Sailing Log – Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas
April 6, 2016
Thursday 3/24 – Ensenada
We arrived in Ensenada around 10:30 a.m. after the overnight passage (about 120 miles) from Avalon, Catalina. We called Marina Coral on the VHF were we had made a reservation online. They didn’t appear to have our reservation but a guest slip was available. The marina had dock handlers waiting for us at our slip and got us in securely. We proceeded to the marina office to check in and determine what we needed to do to clear immigration and customs. (We had already tried to obtain the temporary import permit with the boat online with no luck.)
We didn’t realize that the entire week of Easter is a holiday in Mexico and the government offices were closing at noon today. The marina put all of the paperwork together that we needed (in Spanish) and had Juan drive us to the offices to walk us through the process. Normally you have to clear immigration, customs, the Banjercito (for the boat permit) and see the Port Captain. Considering the number of forms, copies, etc. you need to have and our pretty bad Spanish skills, this was extremely helpful.
We left the marina office with Juan at 11:30 and raced to immigration. Immigration and the Banjercito were open, but Customs and the Port Captain were closed. Go figure. Juan said not to worry though, so we didn’t worry. Immigration took a while for some reason, and we each had to pay roughly a $50 fee (of course immigration conveniently had no change). The temporary import permit for the boat was much quicker, but we did have to pay another fee. The marina took care of the paperwork to both clear in and out with the Port Captain, who wasn’t going to be open until Monday after we left (for another fee, of course).
The marina had very nice facilities with showers, laundry, a hotel, pool, clubhouse and restaurant. After a long, hot shower, we got lunch and a couple of cold drinks at the bar. They were apparently doing work on the docks, so we didn’t have shore power or wifi at the dock. However, they did have wifi at the clubhouse. The tap water at the docks was not potable, and unfortunately, the guy who delivers the purified water was out until Monday due to the holiday.
Friday 3/25 – Ensenada
Today we just took care of a few items like laundry and washing down the boat to get ready to sail to Isla San Martin. Because we needed the water, we filled our tanks with the tap water and added a bit of bleach. We have a pretty heavy duty Seagull water filter that will filter out anything so that the water is drinkable. We also got our Mexican fishing licenses (for another hefty fee) which are required since we have fishing gear aboard.
This was my view while waiting for the laundry. Not bad!
Saturday 3/26 – Ensenada to Isla San Martin
We were able to provision a few additional items from the supermarket not far from the marina pretty cheaply. We filled up on diesel at the fuel dock and headed off. We saw a large pod of dolphins (never gets old) right off Ensenada. They were putting on a good show jumping out of the air and doing belly flops back into the water. So fun! Unfortunately, the wind was pretty much nonexistent on this leg of the trip, so we motored most of the way to Isla San Martin. It was about a 100 mile trip, and we arrived the next morning.
Sunday 3/27 – Isla San Martin
Happy Easter! We had our own sunrise Easter service communing with nature as we sailed up to Isla San Martin. Mike tried to do a little fishing, but no success yet. The island is the remnants of a volcano and has that iconic cone shape on top. It is uninhabited except for a fish camp on the other side from where we anchored. We found a nice anchorage in a beautiful spot in about 50 ft of water. We put out the flopper stopper to try and control the rolling, which did a pretty good job. We were able to call our families on the Iridium Go! to wish them a Happy Easter. After resting up and cooking a nice dinner, we settled in for a nice evening and watched Chocolat. A great movie that of course ends on Easter!
Here is a shot of the fishing poles ready for action in front of Isla San Martin.
Monday 3/28 – Isla San Martin to Islas San Benitos
Not long after leaving Isla San Martin, we spotted a couple of whales off our starboard side. We got the binoculars out and watched one of the whales repeatedly slap his tail down on the water. We have no idea what he was doing, but it was fun to watch for about 20 minutes. Not sure what kind of whale it was, as it was too far away, but his tail was black with white markings on it. Unfortunately, it was too far to capture with the camera or GoPro.
We had quite a bit of wind and swell with gusts up to 28 or so. It had pretty much been a downwind sail from Avalon, so the strong winds really aren’t that rough. Adagio really likes that 20 knot wind range. It was a bit of a rolly night with the swell, but we were making really good time. Our Hydrovane had been such an awesome addition to the boat. It has steered us really well through the wind and swell and kept us on course without drawing any power!
