PK's first night watch!

We got up very early on Friday, November 17th, to depart Cabo for La Paz. At 5:00 am we raised anchor and made our way out thru the many boats in the bay. It was PK's first time on RHAPSODY so we went thru some of the many aspects of managing the boat so that he would be prepared later for his first night watch. We motor sailed thru the early morning alongside a ketch, BEYOND REASON, who was also headed north. They contacted us on the VHF and we chatted for a bit about local conditions, destinations and so forth. They were headed for Los Frailes, which we had originally thought about stopping at, but after our motor troubles, had to pass up on our compressed itinerary.

The wind and seas were appropriate for a close haul, so at about 9:00 am we started "pure" sailing, turning off the motor, as BEYOND REASON veered off into Los Frailes. After being downwind all the way from San Diego, this was the first time we had sailed to weather on the trip, and it was an odd feeling to be beating into the seas with an increase in the apparent wind and the waves breaking over the bow.

The sailing was pretty good for about 5 hours, until in the early afternoon we were faced with either tacking 90 degrees off our course line or starting the motor. We chose to start the motor as we had to be in La Paz before 12:00 pm on Saturday to take our slip.

After we passed Los Muertos, another popular "halfway" stop to La Paz, and turned the corner around Cabo Pulmo, it seemed to get worse as we were out of the lee of the cape and into the full fetch of the Sea of Cortez. The seas and wind had picked up a bit, and we were bashing into 6 ft waves with about 15 knots right on our nose. It was fun for a bit, then unpleasant after a while with the boat banging and bouncing on each wave.

A Beneteau 46' passed us headed south, only a half mile away or so, so I hailed him on the VHF. He said the boat was JAMBO DEUX and that they had encountered some rough winds (gusts to 35 kts), near Puerto Escondido, north of La Paz. I thanked him for the information and signed off, then realized that I had been talking to someone I knew from San Diego. JAMBO DEUX was being skippered by Nicolai, whom we had met while in the process of purchasing RHAPSODY. He checked me out in a Hunter 42' when we were considering the possibility of purchasing one. He was a really friendly guy, so we called him again on the VHF and chatted some more. PK even joined in, guessing correctly from his accent that Nicolai was Bulgarian (PK has a Bulgarian girlfriend, Mara, and it's a pretty close community).

We said goodbye again and continued making our way, and then as the weather was not super good (some clouds on the horizon), number two more or less requested that I call Nicolai yet one more time and ask again about the weather. I did, and he re-iterated that the winds they had experienced had been well over 100 miles north of La Paz, had only endured for a short time, and that we need not be worried. I asked him also for advice about our upcoming crossing of the Sea of Cortez, and he said the seas would constantly be on our beam, and our only problem would be keeping from spilling our beers lol, so we proceed with more confidence as a result of talking with him.

After dinner, I explained to PK about watch-keeping, and he was a little surprised when he realized that he would be alone guiding the boat. But I explained that's what short-handed watches are ... so that the other people can get some rest ... and after a moment's consternation, he was game to proceed with the 9-12 watch. I checked him out on the auto-pilot, chart plotter, radar, and made sure he knew the course changes he would have to make on his watch, then we went below and went to sleep.

He did a great job, having to turn into the 5 mile wide Canal Cerralvo and navigate successfully for 15-20 miles down the channel. The rough seas and wind subsided in the lee of Isla Cerralvo, so we both slept well. The SL channel was well marked by two lighted buoys, it was a clear night the moon was out, and the seas were very calm, so we had no problem clearing the channel and making our way into Bahia La Paz by 4:00 am.

In fact, we had arrived too early! We did not want to enter the inner harbor the first time in the dark, so we decided to motor out in the large Bahia for a few hours until sunrise. I ran the watermaker and in general we made the boat ship-shape for the entry into La Paz. We arrived at the Marina La Paz fuel dock at 9:00 am, where we filled up our diesel tanks (290 liters = 5.8 nmpg or so), and by 10:30 were safely esconsed in a slip at the wonderful Marina La Paz. Our totals for the leg were 157 nm in about 27 hours for a 5.2 kt moving average and PK had completed his first night watch!

Transit to La Paz