| 7:30 PM local time, Monday, May 5 (0230 May 5 UTC) 24 46 N 112 15 W. Temp. 63, Humidity 85%, Cloud Cover 0%. At anchor in Bahia Santa Maria, Baja California, Mexico.
Less than warm greetings from the crew of Maverick.
When we got into Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja California we spent about an hour an a half refueling and watering, and then headed up the coast. In that time we satisfied whatever curiosity we had about the place, and the anchorage didn't look very inviting, but I suppose we didn't really give it a fair shake. Leaving Cabo, we soon passed 23 27 north which puts us out of the tropics for the last time and as if the weather were conscious of this, the breeze immediately turned very cold. I guess you in the Bay Area had the brunt of this recent low, but the cold front it brought to Baja had us pulling our fuzzies and foulies out of the lockers they've lived in since we left home. I'm sure we haven't been this cold since a few days after we left, and since then when we said it was "t-shirt weather," we meant it was so cold we had to put a t-shirt on. Bye-bye to that.
We made another 180 miles before finally stopping to take a break here in Bahia Santa Maria after the six straight days from Manzanillo. The weather guru for this leg, Don from Summer Passage out of Ventura, said it would be windy anyway, and last night it gusted up to the high thirties in the anchorage. This leaves us about 550 miles more of Baja before we make San Diego. Those on this list who are west coast sailors know that this passage is referred to as the Baja Bash, and justifiably so. It blows pretty consistently 20-25 on the nose with higher gusts, but the worst thing for us to get used to was the cold.
Bahia Santa Maria is a beautifully desolate anchorage, with nothing here but a few frigate birds and pelicans. Although it's windy it's also secure so it's not bad at all. We probably won't stay long enough to launch the dinghy and do any exploring, but who knows. We have a few things to do, the most important of which are stopping up all the leaks we discovered when we headed upwind, and drying out the stuff that got wet. As we haven't sailed upwind since the Red Sea, the chainplates need rebedding and new gaskets need to be put on the hatches. This and some other routine maintenance won't take long.
Next to us in the anchorage is 69-year-old Susan Meckley on Dharma from the Bay Area, who is single-handing down the coast with the intention of sailing to Phuket. She's looking for crew but for now handling it on her own. Susan worked for years at the Alameda West Marine store in the bargain shop so some of you may know her. She's not completely alone, as she's accompanied by a Chihuahua named Bonita and a parrot that has learned how to call the dog named Sweetie Bird. She describes herself as being five-foot-twelve with lots of red hair, so she's not a small woman, and not a frail or timid one, either. She's a retired US Army Master Sergeant and even at her current age, I don't think I'd want to mess with her. When she heard we had no refrigeration, she wanted to give us some cold stuff, like some frozen clams and a couple of cold beers. But we were too lazy to inflate the dinghy. She told us real men would swim over for a couple of beers, so that's how long it took Susan to figure out what everyone else already knows. So then she says she'll put the beers on a line with a float and try to send it to us, as we're downwind. She rigged up a bag and attached it to her fishing pole and sent it floating towards us, and we were waiting with a line to toss that had a hook on the end to grapple with. But there was a windshift and the bag went drifting the wrong way, so we pulled up the anchor and motored over to it, picked it up and re-anchored. And you thought it was easy out here.
PS to Rob: Great to hear from you and about Nick. Please forward my regards to Huey and Sean. I don't think the rest of the guys would know me.
PS to Rich: Thanks. I agree with you about Rodriguez and I'll give it some thought.
PS to Dick, who thinks Jacques Cousteau deserves credit, as a Frenchman, for contributing to seamanship: That's underseamanship. Some sailors dive, but we don't. Tristan Jones couldn't even swim.
It's a little too soon to tell, but we may be in San Diego by the last week or so in May. I know that, besides some old friends, there are some new ones on this list who have expressed an interest in coming by to see Maverick, or us, both here and at another one of our planned stops in Santa Barbara. Stay in touch and we'll give details on where and when we can get together.
More thoughts on Columbus: When I wrote the bit on him before our departure across the Atlantic, much of it was from memory, but what my memory didn't remember was that I actually had a copy of his journal aboard. After recently taking a look at it, I came to the conclusion that he was more of a fool than I'd given him credit for, but now I've had second thoughts.
He thought that seeing a Booby was an indication of land, because this bird never ventures far away from its roost on solid earth. I knew this was wrong as we've seen Boobies a thousand miles from land, and I was surprised that an experienced mariner wouldn't know this. But when I looked up the Booby's range in "Sea Birds of the World," it turns out that the range of the Booby in the Atlantic goes no further north than the Canaries, which is the only place Columbus could have seen them. And the ones on the Canaries don't venture far offshore. Score one for the old navigator.
He continually reports seeing weed floating in the water, a good sign of land, with the exception of the fact that since both wind and current were going in the same direction he was, they could never be an indication that land was anything but behind him. But this is explained by the fact that Columbus had no way of comparing his progress through the water with his progress over the ground, which we do today by comparing the knotmeter to the GPS, giving us set and drift. He believed he had current against him and so if he did see weed in the water, it made sense for him to believe the land it came from was in front of him.
He thought a particular cloud was a sign of land. It is true that cumulus clouds develop over islands as every visitor to Hawaii knows, because the sea breeze, as it is forced to rise over the mountains, cools and condenses into clouds. However, cumulus clouds develop for other reasons and he surely knew that not all cumulus clouds form over islands. But perhaps he thought that he could distinguish between the two types. Of course he didn't that particular time, because he was wrong. But it isn't out of the question that he could make a good guess in this regard, although I certainly couldn't.
Lastly, he said that he had noticed some variation in the compass readings, and that this was caused by the stars. This seems pretty ignorant, and it is; but it gives you an inkling of what little he knew based on the science of the day, and how much he was willing to risk based on that knowledge.