We made really good time sailing through the night on the 140 mile passage to Islas San Benitos
Tuesday 3/29 – Islas San Benitos
Islas San Benitos are three small islands right off of Cedros Island. We anchored off of Benito Oeste, which is the only inhabited island with a small fishing village. We initially anchored a bit offshore because there was some swell breaking on the rocks closer to shore, but it was incredibly rolly. Some of the local fishermen came by and advised us to anchor closer to the village where it is more protected. We really need to work on our Spanish to communicate better, but it is amazing how people can effectively communicate even with language barriers!
The fishermen were extremely kind and gave us some tips on places to look to catch yellowtail (which we heard were abundant in the area). They also invited us to come ashore to the village.
We anchored the boat closer to shore, which made a huge difference and relaxed and rested up for the remainder of the day.
Wednesday 3/20 – Islas San Benitos
Today we decided to do some fishing! As were were getting the dinghy and outboard launched, a couple of fishermen and their young sons stopped by the boat as they were on their way to do some fishing also. They were very friendly and introduced themselves, and were genuinely curious about who we were and what we were doing there. They island and village is pretty remote, and I’m guessing they don’t get too many visitors.
The three islands make up a bit of a bay. There are crashing waves on rocks at several points, which showed us the shallow areas. We tried to find the sweet spot where we might catch fish. There was no action at the first spot, so we moved the dinghy a bit closer to a large rock near Benito Central. On his first cast at the second spot, Mike hooked a huge one! It took some time of wearing the fish down, but we finally caught site of the monster yellowtail. He measured 4 ft long, and so we estimated 45 lbs. Mike has done a lot of fishing and said this was definitely the largest yellowtail he had ever caught!
Mike got him close to the dinghy and I had my lasso ready to grab the tail. After some effort getting his slippery, flailing tail in the lasso, Mike got the jig out of his mouth. We were going to drag him back to Adagio, but we were worried one of the many sea lions around might try and snatch him from us, so we wrestled him aboard the dinghy. As the fish was gulping for air it clamped down on my leg as we were getting him aboard. Mike thought it was hilarious that I said it bit me. Ha! I’m serious, it’s mouth was strong.
Anyway, we got the fish aboard Adagio and Mike went to work filleting the beast, which was a huge job. When we were finishing up, the fishermen returned from their outing, clearly not as successful as we were. They kept asking where Mike caught the monster. We gave them some of our catch, as we had more than enough to fill our freezer!
Later in the day, we decided to head out again in the dinghy to see if we could catch anything else and to see the other islands. We were hoping to find the sea lion colony and stop by the village. Unfortunately, a squall came up on us, and we got drenched. So, we high tailed it back to the boat.
We had a delicious dinner of yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño and edamame. Yum!
Here is a picture of Mike with the yellowtail.
Thursday 3/31 – Islas San Benitos
We worked to get the dinghy and outboard back on board so that we could depart for Bahia Santa Maria, about 300 miles away. Unfortunately, the wind and waves were just not cooperating with us. Getting the dinghy and outboard back on the boat was quite a challenge and took way more time than we expected. It looked like the wind and waves were building, so we decided to stay put for the night and head out in the morning.
Friday 4/1 – Islas San Benitos to Cabo San Lucas
We left Islas San Benitos after looking at the weather report. It looks like the winds are going to be favorable all the way to Cabo San Lucas (about 500 miles away), so we made the decision to skip Bahia Santa Maria and just go straight to Cabo, which is a 3.5 – 4 day trip. It was a sunny day with lots of wind. Throughout the night, the seas picked up a bit, but we reduced sail and made really good tracks! At one point we just had the main up with two reefs in it and were still making over 6 kts. Incredible!
On the overnight passages, we take turns on 3 hr watches, so we can each get some rest. On watch, the main job is to watch out for other boat traffic. (Of course, we have to watch the wind and course as well.) We have radar and AIS, which help tremendously. The AIS really shows the large cruise ships and shipping traffic with their speed, course and closest point of approach, so that we can determine if there is an issue. It also makes us visible to them!
For the most part, we have had no issue with coming close to the large ships. We see a lot of the cruise ships at night and some fishing boats. However, tonight Mike actually had to hail one of the large ships while he was on watch to alter course and not run us over! Thanks guy. Try and pay more attention next time.
Saturday 4/4 – Passage to Cabo San Lucas
Today was a nice sunny day with about 15-20 kts of wind. The seas are a bit confused with some large swell hitting us on the beam now and then, but we are sailing downwind wing and wing. The Hydrovane is steering great and allowing us to relax while on watch. As the winds have generally been consistent, we usually do not have to make sail changes that regularly. The exception has generally been when the wind really dies off for us. We had to adjust things a few times during the night.
