Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bahia Los Frailes - December 3

If you look at a map of the Baja, you will notice that Cabo San Lucas and San Jose are at the extreme bottom. As you travel to Bahia Los Frailes, you turn north again, rounding the East Cape and heading into the Sea of Cortez. In the winter time, the strong prevailing winds come from the north, and we took full advantage of them as we travelled down the Pacific side of the Baja. However, now we found ourselves in the position of having to battle them to continue our journey to La Paz.

Although Pacific swells are not encountered on the east side, the wind waves do build up as they follow the wind down the 600 miles of the Sea of Cortez. Additionally, there is a cross-current – mixing the aquamarine waters of the Pacific with the Sea of Cortez, making for great fishing, but lousy transiting. In a condition where strong wind, wave and current are present, square seas can present themselves – making it next to impossible for a small boat to get north. As a result of all these factors, sailors pay very close attention to the weather and take advantage of the lulls to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. No leisurely sails are adviseable.

A window had just opened for us. We left San Jose del Cabo in flat seas and no wind, but as we made our way to Los Frailes with Thor, the wind piped up on our nose and we experienced some of the slop these conditions can cause –  wind on the nose, with short, choppy seas coming from different directions. We had our mainsail up to stabilize us as best as possible, but still we were tossed about as the boat worked to keep up 5 knots of speed. But the sun was shining, it was warm, and the spectacular, craggy coastline kept my attention as we jostled by. We arrived at Bahia Los Frailes, 28 miles north of San Jose del Cabo, just before the afternoon winds began in earnest, and dropped the anchor in turquoise clear water, 10 meters deep, with 50 meters of chain for secure holding.

Los Frailes - you can just see the RVs behind the beach

Los Frailes (the Friars), is a lonely place. There is an old dirt road running along the coast that connects San Jose to La Paz and little fishing villages and palatial mansions (!) can be found along it. At Los Frailes we found a rustic RV park, pangas and fishermen. The whole bay is lined by white sand beach and in one corner we could see where dinghies could easily come ashore.

dinghy landing

There were several cruising sail and powerboats anchored behind the lee of the jutting headland which gave small protection to the choppy waves trying to wrap around it. The afternoon wind gusts blew down on us from one side, then the next, causing Ka’sala to “dance” on her anchor. I was reminded of yet another difference between the perceived “Cruising World moment” and the reality of never really being in control, at the whim of the weather and waves, always on tenderhooks, worrying that your anchor will drag. Later in the afternoon we did lift our anchor and move closer to the headland which sheltered us enough to slow the pace of the dance.

Silas Crosby arrived soon after we did. Meredith was not aboard as she had moved to Taking Flight in Cabo to hitch a ride to Puerto Vallarta where she would meet up with her mom and sister for the Christmas holidays. Steve and John were happy to be out of hectic Cabo.

Silas Crosby at Bahia Los Frailes

Doug launched the dinghy to touch base with them and to scrub off the green beard Ka’sala had accumulated on her hull. I pulled out our new “dongle”, but couldn’t get any coverage.

cleaning the "green beard" off Ka'sala

That night, as we were tidying up the decks before bed, Doug noticed an eerie sight. What he thought were stars reflected in the water, were actually the eyes of a thousand fish. As we turned the small flashlight on them their eyes glowed florescent orange as their foot-long, green bodies writhed together to get closer to the light. Doug went down below to get the big beam flashlight, but when he shone it on them, they disappeared, to reappear with the smaller light. Ugh. Only a thin fiberglass hull between us! I thought of their densely packed bodies, inches away from me, as I fell asleep that night.

Rugged Bahia Los Frailes

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