BYE BYE BAJA (Birdie)

BYE BYE BAJA (Birdie)

We spent a last few days in La Paz, getting ready to leave. A trip to Walmart for provisioning, Aramburo for canned smoked marlin, the tortilla shop in Esterito for 2 kilos of their donut delicious tortillas, as well as a quick change out of the starter battery, hoping that might be the cause of the intermittent high voltage alarm issue (it wasn’t!).

We knew the wind for the next few days was looking light, but there was a reasonable window of wind forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, so we planned the crossing for those two days, knowing we should expect to motor most of the way to Frailes.


DATE:6 November, 2021
DEPARTURE:Marina Palmira, La Paz
DESTINATION:Puerto Balandra
DESTINATION LAT/LONG:24°19.242N 110°19.881W
TRIP:10.9
ENGINE HOURS (at Destination):621.45

We stowed the bicycles away in the morning, and did the last jobs on the list; arranging the lazarettes, filling with water in the starboard tank, and handing the keys back to the marina office. We went up the dock to say goodbye to John and Kay on PAPAHOBO, sorry they were not coming with us, and they came to cast us off.

We were was sad to leave the marina in La Paz, and with John and Kay, and also Gerrard (QUO VADIS) waving us off, we felt it was definitely the end of an era, but excited to get back to Puerto Vallarta and pick up where we left off earlier in the year.

We motored with little wind to Bahía Falsa, our intended stop for the night, but after seeing a few boats already and knowing that JULIET was following behind us, we opted to continue on to Balandra, also taking advantage of a few more miles under the keel, and less to travel tomorrow.

We anchored in the south side of Balandra, which turned out to be the lucky option as we ended up with a southerly wind in the evening and through the night. JULIET joined the other boats (13 in total) later in the afternoon.


Puerto Balandra to Los Muertos (Bahía de Lod Sueños)

DATE:7 November, 2021
DEPARTURE:Puerto Balandra
DESTINATION:Lops Muertos
DESTINATION LAT/LONG:25°59.336N 109°49.731W
TRIP:42.7
ENGINE HOURS (at Destination):628.19

We woke to some big boat activity in Puerto Balandra with LONIAN coming in to enjoy the beach club previously set up by the crew of their support vessel, HODOR, a stealth looking ferry-style catamaran, billed the ‘largest floating toy box’. We set off with the nice southerly, under sail, and headed around the top of the La Paz peninsula, but getting into the Cerralvo Channel, the wind died and it was clear it was going to be a motoring day. The day was very pleasant however, motoring along with JULIET. Dolphins accompanying us at the end of the channel, as always! This seems a certain spot for dolphins.

We anchored in Muertos. Our third time here, and we were a bit sad to never visited the shore here, where there is a local restaurant on the north end and a resort on the south end. Muertos seems to always be for us somewhere on the way to somewhere, and not really a destination … maybe we should slow down?


Los Muertos (Bahía de los Sueños) to Los Frailes

DATE:8 November 2021
DEPARTURE:Los Muertos
DESTINATION:Los Frailes
DESTINATION LAT/LONG:23°22.820N 109°25.365W
TRIP:46.5
ENGINE HOURS (at Destination):635.48

It was a calm night, but we woke to a rolling boat, a sign that there was almost no wind, and the boats had turned sideways to the swell. The sky was overcast as we left and we motored the whole way, not even attempting to raise the sails. We passed three sailboats making their way north, a sure sign of the migration of boats and the start of the season. We had been watching the AIS tracking of the boats 150 plus boats on the Baja Haha, coming down the outside of the Baja peninsula and were very away that things were going to get much busier, both in the Sea of Cortez, and on the mainland.

The current was against us at the start of the day, but turned favorable later on and the trip turned out to be a quick one, averaging 6.2knots for the day, which is pretty quick for us for a day under power. Anchored in Frailes with JULIET and one other boat that arrived from the south, we remembered that the fishing fleet in Frailes launch their boats by pushing them off the beach with trucks. We assume there’s not much growth on the bottom of those boats, and even less gelcoat, nevertheless, it was a pleasure to see the fleet head out at sunset.


Los Frailes, Baja California Sur to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Riviera Nayarit

DATE:9 November – 11 November, 2021
DEPARTURE:Los Frailes, BCS
DESTINATION:La Cruz, Nayarit
DESTINATION LAT/LONG:20°44.188N 105°22.386W
TRIP:303nm – 2 Days 4 Hours (average 5.6knots)
ENGINE HOURS (at Destination):652.04

Well rested and having had a relaxing breakfast and coffee, we left Frailes just after 8am, and headed to the start of the route we had programmed into the chartplotter, following the PredictWind route planner suggested route effectively east, and then turning south after a day or so taking a course north of the Islas Tres Marias. With a reasonable wind already, we raised the sails, and the engine was off within five minutes of leaving Frailes. With the route taking us more east than south, the wind was on the beam and the sailing conditions were almost perfect. Sailing with Jib, Staysail and main, we were making excellent speed with JULIET looking like they too were having fun, just half a mile off and beside us, going marginally faster.

We sailed the first night with just the main, as the wind had built slightly and was now off the aft quarter, and by the morning with less wind and the main was flogging occasionally in the swell, we converted to a poled out jib. This lost us a knot or less, but as JULIET had dropped a few miles behind during the night, this sail set up was both very comfortable, and allowed them to catch up. Now going pretty much dead downwind, at one point, we pulled out the staysail in an effort to sail wing-on-wing, but it really needed a pole to work effectively, but, when poled out with the boathook did seem to give us a nice boost, and it would appear that getting a smaller pole for the staysail might be a useful tool for a double foresail downwind setup.

