The HelmsMistress writes from a different point of view, as the full time HelmsWomen and the mom, wife and homeschool teacher on her cruising sailboat in addition to everything else she does. Take the time to check out this photo diary of our most recent crossing from La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta) to La Paz BCS.

Referring to travel across the Sea of Cortez between Baja and mainland Mexico as a “crossing” is a bit of a misnomer because we don’t tend to take the most direct route “across” in favor of stopping at sights along the way.  Even so, the trip between La Cruz (Banderas Bay) and La Paz has become what we refer to as our northern or southern crossing, now for the fourth time, as it marks the beginning and end of a journey.  It’s around 300 to 400 nautical miles and we’ve made it in as short as 5 days and as long as 3 weeks depending on the route and the weather.  Standing continuous watches while underway takes both planning and flexibility as does making passages with kids and a dog aboard.  We can hoist the sails and heel over to increase our speed and risk breaking both our boat and crew if we really want to, but like many, we prefer to travel in favorable weather and enjoy the scenery along the way…we are indeed CRUISING after all.  Regardless, one thing remains constant, we are always focused on reaching our final destination.  Until we arrive at said final destination, even though the anchorage may afford a great beach day, isolated exploration, or rich food and culture, we still know we have miles to go, so we can’t get too comfortable.  From La Cruz to La Paz with 5 stops in between, here is a photo diary of a crossing, LIVEFREE2SAILFAST style, with the highs and lows and everything in between…

Just left the dock at La Cruz– refreshed and ready to roll.  Let’s do this!!!

The humpbacks wave goodbye from Punta de Mita – We planned to leave by sunset, but were stymied by strong winds and instead left at 9 pm enroute for Isla Isabel

Morning, Day 2 after little sleep…this pretty much says it all

We found safe anchorage in Isla Isabel behind the Monas once again which instantly reinvigorates us.

To keep our good weather window we spend less than 8 hours here before getting underway again; just long enough to explore the tide pools and see the blue-footed booby chicks.

Sibling rivalry is clearly a universal concept, even in remote parts of the world.

Sunset farewell from Isla Isabel – hope to visit again.

Morning wake-up to….fog?!?!?  There’s Mazatlán – can’t you see it?!

Waiting with SV Descanso for a tanker to enter the channel, knowing we have about 500 yards to go once inside the breakwater…so close!

Chad raises a larger courtesy flag.

Once inside, we remember that Mazatlán harbor is sure to keep Quincy busy.

Finally exploring historic old town Mazatlán.

On top of the world at El Faro lighthouse (there’s Tulum V in the background)

Downtime means cleaning and maintenance…no rest for the weary me hearties!

We still love the views around the old harbor but after a week, another favorable weather window opens and it’s time to go.

0545 anchor up…..wait…that’s not MY anchor!  We wrestle with this generous gift from the old harbor with invaluable assistance from S/V Descanso, delaying the start of the longest leg of our crossing.  You never know what’s lurking on the bottom of the sea…(we’ll share this story in another post). 

Underway we see lots of large sea turtles just chillin’ on the surface…and whatever that is?

Much better weather than last year’s bash into the wind and waves – motorsailing nonetheless, but we’ll take it for views like this!

Why I really love night watch – the beautiful bioluminescent light show.

Finishing watch in the middle of the sea (Mazatlan – Muertos)

Look!  We’re a sailboat!  Love the new asymmetric (Thanks to Zoom Sails).

Land in sight – there’s Baja!  Dolphins were a no-show this time but still, she searches for her friends…

Dropping the hook in Muertos – We made it to Baja!!!

Cheers to Baja!

Baja gives a warm (and dry) welcome like none other.  This time we won’t need to stay in Muertos as long thanks to a much briefer northern blow…..although looking around, it’s not the worst place to be stuck!

Beautiful Playa Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santo – How is this place is not crowded during Semana Santa?!

Kids enjoy an Easter egg hunt on a mostly empty beach before heading the final 21NM into La Paz.

In Canal de San Lorenzo Quincy enjoys her last meal at sea for a while.  Smile girl, last time this channel kicked our ass!

Quincy expresses her dissatisfaction at the number of ships outside La Paz (5 cruise ships anchored among others)

We’ve arrived!  Tulum V all tucked in at Marina Palmira – Time for showers, laundry, and WIFI!….and new batteries, a new jib from Zoom Sails, some mechanical work and other careful maintenance (another story).

It took 2 ½ weeks and we clocked over 420 nautical miles with good friends on S/V Descanso.  We did some sailing and a lot of motoring, watched movies, read good books, listened to podcasts, homeschooled, played radio battleship, ate at some amazing restaurants, pulled more than our fair share of GRIBs (weather forecasts) before consulting our crystal ball for departure times, launched and hoisted the dinghy repeatedly, all took turns sleeping on our makeshift bed of cushions on the salon floor, played on beautiful beaches, popped open a few anchoring beers, and managed to maintain our senses of humor through the mild sleep deprivation.  We once again felt the vulnerability of being a small vessel surrounded by nothing but ocean, guided at night by not much more than charts, instruments and prayers, and are grateful for yet another safe passage.

Thanks to Jamie Gifford from S/V Totem, Rich Boran from La Paz Cruisers Supply and our buddies on S/V Descanso for helping us find a mellow weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez.  Although we crossed from La Paz to Muertos in only two days with light weather, we know that even this sea can dish out strong weather, thus we prepared for this passage as we do every other passage.  Like the HelmsMistress’ writing?  Follow Our Website to read more every week.  Or, consider supporting our site via Patreon.

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