The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - The Baja Bash
27 May 2012 | Pacific coast of Baja California
As our time in Mexico is limited and the 'cruising' life draws to an end we needed to decide how to get ourselves and KIST back to Bellingham. There are a few schools of thought:
1) Do the Baja Bash--The idea of ending our year off fighting opposing winds, swells, waves, and the colder climate nearing the Pacific Northwest didn't appeal to either of us. We'd heard horror stories from credible sources about how hard this trip could be on us and the boat.
2) Take advantage of the typical weather patterns and sail to Hawaii then tack north towards Alaska and follow the coast south to home - This is not an option for us as Kevin has a work related test he needs to take in San Diego mid June. Besides, neither of us wants to be out to sea for 21 days at a minimum.
3) Ship the boat home via a special freighter designed to transport small boats--When we looked into this the price was way more than we would be able to justify.
4) Hire a skipper to take the boat up the coast -Kevin was not keen on the idea of handing KIST over to a stranger.
5) Haul the boat out of the water and put it on a specially rigged truck--Some cruisers haul out in the northern portion of the Sea of Cortez where arrangements are made to truck the boat out of Mexico to Tucson and then onto the chosen location. We discovered that the cost was almost as much as having the boat shipped back so that option didn't make sense for us.
When we lit on the idea of only bashing as far as San Diego where the skies are still mostly clear and the sun is warm and then trucking KIST the remainder of the way home that seemed more doable. The cost was almost half of what it would have been for any of the other options and more within our price range, so about two months ago we settled on this as a plan and set off at the beginning of May.
After 800 miles of 'the bash'...
~Kevin and I still like each other.
~There were a few passages which were easy.
~We were no where near the tornado that was threatening the mainland.
~In some fairly heavy seas dolphins played around the boat, jumping through the waves, out of the water, and putting on a fun show for about 30 minutes one evening. It helped calm my nerves...somewhat.
~None of the 15-20 whales that we saw one afternoon on their migration south against our migration north nudged the boat. Not even the two times a couple of them veered off from the distance and swam toward us until about a boat length or two away before they decided we weren't a threat and went on their merry way. They were amazing to see but I would have preferred to only be able to see them through the binoculars!
~One of our anchorages, northern Cedros Island, is home to a sea lion colony. Many of the sea lions sunbath on the beach, stretched out basking in the warmth (they are hard to see in the picture but if you look closely, those things that look like beached branches are sea lions). We stretched out basking in the warmth in the cockpit of the boat and I finally beat Kevin at a game of Baja Rummy!
~The autopilot belt broke on my shift...in the dark. We didn't have a replacement as it was new when we began the trip. This meant that we steered by hand and could not depend on Orville or Wilbur to get us where we needed to go for more than 500 miles. It also meant that we needed to be at the helm the entire time and could not tuck under the dodger out of the wind and the spray making the trip much colder than either of us would have liked. We also needed to change our normal four hour shifts to two hour shifts limiting the amount of rest we were able to get on our off shift.
~The fuel tank fill cap was loose and we took on some salt water in the tank. How did we discover this? The engine started making noises and then quit...in the dark. Kevin did things (I was at the helm, so I don't know what type of magic he does) and got us going again. Rather than head to our planned destination we diverted to the nearest anchorage which was still about four hours away. Luckily we had plenty of fuel in the extra jerry jugs we carry on deck which was not contaminated and while at anchor Kevin, being the clever guy that he is, devised a system utilizing a small fuel jug to feed fuel to the engine rather than from the large tank. This meant that every two hours he had to transfer fuel from the larger jerry jugs to the smaller jug while underway.
~The depth sounder quit working as we were about to anchor...in the dark...in a strange anchorage... but again, Kevin was able to fix it.
I think everyone should have a Kevin aboard.
Really no ugly unless you consider what the fuel that was pumped out of the tank looked like, oh, and the smell of the boat for a few day--Essence of Diesel. Not something that will most likely catch on as a favorite fragrance.
KIST is back together, fuel filters changed, systems put back the way they are supposed to be, and clean fuel in the tank. We are well rested, showered and enjoyed spending a few days in Ensenada. Tomorrow we leave for our last passage of this adventure; a daylight, one day, hopefully uneventful trip to San Diego!