It's not the size of your boat...

Catamaran Sailing in Baja

In December, I took my home-built Wharram Catamaran down to the Sea of Cortez for a trip from Loreto to La Paz

In mid-December, I received an email from my friend Jonathan asking me if I was interested in doing some travelling in the New Year. His email was timely, as I had been pondering the idea of taking my boat down to Mexico and doing some sailing. And so I asked if he would he like to come. A couple hours later, I got an email back expressing interest and asking for the details.

“Those are the details,” I replied.

“Ok, sounds good, I’m in” he answered.

How to tie a 17′ boat to the roof of your car.

Once you learn a couple knots, it’s amazing what you can tie to the roof of your car.

Boat on the Car Roof

This rig travelled 3000 miles up to 70mph and over some pretty big bumps with no problems. – You just need to know three knots.

  • The bowline
  • The round turn and two half hitches
  • The truckers hitch.

This is the book that will teach you

Contrary to what we’d heard, the transpeninsular highway down Baja was excellent with very few pot-holes. – We were able to do 65 most of the time. From Tijuana to La Paz takes approx 21hours with stops just to pee and eat quick meals.

Highway 1 down to Baja is a smooth two-lane highway. No shoulder

Loreto to La Paz

We sailed in the very southern part of the Sea of Cortez. Our route took us from Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto, to La Paz. – It’s about 130 miles and took us about 10 days.

Traveling by boat isn’t like traveling by bike. – For the first few days, the wind was light and we struggled to make 5-10 miles. On days when the wind blew, we could have knocked off all 130 before the sun set!

During winter, the Sea of Cortez alternates between flat calm, and ‘el norte’ winds – strong northerly winds that howl for days – Learn More. On the fifth day as we approached Isla San Jose, the north wind kicked in very quickly. Within the space of just 15minutes, we went from light winds to needing to reef. We held on to San Evaristo, a small fishing town, where we found ourselves stuck on the beach for days.

Stuck on the beach with Pepe the dog. Lots of time to read.

After four days the winds started to die down, and we set off for the 30 mile crossing to Espiritu Santu. While the winds were less, the seas were still large, and we held on for dear life for the three hour crossing under jib alone. Almost pitchpoled once. Reaching the beach at the end was one of the best experiences of my life.

James at the helm
Never been happier to make landfall.

The Sea of Cortez coastline is beautiful and completely unspoiled. – We saw only a handful of villages (most with less than a dozen habitations) and most had no roads to speak of. The ones that did were still several hours from the nearest highway. We had to pack almost 40 liters of water for the trip, and numerous cans of beans and hot sauce.

Lazy morning at Los Gatos anchorage

Thoughts on ‘boatpacking’

There’s a beauty to traveling on a small boat. You can go places others can’t. We were able to pull the boat up on beaches and poke around rocky islands looking for good snorkeling. We even devised a new method of navigating shallow waters. Jonathan would stick his head in the water with his mask on while I would drive as close to the rocks as possible. – It was a lot of fun. We had no motor on the boat and were at the mercy of the wind. But that was actually kind of nice. It forced us to slow down, and stay in tune with the environment. And when the wind blew, there was plenty of it to make up for lost time.

15 Comments

  1. Zander on January 16, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Dude!! Looks like a great trip. Only slightly jealous.

  2. Rebecca on January 16, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Looks pretty amazing! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

  3. Simon and Sunny on Seascape on January 16, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Glad we met you at the beginning of your trip as you seem to have the same shirt on in every photo. You also picked the right timing, had you been a week later you would have spent 5 days on the beach waiting out the weather. What next Socorro Island?

  4. Faun on January 17, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    My son, you never cease to amaze me with your travels and adventures–me think the beds would be too hard!!

  5. robsewell on January 18, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    James, it shows you don’t have to have a zillion dollar yacht to really enjoy your self.Its really good to know people still have adventures like you without all the trappings of our so called modern commercialized society. All the best Rob Sewell Australia.

  6. Christine Gerchow on February 9, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Jaymz this is a great website detailing what was obviously a marvelous expedition!! I love how you can check out cooler spots b/c of the size of our catamaran. Thanks for sharing this! Miss you!

  7. Mandy Dohar on January 24, 2007 at 5:13 am

    Wow- how amazing and beautiful. I feel like I am missing out- drillin’, fillin, and pullin’ teeth!!!!

  8. Dave on January 26, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Good job hiding all the girls and beer from the pics so your mom wouldn’t see!

  9. Marc Shandro on February 9, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    The art of adventure is thriving well in you — bravo!

  10. mirror on February 25, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    so natural and beatiful….envy u guys!

  11. oxana visnevskaia on February 25, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Hey, it all looks so wonderful and bright, yet so familiar… just like if I were too!! Great trip, whats next??..

  12. best internet savings accounts on August 23, 2008 at 6:53 am

    Coll blog, thanks.

  13. J.R. on May 26, 2007 at 11:57 am

    That settles it; I’m building one !

  14. misbah mosobbir on May 23, 2007 at 7:10 am

    dear Jaymz

    there we were gung ho ni 1997, and youre still at it

    do you have a job? (NULL, kids and a mortgage)

  15. David Ryder on May 24, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Looks OK I suppose, but the skunk – now that was interesting. Next time get sprayed.

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