Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Baja Bash ~ Bashing 750 NM Toward California.

So we had heard a lot about the “bash” up the western coast of the Baja Peninsula required to return to California even before we left Newport Beach in March. But we figured we would face that bash when the time came.

Well the time has come and thankfully, “The Bash” is pretty much finished. We are nestled into a marina in Ensenada and are happy to be settled for a few days! (San Diego is a mere 60 miles north and Long Beach an additional 85.)

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Sunrise on passage – always SO welcome.

We stayed longer in the Sea of Cortez than anticipated because we enjoyed it ~ there is just so much to see. But with two named storms already in the Eastern Pacific, we knew we had to get moving north.

A reasonable weather window developed so we departed Puerto Los Cabos in San José del Cabo, at 7 am on July 4th.  While our compatriots were celebrating with BBQs, picnics and fireworks, we were beginning our trek north.

I believe we chose a good window for our trip, so we cannot complain about the choice of our weather.  In fact, along the way we ended up in VHF conversations with 5 other boats who had chosen the same timing to move north; two sailboats and three trawlers.

Fortunately we didn’t encounter winds above 19 knots, but when they are coming on your nose they are tiring.  The seas were also cooperative with most of them in the one meter range and none over 1.6 meters.

We even had some time to sail TTR on this trip!

As I have stated, two main reasons we bought our HH55 are her ability to sail well in many conditions and comfort. Ticket To Ride did not disappoint us in her sailing on this slog.

Over the 754 nautical mile, 5 day trip, we were able to sail at least a full 24 hours – that is without any engine assistance.  Our usual sailing wind angle for this trip was a true wind angle of 50-55 degrees with an apparent wind angle of 28-32 degrees. Even pinched up that tightly we were able to hold our course and TTR sailed faster than we could have motored.  We were often clipping through the water at close to 8 knots SOG with a current against us.

We also spent a good amount of time motor sailing with either our genoa or mail sail up.

The benefit of sailing instead of motoring, in addition to speed, is the comfort of the boat motion plowing through waves.  When sailing, the boat is much quieter because she moves through the water with less banging into the wave troughs and the engine is off.

I find the constant noise of upwind trips fatiguing, so sailing allowed us a slight sensory break.

The work on our AIS/VHF that we had done in La Paz has certainly improved our reception and transmission of our VHF.  The AIS is also improved but we suspect the unit itself might be faulty as it sometimes ‘goes out.’ Fortunately when Frank disconnected and reconnected it, the AIS resumed.**

Frank did a little fishing, without success. Well he did manage to catch one, but not a keeper….

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Frank carefully unhooked this guy and pushed him back into the water.

Clayton researched this shark for me and has decided it is a long fin mako. Any ‘sharksperts’ out there who want to confirm or correct this?

One of the trawlers we saw during the trek is here at The Marina Coral.  It is a beautiful Nordhavn 65′ yacht that also started at Marina Puerto Los Cabos and they completed the trip more quickly than we did.  The captain estimates they used slightly more than 800 gallons of fuel compared to our 150 gallons for this trip.

I found it interesting to have a mile for mile comparison on fuel consumption between the trawler and TTR. I wish I knew exactly how long the trip took them. Don’t take this as a criticism of motor boats…. someday sailing may become too much for us and we might move to one.

The weather has definitely changed already. While in the SOC, we never saw rain and rarely saw any clouds.  It was hot and the water was a welcome respite from the heat. But now the clouds cover the early morning sky and burn off throughout the morning and the weather is much cooler – long pants and a jacket are definitely possible.

All in all, our bash was tiring from a noise and motion standpoint. The boat performed well and we felt very secure on TTR.  Generally the days were less windy than the nights and we had little or no moonlight so it was dark! Other than the boats mentioned above, we saw a tug pulling a barge piled with salt (daytime thankfully) and at night a few fishing boats. The local fishing boats have very little light but thankfully they would shine a bright light our direction and we would reply with a white light acknowledging their location. Oh and we saw a Carnival Cruise Ship as we were entering Ensenada.

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I think everyone loves dolphins!

Other than those few ships, our greatest entertainment was the dolphins we saw occasionally.  The dolphin usually appeared when I was pretty fed up with the banging motion so I found them an especially delightful distraction!

We were definitely ready to arrive in Ensenada and enjoy less motion and more quiet. As always, we are thankful for a completed and safe passage.

**Although this AIS problem is a warranty issue, we do not consider it a fault of HH Catamarans. Likely this is an issue within the AIS unit itself. I sometimes think todays electronics are mass produced and never really tested; just sent out assuming it is cheaper to replace a faulty one than spend the time and labor on quality control.

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Santa Rosalia ~ French Influence In The Baja.

Like many cruisers, our northern most stop in the Sea of Cortez was the town of Santa Rosalia which has a relatively large population of approximately 15,000 residents. Santa Rosalia is a popular port of call and often the point from which cruisers jump across the Sea to the mainland side. We had no plans to cross to the mainland, but had heard so many positive comments about Santa Rosalia, we decided to check it out.

