Please select your home edition
Edition
C-Tech Emirates

Voyaging with Velella- Baja Hospitality

by Meghan Cleary, American Sailing Association on 28 Mar 2011
Hero on the beach Meghan Cleary

Continuing the 'Voyaging with Velella' series by American Sailing Association writer-at-large Meghan Cleary. Meghan, her fiance Prescott, and their kitten Nessie are on a planned 9-month cruise in the tropics. This week she tells tales of welcoming friends to the Sea of Cortez

The Sea of Cortez is adorned with striking contrasts: dry pink cliffs standing up out of drinkably blue water, lime green cacti amidst creamy soft sand dunes, the throbbing sounds of Carnival resonating against black nights glittering with millions of stars.


Just a short way from the southern Sea of Cortez base of La Paz, where we picked up friends for a week-long cruise, all traces of civilization drop off completely. Our views are filled with stark geological formations and turquoise bays and cliffs silhouetted against blazing sunsets.

Coming from the smokey green mainland Mexico, arriving in Baja feels not just like another country, but perhaps another planet. Today we tasted coarse pink salt from moonlike salt ponds; we picked our way past no less than 8 different kinds of cacti while hiking the backbone of a pink-and-green striated mountain, and returned to Velella lying in a perfectly circular anchorage formed by a volcanic crater. For us, this stuff is the cream of cruising.

We’ve been excited to pack four sets of visitors into this busy month. While it’s hard to host guests in our tiny home for weeks on end, it’s so much fun to experience this environment with company.

On a beach walk the other day, we all watched stunned as a local fisherman stuck his spear between the rocks and pulled out a writhing purple octopus, promptly squeezed it so the black ink dripped out like blood, and threaded it onto his buoy. By the end of the afternoon, he had several octopi, clams, and other shellfish, all foraged from within a mile of his home. And we followed suit–bringing home six large razor clams that we grilled up with garlic butter for lunch.

Watching the enjoyment our guests take as they learn to sail, fish off the back of Velella, spot a whale or dolphin, and try a hot cockpit shower for the first time refreshes our own love for our cruising way of life. We also like having people held captive to play four-person board games or cards with us in the evenings!

Yesterday afternoon was blustery, so we spent the afternoon swimming in the wind-whipped bay and enjoying cold Tecates. Then, my two girlfriends, our guests for this week, decided to take a dinghy excursion to shore.

Unlike most cruisers, Velella carries no outboard motor for our dinghy. There have been only a few times we’ve regretted not buying an outboard; most often we congratulate ourselves for choosing to rely only on oars. Of course by now, we’re both pretty strong rowers… our guests sometimes have a bit more trouble, especially in 20-knot gusts.

We gave the girls the handheld VHF radio and told them to call us if they needed to. From the cockpit, we watched them row to shore, angled far up into the wind and blown way down onto the leeward end of the beach. No harm done. They spent a bit of time exploring the town, and the next thing I noticed out of the porthole was them dragging the dinghy upwind along the beach.

One of them had the painter line and the other grabbed a handle of the side of the dinghy, and they trudged along in about two inches of water all the way up the beach so that they were upwind of Velella. We silently congratulated them on this plan, hoping that their strategy would make the row home an easy one, and set to work making dinner.

Soon, on the radio I hear, 'Velella, we’re almost there! Can you come out and catch us?!' in a somewhat strained voice. I jumped outside to see the girls about 10 feet from the boat on the starboard side. I called 'Row over here and throw me your line' to which they replied 'We can’t!!' and spun the dinghy around in an ineffective circle as the wind blew them further downwind.

I started laughing and wondering how the heck they had gotten all the way back to the boat and then couldn’t make it the last ten feet, but soon realized that they were being blown beyond hope of recovery. As the gusts funneled through the bay, they overpowered any rowing efforts the girls made and they drifted downwind despite their great strain.

I quickly threw them our 150-foot heaving line, but it still came about fifteen feet short of them, and they could not make way upwind that far. Not that any harm was going to come to them if they blew back down all the way to the bottom end of the beach again, but I felt bad for my guests in this frustrating situation.

Just then, Prescott emerged from the cabin in swim trunks, said 'This is gonna be really cold,' and dove in. In a ridiculously heroic manner, he swam out to the damsels in distress, clamored into the dinghy, and rowed them home with the strength of someone who’s been practicing for six months.

