San Jose Del Cabo & Los Frailes
December 20 I probably looked like a stray animal, hungry, lonely and disoriented, after spending every day with Rachel the last couple of months and now on my own, I had forgotten how to fend for myself in this new strange world of Mexico. Alone and starving I wandered the docks looking for a friendly face to care of me..... Ok maybe it wasn't so bad, truth be told I flew back to Mexico three days before Rachel because she had work in San Fransisco. Sure, the boat had limited food, and I was missing my companion but there were stores all around me and a couple of great restaurants.
Nevertheless that is probably what I looked like when I met our dock neighbors John and Becca on S/V Halcyon. At the time I had no idea how much we had in common and how these two would influence us over the next few weeks and months. At the time we were planning on heading up into the Sea of Cortez and they would head south to Panama. This didn't stop them from taking me in and inviting me to hang out with them while Rachel was gone.
Rachel flew back to Mexico but got a direct flight into La Paz on the other side of the Baja Peninsula. Flights there were cheaper and at the time of arranging the ticket we thought that we would have already made it into La Paz. So, I got a rental car and drove over to pick her up. It's amazing how quickly and easily you can see a vast amount of Mexico by car when compared to traveling by boat. After collecting my wife and having a little snack on the malecon (boardwalk) we headed back to Los Cabos to get the boat ready to move again.
It usually doesn't take that long to get the boat ready to go after it's been sitting for a week, just lots of little things. The marina was especially dusty so it was mostly just cleaning and topping off the water tanks.
We woke up early with the intention of hitting the fuel dock before we left the marina but apparently that is also when all the fishing charters are getting fuel before they go out for the day. So we circled in a crowded fareway waiting for chance to slip in, and right as we started to pull up the fuel dock, the guy waved us off informing us that he couldn't fuel us because the National Geographic Charter boat was coming in for fuel and it would take all day to fuel the boat!!!!
So off to Los Frailes... It is only a 30 mile trip from San Jose del Cabo to Los Frailes, but it can be a tough one. The wind wraps around the southern tip of Baja and the swells begin to build into large, short interval periods as they have had 600nm to build down the sea. Now meeting the Pacific it causes them to build and provide a bumpy ride for boaters heading north. We had already had a taste of what it could be like, hence the early departure.
Our trip this time was really nice, we had enough wind to motor sail and even kill the engine for a couple of hours and after seeing a ton of sea life we arrived at anchor just inside of S/V Halcyon a little after 1:00pm.
Our first day in Los Frailes was amazing!!!! The anchorage sits just south of a national park and one of the better dive sites in Baja, Pulmo Reef (Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park). As a Christmas Eve present the ocean gave us great snorkeling right off the boat. The life that flourishes in the protected reefs of Cabo Pulmo overflows into the surrounding waters and the rocky point making up the northern part of the anchorage has an abundance of life with normally good to fair visibility. We spent all day in the water and playing on the beach!
That night We had Phil, a single handed sailor (sailing alone, he has both hands) on S/V Lutra over to celebrate Christmas Eve and play Bananagrams. The next day though Rachel wasn't feeling 100% and ended up having her first bout of food poisoning. Bummer to feel "poopy" on Christmas!!! We had a mellow day just hanging around the boat and got ready for what could be a bumpy ride north the next day, and boy was it ever.
The four boats that spent Christmas in the anchorage, Lutra, Shameless, a Hans Christian 54 and ourselves all left within 10 minutes of each other and rounded the point. The Hans was pushing up right over the reef hugging the coast and with its large diesel pushing was making fair progress though dangerously shallow waters. Shameless, Lutra and Agape headed out pointing as high as we could and it seemed to be working fine. As we started making our way out further from the protection of land the swells grew and grew into quick steep waves. We all pushed on making a couple of tacks as to not get too far offshore. As we discussed the conditions on the radio it was fun to see how everyone was feeling and experiencing these conditions. Finally though, after our fourth tack we realized we would only be able to making 2 knots in the direction we wanted to go, and it was a rough two knots. At that rate it would take us all day to get to our intended stop of Marina Cabo, a still under construction private marina between us and Muertos about 24 miles away.
Rachel and I were considering turning back to just hunker down when Agape punched through another swell and crashed down into the face of the next. As the wave crashed over the bow I watched my surfboards heave under the pressure and threaten to abandon ship!!!!
"Thats it we are turning around!!!!" I made the call, radioed the other boats and told them that we would return to the anchorage and wait for better weather. At the time we had been bashing north for just over 3 hours, and it took 1 to get back into the anchorage and drop the hook. Lutra and Shameless eventually ended up turning back as well. The Hans continued on and ended up getting turned away from the marina since they were full and had to continue north through the night making slow progress.
Our decision sentenced us to another week stuck in Los Frailes in 25-35 knot winds...
After the first night and making sure our anchor stayed put we felt comfortable getting off the boat and exploring a little. Rachel, Phil, and I walked/hitched our way into the town of Cabo Pulmo about 7km away. Turns out the couple giving us a ride lived in Channel Islands and knew Rachel's dad through kiteboarding. The town is very small and really only sustained from the diving that goes on there.
After some exploring and a little lunch we felt we had seen the town and hitched a ride back to Frailes with a another couple we had met earlier that day down on the beach, thats is how small the town is.
We would wait out the rest of the week in the anchorage, snorkeling everyday, because even though its blowing a stink above water the fish have no idea. It was also a good chance to clean the bottom of the boat and catch up on some couple time as well.
Next up Mazatlan!!!