Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 20: Mexico page 106 of 109

Baja

Land's End, the southern tip of Baja.

Departing Cabo, we had steamed about half a mile and were approaching the famous rocky outcroppings known as Baja's "Land's End," when we noticed a patrol boat following us. Our presence here was illegal, having neither cleared in nor out, and it looked like we were being pursued. Unable to think of a better course of action, I steered back toward the moorings. Thankfully the patrol boat continued on, but even so, we felt that the patrolmen might apprehend us if we tried to leave without the proper credentials. So we collected the bridle of one of the moorings and then went into town to check-in (and out) with the officials. No doubt due to the heavy influx of yachts, the officials here seemed to have a firm grip on their clearance procedures, for we found the process relatively easy, albeit time-consuming walking to and actually locating the various offices spread seemingly half way to Timbuktu.

Dinghying back out to the moorings, we were aghast to discover that someone had shifted Suka to an adjacent buoy, and one closer to shore and in markedly shallower water at that. Suka now had less than 24 inches of water between her keel and the bottom. Nothing aboard had been disturbed, and we could only surmise that whoever had done this, was the same person that also managed the moorings. We questioned the neighbors, and as might have been expected they had seen nothing. Back aboard, we unshipped this new mooring, and re-anchored at our original slot within the inner harbor.


Early the next morning we departed Cabo again, and rounded Land's End without incident. Eight miles out, however, while approaching Cabo Falso we were beset by powerful headwinds and fearfully bashing seas. We motor-sailed into the tempest a ways, but with increasingly less headway. Poor Suka was taking a pounding. We knew that once well clear of Cabo Falso progress would be easier, but the sky was greasing-over so ominously that the conditions seemed less than ideal for traveling north. So reluctantly we turned tail and flew back to Cabo and our previous anchorage. There we spent what remained of an otherwise pleasant day working on various projects aboard, interspersed with forays ashore to frequent the taco stands.

According to most accounts, the trip north-west along Baja's coastline is arduous at best. The seas are normally swept with 25-knot headwinds and a bone jarring oncoming chop. We had long been concerned about this passage, and our morning's experience had only confirmed our worst fears: that this final run promised to be rough and wildly unpleasant.

The following morning we were not as eager. We waited until 10 a.m. to determine whether the morning wind would eventuate. It did not, and the sky appeared far more promising, so we decided to try again. This time the conditions at sea were not so awful, and we rounded Cabo Falso. And as we proceeded, the wind came more off-shore and the seas quieted. Suka bounded along gleefully, and her crew counted their blessings with the passing of every precious mile.


By the next day the wind and seas had diminished altogether, leaving us motoring steadily onward throughout the afternoon and night. On our third day, the oncoming seas grew lumpy and we feared the worst was to come, but the conditions calmed again during the night.




“The old jib exploded like a shot from a cannon and rent into two separate pieces.”

As we neared Turtle Bay, four days out from Cabo San Lucas, the wind began blowing increasingly harder off-shore. Progressively, we reefed Suka to the hilt, and even then she heeled far over, slashing a streak of white across the flustered seas. Finally the stress proved too much for our old jib, which had helped propel us nearly around the world. Like the shot from a cannon the sail exploded and rent into two separate pieces. The sheets, the clew, and several yards of material slumped to the deck, and the remainder fluttered at the headstay like a mighty, tattered flag. We doffed the rags, and hanked our spare - and as yet unused - working jib, then sailed on.

The anchorage at Turtle Bay.


Turtle Bay (Bahia Tortugas)


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Reaching the entrance to Turtle Bay that afternoon, we tacked into the anchorage against a gnarly off-shore blast. A dozen yachts lay straining to their bowers, and we settled near them. While Perkins was warm we changed its engine oil, then we ventured ashore in pursuit of a pair of the famed Turtle Bay lobster dinners. Ambling along the dirt roads of the village, we met and talked with a few sailboat people fresh-from-the-big-city. They seemed friendly enough, once we had attracted their attention, yet they seemed also somewhat insular and self-absorbed.

“We felt nostalgic for the folks we had met "out there", the folks who, through trials, tribulations, and ineffable joy rather matching our own, had shed some of their pretentiousness, and had opened their hearts to fellow travelers.”

That evening, as we sat in a little restaurant sipping cafés and awaiting the cook to bring our order, a group of five sailboat people entered, chose a table adjacent ours, and proceeded to ignore us. After pondering this odd behavior awhile, we elicited their attention then managed to pass the dinner hour while talking with - rather, listening to - them. Yachtees we had met the-world-over generally displayed certain distinguishing qualities. Generalizing, they were interesting to listen to, and they, in turn, were interested in listening to us. Yet here at Turtle Bay we found these people somehow alien, and the contrast between them and our cruising friends of yore emphasized how much our round the world voyage had changed us. No doubt we had been rather like these folks at the onset of our voyage. We certainly did not feel superior; rather, we felt nostalgic for the folks we had met "out there", the folks who, through trials, tribulations, and ineffable joy rather matching our own, had shed some of their pretentiousness, and had opened their hearts to fellow travelers.

More importantly, at this point Suka had logged some 32,000 miles and was now only 325 miles from American soil. With the end at hand we were growing excited, but only inasmuch as we were culminating a three year voyage, and fulfilling a most sanguine dream. In reality, drawing close to the end meant we were about to terminate the adventure of a lifetime. Indeed, seafaring had become our way of life, and in encountering these cultured greenhorns, people like us when we first set out, we felt intimidated of the world we were about to re-enter.

