Los Cabos and Tsunami Report

Cabo is nice. Especially nice after a month at sea in cold water and cold weather. This is the first place we have anchored where you can peer overboard and see the bottom. The water is so clear! Flocks of rays swim on the surface by with their little wing tips out of the sea. Seals swim through the anchorage and under the boat. Andrew surfed every morning at monuments – a short dinghy ride – and we both had awesome encounters with humpback whales. I was watching some mischievous whale action from the boat when I saw one completely leap all the way out of the water, totally air-borne, it was rad. He made a nuclear splash. Another morning when Andrew was enroute to the morning dawny and all the tourists had just gone to bed, a humpback surfaced right in front of him and gave him the tail.  It was less than a few dinghy-lengths away and really intense. He wont stop talking about it. Sorry, no time for pictures!

In an attempt to make Cabo look cool and authentic

As I type this the tsunami is in full effect. So, don’t worry, we’re fine and you can stop reading here if you have better things to do than burn a few hours at work. We’re in Los Cabos Marina in San Jose Del Cabo and I’ll get to that later as well as the tsunami details. If I write the blah-g out of chronological order I get confused so I’ll make you wait for the juice on that.

Evening view of the anchorage in Cabo San Lucas

Limes at a fruit vendor and a dead blow fish on the beach

We ran into two guys who we met in Ensenada briefly and were anchored up next to us. Amazing guys, these guys. Brave, humble, hilarious. Gaz and Rory bought a boat off craigslist from England in Newport Beach. They flew out and outfitted her for 2 or 3 months and then headed down Baja. So many crazy stories! They lost their self-steering, snapped their vang off their boom losing a chunk of it, lost their dinghy, their outboard broke, they had to pull their transmission in Cabo (for the third time!), and they are about to cross the Pacific with no fear. They are awesome. We met them for some drinks (along with Rory’s cool girlfriend Sarah who I was delighted to talk to… first girl I’ve talked to in weeks!) and we swapped sea stories shared amongst newbies only. However, this story was the best: Motoring off of Cedros Island, on the West side of island, four in the morning, Gaz is on the helm (no self steering). Blinding lights blare towards them at full speed. Gaz immediately assuming these being pirates was screaming for Rory who appeared on deck with a flash light which they shown back in defense (this was the best part of the story, obviously the flashlight is a dangerous weapon). Over the radio the oncomers requested they put the light down and they requested to know who they were. Mexican Navy. They boarded the boat. Face masks and machine guns. One goes below and has a brief look around and needs a form filled out. Rory fills it out and in a flash they were gone. Bewildered and shocked they continued on. CRAZY! Good luck on your voyage guys – hopefully we’ll see you along the way.

Cabo beach

I don’t want to offend or horrify anyone so I’ll leave out the details about the the American scene in Cabo San Lucas. We stayed there for 5 days and are now in San Jose Del Cabo for a couple more before crossing over to the mainland. We got a lot done in CSL. Laundry, cleaning, provisioning, fuel, oil, water, etc.  While filling our water jugs at the purifacadora a guy pulls up in a nice suburban and was interested in chatting us up. Mexican guy, very nice. After finding out we were about to walk back to the marina with all these jugs he offered to give us a ride but we would need to accompany him to Costco where he was going to pick up a pizza for dinner – if we don’t mind. Sweeet! So we went shopping at Costco and got all sorts of goodies. Raul told us he was the retired police chief of Cabo San Lucas. Woah. Raul said it’s the safest place in all of Mexico. We liked him a lot. Couldn’t thank him enough. He was even trying to buy us Sundae Berries for a treat but we couldn’t take it inside to shop so we didn’t get it.

Andrew waiting for water and with Raul at Costco

The anchorage in Cabo was busy, but it was calm in the morning and at night. There are some guys in Pangas who come by with an official looking notice asking for $11/day at the anchorage claiming you need it to clear with the port captain. We didn’t pay them but were very friendly – it’s a scam – the port captain didn’t say a peep about it. We avoided eating out at the sit down places to save some money but indulged heavily in street meat taco stands.

