Cabo San Lucas to La Paz

Cabo San Lucas is exactly the chaotic, Las Vegas meets Mexican Beach town that I’ve read about. Between the jet-skis being rented by the hundreds right off the beach, the water skiers, and the water taxis, the anchorage was particularly loud, wavy, crazy, and annoying. The competing hotels and restaurants would start blasting music and contests and lunch specials from early in the morning through LATE into the evening. The town itself was littered with “showgirl” nightclubs and more live bands playing 80’s “hair band” covers than the 80’s actually had.
The snorkeling was pretty nice around the cape… if you were OK with hundreds of other snorkelers sharing your experience and water taxi’s zipping them to and fro. There was even a boat called the “Sea-Eye” that had a large underwater glass dome for the customers viewing pleasure. It even had fish food dispensers to ensure some great views.
The awards ceremony for the 2011 Baja-Haha was held outside the Marina office. This was to be the last big hurrah. There was free beer and awards for each boat division and many other categories such as the oldest crew, the youngest, the worst boat bite…etc. I tied for the worst boat bite with the story of my drilled hand. But, better than that, Cat2Fold tied for first place in the multihull division!!!
Trent and Charlie had return tickets for Monday 11/7. So with a plan to single hand my way up the east coast of Baja towards La Paz, I tried to hurry them up and off the boat as early as possible. I also discovered we were out of cooking propane so I tried to find a place to have that filled, but there was nothing immediately available, so I ended up switching my port tank with my starboard tank. This left me without the grill or hot water, but that was fine because we have not had a working water maker since the beginning, and showers with our limited water supply was a no-no.
So, with a later start than ideal, I pulled out of the Cabo San Lucas harbor and started heading northeast toward an anchorage called Los Frailes, 45 miles away. The winds were light when I started, so I motor sailed with one engine at half throttle for the first hour. then the winds started to pick up. I was heading directly up into the wind, and the waves were 6-10 feet, short duration and steep. There was a strong Norther blowing in the upper Sea of Cortez and I was seeing the repercussions of that. It really wasn’t too bad, and, after motoring the last hour in, I reached my anchorage just after sunset. Typically, I always try and time my arrival into any anchorage before dark. Sometimes, however, it just ends up out of your hands. Especially if you are trying to sail the whole way. I anchored safely in 13′ of water, had a quick bite and went to bed.
The next morning, as anticepated, the seas had grown, and the winds were blowing 25-30 knots. I was in a safe anchorage with about 20 other Haha boats, and we all just hung out there for a few days waiting for the weather to turn. The snorkeling was fantastic. There is also a large white granite outcropping coming out of the water creating some neat looking bouldering/climbing. I snorkeled right up yo a point below this outcrop, jumped out of the water, removed my fins (which are large enough to wear my water shoes under) and started tooling around on some fine rock. After playing long enough, I even discovered an old bolted route there. So, clearly, I was not the only one to discover the climbing potential here at Los Frailes.
Randomly, for what appeared to be a pretty darned remote and isolated bay, I was able to find a good wifi signal.
Friday was the day that all this wether was supposed to be gone. But, from my own assessment, it appeared that Friday was gonna have virtually no wind, and I didn’t want to have to motor the next 50 miles. Thursday wasn’t looking too bad, so I left at first light in the morning. The seas were 10-12 feet, short duration and steep. Winds were still blowing 20-25 knots. I had started out under full sail, but quickly decided that a couple of reefs in each sail would be more prudent. After sailing that way for a while, the winds appeared to lighten, so I shook out both reefs. While doing that, the starboard sail flogged one too many times and I ripped a nearly 2 foot hole in the sail, just behind the luff. BUMMER! I was upset with myself. Anyway, I was still able to use that sail with a single reef in and I made it to my next anchorage, Bahia de los Muertes, again just after sunset.
This time I was exhausted. The seas had beat me up pretty good. I had made tentative plans through Deidre’s help, to have Ben Squires, my next crew mate, to meet me here at Los Muertes. Again, I was able to find some wifi and contacted Ben, he was on his way. So I set up the dinghy and went to shore to pick him up at a restaurant called 1535. We had some beer and food, which tasted better than anything I have had in many days, then headed out to the boat.
We decided to spend the next day here, paddle boarding, playing and hoping to find a sewing machine to repair my torn sail. Then some “Diamonds” appeared here at Los Muertes. First off, “Double Diamond”, a Lagoon 440, had a nice sewing machine on board with some repair cloth. They had never used it before, so I did my best to convince them that this would be a great learning experience for everyone. Later that afternoon, I went over to “Double Diamond” with my sail. It took us about 3 hours or so to figure out the machine (which had some bent parts) and sew on a nice, large patch. I was so excited! The same repair in La Paz probably would have taken days and cost hundreds of dollars! Thank You Jeff and Melody from Double Diamond.
No sooner had I returned to Cat2Fold, when our anchorage neighbors, Larry and Nelda aboard “Diamond Girl” hailed us to comment how good I looked out there sailing yesterday. Somehow the conversation turned to fishing and the next thing I knew, we were invited to come grab a to go package of fresh Dorado (Mahi-Mahi). They even sent some warm rice over with it! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I LOVE my Haha family!!!
John and Trinity from “Michaella” came over for a quick visit. With many years of experience on the water, John had some info to share with us. He had waited to sail from Los Frailes to Los Muertes til Friday. Turns out they had the perfect sail. No motoring necessary, flat seas, good winds. He basically pointed out that I should have waited also. He also pointed out that I need to be paying more and more attention to the tides. I was planning on heading North again first thing in the morning. We discussed how first thing in the morning the tide would be heading out and we would be battling a current of approximately 4-5 knots. Much better to wait until 1 pm to head out. This would mean some more night sailing, which I’m OK with, but with much less of a battle. Live and learn. There is a lot of collective knowledge available here within the cruising community. We left at 1pm. We dropped anchor 12 hours later in Playa de Ballander, about 10 miles from downtown La Paz.
The next morning we quickly headed into La Paz to restock our dwindling food and beer supply. That took us the rest of the day. While returning to the boat with the dinghy loaded with groceries, we experienced something that only happens 6 times or so a year here… it rained! It really rained!
I’m gonna post this while I have a wifi connection… more later!

