Nada Ha Ha Leg 3

The final leg of the Nada Ha Ha takes us from Man o’ War Cove in Magdalena Bay to the busy port of Cabo San Lucas a mere 170 miles away.

Chart showing course from Bahia Magdalena to Cabo San Lucas

After 9 days essentially alone together on Sonrisa, we’ve become comfortable with these passages and at times forget that it has been over a week since we’ve encountered anything that resembles modern civilization. We have been largely without cell coverage or internet access, although Kristin cheated and had her family send her election updates via InReach satellite text message. Even so, making our way to Cabo has been our full-time occupation for the last nine days. Ahead lies new uncertainties. We have to figure out how to check ourselves into the country, refuel and re-provision, and most of all decide what we are going to do next! Time to slow down and take in this beautiful place.

sunrise over Bahia Magdalena

We departed Man o’ War Cove early on November 11th – 5:15 AM – to practically guarantee a daylight arrival in Cabo the following day. Unfortunately the weather forecast showed almost no  wind for the next several days. That was why a couple of fast (but fuel limited) catamarans left the night before to take advantage of the remaining 25-knot northerlies before the wind died.

As predicted there was no wind as the sun rose over the Baja Peninsula as we departed Magdalena Bay. Someone mentioned that there was good fishing in the area the day before so we tried again to rig up a line to try to catch something. 

A note for how cruisers in this area typically fish. Sailboats usually travel somewhere between 5 to 10 knots which happens to be the perfect trolling speed for fast fish like tuna and dorado. To keep things simple cruisers typically use a simple hand line with a cedar plug or rubber squid with a simple hook and a little weight. This is streamed off the back of the boat with the last several feet of the fishing line loosely attached to a piece of light bungee cord to give the line some shock absorption so that when a tuna hits hard on the lure it doesn’t instantly snap the line.

Our first try on leg 1 failed miserably as something big grabbed the lure maybe 30 seconds after the line hit the water (before I had a chance to rig the bungee cord to the line) and instantly snapped the line, losing our one and only cedar plug lure.

We were left with a couple of small weights, a small lure and some random bits to try to cobble together a replacement. Nevertheless Kristin tried again on this last leg and deployed our makeshift fishing rig with high hopes. A few short minutes later she noticed the bungee pulled tight.

“You’ve got something! Pull it in!”

“Ohmygosh!” Kristin exclaimed.

We knew it was something small based on how easily the line came in, but there was definitely something on the hook.

Up came maybe a 3 pound silvery fish with dark blue diagonal stripes.

“What is it?” Kristin asked excitedly.

I retrieved our laminated “Sport Fish of California, Baja California, Sea of Cortez and Pacific Mexico” card which has been clipped to a clipboard in the companionway for at least the last ten years.

“That’s definitely a Mexican Bonito” I reported.

“It’s kind of small.” Kristin said with a touch of guilt for catching the little fish.

We agreed to let him go and try to catch something bigger.

After saying goodbye to our little bonito Kristin got her line organized and let it out again.

Kristin showing her catch of a small bonito fish

A few minutes later, “I’ve got another one!” as Kristin reeled in what appeared to be exactly the same fish we let go just a few minutes earlier. We let that one go too.

A few minutes later, “This is getting ridiculous.” as Kristin reeled in yet another bonito.

The VHF crackled to life “Is anyone catching anything other than bonito?” another Nada boat asked.

“I don’t think we’re going to catch anything other than bonito. The line is only in the water for a few minutes before we’re letting another one go.” We decided to hold off on putting the line back down until we were past the end of Isla Santa Margarita where maybe the deeper water would have different results.

We dragged that line the rest of the way to Cabo and never got another bite. Should have kept the bonito.

However, once we got into deeper water the ocean turned a gem-like deep blue color and soon after we were visited by a pod of dolphins.

“Dolphins on the bow!” I called to Kristin as I went forward with my iPhone to try to capture some video. In the clear blue water I could see them so clearly as they swam and darted around Sonrisa. Soon Kristin was on deck and we were both marveling at the dolphins as Sonrisa steered herself under autopilot.

The dolphins jumped and frolicked around Sonrisa for 20-30 minutes before moving on. Shortly after that we passed by several sea turtles hanging out on the surface. They obviously aren’t as interactive as the dolphins, but it’s a thrill to see them chill out on the surface and dive down and disappear.

Since we were still motoring in calm conditions, I took advantage of the time and ran the watermaker for the first time to fill the tanks before arriving in Cabo.

The entire fleet motored on throughout the day and into the night. Since no one was expecting any wind to materialize we were all on the same rhumb line course directly to Cabo and everyone was traveling at about the same speed. We watched the fleet on AIS make its way southeast in a virtual conga-line. Throughout the night individual boats in the fleet called each other and chatted. Up until this leg we had never been in such close proximity to the rest of the fleet. Usually boats leave at different times, take different courses, travel at different speeds so we end up hours and miles apart before reaching the next port. This was unusual because the entire fleet that left Magdalena Bay together were all within eyesight of each other the entire way to Cabo.

Chartplotter showing all Nada boats traveling in a row
AIS display showing straight line of boats

Dawn broke on the 12th as one by one the conga-line of boats made the final turn around the end of the Baja Peninsula and into Cabo San Lucas. Approaching the point the desolate landscape gave way to stacks of condominiums clinging to the steep hillsides. At the point itself, the iconic rocks jut majestically past any possible development into the void of the Pacific.

Sunrise over Cabo Falso
Approaching Cabo Falso at sunrise
Morning tea and a clean shirt for arriving in Cabo
Following Wings of the Dawn around Cabo San Lucas
Approaching Cabo San Lucas
Arriving at the harbor entrance

Entering the narrow and busy harbor after 10 days at sea or in remote anchorages felt a bit surreal. After many days of nothing but ocean or barren desert cliffs and hills, the buildings clinging to the hillsides surrounding the harbor and look too dense, colorful and cheerful to be real. As we pass in the lee of the land the morning air temperature climbs to around 88 degrees. The blue water surrounding us is swimming-pool warm and just as clear. The smell of tamales wafts out over the harbor. The din of traffic, music, and people fills the air.

We made it. Over 750 miles of the Pacific under our keel – just the two of us and Sonrisa. Our Nada adventure was at the same time ending and just beginning. After all, this is our first official port-of-call in Mexico and from here we would plot our experiences and adventures for the next few months. From here on there is no fleet to accompany us, no schedule to try to meet for the next anchorage. The Nada gave us the deadline to meet and the virtual support to bolster our confidence in extending our reach and applying our skills. The pandemic gave us the reason to do it without the support of additional crew. Once again Sonrisa took very good care of us and now here we are, with our home, with each other.