Friday, February 03, 2012

Sailing from Baja to mainland Mexico.

February 3, 2012
Position: 23°23.1N 108°31.6W
Underway from Frailes anchorage toward mainland Mexico.

We've been planning to sail over to the mainland for what seem like several months. But, innumerable boat projects, planning and preparation for our multi-year South Pacific voyage beginning in March 2012 have kept us busy. The secure anchorage and wonderful city of La Paz have a magnetic pull that make it ohh so easy to plan to leave maybe 'next Tuesday'. Cruiser parties, pig roasts at 'The Shack', Ham tests, too much wind, too little wind and about every other possible excuse ended up making La Paz one of our longest stops in the last 6-1/2 years of world cruising. To our defense, we did spend many many weeks sailing north from La Paz into the tempest like winter Northers that batter the Sea of Cortez during winter. We also replaced all of our standing rigging and all of our house batteries, replaced the water maker membrane, installed a tow generator, fiber glassed a bunch of legacy holes in our bulkheads from an old a/c unit, re-lashed the trampoline, had a sail repaired, bought and tested three new to us spinnakers and replaced our settee cushions. We also pressure canned 21 pounds of beef into pint jars, tested all the available local cheeses and many new products as possible long haul provisions for our South Pacific expedition. Kathy built a sizeable medical kit with help from Dr. Mac, and sourced all the items, we visited the dentist and took our kitten Shell to the vet twice for shots. We literally spent days researching and ordering innumerable spare parts and 'last minute' must have items. Visiting friends, Kent and Heather, are to deliver at least a bag full of 'stuff' on an upcoming visit to Puerto Vallarta. We also sent at least a large checked bag worth of boat parts to my nephew Andrew to bring down to Puerto Vallarta when he joins us for the voyage to the Marquesas in French Polynesia. We also goofed off more than a lot.

Happily we are now underway for the mainland and this means our task list is getting pretty short. All that's really much left on the list is a major provisioning trip for groceries and that needs to wait until the very last minute. High on the upcoming agenda is some surfing near Punta Mita where we hope to work on both our surfing skills and base suntans.

As far as sailing goes today we are now about 6 hours out of the Frailes anchorage and our average boat speed is a very respectable 8.4 knots or 200 mile a day pace! The excitement of the day was puncturing a vein on the back of my hand which created a big bloody mess on deck and sore swollen hand. We'd just gotten underway after dropping sail to land a fish. Sails set, we were going in the high eights to high nines when I caught sight of a Styrofoam fishing float tailing a couple 2 liter pop bottles spaced about 30 feet apart and attached with 1/4" polypro line. The line was not only floating, but stretched tight out of the water between two of the floats. It was too late to alter course and within seconds we had lines snagged on both the rudders. I quickly grabbed our fishing gaff and called for Kathy to bring out a sharp knife. Dipping the gaff into the rushing water as the boat sped along at a more abbreviated seven knots due to the drag of the floats and perhaps, fish? I hooked the trailing line, pulled the bar tight line to the surface and cut it free. At that moment I'm still not sure what happened, but a few steps from the stern I felt hot blood dripping from my left hand. Looking down at the blood blowing off my hand and splattering the deck I called out for Kathy to bring me a towel before I made a bigger mess. Still trailing floats off the port stern rudder I dipped my bloody and quickly swelling hand into a bowl of ice water. Kathy began the not so small job of scrubbing the blood off the deck and one of our solar panels that I'm sure was not putting out too much power covered with dried blood. After the ice had melted I tackled the job of cutting the lines of the port rudder and was a little shocked to find huge hooks baited with fish heads trailing in our wake. I think we snagged some shark fishing gear and now in hindsight I think the cut on the back of my hand came from a hook slashing my hand as the line was cut and whipped off the rudder. Not really sure, but glad the hook didn't set and yank me off the boat. Especially if there were already sharks on the fishing gear we were trailing! I got princess treatment for a few hours as I recovered from my wounds as Kathy took over watch and made me a bowl of popcorn.

Looking forward to continued fast passage making to our likely landfall at Mazatlan or perhaps Isla Isabela.

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