Au Revoir Mexico, Buenos Dias Las Islas Marquesas
La Paz Mexico
The great Mexico adventure is winding down and we are preparing to set sail for the Marquesas
Last week we were on the cusp of departure to the south seas, Nuku Hiva was glowing on the chart taped to the bulkhead. Douglas and I had set about converting Tumbleweed to passage mode, we had finished provisioning, and started the process of clearing out with the port authorities. I had written up a last blog post to wrap up our time in Mexico and line up our sights to the western horizon, waiting until the morning of departure to hit send. Instead, I came down with a bad cold that turned into strep throat. After a quick, inexpensive visit to the doctor I was on antibiotics. I’ve fully recovered and we took advantage of the extra week to continue our studies of the weather and the islands, deal with our water heater failing, and make another visit to our friend Martin, who runs the greatest produce in all of Baja.
The ideal weather wind of last week has, of course, wandered off, but we are ready to set out and are planning on completing our check out process tomorrow and setting out in the afternoon. The forecast is for very light winds in the sea of Cortez for the next week, so it is likely we’ll be forced to motor, but hopefully we can use the spinnaker to make our way out of the sea and to the Pacific. Winds are also forecast to be light offshore for the next few days so maybe we’ll get a chance to really work the spinnaker.
La Paz has been a good base to plan the next leg of our adventure, sailing to the Marquesas and working our way through the islands of the south pacific, aiming for New Zealand by October. The trip is about 3,000 miles and we project it to take between 3 to 4 weeks. We are both pretty excited about getting started, we miss being at sea and under sail. There is a constant subconscious pull to be back on the ocean, to be back under the brilliant night sky, surrounded by ocean, visited by dolphins, whales, sea birds, flying fish.
As continues to happen when I think of visiting a place my projections and expectations were vastly different from the reality of the experience. After reading Steinbeck’s “Log of the Sea of Cortez” I imagined us sailing around the sea for a few months, stopping off at villages oozing Spanish colonial vibes, visiting humble Mission style churches, swimming daily in gin-clear waters, fishing for our dinner. There was some of that, anchoring out, wandering down the Baja peninsula and spending time out at Isla Espiritu Santo, and even a couple churches built in the 1700's. But not a thorough exploration, La Paz is more of a cross roads for the government of Baja California Sur, as the state's capitol, and hub of regional commerce, with a large commuity of gringo expats. We enjoyed our time in La Paz, spending time with friends, preparing for our trip across the Pacific and taking care of a handful of boat projects. But I think Douglas and I are both in agreement that we'd like to come back and spend a lot more time exploring this area, particularly in the fall before the northerlies start to roll in.
People have been incredibly kind, there are plenty of yacht repair services and supplies, and the marina, Costa Baja, has been a secure, clean, well run base. One of the projects I tackled was sewing awnings for Tumbleweed. The marina has a crew lounge with TV, book exchange, etc. It is seldom if ever used and I was able to set up shop there for a week and sew up all the awnings, a large one that covers the deck from the mast to the bow, and a couple smaller ones that can attach to the boom and run out to the lifelines. We had a few really hot days and the awnings were a great help, dropped the temperature down and filtered the light so it wasn’t so harsh inside. In the tropics when it is raining and hot I think it will be nice to have the awnings up so we can leave the hatches open. Although the Sailrite is kind of a beast to store it has been a really handy piece of gear to have along, I've used it quite a bit for canvas repair and for making various covers, etc.
We tackled a handful of other boat projects, engine maintenance, generator repair, studied weather, researched routes. We often refer to our adventure as going to boat college, and we had some good "courses" during our winter term in La Paz.
One of the main attractions of La Paz was our friends on Essencia and Pino had arrived before us. It was nice to catch up with them, we tend to have great wandering conversations over all sorts of topics reflecting the various backgrounds - biology, technology, art, science, politics, religion. We shared some great times together. We met Kim and Claudia of Essencia in Port Townsend and spent two winters down the dock from each other and this past fall traveled down the west coast together. They introduced us to Rekka and Devine on Pino and we’ve all sort of leap frogged, meandered and tagged along with each other down the coast. Essencia is currently anchored out at some magical cove, and Pino is a week out of La Paz en route to Nuku Hiva, currently enjoying some sweet sailing and beautiful seas.
The scope of this next leg of our adventure is settling in. To sail from Mexico to the Marquesas, around 2,800 nautical miles, should take us 3-4 weeks. Of constant sailing. There is a large map on the wall of cabin to remind us of the scale of things, that Baja is a long way from the cluster of small islands that make up the Marquesas. We have a good window for weather in the coming week to get away from the Sea of Cortez and offshore, from there we’ll keep a watch on the doldrums, the band of weather that circles the earth near the equator. Known mostly for light winds, squalls, and thunderstorms. It can be a few hundred miles across and we will aim to spend as little time in it as we can. Our visa for French Polynesia will limit our time in French governed islands to three months. Then we work our way through the Cook islands and Fiji before heading to New Zealand in late September. That is the plan, but plans aboard a sailboat are ever changing, adjusting to the realities of weather, vessel and crew.
Soon we’ll give a last wave to the cactus, whale sharks, wonderful dry heat, the clear clear waters of the Sea of Cortez and the people who have been so kind to us. Most of our sailing friends are continuing to explore Mexico or have plans for heading to South America or through the Panama canal. We'll miss discussing paradoxes with the crew of Bloom, over our weekly meet ups at the coffee shop. Our friends on Adventurer are on to the Mexican mainland, searching for tasty waves and small villages to do good deeds. Joe and Jami of Sherpa are exploring the islands to the north. It's a big world but a small community cruisers, I look forward to crossing paths with them all down the line.
A bit of blog "housekeeping". Squarespace no longer supports blog posting via email. so when we are at sea or away from wifi, we'll post over to another site, then duplicate here when we catch up to wifi. Agreed, it's a hassle, I'm just not in the mood to revamp this whole site yet over that feature, but probably will at one point. Our map will still be updated on this website, using Farkwar, you can sign up to follow us at www.farkwar.com, search for Tumbleweed and select follow, you'll receive an email when we update location. Remote posting of the blog while en route will be at: http://nowheretumbleweed.blogspot.com