The sail (and motor) from Bahia Tortuga to Bahia Santa Maria

After we bid adieu to Steve, we made ready to depart Bahia Tortuga and resume Rhapsody's Adventure to Central America. We pulled up the anchor at 4:37pm on Friday, planning on being in Bahia Santa Maria, about 250 nm south, around noon on Sunday. We decided we would rather leave Tortuga and arrive in Bahia Santa Maria both in daylight (and spend two nights at sea) rather than leave Tortuga in the morning and arrive at BSM at midnight (and spend one full night at sea). It's better to enter a new anchorage in daylight, and leaving Tortuga there are a lot of lobster traps and fish nets to watch out for. So, we motored out of Bahia Tortuga in the late afternoon, for about an hour, until we were far enough out of the bay to set the sails on a reasonable tack for our route, at which point we cut the motor and proceeded under sail.

After sunset, as the night wore on, the winds clocked and petered out. I had the 9-12 watch, so around 11:30 pm, barely sailing, I started the motor and set everything up for the 12-3 watch and and traded places. When I awoke for the the 3-6 watch, the wind was still pretty weak, and still right on our tails, as were the swells at 5-6 feet, so I kept on motoring. Then I crashed from 6:30 am until about 9:00 on Saturday morning, when the winds started picking up. At 9:45 am we turned off the motor and proceeded to sail pretty nicely as the sun warmed up the day.

By then, I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to throw a line in the water and see what might bite. Within 30-40 minutes we had brought up three nice 5 to 6 lb Skipjack Tuna. The winds were still building, and as usual we were excited and pre-occupied with the fish. I decided to put a reef in as the wind built to 20-25 knots by noon. The seas never abated, but I went ahead and cleaned the fish at the foot of the port helm with the boat rocking back and forth 15 degrees to each side.

Our 24 hour position at 4:30 had us 135 miles from Tortuga bay, just slightly over half way to Bahia Santa Maria. We kept sailing in the bumpy seas throughout the evening. We had a nice dinner which we shared below, finally getting a chance to utilize the video system to keep watch on the instruments and out the front of the boat while we ate in a relatively civilized manner at the dinette. This night I took it from 7 till 9.

It was a dark moonless night, and we were making 7+ knots under a single reef in 20-25 knots of wind with the seas like bogeymen sneaking up behind us. One splashed me and scared me quite a bit. We were pretty far offshore (60 or so miles) at that point, and to be frank, it was a little scary.

I awoke at 11:30, a bit spooked cuz the depth finder was flashing 50, then 40, then 30 feet, and the mate was afraid we were going aground. I told her that the flashing indicated that it did not know how deep the water was, that we were still 50+ miles offshore, and probably had just passed over some kelp or fish. I double checked on the other sonars (the fishfinder and the fls), and determined we were ok when the fishfinder started agreeing with the chart, which showed 800ft of water under us. However, I know what she was going thru. Like I said, it was a dark, cloudy, and moonless night, the waves were sneaky and scary looking, 5-6 feet wtih occasionally small rollers that would come up behind you just a few feet behind the helm, and it was indeed spooky!

I relieved her at midnight and sent her below, and although the winds were plenty strong to sail (still 18-22 knots), the seas were just uncomfortable and the boat was yawing back and forth, threatening to round up at any minute, and it was just no fun. So I decided shortly thereafter, at 12:30 am, to start the motor, put a second reef in both sails, and caried on. At 3:00 am rather than waking my crewmate up, I decided to let her sleep an extra hour (the fatigue was adding to the fear factor). On the tack we were on Trish would have had to do a single handed jybe at 5:00 am or so in 6 foot seas with 20+ knots of wind to get back to the desired. Instead of forcing that on her, at 3:45, I doused all the sails, figuring that pure motoring would be a lot easier, psychologically, to deal with. I woke her at 4:00am, and in need of some sleep myself, told her that she would be ok, put her on the course, and went below to rest.

When I woke about 7 am on Sunday, I found we had made 235nm, with only about 12 left to go, and at 8:28am we crossed what would have been the Baja-Ha-Ha Leg 2 finish line, having sailed 130 miles and motored about 105 miles in about 41 hours. We motored the rest of the way into Bahia Santa Maria and scoped out the anchorage, finally dropping our anchor at 11:45 am, only 15 minutes off target, after covering 254nm in just two solid days at sea.

We were both bushed, and after I sent a few emails, we went to bed. I woke up a few times and took care of some tasks .. checking the weather, writing web pages, etc, but still slept 10 or so hours myself.

Tho we were looking for them, the boys from DEL NORTE never showed up and GALLANT FOX, another boat we had discussed meeting up with in BSM, must have already left, because they were not in the anchorage. We did run into BARDEN, who had been anchored right next to us in Tortuga Bay and said hi to them before they left the next morning for Cabo along with MAYA, which was carrying some folks we had met back in our marina in San Diego.

We spent the next day in the anchorage, enjoying the solitude of Bahia Santa Maria. There were only about 8 boats anchored in a bay as big as San Diego bay, and the nearest "civilization" was a small fish camp, with 10 or 12 people in it about a mile away. We cooked up the last of our red meat (or we would have to throw it away in Cabo to clear customs), so I had hamburgers for lunch, steak for dinner, and there's a nice beef stew awaiting me on the next leg south. Just before dinner, some folks from EELYOS (Patrick, Mike, Gerta and their baby) stopped by to say hello. They had also been anchored near us in Turtle Bay.

After dinner, we went to bed on our second and final night in Bahia Santa Maria about 9:00 pm, planning to get up at 4:00 am to depart for Cabo San Lucas, the last "Baja-Ha-Ha" leg, and a relatively easy 150nm journey south.

More images from Leg2 and Bahia Santa Maria