So recently a reader wanted to know what our average speed is on TTR. His thought was that we have owned Ticket to Ride for more than four months now and must have an idea of what her average speed has been.
This seemingly simple question took me down a rabbit hole because it sort of assumes that the sailing conditions we have had are consistent. This caused me to think about how different it is to sail in the Sea of Cortez compared to the British Virgin Islands.
Looking at Saba Rock in the beautiful BVIs
Long term readers know we had our first boat, Let It Be, in charter in the BVIs through Tortola Marine Management. (TMM has great people and they took excellent care of us and our boat.) It was in the BVIs that I cut my sailing teeth but because I was completely inexperienced, I didn’t understand how perfect the sailing conditions are there. Now that I have sailed thousands of miles in a variety of places, I have a better appreciation for just how nice sailing is in the BVIs.
But I digress. The point is that we don’t really have an average speed to report for Ticket To Ride because the sailing conditions these four months have been extremely varied. The first six weeks we sailed TTR we had professionals on board who were there to teach us and to push TTR to make sure she was ready to go. During that time our fastest recorded speed was 24.7 knots! (And yes, that is under sails alone.) Frank and I have not come close to that speed on our own. Our fastest speed has been 15.6 knots while pinched up at about 55 degrees and true wind speed of 22 knots or so. I thought we were plenty powered up and wanted to stay at a tight wind angle rather than push the boat any faster.
In the SOC it looks like we’re sailing in the mountains of Arizona.
In the Sea of Cortez the sea state changes greatly because there is a lot of fetch, land masses come and go, wind directions change and chop is caused by varying wind. It is very rare for us to put sails up and not tack or change sails each time we move anchorages. Some may think this is a down side to the SOC, but it has been an excellent way for us to practice raising and lowering sails and changing sail configurations on TTR.
In the SOC, flat, desert land here and mountains across the way.
As we moved into late spring and early summer, the wind patterns in the SOC have changed. Earlier in the year the wind was driven by northerlies and pressure systems from the north, but as the temperatures heat up the winds are thermally and land driven. That is, the wind is determined by the heating up and cooling off of the land which affects the speed and direction of the breezes.
The Sea of Cortez is well known for some crazy wind conditions with interesting names like Coromuel Winds, which are unique to the SOC. Other wind phenomena in the Sea include Elefantes and Chubascos. This link to the Club Cruceros website gives a brief overview of the weather near La Paz.
BVIs have plenty of places to leave marks of your presence.
When we were sailing in the BVIs, the winds were much more predictable because of the trade winds. Although the amount of wind changed, the direction was usually the same so we could easily plan our destination. In fact, most of the sailors in the BVIs travel from anchorage to anchorage in the same direction. As a result of the predictability of the wind, it would have been easier to say, ‘oh, TTR sails X percentage of wind speed most of the time” if we had spent these four months in the BVIs.
I can tell you that we sail much more often on TTR than we would be sailing on our former boat. We sail more often on Ticket to Ride because she points into the wind well and she moves well in light winds.
A working fishing village in the SOC.
Stark differences exist between cruising the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. First is that the BVIs are much more developed than the Baja Peninsula. This affects many things:
~there are fewer cruisers in the SOC
~there are fewer restaurants in the SOC
~many anchorages are completely undeveloped in the SOC
Party time at White Bay, BVI is a daily occurrence.
~villages often do not have electricity or running water in the SOC
~there is less cell phone/wifi connectivity (think none for days at a stretch) in the SOC
~there are very few chartered boats in the SOC
Los Gatos is a pretty crowded anchorage in the SOC.
~there are more monohulls than catamarans in the SOC
~SOC is less expensive than the BVIs but buying things may be less convenient
~the electronic charts in the BVIs are way more accurate than in the SOC
Cleaning the day’s catch in San Everisto, SOC.
~less commercialism and a greater need for independence in the SOC
~we have stayed in only one anchorage with mooring balls in the SOC
~more large mammals in the SOC
~fewer coral in the SOC
~the local people in the SOC as a whole seem more welcoming
Limbo time on Anegada, BVI.
~the atmosphere in the BVIs is more like a party where the SOC is more about daily life
~the terrain in the BVIs is lush and tropical but the SOC is arid and mountainous
~the temperature changes more in the SOC than in the BVIs
~the water temp in the BVIs is warmer than we have experienced in the SOC
Hopefully this gives you a small insight into the differences between the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. One isn’t better than the other, they just appeal to different people. I can’t say that we prefer the Sea over the BVIs or vice versa. For now, the SOC fits our needs (getting experience on TTR in a variety of situations) and we are perfectly happy being a bit more remote.
IF I had to guess the answer to our reader’s question about the average speed of TTR, I couldn’t. What I would say is that in lighter winds and the right conditions, she is capable of sailing at wind speed. We have had times when TTR actually sailed slightly faster than the true wind speed. I would say TTR is extremely quiet under sail, no creaking of rigging or slapping of halyards. I would also say that we are really happy with our new home.
Thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear from you if you have questions. Feel free to look for us on FB for more regular posts, assuming we have connection while in the Sea of Cortez.