Sunday, June 5, 2011

Welcome Back to Baja

We slept in today until the late hour of 8 am. For us that is late late late. We slept like the dead.
Our friends with babies tell us that our sailing passages are good practice for dealing with new-borns. Sometimes we just don't sleep or if we do, it's in cat-nap segments always waking in the middle of REM during some crazy dream as the boat crashes down into another big wave. On these nights, to me it feels like we are mostly dreaming, with small snippets of time connecting with the real world, whatever that is. The illusion.

But anyways, two nights ago we had one of those sleepless nights. Even though we only saw a max of 20 knots for 24 hours, the waves picked up and were steep and forceful. Of course we were beating and slamming right into them taking wave after wave across our deck along with the many unlucky squid and flying fish who ended up as casualties (we actually had 2 unlucky flying fish get stuck and plug up our scupper drain). It was very reminiscent to us of our northern Red Sea experience, tough, loud, and lots of work, but thankfully, without the sandstorms. And thank you bilge pump for being fixed. But, no thank you autopilot, that does not like these conditions. It went out again and again and we finally just hooked up the Monitor windwave, which seems to work fine even when we are motor-sailing. Thank you windvane!

It took us only about 48 hours or so to travel from Banderas Bay to the Cabo area of Baja. Not bad considering most of it was a beat. We are once again grateful to be another almost 300 miles closer to home.

Yesterday morning, after talking with some boats on the HF radio and one boat in Cabo on the VHF, we sat in the lee of Baja, 10 miles from Cabo and processed our options. Should we do a quick fuel in Cabo and then take off at midnight to round the notoriously windy Cabo Falso and head up to Mag Bay, 150 miles away on the outside of Baja? The weather forecasts were all saying the wind would fill in to 20-30 about half-way up to Mag Bay timing wise for us. We knew we could get there, but also knew it would suck and then we would be stuck in Mag Bay for possibly 4-5 days minimum until another possible hole appeared. We pondered it for an hour and watched the sun warm up the day on the Baja desert landscape.

We finally made a decision. As much as we wanted to keep going, we weren't ready for another tough 2 night passage beating into most likely much bigger seas on this stretch and then being stuck in Mag Bay for a long time. So, after a final deliberation, we took option 2 to go hole up and wait for the next weather window. The new marina of San Jose del Cabo is 17 miles from Cabo San Lucas, much cheaper, less crazy, and a good fit. We turned back to the east and headed in while Nic went down below to finally get a couple of hours shut-eye.

In the lee of Baja, the wind was dead and the seas were small. I had already seen a big mahi jump and some other big fish on the surface that morning. With the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez waters all meeting around this point and with massive underwater canyons below, this area is a renown big-game fishing spot. The little sport-fishing boats were out in force all around us doing what they do every day of the year. It was time to fish again.

I put 2 of our hand-lines out and gave my buddy, Billy, a ring in the US. We were having a good chat when within 10 minutes I looked back and saw a big splash and one of the bungees on my hand-line go tight. Fish on. Sorry Billy, gotta call you back, time to deal. I cut the engine and brought the other hand-line in. I could tell it was a big fish the way it was really pulling and going back and forth. I had to wake up Nic. She needed to be my gaff-girl. Sorry sleepyhead. She wasn't happy.

I fought the fish hand-over-hand for about 20 minutes. It was strong and I had to keep letting it run. In hindsight I should have drug it with the boat a little longer to tire it out. Oh well, it was more fun this way and I love the simplicity of a hand-line. It keeps me humble and connects me more with my primordial self. I need that sometimes.

I finally pulled it close to the side of the boat and a big pile of 200 lb. line at my feet. I saw it for the first time. A beautiful massive wahoo, maybe 5 feet long with girth. It was by far the largest wahoo I had ever seen in person. The water here is clear blue and the fish was gorgeous swimming beside the boat in it's liquid world. I pulled it a little closer and that was it for the fish, it dove deep and I had to let it run. With the slack in the line the wahoo finally threw the lure and was free. It deserved it's freedom and Nic cheered it on from the side. She always cheers for the fish.

Wahoo is my favorite fish. Wahoo on the bbq for dinner had me almost salivating, but this one was not meant to be. It was enough just to witness a big beauty that welcomed us back to the Baja. I smiled.

I caught two more skipjacks on the way in. Both of them small and I tossed them back. No other big pelagic graced us with it's presence.

We pulled into the marina and waited behind a sport fishing boat to fill its massive fuel tanks while some kids in dingy sailors tacked around DreamKeeper. We topped off our fuel and pulled into our slip, next to our friends on Magnum; our sheltered home for the next bit until a new weather window allows us to begin the real bash up the outside of Baja.

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