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Baja

31/2 months cruising the Sea of Cortez. November 2018 to February 2019.
 

The Trip:  Sail and cruise the entire length of the Baja Peninsula , the longest in the world - just over 1000km to the tip. 
 

The trailerability of this vessel allowed us to do a unique trip in the Sea of Cortez. Most sailing vessels must make a long passage from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas to access this body of water.  We crossed the border in Mexicali and within a short 2.5 hr drive in Mexico we reached the small town of San Felipe on the Northwest corner of the Gulf of California, also commonly called the Sea of Cortez.  This small fishing harbour has a boat ramp in good condition and a small marina and a safe anchorage.  This is where the sailing adventure begins.

Baja Journal
Snippet

Day 10 of trip

November 7th 2018

 

Punta Final, “Coyote Beach”

 

We wake up from a much needed deep sleep after our long passage the day before.  Hello Baja! We head out on deck, and are surrounded by pelicans and hundreds of fish in the clear blue water.  The sea lions have disappeared after their feeding frenzy the night before, and the morning is calm.  Jill is feeling revived, and makes a big breakfast that feeds our souls. I jump in the water, and the water is warm, although not nearly as hot as the desert air.  We welcome the heat of the sun on our pasty white Whistler bodies, and enjoy another cup of coffee in the cockpit. 

 

I am pulled from the dreamland we have found ourselves in, as it is time to assess the leak in the daggerboard trunk. We joke that rattling for 3000km on the drive down was enough to rattle anything loose. I start poking around, and can see the attachment point of a pulley that allows the daggerboard to be raised. I can see clearly where the leak is coming from now that the boat is not moving.  I discover all of the screws are covered in sikaflex sealant, meaning there has already been an old repair to this section from one of the previous owners of the boat. I pull on a bit of the old sealant, and immediately more water starts flowing into the boat. So much for our relaxing morning. I came out of the cabin with a serious look on my face, and tell Jill that we must find a beach ASAP and beach the boat.  We cannot fix the leak with the boat in the water. We take a look around, and assess all 13 of the perfect desert beaches within our vicinity. Wow, it’s so beautiful. Luckily we are near high tide, and we find a nice protected little cove to beach the boat. We are also lucky that we are on a trimaran, beaching it is much more simple than with a conventional sailboat with a keel. The rudder and daggerboard can be pulled up and therefore the boat only draws 1 foot of water, so you can pull the bow right up on the beach. To secure it, we tie the bow line around a lonely cactus just off the beach, and wait for the tide to go out.  

 

It’s a perfect bluebird day, and we enjoy the private beach and swim while we wait for the tide to go down.  We have lunch in the sun, and examine the unknown dry vegetation. It’s so dry and barren. Around 1pm, the tide recedes, and the boat is dry. We get right to work, knowing we have 11 hours until the next high tide to complete the job.  I pull out the carefully assembled repair kit we had previously prepared at home, and began to remove the old sikaflex from the repair area. Instantly I realize this patch was very poorly done, which gives me hope. The screws holding the metal plate where the water was coming in from are all really loose with no nuts on the back to hold them tight.  I am unsure how to fix it, but as I pull them apart, a solution comes to mind - we need to put the screws the opposite way and put a nut on the screw to secure the plate tightly. The challenge in doing this is not dropping the screws through the daggerboard trunk, which would of course lose the screw into the sand below the boat to never be seen again.  After further examination, I decide 4 of the 6 screws need to be cut so they can fit into the small space. I pull out the small hacksaw from the emergency kit, and begin cutting the screws. It’s tedious work, but we make progress. Once cut, we devise a plan to tie each screw to a small piece of twine in the event that we do drop it, we won’t lose it. The crux of the repair is trying to get four screws through the aluminum plate without the space big enough to push them through the hole. Jill does an amazing job at lining them up and I quickly secure a nut on the back before they pop out.  We coat them in sikaflex, and go above and beyond coating them after they are secured as well. After 4 of the 6 screws are secure, I am relieved to see that the plate is very tight in place and sikaflex is oozing from the plate, indicating a good seal. With that, we crank our battery powered fans on the repair job with hope it dries in enough time. It’s 6pm when we finish the repair, and when we look up, it is night time. We now need high tide so we can float TriOomph off the beach, which we estimate will be around midnight. We look outside, and to our surprise, see a big brown coyote sitting on the beach looking back at us. He is a beautiful animal with big straight ears, and is much bigger than the coyotes from home.  He is approximately the size of a large german shepherd, and appears to be very healthy and well fed, which of course made us slightly nervous. We come out of the boat expecting him to be frightened and run away. He was not. He stays put, and continues to match our stare. We spent the next couple minutes assessing this situation. Did he want food? Water? We made some loud noises in an attempt to scare him off which worked, however minutes later, he returned to his spot and continued watching us. 

