Monday, November 8, 2010

Cabo at Last!

On November third, El Tiburon awoke to a quiet anchorage and 72 degree water. We all went for a swim or a paddle, even Kitty! I strapped her into her “Outward Hound” neon orange life jacket, grabbed the handle on the back, and passed her over the edge to Andrew who was standing in the water on his stand-up paddle board. Once onboard, Kitty braced herself stiffly, looking very uncertain of what the heck was going on. Always a good sport, she did as she was told and Andrew impressively paddled all the way to shore without either of them falling off.

We left Bahia Santa Maria around noon and made a beeline for Cabo, with only 160 nautical miles to cover. The change in climate was dramatic during this last leg of our trip. Our fleeces and jackets were tucked away in their drawers, not to be worn again. The water went from a rich navy to brilliant cobalt, and pairs of dolphins returned to frolic at the bow (see video below). Evenings were warm and comfortable, even in the breezy cockpit. The men all turned a lovely shade of golden brown and even I, despite an addiction to sunblock, managed to add a few freckles to my collection.

It was smooth sailing (and motoring) until late afternoon on the 4th when a 30 knot wind came whipping around the cape from the exact direction we wanted to go in. The sea quickly became rough and choppy and El Tiburon pitched back and forth like a hobbyhorse. Beating to windward was exceptionally unpleasant and we thanked Neptune that the trip had all been downwind thus far.

Arriving in Cabo San Lucas at 2100, the crew was exhausted. We tied up at the marina next to an excess of gleaming white sport fishing boats with names like “Mr. Terrible,” “Lethal Weapon,” and “Lucky Sperm.” One boat had a fillet table in the back that was supported by an aquarium full of baitfish. As it turned out there was a fishing tournament going on and clearly, these people were serious about fishing.

Rather than hunt around for authentically delicious Mexican food, we opted for a quick and easy dinner at Cantina Baja, just a few steps from our dock. Dying for vegetables, I ordered the ‘Asian salad’ without a shred of guilt, but was disappointed when my dinner turned up as a cup of lettuce hidden under six big strips of (deliciously marinated) chicken.

The next day we were awoken at 0600 by the mass departure of our neighbors, who were cheering and hooting as their boats left the marina, all of them pumped to catch some big ones. Shortly thereafter, we sprung into action. First order of business was laundry. A taxi took us to the lavanderia to drop off our clothes, then to Costco (despite John's protests) to load up on provisions like Coca Light and Pellegrino Limonata, and a profusion of vegetables. For lunch, we went to the alley behind the row of touristy restaurants and found a little taco truck catering to the workers. The tacos were incredibly delicious, if a little too spicy thanks to someone’s heavy hand with the hot sauce. We stopped by the Ha-ha beach party long enough to have a drink and pose for the group photo, but left before the famous “From Here to Eternity Kissing Contest” got underway. We were probably the youngest people there who weren’t accompanied by their parents.

After loading the boat with beverages, veggies and clean laundry smelling of Suavitel, we filled our water and fuel tanks and headed out of the marina on our way to La Paz. The Easterly wind we’d encountered on our approach had not subsided, and it was still blowing right out of our destination. Not to be dissuaded, we headed offshore prepared to tack to bring us a few miles up the shore. As the sun was setting there was a zing on the fishing rod and we reeled in a Skipjack Tuna, whose meat was listed as “Good, but not to most tastes” by our fishing guidebook. Undeterred, the men filleted him up for dinner.

At this point we realized we’d made very little Eastward progress on account of wind and current so we decided to return to anchor in Cabo. This proved to be a mistake as the anchorage there was not well protected and we were within earshot of multiple clubs blaring party music. The long day of errands in the dry heat, followed by another stint of beating to windward led the crew to drop like flies once the anchor was set.

Nobody was that enthusiastic about dinner, having been put off by Mr. Skipjack’s pungent aroma, except Andrew. First Luke fell asleep in the pilot berth with his shoes on, then I retreated to bed after I gave Andrew some instructions on food preparation. When he called me out to check on the asparagus, John was asleep on the settee and Andrew was preparing to dine alone. Despite having been prepared with heaps of garlic, Mr. Skipjack was still stinking up the joint so I went back to bed. Andrew remained hungrily optimistic. Not ten minutes later he knocked on the door to ask me where the leftover spaghetti from the night before had been stowed.

Lessons learned:

1) If planning to beat to windward, leave earlier in the day and batten down the hatches before you do.

2) Skip the Skipjack.

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