June 6, 2001
Marina Cabo San Lucas, Baja, Mexico

Papagayos, Tehuantepeckers, and the Baja Bash

or We are not in Control!
By Lois Joy     

Well, it was “hurry up and wait” again yesterday, as we hurried to provision for the 800-mile voyage up the coast of Baja California to San Diego, our other home and the destination that marks the end of Voyage One in our catamaran, Pacific Bliss. When we arrive, this maiden voyage will have taken us close to 10,000 miles, from its starting point in the south of France.   They call the return trip to San Diego “the Baja Bash,” because the north northwest route goes against the prevailing NW winds here. The Bash begins with a successful rounding of the Cape, one of the most exposed in the world, with seas that get a good run all the way from Japan.  We are now docked at slip G91 in the new Marina Cabo, impatiently waiting for an opportune weather window to begin the final leg of our adventure.

Pacific Bliss in Marina Cabo

The marina is nice enough, still sparkling new, a square anchored by the dark pink Plaza las Glorias Hotel and surrounded by shops and restaurants on three sides.  The good news and the bad news: it is right in the center of all the action.  It might as well be located near Los Angeles, because it is merely an extension of Southern California.   English is spoken widely and the North American tourist is King.

The 335 slips are filled primarily with huge yachts for sports fishing, a big industry here. The few sailboats here are owned by cruisers like us who are anxious to get north of the hurricane belt.   There are plenty of party boats, the kind that rarely leave the dock.  The partying on shore and on those boats carries well into the night-accompanied by blaring, obnoxious rap music.   We provisioned with U.S. brands for the first time, how boring-everything is here! The cultural challenge is gone.  One leaves the secure marina gates only to be accosted by salespeople pretending to be manning “information” booths about the city, but really selling timeshare units. The grating of civilization on such a scale is harsh to our cruisers’ ears. We want to leave.

Our Cortez Crossing Crew Leaves from Cabo Marina

Laurent Gets a Ride from his Daddy.

Yesterday morning, we said good-by to our crew, Sharon and Stuart, as the crews of Pacific Bliss and Finally all enjoyed a big Mexican breakfast at a corner café.   Thanks, crew, for your help in crossing the Sea of Cortez! We hope to post crew photos shortly.

Our new crew, James Bixler “Bix” arrived here within a few hours of our arrival on Saturday afternoon.   Bix was referred to us by our yacht broker, David Renouf, and is considering the purchase of a Catana 431. There is no better way to find out what she is made of than doing the Baja Bash!

So speaking of the Bash…

The truth of the matter is that most of the weather that boaters experience as they move along the coast of Mexico originates from the northwest and moves southeast.  So just when the Northwesterlies are at their lightest, during November, the annual migration of cruising boats heads from south from California and points north for the beginning of the annual cruising season.   Because the winds are too light to give an adequate push, sail boats motor more than they would expect when they migrate during this time of the year. Conversely, the fleet heads north toward the U.S. border in May, before the hurricane season sets in.  This is just when the prevailing winds are the strongest right on their noses. That is why this notorious beat north is called the Baja Bash.

By May, the Pacific High has resumed its residence between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. The high’s clockwise rotation brings these steady Northwesterlies to coastal Baja, making May the most difficult month to head north, according to Captains Pat and John Rains in their guide, Cruising Ports: Florida to California via Panama.  If one were going south from San Diego during this time, one could get a sleigh ride, especially in a Cat, and make 200-mile days, as we did crossing the Atlantic. But Pacific Bliss is going north, with only two good ports that provide great refuge during strong Northwesterlies: Magdelena Bay and Turtle Bay.  We plan to fuel at Turtle Bay, and it might well be our only stop.  Other than fuel, our provisioning needs to last until San Diego.

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