Header photo by Theresa, thanks!
Bash, a verb (strike hard) or a noun (a bash on the head or birthday bash). Or the term I kept hearing about, the Baja Bash. My study of the Baja Bash revealed that it is a West Coast phenomenon, usually left to paid delivery captains or unfortunate cruisers who need to get out of Mexico before hurricane season because of insurance policies. It is the inevitable return trip from Los Cabos to San Diego. Or the flipside of the downwind Baja Ha-Ha rally which takes place in the fall. I believe the Baja Ha-Ha is called just that, because it is fun. The bash, not so much, traveling against prevailing winds and seas along 800 miles of open coastline! Reading the Baja Bash II, by Capt. Jim Elfers, Rule #1 – Plan your return to the U.S. for July in an attempt to avoid the typically strong onshore northwesterly winds. So, it’s now January and we are starting the bash!
This is how it all began:
Epoch traveled to San Jose del Cabo with the Nordhavn Taco Runners, a noggle of 7 Nordhavns. We were leap frogging the Baja Ha-Ha rally. The Baja Ha-Ha is a cruiser’s rally, mostly sailboats that travel from San Diego to Los Cabos in the fall every year. And it was so fun. No schedules, no hassles, no deadlines. Just cruising, fishing, cervezas, margaritas and laughs. And beautiful sunrises and sunsets, everyday! After a couple of days stay in San Jose del Cabo, we traveled with Red Rover across the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta, then on to La Cruz. Fun times in Mexico with warm mornings, sunny days, wonderful food, and a community of boaters who are the definition of “happy.” Ahh, wintering in paradise!
Scott, enjoying conductivity in La Cruz, his internet surfing happened on a Nordhavn 55 which perked his interest. Located on the US East Coast in South Carolina, he began his inquiries. And the domino effect commenced! An offer was made on our little Epoch N47, Scott made an offer on the N55, the buyers of little Epoch sold their N40, and so it goes, one event setting off a chain reaction of similar events. Schedules for surveys, sea trials, and haul-outs were established. We departed La Cruz on January 20, 300 miles across the Sea of Cortez to San Jose del Cabo. After a quick trip to Seattle, we consulted with our weather guru, Rich Cortney, and began our “bash” on Monday, January 29. Adios beautiful Mexico…. So much for wintering in Mexico!
Tradition dictates that boats headed north should hug the coast to avoid a thrashing. They say run when you can and hide when you have to (sounds like an active shooter drill, eh?), and don’t even try to keep a schedule. We left San Jose del Cabo at 8:15 AM after getting 1000-liters of fuel and waved adios to our friend Alec on Audrey Mae N57. We came around the notorious Cape Falso in 3-5 foot seas at a 10-second period. Cape Falso is known for incredible wind sea conversions and is the determinate for permission to pass and proceed northward. 3-5 foot seas at 10 seconds was awesome!
Rich recommended we run the rhumb line which we did for a long while until the seas got too rough and bumpy; 8-10 feet at 10-12 seconds with nasty wind chop. Moving about the boat required us to use the walls and railings for support. Opening the refrigerator was out! It was Thursday afternoon when Scott decided to get closer to the coast to get into calmer seas. About 30 miles south of Abreojos, seas calmed down; 2-4 foot at 12 second periods. We made water, did laundry and caught up on overdue boat chores. Seas were a gentle swell, 19 knot winds. A pleasant night cruise.
12 miles south of Bahia Torugas (Turtle Bay), the NE wind picked up to a steady 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots. Our closest place of refuge was Turtle Bay and needing rest entered the bay at 5:30 AM and anchored with an east breeze at 6-8 knots. The lugger main engine was shut down for the first time in 72 hours. When we woke around 9:30 AM, I had a text message from my friend in the Tri-Cities who was following our progress, “36 mph winds with gusts of 40 mph.” Included was an emoji squinting face with the tongue protruding! Yep, unfortunately she was correct, our winds were fierce. The anchor held but with the extreme force of the wind, we destroyed our anchor snubber.
We showered and began our departure preparation from Turtle Bay after consulting with Rich who gave us the thumbs-up to continue north. Scott was inside the anchor locker checking things out when the wind blew the anchor locker lid and it whacked Scott in the head. Ouch! Minor injury, thank heavens. I wanted to get a photo but Scott said no! We weighed anchor at 1:30 PM in 20 knot winds, traveled north around Punta Eugenia and entered a very calm sea state of almost no wind, 1-2 foot seas on a long period. We continued east of Isla Cedros in calm seas, 2 – 3 feet at 10-12 seconds. All night long we had calm seas.
Around 5:00 in the morning I woke to the United States Coast Guard weather warning, “Securite, Securite” pronounced sea-cur-i-tay, suggesting we switch to 22-Alpha. What? “Gale force winds … San Diego and 60 – 150 n.m. offshore… Urgent marine weather message, NW winds 30 -40 knots, gusts to 50 knots, seas 19 – 23 feet, exceptionally dangerous sea conditions. Precautionary measures should be taken immediately…..” But we were in calm seas with little wind!
