BAJA HAHA successfully completed with no loss of life or limb. August Dream II, our 439 Jeanneau sailboat, kindly ferried us all the way from San Diego to the tip of Baja California in a little more than 10 days transit time. We spent from October 26 - Nov 6 making our way down the Mexican Baja Pacific coast with our fellow 130+ Baja HaHa boat flotilla. This was our first experience with extended coastal sailing, particularly the first leg from San Diego to Turtle Bay that required us to be at sea for three days and two nights without setting foot on dry land. Pretty intimidating that first night as the sun set in the western horizon and the darkness slowly crept in from the east, but fortunately we were blessed with a full moon shining our way southward. There were a few nights however, when there were clouds masking the moon's light leaving us surrounded by total darkness interrupted only by an occasional adjacent boat hundreds of yards or miles away. For safety reasons, there needed to be at least one person on watch by the helm 24/7, so at night we each were responsible for a 3 hour shift starting at sunset until sunrise. It sounds a bit risky sitting by yourself in the cockpit hearing the dark waves foaming past the hull of the boat with the only illumination coming from the running lights of August Dream, knowing that if you would be washed off the boat there would be little chance for survival. That being said, there is also a certain peace and tranquility coming from the time alone in the dark in nature's grasp. I got so I looked forward to those 3 hour shifts from 9 to midnight, 12 - 3, or lastly the 3 - 6 am time. I'll will try to provide you some day by day accounting of the trip with description of our more interesting experiences but for now appreciate that we successfully made the trip, made some great friends with our crew Doug Gross, Laurie and Mark McMurray, and learned much about sailing, Mexico, and the cruiser culture. We flew back to San Diego on Nov 20 to enjoy the holidays with our family and will return to August Dream II in La Paz, Mexico in early January for two more months of sailing.
At the start of our journey, this is our crew from left to right, Doug Gross (our public relations expert), Laurie McMurray (competitive racing and seasickness consultant), Cindy (morale officer and designated driver), Captain Mike (no special talents), Auggie the Doggie, Annabelle (Youthful interpreter and computer consultant) and "Doc" Mark McMurray (main ballast and fix-it man extraordinaire).
After 3 days and 2 nights on the water we finally made landfall at Turtle Bay, a small impoverished Mexican fishing village halfway down the Baja peninsula. As you can see the wharf was a bit rickety, but Auggie didn't mind as she sprinted to the shore for her first potty break since San Diego. She set a new record of 52 hours without a bathroom break - have you ever tried that?
Our dingy was our lifeline to the shore. This is a typical Mexican beach - wide, expansive, endless sand, clear water, and very few people except for fellow cruisers. We only rolled the dingy once coming into shore on the breakers, providing a high level of excitement for Mark, Annabelle and I. But again, no casualties and everything floated back to the surface!
Doug, Mark, and Laurie promoting their alma mater, Alma College and hoping to make the annual newsletter as the only Alma graduates stupid enough to go on such a haphazard trip! Note the week long growth of facial hair (Doug and Mark only), as a testament to their seafaring manhood or feeble attempt to mimic Ahab of Moby Dick fame.
Although we didn't fish ourselves, we managed to trade some cold beers for yellow fin tuna fillets that Mark masterfully prepared for dinner one night. Some of the cruisers caught impressive large tuna and dorado (mahi mani) by just trolling off their boat as they sailed down the coast. By the way, this fish was absolutely delicious chased down with some nice wine. Most of our evening meals were proceeded by a 5 o'clock happy hour of Doug-initiated gin and tonic refreshment, that is unless the sea was too rough or until the gin ran out.
Annabelle in the galley doing some cleanup after breakfast. As you can see, the boat accommodations are ample but tight making our compatibility as a crew even that more miraculous. It was a lot of fun to see our crew grow closer together and get along so well, despite these close quarters. Not to mention Auggie perpetually wandering on the deck looking for a private patch of grass.