Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


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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 tear ourselves away from 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 our Pacific Ocean 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 pretty much 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 twice as many miles over ground to make the same distance good, 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, um, 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!

Seth and just-caught wahoo

Seth with the wahoo!

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! Oh well, 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 veggies, 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 and we were positioned at the very end of the Baja peninsula to start our ocean crossing – a psychological boost at the very least. 🙂

Then we were off, across the big blue Pacific!


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Sea of Cortez, Part 2: Sailing, diving, and hiking (May 2018)

Sea of Cortez anchorageIt’s been a while since I wrote about our first experience sailing in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, when we made the upwind (slog of a) passage from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz back in February of this year. So that was Part 1 and now I’m finally getting to Part 2. In between, we spent a couple of weeks in La Paztouristing and doing boat projects in early March and then provisioning and doing boat projects in early May. (In March and April we were back in the US working ashore.)

Anyhow, that’s some background to catch everyone up since I’m so behind on the blog!

So here goes!  Continue reading


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La Paz, Mexico: Preparations for the Pacific + Fun with Photography (Early May 2018)

I’m finally catching up on the blog! I left off with our time in La Paz, in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, so that’s where I’m starting up again.

La Paz

The required photo op in La Paz

That last post ended with us leaving CELESTE in early March to go back to work for a couple of months. We returned in early May to find her almost as we’d left her, and to find Baja much, much hotter than in the winter! It was very pleasant to be able to stroll around in shirt sleeves at night, but the days were sweltering!  Continue reading


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50,000 sea miles

Setting moon on Pacific crossing

Moon setting at dawn on our second Pacific crossing

So, to spill the beans… this summer when we were all out-of-touch and offline, we were sailing across the Pacific again. This second Pacific Ocean crossing was quite different from our first one in 2007, but more on that in a later post. I’m still processing the whole experience in my head (and in my photo file folders!), so for now this post is just a fun little look back:  Continue reading


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Thank you for your patience…

Hi everyone!

Thanks for your patience with our lack of blog posts this summer! We were (predictably) off sailing and have only just now returned to the land of fast internet. Baja sunset

I have to admit that (barring a few frustrations with getting our work sent off), we both enjoyed being so disconnected and unplugged for so long. I know it sounds ridiculously cheesy, but it really allowed us to focus on “the present” in a way that just doesn’t happen when we have Wifi and mobile data…. So the challenge now is to maintain that mental state while also being connected again.

That said, it’s been great fun to check my email (yes, you read that right – I hadn’t checked one of my accounts in literally 4 months!) and read all the wonderful comments from our readers! Thank you all for your kind words and positive thoughts! I’ll respond to them all right after this post!

And then I hope to start writing here fairly regularly again.

Thanks again to all our lovely readers, and wishing you all a happy fall (or spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere!),

Ellen & Seth


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La Paz, Mexico: Desert hiking and boat projects (Early March 2018)

La Paz is a great spot for cruising sailboats – a big anchorage, a bunch of marinas to choose from at different prices, almost any shop or service you might need, etc. As the capital of Baja California Sur, it’s actually quite an extensive city but has a low-key vibe and a lovely waterfront area.

Statue on La Paz Malecon

Statue on the La Paz Malecon

Continue reading


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Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, Part 1: Passage to La Paz, a family visit, and snorkeling with whale sharks! (February 2018)

Several sailors we had met in Alaska had highly recommended the Sea of Cortez, so that was our goal in Mexico. So when we left San Jose del Cabo, we pointed the bow north again. At first – when our course was really more northeast along the coast – we had beautiful sailing on a close reach, once again flying along under clear skies. Sailing fast upwind

But as the land curved more north and we altered course, the wind was right on the nose. With relatively little chop, we nonetheless made good progress, despite sailing lots of miles out of our way, as you do when you beat to windward. By evening we had reached Cabo Pulmo, a national park that was recommended in our cruising guide for having the best protected anchorage south of La Paz.  Continue reading