We lingered for two days, waiting for the fierce winds to abate. Then while listening to the VHF radio we learned that, remarkably, crews of south-bound yachts were experiencing little wind. This seemed remarkable, considering that Suka's cable was stretched taut to a fierce blow. Taking this information into account, the following morning we ignored the local feisty conditions, and departed early. During the initial five miles we experienced heavy off-shore gusts, interspersed with increasingly calm sections. And before long we found ourselves motoring into light headwinds playing across flat seas. And incredibly, we were to travel the remainder of the distance to San Diego upon calm seas.


No lee-cloth necessary in calm seas.


We enjoyed a remarkably easy passage from Cabo San Lucas, and in fact, from Panama. But nearing California we encountered a final complicating factor: fog. For two days and nights Suka motored steadily upon a tranquil, unrippled sea, with views confined to a scant few hundred feet, if that. Motoring ahead into the vast unseen was a somewhat unnerving, especially considering that numbers of cruising yachts were heading in the opposite direction. Every few hours the fog lifted enough to allow an expanded field of vision. Even so, though, we felt we were playing the odds somewhat.

Pushing into the fog.

Changing the headsail.


Jenny:

The sea had been glassy all day; not a whisper of wind disturbed the surface, but the dense fog had kept us vigilant. We listened intently for the sound of any nearby ships, and on a couple occasions we heard the throbbing rumble of a passing vessel, and discerned a dark form passing through the gray mist. Also, we had to dodge clusters of floating kelp, while hoping they wouldn't foul the propeller. Jumping into these numbing cold Northern Pacific waters to clear the prop would have been most unappealing.


South Coronado Island


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The Coronados Islands lie in Mexican waters a scant twelve miles south of San Diego, and with great relief we finally sighted them looming ahead. As we approached South Coronado the fog dispersed, and the sun's warmth seemed to welcome us to the quiet anchorage. As I readied the chain and anchor on the foredeck I realized that, as we were so near to civilization, this might be the last occasion on our circumnavigation that we would be setting anchor.

As a result of recent moisture, a soft green overcoat clad the island's steep and rocky shoreline. A few seagulls perched serenely on their white-spattered rocks, and a pair of sea lions lolled nearby. The place seemed familiar.

We set the anchor onto a patch of white sand contrasting with the mostly rocky bottom, then when Perkins had quieted we switched on the VHF and listened to the chatter of radio talk: marine operators and ship-to-shore conversations. Two days before Christmas, the channel was busy with holiday well-wishers.

"Let's try calling our parents;" Ray grinned, "they'll be surprised when they learn where we are."

We surprised our parents, and also our friend Joe. "I figured you must be getting pretty close by now," Joe remarked. "You guys have really been moving!"

I climbed back outside to watch the last of the sunlight painting the island. Ray joined me in the cockpit, and as we sat enjoying the ambiance I remembered why this place looked familiar. Before the hectic final months prior to our departure from San Diego, we had motor-sailed here to anchor overnight. That had been my first short voyage aboard Suka. Ray and I agreed that anchoring here once again was a grand finale to our circumnavigation. And with that, the immensity of our voyage flooded me. I felt a renewed admiration and love for our seaworthy ship and also for her captain. Ray's dream had become my dream, and I could only marvel at what the two of us had accomplished.

Ray:

Well before daylight we departed Coronado Sur, and motored across calm waters toward the bright lights of civilization. We intended avoiding San Diego, and were headed for ports farther north, hoping to find suitable berthing at one of them. Nevertheless, as we crossed the Mexican-US Border, and as I radioed the US Coast Guard to report our arrival in American waters, the officer instructed us to proceed to the Shelter Island Police Dock, as a matter of routine.

Clearly, one aspect that had changed dramatically as we had sailed farther north was the decline in air temperature. The cold felt penetrating. This was our farthest from the equator since leaving South Africa, which lies in the southern hemisphere at about this distance from the equator. So while motoring into the pre-dawn darkness we were wearing nearly our every garment. Additionally, I sat at the helm with a sleeping bag draped about my shoulders. San Diego was not uncommonly cold; rather, we had acclimated to the tropics.

Crossing our outbound track, and approaching the famous harbor, we were unable to discern the flashing fairway buoys against the brilliant lights of the city standing in the background. So like novices we groped about, confused, until eventually a fishing boat came along and made its way in. We followed it.

Sailing back into San Diego harbor at the completion of our three year voyage around the world.

San Diego


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The day was yet in its infancy when we secured Suka to the Police Dock. This certainly was familiar territory; for it was here, three years and nearly two months previously, that we had loosened the brig's warps and set sail upon a voyage that, indeed, had taken us around the world. What a wonderful odyssey it had been. How unflagging had been Jenny, my heart-of-oak companion. And how aptly we had christened Suka, who indeed had sought and embraced those UnKnown Adventures, and had proven herself worthy to every task.

The officials of customs, immigration, and health expeditiously granted us pratique and entry, and the harbor police allocated us temporary berthing at their adjacent docks. And there, in virtually the same place where we had prepared the brig for her voyage, we scrubbed her stem to stern in preparations for a complementary two-week's berthing at the prestigious San Diego Yacht Club.

At the harbor police dock awaiting pratique. Suka is home!


Family and friends.


The story has 109 pages. This is page 106.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
> GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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