Andrew’s dream cafe

We took the ding over to the beaches on the point a couple of days and snorkeled a bit and saw a few fish and pretty much had the place to ourselves.

La Playa

When we arrived to San Jose del Cabo we anchored on the East side of Punta Palmilla which was rather calm and beautiful. A SE wind started to blow right into the anchorage and the chop rolling in became so high the bow roller was dipping into the water and we both started feeling sick. With the seas and wind building and the sun setting, while hobey-horsing to a lee-shore we decided to fire up the engine and go to the marina which was 3.5 miles away and $40/night. Ouch. The wind was on the nose so we couldn’t sail and we didn’t want to tack back and forth to try and get to the harbor entrance before dark. As we approached the breakwater in the now pitch dark with a decent headwind Andrew went ahead with the dinghy which we were towing with the engine on it (and we never do that) and decided it was too much strain on the engine so Andrew hopped in it and went ahead of me to scope things out at the marina entrance. We talked over the radios while he made sure all was good. We had spent the day drinking beer and relaxing so I was in that I’m-drunk-but-super-focused-this-is-sort-of-scary-but-it’s-better-that-I’m-drunk-I-guess mode. We were finally safe inside. We had called ahead on the way over and they assigned us a slip that we had located in a guide book so knew approximately where to go and a guy greeted us there with a light, which was very nice. The wind backed to the E and then to the NE and blew all night pretty hard.

A couple arrived the next day from San Blas on the mainland and said they had a hell of a passage coming in with 8ft short period wave chop and 20+ knots on the nose.

Although we didn’t want to pay for the marina we had some engine work to do. The marina at Cabo San Lucas would have cost us $140/night so dealing with our issue at Puerto Los Cabos for $40 would have to do. This place is for mega-yachts. Not that Cabo San Lucas isn’t, but holy crap. Helicoptors on the back, swarms of guys waxing and polishing all day, I would guess there are 15 80′-100′ boats in here right now. One of the yachts filled up on 10,000 gallons of diesel yesterday – that’s $35,000 + tax. Interesting perspective on resource entitlement. Our slip has no electricity and no gate and I have yet to find the one shower located a 15 minute walk away.  There is an estuary next to the harbor with a lush swamp with tons of palms and just across the dirt road is a quaint little neighborhood and a nice little market.

A couple shots from San Jose Del Cabo at the beach

We discovered several hundred miles ago (in Turtle Bay to be exact) that we were getting seawater into our sail drive oil (transmission gears). This is rather bad and the first and most prudent thing to do when discovering this is to haul-out. Symptom: Oil level rises and oil gets milky. When we removed the cap it started oozing green snot. Problem: Seals are shot. Or the o-ring on the drain-plug is shot. Either place this is happening there is a slow bit of saltwater intrusion. Cause: Could have been kelp, fishing line, nothing in particular or could have been from our last haul-out when we re-used an old o-ring because Yanmar replacement one is the wrong fit. Solution: Get old oil out and replace the busted seals. Getting the old oil out would best be done on the hard where you can let it drain out the bottom, however, you can attempt to pump it from the top (over and over again running the engine in between) to try and clean it as best as possible. Hauling out would cost us $700 here. We spent several hours researching and a few hours in Cabo gathering pieces at the marine store ($17) and built a header tank. This will create more pressure from the oil side and we will instead be leaking small amounts of oil out rather than seawater in. People who have done this have reported great things, so we are trying it. Andrew posted our issue on a sail forum and we had some great responses and help doing the job. After several hours and nearly a case of beer we completed 7 oil changes and after running it for 20 minutes the oil was looking nice and clear. So we attached our tank made of an old bottle and filled it. We were covered in oil and dripping with sweat. Jumping in felt better than ever. We are hoping everything is good to go but heard hauling out in San Blas is pretty cheap so we’ll see how she does on the passage to the mainland and if we need to haul-out we’ll try there.

