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Old 14-03-2010, 20:43   #1
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Baja this Summer

I am a teacher in southern California. I am taking ASA 101, 103, and 104 this spring and practicing a lot. This summer, starting late June, I plan to sail from Marina del Rey to La Paz and back on a sub-30-footer. I appreciate any advice that you guys can give me.

I hear summer is hurricane season. What precautions should I take?
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Old 14-03-2010, 22:31   #2
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You'll have a great time. Don't worry too much about the hurricanes. It'll be HOT in the summer.
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Old 14-03-2010, 22:37   #3
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G'Day JB,
LEt me be the first of many to suggest that the best precaution is to NOT LEAVE IN JUNE. Most folks wait until October or later to do this trip, and the reason is definitely the advent of cyclone season.

I recognize that June fits in with most teachers schedules, but you are talking about a life-threatening voyage here. There are few hurricane holes on the outside Baja coast, and in a small boat getting into one after the wx deteriorates is sometimes impossible.

Teach, you need to review your study materials and then reconsider your options.

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Church Point, NSW, Oz
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Old 14-03-2010, 23:35   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbosborn View Post
I am a teacher in southern California. I am taking ASA 101, 103, and 104 this spring and practicing a lot. This summer, starting late June, I plan to sail from Marina del Rey to La Paz and back on a sub-30-footer. I appreciate any advice that you guys can give me.

I hear summer is hurricane season. What precautions should I take?
Since you've asked for advice and opinions, I'll express mine.
Spend this summer sailing the islands of So Cal. Maybe a trip to Turtle Bay and back.
Most people sail south in late October and north in May-June. The weather and currents influnce their decision.
Taking three sailing courses from Marina Del Ray will give you the basics of how to make the boat sail, but not how to do the Baha Bash while everyone else is doing a downwind sail.
When you do get to La Paz, spend a season in the Sea of Cortzs.

Welcome to the forum John
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Old 15-03-2010, 00:04   #5
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Thanks, Daddle, Jim, and John! I appreciate cautionary posts along with encouraging ones. I am really set on making this trip, so all cautionary advice will affect the safety precautions that I make for this trip. For example, based your posts I am considering squeezing in more advanced classes this spring.

Keep the advice, insight, and encouragement coming!
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Old 15-03-2010, 00:11   #6
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P.S. I hope to return (do the "baja bash" as they say) in early August. I expect it will be grueling at this time of year, but as a teacher with limited budget and a high thirst for adventure and travel, I don't have a lot options. Can anyone tell me more specifically what I might expect?
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Old 15-03-2010, 00:21   #7
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The grueling bash is in the spring. Starting about now thru July. It's that NW'ly. August probably has many nice days out there. I just did it last week. Kinda 'splashy', not terrible. Six days Cabo to SD. Likewise, June will have all the wind you need to zip south. Many cruisers are in the Sea and along the Baja during the summer. Hurricanes are a risk, not a given, you'll just need to balance yourself. I'd say just do it. Stay aware of the weather.
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Old 15-03-2010, 07:03   #8
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...Hurricanes are a risk, not a given, you'll just need to balance yourself. I'd say just do it. Stay aware of the weather.
And make sure you have really good ground tackle!
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Old 15-03-2010, 07:52   #9
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You must feel the stars are aligned for you? I don't think it's a good idea. The lessons are plenty, but plenty of practice would be everyday in anything Mother Nature delivers you, because you will need the experience to deal with bad weather.

