Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ensenada to Bahia San Quintin

We had planned our departure from Ensenada for sometime near noon so as to arrive at our next destination, Bahia San Quintin the following morning. The distance to be sailed was approximately 120 miles and based on an average boat speed of six knots in the forecasted light winds we could expect to arrive well after sunrise at approximately 8 am. During the first several hours we motor sailed under brilliant blue skies with unlimited visibility and very light winds. By mid afternoon though a northwesterly wind began to build and we soon found ourselves sailing at close to 8 knots. Quick mental calculations revealed the disconcerting fact that if we continued to make the same speed for the remainder of the trip we would find ourselves entering an unfamiliar anchorage in the dead of night. Even with the proper charts and modern electronics this is often an unwise scenario. Our concern shifted later in the evening when the clear skies and favorable breeze were replaced by nearly calm conditions and dense fog. In fact, the air was so saturated with moisture that it felt as though it were raining as drops of water continually fell from the sails and rigging. Motoring ahead in total darkness with visibility less than a few hundred yards meant close attention to our radar and the usual straining of our eyes as we frequently peered into the darkness around us. After a warm dinner, Anne offered to stand the first watch and Mark climbed into our bunk for a nap. We had agreed that rather than set a formal watch schedule Anne would stay awake as long as she could and wake Mark when she got to drowsy. At about 2am Anne was ready to get some sleep and Mark took over. We continued to motor sail through the inky night and dripping fog only occasionally seeing the light of a star overhead. Our radar revealed 3 other vessels that passed near us without visual contact. Its well known that the charts of much of Mexico do not correlate exactly with the modern GPS electronic charts. We have the ability to electronically overlay our radar images on top of our electronic map display as a means of cross checking accuracy. Mark noted during his watch that certain prominent landmarks clearly visible on radar varied almost a mile from their position as depicted on the charts. The approach to Bahia San Quintin involves skirting a number of reefs and submerged rocks. So we planned giving them a wide berth when we entered the bay. With our speed reduced to near what we had originally planned we no longer had to worry about anchoring in the dark but the reduced visibility due to the fog made it seem almost as bad. For the first time ever, we entered the bay and dropped anchor solely by reference to our radar, charts and depth sounder. When our anchor was finally set we sat shrouded by the fogs gray curtain with no idea what the shoreline around us looked like. It wasn’t until awaking from a morning nap at about 10:30 am that we caught the first glimpses of the rocky hills and sand dunes that line the shore. We had a special treat when we climbed out of the cabin into the cockpit rubbing sleep from our eyes when we saw a gray whale spout and surface just a 100’ from “Blue Rodeo”, we watched in awe for several minutes as the enormous creature lazily swam about us. We spent the remainder of the day aboard relaxing and working on a few boat chores with the plan being to spend another day here and go ashore for some serious exploration. The next day was spent hiking the deserted beaches and dunes and checking out the local Sea Lion rookery on an offshore rock. As we hiked Mark was noting the occasional small breaking waves that peeled into the bay from a rocky point. He pronounced them surf able and after a quick lunch back on board where we were further entertained by a pod of gray whales feeding around us, we dingied back to the beach with Marks stand up paddle surfboard where he managed to catch a few of the waves and get a better feel for his new water toy. The enjoyable day concluded with a great dinner on board and a quirky movie watched on the DVD player. Lounging comfortably in “Blue Rodeos” cabin we found it rather surreal to consider how comfortable and familiar the inside of our floating home is and how wild and remote are our surroundings. Life is good!

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