Another successful crossing…Leg 1 of The Charette Family Adventure.


Late in the evening of Wednesday, December 9 2014, Cat2Fold, with crew Brian, Georgie, and Beo Charette, gracefully maneuvered out of slip C1, Marina San Carlos, where she had just spent the past week in. Part of that week was for refrigerator repairs (not sure if its working any better…), and part of it was for her to have a safe home while I drove, flew, and drove some more to pick up G and B, and then the last few days were spent waiting for a good weather window and getting some probably unnecessary last minute items. I’m not sure why exactly, but liberating ourselves from the bound life of a docked sailboat, even with all the conveniences that come from the ability to step off your boat onto land, and allowing the wind to ruffle our dusty sails, and to swing properly from the hook facing the wind head on, the way a boat is designed…felt SO GOOD!
I debated whether to just continue motoring out into the calm dark of the night, but decided against it. I wanted the ability to SEE and feel what the seas were going to be like as we head out on our first big voyage as a family, while we acclimatize to life aboard Cat2Fold, cruising the Sea of Cortez.
It was 7:50am when we motored slowly out of Bahia San Carlos and into the wide open sea. I was expecting winds in the high teens, and seas starting at 3′ and dropping to 2′ through the day. It was nearly calm until we got two to three miles offshore. Our destination was Bahia Salinas, Isla Carmen. 130 nautical miles SSW from San Carlos. Heading a more westerly route towards Santa Rosalia allows for a much shorter crossing (73 miles) and being on a beam reach is the fastest point of sail, and it was recommended by my friend John from s/v Ichiban, as an easier escape route back to San Carlos, should we not like what we encounter out there, so we started our voyage on a beam reach heading for Santa Rosalia. The problem with the Sea of Cortez is that the waves are close together and steep, so taking even the two to three footers directly on the beam was uncomfortable. I knew it would be. I also knew that by heading deep downwind towards Isla Carmen, riding the small waves would help speed us up and be a far more comfortable point of sail. So, once we were a couple of hours from land, we decided it was game on, and we headed south towards the infamous Bay of Salt. When the winds and swell lightened to the point where I felt like we needed to speed up, we headed up, more westerly again. In the end most of sail was deep, nearly dead downwind. 7 knot average, max speed 13.6, 130 miles in 20 hours.
We arrived at our anchorage at 3:00am. Luckily, having been there just 6 months previous, and having our old GPS track still on our chartplotter, I was confident coming into the large bay in the middle of the night. The kids had been talking about Bahia Salinas ever since seeing our pictures from last year and using salt all summer at our dinner table from the small amount we harvested while there.
Unfortunately, the next morning was still quite windy and a light rain was falling. But, we had to get to shore, no matter what. So we launched both paddle boards, and with the kids aboard one, I paddled my board towing the kids behind me into the teeth of the brisk wind. We brought cameras, the soccer ball, snacks, baggies (to harvest salt) and rain gear. We hiked over to the ruins of the old village. As we were wandering around, taking pictures, a swarm of teeny, tiny biting flys decided to join our group. We were inundated with the damn things. Also, because it was the end of the wet season down here, the salt ponds were flooded much deeper than they were last spring. Alas, our trip was cut short with no salt harvested, and probably more bug bites collected than photographs. We still had a good time. The bugs didn’t follow us up the beach to where our paddle boards were, so we kicked the soccer ball around some, before we headed back out to C2F to continue our journey south.

Charette Family Adventure-Legs 2 & 3 Bahia Salinas to Bahia Agua Verde to Isla San Francisco



After our morning spent on the beach (wearing rain gear) on Bahia Salinas, we decided to keep our train rolling. We upped anchor after lunch at 12:30 and sailed south toward Bahia Agua Verde, 29 nautical miles south. Although drizzling rain at times, we had a fantastic sail for the first three hours…then the winds lightened. With no other suitable anchorage nearby to change our destination to, I fired up the motors so we could make landfall in the daylight. Upon our arrival, we anchored C2F up at the head of the pack, closest to the beach, in the flattest, calmest water. We didn’t go to shore that evening, with everyone still feeling tired from the day (and night) before’s long sail.
Two boats left the anchorage early the next morning. At 8am, after we finished our breakfast, and about an hour after the first boat left, we sailed off the hook and out into the nicely blowing Sea. I was hoping we would see at least one of the two boats out there to have someone to chase down, and sure enough, there was. Having another sail out on the horizon to try and chase down can help turn a long boring sail into an exciting race…even if you are the only one who knows it’s a race. 😉
We were initially looking at sailing on a broad reach and staying outside of the numerous islands that dot the east coast of Baja. But, just like on our maiden voyage, the ride was much more pleasant, and every bit as fast, by turning deep downwind and surfing the waves head on. We were cruising at 8-10 knots with surfs accelerating us into the 15 knot range. Before this trip, C2F’s top speed under my command was 15.8 knots (on Jackson Lake-no surfing involved). Now, sailing fast is FUN, but I had some VERY PRECIOUS cargo aboard! I could not risk anything going wrong with G & B on the boat, so, after we hit 15.5 knots, I decided it was time to reef the sails. Like usual, I shortened sail, automatically going to the second reef position. Shortly thereafter, we topped our daily best by hitting 15.6 knots with the double reefed sails.
Not only were we absolutely crushing the competition on the unknown race course, we somehow caught and landed a skipjack tuna while we raced downhill.
The winds continued to build and by the time we reached “the hook” on Isla San Francisco, we were still flying with only one, double reefed mainsail up. We dropped the hook at 3:47pm.
Needing some time off the boat, we decided to brave the strong winds, and paddle board into the beach. This time all three of us loaded up on my one paddle board. After nearly dumping everyone right away, I managed to pull it together and build some momentum, which, just like on a bicycle, really helps stabilize the paddle board. Amazingly, we made it to shore unscathed where we met up with another family boat, S/V Sonrisa, and had a short but wonderful visit with Nick, Nell, and there two young boys.
Beo and G collected every piece of sea glass they could find, and then we all headed back to our respective boats for some dinner and sleep.