Santa Maria Bay

Other than tacking back and forth on the hook in 30+ knot gusts… the craziest things that happened while in Bahia Santa Maria were finding several Great White Shark (GWS) carcasses (I like to call them carcai) on the beach, running aground in the dinghy (thrice) while navigating the mangrove lined estuary, and trading 5 cliffs bars for 3 juicy lobsters. I’ll guide you on a photographic tour of fancy clouds and illllussssions.

Described in our guide books as a wild and pristine bay isolated and secluded, Santa Maria has been by far our favorite place to hang-out. There is only a small fishing camp here – no towns are close by.

Upon our arrival, let’s see… it was Saturday morning, we saw an awesome lot of whales (what’s new) and motored into the bay under calm conditions around the large headland that extends southward from Cabo San Lazaro. We headed past two other sailboats who were anchored near the point and who promptly picked up their hooks to leave before we’de laid ours down.

Andrew semi-scored the estuary right-hander that afternoon and was bursting with joy about making some much needed turns in the surf. I, however, did not go to the beach because the shore break looked pretty heavy and the potential for dinghy/outboard ruin was high.

The wave and the first fish camp right inside the estuary

The West winds had picked up so much we got completely soaked from the chop returning to the boat. We had a good feast that night though and were joined by several commercial fishing boats all looking for some protection from the blow. The following day it was blowing so hard we knew going anywhere in the dinghy would require full wetsuit protection and wanted to stay on board due to high anxiety about being anchored in a blow. The Norwester blasted over the northern dunes. Andrew rebuilt the water pump and I drank half a bottle of wine.

Anyway, the following day, two lobstermen were very disappointed that we did not have coca-cola or candy on board  (that’s what they asked for) but were happy to trade us for cliff bars, our most candy-like product. The lobsters were my entertainment for most of the day. We had to read-up on how to kill, prepare and cook them. They turned out amazing though… best food we’ve had all trip. Later we traded batteries and clothes for several more. YUM!

Lobster collage… I look a little too happy to be dangling those poor creatures

Winds had died off so we headed back towards the beach to try and land. We were circling out and having a look at the surf when a Panga was on his way in and waved us in to follow him. Of course, once you enter… it starts to make sense – but sketchy this landing, very sketchy. We went on a brief barefoot adventure up the cliffs. I was pissed I forgot my shoes so employed Andrew as my scorpion bait.

A sandy cove up the trail and the coolest sand dollar I have personally ever found (the holes are cool!)

Andrew paddled out and I headed up the beach. This is when I found the GWS carcai (or what I believe to be GWS carcai – I suppose some other shark may look like this, but hrmm). As you can imagine, I was freaking out. Andrew is paddling around in the estuary mouth while I’m finding more and more man-eating shark pups washed dead ashore (although, let it be known that the pups are harmless – they only eat fish and rays). I was half-way distracted with shell hunting… anxiously awaiting his return. A little about sharks: GWS mamas are known to have their pups in estuary mouths and generally do not feed in these areas nor stick around to give any parental guidance what-so-ever. That being said, many shark attacks on humans are in river estuaries blah blah blah. I thought they were all pretty old carcai (trying to justify shark mamas were long since out of town) but the following day there was a fresh one!! This one had obviously been cut up in the head with a knife… so was it caught farther out and dumped here… did it wash up here and then get cut up by a fisherman? We don’t know, so please speculate. Andrew asked one of the fishermen what he knew about the sharks here… “oh yeah, lots of sharks here… the small ones mostly, but the big ones too out on the point… it’s not dangerous to surf… nah, very chill”. Um, yeah… I found at least least 5 dead baby ones and in all the shark infested places I’ve lurked at while Andrew surfed (Channel Islands, Jalama, Oregon Coast, etc) I’m going to go ahead and be certain that… IT’S SHARKY. Andrew is still salivating over the right-hander.


