Crossing the Gulf of California

As mentioned in my last post, I was crossing the Gulf of California to Mazatlan, a ~200nm crossing. Looking at the winds I had guessed around 2 days and it was pretty much bang on, with me arriving into Mazatlan as the sun rose on the third day.

The weather was good, with flat water for most of it. The wind was kind of annoying, with it blowing from almost directly behind me for a lot of it (a tough point of sail) and I was too lazy to drag out the spinnaker solo. The strength was 90% under 10 knots, with the remainder being around 10-15 (aside from one brief squall of 25 at the end). I motored probably around 10 hours total and sailed the remaining ~40

I was pretty glad for gudges light wind sailing abilities as she kept on trudging along, even when the wind dropped under 5 knots (although pretty slowly, we were going around 2 knots for a good portion of the time).

The biggest problem I had was rest, and being comfortable at night. Being 100 miles from land in a small boat with this view

is a really strange experience and I am fairly comfortable with it, except at night. Nights are long, hard and scary. Every noise is amplified and I was worried about the wind picking up (it never did).

The upshot being I didn’t get much sleep either night of the crossing which definitely affected my ability to sail the boat well. Hopefully on longer passages, I’d get more used to it and be able to sleep better. Or just start eating the furniture. One of the two.

The sunrises/sunsets are pretty amazing though!

Saw a bunch of birds, and found a couple of little squiddies on deck one morning

I popped them in the freezer for later bait usage.

I also managed to hook a big tuna – at least 20lbs. I’m pretty sure it was a yellow fin as it was way bigger than a skipjack and was hooked near a pod of dolphins (where they often hang out). Got him to the surface three times, but each time he’d go on a huge run, stripping off line. The third time he shot under the boat and the line must have got snagged on something as the 40lb test snapped. On a related note, I am going to start using shock leaders!

The hardest part of the whole trip was at 3am on the last night, when I noticed the wind shift 120 degrees very suddenly. As I went on deck to look, I saw a bunch of lightning and figured it was a squall line approaching – which it was! I took the sails down as a precaution and good job, as within five minutes it was 25 knots right on the nose with lightning everywhere – very unfun (lightning at sea scares me more than most things). Luckily it only lasted a few minutes and I powered the remaining few hours into harbour safely, while I contemplated a change of underwear.

I’ll spend a few days here while my friend Emma arrives and then it’s heading further south for a bit!

The climate here is a lot warmer and more humid than La Paz – for my Canadian friends think ‘Ottawa summer’ instead of ‘Victoria summer’. But at least the water is warmer!

Oh and another HUGE thank you to all my patreon supporters – I just bought a second-hand hydro-tow generator using just the proceeds from my patreon over the last year – so again, thank you so much!




  1. Squid jump high enough to land on deck? I never knew. I’ve thought about what it would be like trying to land tuna around as they move from one side of the sailboat to the other. Jostling around outboards on a sport fisher is one thing but having to deal with stays, keels, rudders and such is likely more difficult. Good luck next time!

    Are you running shock leaders because you are running braid for your main line (sorry if I missed this in an earlier post)? Or are you thinking some of the fish are leader shy and you are putting on a length of fluorocarbon? Or are you beefing up the breaking strength near the terminal tackle to account for chafe?

    • Yeah I looked it up and apparently it’s a thing!
      They were quite small though, only a couple inches long

      RIght now my reels are spooled with 40lb mono as I figured that was the best compromise between line size and not getting spooled. I usually run fluro or wire on a ~15′ leader (this one was wire in case I got a Wahoo). My thinking is to use a shock leader for the last 20′ or so above the snap swivel where the leader would connect, if that makes sense. It’d just provide a bit of extra chafe protection as you mention as most of the entanglement happens right at the boat

      • Gotcha. And with a heavier leader you could hoist the fish onboard rather than mess with the gaff I suppose, if they were light enough and you are able to swing them over the rails. Being higher off the water is another thing I’m not used to. With those bright spreader lights of yours you could be doing some squid fishing at night and get them fresh!

        • Yeah being higher off the water is a right pain.

          Thought about fishing for squid and have a squid jig but not quite sure how to go about it!

          • I’ve only caught a few. Usually underneath overhead lights from a dock or boats. The squid will wait in the shadows and hunt fish attracted to the light. Jig the jig at different depths and around the edge of the light. They are incredibly fast. Have a bucket to put them in and contain the ink spray. The ink seems to wash off readily enough…did they release their ink when they landed on your boat? I don’t remember how to best to dispatch of them or clean them so I’ll wait for you to post up a report about that! And it goes without saying: do NOT sit on that jig.

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