Heading down the outside of the Baja coast – Part 1

After leaving Ensenada, MQP (Maquinna Pt) and I headed south to Turtle Bay, a trip of 300nm and 3 nights. Last time I did this it was with Liz, so this was the first time I had done it single-handed, and in fact the longest single-handed passage I’d done (I think). Last time it was mostly light winds and I think we flew the spinny for at least 2/3 of it, this time was uh, not that.

The first day was really light winds – managed to make some progress going at around 2ish knots with the genny poled out.


The wind slowly reduced, leading to it dying completely in the night. A long night of motoring followed, which wasn’t enlivened by a steady drizzle. I’d just finished texting MQP ‘this sucks’ on my inreach and then the heavens opened up and it poured. This lasted till the morning, when the rain stopped. Much better! I also managed to score a nice Yellowtail Jack (my first one ever) by trolling around a big patch of floating seaweed – calling MQP on the radio and asking if they wanted one of the fillets, they responded by asking if I wanted to raft up! Hell yeah I did, so we had a lovely hour rafted up 40 miles offshore eating BBQ fish

(second photo taken by Cass on her film camera)

The wind slowly picked up in the afternoon, and what followed was an exhilarating day of broad reaching in 20-25knots in flattish seas – I had full canvas up (including the staysail) and Sooner was flying, definitely some of the best sailing I’d had to this point and I was stoked.

I became a bit less stoked when the seas started picking up and the boat started feeling out of control and even less stoked when the autopilot got overwhelmed and I had to hand steer. Which meant I couldn’t pull down any canvas, even though it was gusting 30 at this point, with 6-8ft seas. Oops.

It stayed like that for around 3-4 hours and then dipped into the low 20s, which meant I could finally hand off the tiller and reef down the sails a bit. After that, with a reef or two in the main (I switched between the two every few hours) and a furled down foresail, everything felt more manageable. I was still getting knocked about, but it didn’t feel out of control anymore! During all this mess I caught another yellowtail and a mahi mahi – first of the trip

MQP beat me into turtle bay by an hour or so, and after I came in we rafted up together and then I tried to sort out my cabin, where everything had fallen off/out of shelves and cupboards, been tossed around the cabin before all being compacted into the V-Berth. Obviously I need to do a better job of stowing stuff.

After the boat was back together, I made cocktails and we played music all night. Cass is a wizard on the banjo and has an amazing singing voice, Holley’s guitar skills and vocals are also great and uh, I was also there with my uke picking.

I was woken up early the next morning by the wind picking up, coming onto deck I saw Holley out there looking at the waves with a worried look and after observing for 5 minutes we decided to separate and anchor separately as the wind was due to build. MQP had to drop off their additional crew member who had sailed with them from Ensenada, Neil, so they radioed for the water taxi to come get them. There was no answer (later we found that the guy who ran the taxi service/fuel dock has gone ‘missing’) but a big deep-sea commercial fishing vessel heard them on the radio and offered to take them ashore in their giant panga. With no real other options (at this point it was blowing 25-30 in the anchorage) Holley and Neil hopped in and got taken to shore. A few minutes later I got a worried text from Cass who’d stayed on the boat, Holley wasn’t back yet and another dinghy from the same vessel was hanging around MQP, asking her some slightly worrying questions and she was worried they wouldn’t return Holley. Together we made a plan, and tried gathering anything we could use as a possible weapon (spearguns and bear spray) though we hoped to hell we wouldn’t need it, and I assembled the dinghy so we could go on a rescue mission if needed. Luckily, Holley turned back up. The fishermen had tried to get her to go onto their boat but she had refused and eventually they had returned her back to MQP (which is a good job as an amphibious assault from a porta-bote isn’t in most militaries SOP, for some reason). At this point both sisters were a little shaken and requested I spend the night on MQP, where I slept by the companionway entrance, clutching bear spray.

The night passed uneventfully and the fishing boat left the next morning, the wind still howled for the next few days meaning we were all kind of just stuck. After the 3rd day it settled down enough we could leave, and we headed off for Santa Maria Bay.


Leave a Reply