26 October 2011 | Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur
Crossing the Sea of Cortez between San Carlos and Santa Rosalia (SR) is about a 72 nautical mile (NM) trip, which in a sailboat that averages 5 NM should take around 14 hours. When I crossed over to San Carlos in July I was able to do the complete crossing during daylight, however the days are now shorter and since we did not have a slip reserved in SR, I wanted to make sure we got here before the Marina closed.
We got up Tuesday morning at 1245, made a quick pot of coffee, threw on a pair of shorts, hoisted our anchor and headed out of Bahia Algodones on a warm, moonless night. Nighttime sailing is something that terrifies some people, in some cases causing them to make dumb mistakes, simply to avoid being on the water past dark. Sharon had never been sailing at night and although she seemed up to the challenge...you never really know. As we past the rocky, unlit points of land which protect Algodones and headed into the VERY dark sea, the gentle breeze began to grow stronger and the Seas began to pick up. Sharon had taken up watch over the bimini cover with a pair of binoculars glued to her eyes, while I stood at the helm glued to the radar, GPS and wind monitor. Within a few miles of leaving we had our sails up and full of wind, the wind indicator was now showing 15-20 knots. We had spray coming over our bow and across our decks and Si Bon was heeled (tilted) way over and doing 7+ knots. There's not to many times in a sailors life that you can have such a great point of sail, in a strong wind, at night, being doused with spray.....and be wearing only a pair of shorts (and of course our life vests).
As the sun began to rise and night turned to day, the wind continue to blow and we continued to sail along nicely until we finally lost our wind about 20 miles from SR. The day was as clear as I've ever seen, we were able to see the Baja peninsula as soon as it became light and we didn't loss sight of mainland Mexico until we were nearly to Santa Rosalia...meaning we had visibility of at least 60 miles. Although we kept a vigilant watch we did not see one other boat (NOT ONE) during the entire 13.5 hour crossing.
This was probably not the best night for a first night sail, it was extremely dark, the wind was at times howling, the waves were at times coming in sheets over our bow. Sooo.....how did Sharon do? Well she certainly gained my respect, she kept a vigilant watch, she helped with the many chores necessary to sail a boat across a large sea, before we left she had prepared meals for us to eat along the way and of course she took a couple of traditional naps in the cockpit. So all in all it was a wonderful crossing...still no horror stories to tell and we are now excited to begin exploring Santa Rosalia together for a few days until we move on to.....who knows where. God bless!