Thursday, December 2, 2010

Turtle Bay to Bahai de Santa Maria

When we left, we were thinking we might hop down the coast 50 miles to Ascension for a night, then carry on another 50 miles to Arbrejo, for the next night to shorten the passage hops, but when we got into the open water and realized a beautiful 10 – 15 knot breeze, we decided to carry on. What followed was two days and nights of the best sailing I have ever done. The two days were sunny and reasonably warm and the two nights illuminated by the full moon. As the light waxed and waned we were regaled with incredible sunrises and sunsets – long, lingering, every hue of the rainbow – utterly indescribable.

As we sailed further south, the water started warming up degree by degree and it changed colour, as it did so, becoming more and more turquoise. John Steinbeck, in his travel account The Log from the Sea of Cortez, aptly calls it “tuna blue”. We were on the lookout for whales, as this is the area they migrate to, in early December, to bear their young, but we only glimpsed two in the distance. However, one of the sightings made me very glad we weren’t close by – all we saw was an enormous tail whacking the water in quick succession. Huge can’t begin to describe its size and, once again, I was reminded how remote we were, how very far away from civilization and what we know. The feeling can be very powerful and, at some times, overwhelming.

Because we would be sailing for two days and nights, we were a little more precise in our watch keeping. Three hours on and three hours off seemed to give us enough sleep and keep us alert. It wasn’t really a difficult passage as the winds stayed moderate and, although the sea was lumpy at times, there were no large swells or wind waves to contend with. We followed a bearing of 130 degrees almost the entire way and were out of sight of land after the first day as we crossed the big bight. Our sails stayed fully furled and prevented in a wing-on-wing configuration right down the line.

As we approached Punta Hughes, the point at the north end of Bahai Santa Maria, the wind piped up and changed direction. We reset our sails for a beam, to close reach, and flew around the corner into the anchorage with the full moon to guide us. We used the waypoint from Captain Rains’ guide book to drop our anchor at 3:30 am in 10 meters and let out 50 meters of chain. As we drank our congratulatory beers, we could see a couple of power boats nearby, but no sailboats. Thor had contacted us before dark to explain they would be slowing down in order to anchor during the daylight hours and, later, when we woke up, she was settled nearby us in the bay.
full moon on the way to Bahai Santa Maria

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