We estimated we would be in Ensenada by 3 or 4 AM. We increased the throttle to 1850 RPM which got us to about 7.5 – 8 knots. With the increased speed we would be in Cruiseport Village Marina only a couple of hours earlier than we had predicted. The Coast Guard weather warnings continued and were unnerving. We contacted Rich for consultation. Rich confirmed the approaching weather. We discussed the run to Ensenada, landing in Cruiseport Village Marina at the same time the storm was predicted to arrive (hello storm!), in the middle of the night, and tired. The run to Ensenada was changed to seeking anchorage in Bahia San Quintin to let the weather blow through. We cruised to Bahia San Quintin, traveling 5.5 knots to anchor for the night. This cruise was enjoyable, calm, hardly a breeze (complex and confusing to be seeking anchorage now) but obviously the safest and smartest decision.
It was Monday, and we woke to high overcast skies with the sun promising to peak out. The night was very rolly, 16 knot winds from the NNW, 2-foot wind chop. Our 10:00 AM consultation with Rich revealed a big ridge of pressure over San Francisco which was not moving very fast and causing weather off San Diego; 35 knot winds with 20-25 foot seas. Our 18-hour run to Ensenada would be delayed until Wednesday. Our predicted initial weather when departing late Wednesday afternoon would be 5 -7 foot seas at 10 seconds; and as we continue north, hugging the coast, we would get into a 2-4 foot sea state with a 12 second period. Ok. Arrival into Ensenada was planned for Thursday, February 6 around noon.
We woke to flat water on Wednesday which was nice as the previous two days were very rolly. Outside was sunny but we turned on the heat pump for heat instead of cooling as we had been air conditioning for the last few months. Mid afternoon we weighed anchor for our last overnight cruise for a while. 109 n.m. to Ensenada.
Rich’s forecast was spot on with 5-7 foot seas at 10 seconds. He suggested we run the rhumb line. But at Punta Colonet, seas picked up to 8-10 feet on a short period, very rough and uncomfortable, so we moved closer to the coast to find calmer water. We cruised into Ensenada just after sunrise, calm seas and an easy run into the marina. I stepped onto the dock with lines in hand just about 192 hours after departing San Jose del Cabo. Land!
Friday was reserved for checking out of Mexico. Cruiseport Village Marina provides check-out services. Anna in the marina office prepared the paperwork; printing, copying, stamping, signing, stamping, copying! Then Alberto took us to the Health Department, then Central Services to visit immigration and the Port Captain. Our only involvement was to pay a fee to leave Mexico, 480 pesos. Alberto said “bap, bap, bap, we do it, just like that!” Later in the day we traveled to the Banjerito with Alberto to cancel the TIP (Temporary Import Permit) for the boat. We were extremely appreciative of their services. We can’t imagine figuring out all the paperwork and location of the offices on our own.
We departed Ensenada at 6:00 AM, and as Rich predicted, 1-2 foot seas with a long period. Calm. We never saw more than 9 knots of wind. We crossed into the United States at 3:00 PM and checked into US CBP on ROAM App and were cleared to return to to the US. We tied up at 4:00 PM in San Diego at the Police Dock, where we started this adventure. Bitter Sweet.
Approximately 770 nautical miles and 350 gallons of fuel, eleven days (8 travel days and 3 stay days), weighed anchor twice for a total of 72 hours, one day in a marina, 12 conversations with our weather guru, Rich Cortney, 24 degree water temperature change, 34 degree air temperature change, one injury requiring first aid (you remember the anchor locker lid?), one radio contact (there was nobody out there), one major spill inside the refrigerator, one hitchhiker, three audiobooks, 11 sunrises and 10 sunsets, two people at the beginning and two people at the end.
I am an anthropomorphizer. Or so I have been told by my daughter and niece. I love our Epoch. We have worked on her insides, beautified her surfaces, and lovingly brought her back to life. We named her. She beams when we bath her! She took us to the west coast of Vancouver Island, to Alaska, she kept up with the “big kids” down the US coast to the Baja, then mainland Mexico, and brought us back safely. She is royal and she is mighty. And I thought she would be with us for all of our retirement dream, our “epoch time.” But [we] are letting her go. I am sad and I am a little mad. I will miss her.
I do not relish in the buying and selling of things as Scott does. He is euphoric with the sport of hunt and capture! This is his time. So much to plan and coordinate and talk about! He can’t wait to meet the N55 on the East Coast. He knows so much about her already; her previous care takers, her performance, her features, her travels. He corresponds with her seller who has shared so much information. Paul has been super! We had the opportunity to meet Epoch’s buyers in Seattle, Gary and Christine. They are very nice and knowledgeable and excited. They have kids. And a puppy named Ida! I think they will be awesome.
So, ahoy my Epoch N4717 See Ya! Safe travels my friend.
Ahoy N55. I look forward to meeting you. I do hope we grow like each other. My friends and family, wish me luck! New boat (to us), cruising the east coast of the US, new friends we haven’t met yet. Change… A new Adventure! We plan to cruise the east coast but will cruise home to the west coast someday. As they say, life is good now but the best is yet to come. Humm….we’ll see.