Category Archives: Passages

Puerto Peñasco and Puerto Refugio

The past few months have been a blur of travel and boat work. We hauled out at the end of July in Puerto Peñasco at Astilleros Cabrales SA boatyard. Waponi Woo stayed on the hard for the next two months while we traveled to the States for work, family, friends and to avoid the worst of the summer heat.

India the night before the haul out.

Ryan sitting on the bimini watching the sunset from the Fonatur Marina in Puerto Peñasco.

We returned to Puerto Peñasco mid-September. We rented a small house through for a week while we had new bottom paint applied and we put in a new thru-hull so we could move the watermaker inlet closer to the high-pressure pump. During this week we also made several trips between Puerto Peñasco and Pheonix, AZ to make some last minute large purchases. Overall, I would recommend Puerto Peñasco as a place for summer storage, and restocking spares, etc… from the states before heading further south for the season.

Waponi Woo after being lifted out of the water. We didn’t get to be on board during the lift out but were on board when we splashed back in.

Pros of Hauling Out/Boat Work in Puerto Peñasco

  1. The Price. The cost for the haul-out, storage and labor here was almost 50% less than other places in the Sea we contacted.
  2. Out of the hurricane zone. Puerto Peñasco placed Waponi Woo out of the hurricane zone for most of the summer.
  3. Proximity to the US. It is 60 miles to the Arizona border from Puerto Peñasco. Ryan was able to take a bus to Yuma, AZ, rent a car and drive back to Puerto Peñasco in the same day. We drove this vehicle to Idaho and returned it there. We drove our truck south from Seattle so we could use it to haul parts and luggage. It is currently stored in Phoenix where vehicle storage is cheap and readily available.
  4. The facility is very secure. It is staffed 24/7 with a person and a dog staying in the yard each night.

Cons of Hauling Out/Boat Work in Puerto Peñasco

  1. Border Town. This is a border town. We felt like we were being seen as walking dollar signs. Panhandling was prevalent and there were a lot of strung out people wandering around.
  2. The boat yard has been around for a very long time. It is the oldest boat yard in the Sea of Cortez. They have a lot of experience… with shrimp and tuna boats. They are just starting to cater to cruising boats. Last year, they had less than ten. This year, they had more than twenty. When we arrived in September ready to have the bottom work done, we had to press (and drive up to Phoenix to purchase paint) in order to be in the water on our originally planned date. They are learning to scale, so the right balance of patience and persistence is needed if you have a schedule you are trying to keep.
  3. Everything you own will get covered in dust and dirt. You won’t be able to clean your boat until you are back in the water.
  4. Wet Storage is almost non-existent. You pretty much have to time your arrival departure with a minimum amount of time in the water before and after your haul out. There are a three marinas but very few available slips and the facilities are sketchy at best.

Waponi Woo from the street before we prepped her for two months in dry dock.

We are happy with our new red bottom paint. India and Ryan picked out the color. There was some discussion about red hiding any potential roadkill. I wanted green. No, I am not bitter.

After splashing back in the water towards the end of September we spent one day at the dock to wash off most of the dust and get enough things put away to head south.

Our first stop was Puerto Refugio. This was an overnight trip and Keely’s first night sail. The sky was clear and we had wind for a large portion of the trip. We stayed for a few nights at Refugio with S/V Shawnigan. The girls had a good time skurfing and having a sleepover with Nina from Shawnigan. It was intention to head to San Carlos next and take two weeks to make our way back to La Paz but, our first day at Refugio Ryan was called north for work.

This is what the stovepipe cacti look like up close. The colors are really amazing.

Refugio is at the northern tip of Isla Angel de la Guarda. This was taken from Isla Mejía. There is no natural water source here.

Waponi Woo and S/V Shawnigan.

We went from Refugio to Santa Rosalia for a night and then straight from Santa Rosalia to La Paz. We arrived back in our old slip in La Paz at 1:30AM.

The Baja Ha-Ha: We Made It!

The morning of October 31st we left San Diego for Cabo San Lucas with the Baha Ha-Ha Rally. Captain Paul Wright joined us as crew for the trip. We were incredibly grateful he was able to join us as this was India’s first overnight passage and we were quite sure how she was going to handle it. (She handled it like a pro)

The fleet leaving San Diego Bay.

The fleet leaving San Diego Bay.

Leg One: San Diego to Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay) 376.5nm 50hours 36minutes

There was a rolling start in San Diego due to light winds. A few hours after the official start they stopped the rolling start and everyone turned off their engines and started putting up their light air sails. We hoisted the Parasailor in light wind and headed almost directly to Turtle Bay under sail.

As the evening progressed, the winds picked up a little. The swell picked up but remained consistent and on our stern or quarter. Paul took the first watch, I took the second and Ryan took the third. When Ryan was on shift he noticed our brand-new Parasailor was damaged. He snuffed it and we continued on with white sails. The weather continued to give us a nice push all the way to the anchorage in Turtle Bay.

Anchoring in Turtle Bay was quick and easy compared to some of the places we have attempted to drop our hook. We only had to set it once. There were two Fountaine Pajots in the bay. We lowered the dinghy and buzzed over to them to ask them about their boats. It’s still a little odd seeing all the catamarans around us. We are so used to be the only cat around. After our little detour to see the other Fountaines we headed to shore.

