job was in our future.

As dinner approached, Will totally lost his ability to communicate and maintain conciousness, leaving Sean and the girls to fix the dingy and prepare dinner, respectively. Sean put together a temporary patch consisting of 3M 4000 marine adhesive, while Sara and Briana prepared a sumptuous dinner of pork tenderloin. Three bottles of wine and a whole roast later, the three crew observed the amazing sea of anchor lights in the dark anchorage.

Sara opens the first bottle
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Briana tasting something yummy
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Without the moon, the 150-odd lights looked like a constellation right on the water. Everyone soon followed Will's example and fell happily into bunks to enjoy a solid night's sleep at the lovely calm anchorage.


Random 'best-of' trip reports:

Our first dolphin experience

 

Crossing the Sea of Cortez (nice and calm, eh?)

 

Picturesque anchorage at Isla Isabela