 

It is difficult to move around the boat or cook, as the boat is heeling on the starboard about 20%.  We placed all of our water jugs to one side to prevent the boat rolling from one amas to the other. This works well, but makes accomplishing anything almost impossible, including cooking. Jill makes a great guacamole snack despite the challenges. 

 

We are both tired, and decide to try to get some sleep while we wait for the tide.  We check on our friend, who we have now named Wiley, and see his glowing eyes still watching us. He is quite close now, and we make some loud noises again. Again, he runs off, but returns moments later.  We find it odd that he won’t go away. He is quite persistent. We leave him be and retire to the aft cabin. Almost immediately, we hear a big bang coming from the deck.  Wylie is attempting to get onto the boat! “What a f***er!” cries Jill, as she jumped up to scare him off. We realize we most likely will not get any sleep with Wylie trying to join us, so we pour a gin and tonic, and hang out in the cockpit to mark our territory.  

 

10pm. We are in deep chat when we hear a panga approaching very quickly.  A panga is the local fisherman boat of choice. We watch the boat as it comes right into our little cove with a couple local men on board.  Were we about to be robbed? We had read and heard boating stories prior to our trip where people have been robbed, but nothing of the sorts coming from these waters.  Regardless, our uneasiness of the situation was clear on both of our faces. We had also read that the cartels commonly moved drugs in these parts, and if you approach an anchorage with heavily armed men, to turn around and leave immediately, which is hard to do when your boat is high and dry....

 

The panga circled the harbour as we yelled a polite “Hola.”  They responded, then turned on a bright floodlight and shone it as us.  We waved, blinded by the light. One of the men then proceeded to jump into the water, and grab a net.  They were fishermen, taking advantage of the dark waters to catch some dinner. They used the floodlight to attract the schools of fish, then with one sweep would lift the net leaving a bounty of food.  We relaxed a little, however did not fully relax until they left the harbour. We proceed with pouring another drink and laughing at our insecurities. 

 

Around 11:30pm, the rising tide began hitting the stern of the boat on the beach, and we cheered.  We placed our glasses down below, and began to prepare for departure. Wylie watched intently, and moved close to the boat, as if his chances of a good meal were slipping through his paws. We head to the bow to untie the bowline, and to our dismay, Wylie follows us.  He is now sitting between the bow of the boat and the cactus where our line is tied.  Jill and I look at each other, and consider who has to jump off the boat and untie the line.  Being the man, I volunteer and take my chances. Jill makes lots of noise, and I jump off the boat making myself big in the process. Taken by surprise, Wylie jumps back and I untie the bow and quickly return to safety as Wylie watches only a couple of feet away.  We return to the cockpit, drop the engine, and wait the last couple of minutes until the boat is free. We pull away from the beach and wave goodbye to our obviously distraught new friend who was pacing on the beach watching us leave. Who would have thought that a coyote would become a hazard on a sailing trip. 

 

We return to our spot in the bay and drop the anchor.  We are relieved to be floating again, and immediately check our repairs. To our mutual relief, our repair is holding and the bilge is completely dry. We celebrate our success with a night cap, and relax in the cockpit looking at the amazing star show. We sit up for an hour taking in the beautiful scene, and retire to bed around 2am.  Another big day and big project. I feel quite successful about the day, and it sure was a good feeling to have a dry boat. 

Trioomph on beach
Beach Map Coyote
TriOomph on beach 2_edited
Coyote Beach 2
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