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

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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.

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