North again, finally
15 August 2015 | Santa Rosalia
We spent two days in Sweet Pea Cove. While we were there, we swam in the warm water, watched the rays jump in the daytime and gazed at the stars at night, and took care of some boat projects. Eric used our hookah rig to clean the half-inch of crusty marine growth that had enveloped our prop shaft during our stay in the marina. He suspected that this might have been the cause of SCOOTS' issuing an unusual amount of smoke during our drive over from Santa Rosalia. (Spoiler alert: he was right.) The weather was hot and we were constantly sweaty, so we dunked ourselves in the Sea at least once a day, despite the smattering of annoying stings that we got each time - even through our rash guards - from some sort of invisible jellyfish. These stings then blossom into itchy welts over the next few hours, and last for days. Ugh.
Garth (aka Tunaholic), a veteran of the Sea of Cortez, came by in his pink-and-orange panga to give us a bag of dorado that he had caught the previous day. He stuck around for a diet Coke and some interesting conversation before leaving for Santa Rosalia. He gave us some pointers for how to call the pangueros over to our boat (hold up a cold Pacifico) and how much to offer them for fish (60 to 100 pesos, depending on the amount of fish, and ask them to filet it). We had fresh, tasty dorado for dinner that night.
The next morning, as I was snorkeling, a panga approached SCOOTS (on its own, no Pacifico had been proffered). The fishermen asked Eric if he could fill their liter bottle with fresh water (of course!), and then gave him two fish (pargo snappers, we think) in return. They offered him more, but two were plenty for us. I fileted the fish (not having done this much, the first filet one was kind of rough-looking, but the fourth one was mostly intact). Eric found a marinade that consists of margarita ingredients. We had fresh, tasty fish for dinner that night, too.
We left Sweet Pea Cove on August 14, at about 2 pm, when the wind rose suddenly from a lazy 2 knots to a fresh 12 knots. "Someone must have put a peso in the wind machine," Eric said, as he headed to the bow to pull up the anchor.
For the next two hours, we sailed north at about 7.5 knots. It was a glorious sail, with sunny skies above us and glistening sea beneath us. Then, when we were a mile or two past Santa Rosalia, as suddenly as it had come up, the wind died. Apparently, the peso's worth of wind had been exhausted.
For the remainder of the afternoon, and all through the night, the wind never rose above 4 knots; most of the time there were double goose-eggs on the speed-through-water display (0.0). But the speed-over-ground display showed a positive reading during the same period, as we were helped along by the current. Not wanting to arrive at Bahia San Francisquito in the dark, we drifted slowly along under sail throughout the night, running our engine for just a little while, when the current switched with the tide and we lost our boost.
Lightning flashed in the distance, but the sky above us remained moonless and brilliantly clear, which allowed both of us to see many of the Perseid meteors streak by, trailing dazzling streamers. What a beautiful sight they were!
During one of my watches, I was startled by a loud SPLASH! about 20 feet off the stern quarter. SPLASH! It came again. This was much too large to be a ray, even a big one. SPLASH! This time, I could see the outline of a large dolphin, leaping out of the water and belly-flopping back in. Not the graceful arc that these guys usually perform, but a purposeful jump and splash. Illuminated by the bioluminescence, it streaked underneath SCOOTS, then shot out of the water on the other side. SPLASH! The dolphin played with us this way for about ten minutes, before losing interest (we were ghosting along, remember) and swimming away.
Nearing Bahia San Francisquito the next afternoon, we were eager to see some of our cruising friends who had come here from Santa Rosalia over the past week or so. We even put shorts and shirts on over our minimal tropical sailing attire for the occasion. But when we rounded the point and peered into the bay, not a single boat was anchored there, everyone already having moved on to other destinations. We came for the party, but the party had already left. Ah well, that's how it is with cruisers. On the bright side, we wouldn't have to wear many clothes in the anchorage, since we would have it to ourselves, which is handy when it's stinkin' hot and you're not an exhibitionist.
Arriving at the mouth of the bay, we encountered some pretty gnarly tidal action: swirls and eddies and bumpy waves, moving north to south like a river. SCOOTS crossed it all just fine, but the amount of motion in the water was amazing. At the same time, someone must have put another peso in the wind machine, because the wind suddenly blew at 17 knots. Crazy.
We decided to anchor in the southeastern anchorage, as the weather forecasts predicted strong winds from that direction for the next few days. This was good as it would tend to blow from the beach, keeping SCOOTS' stern pointed toward the wide open bay, rather than toward the beach or the rocky cliffs that loomed on its western end.
Before our anchor was even set, some honeybees came to check us out, hoping to find some fresh water on board. They buzzed around the swim step, and didn't try to come inside, which I thought was darned nice of them. We later heard that some of the other cruisers had a real problem with the bees here, but so far, through a combination of deploying all of our hatch screens and a nifty, custom-made companionway screen that we found in one of SCOOTS' lockers, and burning some mosquito coils in the cockpit, we have been coexisting pretty well so far.
As soon as SCOOTS was buttoned up after her arrival, Eric jumped into the water off the swim step. And let out a hoot. The water was COLD! I checked the water temp and it was 82 degrees - a full ten degrees cooler than the water we've been in for the past couple of months. I jumped in, too. The water was so refreshing! It kind of puts things in perspective, when 82 degree water feels cold. And so far, no jellyfish stings!
A squadron of pelicans swam up, looking like they expected a handout. Then a sea lion swam close by. We wondered if this was a popular fish-cleaning spot in some seasons.
In the evening, small clouds wafted over, and lightning lit the sky over the Sea with almost continuous flashes. Something big was hovering out there. Would it move north, or would it move east over our bay? Hoping to get some timely weather advice, we listened to the nightly "chubasco report" on the single sideband radio, during which Jake (from the sailboat Jake) makes a prediction on nightly storm activity, based on satellite images and other weather data he has access to, having Internet as he does. Unfortunately, as is the usual case, we couldn't hear Jake through the static. We would just have to watch and see.
Just in case, we took down the sun shade and brought loose items into the cabin from the cockpit.
The storm moved over our bay. At about midnight, the wind started blowing in the mid- to upper-twenties from the east, which had the unpleasant effect of swinging SCOOTS' stern toward the rocky western cliffs. Wonderful. Wind waves rolled through the bay, their white caps lit ethereally by the disturbed bioluminescent critters that surfed along with them. Lightning streaked across the sky and down to the water, closer, but not directly overhead, followed by rolling thunder. We put the electronics in our metal "lightning box," unplugged our radio antennas, and turned off unnecessary switches at the control panel. I attached a zinc anode to one end of some jumper cables, threw them overboard, and attached the other end to a metal side shroud. This last might be just a talisman, rather than an actual lightning preventer, but it makes me feel better. Having done what we could do to safeguard SCOOTS from the rare event of a lightning strike, Eric went to bed, while I sat up in the cockpit, watching the show and keeping a nervous eye on those cliffs. (We had our anchor alarm on, so if we dragged, which was unlikely, it would let us know, but I still like to watch what's going on, in real time.)
After an hour or so, the wind began to abate, the lightning came less often, and the thunder receded into the distance. A slight rain began to fall. With the meteorological excitement of my first Sea of Cortez storm over for the night, and my eyelids drooping, I joined Eric in bed.