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Old area of Santa Rosalia and TTR at the marina in the background.

According to San Diego History Center 1988 Institute of History, Santa Rosalia’s beginnings can be traced to a rancher by the name of Jose Rosas who, in 1868, discovered some “strange green pellets” in the area and sent them to Guaymas, on the mainland, to be analyzed. Response to the pellets was very quick and two German men, G. Blumhardt and Julio Müller, paid Rosas 16 pesos to show them where the pellets were found. Blumhardt and Müller immediately began prospecting the area.

In a couple of years, two men by the name of  Guillermo Eisenmann and Eustaquio Valle had managed to buy out smaller prospectors who had been working the area near Jose Rosas’s find since 1870.  Eisenmann and Valle started a copper mining company called El Boleo, which is Spanish for copper-bearing pellets. 

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Boys of all ages love trains, even old trains.

Eisenmann and Valle brought one hundred Yaqui Indians from the prison of Guaymas as the first laborers to dig the mines.  In time, many more Yaquis were brought to live in barracks and they continued to be an important labor force in Santa Rosalia.  By 1884, El Boleo was a well established mining company with 11 mines and a significant network of tunnels.

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I’m not sure why an overhead sidewalk was needed. But it is unique.

El Boleo is usually credited with the founding of Santa Rosalia, but in May of 1885, a French company bought El Boleo from Eisenmann and Valle.  It is the French influence from the Compagnie du Boleo still visible in the buildings of Santa Rosalia that give this town its unique flavor.

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Not the usual architecture of the Baja California Sur.

The French influence in Santa Rosalia was most often mentioned by cruisers who told us about Santa Rosalia and indeed, the building architecture is unique among the Baja Peninsula anchorages where we stopped.

Today there is a mining museum which overlooks some very decrepit remnants of the mining buildings along the waterfront.  The buildings are interesting because they allow one to have a feeling for how large the operations was; but they look like they could fall apart any day.

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These old mining buildings have seen better days.

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Iglesia de Bárbara designed by G. Eiffel.

Another attraction in Santa Rosalia is the Iglesia de Bárbara. Supposedly the French architect Gustave Eiffel designed this church and won an award at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.  The church is made of stamped squares of steel and was dismantled after the Exposition to be transported to Africa.  

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The interior of Iglesia de Bárbara is bright, clean and fairly simple.

However, the director of Compagnie du Boleo found it disassembled in Belgium, so he bought the church and had it shipped to Santa Rosalia, where it was reassembled in 1897. Some slight modifications have been made to Iglesia de Bárbara, but it is still in excellent condition.

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Something about this grabbed my eye.

Although we found the buildings and history of Santa Rosalia interesting and colorful, what we truly enjoyed about this town was the lack of tourism and the friendliness of the people.  Santa Rosalia is what I would consider a working or average town, sort of an “Everyman’s” town. We really enjoyed ambling along the streets and being part of the regular, day to day scene.

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A typical street in the older part of Santa Rosalia.

Aannnddd, I have to admit, we spent a fair number of days tasting a variety of taco places! 

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Our first stop with Laura and Don of s/v Intuition. This one was good but….

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This was our favorite taco spot in Santa Rosalia.

Our favorite spot, Super Taco, was a small, very casual place right on the street and popular with the locals.  For $5 US, the two of us enjoyed lunch here more than once!

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Super Taco is clean inside with maybe five small, round,f plastic picnic tables.

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Gotta love a good tortillaria!

After eating so many tacos, we stopped at a tortilleria to buy our own fresh flour tortillas. They were excellent! And allowed us to have a taste of Santa Rosalia after we sailed away.

Religion is a major influence and visible all along the Baja. Churches and crosses are numerous.  Along sidewalks and on highways there are grottos. Even in bars and restaurants there are pictures of the Virgin Mary or Jesus.  Our Lady of Guadeloupe is especially popular. Often the highest hill in town has a cross boldly proclaiming the importance of God here.

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Our path up to the graveyard.

Santa Rosalia was no different. We hiked up the hill to the cross, to see the graveyard and the view. Okay, maybe we also needed to walk off some tacos!

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The view and the breeze were worth the walk.

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Another God-centered view from up on the hill.

Santa Rosalia is the only place we have seen wood siding on the majority of the buildings rather than the more typical stones or stucco. The wood certainly allows owners to express their love for bright colors!

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The paint is accentuated by the muted color of the land in the background.

All together we spent about a week in Santa Rosalia. We never really ventured into the newer parts but instead stayed in the area close to the marina where the original town developed.  We definitely enjoyed being there and hope to visit again next year.  If you like visiting towns away from tourism, do visit Santa Rosalia.  And be sure to stop by Super Taco – we think you’ll like it!

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