I didn’t even throw up. But as we were bashing into 6-8 foot swells an hour out of Cabo with 35 knots of wind in the teeth (going straight into the wind) I had thoughts about life and death. We were even in sight of land, only going about 20 miles north to the anchorage of Los Frailes, but it was nasty.
The swells were not the nice rollers that I look forward to surfing, but the close-together, chopped up, box-shaped waves. Go up one wave, look down into the trough of the next wave, watch it wash over the bow, cover the windshield completely so nobody is prepared for the SMASH into the next wave, which as Dad says, rattles the fillings in your teeth. Good thing I only have one. Nonetheless, it was the first time I have been in weather like that in a very long time, and I was a bit scared. I kept thinking, how am I going to cope with conditions like this when we are thousands of miles from any land? Let’s just cross our fingers and hope that we don’t run into conditions like that again (which weren’t really that bad and unfortunately, I am sure we will run into much worse).
There is not much in Los Frailes, but we were all very happy to arrive in a nice safe anchorage to stay for the night before we crossed the Sea of Cortez to get to the Mainland. There were, however, hundreds of batrays jumping out of the water as we pulled up. Nobody knows why they do this, but batrays will jump 6 feet out of the water, flap their wings, and smack back down in the water. At one point we were so close to the things that I could see their gils and little eyes, not to mention their white bellies and dark backs. I liked seeing them from the boat, but I am not sure how I would feel about coming up on one in the water.
I did not even have a chance to get in the water, as we left Frailes and headed for Mazatlan around 7 a.m.the next morning. The crossing from Baja to the mainland can be a bit treacherous (as proven by previous experiences) but we had a good weather window. Very good. In fact, we were able to sail about 150 of the 163 miles, all in about 25 hours. A sailboat being able to sail an entire passage?! Unheard of.
Although it was a bit rolly and very hard to sleep before my watch, after keeping myself awake from 2:30 a.m. til 5:30 a.m. by playing chess against the IPad (a mean opponent), I slept soundly and woke up in Marina Mazatlan. After scrubbing the boat AGAIN (and I will admit it did need it after that nasty passage to Frailes- so nasty that I found a dead squid on the deck that had been stranded by a wave that washed over the bow) I was naturally ready to find some waves. It is usually difficult to find a good wave for the first time: where is the beach? are there rocks/urchins/scary things under the water that I should know about? how do I get there? And there are rarely maps that make it obvious. Even with the power of the internet it can be tough. I know, I know, wah wah wah. I’m sure you feel sorry for me.
But don’t. Although the first beach we came up on was flat, a guy selling parasailing trips who also surfs told me about La Bruja (The Witch) which is known as Cerritos to the locals. His girlfriend offered to give me a ride there, and I was all over it! In the States I would think twice before getting in the car with a complete stranger (minus hitch-hiking in Santa Cruz), but here I did not. Mom, who has become my best friend/surf buddy (we are going to get her on a surfboard soon enough!) came with me.
Cerritos is a peaky beach break that had solid chest high waves coming through, and my only complaint is that it was crowded with spongers (boogie boarders). But they were relatively friendly and didn’t drop in on me too much. Funny, just a week ago I would have given anything to have somebody to surf with, and now I would give anything for my own wave... Ah, the ironies of life. All or nothing.
Mazatlan has a very cool old town which actually feels like old Mexico (I assume). There were very few tourists in the big Mercado central, where you can buy everything from produce to fresh tortillas, whole cow’s heads to T-shirts and love potions. We bought shrimp and had shrimp and garlic sauce for dinner. I eat very well, better than I have in years. Four and a quarter to be exact.
Tomorrow we are leaving Mazatlan and heading for Matanchen, which according to some has the longest wave in the world. We will see if it is even breaking when I am there. It is also known for the bloodsucking Jejenes (no-seeums) that plague the area. Eeeks.
And so, wish me flat, calm seas and a brisk breeze while en route, and a nice south swell and no wind when I arrive. I hope your winter quarter has started well, your winter break is still kickin’, you job is fun and interesting, or you are chillin’ out maxx and relaxin’ all cool (maybe shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school.... and so on...).
Paz e amor.
P.S. I have been trying to upload some pictures to make things a little more interesting, but Mexican wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee) is not working so well today.. or yesterday...