Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

Sea of Cortez Part 3: Return Passage to Cabo (May 2018)


Sunset Espiritu Santo

Sunset seen from CELESTE’s deck, Espiritu Santo, Sea of Cortez

It was hard to leave the beautiful bays and empty hills of Espiritu Santo island, but with summer (and hurricane season) approaching, it was time to sail back out of the Sea of Cortez and complete the final preparations for the Pacific crossing.

Since we’d been back in Mexico on the boat (after being away working for a few months), we had found the wind patterns to be the reverse of what they’d been in the winter. Back in February, we had made an upwind passage from San Jose del Cabo up to La Paz, fighting the strong north wind that prevails at that time of year. By May, we encountered frequent dead calms during the day and strong southerlies at night. This meant that we would be fighting headwinds again on our way south to Cabo (at least during the nighttime part of the passage). CELESTE sails pretty well against the wind, but headwinds make a passage longer (literally – you sail a lot more miles over ground to make good the same distance, as opposed to being able to sail straight on course with a favorable wind), so when we got a forecast for a calm day and night, we decided to swallow our sailing pride and make tracks to Cabo – we’d lingered long enough if we were going to the South Pacific that season!

Cabo Passage

Our route down Baja and up the Sea of Cortez (February) and then return to Cabo (May)

We left Espiritu Santo around mid-morning when the night’s Coromuel (strong SW wind) was starting to die down. At first we were sailing close-hauled and fast down the west side of the island (which was the windward side in that wind). By the time we reached San Lorenzo Channel (between Espiritu Santo and mainland Baja), the wind had died to a complete calm. We furled the main and jib and turned on the engine for the putter south.

San Lorenzo channel calm

Approaching San Lorenzo Channel as the wind dies

As the sun was setting, bathing the desert hills in golden light, we caught a faint zephyr of wind, just enough to fill the sails. We decided it was too good a photography opportunity to miss – perfect evening light, flat water, CELESTE ghosting beautifully along. So despite our total novice drone-flying abilities, we decided to give it a go and try flying the drone from the moving boat! It was stressful! But we got some stunning shots and managed not to lose the drone in the ocean! Phew!

Baja sunset

Sunset off Baja

After that rush of adrenaline, it was time for dinner and then setting the nighttime watch rotation. A peaceful night, a hot and calm morning, and then the wind filled in from the northwest for our last 20 miles. So we enjoyed some great sailing!

And we got the boat speed up enough for our fishing lures to attract a big wahoo! Yay!

By late afternoon, we were turning into Cabo San Lucas. We had chosen to go there instead of back to San Jose del Cabo because fellow sailors in La Paz had told us that marina slips in Cabo San Lucas were a lot cheaper. (Obviously we could have looked this up on the internet to make sure, but we had no reason to suppose they were wrong and, considering how expensive San Jose had been, we assumed they were correct. Always bad to assume things!) So in the interests of saving money, we had decided to endure the noise and frenzy of the famous spring-break-type resort town instead of returning to the relative quiet of upscale San Jose. Needless to say, Cabo was a real shock after the empty, peaceful bays we had come from!

booze cruise pirate ships

Fancy a pirate ship booze cruise? Cabo San Lucas offers two! (And a whole fleet of other booze cruise boats… Bit of a shock after the empty desert islands of the Sea of Cortez!)

Well, it turned out our informants were wrong…. The marina was just as expensive as San Jose! So we kept our stay very short – just long enough to visit Costco for a final provisioning run, to clear Immigration out of Mexico, to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, and to take on final fuel and water.

In the end, it all turned out fine, as Cabo was quieter than usual at that time of year.

Then we were off, across the Pacific!

8 thoughts on “Sea of Cortez Part 3: Return Passage to Cabo (May 2018)

  1. Just caught up – what drone do you have and do you like it? I was thinking about getting one myself.

    Also what a wonderful fish! Yum!

    • Nice to hear from you! We have a DJI Spark drone – small and light and not outrageously pricey as those things go. It can’t fly in winds over 15 knots, though, which is limiting on a boat, of course. Tricky to land on the moving boat, too, but they probably all are. We like it – been a fun toy and gotten some great shots 🙂

      Hope you’re having fun in Mexico!

  2. The Baja, and especially Espiritu Santo, is a place I’d love to spend extended time on a boat. I bet you had amazing sunsets about every night.

    • Pretty much! It’s gorgeous! I’d never spent much time in a desert before and really enjoyed the beautiful clear skies every day 🙂

  3. Awesome! I was in Cabo San Lucas for over a week and it was dreadful, I can only imagine what a shock it must have been after a deserted island!

    • I know! It was a zoo… but at least we had a totally painless check-out-of-the-country experience there – a friend who tried to clear out of La Paz had a terrible time of it, so at least Cabo’s touristy-ness has that going for it!

  4. What a beautiful collection of photos! Thank you for sharing!