This trip was actually two legs – to Los Frailes, then to La Paz. We did not plan to stop in Los Frailes, we were hoping to get straight to La Paz, but we had two challenges: Charles was coming down with the same cold that knocked me out in San Jose del Cabo; and I left a hatch open so we had water intrusion early in the morning. I.e. a wave broke over the deck and – for the first time ever – came into the boat. Dammit.
That said, Los Frailes was a superb stop. Incredibly dramatic mountains, a swept beach that looked to go on forever, and clear, warm water.
Trip Summary -11/20-11/21 to Los Frailes, 11/23-11/24/2022 to La Paz
Left San Jose del Cabo at 13:25 on 11/19, anchored at Los Frailes at 10:35 on 11/20. Left Los Frailes at 06:36 on 11/23, anchored in La Paz at 17:48 on 11/24.
San Jose del Cabo to Los Frailes
There were good conditions predicted, and they proved true. As we left the dock in San Jose del Cabo, it was warm, with plenty of wind to sail, from 8.7 knots to 15.5 knots through sunset. Charles’ mom Jude was on board, and her visit of course coincided with our first upwind multi-day trip since we left the San Francisco Bay. So despite being on our ear, she not only kept herself safe, but also kept us entertained with stories and helped keep food going. Charles and I split the watches, but Jude always managed to be there when we saw whales, turtles, and other wildlife.
After sunset, I took the first shift, and Charles and Jude went below to sleep. It was a superb shift, other than the wind dropping off after sunset – first to ~6 knots, then down further. By 9 p.m., I was motoring at about 16 amps with just the main up. By 11:45, I was motoring closer to 13 amps, as it resulted in similar speed in those conditions. During this time, the surroundings treated me to fireworks at Cabo San Lucas in the distance, bioluminescence in each crashing wave (it was a little bumpy), and consistent shooting stars.
At 00:45, I brought out the foresail and started just sailing. Our speed over ground was only 2.8 knots, but nice to save the power. The wind steadily picked up over the following hours, and by 02:45 SOG was 5.5 and we were making power from the prop! The wind was picking up to 16.5-18 knots, which is close to when we reef. Charles switched in to watch and I went down to bed, which is when the water intrusion happened. I have never felt so stupid on a boat, but we decided to go to Frailes to dry off and let Charles get through the worst days of his already-worsening cold.
We left the dock with our 48 volt system at 90%, and arrived with it at 81%.
Los Frailes was gorgeous. We came in mid-morning with high wind, and still the water was so clear we could see Ayala’s shadow over the sandy bottom. We spent the next three days drying off, watching the active fish life, swimming, walking on the beach, and eating tasty food that Jude made! Charles never made it to shore, but Jude and I swam and took a walk to the far end of the beach. We saw so many odd shells and bleached corals, and hundreds of recently-hatched turtle eggs (no turtles).
Los Frailes to La Paz
After a few days of recuperating and exploring, we caught our weather window to La Paz. Everyone had warned us of high seas, unpredictable current between Isla Ceralvo and the Baja Peninsula, and high winds. It is common to motor the whole way, or most of the way, but that’s not our jam, so we waited for when the wind would be enough to keep us progressing.
We sailed off the anchor at Los Frailes (with Jude at the helm). Charles took first shift and I went below to get more sleep. Jude made breakfast, and by the time I got back up, the wind was perfect for lovely sailing on a full main and genoa. The sunrise was gorgeous, and was the start of very dramatic skies during this whole trip.
We sailed off the anchor at Los Frailes (with Jude at the helm). Charles took first shift and I went below to get more sleep. Jude made breakfast, and by the time I got back up, the wind was perfect for lovely sailing on a full main and genoa. Our magnetics in our Raymarine devices have been imperfect for some time, and this morning got suddenly way worse – which we quickly diagnosed as a new bag with magnetic closures being stored nearby. We had previously moved our tools to port side (magnetic compass is mounted on starboard), and finally moved an aluminum bike mount out of a nearby cabinet and into the v-berth. Delightfully, this solved the issue, and our magnetics were finally correct!
In the morning, we saw whale spouts in the distance, and in the mid-afternoon, we had several grey whales surfacing very close to us! They stayed on our same course for awhile, until we had to tack towards Ceralvo.
Winds hovered between 12 and 16 knots, and our speed stayed between 4.9 and 5.3 for hours. The coastline in this segment is sweeping flats with mountains that look dropped out of nowhere, very incongruous and engaging. Leading up to and through sunset, the wind picked up to 18 with gusts up to 21. We predicted that when it was fully dark, we would see more calm, and decided not to reef. It was a quick hour before we were proven right, but we fortunately were, and stayed full sail. As wind conditions reduced, the waves built, but when all the hatches are closed, Ayala handles that quite well.
Close to the channel, we decided on 3-hour watches with the resting person still in the cockpit for help when needed. It took a few more tacks than we were hoping to get through the channel, but we made it. Around 4:45 a.m., the wind started picking up to 15-16. Sun rose with us between the west face of the island and the Baja peninsula, with the wind still building. We got brief respites as we were shadowed by parts of the island, but as soon as we got north of it the wind was full force until we were behind Isla Espiritu Santo.
We dropped anchor in La Paz at 17:48 – cutting it a little close to sunset. In hindsight, maybe we should have stopped at one of the anchorages outside the channel, because anchoring in full dark would have been a big challenge. Anchor lights in La Paz are few and far between – I would say less than half of the boats. With that challenge, plus the sandbar, we got lucky to get a spot where we did.