The Baja Bash!

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Sunset at Santa Maria Bay

Sunset out of Cabo San Lucas
A turtle waving at us
The nose of Cabo Colenet
The “Baja Bash” crew


Coming into Ensenada
X-mas decorations in Ensenada
Our constant companions

The Baja Bash!
San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

This next chapter of our blog will be of our travels and tell the story of our trip from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego, referred to by sailors as the notorious “Baja Bash”! In mentioning to our fellow Bajaer’s that we were heading back, the initial response was always “why”?Many people use the Baja Ha- Ha as a jumping off stage to South and/or Central America, the Caribbean or The French Pollyneasion Islands, or further. They also hate the trip back, so many people will leave their boats on the hard or in a slip and fly back and forth. Many boats just never come back north and are just sold. The reason the trip back is dreaded so much is that you are going against the wind, against the current and against the swells and their accompanying waves and did I say the wind? We felt confident about our trip because we had all done our own previous little bash, bringing Wind Horse up from San Diego to Napa the previous fall. But there are significant differences between the trips. In Mexico, there is no Vessel Assist (a version of AAA but for boats in the US), no NOAA, no NWS for weather, much of the trip has little cell coverage and internet access is non-existent, and there is no Coast Guard, if you need assistance. There is the Mexican navy but they are small and do not have much of a presence. Also there are very few places along the coast that you can pull in the get supplies and if you need a part for your boat, you better have it with you or be able to repair it yourself. There are sparse anchorages that you plan your passages by. Many requiring multiply days sailing including nights. Our longest was 40 hours at sea from Santa Maria Bay to Turtle Bay with Turtle Bay one of the few places you can tack on fuel. Coming down we had the company of our Baja fleet. If there was a problem, they were there to help. A comforting assurance. An instance was one boat lost both of their engines and was towed much of the way to Cabo by another boat in the fleet. We would be heading north by ourselves, the only other boats we would see would be fishing boats, an occasional Cruising Line, a handful of recreational boats heading south. We saw not a single boat heading north. As Vickie said to Kevin and I “we are very brave or very stupid”, to which I answered “yes”! I will be updating this, as we travel north, and will only post it once we arrive in San Diego. Leg One As I had reported earlier,our departure from Cabo was delayed due to the Port Captain now allowing us to leave due to weather. After reviewing a video display in the marina of weather on the Baja peninsula we saw a good weather window develop for Sunday. The video display was from the internet and was a site just for boaters. I sent the link to Bill, back in Napa so he could monitor it and text us updates when we could infrequently get cell coverage. The weather report from this new software was winds 10-15 kts and seas at 1-2′, at 14 seconds. What we found was much different! After beginning with the winds and seas being as predicted, as night came, things changed. The seas raised to 8-10′ and the winds were 20-25kts! The seas dropped to 5-7′ but the wind stayed 20-25kts, until 05:00, when we found the predicted 1-2′ seas and 15kt wind. We arrived at Santa Maria Bay after leaving Cabo San Lucas 30.5 hours earlier. Leg Two Our next passage was to Turtle Bay, a 34 hour passage. Again the seas were predicted to be 10-15kts and 1-2′. Things started out fine for the first few hours. Then we had 20-25kt winds with gust over 30. At 21:00 I went below for my 3 hours off shift. When I came up at midnight I found 8-10′ seas. They then dropped to 4-5′ but only maybe 6 seconds apart. Every time we came up and over one swell we were met with another, crashing through the pulpit! Much of the teak planking on the pulpit had been bashed away! This lasted until 07:00 the following morning. Kevin and I took one hour shifts hand steering through the swells, turning port and starboard, fighting to keep the boat from being turned parallel to the waves. With the moon now gone, you could not tell the position of the boat to the waves. But you could feel the wind on your face. Since we were motoring directly into the wind, if you felt the wind on either cheek, the boat was turning parallel to the waves and you had to quickly crank the wheel to the other side. At this point I decided I’m not liking the software I recommended. We finally arrived 21:30, after 40 hours at sea. Leg Three We slept in late the next morning, at our newest anchorage, Turtle Bay. We needed to take on fuel while here and it is a unique process. The fuel is delivered by panga in a large plastic cube. You hail them with your air horn and they come and ask how much you want. We told them 60 gallons and off they went. They came back shortly and pumped the fuel to my tank. We had done this on our way south and had no problems. But there are stories about “Baja” gas having water and impurities in it. While here, we heard about the large earthquake in the Solomon Islands and the possibility of a tsunami. With a bit of concern we left knowing the best place for us would be on the ocean. As it turned out the tsunami did not materialize. We left Turtle Bay at 11:30 with our next destination San Quintin Bay, a 32 hour passage. But again we were met with high winds and the accompanying waves. Our expected 6 kt speed was slowed to 3.5kts. Our projected 19:00 arrival the following night was now pushed to the following morning. We decided to find another closer anchorage. This we found at Punta Baja, which we arrived at 01:30 in the morning, two days after leaving Turtle Bay. Leg Four Our next leg to get to San Quintin Bay was a 5 hour pleasant passage. Leg Five We now had two legs left till we arrived at Ensenada. Our second to last one would take us to Cabo Colenet, a picturesque large plateau with one end shaped like a nose. This was to be a nine hour passage and for the most part was pretty calm. That was until, two hours from the anchorage, in the dark, with rolling waves, the engine stopped! We were 12 miles offshore without an engine. Of course we could have raised the sails and gone back to where we began that day but I suspected we had been bit by “Baja” fuel! I opened the fuel filter and found a filthy fuel filter. An easy fix, with a new filter but I needed diesel fuel to top off the filter to keep air from getting in the system. There was none available so we removed the steps in the companionway to expose the fuel tank. I removed the fuel level sensor giving me access to fuel below. Then using a skill that most adolescent boys learn, I started sucking on a hose to syphon enough fuel to top off the filter. Putting everything back together, we turned the key and… the engine started right up. We arrived at the anchorage at 21:30, happy to be there! Leg Six Our next leg to Ensenada was uneventful. But here my brother Kevin, who flew to Cabo to help us bash north departed to take the bus and train back home. The trip had taken longer than anticipated and he needed to get home. It was wonderful having his help and I want to thank my Irish twin for always being there for me. Leg Seven Vickie and I had a much needed rest in Ensenada. We met another great community of cruisers. Our neighbors were in charge of the morning net and gave us a ride to get propane and a gallon of diesel, so I wouldn’t have to suck on a hose again. There was even someone who could weld a part for me for a couple of “coconuts”. The two of us left early Thursday morning and had our calmest day on the ocean coming into San Diego. One of our new friends in Ensenada, said “”my husband did the “Baja Bash” twice, once and never again!””. Next blog Customs and San Diego Warm Regards, Dennis

2 thoughts on “The Baja Bash!”

  1. I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thx again

    1. Hello,

      We are glad you enjoyed it. It is brand new to us. More will be coming soon. Bear with us as we learn. Subscribe if you like.

      Fair winds and following seas,

      Dennis y Vickie

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