We are thrilled to report we’ve made it all the way down the Baja peninsula and are now in Cabo! We are feeling super accomplished and proud we’ve made it this far with no issues.
(John and I actually collaborated on this post, since we’ve spent nearly every single hour together on the boat for the past 10 days.)
Sailing down the ultra-remote Baja peninsula will likely be our longest off-the-grid period of our time in Mexico, with no marinas to tie up in, nowhere to shop, and no freshwater. We’ve had virtually no Internet the entire way (the humanity!), and the few hours we did have were extremely slow. And we didn’t spend any money! Score!
We even went about a day not sure what time it was. We didn’t check to see if Mexico ended daylight savings time the same week as the U.S., plus we sailed from Pacific to Mountain time. We just shrugged our shoulders. It didn’t matter because we didn’t have anywhere to be.
Our only real social contact was a few “buddy boats” we met in Ensenada, who were on roughly the same schedule as us. We kept in touch on the VHF radio during passages and gathered for a hike and cocktails. Just a few opportunities to make new friends and socialize was restorative.
And, we had our first chance to take a photo of Pineapple at anchor from our dinghy. Looking good!
The trip involved five overnight sails, so I am much more comfortable on watch at night. We had mostly full moons, so we’re thankful for that. And in between the sunset and the glorious moonrise, the stars! The shooting stars! We’ve never seen so many, ever.
All the overnights gave us a chance to refine our passage-making systems and routines. Here is how we handled everything, and a few tweaks we’ll make for the future.
To prepare food for our passage, I started with a 15-day meal plan for our trip from San Diego to Cabo. This is how I calculated how much food to buy during our last trip to Whole Foods (tear) before we left the U.S. We actually have way more food on the boat than what’s in the plan, probably several extra weeks. This allows us to change our minds about what to eat and gave us the flexibility to stay out longer if we want.
On the plan, I noted if we’d likely be either underway or anchored. For meals underway, I made them ahead of time in case weather conditions were too unpleasant to prepare and cook food. That definitely paid off, because even if it was calm enough in the evening (and it rarely was), we did not have the energy left to start a meal from scratch that we would have been excited about.
At anchor, we were free to make whatever we wanted. Either way, a long passage is no excuse to eat a bad meal (bad food makes us crabby). It’s just one of the many opportunities for detailed planning as we prepare for our coastal passages.
Next time we provision, I’m going to buy more variety of produce and eat it as quickly as we please. We still have enough veggies left after a couple weeks, and some of it would have tasted even better if we’d eaten it at max ripeness instead of trying to make it last. John is not happy we had to throw out a few avocados.
Here is a scene of our little rascal Guinny trying to eat a scone. She is never interested in human food, so this was very out of character! This is also the first time I’ve baked anything out of a box (I gave in to convenience), so maybe she just really likes preservatives.
Hey, Skip John here. Since there’s only the two of us aboard, and since we sail through the night on these long passages, a watch schedule is essential. Someone has to be awake at all times, watching out for boats, land, and other hard stuff.
Watch schedules for two people are tough to get right. The traditional (and super conservative) approach is to schedule watches ’round the clock: two people switch, a few hours on, a few hours off, 24 hours a day.
But we still like hanging out, so we decided to be awake together during daylight hours, casually trading off watch-keeping duties while the other person takes care of the cats, showers, prepares food, writes blog posts (ahem), etc.
On our first overnight, we set three-hour watches, which go by quickly and allow each person two “off watches” each night (also known as “sleep”). But, a three-hour break to sleep doesn’t translate into three hours of sleep. Maybe two and a half if you’re lucky. So on our passages down Baja, we decided to try four-hour watches.
Four-hour watches are glorious—for the person sleeping—and still quite bearable for the person on watch. But there’s a big problem: with 12 hours of night time to fill, and three four-hour watches, someone’s stuck with only a single four-hour block to sleep.
Since I (John) love sailing and I have a freakish reserve of energy for all things boat-related, I volunteered to take the double night watches and caught up on my sleep with a cat nap during the day. I took the 8pm-12am watch, slept 12-4am while Michelle sailed the boat, then took over for the dawn watch from 4-8am.
When it’s time to sleep, new challenges begin. The boat is moving. Everything is rattling, thwapping, or whirring—or at least it sounds that way at night. So we take care to set up a comfy sea berth before getting underway. This is a single bunk, with a canvas “lee cloth” attached between the bed and the ceiling. It keeps the person sleeping from falling on the floor when the boat rolls. Restful night of sleep, amiright?
The cats definitely liked sleeping there more than the humans.
Nevermind, Lady Guinny will sleep anywhere.
During the night, the person either preparing for their watch or coming off watch and getting ready for bed needed to use the lights, of course. But normal white lights ruin the night vision for the person in the cockpit, so all our lights in the cabin can be switched to produce red light, which does not impact night vision.
Behold, Nightwatch Cat.
The nights were quite rolly (imagine sleeping in a washing machine), so tiredness was the biggest challenge of the trip. Excitement, coffee, and the bright Mexican sun helped us wake up in the morning. At anchor it was easy to relax and catch up on sleep, since there was really nothing to do or see on shore where we stopped. Until now!
We will be in Los Cabos through Thanksgiving, mostly in San Jose del Cabo. John’s sister and brother-in-law are flying down. Yay! More social interaction! A break from cooking every meal and washing dishes! Conga lines and Tequila!!!
Ensenada to Turtle Bay
Distance: 284 nautical miles
Duration: 48 hours
Average speed: 6 knots
Max wind: 26 knots
Max speed: 9 knots
Podcast episodes Michelle listened to: 9
Turtle Bay to Magdalena Bay
Distance: 256 nautical miles
Duration: 44 hours
Average speed: 5.8 knots
Gallons of freshwater made: 136
Dolphins spotted: 1,000,000
Magdalena Bay to Cabo
Distance: 170 nautical miles
Duration: 28 hours
Average speed: 6.1 knots
Fun facts: None. This was a pretty boring passage!