Today we’ll talk about a few topics you will face being underway. Even though you may sail and even done some cruising, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK ALL YOUR GROUND TACKLE AGAIN. It doesn’t matter how much local cruising you have done, you are going to be using your anchor a lot more now. Check everything, re-mark the chain and hone your anchoring skills before you leave. It’s not an issue for “on the job training”. Work out a system for communication between the bow and helm (unless all controls are from the helm). Talking with headsets can help, but that can pick up a lot of wind-noise.
As good as it is sailing on the Bay, coastal sailing heading south along the coast of California and Mexico will open a whole new dimension of sailing for you. Except for only a couple of spots heading south, you can enjoy day-hops, stopping at either good anchorages or marinas with all the amenities you want. Plan your route so you will know where you are with your ‘eyes closed’. Along the California coast, fog may come and go very quickly.
Planning to round the Cape (Point Conception) You will probably want to stop at Morro Bay (great yacht club) to time your rounding of the cape. Take your time and plan your weather window where there is shelter, food, water, fuel and good information. It is also a great stop coming back north.
Other good stops are: Half Moon Bay, San Simeon Bay/ Hearst Castle, Santa Cruz, Moss Landing, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo Bay.
If you need an anchorage just south of Pt. Conception, stop at Cojo. Once you are south of Conception, the weather starts to get warmer.
This is important: Stay out of the shipping lanes.
Long Lines – Fishermen in Mexico will lay them everywhere and snagging them, though somewhat inevitable, is not fun. They’ll usually have flags on each end, so if you spot one look for the second on the other end to orient yourself, then go around one end or the other. If there are no flags, watch for “floats” strung in the water. More often than not, the “floats” are just old soda bottles.
Weather – Know what it’s doing every day, even if you’re not moving. Also give enough consideration to the seasons. For example, the Sea of Cortez – an absolute “must see”, might be a “logical first place” to visit when you get to Mexico. But it gets cold in the winter there, a problem if you go down in the fall, as with the Ha Ha. If you wait until after winter, you may have a short window before things heat up (and they do!!!) in the summer, so you will want to do some planning. Another “logical first place” to visit is crossing to the mainland, either Mazatlan or Banderas Bay. Either way, Baja or mainland, it just depends on what your plans are, or the flip of a coin, or the direction of the best sailing, or when / where somebody is coming down to visit you.
And you need to double check the weather when rounding any large cape, especially when heading north — especially when heading into the day’s forecasted breeze.