The “BAJA BASH” by Robert Delamotte
Definition: The typically unpleasant butt-kicking endured by mariners traveling north up the Baja peninsula from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego, often consisting of 800 or so nautical miles worth of 20+ knot winds on the nose, pounding waves, and a strong current running in the wrong direction.
“Oh, nothing… just a broken fuel line leading to 5+ gallons of diesel sloshing around in the bilge… Luckily, Ralph is a spare parts hoarder and fixed it no time no prob!”
(Ralph takes over the story here) This could’ve been one of those really bad ahh shit moments. What happened was I woke up from a nap. The boat was slamming hard into the waves as it was on autopilot. I quickly slowed it down and began hand steering.
As I looked out I saw that the seas had gotten progressively worse. We needed a safe refuge as we were now not making much progress. I looked at the charts and quickly found a spot Brian and I pulled into years ago on his Lagoon 50 catamaran.
I set a new course much to the displeasure of my hired hand. When I dropped anchor I usually keep the engines running and next do a check. What I saw made my hair stand on end. A broken fuel line. It looked like an artery leaking blood out of a body. If the engines would’ve taken on air and stalled in the weather we were just in we may have possibly lost the ship. RHP
Story continued by Robert Delamotte- The “Bash” is a West Coast phenomenon, usually left to paid delivery captains or unfortunate cruisers who need to get out of Mexico before hurricane season nullifies their insurance.
The tactic is to run when you can, hide when you have to and don’t even try to keep a schedule. The goal is to make headway whenever possible, even if only in short spurts, because if you wait for a two-week weather window in the Pacific, you’ll be waiting a while.
It’s the ultimate bad plan: sailing to weather against prevailing winds and seas along hundreds of miles of open, desolate coastline with nary a safe harbor or chance of rescue in sight.
RULE #1 of the “BAJA BASH”: AVOID at all costs attempting the trip in February/March/April – these are the WORST months!
Sooo, when my buddy, Ralph Perez emailed me and asked if I knew anything about large powerboats and had a couple weeks to spare in March, naturally I was all in!
Along with another boatnik, Jeff Warner, who was similarly dragooned into the enterprise, we hit the sea south from La Paz, laid low in San Juan de Cabo for a few days waiting out some rough weather, and then continued through the “Cabo” convergence zone ~washing machine~ and up to Ensenada in a 41 foot DeFever twin-screw trawler.
It was in Ensenada that we two mutinous crew jumped ship and left our Captain and Commander Ralph to diddy-bop on up the last 60 miles to San Diego by his lonesome on a fair-weather last day. (Too bad, we’ll miss Ralph’s culinary skills! And, in all fairness, we 2 crew Scallywags had to split because we were running waaay behind schedule and had other, time sensitive commitments…)
All in all, it was a “slamming” great adventure with seas only up to 15 feet or so with pretty short intervals and a good time was had by all. (Don’t think I want to do it again though.)
These are only some of the good time photos as during the rougher times, we were all too busy hanging on with white knuckles, being blasted with greenwater and skidding sideways down the backsides of breakers all while warily eyeballing the liferaft lashed to the foredeck …