Soul Catcher Home



December 2003

Our sail down the Baja was relatively uneventful, although we were scared the entire time.  We stopped in Turtle Bay, in Bahia Santa Maria, and then sailed straight to Cabo San Lucas.

Bay of Vizcainos 12.23.03Betsey :  Dec 23, 2003    1:00 am        Somewhere off the Baja coast

Its my watch, and its quiet.  George is dozing next to me in the cockpit.  Luc is asleep in his nest in the forepeak. Its cool out; I’m in my long underwear and fleece, but I’m not cold, just comfortable. ITS DARK!  There’s no moon, and no lights from shore.  There are lots of clouds left over from a low that blew by 2 nights ago and scared me silly. I can hear the rush of the bow wave as we move through the water.  The swells are on our starboard aft quarter and there is a slight breeze dead astern.  We are sailing under reefed main and the engine is running.  I can hear the soft tick-tick-tick as the autopilot corrects our course. So many stars!  More than I ever imagined.  I look first for Orion off the port bow right after sunset.  I always smile to see him there.  By my last watch of the night he’ll be off the starboard quarter. There’s a star due south off Orion’s Belt that makes a dim path of starlight on the waves. I haven't figured out how to take night photos yet, but stay tuned.

Christmas 2003 We spent Christmas 2003 in Turtle Bay, Baja California, Mexico.  The tree is a Eucalyptus branch from Angel Island.  It was sunny and bright, but still cool, fleece weather.


The presents convene in the cockpit for a photo op.  Such delicious books!  Betsey and George spent hours and days in San Diego, at used bookstores and at Goodwill, looking for good books to read and savor.  Included in this amazing stack are:
My Year of Meats
The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing
The Sparrow
The English Patient
Christmas presents
Christmas breakfast

 What a delicioso muy tranquilo Christmas.  We got up, no malls, no hype, no xmas musak.  Luc and George made scrambled eggs and biscuits with the usual bantering and male bonding.  We opened presents in the cockpit under a sunny brilliant blue Mexico sky, dolphins dancing in the bay, seagulls landing for a morning bath.  Beautiful.

Betsey:  Christmas Day. We called Jorge for the water taxi, disembarked onto a very high pier on a very dubious ladder, and then walked into town.  Turtle Bay is a dusty, rural, ramshackle town.  We found the Mercado, such as it was, the internet Café, and tried out our phone card.  We ended up calling all our friends collect, as the phone card didn’t work.  I choked up talking to Jill, battling  a huge wave of homesickness Jorge's everything service
Blowing like SCARY in Turtle BayBetsey: Dec 27, 2003 Turtle Bay, 12:35 am.  We’re anchored in Turtle Bay, and it is blowing a fierce Norther. We stood anchor watch most of the day.  It seemed to moderate around dinnertime, but about an hour  ago it kicked up again.  George is sleeping on the settee and I’m standing my 12-2 am watch in the cockpit .  I've clocked the winds at about 40 miles per hour.  Its blackest night in the bay  plus we’re swinging around on our anchor, so its hard to tell if we are holding or dragging.   I can see the mast light of Ocean Rider, anchored far off behind us.  Its not blowing as hard as it was earlier, and we haven’t budged, but I worry still.

Dec 27 2003 Daybreak Turtle Bay Still BlowingAs I look out,  I see lots of stars overhead, but I can barely see the difference between sky and land.  I can hear the sound of waves kicked up by the wind, but I can’t see them.  It seems to be moderating a little, mybe.  Every time I think that, a huge GUST builds and builds and whooshes down with this scary oncoming train noise.  In the lulls I can hear the hiss-splash of a dolphin off the beam. Its cold out, but I’m toasty warm, with long silks, fleece pants and jacket, fleece hat, cozy under a fleece sleeping bag.  ;-)

Blowing 40 mph in Turtle Bay.jpg (86130 bytes)Dec 27 2003 9:30 am:  Turtle Bay Blowing up hardThe Norther is blowing a gale for sure now.  It eased during the night but it is much worse today.  We were awake by daylight.  We walked around Soul Catcher, doing everything we could think of to make us safer.  We tied the mainsail cover on tighter and more securely.  We tied up the jib sheets and the jib.  We cleaned up the cockpit.  Now we’re just waiting it out. It’s the NOISE of it that is terrifying.

We watched as our neighbors on Ocean Rider worked to contain their runaway mizzen sail. Its pretty scary to watch, helplessly, as the sail flaps wildly in the wind, secretly glad its not us fighting with blown out sails and jammed running rigging.    

