Catamaran Sailing in Baja
In mid-December, I received an email from my friend Jonathan asking me if I was interested in doing some travelling in the New Year. His email was timely, as I had been pondering the idea of taking my boat down to Mexico and doing some sailing. And so I asked if he would he like to come. A couple hours later, I got an email back expressing interest and asking for the details.
“Those are the details,” I replied.
“Ok, sounds good, I’m in” he answered.
How to tie a 17′ boat to the roof of your car.
Once you learn a couple knots, it’s amazing what you can tie to the roof of your car.
This rig travelled 3000 miles up to 70mph and over some pretty big bumps with no problems. – You just need to know three knots.
- The bowline
- The round turn and two half hitches
- The truckers hitch.
Contrary to what we’d heard, the transpeninsular highway down Baja was excellent with very few pot-holes. – We were able to do 65 most of the time. From Tijuana to La Paz takes approx 21hours with stops just to pee and eat quick meals.
Loreto to La Paz
We sailed in the very southern part of the Sea of Cortez. Our route took us from Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto, to La Paz. – It’s about 130 miles and took us about 10 days.
Traveling by boat isn’t like traveling by bike. – For the first few days, the wind was light and we struggled to make 5-10 miles. On days when the wind blew, we could have knocked off all 130 before the sun set!
During winter, the Sea of Cortez alternates between flat calm, and ‘el norte’ winds – strong northerly winds that howl for days – Learn More. On the fifth day as we approached Isla San Jose, the north wind kicked in very quickly. Within the space of just 15minutes, we went from light winds to needing to reef. We held on to San Evaristo, a small fishing town, where we found ourselves stuck on the beach for days.
After four days the winds started to die down, and we set off for the 30 mile crossing to Espiritu Santu. While the winds were less, the seas were still large, and we held on for dear life for the three hour crossing under jib alone. Almost pitchpoled once. Reaching the beach at the end was one of the best experiences of my life.
The Sea of Cortez coastline is beautiful and completely unspoiled. – We saw only a handful of villages (most with less than a dozen habitations) and most had no roads to speak of. The ones that did were still several hours from the nearest highway. We had to pack almost 40 liters of water for the trip, and numerous cans of beans and hot sauce.
Thoughts on ‘boatpacking’
There’s a beauty to traveling on a small boat. You can go places others can’t. We were able to pull the boat up on beaches and poke around rocky islands looking for good snorkeling. We even devised a new method of navigating shallow waters. Jonathan would stick his head in the water with his mask on while I would drive as close to the rocks as possible. – It was a lot of fun. We had no motor on the boat and were at the mercy of the wind. But that was actually kind of nice. It forced us to slow down, and stay in tune with the environment. And when the wind blew, there was plenty of it to make up for lost time.