After Norbert passed, and the sea was once again calm, we left the slip. A whale breached behind our stern as we headed to the Isla Espiritu Santo, Esenada el Cardonal. This long narrow bay was calm and peaceful during the day. But, by midnight the wind shifted to the West and we were exposed on a lee shore.
In the light of the full moon we picked up our anchor and moved before the wave action got much worse. With the crashing of the bow over the waves it was challenging to pick up the anchor and motor out of bay without giving the dinosaur (engine) a little kick. Near the entrance of the bay we were running in place. The waves building to 3-4 feet quickly picked up speed. Kicking the dinosaur a little harder, we headed around the corner to Caleta Partida to wait out the rest of the night.
The next morning after coffee, we decided to continue North. With favorable winds we enjoyed a nice sail trough the San Jose Channel.
By night fall, the wind was still favorable and the full moon once again shown bright. We continued our sail through the night. Outside of the San Jose Channel the wind died completely, and we sat floating. The water was still, and the air was hot. Using the engine we motored forward to cool ourselves. Under the moonlit sky we saw dark patches on the water that kept turning darker revealing even more wind up ahead. We killed the engine. Blasted by wind from the West we sailed an astonishing 6 knots under a double reefed Genoa alone.
Stopping in Agua Verde just before daylight, we anchored to catch a few Z’s. The entire way from La Paz to Agua Verde we saw only one boat.
Doing absolutely nothing as planned, we spent an additional day in Agua Verde. We never left the boat. We put up the boat shade, made more coffee and relaxed. Every once in a while we’d pop our heads out to observe the local fisherman with their pangas loading and unloading the days local catch. There were no other boats. A notable change since we’d last visited this popular bay 6 months prior.
The following morning we pulled the anchor and continued North. Another remnant low pressure system was brewing in the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone). If it developed into something significant we wanted to be near our second choice for hurricane hole, Puerto Escondido.
By mid afternoon the following day we had arrived at a small bay called Candeleros Chico. The days sail wasn’t the most enjoyable among crew members. The heat, little to no wind, and the lack of proper coffee in the morning had made us both a little grumpy. We decided to stop, decompress for a few hours, and run the generator so we could grind our coffee beans.
Many types of fish happily swam in and around the large rocks that encompassed this beautiful little bay. On the beach there was a confrontational match between two species of birds over a delicacy the larger birds wouldn’t share. Something tasty of the dead variety had washed ashore.
With a bit of coffee in our tummies we headed around the corner to our final stop for the evening Bahia Candeleros. Low and behold, we found other boats! Our new location in Bahia Candeleros put us in touch with the Puerto Escondido cruisers net and Internet. We checked on the status of now Hurricane Odile. Here’s what we got from NOAA.
If Odile graced the outside of Baja similar to Norbert then we most certainly might expect some rain and winds in Puerto Escondido. Each morning and night we listened for updates and each time predictions were changing.
As a hurricane moves it is ever changing, increasing and decreasing in strength and changing its path as it sees fit to survive until it hits a wall and starts to dissipate. During this process the eye can shrink or expand. Each change to the structure of the eye wall can cause changes in wind speed and direction.
By Saturday September 15, forecasters predicted Odile would be H3 or H4 status, and would continue to grace the outside of the peninsula coming within 20 to 80 miles South West of Cabo at its closest approach. However by 10 PM Sunday a different story emerged as the storm resulted in a direct hit of a Category 3 major hurricane on Cabo and was then predicted to pass just 35 miles South of La Paz. The predictions around Puerto Escondido where for calling for Odile to pass us on Monday with 40 knot winds, the majority of these winds hitting us during the day light.
Sunday morning before the big blow we started going through our own hurricane preparation checklist. The weather was nice. Blue skies, low wind the calm before the storm? To the South we could see a blanket of clouds pushing North. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best was the advice we were given by some experienced cruisers. How did we prepare?
- Safe Harbor – We made our way into Puerto Escondido.
- Food & Water – Enough food and water on board for at least a week.
- Fuel – Switched to a completely full tank of fuel.
- Batteries – Fully charged.
- Sails – Removed the head sail completely from the roller furler and stowed below. Removed our staysail bag and stored below. Took heavy line and tightly wrapped the main sail cover around the boom.
- Canvas – Removed our entire bimini and boat shade. We kept the dodger on so we could have a place to stand to keep watch but still stay somewhat dry. We also left the spray cloths that enclose the cockpit.
- Solar Panels – Removed our flexible solar panel from the top of the bimini and stored below. We left our large solar panels fastened to the rear of our boat.
- Deck/Cockpit – Removed any light objects from the cockpit including empty fuel jugs and stored them below. Tied off all lines that would come in contact with the mast. We left our cockpit cushions.
- Dingy – We left our dinghy out on a long painter behind our boat. We mounted the outboard on the back of our stern.
- Ground Tackle – We repositioned ourselves three times before settling on a position for the storm.
- Anchored – After we entered into Puerto Escondido we anchored in about 45 feet of water putting out our oversized 45lb Manson Supreme anchor and every bit of our 260 feet of high test 3/8th chain. We backed down the anchor and headed for shore. The local residents of the area were having their afternoon safety meeting (circle of knowledge). Gaining some local knowledge it was suggested that instead of anchoring we move to one of the newly repaired mooring balls for one of the larger ships. The amount of scope we had out to depth ratio was a little over 5:1 and in hurricane winds it is suggested to have 10:1 scope. The holding in the bay is mostly a mud bottom and since we had anchored so deeply we might drag when the hurricane winds swung us around. Resetting the anchor in hurricane conditions after dragging would be challenging.
- Mooring Ball 1 – On our way back to Maluhia we stopped at the mooring ball and checked it out. It was as indicated, repaired with brand new lines. So, we picked up our anchor and switch to the mooring ball. Half an hour later we were visited by a boat from the marina at Puerto Escondido telling us we would have to choose another mooring because that was for a bigger boat that was still coming into the bay.
- Mooring Ball 2 – Great! Now do we anchor again or choose another mooring ball? The entire bay is deep, with a sea of questionable looking mooring balls. A heap load of boats were situated in the North West corner of the bay, and a wide open clearing existed on the North East corner of the bay. Since most boats within the bay where all on mooring balls. We decided to follow suit, except we headed to the North East corner. The mooring we choose was the only one that had a float tied to it indicating where to pick up the mooring pennant. Perhaps it was recently used? It would have to do as it was getting dark and we didn’t have time to dive it.
At this point looking around at other boats, some were more prepared and others less. Some still had up their jib sails and canvas while others were completely stripped naked. We decided we had Maluhia prepared as best we could at this point and tried to get some sleep as we waited for what was to come.