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Sea of Cortez

After such a fun week of sailing Mexorc (Banderas Bay buoy racing outside of Puerto Vallarta) with the Such Fast crew, we headed out on Sunday, March 22nd across the Sea of Cortez to make our way to La Paz, Baja MX.

The trip is about 300 miles mostly upwind. It was recommended that we sail north to Isabela Island to break up the trip - especially in light of the fact our racing boat only weighs 6600 lbs and doesn’t slice through the higher seas like a Swan boat - we more like pounds the waves! It makes you sorta shutter every time it hits a big wave. I think to myself, oh my gosh, is all this glued fiberglass with a few bolts gonna stay together and not break apart like matchsticks?! Then my optimism kicks back in. I‘m forever the hopeful optimist I admit. We’ll be fine. We do have our life raft after all and every technology for alerting help should we need it.

We got out of PV late afternoon and I got a bunch of time at the helm during my favorite hours (mid afternoon to dusk). The wind was a beam reach driving into the sun with about 10 knots. Just a beautiful sail heading up the coast.

Dave drives night shift with some assistance from Mr Auto Pilot (greatest invention ever as long as it still works). He got the difficult leg of straight up wind for the night. Monday was just a long hard push to make it to Isabela Island before it got dark. We averaged 6-7 knots of speed and made it to our anchoring point an hour before sunset thankfully! We joined two other sailboats for the night in the small semi protected cove.

Anchoring jokes about couples making or breaking it have been around a long time...and for my opinion it still holds true! How bout that?! Most stressful part of our relationship. And we’ve done this how many times?!! But indeed we successfully anchored as I’m sure the other sailing vessels right by us were entertained or frightened by our antics. We were both relieved to have anchorage for the night and planned to spend a day at Isabela Island and one more overnight.

Breakfasts with fresh foods (which only last a few days) are always the best on the boat and Dave is a great cook. We woke up to a beautiful morning after a pretty wavy night. I was having night hallucinations that seals were trying to get on our boat. I know, sounds crazy, but you had to be here! All the sounds were freaking me out...guess it was sleep deprivation! We were both pretty exhausted as we both didn’t sleep much. It was a lazy day for us napping and chilling on the boat. We have a SUP for this trip as our “dingy” but the wave action was so great we didn’t opt to go into beach. Isabel island is a big bird sanctuary and fishing village - lots of Mexicans out with their fishing nets.

Wednesday, March 25

We left fairly early this morning to get a good start. We had probably two more days until we reached our next destination of Isla Espiritu Santo Island. Generally, depending on conditions, we hope to sail at least 6 knots - getting us 150 miles/day but the reality is we usually only get around 100 or so. Leaving Isabela Island was beautiful. As soon as we sailed up the island and were just beyond we had the show of two very large whales feeding.

What a show - I spent more time watching this amazing spectacle than photographing or videoing it. As a professional photographer I’m really trying to balance out my experiences with taking in the moments vs feeling like I need to capture everything. This is hard! There’s a particular movie scene out of the movie “The secret life of Walter Mitty” that really hit home with me. Times Magazine photographer played by Sean Penn is up in the Himalayas shooting rarely seen snow leopards and finally sees one come out and has the perfect shot...but he doesn’t take it. He just sits back, smiles and takes the experience in. I love that..I need more of that.

Dave was on turtle watch so he took to the boom for 1/2 hour of teeth brushing. Turtles were everywhere with little white piper birds on their back. It was like it was out of a kids storybook seeing this little relationship between the turtle and the bird. Couldn’t help but laugh and smile every time they floated blissfully by. The seals we came upon were hilarious as they were caught sunning their bellies.

Thursday March 27, 2020

Laundry, shower and boat drying day. 2 knots wind and motor sailing to Isla Espiritu in the beautiful and quiet Sea of Cortez.

Went to the new salt water spa today! (Cortez La Spa) - very fresh and much clean (such needed)!

I learned how to download and view weather routing today. Looked at a couple different weather models and ran them through Expedition. Great tools for navigating. Thought about celestial navigation if systems stop working - but I’ll learn this technology first. I’ll just download the star app and enjoy viewing the southern atmosphere sky. Don’t recall any of those constellations.

Motor sailing 7 knots to Isla Espiritu Santo island for the night. Got into anchor by 6:30pm. Just in time for our late happy hour of a quarantinie (Tequila and mango). Staying in the southern cove - a huge crescent circle of white sand beach. Just us and one other sailboat on the other side of the crescent.

Used satellite phone to contact doctor - learned that we need to communicate protocol and Hippa is not our friend on the boat. I’m still fighting an assumed bronchitis in my right lung. Taking antibiotics, breathing in a lot of salt air, doing homeopathic everything. Gargling and sniffing sea salts is one of the age old helpful remedies right?!

