We are back in La Paz after two weeks of cruising the islands and locations in the Northern Sea. On our last trip 14 years ago, our worst weather was in the Sea of Cortez, rounding the southern cape, and this trip appears to be no different. The weather in the Northern Sea kicked our butts again and hopefully we will remember it as some of the bigger seas we experience on this trip. We left Puerto Escondido with heavy winds, but in the right direction. While in the moorage the wind was gusting up to 35 knots and we felt vulnerable so close to all the other boats. In fact the boat directly in front of us had damage along all of its rub rails, to the stern and the bow. When we first saw it we figured it was hurricane damage, but we weren’t sure how it could have received the pattern of damage we saw. Turns out the boat lost its mooring, in the hurricane, and was blown into a small inner harbor where it took out and sunk the majority of boats in the anchorage. Those it didn’t sink, it damaged heavily. In addition, the previous boat that was on the mooring we were assigned, could still be seen on the rocks, a complete loss. The mooring never failed, their bridle holding the boat to the mooring failed, but it was eerie regardless. While we were there in calm winds, none of those things seemed important, but later in our visit, as the wind raced down the gullies and kept boats in constant motion, it weighed heavier on us. The short story is we left when the winds were gale strength. Our boat loves big seas and big winds, so no worries there, however her crew was a little less excited about rolling around. It started fine, the winds were high and we were cruising, or more accurately surfing at 8-10 knots, which is crazy fast for our boat. After a few hours of this, the kids started to feel the constant rolling and we felt bad because there was no place to stop and rest. There were no northerly wind protected anchorages for 40 miles. At one point both boys were hurling overboard. Mike held the feet of one while I held the feet of the other. Poor kids! The good news is the constant waves on deck cleaned up any mess they made! Through the constant rolls, Kena played and watched movies, completely immune to the heavy seas. Eventually the boys rallied and we were cruising and making great time. Unfortunately, the one casualty we had was the loss of our favorite, and only, hard kayak. It was in a cradle on the outer rail. One big roll lifted the kayak out of the rail and the lines we had holding it were nothing compared to the wind and waves. While Mike grabbed the bow handle, the wind ripped the kayak out of his hands. In 40 knots of wind and 8 foot following seas, we had no chance of retrieving it. It was a great kayak and a great safety device since it could be deployed immediately and was lightweight enough any of us could launch it. We are hoping Santa will bring us another similar kayak!
When we finally got to a safe anchorage we hid out for a couple more days until the winds were 15 knots or less. In that time we explored a small fishing fishing village and snorkeled the lee shore. We later sailed the 25 miles back to Los Islotes with a lovely 15 knots of wind right behind us. Mike figured out his wind vane and he was happy. Prior to this, we have been using Otto, our auto pilot, which works great, but uses power. The wind vane steers only when we are sailing, so it will be nice to save the auto pilot for motoring trips. Back at Islotes we dove into the water, excited to swim with the sea lions once again. We got the GoPro in the water and have some amazing shots of the playful sea lions rubbing up against us. Mike and Zander even had one that approached them and let them scratch his belly. This was such a highlight of our trip we could be easily convinced to head back one last time before we sail towards the mainland. We are currently in La Paz where we will connect with some Haha friends and get ready for out trip across the Sea of Cortez for the mainland of Mexico.