Turtle Bay (Bahia Tortugas)

My first land fall in Mexico was on the beach in Turtle Bay. The surf was pretty mild and there was always someone willing to help you land your dinghy for a dollar or two. The rule was $1 for landing the dinghy and another $1 when we return for watching the dinghy. This system seemed to work well for each landing.

The highlights of Turtle Bay:

  1. India played catcher at the Ha-Ha baseball game.
  2. India and I landed our paddleboards on the beach in a not very graceful fashion. We were both flipped in the surf.
  3. The kid boats all went on a hike and got to know each other a little better.
  4. Paul and I went to the grocery store to purchase more fruit, veggies and bread.
  5. Ryan walked to the fuel station to get diesel.

There were a lot of restaurants in Turtle Bay which appeared to exist only for the Ha-Ha.

The morning of the November 5th we left on Leg Two.

Leg Two: Bahia Tortugas to Bahia Santa Marina 235.3nm 37 hours

Turtle Bay to Santa Maria was a partial motor. We lost our wind over the first night and kicked on an engine to push us the rest of the way. While we weren’t moving as fast as leg one, we made good time and Ryan and Paul managed to reel in a few fish.



Another Ha-Ha boat and a spectacular sunset as we made our way to Bahia Santa Maria.

Another Ha-Ha boat and a spectacular sunset as we made our way to Bahia Santa Maria.

Ryan enjoying the view and smooth seas.

Ryan enjoying the view and smooth seas.

Our friends from Black Watch trying to catch some wind.

Our friends from Black Watch trying to catch some wind.

The first fish was a tuna. Fish number two was a giant wahoo. (we threw him back because there was no way we could eat him) Fish three was a marlin. The marlin outran the boat, turned back and took 180 yards of line with him before we lost the line. We discovered fishing is really useful for breaking the monotony of a long passage. We also decided we are going to need more fishing gear.

Bahia Santa Maria

We approached Santa Maria at night. The bay is surrounded by shoals and fishing boats. Paul and I stood on the bows with lights to make sure we were visible and weren’t going to catch any lobster pots. This process was made more nerve-wracking by the flying fish whizzing by. After an hour we cleared all charted obstacles and dropped our hook.

Upon waking we discovered a large bay with warm turquoise blue water. I was the first to jump in. Ryan followed soon after. The water was wonderful. It felt like I was on vacation. We swam that morning before India invited all the kids over to swim. Before we knew it, Waponi Woo was overrun with kids.

The gaggle of kids swimming at Bahia Santa Maria.

The gaggle of kids swimming at Bahia Santa Maria.

The next morning Ryan replaced some zincs and we headed to shore for the beach party. India spent most of our time here making new friends. I could have stayed longer.

On the last night we picked up two additional crew members. Kelly and Bill were on a boat with some engine and electrical issues. They had a plane to catch in Cabo and were concerned they would miss it so we invited them along.

Sunset at Bahia Santa Maria

Sunset at Bahia Santa Maria

Leg Three: Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas 184nm 37 hours

Our final trip to Cabo San Lucas was a long motor with no wind. We did catch some additional fish. Fish four and five were tuna that we reeled in at the same time. Fish number five, and the final fish we caught, was a dorado. We threw the dorado back before he lost his pretty color.


Tuna and dorado

Tuna and dorado

The afternoon of day two we were anchoring in nine feet of crystal clear water and white sand off the beach of Cabo San Lucas.

Cabo San Lucas is just around the corner. The water really is that blue.

Cabo San Lucas is just around the corner. The water really is that blue.

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo was like Vegas. After the first day, the anchorage became really rolly. We swam to the beach on the second day and had a very exciting panga ride back. I have bruises from getting into the panga and just about had to leap back onto the bucking boat. We decided to head out after two nights in Cabo; there was a storm coming we wanted to avoid and none of us were really impressed with Cabo.

Unofficial Leg Four: Cabo San Lucas to La Paz: 187.1nm 32 hours

We left Cabo under sail. After completing our first tack, we turned on an engine as we were headed into the wind. Our SOG was 1.8nm/h. We were going to have to run both engines to get through this; my fuel numbers had assumed we would be running on one engine the majority of the last leg. I decided we needed to head back to San Jose Del Cabo for fuel.

A few hours later we pulled up to the fuel dock in San Jose Del Cabo and filled our tank and jerry cans. The marina here was pretty quiet and empty. In just a few days the marina would be rafting boats together to get out of the weather. At this point we lost about five hours from doubling back and were ready to head out. It was also at this point the port engine decided not to start.

It was hot; there was no wind in the marina. Paul did some trouble-shooting in a hot engine compartment while a marina employee paced in front of us. Forty-five minutes and a hammer got the engine started. We headed out back into the weather. The rest of the trip was a beating.

Rover being done with passages.

Rover being done with passages.

The wind was 20-25 on the nose. Paul and India had an opportunity to become intimately familiar with bridge slap and we all battled varying degrees of seasickness. We pulled into La Paz ready for rest.

We would like to give a special thank you to Paul for all of his help!