When they got back, I heated up a freshwater shower for our hero, and everyone changed into dry clothes. Then, the man of the day proceeded to whip up a pot of the most delicious tortilla soup imaginable.

I smiled as we ate, pleased that we somehow manage to give all Velella’s guests some sailing lessons and a taste of both sides of the sailing lifestyle.

For more information about the American Sailing Association, www.american-sailing.com!click_here.

KZRaceFurlersGiacomo Yacht SaleInsun - AC Program

Related Articles

41st Annual Wooden Boat Festival - Overall report
Tall ships and everything in between—North America’s largest wooden boat festival celebrates its 41st year Tall ships, paddleboards, kayaks, tugboats, and everything in between—North America’s largest wooden boat festival celebrates its 41st year on September 8–10, 2017. Demonstrations, presentations, plays, music, dancing, and great food—this is a weekend of fun for all ages
Posted on 17 Aug
Coast Guard, locals launch search after empty, homemade raft found
Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England also activated the Rhode Island Taskforce for assistance. The Coast Guard launched a search for a possible person in the water Saturday after an unmanned, homemade raft was found drifting in Mt. Hope Bay, near the mouth of the Taunton River on the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border. A good Samaritan alerted Coast Guard watchstanders to the empty raft at about 7 a.m.
Posted on 13 Aug
Early-storms one indicator of active Atlantic hurricane season ahead
Today NOAA issued the scheduled update for its 2017 hurricane season outlook. Today NOAA issued the scheduled update for its 2017 hurricane season outlook. Forecasters are now predicting a higher likelihood of an above-normal season, and they increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes. The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010.
Posted on 12 Aug
Keep the water out with Zhik’s new Superthermal Hydrobase
The lower arm and leg of the new Superthermal Hydrobase is made from a water-repellent, stretch woven fabric We’ve all done it - and fished a rope out of the water, pushed the rudder down or stepped down the slipway one foot too far and gained that unwanted wet sleeve or leg.
Posted on 9 Aug
Coast Guard searching mid-Atlantic region for 73-year-old sailor
The Coast Guard is searching for an overdue French sailor between North Carolina and New York City Wednesday. The Coast Guard is searching for an overdue French sailor between North Carolina and New York City Wednesday. Watchstanders in the fifth Coast Guard District Command Center in Portsmouth received a report at 7 a.m. that a 73-year-old sailor named Joseph Calland aboard the 39-foot sailboat Nennette is overdue.
Posted on 3 Aug
Int Moth Worlds - Zhik returns to its spiritual home at 2017 Worlds
Zhik is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships Zhik, the innovative sailing apparel specialist, is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships. And, ten years on, the Moths are returning to their spiritual home on Lake Garda. Zhik and the International Moth class are virtually synonymous with each other.
Posted on 20 Jul
Cheeki Rafiki - Douglas Innes to face retrial over manslaughter
Douglas Innes to face retrial over manslaughter The Director of Stormforce Coaching, the company that ran Cheeki Rafiki, is set to face retrial for manslaughter over the deaths of the four crew. They were 700nm from Nova Scotia, returning to Southampton after racing in Antigua when the keel feel off. It is said that previous groundings had weakened the keel bolts....
Posted on 17 Jul
Rytov continues to defend lead at 2017 Melges 20 European Championship
On the eve of final day at Melges 20 European Championship Russia's Igor Rytov & his Russian Bogatyrs remains in command On the eve of the final day at the 2017 Melges 20 European Championship, Russia's Igor Rytov and his Russian Bogatyrs remains in command. Thanks to a very consistent performance thus far, they are inching ever closer to capturing the top European title and trophy.
Posted on 15 Jul
Get better wave forecasts from PredictWind and ECMWF
Predictwind is well-known for accurate wind forecasts but now leads the way with accurate wave forecasts PredictWind is well known for its world leading accurate wind forecasts, but did you know Predictwind also leads the way with accurate wave forecasts?
Posted on 12 Jul
Centennial Transat builds bridge to a flying future
The Queen Mary 2 won its battle with the four 30-meter trimarans, as expected, in upwind conditions for the sailboats The race was timed to mark a hundred years since American troops arrived on the shores of France in WW1, and it also brought together all of the fastest Ultimate trimarans for the first time as the class begins to take flight.
Posted on 7 Jul