Following-up on the running aground in the dinghy… We had managed to navigate in and out of the mouth of the estuary and breaking surf several times and wanted to tour the mangrove swamp up to a fish camp near the end and then hike out to the lighthouse on the point. Under overcast skies and calm winds we went out for the journey. Imagine this: me, standing with knees sharply bent at on the bow of the dinghy holding the line like I’m riding a horse and screaming to Andrew to go this way and that based on my female instincts about deep water. Didn’t work too well. The channel does not always go where you believe that it does. We had to get out several times being stuck in the sand/mud bottom and wade and poke our way into deeper water. For the record the flipping channel moves from side to side in a very peculiar and unorthodox manner (I’m sure the Mexican guys could do it blindfolded). We didn’t damage anything on any occasion, however feared that we had at least once. We were very fearful this morning. By fearful I mean, nervous, anxious, feeling the blood pumping in that crazy way that makes you feel really good later when you’re all cozy.

Anyway, we made it to the fish camp and the very nice folks there gave us permission to tie up along side their boat. Their breakfast smelled really good.

Our dinghy tied to the mangroves and the entrance to the estuary to the camp

The camp inside the estuary and below a panga charging the channel

We hiked out to the light house along a sandy road and for the first time I thought having a gun could be useful in case we were attacked by a feral dog. This was only a side effect of reading Robinson Crusoe, who never went about without at least one gun at his side and was always fearing man-eating beasts. Hrm, man-eating beasts. We saw one coyote run into a canyon and a couple territorial dogs who didn’t give us too much grief. Other than that… no life besides two huge ravens.

Some sites along the way

The hike was rad. Their were a couple wrecked freighters amid the white rollers on the exposed beach facing north that have been there for years and honestly didn’t even make the photo cut due to their very limited state. We looked out for a sailboat that went aground here in November. It was a single-hander who while sleeping was swept ashore. Heavily documented by the baja-haha people who have a raging alky fest here every year.

Rusted old truck made for an interesting case in diesel engine maintenance…

This is the lighthouse guiding most navigators safely around the point – pictured here – Cabo San Lazaro

A couple shots inside the light house

One last overkill shot to make it look spooky and inviting

Punta Hughes is the point that marks the northern entrance to this bay. It was a beautiful day – one where we remembered shoes, but forgot water. We found several little sandy coves to explore and ended up at what we guess could be a make-shift camp for the mag bay surf tour operation. There was a potentially sick wave here and the only recognizable bit among the piped structures was a surfboard rack. There was a beautiful cove at the end of the point that was calm and sandy and we found some very cool shells and seaglass here.

This is not the wave nor the cove… but you can see Arcturus anchored over yonder

Just more snap-happy sensations

Looking back along the trail to Punta Hughes and a couple of the little coves in among the bluffs

I went up the mast for the first time and figured I better take a picture of the deck while I was up there. Andrew had been up several times now and it turned out that him hoisting me goes a lot faster than me hoisting him. Unfortunately, I managed to break the spreader light while up there – so guess I’ll be headed back up again soon. Shout out to our man Lou for the strong, tough, and beautiful boat.

Geeze, enough pre-bend in that mast? twaannngggg

Internet access was so-so here until we hoisted our USB port on a extension half way up the mast and it’s quite amazing. As you just saw, I managed to upload all those photos while being anchored in this secluded bay… We are kinda freaked out how easy it is to get internet here. While the wind gods have started up on a rampage again we have retreated to the cabin and are trying to make an exit.

13 Responses to “Santa Maria Bay”
  1. Joaquin says:

    got to be regular footer to fly down the line at those derechas!!!!!!!

  2. Fabienne Nitopi says:

    Those lobsters look delicious, and the light house and sharks are cool! You are so funny Julie, love your writing.

