Friday, December 21, 2012

Stuck in Ensenada Waiting for Good Weather

Wave height predictions for the northern Baja coast for Christmas week from


We're still in Ensenada, waiting for a weather window so we can head south. Our original plan was to leave December 8th, then there was a family health scare that turned out to be just a scare that put our plans on hold for a few days and then our ATM card was eaten by a bank machine in San Diego and it took a week to get replacement cards and then the weather turned bad, really bad. The winter storm season began up north and with one front after another coming down the coast with high winds and seas (10+ ft) that made it impossible to leave. As we wait it is quickly getting too late to get down the Mexican coast and to Central America this season so we work on a plan B, what do we do if we can't get out of here until mid January? Our Plan B is to cruise down Baja and the Mexico mainland to PV and then return to La Paz for the summer and leave next November to head south. As we sit and watch the weather forecasts every day we’ve started to like plan B, it gives us a good cruising season in MX this year and then we can leave early next season and take our time getting south. Now, if we get a break in the weather in the next week or two we'll need to decide once we get down the Baja coast, do we quickly head south or bag it for this year and wait for next season?

So we sit waiting, without our car which we took to Tucson and turned over to Linda's son when we thought we would be leaving in early December. And the cold winter temperatures are upon us. The low last night was 45 and the daytime highs barely reach 60. It's damn cold here and we want to get south!

Waiting for weather is difficult. The urge to leave is strong. We start looking for a small window of opportunity, a brief let up in the wind, hoping that the forecast is over estimating the wind speed or wave heights even though we know that's not likely. We try to convince ourselves to go ahead and leave even when the forecast is not so good. We're just going down the coast, it won't be dangerous, not in a Nordhavn we tell ourselves. But when we're out there being thrown around in large seas we swear 'never again' and yet the next time we think the same way.

So what’s good weather? Our rule is that the sea height needs to be under 5 feet with wave periods (the time between the wave peaks) of 10 seconds or greater. That gives us a comfortable ride. We need 4 days to get from Ensenada to the next protected anchorage, Turtle Bay. From there it's 4 days to Mag Bay and then 4 days to round Cabo Falso to the anchorage at los Frailes. So we need at least 4 days to get out of here. We can wait in Turtle Bay and Mag Bay for good weather but we won't leave without a forecast of 4 good days. And we don't like to leave in front of heavy weather. Better to leave just as a front moves through and have improving conditions as you progress rather than have deteriorating conditions as the front moves in on you. And better to have a good forecast than a marginal one because forecasts are often wrong and when they are the conditions are more often than not worse than predicted, not better.

So we sit and wait doing small boat projects and using up all our supplies. Soon we’ll need to make a run to Costco to re-provision. And did I mention we don’t have our car? And it’s cold!

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