I had actually spoken a little fast about the peaceful stop in Bahia Santa Maria. The night after the blogpost was written, the wind picked up to 30 knots, definitely the most we’ve had at anchor, with wind waves built-up. Not our most restful night to say the least and quite a bummer as we were taking off for our 3rd and last bight the next day: 40 nm or so to pass Magdalena Bay and reach the actual beginning of the bight, followed by the 130 nm in the bight. We would then reach Cabo San Lucas and close the Baja Pacific Coast chapter.
But first, some sailing had to happen.
We left late in the morning with the wind still blowing in the bay. The other boat that had spent the night with us at the anchorage had left already, we would meet its crew in Cabo San Lucas the next day. But first, we found a light wind as we sailed pass the tall mountain enclosing Magdalena Bay. Supposedly whales were calving there too and the entrance of the bay was similar in landscape, wind and current to our familiar San Francisco Bay. Without the Golden Gate though, so we decided it wouldn’t worth it. I’m joking but we sailed pass nonetheless, ready for an overnight sail.
Conditions were comfortable compared to the previous bight. As we passed the last land mass of the reach, Isla Margherita, the wind became more consistent in speed and direction and we put the whisker pole up to be able to hold the jib in opposition to the main sail and go dead downwind. The wind was still in the twenties so we were under two reefs in the main sail and, most of the time, a partially furled jib. Having balanced and not overpowered sails is important to help the self-steering vane, a device on the stern of the boat that keeps the boat on course as long as wind does too. The installation was a challenge when Yalçın was working on the boat and I was still working my job, but we eventually manage to finalize it and named this crucial and reliable crew “Avocet-the-helmslady”, after Yalçın’s previous boat. Almost upsettingly, Avocet has proven to be great helmslady: she can surf down the waves (one of our favorite activities at the helm) and not get distracted too much by the euphoria of building up speed, which we often do and end up zigzagging slightly off course. Avocet doesn’t get that carried away, she still surfs at good speed but never far from the course. That’s what she did. She carried us all through the night and the following day all the way down the coast.
The night was more busy than expected. Beside the usual couple of fishing boats blurring white halos, a motor boat “My Asteria”, who was also in the anchorage at Bahia Santa Maria when we left, caught up with us, annoyingly following exactly the same course. We saw them clearly approached on the AIS. The sea rules state that, being under sail power, we have right of way on them progressing under engine power. But not knowing if they are seriously on watch and knowing that they can’t detect us on the AIS (we have a receiver but no transmitter, a classic cruising boat set up), we applied the famous English adage “better safe than sorry”. Unfortunately, it’s is harder for a sailboat to change course than it would have been for them (hence the right of way rule). Having the pole up, our only resort was to gybe the main and go offshore for a little bit, and then gybe back to wing on wing. No problem with that at all, it even gets the blood going for the end of the shift.
In the morning, our path crossed the course of a countainer ship coming from the Bahamas through the Panama canal and heading for the US. When the ship appeared on the AIS, it was pointing directly at us and triggered all the alarm. Invisible on the horizon still blurred out from some morning fog, it ended up being a little of a panic moment, how far was this invisible boat? The alarm had woken up Yalçın below. In fact, it had just entered the AIS range and its silhouette was discernable miles away. We adjusted the course away from it, the range allowed by the poled jib seemed enough.
And the day kept going under the tropical sun – we had crossed that imaginary line without realizing of course.
Land appeared again – the end of the bight – with beaches and buildings, “False Cape” showing on the horizon. The name was well chosen as it hid the famous Cabo San Lucas for quite a while and therefore didn’t mark the actual end of the peninsula. More and more boats, fishing boats, sailboats and motor boats, appeared as we sailed, or more accurately, drifted in, the bay. We had read a lot about Cabo San Lucas and it being a noisy resort where people just come to party in the tropical sun. It sounded accurate if only for the natural beauty at the entrance of the bay: an arch in the rocks that composed the case. Definitely not underlooked, a third of the crafts filled with tourists were turning around the Cabo wonder, while the other thirds were busy making wakes in our future anchoring location or navigating back to the harbor.
After hesitations and discussions, we ending up agreeing on a spot by the harbor entrance that seemed somewhat out of the way and shallow enough to drop anchor (the slope to the beach is mostly steep). Once hooked to the bottom, we celebrated the mild weather by jumping in a water that turned out to be at a quite nice temperature! Delightful!
All this had sparked some excitement and despite the fatigue of the passage, we were excited to go to shore to get a rewarding burger for dinner and check out the craziness of our new location. We inflated the dinghy and went to introduce ourselves to the sailboat from Bahia Santa Maria that had just arrived on our way to town. We met Paul and Steve, also coming down from the East Bay, that’s a small world! Paul owned the boat and was moving down to La Paz to retire, helped by Capitain Steve. They had given up on going to shore and were hoping to leave early the next day. Steve who was familiar with the city gave us indications on where to lead our dinghy to go to shore. The burger place was a good find from Yalçın and Google: Esla burgers, a lovely yard with string lights that had opened only a week ago. Taking advantage of the touristic district around the marina, we had an Hagen-Das ice cream and ride back to a well deserved night of sleep. See you tomorrow Cabo San Lucas!