  3. LeeAnne Clark says:

    Hi Julie and Andrew! This is LeeAnne – Charlie’s wife, the ones who sold you the Matrix. Love the new name! I just heard about your blog from Charlie, so I haven’t read it all yet – I look forward to reading the whole thing, and keeping up with you on your journey. You two are living my dream, and I’m thrilled to death that you are doing it on our former boat. And I’m so happy that the Matrix is getting to live out her purpose…the reason she was created, the thing she was designed for. We weren’t ready to give her the life she was meant to have, so we’re so happy that you are.

    The lobsters look awesome! Those are the same type of lobsters we catch when we go diving locally, and they are a million times better than Maine lobsters. And to think you got them in trade for cliff bars. Such a deal! Do you know how much those things sell for? When you can even find them around here (most commercially-caught local lobsters are sent straight over to Asia), they sell for at least $18 a lb. So yeah — you got a great deal! If you manage to snag any more, drop me an email to let me know if you need some tips on cooking. I have caught many bugs in my time, and have some great (and very easy and boat-friendly) recipes. By the way, those are not the first lobsters that have been cooked on that boat – you may recall some photos on our old blog of our first trip to Santa Cruz Island on Julianne, when I went diving and caught some bugs and cooked ’em up that night.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog and am so excited about living this adventure with you. LOVE your writing style – as a writer myself, I truly enjoy reading *real* writing.

    Be SAFE, have fun and keep blogging – you’ll want this record of this amazing adventure!

    • followthearc says:

      Hi LeAnne – WOW, thanks for the fantastic commentary. Please send over your lobster recipes! I would love them. Each time now we have just boiled them a few minutes and then removed them from their shells and sauteed them in butter and garlic. Pretty successful! Your support for my writing means a lot since you know what is really going on! Hope you guys are making it out to the island often and maybe we’ll see you out here soon!

  4. Chris says:

    Nice pic from the top of the mast, what was the event that required climbing all the way up there?

    And props for fearless GWS mingling and clearly excellent discovery. Looks like that setup is a candidate for one of those google earth challenges. Might need a custom oak foils 7,2 pin tail, channel bottom, five fin, quasi fun board (ideally painted green or yellow) optimized for the fast peeling walls.

    • followthearc says:

      Hi Chris! Thanks for the props on the photos. I went up the mast to install an extra halyard. It worked out well. We are thinking that the sharks are thrown out by the fishermen who de-fin them and then throw ’em on the beach. Doesn’t matter though, I’ve still got the hee-bee-jee-beees. Andrew has been fortunate to have two separate groups of guys show up frothing to surf – so he has had some mates now at a couple of the spots to deter shark encounters. I just put in a custom order with oakmoto for the above custom board. I think Andrew will love it.

  5. Jess says:

    Jules- thanks so much for keeping this up. its a real treat to read about what you have going on in your world. it feels so surreal in a very refreshing way. miss you.

  6. Jessica says:

    Hi guys!!!! Finally had 5 minutes to check this out, and I am SO EXCITED for you!!! Living The Dream – ha ha!

    Stay clear of any pirates, that is super scary!!

    Love that you are having a blast, but I am slightly concerned about one of those pictures, I think those were shoes on Andrew’s feet?! This cannot happen again. 🙂

    The girls say HI!! Wish I could send you some vino!
    Take care!

  7. Freddy P. says:

    Holy smokes that right hander looks so fun! Stoked for you guys!

  8. josee says:

    Hey Julie,

    thanks for sharing your adventure with us; it is great to read your commentaries and look at your cool pictures; stay safe and bon voyage.


  9. Your trip is just stunning and inspiring in every way! Thanks for letting us all in on the amazing adventure- I love the way you write, and your photography is just ridiculously beautiful!!! I can’t get over those shark heads……the “carcai” if you will (love that word). Not to mention those gorgeous red lobsters- you can’t do that with a Clif bar!

    Do you guys every sing sea shanties aboard the Arcturus? Next time you sail, let me know and I’ll bring my accordion. 🙂


  10. Bill Wicks says:

    how do i get to the latest post photo.

    Bill for D dock

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