Freight Trains

Trip Start Dec 01, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Marina Palmira

Flag of Mexico  , Baja California,
Monday, May 3, 2010

We arrived in La Paz despite almost being run over by a cruise ship and knocked around by a 25 knot Coromuel wind. Coromuels are a local event unique to La Paz and are strong south or southwest wind generated by the cool air of the Pacific joining the heated air of the Sea of Cortez. I thought Coromuel meant Freight Train in Spanish, but apparently that's only how it feels. Cruise ships are also a local event, but not unique to La Paz, just plentiful in the Baja area.

We left Mazatlan the morning of April 26th, 2010. We stayed an extra week to explore and enjoy the fruits of Mazatlan with my daughter Jennifer. She joined us at the El Cid resort to spend her long deserved time off lounging with her Mama (and alot of Iguanas) around the pools of Marina El Cid. We had an incredible time and I put on at least 10 pounds (they put mole sauce on eggs!).

I finally got smart and pre-cooked our meals before we left Mazatlan. Cooking is quite possible under sail, but not very fun.  It gets wild and you're trying to hold a spoon and pan while trying to open the fridge with your foot and all while you are being tossed about like the salad that just landed on the floor. So, I cooked up a batch of spaghetti and bought a couple of rotisserie chickens from Sam's Club and made up chicken salad and sweet and sour chicken and rice. I also stocked up on sliced ham, cheese and bread and we keep a significant supply of granola bars for those times when the cook is unconcious or on strike.

My fear of having to surf our way out of the narrow channel at the harbor entrance was unwarrented and we sailed through the narrow channel into the Pacific on a beautiful sunny Monday. The weather forecast was for light winds all 250 miles up and across to La Paz.  We had two beautiful days of light breezy sailing. There were the usual suspects along the way; lots of dolphin and a turtle or two, and we had a whale surface right next to the boat! Very intimate look at a very large animal. Then he sprayed us with his very special blow hole spray and submerged, gone as quick as he came. And we sailed for hours through a mine field of about a thousand million of most unusual jellyfish. There were several types but the most abundant looked like long ropes of flowers while others resembled snakes or octopus tentacles. They ranged in size from 2 inches to as much as 15 or 20 feet long with some curled around like a hula hoop. It was difficult to get a picture of them because they mostly floated just below the surface of the water and we were bouncing along, but I tried anyway (as you can see).

It was still light when we spotted the mountains of Baja California in the distance on Tuesday evening. But the light would not last much longer and now there was cloud cover that would soon blend the water and sky and mountains and make it virtually impossible to distinguish the differences let alone the distances. We were navigating by our GPS and had just rounded the top of the island of Ceralvo and on course for the San Lorenzo Channel that seperates the Island of Espiritu Santos and mainland Baja. If we cut through that pass it would save us an 8 hour trip aound the island so we were headed in that direction when all of a sudden there were lights coming through that pass.  Alot of lights. So many lights that they were drowning out the red and green navigation lights on the bow and we struggled with the binoculars trying to determine which direction the behemoth would take. It appeared to be a couple of miles away and he would most likely head straight out to sea and so we felt safe to sail across his bow towards his port side. But he didn't go straight, The massive ship turned to port as he came out of the channel, which put us dead in his path. It's amazing how quickly we found ourselves in a pickle. 

We illuminated all Ashika's deck lights on the off chance he might see us. Dois gave Ashika full throttle turning hard to port. The wind was blowing 25 - 27 knots through the pass and directly on our nose and the seas were now steep and choppy. The wave action on the bow knocked the teak boards loose from the bowsprit. The wind sounded like a freight train but we could still hear the cruise ship as it finally, to our great relief, slipped by a few hundred yards off our stern The winds continued to whip us around and we were shaken by our near miss and the pass was narrow and rough. So, we cuddled up to the backside of the island and stood in the lee until dawn. The Coromuel wind was still blowing at sunrise and blew us into Pa Paz.

The winds really are not a surprise to anyone in La Paz, these people set their watches by it... 7:00 PM it starts up, cools the place off, then dissipates around late morning. But we weren't expecting it and we hadn't had much sleep by the time it smacked into us.  The cruise ship showed up suddenly due to the short pass. The ship had sailed from behind the island and when it turned into the channel we could "all of a sudden" see it. I suspect if we hadn't been so tired, we may have turned to our port and waited to see where the boat was actually going, but maybe not. We were lucky (Thank you God). We rented a slip in Marina Palmira while Dois bangs his knuckles in what we now call his "office" (used to be the engine room, but he's spending alot of time in there lately). While he's been busy working, I caught some sort of bug. I think it was a Tourista bug, but it only lasted one day (Thank you again God).

We'll be here for a few more days, then off we go to explore the Sea of Cortez.

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Leo on

WOW.. That was a Great blog. What a fantastic story you tell. Pati and I jealous. I know its just as difficult as it is wonderful and you tell the stories showingboth sides of the coin. I really enjoy following your trip.

ashika on

Leo and Pati! It's so great to hear somebody actually reads these things! Please say hello to everyone there. We miss the docks! Hope all is well. Ginger misses the docks especially Pati's kitty.

Lauri and Dois and the four-legged crew.

Carol and Steve on

Hey - we're thrilled every time we get one of your entries - just a little slow opening them (sorry) ... keep them coming, we love the photos and the blog.... maybe some day you'll let us fly in and visit you in some exotic port? xoxo to you, Dois, Daisy and Ginger

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