Sailing away with Nikk and Jan

A Week of Contrasts

The past week began in beautiful Bahia de Santa Maria and ended anchored off the golden sandy beach of Cabo San Lucas, at the end of the Baja California peninsula. 1900 miles since we left Portland in September. Our time in Bahia Santa Maria created a deeper connection with the world of rocks, sky, plants and animals in this land of contrasts. Paying attention to small creatures, birds and unexpected plants is one of the joys of this journey for me.

The least strained and most natural ways of the soul are the most beautiful; the best occupations are the least forced. Michel de Montaigne/blockquote>;
It is especially fitting that the author of that quote is “of the mountain”, because we faced hills that rose up out of the sea to a height of 1500 feet.

On Saturday Nov 16 our friend Jane from Midnight Blue joined us to paddle across the bay in our kayaks, and up the estuary, viewing birds in the mangroves, grasses and mud flats. Many pangas were heading up the estuary too, to deliver their lobsters to the cages where they grow before being harvested. Fishermen/lobstermen make the estuary home for part of the year, and live in little plywood homes, sometimes with family. We waved to some of the children and greeted the men in pangas as we paddled up the estuary. A very primitive, sandy road went by the fish camp, so we pulled out our kayaks and walked up the road. On the driving map of Baja, this road is called a “dirty road”, the lowest classification of types of roads, and Hurricane Paul, which dumped a lot of rain here in early October, didn’t help it’s condition. But the desert was profusely blooming; periwinkle blue morning glories, tiny shrubs, long tubular cacti with bulbous red fruits growing sideways, and huge agaves with brilliant yellow flowers on huge stalks that look like century plants. We saw a little Costa’s Hummingbird gleaning nectar from the yellow flowers.
And at the top of a rise, we saw the ocean, and an old wreck in the water, so had to go another mile or so to investigate. By the time we returned to our sailboats we’d been gone for six hours!
Some birds seen: Little Blue Herons, both slate blue mature and white immature forms, Great Egrets, Reddish Heron, Green Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and an unidentified vireo.

Sunday Nikk needed to drain the water and gunk out of the fuel, then top off the tank, a long project. I scouted the rocky cliffs looking for a way to land the kayaks so that we could go explore inland. We enjoyed another fabulous dinner on Midnight Blue, Tim and Jane cooked bouillabaise (sp?) with Wahoo and we contributed lobster for the pot, bought with 100 pesos and a Snickers Bar for the lobsterman’s children (the tails were about 3-4 inches long).

Monday Nov 18 was another cloudy day, perfect for exploring, and we found a way to land the kayaks safely on a little beach at the mouth of an arroyo, although I got a bit wet when the kayak tipped as I got out. We followed the arroyo, marveling at the profusion of plants blooming pink, orange, red and white. Lots of butterflies but no birds. We came out at the top of a ridge to see the Pacific Ocean breaking at the foot of steep cliffs and rocky headlands. We were happy to explore and enjoy the peacefulness of the remote places we visited on foot, and the beauty of the anchorage at Bahia de Santa Maria.

Balance sailed out of Bahia de Santa Maria Tuesday afternoon, it was sunny and the engine sounded fine as we motored while pulling up the anchor. We hoped that leaving in the afternoon Tuesday would time our arrival in Cabo for Thursday morning. We found some good winds after we got out of the slack winds at the mouth of the bay, but Midnight Blue followed us about an hour and a half later, and turned back due to lack of wind. We missed our buddy boat, especially when lightening was striking all around us after dark, and we were trying to decide whether to continue or retreat inside Bahia de Magdalena. When we saw lightening inside Mag Bay, we nervously continued on down the coast, watching bolts strike from ocean to cloud, and at the same time send bolts shooting horizontally through the clouds. I finally went to bed at 10, and when I got up at 2 am the sky was full of stars instead of lightening. All Wednesday we sailed further SE, and finally crossed the Tropic of Cancer, 23 degrees and 27 minutes. We celebrated with glasses of ginger ale, and I celebrated because I’d found the wrist bands with the little plastic bead just before we left Bahia de Santa Maria. The bands are supposed to press on a point on the inside of your wrist and lessen motion sickness. They work! Even though we were definitely rocking and rolling, I could be below, cook, and only had one moment of queasiness when cooking lobster for dinner, and that might have happened even on land. Both nights we needed sail changes due to shifting winds, so Nikk didn’t get much sleep, and stayed up with pots of coffee. We sailed into Cabo Thursday morning at sunrise and were surrounded by fishing boats, mostly power boats, leaving the Cabo Marina. We knew that coming to Cabo, the tourist mecca, after weeks of relative solitude would be a shock, dodging dozens of power boats was just the beginning of the intense contrasts.

