Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

The West Coast of Baja, Part 2: Whales, fish, and more great sailing (February 2018)

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Good wind!

Great wind on passage to Bahia Magdalena

When we left Bahia Tortugas to continue south down the Baja peninsula, the light northerly wind we’d had on the first part of our Mexican voyage had built to a perfect 15-20 knots and CELESTE positively flew on her way! It only lasted a few hours, but it was a great start to our next two-day passage to Bahia Magdalena, a giant bay famous for the gray whales that mate and give birth there each winter.

Desert Hills and White Horses_2

Sailing off the desert hills of Baja

Both Seth and I had pleasant, relatively easy night watches with the wind holding pretty steady in the north. This voyage down Baja has been a real treat for us after our years in the high latitudes – just enough wind, nice sea conditions, no seasickness, pleasant temperatures!

Bit of a change of pace, n’est-ce pas?

And to add to it all, we caught a tuna the next day! He was a skipjack tuna (not a coveted yellowfin), but he was delicious both as sashimi and pan-seared filets!

Tuna

First tuna on board CELESTE!

Catching the tuna was especially exciting because it was the first tropical fish that we’ve caught on board CELESTE, and it signified that we’d really made it to the tropics! (Of course we had yet to actually cross the Tropic of Cancer, but we were getting close.) It felt like a long way (and it is a long way!) from our furthest north back in 2015 in Arctic Alaska.

all-alaska-voyages2-small

Map of our routes from 2013 – 2016, including furthest north (72*N) above Point Barrow, AK

2017 route_West Coast

Map of our route in Fall/Winter 2017-18 south around Cabo San Lucas

We reached Bahia Magdalena in the early afternoon of the following day, after more great sailing wing ‘n’ wing with the genoa poled out to make the most of the downwind run.

Approaching Mag Bay

Approaching Bahia Magdalena

Our initial idea was to sail across the bay (another 13 miles) and anchor off an area of mangroves that was marked on our chart – it looked like interesting dinghy exploration. Unfortunately, the chart wasn’t very accurate and we couldn’t get nearly close enough to shore (the depths were too shallow even 2 miles out from shore) for the rowing to be much fun, so we turned around and sailed back to the bay’s entrance where some hills made for a scenic anchorage. Mag Bay anchorage

Since the wind was so good, we only stayed one night at anchor and then kept on south to round Cabo San Lucas, the southern tip of Baja. The gray whales for which Magdalena Bay is so famous were everywhere as we sailed out of the entrance again! It was so exciting to see them so close and to have the opportunity to photograph them in clear, calm weather. Once again, gray whales are an animal we saw in Alaska – both in the Arctic and off Kodiak Island – but we had never gotten a chance to see them so close or to get them in a camera’s frame!

Gray whale

Gray whale

Gray whale tail

Gray whale sounding

The rest of our sail to Cabo was uneventful (which is a good thing at sea!). So uneventful that we even ate dinner down below at the cabin table, as if we were at anchor – so civilized!

Eating dinner in the cabin underway

Tuna Poke Bowl underway to Cabo

We knew we were approaching Cabo when the cruise ships starting appearing…. Incidentally the same cruise ships we’d seen in Alaska…. Do I sense a migration theme??

Cruise ship from Cabo

Cruise ship headed out of Cabo San Lucas

We had actually originally intended not to stop at either Cabo – Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo – and instead to keep on sailing north into the Sea of Cortez. That way we could anchor in a scenic bay instead of paying money for a marina. But as soon as we rounded the cape, a very strong northerly blew up. Darkness was gathering and CELESTE was not making great velocity made good (on account of having to tack to windward + steep chop cutting our speed with nearly every wave). So about midnight we gave up and put the helm over for the closest marina, which by then was the more northerly one at San Jose del Cabo. It turned out to be a very nice, restful stop and gave us the opportunity to connect by phone with a few friends and family.

Puerto Los Cabos

Marina at San Jose del Cabo, seen at dawn on the day we departed.

(I scheduled this post to come out while we’re sailing, so I’ll respond to comments when I next have WiFi – thanks!)

Author: Ellen

Circumnavigator, Arctic voyager, writer/photographer

7 thoughts on “The West Coast of Baja, Part 2: Whales, fish, and more great sailing (February 2018)

  1. Pingback: Sea of Cortez Part 3: Return Passage to Cabo (May 2018) | Gone Floatabout

  2. Thanks again for sharing your adventure. That was wild you seeing whales and cruise ships from Alaska. Your tuna poke looked tasty. I hope your good sailing continues!

    • Thanks, Don! Yes, it was kind of a strange feeling seeing the same cruise ships (and almost certainly the same whales) we’d seen in Alaska! Happy to report that the good sailing has continued – hopefully I’ll get up some posts soon!

  3. Love the comparison photo!

  4. Fabulous photos. Love the map showing your progress too!

    • Hi Viki,
      Thanks for writing – glad you liked the map – I’ll have to do more of them! Just got reconnected to Wifi – amazing that we really were out of touch for that long! – so just saw your comment. Hope you had a good winter – looking forward to catching up on your blog!
      All the best,
      Ellen

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