Friday, December 9, 2011

The Crossing

The five mile trip exiting the La Paz channel brought back vague memories of limping in during heavy weather two weeks earlier.  Once out of the channel, the wind was on our nose as we motor-sailed across the bay and past the hazards of the San Lorenzo Channel (named for a ship that was lost there).  Finally, we turned south and twenty knots of wind and a strong current were pushing us on our way.  It took all day to sail the sixty miles back to Los Muertos and it was dark when we dropped anchor.  Now we needed confirmation that the weather window was holding for the 200 mile crossing to Mazatlan on the mainland.

We got the green light the next afternoon.  The forecast on the cruiser’s net called for forty-eight hours of favorable winds and seas in the southern crossing.  In addition to the weather, we were concerned about avoiding the notorious fishing nets in the waters around Mazatlan.  We calculated that the passage would take thirty hours.  Leaving at 0400 would have us arriving with plenty of light for dodging fishing nets. As nightfall approached, big waves began rolling into the anchorage causing the boat to roll wildly and making sleep impossible.  By midnight we had enough and decided to get and early, sleepless start on our passage.  Within the hour, the anchor was up and we were headed for the mainland. 

The first half of the passage was uneventful with light winds and a fair amount of motoring.  At the halfway point, the wind and waves were building out of the southeast.  We were beating into fifteen to twenty knot winds with four to six foot waves on the forward quarter.  It was a rough ride.  With the strength of gusts increasing, we were fearful that we might be experiencing the leading edge of a storm.  Trisha thought to tune in the afternoon weather update on the cruiser’s net.  Next thing I knew she was having a conversation with Don Anderson, the weather man located near Los Angeles, and two other boats making the crossing within a hundred miles of our position.  Positions and weather conditions were compared and Don concluded that his forecast was correct and the winds would be decreasing.  His personalized forecast was a huge relief.  Over the next several hours it became reality.

We were happy to see the sun come up after the second night of our passage.  Each of us had only about three hours sleep over forty-eight hours and the sleep deprivation was causing some minor hallucinations.  We were twenty miles from Mazatlan when I noticed a black flag bobbing in the water about fifty yards ahead.  We were about to hit a fishing net.  I turned off the autopilot and turned sharply to port.  There were black flags every quarter mile or so with barely visible floats in between.  We traveled along the net for a mile and a half before we could get around it.
Second highest lighthouse in the world
 Once back on course, the mainland soon came into view.  By late morning we got a clear view of the second highest lighthouse in the world.  We were in Mazatlan.  We picked our way into the Stone Island anchorage and dropped the hook.  Interabang was the only boat at anchor.  We tidied her up, took showers and relaxed.  As the sun went down the sea and the sky were just beautiful.  A couple of pangas quietly fished behind us and dolphins swam all around.  Maybe it was the relief of having completed the passage, or maybe the sleep depravation, or maybe it was just as awesome as it seemed, but sitting there in the cockpit enjoying the scenery in the twilight was magical.

1 comment:

  1. It seems that every time we cross the Sea it changes 1/2 across - one way or the other. Glad to hear that you are safe and enjoying the scenery!