Sunset at Bahia Algodones on the mainland.
We had arrived at San Pedro Martir on October 25th in the calm before the storm and by the 27th, I couldn't stand spending another day in the anchorage at San Pedro Martir. The island is incredible, but the winds were seriously impeding my enjoyment. All day on the 26th we rocked and rolled in swell while the winds howled around us. We were protected from the true force of the wind which was blowing about 25 to 30 knots, but it was wrapping around the point and coming into the anchorage around 20 to 25 knots, along with a very worked up swell.
You just don't feel like doing much when it's that nasty out. Dinghy exploring is wet, lumpy and slow. Snorkeling is ruined because the sediment is all worked up and visibility is down. Even the sea lions were staying out of the water! Since there was no beach to walk, and way too many sea lions lining the rocky shore, land was out. So then you are stuck on the boat, watching movies and trying not to be sick.
Unfortunately, I was scared to pick up the hook. We were securely anchored, but less that 50 feet behind us, huge rocks rose up from the water. If our anchor left the sand, the current and winds could easily push us into the rocks before we could get the boat under control. In windy conditions at low speed, JaM is like a big Macy's Day Float, lots of windage and not much steering.
Our solution was to leave in the middle of the night, since the winds were calming down in the dark hours to 10 to 15 knots. So at 2:30 am on the 27th, Patrick and I pulled the hook and starting motoring out of the anchorage. Everything went smoothly and all my worries were for nothing (like worries usually are).
Once free of the island's protection, we settled into our course taking us toward the mainland. Our destination was about 80 miles away, but the wind was in a favorable direction. Slowly as dawn broke, the winds increased and we had quite a ride to the mainland. By the time we were nearing the coast after noon, the winds were 25 to 30 knots directly on our stern. We were flying along, wing on wing, doing a solid 7 to 9 knots! Wing on wing is a lovely way to sail and very comfortable. With the jib to one side, and the mainsail to the other, the boat is very balanced and stays relatively flat. Since you are traveling with the winds, you are tricked into thinking it's a lovely calm day, despite the white caps all around you.
When we reached the entrance to Bahia Algodones though, we suddenly got to feel the force of the wind. We furled the jib and pulled a hard left into the harbor. Suddenly 25 to 30 knots was on our beam and we were really flying, even with the main all the way over, spilling the wind. As we got further into the large bay, the waves were completely blocked, but the wind kept increasing since it was being funneled through the hills around the anchorage. The three of us, working as a team, quickly got the boat facing straight into the winds and had the main dropped in seconds. With that, it was just minutes before the hook was down next to a miles long, sandy beach lined with restaurants, hotels and resorts. Our summer in the north Sea of Cortez was over and we were back in the land of people. Our 80 mile trip took about 11 1/2 hours, which means we averaged almost 7 knots!