Being a racer most people assume that I have done little or no cruising, actually I started my big boat sailing cruising around Puget Sound and in the last 4 years have cruised about 4500 miles including a cruise to Hawaii from San Diego.
This winter my friend Jeff Gerwin wanted to cruise his Swan 68 to Cabo again like we did 3 years ago, but this time stop by Guadalupe Island for fishing and to try and see some Great White Sharks. Jeff has always been an incredible host and has a knack for inviting a diverse group of his friends that always gel well together. Did I mention the great chef and incredible wine collection? Jeff invited Andy Ladow, Andrew Whitthome, Bill Engle, Milo Michelangelo, Dave Pekin and I. He also hired Brenda Steele as chef as we have in the past and that guarantees incredible food.
Due to permit issues with the Mexican government we did not make the stop at Guadalupe, but instead decided to make a second trip this coming summer.
We headed out of San Diego on December 4th a sunny Sunday with Santa Anna winds blowing offshore at about 12 knots at 7:00am. The wind quickly died down and as we passed the Coronado Islands the wind started on shore and we were in a spinnaker doing 8 knot before 9:30am. The skies were perfectly clear with a light westerly swell. It did not take any getting used to being at sea because of the absolutely perfect conditions. The wind built to 16 knots and stayed steady all day and into the night. Santa Anna winds provide spectacular sunsets and this night was no exception. We brought along a cook that has a lot of experience with cooking on yachts and the troubles that go along with it. Her name is Brenda Steele. Brenda also filled the same roll on this boat when we sailed to Hawaii 2 years ago. The dinner meal was fillet mil loin with pepper crust. Not only a spectacular meal but the presentation made us feel we more in a down town luxury restaurant than 100 miles from shore.
The moon was just over half full making most of the night lit up and great visibility. Within the first 10 hours we were out of sight of land and sailing in 18 knots of wind with the asymmetrical spinnaker. Most of the day and night we had dolphins playing with the bow wake and jumping out of the water next to us as they crisscrossed under the boat providing us with a great show and envy at how agile they are.
The first morning of being at sea we passed near Guadalupe Island then gybed towards Cedros Island, the halfway point to Cabo. The winds blowing from the Northwest make for a very comfortable and level sailing. This always makes everything more enjoyable and easier. The crew search for the sunny spots on the deck out of the shadows of the main and spinnaker.
Going into the second night we started fishing relying on Dave Pekin our most experience fisherman on board. In the past cruises we have had great luck with him supply more than enough sea food to keep us happy. We hooked up with a nice 25 pound yellow fin tuna just before dinner followed by 4 Bonito. Dave had the Yellow fin dissected within minute of landing and Brenda had it sliced into Sashimi for our evening appetizer for our main course of rack of lamb pared with the appropriate wine. The crew had the bug now for more fishing as we hit the warmer waters closer to the tropics. The wind was 12-15 knots all day from the Northwest putting us right on course for Cedros Island.
The 2nd night had a little mix for us. The wind increased to a solid 25 to 30 knots offshore and the seas built fairly fast. We sailed under the 2nd reef in the main and the staysail. It made sleeping very uncomfortable and kept the temperatures down making that night less than desirable. We landed 4 more tuna and had an episode with a seagull getting caught on one of our lures. But the bird was released with little injury other than getting tired. Brenda made a fantastic round of Sushi including dragon rolls, California Rolls, Spicy Tuna, and Sashimi. The wind died down in the late afternoon allowing the crew to get more rest and enjoy a couple of movies. We also saw a double green flash as the sun set. The air temperature warmed up significantly as we past 25 degrees north getting much closer the tropic of cancer.
The morning sunrise brought on a green flash of its own. This is the first I have ever seen at sun rise. The spirits of the crew with the milder winds and warmer temps really improved as everyone got full rest and more great food. The skies were completely clear and we were still out of sight of land. Wednesday morning we shook the reefs out and sailed under full genoa still with an offshore winds about 40 miles from the coast. We spotted a lot of marine life such as dolphins, birds, and a marlin jumping. All great signs for fishing although the day did not pan out despite seeing a small shark, sea lion, lots of turtles and a few more marlin jumping.
Just before sunset we had a pod of several hump back whales give us a show of breaching and spouting. At sunset another green flash followed by an amazing dinner of rib eye steak from our chef Brenda followed by a spicy chocolate moues. Since we were so close to the Baja peninsula we decided to take a little detour into Mag Bay and were treated to a mill pond reflective bay at twilight. After A short tour of the bay we continued down the coast.
We woke to warmer lighter air conditions and fresh scones for breakfast. We had a shark take one lure and a mahi mahi take another before we arrived in prime fishing ground.
The final morning of the trip down to Cabo we had an amazing breakfast of more fresh scones our daily cut fruit plate with bacon and eggs. We fished aggressively all day chasing every bird and bait ball but caught nothing other than a Bonita which we returned to the sea. We arrived in the harbor at Cabo San Lucas at 2:00 to a maze of boats with loud music and parties going on all around. It kind of made us feel like we should leave and return to the quiet life of offshore sailing. We tied up at the dock and started our immigration and agricultural check in. Brenda made an unbelievable meal of duck and coconut rice for dinner and the crew went out for cocktails down town.
The following morning we left the dock at 6:00 am for a half day of fishing. We hooked up on two Mahi Mahi but they escaped. We did land a Wahoo that Brenda made into a great lunch. After returning to the harbor to finish our immigration paper work we headed back out into the bay where we had a dinner of Surf and Turf Cuban Style with cilantro salsa, plantains, with shrimp, rib eye steak, and a rice with sausage and spices as we drifted around before returning to the dock.
On my second to last day we left the dock again at 6:00am and headed out fishing to try and get the elusive tuna that we had been chasing for a week now. Brenda made another outstanding breakfast. We fished 9 hours saw marlin and tuna jumping but had no luck at all catching any. This was very frustrating to Dave but the rest of us drank rum told tales and took in the scenery which included whales and dolphin. Brenda not trusting our fishing skills saved enough tuna from early in the trip to supply us with a sushi lunch once again.
After the crews took a brief nap we had an easy evening on the boat with pork ribs and chocolate soufflé. The crew then went out for a few cocktails down town for a last hurrah of the great passage to Cabo.