Saw our first fishing nets. Had to watch out for them to avoid.

Put 50 liters of fuel in the boat while moving. Needless to say, lots of swabbing the deck.

Decided today the boat will be all metric - all liters. Such metric.

Still working through our boat leaks. Figuring them out we’d like to think but the boat is dryer thanks to Dave McGyver. It’s amazing what the rapper of a stick of gum combined with toothpaste can do!

No dinner tonight - lots of sun today and it sorta took our appetite away - which is okay. Losing some weight would be a good thing.


Friday, March 28th

Made it to La Paz, Baja from Isla Espiritu Santos Island (15 miles) and staying in Moorage at Marina Cortez. Weather came in and it was blowing 15 knots. We are both pretty tired to be completely transparent. We’ve been in the ocean since last Sunday and feeling pretty fatigued so we are looking forward to getting some much needed rest. Most of the trip is upwind in this 6600 pound sailboat so there’s lots of pounding of waves. This trip has parts that are much more difficult than anticipated. Most people may think it’s a cakewalk or sorta glamorous but it truly is a lot of effort and work. I’m most definitely not complaining as we chose this and love fulfilling these dream - but there are days it’s a grind and exhausting. I just want to paint our story sharing that with all this fun also comes a lot of challenge. Truly its boat camping not at its finest! 😬. We certainly choose these adventures for all the good pieces - racing regattas last year in the Caribbean to big ocean races with fun crew from all over. Dave has had the dream to race big/fun races throughout the four corners of the USA so it’s been neat to accomplish some of these dreams and in the end worth it! Last years goal was Southeast - 5 races happened. Fort Lauderdale to Key West race, three Caribbean races (St Martin Heineken Regatta, St Thomas race week and BVI race week) and Charleston race week. I acutely remember having the same conversation last year about the challenges of these big endeavors. I think to myself, who does this?! Because this is hard and exilerating all mixed up in one! They must be a little loco en la cabeza (crazy in the head) to take on something so big. Well that’s us I guess. 🤪

Most racing programs have pretty deep pockets. The bank roll can be pretty incredible - like Roy Disney’s Pyewacket (who also raced the PV race) has a 4 mil/year budget for the boat...granted its Roy Disney. Professionally paid sailors, staff for the boat upkeep, best electronics and top sails for the boat - just to name a few. Dave just continues to slowly but surely update the boats performance, pay for crew swag and of course all the expenses of entrance fees, boat travel, several other expenses while the crew pays their way and share of housing/food to participate.

We have worked hard to make this racing boat more comfy for delivery. We went to Walmart yesterday and bought a crappy Coleman mattress for more comfortable sleeping. I’m currently battling bronchitis in my right lung so sleeping isn’t very comfy as my muscles and ribs around my lung are soar from coughing. My telemedicine face conference with my doc back in the states said to not travel back yet with my compromised immune system.

Saturday March 28th

Sought medical attention for my bronchitis -

saw a Doctor for 50 pesos and received a shot for 25 pesos. Basically a $9 visit including all meds. I was the only one there so I decided to go in. Not many cases in Baja. Already feeling like the shot and meds are working thankfully.

Rushed around La Paz all morning gathering a few more necessary items before heading out at 1.

Went to marina office to check out and the Harbor Master closed the port due to high winds (a whopping 15 knots - what?!!). Here for another night. Absolutely no complaints - it’s warm, the view is amazing, great company and the Mexican people have been so nice to be around. Plus the added bonus of working on our Spanish. I need to learn this language. It would be so helpful!

Spent most the afternoon, well, drinking tequila and grapefruit juice laying on the boat deck while we talked through our adventure and worked on boat projects.

The beaches are empty and there are no tourists. Baja isn’t shut down but it’s empty. Some stores are closed but most open. We had dinner last night on the patio overlooking the marina served by a staff of 10. We were their only customers. My heart breaks for their economy and how this will effect each and everyone’s family. Tough times for a country that depends on tourism. They remain positive and so upbeat despite the reality of what’s going on.

Spent some time tonight visiting another sailor on his own hand built trimiran boat. Beautiful. Took him 6 years to build. Had boat envy as we headed back to our ultra cush, I mean, plastic empty stripped down racing boat. Dave has some spare parts for his auto pilot we’ll give to him tomorrow. Those parts can be hard to find so we’re happy to pass those along.

Hoping to exit the Harbor tomorrow to get on our way...

Sunday, March 29

The port reopened and we are headed out shortly to head for San Carlos/Guaymas to pull the boat. Our plans are pretty fluid with how to get home with this pandemicWe are looking at 7-10 days as we meander north up the Sea of Cortez hitting islands and slipping in for the day. It’s about a 300 mile trip. You can get daily updates from our awesome land support guy Spencer who will be posting on our Such Fast 1d35 Facebook page.

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