Andrew pumping oil out of the sail drive and our seawater situation on the right

Tony and Marie had us over to their boat, De ja vu, for cocktails god bless them! They have equipped us with bug repellents, maps and notes for the mainland and we had a great dinner with them too.

Tsunami Breaking News: This morning Andrew dinghied over to zippers to surf and I was woken up by fishermen filing tightly into the slips along side us that had been empty the night before. After milling around wondering what the fuss was about one of the marina guys told me about the earthquake and that we were expecting a tsunami in a few hours. I thought he said the earthquake was in Chiapas Mexico so I was really freaking out (especially since Andrew was MIA) and then I heard that it was Japan and got online to check things out. I figured from the models and from the data I could acquire that it wouldn’t be anything devastating, which it hasn’t, but the media and such managed to scare everybody. I tied up the boat as tight as I could and got our important stuff off the boat and went to higher ground leaving Andrew a note with the radio channel I was monitoring. He heard from some guys in the surf about the situation and since it was clean and pumping he did a few more turns and came back eventually. We met up at a cafe next to the office and waited for it to arrive. There was a lot of talk over the radio about it and general frenzy in the marina. When it finally arrived it was like the tide was going out super fast. You could watch it drop. Then, it started coming back in – fast. This continued for several hours with tidal currents running in and out – some larger and stronger than others. The port captain closed the harbor but there were still boats coming in and out. We returned to the boat after a little while watching it from above and the boat was pulling hard on her lines. Nothing was too crazy though, everyone and everything here was totally fine. It feels like we’re tied up in a river after the rain with rapid changes in tide.

This is a rather lame shot of what the tsunami effect was like…

Surf Report: “Zippers is basically trestles on steroids” (Andrew just said that to me watching a surf video from the other laptop). “Similar set-up and same shape, but heavier.” I had to extract two urchins from Andrew’s hand from hitting the reef yesterday. He said the locals are mostly territorial, stink-eye, gringosouraus, ex-pats but he met some cool guys too. In Cabo the guys he surfed with where mostly all young local guys. They were all begging him to sell them his boards. We are not desperate enough yet he said to start selling them but he wanted to give one of the guys a wetsuit he had, but it didn’t end up working out. I guess bringing 7 boards with us (or was it 8?) has turned out to have some economic promise as well as stoke assurance.

Hope all our coastal friends are safe out there and our hearts out to those in Japan and nearby. Namaste.

6 Responses to “Los Cabos and Tsunami Report”
  1. Allison Shephard says:

    So happy to hear you guys are ok and didn’t experience much by way of tsunami effects! Add it to the list of adventures…yeehaw!

    Oh, and tell Andrew that I like his beard! 🙂

  2. Terry Kluh says:

    Jules and Andrew, What a fabulous walk down the path you two have been on. Your photos are so beautiful and do tell such a colorful and graphic part of your story. It keeps all of us feeling close to you so keep it up and stay safe on your journey. Loves and Hugs, Mom

  3. Melissa Bertrand says:

    Sooooo relieved to know you guys are ok!! I’ve been thinking about you a lot and and so glad to hear you are having such an amazing experience! Can’t wait to see what you post next.


  4. Lisa says:

    “Since it was clean and pumping he did a few more turns and came back eventually.” Love it. Potential tsunami on the way but the waves were good so why bail a few turns early? So happy to see you guys living out your dream. I love reading your blog…a perfect bedtime story each evening. Much love.

  5. Huirazo says:

    Muy happy about how far you’ve got!, magical places you’ve been, funny ppl sharing crazy stories!
    Props to Jules and her narration, it’s just like livin it up!! Keep em coming!!!
    Hey bro Check out this vid and the others in this page…. very inspiring….. http://vimeo.com/20907836

    Buen Viaje y Buenos Vientos!

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