10/28/11 through 11/4/11 Leg 3

While in Turtle Bay, because the crew and I needed to catch up on sleep, we missed the Baseball game and the ensuing party. That was OK because the next days beach party was more than enough! It was a HUGE potluck. There was beach volleyball set up, guys against the girls tug-o-war, music, beers, and one unlucky boat was silly enough to not heed Richard’s (the Grand Poobah) advice about anchoring too close to the beach. “Island Girl” (Lagoon 380) became stuck on the sand once the tide went out. Many hands tried to push and pull the boat out into open water, but the only thing that worked was to wait for the tide to come back up. Meanwhile, her bottom paint (and who knows what else) had to have been ruined by the constant jostling of the incoming waves.

Next morning, 10/29, with an 8am start time, Cat2Fold found her way out into the middle of the pack. As we were crossing the starting line “Profligate”, the 63′ Catamaran that runs the show (also a Kurt Hughes design -like Cat2Fold) took tons of pics of us as they motored around us in circles. One of the shots has made the Lectronic Latitudes webpage. The winds were decent enough that there was no “rolling start” initiated.
Trent, Charlie and I were all commenting how fun it was to be in the middle of the pack. So many boats in sight! …then darkness fell, and it became clear that it was WAY cooler to be surrounded by all these other boats during daylight hours. Having no RADAR on board (as a lot of boats do) all we could do was keep our eyes peeled! There were some close calls. Its amazing how quickly a tiny little light on the horizon can turn into a boat right on your ass just because they turned on their salon lights. That tiny little light on the horizon actually being a light on another vessel much closer than it appeared!
We came into Bahia Santa Maria early morning 10/31. I quickly got my paddleboards set up and started tooling around on them. Trent and Charlie went around interviewing a bunch of the different multihull owners. They used the dinghy for this. It was really nice having both a dinghy and paddleboards available aboard Cat2Fold. That way there is always an option to get off the boat.
I made my way to the estuary beach break. The waves were about 3 feet tall. For the first time in my “surfing career” I actually had a BLAST! Paddle boarding is the BOMB! I caught many rides in that lasted well over a minute (or so it seemed). I was even able to turn Dave from Lightspeed on to this new sport. Dave was/is struggling to learn how to surf. I could see the difficulty he was having, so I made him switch boards with me. While I sat on his board and watched, Dave was able to use the tremendous flotation and stability that a SUP (stand up paddleboard) has to offer and get a real taste of what surfing can feel like. I had SO much fun out there that I could hardly get myself to stop and go to the beach party.
The next morning the start time was set for 7 am. I was a bit bummed…
I feel like I could have stayed in Bahia Santa Maria for a month! It was just that beautiful!
For the third leg, the fine folks aboard Lightspeed loaned us a spinnaker to try out and see if we could get anything out of it. We tried all kinds of different arrangements. It really wasn’t the right size to use traditionally, especially with Cat2Fold’s freestanding, rotating masts. My favorite configuration was pulling it upside down in between the masts with both mainsails out wing-on-wing. It was quite a bit of downwind sail area and it looked wicked! The visibility forward was very good underneath it also.
I can’t remember exactly when, but we ended up catching another small yellowtail, then a 40ish” Dorado but threw it back. It was more than we wanted and our fridge was stuffed. However having some Dorado steaks just last night (11/8) I might have thought differently.
As we were getting close to the finish line near Cabo San Lucas, the winds went from light and variable (4-6 knots) to non existent (1/2 knot or less).
We had sailed the entire way up to then.
It was starting to get a bit ridiculous, but we prevailed and sailed the entire length!! We arrived at the finish line at 1:04 am, dropped the motors and motor-sailed to the anchorage in Cabo San Lucas dropping anchor at 3:30 am.
Leg 1=325 miles.
Leg 2= 215 miles.
Leg 3=160 miles.
There was also another 15-20 or so miles behind each finish line to the anchorage, putting the total distance traveled from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas at nearly 700 miles.
Because we sailed the entire course, we automatically tied for first place in the multihull division!!!
Thanks Trent and Charlie! Our Haha Hymen has been broken!

