Down Cruise On Sea Of Cortez
By JOHN M. DERBY
January 18, 2018
After 19 years of sailing on the Sea of Cortez, one would
think there would no longer be any surprises, however, the
calmest seas can turn violent, and when the unexpected happens,
one needs to be prepared.
That is the purpose of a Shake Down Cruise; to see that
everything is in order after another season when the sailboat
— our Flying Dutchman — has spent the summer
waiting for our return.
was another hurricane which hit our area of Baja California
in 2017, but it hit at the same time Texas and Florida were
having their hurricanes, so it made little news in the states.
damage to our house on Conception Bay was minor when 8 inches
of rain came down on one day in the storm. Our sailboat
seemed to have weathered the storm without problem, sitting
on a trailer with its heavy keel keeping it upright.
picked a day with mild winds for the Shake Down Cruise.
we had the same crew as last year. Kathy who has been sailing
for 40 years, and Pat who is a nurse from Anchorage, Alaska,
and spends her winters in Mexico.
was amazing how much the crew remembered from previous years,
and the Dutchman was underway in about a half an hour. It
had already weathered one major storm in the Bay of Conception
early in December, while one of the other sailboats went
is nothing like being on a sailboat when it first catches
the breeze and heads downwind. It is so quiet without a
motor. We take our sails home to Merced when we are not
in Baja because the heat down here would destroy them.
sails opened up taking the wind in stride. Past one island
and heading for another, the Flying Dutchman seemed like
a horse turned out to pasture, running free with the wind.
sailing for an hour, the wind died as if on cue that it
was time to have a beer and lunch which we had prepared
ahead of time. Then as if the Dutchman said “enough,
it is time to sail,” the wind came up and drove us
out to sea.
was strong and would have taken us as far as we wanted to
go, however, this was a Shake Down Cruise, and we had not
planned to stay out all day, just to make sure the gear
on the boat had made it through another blistering hot summer.
The water in Mexico gets to over 90 degrees in August with
a humidity which is a killer.
cut our sail short in the early afternoon, and then again
as if it were planned, the wind died as we came up to our
mooring buoy. It was no problem tying up with full sails
up, however, as soon as the sailboat was secure, a major
blow hit us and we rushed to get the sails down.
was as if, the Dutchman understood that this was just a
test run, and was ready to take a siesta for the rest of
had had our own fun, and were ready row to shore.
was one of those great days on the water when everything
we were ready for some serious sailing.