18 Years Of Sailing In The Sea Of Cortez

By JOHN M. DERBY
TIMES PUBLISHER
December 7, 2017

Little did we know, when we sailed under the Golden Gate and headed south, that we would be sailing around the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, for the next 18 years.  It was not our plan.

We were sailing around the world, but we decided to make a detour when we got to La Paz, and we sailed north into the Sea of Cortez. We found the most beautiful bay in the world call Bahia Conception, and fell in love with a little beach community called Posada Conception.

After five years we realized that the Sea of Cortez, with it hurricanes was no place for a big boat in the summer months, and so we sailed the "Day Dreamer" back to San Francisco Bay where she remained docked. Meanwhile, we trailered another boat called the Flying Dutchman to Mexico, and found it perfect for the hurricanes because it could be launched from the beach.

The Dutchman is out there now bobbing on the water, about 500 yards off shore, moored to a couple of engine blocks and an anchor. It gets a new paint job on the bottom because the heat of the water causes almost any animal to grow to the bottom.

The Dutchman was built in 1975 by Bayliner, and it is an amazing boat surviving the worst weather conditions imaginable. It has been through a dozen hurricanes, the last one just this last year.

We bring the sails back to California, when we come, but other than that, the boat seems to have made a home of Mexico, just like we have.

Launching is no simple task as it takes the very highest tide to make sure there is enough water to float the sailboat off the trailer. We picked last Wednesday as the day to launch and we knew the drill.

Most important. Make sure the outboard is running smoothly. We started it the night before, and then just to make sure, we started it again the day of the launch. Then when we floated the Dutchman off the trailer and spun her around to head out of sea, the motor came to life and then died. The second try came with the same results.

Third and fourth tries to get the motor running were no better. We had to wave to shore that we needed help and fortunately we had a backup. A friend with an inflatable came out and side-tied to our boat, taking us out to where our mooring was.

It was embarrassing but nothing that had not happened before. The fact that half the park was watching the launch made it just a little more embarrassing.

It took the next day to clean all the bird stuff and the dirt off the top of the boat, but had the motor worked, we would have been ready to sail. It is not that sailboats need a motor to sail but without one there could be some real difficulty if the winds turn wild … and they have been known to do just that.


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