A lot to catch up on…10/28/11 and earlier

Ok. So here we sit in Bahia Tortuga (turtle bay) aboard Cat2Fold. I can hardly believe that this is my reality…

Here is a quick recap of all that has happened in the past 2 weeks or so…

After arriving in Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles, CA, at 9:30 pm , Saturday 10/15/11, I decided I was TOO tired to begin setting up Cat2Fold. So with a 3 am alarm set, I got a bit of sleep, then commenced the second monumental task of this trip (the first being the solo 18 hour drive from Idaho to L.A.), getting Cat2Fold from the trailer to the water with all the bits and pieces that come along with doing a 2.5 month sailing trip. My boat takes a LOT more time to set up than a typical power boater using the launch ramp. Marina Del Rey is one of the largest pleasure boat Marinas in the U.S. I didn’t want to get in anyones way, hence the 3 am start time. Once the masts were stepped, I drove as close as possible to the launch ramp and unloaded everything I needed from my truck to the far end of the poop laden dock. The sea bird/sea lion poop was so thick and slippery, I almost fell into the water several times while schlepping heavy loads out there. I wanted to be out at the end so I would have lots of time and not be in anyones way. Then I launched and opened up Cat2Fold. This was the first time I did everything 100% by myself. Very gratifying! By 7 am, after being tied up at the “15 minute tie up” docks for over 3 hours, I was ready to motor over to the guest docks and find a spot for Cat2Fold to live for a few days.

I spent the next day cleaning all the poop that I had tracked onto Cat2Fold and fiddling about dealing with unfinished projects. Instantly I started meeting other “Haha-er’s”. Dave and Kathy Kane aboard “Lightspeed”, a Chris White Atlantic 42, are quite an inspiration to anyone who dreams of sailing around the world aboard an amazing multihull. They also proved to be very helpful after I found myself in quite a bit of pain after drilling a hole nearly entirely through my hand.

Clearly, I was suffering from lack of sleep. The bench I had made at home for Cat2Fold was needing a bit of fine tuning to fit. I needed (or so I thought) to drill some holes through the stainless steel legs for the bench and I thoughtlessly tried to do that while holding the piece of pipe. I had barely started when the drill slipped and virtually went right through my hand. I instantly was pissed off at myself, but then the pain and shock of what just happened set in. I went down below to where the first aid kit was and had to sit down on the head while a rush of faintness came over my body. I sat there sweating profusely. I forced myself back up on deck, and after a bit of time passed, I was OK to walk over to Lightspeed and get some advice. They were very helpful, bringing some booze, ice, and hydrogen peroxide over to my boat. And then they stayed with me for a bit to make sure that I was keeping my entire hand submerged in the pot full of ice water they made for me. Boy, I’ll tell you, nothing brings the “wuss” out of a man more than soaking an entire, injured body part in ice water.

