Hurricane Norbert

During September, Baja California Sur was brushed by hurricane Norbert and pooped on by Odile. Before we talk about Odile, we should go back in time and talk about Norbert. We left the slip while Norbert was still a low pressure system hanging out around the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone). In four days the system had changed to hurricane Category 2 status (H2) and continued to intensify to Category 3 status (H3).

A major hurricane is categorized by one being an H3 or larger. 

We were just 44 miles North of La Paz at Isla San Francisco when our incoming weather fax from NOAA encircled the majority of Baja California Sur as the Tropical Danger Zone. Options were to continue North another 75 miles to the next safe harbor at Puerto Escondido and wait out what would come of Norbert there, or continue back to La Paz. A unanimous vote was made to return to our slip at Costa Baja Marina in La Paz. At this point our trip hadn’t been the most enjoyable.

  1. Moses Overboard Recovery –  Moses our Monitor Wind Vane (powerless auto pilot) paddle wasn’t secure and flew off the back of our wind vane. (We don’t point fingers.) We started the engine, pulled in the genoa and made a u-turn. The paddle was floating fast downwind. On the second attempt at MOBR (Moses Overboard Recovery) Maluhia and crew were successful by using the boat hook upside down to capture the paddle near the side of the hull and grab it.
  2. Hobby Horsing Around – Our first night in one of our favorite anchorages Ensenada Grande on isla Espiritu Santo left us hobby horsing into the swell from the West throughout the night. Picture a bucking bronco except that bronco is Maluhia. She didn’t mind, but we did.
  3. Too Hot To Sleep – So hot, that even attempts at being naked could not lull us into a decent sleep. The only thing that worked was putting an ice cube on our heads. For a few hours we cheated by using on our Honda 2000 portable generator and turning on our air conditioner. It was heaven! But it couldn’t last forever.
  4. Lightening – After arriving at Isla San Francisco, we anchored twice. Our first try was in the main bay open to the SW but after more rocking swell, we switched to the bay open to the NE. We had front row seats to a lightening show on the horizon. Important electronics were put inside our oven. This action is supposed to protect them from being fried if lightning struck our boat.
  5. Eaten Alive – The next morning we listened to the Amigo net on our SSB and checked into the net for the first time. (This meant our transmission was successful! People can hear us!) We caught more news on Norbert and the local weather. The night was hot with no breeze. We left the hatches and ports wide open. Grant slept in the cockpit while I bounced around between the starboard settee and the cockpit trying to get comfortable. Little did we know we were being eaten alive by noseeums and mosquitos. The next morning it looked as if we each had chicken pox! We even slathered ourselves in OFF before going to bed! FYI – noseeum bites itch worse than mosquito bites!

The next morning we used the IPAD to download a weather fax. We use an application called HFFAX on the IPAD. This cost us $10. We tune the SSB radio to the Pacific Weather Channel and the application goes to work listening to the familiar beep, boo, beeps of the fax machine. The beeps are translated into picture form. The information in the faxes come right from NOAA on a tight schedule.

La Paz was now under a tropical storm watch. Norbert had sped up, and we needed to make way to safe harbor. The highlight of our trip was the pod of 15 dolphins that joined us at our bow as we sailed back towards La Paz.

Dock mates on the sailing vessel Gemini greeted us with cold beers and snacks as we pulled into slip. They informed us that the port captain had closed the harbor so no ships could leave. They shared tips and their personal storm stories with us. This made us feel much better about our decision to return dockside despite being a little depressed.

At the dock we secured our dock lines, wrapped our spinnaker halyard around our genoa and followed live updates for the Norbert on and We watched as La Paz’s Tropical Storm Warning changed into a Hurricane Warning. With everyone on edge we expected big wind, but Norbert was kind to La Paz. Norbert stayed offshore passing about 150 West of Cabo San Lucas and skirting up the coast. Inside Costa Baja Marina there was only about 25 – 30 knots of wind and a bit of welcomed rain. With Norbert gone North everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. We waited a few days for the sea to calm down before we left the slip to try again.

A few photos below: 


Monitor Wind Vane Happy (Above) • Monitor Wind Vane Sad (Below)

Monitor Wind Vane

Ensenada Grande

Ensenada Grande – Anchorage on Isla Espiritu Santo (Above) • Passage around Isla San Francisco (Below)

Switching Anchorages

Behind Isla San Fran

NE Anchorage Isla San Francisco (Above) • NE Anchorage Beach Isla San Francisco (Below)

Isla San Fran NE Anchorage

Cloud Check

SE Anchorage Isa San Francisco (Above) • Anchor Check – SE Anchorage Isla San Francisco (Below)

Anchor Check Bug Catcher

Fly Trap – Doesn’t work (Above) • Port Hole View (Below)

A house with a view

Sunset SW Anchorage San Fran

Sunset – Isla San Francisco SE Anchorage (Above & Below)

Sunset Sky

Sunset San Fran


  • Great pictures. Nice job rescuing Moses. Ahhhh the adventure you are having. I love to read you stories, thanks for sharing. M

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