Monday, June 3, 2024

An Interesting Day

Bahía Los Frailes, Baja California Sur

Yesterday was an interesting day.

We weighed anchor at Punta Arena de la Ventana in the morning in the company of a small school of dolphins enjoying their breakfast. Not long afterwards, a small whale appeared, slapping the water with its tail and breaching with big splashes. It was quite a morning treat.

We motored in building southerly winds. As we approached Punta Arena de la Riviera in the early afternoon, roughly halfway, the winds were blowing 15-plus knots with steep, closely spaced 2-foot waves on the nose. We were at Bashing Level (BL) 2, mildly unpleasant, tiring, some spray reaching the helm, occasional water running on the decks. The relentless train of waves would periodically knock boat speed below 3 knots, so I ran both engines until we passed the point and conditions eased to BL 1.5. Another half hour and we were down to BL 1.  The day's bashing ended soon after.

While we were bashing, large schools of flying fish launched from the water evading the large fish just below the surface pursuing them. I felt sorry for the flying fish as birds swooped down on them to pluck them out of the air. Neither water nor air was safe, the only safety was in numbers. Lucky and unlucky flying fish.

I could sense the transition from Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) to Pacific Ocean, changing water color, temperature and  moisture of the air, an opening up. The dark blue sea met a light powdery blue sky. The purple-grey layers of hills to the west were covered by a haze, like a fine gauze curtain. The sun shone harsh bright white, reflecting off the water in glaring sparkles. It was beautiful and familiar, like a sea home. Tomorrow I will say goodbye to the Gulf, which will be more sad for me than the sadness I felt saying goodbye to La Paz.

I quoted John Steinbeck from his book Log from the Sea of Cortez back in 2017. What he wrote about the Gulf and returning to it resonated with me then and captures why it is so sad and difficult for me to leave now:

And we wondered why so much of the Gulf was familiar to us…Some quality there is in the whole Gulf that trips a trigger of recognition so that in fantastic and exotic scenery one finds oneself nodding and saying inwardly, ‘Yes, I know.’…Trying to remember the Gulf is like trying to recreate a dream. This is by no means a sentimental thing, it has little to do with beauty or even conscious liking. But the Gulf draws one, and we have talked to rich men who own boats, who can go where they will. Regularly they find themselves sucked into the Gulf. And since we have returned, there always is in the backs of our minds the positive drive to go back again. If it were lush and rich, one could undersatnd the pull, but it is fierce and hostile and sullen. The stone mountains pile up to the sky and there is little fresh water. But we know we must go back if we live and we don’t know why.

We pulled into Los Frailes and dropped anchor at 5pm. The small swell from the south bobbed Intermezzo up and down, not uncomfortably when we were pointed into it, a bit rolly when the boat swung at anchor and presented its beam and stern, which it did this morning.

I spent today cleaning up the port cabins and setting them up for crew. One has been serving as a workshop, the other as a storage area. They are both now nice accommodations. I'm going to take the paddleboard to shore after I finish this post and go for a walk on the beach, my last along the shoreline of the Sea of Cortez for who knows how long.

Tomorrow we check into the marina at Puerto Cabo de San Jose, the end of the first leg of my San Francisco Bash, and begin preparing for the second leg, the Baja Bash up the outside of the peninsula.