If she is under 30ft. Is she trailerable? That would be the only way from a safety point of view I would go if I were you. I would splash her in San Carlos, or someplace else north. What kind of power is there for the boat? An outboard will just make it that much more difficult to return. Possibly the following year would be better when you have more experience? Whatever you decide BEST WISHES in being safe!.......i2f
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Old 15-03-2010, 09:16   #10
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Baja California is a lot different then Southern California. You will not get weather reports once you get somewhere south of Ensenada unless you have an SSB reciever so I would count on getting one of those and learning to use it before you go. Also there is no Coastguard to come rescue you. There are stretches of of over 50 miles where you might not see anyone or any village. Even if there are villages unless you know where they are you might not find them. You will need to bring all of your provisions. Hurricane season is not something to be trifled with. Unless your sub 30' boat can do 15 to 25 knots even with warning you will not be able to get away from a hurricane. That said hurricanes do not occur every year. There are a few good guide books you can start with Charlie's Charts of Mexico or here is a link to some other useful books Welcome to Mexico Boating You should also know that the GPS can not be accurately counted on in Mexican waters. This is not a beginners trip. A summer vacation in the Sea of Cortez would be better done in a trailerable boat in the North end of the Sea of Cortez where you won't feel the full force of the hurricanes. Good luck with whatever youdecide but do your homework before you leave.
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Old 15-03-2010, 09:49   #11
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Teachers in Baja

I am an educator who spends enormous amounts of time in Baja. I've spent Christmas there six of the past ten years, I take a "Baja Natural History" class of 16 undergraduates there every year for the duration of spring break, and I've received a grant to spend part of the upcoming summer in Baja to catch up with my writing.

I understand the frustration of having three months off during a time when coastal passage-making is ill advised. I have a 46-foot sloop that is probably far more capable of the trip than your "sub-30-footer," as you describe it, and it's frustrating not to be able to take it down during my summers off and yet have to miss the ideal weather window in November because I'm in the classroom at that time.

My message to you as a fellow educator and as someone greatly familiar with Baja waters is: Don't be a fool.

I was in Baja exactly ten years ago when a group of university researchers was out in a 24-foot boat that capsized not far from where I was doing my research at the time. Four made it to safety, and five died. On that very day, fewer than 20 nautical miles away, I was working with a group of marine biologists who had decided to cancel our dives for the day because of the high winds. The entire research community down there learned an important lesson that day, and it's one you'd best learn before you complete your ASA sailing lessons.

Once you get an hour south of Ensenada, there's no more Coast Guard to call, there will be no more VHF weather reports, and no TowBoat US to haul you back to safe harbor. THIS IS AN EL NINO YEAR, and hurricane season promises to be especially active because of the warmer waters.

If your ASA sailing classes are suggesting that you can make this trip in a sub-30-footer DURING AN EL NINO YEAR in the middle of hurricane season, then you really ought to ask for a tuition refund.

Teacher, educate thyself. Historical Look at Hurricanes in Baja
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Old 15-03-2010, 10:18   #12
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Bash thanks for the info on hurricanes and the months that they have occurred. This is a great post.
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Old 15-03-2010, 12:27   #13
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Imagine, Charlie, and Bash. I really appreciate the warnings. I am now considering working this summer and trying to take the next school year off to sail (rather than during hurricane season) but not sure yet if I can finance it.

If I sailed south down the west coast of baja in late August, spent all winter in the Sea of Cortes, and then sailed back in late May... would that work?

Still considering this summer. Keep the posts coming!
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Old 15-03-2010, 13:02   #14
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I just read the hurricane site provided by Bash and gathered this info:

"The combination of these winds and energy still built up in the tropical regions are what make the period from September 15th to October 15th the peak of our storm season."

So I will plan to definitely not be in Baja during that time.

How dangerous are tropical storms (TS) and tropical depressions (TD)?

I'm torn between going from late June to early August (best option financially for me; also possible dangerous weather) or late October to mid May. Thoughts??
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Old 15-03-2010, 13:11   #15
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Jbosborn:

Can you trailer your boat? Your best option may be to put your boat on a trailer drive to the north end of the Sea of Cortez and then have a wonderful time exploring the North end which is out of the hurricane zone. You could also try to add some time to your Christmas vacation and then sail your boat down to La Paz. Leave it there and then sail out of La Paz for the summer. There are still chances of hurricanes but at least you can tuck into La Paz if there is a problem. If you are dead serious about the Sea of Cortez in the summer there are ways to do it but they are different then what you are proposing.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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