Gato Loco–Leg 5, Fish On, The Final Update
Monday June 3rd
Santa Rosalia to San Francisquto
Best Passage Yet
The day started with a typical weather forecast, West winds early near Santa Rosalia, and light WSW winds blowing from the Punta Trinidad basin. Some how our wind conditions came together giving us the best passage yet. From our 5 AM departure we sailed 2 hours north with strong west winds sailing 6 – 7 kts. Cabo Virgenes blocked the wind for a couple of hours with confused seas and motors working hard. Clearing the Cabo area the winds filled in from Trinidad on our port rear quarter and we had motors off and maintaining 9 kts surging to 11. Seas slowly flatten out improving the conditions. What a blast. Even with the last 2 hours fighting an ebbing tidal current of 2 kts against us we still did the 80 mile passage in 12 hours a new record for us.
12 hours is a long day but we managed to entertain ourselves laughing, sleeping, eating and singing.. All in all a nice day and we arrived in time to relax and enjoy dinner.
<<The San Francisduito lighthouse that greets us as we arrive.
The crew is feeling pretty chill including not taking any photos. Marcia did manage to do some paddle boarding to get off the boat for a while.
Tuesday June 4th
The journey north to Penasco continues. Today we’re headed into Bay of LA 53 miles north. The forecast is for light winds. We have a new moon making for maximum tidal currents in the south whale channel heading north. We need to time our sail (motor sail) with the flooding tide so it will give us a push instead of working against us. A big surprise, a few miles out of our anchorage I see a Seawind in a small anchorage and see It’s Sky Pond with Carl and Roxy we meet at the Rally. They’re moving slowly towards Penasco enjoying everything about the Sea of Cortez as it’s their first visit. We exchange a few VHF calls but they aren’t moving at our pace.
Views as we approach the Bay of LA area.
As forecasted, there’s no wind until we turn the corner and head west into the Bay of LA. The Bay will be our anchorage for the night so we can pick up some fuel, Ice and few provisions. And as always it all starts with refreshments at Guillermo’s.
Wednesday June 5th
Bay of LA was very good to us. A nice dinner at Guillermo’s and one of the Guillermo’s fishing charter captains drove us to the Pemix for fuel. Their internet even reached to our anchorage so we were able to catch up on our communications. Today we’re off to Puerto Refugio 40 miles north up Whale channel that tends to be very windy. Today’s forecast is for light winds but we’re always cautious from past experiences.
Marcia’s lighthouse photo as we depart Bay of LA
The crew is on duty as we head up the channel, Ed is busy keeping the fishing lines clear, Marcia is helping with the sails and Dave is enjoying some hand steering when winds finally arrived on the northern end of the channel.
The landscapes in Puerto Refugio are like non other in the Sea. La Guradia textures and colors always amaze.
Normally we have this anchorage to ourselves but this time we find 8 boats in the north west bite anchorage. Our favorite anchorage between La Guardia and the little island of Mejia was open for us to enjoy.
Marcia is out admiring the huge cardon cactus field on isla Mejia. The little bay has calm water to enjoy paddle boarding.
This is the last night of this seasons cruise. How time flies. Even leg 5 seems to have passed quickly. Lots of wonderful memories flood me as we make plans to sail the 105 miles due north to Penasco tomorrow. We normally break the trip to Penasco into 2 legs through Puerto Lobos but we played more early in the leg and need to make up one day. Winds are forecasted to blow strong out of the south east for the first time this season and we should be able to use favorable conditions to arrive before dark in Penasco. To make the journey we’ll need to get an early start.
Thursday June 6th
The alarm is set to go off at 2:30 for a 3 am departure but anticipation for this big day and I’m up before the alarm. Soon Dave and Ed are up and we’re weighing anchor in total darkness 2:30ish. To navigate away from the island we’re using OpenCPN with Google imaging which shows exactly our location in the channel between the islands. Soon we’re clear to head north towards Penasco. The phosphorescence in the water shows the motor path behind us and before we make much progress we see sea lions jetting through the water around us in phosphorescence tubes. There’s nothing but the bright stars above and the Milky Way is a bright streak illuminating our way. Penasco here we come.
With in the first hour, south east winds are strong enough to shut motors down and fly dual head sails and we’re surging to 11kts. Seas are pretty flat making for a smooth ride. Sunrise and winds are steady and seas are building. 7 AM, we make our final check-in on the Amigo SSB Baja net and say goodbye until next season. 10 AM waves have grown to the point that we have to hand steer as the 7’+ rollers race past us occasionally giving us a surf ride fling down the wave at 12+ kts.
Mid-day and seas are beginning to ease and wind has backed to 15 kts. Our ETA to Penasco is looking good holding in the 5 – 6 PM range. What a morning of sailing. Through it all the crew is doing fine. Marcia chills on the back bench watching and photographing waves as the pass us by. With the help of motors we were able to turn the steering over to the autohelm for the afternoon and arrived in Penasco at 5:30 PM for a 15 hour sail over 105 miles averaging 7 kts.
Dave and I make a great team dealing with aggressive sailing. Ed and Marcia did exceptionally well dealing with all the sailing condition on the journey north. They got to see it all from calm flat seas and motoring to hauling ass down an eight foot wave crashing into the wave ahead. We truly enjoyed their week on board.
I’m finishing this blog on Wednesday June 12th after enjoying a fun music weekend in Cholla Bay. The cruise is memories now as we prepare to move on to the mountains of Prescott for the summer. I’ll enjoy going back and re-reading about this season’s journey. It was such good medicine for the heartbreak of loosing one of my best friends and sailing buddy Brian. It was an exceptionally windy season and each time we were jetting through the water I would look up and thank Brian for looking over us. Sail on my friend! I will forever be connected to you as we sail the Sea of Cortez. Tears…..
The memorial plaque we placed in San Juanico in Captain Brian’s honor for all the sailing community to see.
Until the next Update
Our Journey from Loreto to Penasco