Dec 30, 2003  10:35 am:  This morning the Single Side Band Amigo Net 812200SSB brought us disturbing weather news.  Don from Summer Passage is forecasting south to southwest winds 15-25 knots beginning tonight Tues and continuing for 36 hours.  That means winds and adverse current in precisely the direction we are going. Normally, we would sit this one out. But there is another Norther coming right behind the low, and both systems would keep us in Turtle Bay another week. We want to go south, where it's warmer.

We decide to leave Turtle Bay, its 11:22 am, we’re sailing close hauled south/southwest at 5.5 knots. 

2 hours later:  making no speed over the ground, unfavorable current, turned back to Turtle Bay, anchored in the South anchorage.

The Fish Camp at Turtle Bay SouthDec 31, 2003  10:58 am: We’re just leaving the South Anchorage for the Turtle Bay entrance.  We met the Millers (Joel, Rochelle, Kimberly and Nathaniel) on Amorita. (gorgeous boat, Kettenberg 50)

Wind is still from the south but is moderating as the low blows through.  We expect winds from the north by tonight.   We’ve agreed to go south for 3 hours then decide whether to go or go back. 

Luc tries to steer Soul Catcher into a south wind with a contrary current.  Our speed over ground is again 0.0.  We are very frustrated by our inability to leave Turtle Bay.  We’re all a little cranky and out-of-sorts.

11:17 am:    We’re turning back for Turtle Bay, we can’t make miles to the south in these adverse winds and seas.  We’re still frustrated but we are planning our dinner: Lobster?  Chorizo?  Rice balls? Flapjacks?


Betsey:  Jan 1, 2004 South Anchorage, Turtle Bay After a rolling about at anchor all night, we leave Turtle Bay, for the third time, about 7:30 am.  Happy new Year!

Jan 2, 2004 Friday 10:30 am  We’ve been underway for 24 hours and we’re into our rhythm.  I like the passages, the closeness, the sound of the boat/waves/wind/birds/ dolphins


The Owner at the wheel, looking very relaxed
Yummy lobsters at Bahia Santa Maria

Betsey:  Jan 4, 2004 1:32 pm  Bahia Santa Maria   Just left Bahia Santa Maria bound for Cabo San Lucas. Last night a panga came up to our boat, asking for pre-mix.  George found our bottle of pre-mix and gave it to them.  This morning they showed up with 4 live lobsters for us.  Aren't they beautiful?  


Rocks at the entrance to Bahia Santa Maria; this is some serious rockage.  We are reminded again to keep a sharp eye on the charts, the GPS, the water, the ROCKS... The Rocks at Bahia Santa Maria
Sun on the sails Sailing to Cabo San Lucas,  we were enchanted by the sapphire color of the water. We're sorry this photo doesn't quite capture the color.
Cabo rocks and sapphire seas Cabo rocks
The Boyz reading Lord of the Rings 2 The Boyz reading Lord of the Rings.  We were supposed to see the return of the king in San Diego, but we put it off.  We promised Luc we would see it in Mexico. Lucas is reading up so he will be the expert he aspires to be. George is reading up so he can argue with Lucas.
This appendage is appropriately named Neptune's Finger.  We've been imagining situations where we might be able to use this photo... Neptune's Finger
The marina at Cabo The marina at Cabo San Lucas. Cabo was where we were first struck forcibly by the juxtaposition of extreme and obscene wealth and abject, horrifying poverty.  Right at the steps along the malecon, next to hundreds of exquisite expensive boats, we saw poor Mayan women and their children selling trinkets for pesos. We hated it, and were very happy to leave.
We left Cabo after a day or so and headed to Mazatlan about 180 miles away. The weather was clear and the wind was from the north at 10+ mph. As evening came on and we started the crossing the wind increased to 15 and we set the Hydrovane on a very close reach. We were moving at 6+knots and the wind picked up some more and the infamous short seas of El Golfo were building. Night settled over us and we tucked a reef in and rolled the jib in to 100% and checked the fun (speed) meter at 7.5+. Time for the second reef! It was blowing 20-25 and the seas were easily 6-8 feet, very steep with the ebbing tide. The wind held from the north and the Hydrovane kept us tracking like we were on rails! Every other wave we were bursting spray and soon water over the pilothouse, soaking the cockpit and making for a wet ride. All through the night and next day we pounded to windward at 7.5 to 8.5 knots. It was the fastest sustained sailing we had done. Through it all the boat never stumbled and the Hydrovane kept us on course. What a great piece of gear and a damn good boat!


Home Up Mazatlan

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Last modified: April 27, 2010