Season 3 – We’re just getting started

After a long summer with family and friends in Bellingham Washington we were very much looking forward to returning to Sonrisa for our third season cruising the Gulf of California and Pacific Mexico.

The summer for Sonrisa in San Carlos was relatively uneventful. We could see on our deck web-cam some occasional Chubasco winds that ripped through the boat yard and a couple of tropical storms with heavy rains, but thankfully nothing that was too concerning for us this year.

We arrived in San Carlos to find Sonrisa already moved from the storage yard to the work yard. Knowing that the daytime heat would still be a bit intense while we get Sonrisa ready to go back in the water we splurged on a hotel with air conditioning rather than sleeping in the boatyard. We started at the Best Western right next to the boat yard, but our friends in Triaena clued us in to a little local hotel a few blocks into town that was cute, comfortable and more affordable.

The big things on the pre-launch list this year included a fresh coat of (blue!) bottom paint, installing the StarLink, and installing two new solar panels to hopefully offset the additional power needed for it. I also needed to make a trip up the mast to replace the wind indicator that was annoyingly glitchy last season. This was in addition to our typical re-loading of all the gear and supplies we kept in storage, several provisioning runs, and making sure everything still works after sitting in the Sonoran desert for six months.

Of course before any of that our first stop in San Carlos was to our favorite taco joint La Calaca where were greeted with a warm welcome-back from our favorite waiter Alex.

After 10 days in the yard Sonrisa was ready to ‘splash’ and right on time the staff at Marina San Carlos had Sonrisa loaded on the trailer for the short trip down the highway and through town to the launch ramp.

Leaving the work yard
Back in the water!

We were looking for weather windows to make our passage across the sea to Baja. With our StarLink operational we could visit places outside of cell phone range and still have good internet access, so we set our sights on Bahia Concepcion, a large protected bay on the Baja peninsula just south of Muleje. The only problem was that with Hurricane Roslyn stirring things up south of Baja and an intense low-pressure to the north of us in Arizona and the northern sea, there was a one-day narrow window of moderate winds to make our passage, otherwise we’d be in San Carlos for another week. The forecast winds were fine for the passage, but we figured the seas could be a bit lumpy depending on how much the storms far to the north and south of us were kicking up.

So a mere 30 hours after ‘splashing’ Sonrisa we were heading out to sea. We had checked all of the critical systems, but we’d wait until we’re away from the dock to start up the watermaker and check to see if everything else is working. Our friends commented how quickly we were getting out of San Carlos after and I reminded myself of the quote from Captain Ron:

And just like that we were back on the water and making way to our next destination. We departed San Carlos at 3 pm for an overnight passage that would put us in Bahia Concepcion by dawn. After 6 months on land we anticipated it could be a queasy start for our first passage. We set a double-reefed main as we motorsailed into the light-wind conditions at sunset. Even without wind having the mainsail up helps steady the boat from rocking side to side in the waves as the sail creates resistance as the boat rocks.

As anticipated the seas were lumpy and we were a bit queasy at times overnight. The wave height wasn’t bad (probably only 3-4 feet), but the seas were choppy and confused with waves coming unpredictably. Kristin and I soldiered on with our 3 hour watches and made it through the night without much sleep.

Dawn broke as we approached Baja and we were treated to a blissfully calm anchorage at Santo Domingo just inside Bahia Concepcion. We stayed here for a week last season as it has good cellular reception from Mulege to the north, but with the StarLink up and running we decided to continue on and later that same morning we pulled anchor again and settled in a Playa Santispac.

I have to admit it felt like a whirlwind to get back on the water and it took several days to become reacquainted with life onboard, but I probably slept as good as I ever have that first night in Santispac.

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