Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hiding from Rick

My birthday at sea will be memorable; we motored on a calm sea from Los Muertos, pilot whales and flying fish crossed our bow, lemon drop butterflies fluttered by as we passed through the Ceralvo Channel and we wondered how far they had flown and whether they would return safely to their valleys of desert flowers. The Ceralvo Channel is only a few miles wide but to them it must be like an ocean crossing.

Mid-channel we were boarded by a squadron of wasps which bit us both – final score Chris 7 Wasps 2. We finally had a nice 4-5 knot wind from the north and put up our sail. Then a squall hit us just past the the San Lorenzo Channel making it difficult to take down the mainsail in 30+ knot winds and we had to beat our way with the engine running into El Merito Cove to put down our anchor. The bay was nice and peaceful, so Chris cooked us a delicious fritata followed by Ferrero Rocher for dessert. He had also hand-drawn a cute birthday card showing Ladybug being chased by Hurricane Rick!!

To backtrack, we left Mazatlan on Thursday afternoon to cruise in the Sea of Cortez, spend a little time snorkeling and swimming in Los Muertos, the islands near La Paz and in some of the gorgeous bays to it's north. We were beating into a west and then a northwest wind and the boat healed at 15-20 degrees for the next 2 days. I had lost my sea legs after 5 months on terra firma and lost my lunch on the first day and did not feel like eating on the second either.

The Southbound Net radio weather forecast by Don on Thursday night gave us cause for concern as a tropical depression lying off Acapulco was being upgraded to a hurricane named Rick and it was heading to the Baja. Rick grew up super fast, it's intensity up to Category 5 ( winds of 180 mph ) by Sunday morning, my birthday. We had lots of time to get to La Paz as Rick was not due to make landfall at Cabo San Lucas unti Tues night/Wed morning this week. But, was it wise to come to La Paz rather than keep going north?

After 4 days at sea, we were tired and decided to hunker down at one of the marinas after all, arriving this morning. We are expecting hurricane winds on Wednesday morning but people who have been at this marina for years have assured us that it is well protected by the breakwater and the docks are secure.

For the last 3 days, all we saw was a haze of clouds stretching hundreds of miles to the south, then the feathery cirrus clouds ( mares' tails ) passed over us 2 days ago followed by a lower layer of puffy cumulus clouds yesterday and the blackish thunderheads which brought the squall. They all portend a very bad weather system coming this way. We took off our roller furling sail and stowed it inside, tied the boat with as much line as we had, put out all the fenders and battened down the hatches.

However, much to our relief, Rick has weakened and turned east and all we should get here in La Paz is heavy rains and some gale force winds at the most.

Rick at his best - the most powerful hurricane recorded here in over a decade!

Thunder head approaching. We were struck by a sudden squall a few minutes later.

Calm seas of Los Muertos where we made landfall after a 54 hour crossing, beating much of the way.

Our little family at Singlar marina in Mazatlan - Eunice, Rani, Alma, and Myriam.

Old town Mazatlan

One of many lovely old crumbling buildings in Mazatlan. Many have no interior, with trees and plants sprouting from the 'floors'. American and Canadian buyers are renovating these older homes as retirement properties.

Acapulco on a smaller scale. The fellow below declined to dive but his younger and crazier partner did so a few minutes later. There is only about 6 feet of water below so they wait for a good swell and dive into the wave.

Lori and Ken, our cruising friends from last year in Magdalena Bay have settled in Mazatlan and bought a small but cozy home in the old town. They will live here, make music, and keep their boat to cruise the Sea of Cortez.

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