After getting thoroughly intoxicated, I had a pretty hard time waking up at 3am for the second time in 2 days. I had to drive my truck and trailer to Tucson, AZ where it was to be stored until Christmas when Trent (one of my crew mates) will drive it to San Carlos, Mexico. This is where my Baja sailing trip will end, the boat stored on its trailer there for the winter, and I will drive back home to the snowy north country. My hand hurt like hell that morning. Very swollen also. Through the 9 hour drive, it started to feel better. Trent and I flew back to L.A. that evening. The next day, my friend Michelle came by with some prescription anti-biotics, but after looking at my hand (which was feeling amazingly better), she recommended I save the drugs for some other emergency.

Anyhow, with a crew mate on board, it was time to stock up on supplies and head on out. We decided to sail to Catalina. The winds were very light so we ended up motoring all the way out to and around the Island to anchor in Catalina Harbor. We got there right at sunset. Realizing the need to be in San Diego the next day, and concerned with our small amount of fuel on board, we schlepped our empty tanks to shore and walked the mile or so to the only night time gas “station” on the island. $6.60 per gallon…ouch! All was well once back aboard with refilled fuel tanks until we realized one of the tanks we had just filled, had a crack in it and it was leaking gasoline!!! We were able to tip the tank up on its end to put the crack up in the air and use this entire tank before switching to a different tank. A third 3am wake up in less than a week had us up and on our way to San Diego. Unfortunately, with no wind, we had to motor the entire way there. We arrived at dusk only to find the municipal docks filled with other Hah-ha boats. Well, that’s what the sign on the door said anyhow. Finding a tight spot that we thought we could fit in, we decided to take it and pay in the morning. Our third crew mate found us there and we hung out together for the evening. Apparently, the spot was already taken and the guy was just out fishing late. He tried to get us to move around midnight. Luckily he talked to Trent while I was sleeping and Trent was not having any part of it. We were thoroughly scolded in the morning, paid for the night and moved out to the free anchorage about 5 miles away inside San Diego harbor.

The three of us spent the next couple of days stocking the boat, looking for watermaker parts, and meeting the rest of the Haha-er’s. With the rally starting on Monday, 10/24 at 11am, I still had to run around looking for the watermaker part first thing in the morning. Nobody had it. Of all the hundreds of marine stores in the area, nobody could help me. I was a bit shocked and bummed, now we need to carry a lot more water with us, and be VERY conservative with it.
We started off in the Haha parade a bit late and as we slowly motored out to the start line, I realized I could order the part direct from Katadyn and while on a cell phone trying to place the order, we lost reception mid order. We hated to do it, but I made the boys turn the boat around, and head back towards San Diego harbor. The order was placed, to be shipped to my girlfriend in Jackson Hole, who will be flying to Cabo in a few weeks to meet up with me, and we turned around to tag onto the slowest boats at the back of the Ha-ha parade. There were over 170 boats partaking in the event.

Because of light winds, everyone was allowed to motor throughout the day Monday and through Monday night. We wanted to sail, so we stopped motoring about an hour after the official start. The winds were very light, so most of the fleet left us in the dust. However, by Tuesday sfternoon, the winds freshened, and we started seeing some speeds in the low teens. While I was at the helm, we hit a top speed surfing down a wave of 14.8 knots! The winds kept building and the seas were also building to the point of when we approached the 10 mile wide finish line, we had reefed both mainsails after nearly digging the bows into the back of a wave. The waves were also large enough that when we were sailing beam on to them, occasionally one would crawl up the side of the leeward hull and crash up on the deck. Cat2Fold has very ample bridgedeck clearance. Never have I gotten more than a few drops of water up on deck before. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that water can indeed get up on to our bridgedeck. I left my GoPro camera up on deck without its waterproof back on. Now I have a dead GoPro, and it is less than 2 months old!

After crossing the Leg 1 finish line at 9:37 pm, we still had around 25 miles to go to get to Turtle Bay. Our ETA was around 2 am. Winds were peaking at 28 knots. The seas were like a giant washing machine. We decided to be prudent and not attempt a night time landing into an unknown harbor. So we needed to slow the boat down! We dropped all sails and dragged a milk crate off the sterns. We lashed the tiller to try and point the boat up into the approaching seas. Cat2Fold was mostly taking them beam on. She handled it with ease however it was a very uncomfortable night at sea. The whole crew acknowledged the need to figure out a way to get Cat2Fold to hove-to. We will be working on this technique in the days to come.

So now we are sitting in Turtle Bay, catching up on sleep, meeting more and more Haha-er’s, and prepping the boat for leg two.

Oh Yeah… we caught one small tuna while dragging a simple hand line with a “mexican flag” lure… hopefully more to come!