May 9, 2008 — Punta Chivato — N 27 degrees 03′ 59.9″/W 111 degrees 57′ 37.7″

16.8nm for the day; 672.6 nm on the cruise overall

This was to be the setup day for our return crossing to San Carlos. Our intended jumpoff point would be Punta Chivato, just across Bahia Santa Inez from Punta Conception. We had a leisurely breakfast, so leisurely in fact that I missed the first half of the Sunrisa Net’s weather. No problem, I caught the second part, which suggested that tomorrow, Saturday, would be a good day to cross, while Sunday didn’t look quite as good. That settled it. We would start our crossing in the early morning hours tomorrow. Then things started going wrong.

To start with, I untied one of my 5 gallon jerry cans, to top off the main fuel tanks. I was startled to find it nearly empty. When I’d last bought fuel, at Escondido, I remembered thinking both 5 gallon jerry cans were full. I hadn’t bothered checking them. In point of fact, they were both nearly empty. That was unsettling, since I had hopes of running the boat at higher speed, thereby reducing the length of time needed in crossing. I still had adequate fuel for the return, but I did like the idea of being able to run at a higher speed. An inconvenience, but not a serious problem.

We got underway around 10:30 am, and proceeded at about 4 knots, to conserve fuel. We were able to motor sail in light air much of the way across to the Punta Chivato area. One reason for stopping there was to look up a neighbor of my dad’s, a guy named Ed who has a beach house a mile or so east of the Punta Chivato hotel. We had directions to his house, however, because of our slow rate of travel, we got there later in the day than I’d have preferred. We anchored out in the shallow bay, an open roadstead, right in front of his house, and dinghied in. By this time the breeze had picked up, so I let out extra scope.

We had a nice visit with Ed, which included use of his computer to check e’mail, showers, and dinner. The only problem with this socializing was time. We had precious little of it, considering the preparations we needed to make before being ready to cross. The sun was quite low over the horizon before we said our goodbyes.

The scene which greeted us on the beach was chaotic, to say the least. While we’d been inside visiting, a brisk breeze had come up, and a nasty swell was sweeping into the shallow bay and breaking on the beach. Several waves had broken over the dinghy’s stern, and dinghy was starting to resemble a bathtub/wave pool combination. I quickly baled her out, and we launched into the teeth of a 2 foot surf. We bounced our way out to the wildly pitching boat, and somehow managed to board ourselves and our stuff without mishap. Sandy started the engine while I tended to the anchor.

The Punta Chivato anchorage was only a mile or 2 distant, however, our direction of travel put us directly in the trough between swells. We had to motor tack our way up the beach, which took considerable time. The sun was beginning to set before we were anchored as far into the corner at Chivato as we could get. Then work commenced in earnest, which was a shame, considering we were unable to enjoy perhaps the finest sunset of the cruise. It was like Baja was trying to tell us to slow down and not force our return crossing.

I ignored the message, and proceeded to prepare the dinghy for stowage on deck. This is a tricky operation under ideal conditions, and we were dealing with less than ideal circumstances. The boat was bouncing around from refracting swell. More critically, it was now dusk, and rapidly getting dark. I attached the mast raising boom to the mast, then climbed into the dinghy and began passing up all the soaked gear (lifejackets, extra lines, pump, sponge, and the like) to Sandy, who piled things onto the cushions. I then removed the middle seat and transom, attached the bridle line, and prepared to hoist away. We got it on board just fine, but it was a lot more difficult in the dark. When I folded her up I discovered a thick layer of marine growth on the dinghy’s hull. I then went below and jammed all the gear into the king berth area. We didn’t finish up until around 10 pm. I set the alarm for 3 am, and went to sleep.

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