The Cabo Marina is surrounded on three sides by a long malecon, a walkway with both high fashion shops and little wooden booths selling trinkets, blankets, dresses and pottery, many restaurants, marina offices, showers and laundry, and the men, women and children peddling toys, cheap jewelry, “Cuban” cigars, and drugs (whispered). Nikk pointed out that if someone was foolish enough to buy the drugs, the policia would probably be right around the corner watching.
We also found out that it was Thanksgiving Day, when we were offered a Thanksgiving dinner at our breakfast restaurant, Alexander’s. I was very happy to be able to talk with Jesse and Lucy and Deva, because our phones were working for the first time since Turtle Bay. Nikk once again caught up on sleep after we checked into the marina and finally took long, long showers washing away the accumulation of ten days. Sponge baths and a swim in Bahia de Santa Maria were not enough. After many days on the boat, the shower floor was rocking, a strange sensation indeed.

If you want peace and quiet, don’t stay in Cabo Marina, but if you want to dance to loud disco, party until 2 am, or watch boats leave at 6 am, it’s your place. The first night Nikk was in bed by 8 pm, and me shortly after. At 8:45 the little schnauzer (we later found out he was only 6 months old) in the boat across the walkway from us started barking. He was still barking continuously half an hour later, so to prevent Nikk from getting up and strangling him, I went over with a bucket and doused him with water. He was quiet after that. Someone about three boats down the row applauded when I walked back to the boat. The next day he was excited to play with me while we chatted with his owner, so I don’t think he suffered any trauma, but maybe he’ll have a fear of tsunamis? His owner went out and bought him a crate the next day.

Midnight Blue arrived Friday morning, we met them at La Casa Country in the afternoon for beer, guacamole, burgers for them and fish tacos for us, and good times catching up on our sails to Cabo. They anchored out off the beach about a mile from the marina, and we joined them for two nights. Hotels line the beach above the golden sands, the hotels have domes that make them look like something from Istanbul, and are white or ochre colored. The daytime temperatures are in the high 80’s, the water is also in the 80’s, perfect for swimming. Today (Sunday the 25th) we paddled over to the rocky area at the tip of the peninsula, and went snorkeling around the rocks with Tim and Jane. We saw fish of every color and size up to about two feet in length, a garden of fishes in the green water. Another paddle, and we were at Tabasco’s, a little beach restaurant in the middle of the huge hotels, consuming beer, nachos and guacamole. Because it was Happy Hour, all that food and beer only cost 170 pesos with tax and tip, about $14 US. We said goodbye to Tim and Jane, we’re leaving tomorrow the 26th for La Cruz, near Puerto Vallarta, where we’ll stay for at least a month. We’ll see them again, though because Tim and Jane will sail Midnight Blue across on Tuesday, to stay in Punta Mita for the winter, which is only about 10 miles from La Cruz.

As I type this, I’m listening to the sounds of drumming and loud cheering from one of the hotels onshore. It’s almost 11 pm, and we get up at 5:30 am to pull up the anchor and hopefully sail away. If it’s clear, we’ll see Venus and Saturn in the eastern sky before sunrise. I’m marveling still that we are here in Cabo, the end of the long peninsula, which seemed so far away when we began the journey in September. I have some beautiful photos taken in Bahia de Santa Maria and Cabo that I’m going to wait to post when we’re in La Cruz and hopefully have an excellent internet connection in the marina. Thanks to everyone who posted the positive comments, I don’t always have time to reply, but I love reading the comments and knowing that you are entertained and inspired. The next chaper of life in mainland Mexico begins in December.

Comments on: "A Week of Contrasts" (4)

  1. Great post, guys! It sounds as you’re getting everything out of your cruise. I think you’ll also enjoy La Cruz and the sail down there. I hope you’re planning a stop at the bird sactuary at Isla Isabella. Before you get too far ahead of yourselves, I think you might have misquoted your progress south, as you’ve only just crossed the tropic of cancer. Enjoy your cruise. Fair winds and good sailing!

  2. So great – you are an excellent blogger! I follow your journey on the map – it seems like you made it pretty fast but I might not have read the blogs as soon as you posted them. I can’t wait to hear more. Awesome journey Jan!

  3. Jan, I’d forgotten about your blog until today. What a treat to read what you have written!! You give wonderful, interesting descriptions of what you’ve been doing. Sounds like things are going great. I’m a bit jealous of the warm weather and all the interesting sightings that you’ve had. All sounds very fulfilling. So glad you can be on a boat trek with Nikk…. I will check in regularly now to keep up with your adventures…. I’m getting ready to buy a new pair of downhill ski. Exciting. Looking forward to Anthony opening, any day now.
    Happy sailing,

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