The highlight of today was catching two yellowfin tuna! We had two trolling lines out and hooked up at the same time, we must have sailed through a school of them. They weren’t huge, but they were delicious!
Sunday 4/3 – Passage to Cabo
We’re about one day out! Unfortunately we emptied our water tanks (oops!). We really need to get the foot pumps and the water maker installed (more projects). We do still have a supply of drinking water, so we’re fine, but it means no washing dishes or showers. Eek.
It is another sunny, beautiful day on the water, but some light winds. We are flying the reacher to try and make some tracks. Over night the winds were pretty much nonexistent and we just bobbed around for a while. We finally turned on the engine about 4:00 a.m. to try and make some forward progress. The good side of this was that the swell was also gone, and it made it so much easier to sleep when not on watch!
The nights are really quiet, and checking out the stars out on the water has been awesome. As the moonrise has gotten later, and the moon at a waxing crescent not putting off too much light, we can see all of the incredible constellations that you just can’t see near the city.
The sunsets and sunrises over the water have been fantastic too. Here is a great shot Mike caught of a sunrise over the Pacific.
Monday 4/4 – Passage to Cabo
The winds are still really light today. We’ve tried making some progress with the reacher, which is really made for light wind sailing. It is like a huge parachute that we hoist. But, even the reacher wasn’t helping us too much, so we had to crank up the engine. We have enough diesel to motor to Cabo, but we really don’t want to if we can help it. We are a sailboat and are meant to sail!
Given the slow progress with the winds, we determined we just weren’t going to make it to Cabo today. We don’t want to come into the harbor at night, so we’re trying to time things to arrive tomorrow morning.
We got a bit of sail time in this afternoon and then just bobbed around a bit. That wasn’t a bad thing, as we don’t want to arrive in Cabo yet anyway. However, by the middle of the night we had to crank up the engine again. It let us make some forward progress and controlled some of the swell that was rolling us a bit when we were bobbing around.
Tuesday 4/5 – Cabo San Lucas
We finally arrived just before dawn, but the harbor was already buzzing with the exodus of sport fishing boats going out for the day. In fact, the harbor was an absolute zoo! We decided to tie up a the fuel dock, not knowing if it was open, until the marina opened. Well, the fuel dock was open and busy as I’ve ever seen any fuel dock! All of the fishing boats were filling up before heading out for the morning.
Apparently, to tie up at the fuel dock there is a fee, regardless of whether you are getting fuel. And, there is one price if you are staying at the marina and a different price if you’re not. You just have roll your eyes and pay whatever the guy tells you. There is no point in trying to understand the logic of the fees, taxes, etc.
We filled up on diesel and radioed the marina for a guest slip for a couple of nights. The marina prices are higher than US prices. Go figure! The marina is mainly sport fishing boats, tour boats, parasailing boats, party day boats, etc. We are one of the only sailboats here. So weird.
We haven’t had too much luck with wifi at either marina, despite the fact that they “have wifi.” However, we found that all of the gringo bars along the tourist strip have free wifi. My favorite was the bar who named their wifi access “get beer free wifi.” And, the guy outside trying to get people in by saying “free weefee.” Awesome. We had some delicious Indio beer (at 10:00 in the morning, which is apparently part of happy hour) and caught up on a few messages.
Later in the day we found some great street tacos and hung out at Hooliganz (more free weefee) and listened to some great music. We planned to go see the nightlife in Cabo but fell asleep at 8pm. I guess we were tired.
Today! Cabo San Lucas
After some desayuno delicioso (seriously awesome Chilaquiles) we are working on some chores. I’m doing lots and lots of laundry while I sit here and write this by the pool at the marina. Not too bad! Mike is washing the boat, which needed serious cleaning after the trek down here. We might spend another day in Cabo San Lucas, but then we are headed to San Jose Del Cabo, about 30 miles away, where we might spend a couple of weeks.
As you may know, we are headed up into the Sea of Cortez to explore for the summer and wait out hurricane season before heading down south again.
I did take video of the trip on my GoPro. I’m still learning to use IMovie, so it may be awhile before I actually get video up.
That’s all for now! We’ll keep you updated on our progress. When we’re at sea, following us on Twitter or Facebook is the best way to get real time updates. We can update those via text from our Iridium Go! satellite phone. Such a great tool!