The second evening the wind was forecast to die around 8pm, but we managed to continue sailing until 11:00pm, when the motor came on. During the night we experienced one of our intermittent ‘high voltage;’ alarms, proving that the replacement of the starter battery was indeed a wasted effort, and Colin fixed this by creating a constant load on the system with lights turned on below. Something to be solved in due course.

The third day was pleasant motoring, although around 10:30am we came across a fishing flag, and doing a quick 180 degree turn realized it was attached to a long floating line and numerous other orange floats. Looking for the end of the line we headed east, but talking to JULIET, who were a mile away and had come across the same orange floats and line, we learned that the end to the west side was marked by a panga. We turned around and headed west for over 1.5 miles before rounding the panga and being in the clear to move forward again. I very obviously took photos of the panga and the panquero started an agitated conversation with someone over VHF.

Just a short while later we realized we were trailing some line from our rudder, but despite getting ready to dive down and remove it, it sank away on its own once we came to a stop. Minutes later we came across another seemingly endless line, and passing one of the soda bottle floats, noticed that below the float was a bated hook. Not knowing how long the line was, and given JULIET had made it over the line safely, we motored towards a gap between floats, dropped into neutral, and made it across without getting tangled.

Charlie inquired about what we had encountered on the morning net in La Cruz the following day, and we learned that it was indeed an illegal fishing operation and the Port Captain would be interested to have it reported, apparently not so much based on the illegal fishing, but on the hazard to navigation. I wrote a report, included photos and submitted it to the Port Captain in Nuevo Vallarta.

The arrival in Banderas Bay was lovely with lots of boobie bird activity around the boats and a whale sighting. Enjoying the trip, we decided to carry on past Punta de Mita, our original destination, and head straight to La Cruz. We were happily anchored by 3:30pm.

The Bird: A bird (named Jack Sparrow by Colin) landed in the cockpit about 25 miles offshore, around 1.00pm on the first day. We took a few photos quickly expecting it to leave, but it made circles walking around the deck, apparently looking for something to eat, and stopping to take a rest here and there. Colin spied of one of the earwig type insects that we occasionally see in the cockpit and we caught it for the bird who was clearly delighted to attack it and gobble it up with much more enthusiasm than the Ritz crackers we were snacking on and had offered it before. As the hours passed, it was clear Jack had no plans to leave, and we were now aware of the obligation to try and feed and water the bird until we got closer to land, and try our best not to smack it or sit on it as it insisted on mostly staying with us in the cockpit, sitting on the rails or the sheets and furling lines. Looking for a more sustainable source of food than very scarce earwigs, we offered the bird seeds from the top of a seedy loaf of bread, and then settled on crumbled granola bars in puddles of water, and were surprised at how much it ate and drank, and how messy of an eater it was.

Lost for a few hours during the night, we assumed the bird was gone, but I heard Colin proclaim “Jack’s back!” as came on watch in the morning. The bird had apparently spent a few hours on top of the dodger (the evidence was clear).

Jack stayed with us all of the second day, and was clearly quite happy to settle in for a second night perched on the aft cockpit bench, despite our now being in sight of the northern most of the Tres Marias Islands, however, around 11:00pm a Colin was startled by a large brown footed boobie landing in the cockpit and taking a position at the other end of the cockpit bench. The ensuing commotion scared both birds, as well as the human, and Jack flew off out of the cockpit along with the boobie.

Who knows? Hopefully he made it to land safely. He was certainly well rested, well fed and watered. It was absolutely a pleasure to share our small, but safe space with a creature that usually you only get to see from afar, and who rarely will trust humans in this way. With over 30 hours together, however, you certainly wonder whether the little ‘guardian angel’ on board is maybe, just maybe, looking out for us. Safe passage, little fella!


La Cruz de Huanacaxtle to Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta

DATE:12 November, 2021
DEPARTURE:La Cruz Anchorage
DESTINATION:Paradise Village Marina, Nuevo Vallarta
DESTINATION LAT/LONG:20°41.489 N 105°17.587W
TRIP:6.5
ENGINE HOURS (at Destination):652.45

After a quick trip to the La Cruz Marina with Charlie and LeeAnne in their dinghy and a visit to the fish market, we pulled up the anchor and raised the sails for a very pleasant and comfortable (flat) sail across the Bay. We entered the quite familiar breakwater into Paradise Village where we will hook up to internet for a few days while Colin does his monthly stint at working.

It was great to be back in Paradise Village, where we left off in March, and knowing the next steps are heading south to new places.


2 thoughts on “BYE BYE BAJA (Birdie)

  1. What a great write-up! I especially loved the Jack-the-Sparrow write-up. Our only disappointment about this crossing was not getting to meet Jack in person. Oh, and that’s quite a lovely boat you are sailing along with. 😉

    Like

  2. Hey guys, nice to catch up on your adventures. Dawn and I currently heading umber there bridge, on a reach even.

    We are closing in on the time when we upgrade / upsize our boat. Considering cruising the west coast and Mexico now rather than the Caribbean. Really would help us to hear your views on upside and downsides of making Mexico your cruising grounds.

    Dawn and Rob

    Like

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