Adventures In Sailing Around The World

Starting in Mexico
BY: GINA HARRIS

Gina, 29, worked in tech marketing, and Jose, 27, in tech sales, in San Francisco where they met at work. He grew up sailing the Mediterranean with his grandfather  near his home in Spain. Gina is a California girl. Gina has agreed to keep us informed of their sail around the world in their 43 ft Beneteau sailboat.

SailingAround.jpgTwo years ago, my boyfriend and I were sitting in our living room reliving the highlights of our afternoon sail on the San Francisco Bay. We had the good fortune of living close to the water and could practice our shared hobby regularly. Enamored with the thrill of crashing waves and a passion for the outdoors, being on the water made us feel alive.

As with every post-sail conversation, our reminiscent discussion took a turn. “That was amazing but what if the water was bluer? And warmer?! And we could actually see the stars?! After enough of these conversations, we started to sound like broken records. It was time to do something about it.

The initial decision to travel the world by sailboat was relatively simple. The hard part was deciding where to go. The world, after all, is a pretty big place. For months we sat in that same living room trying to map out a route that would take us to all the places daydreams are made of. Other sailors and long-term adventurers we asked kept pushing for the Sea of Cortez, telling us it was a “must see.”

To be completely honest, we hadn’t even heard of it. We struggled to understand how the tequila infused Mexican vacations of our college years could be the raw, environmentally vibrant place we were searching for. In the end, the weather (and our savings plan), dictated when we could leave San Francisco and where we could go. We would be spending the first winter season in Mexico.

As with any life-altering plan, the day-to-day preparations for our trip took up so much mental space, we didn’t even think too much about what we would do or see when we actually got to Mexico.

We joined the Baja Haha, a fleet of a hundred or so boats that make their way down the Baja California coast each fall, and figured we’d get tips along the way. Tips we did get. Every person we met had so much to say about Baja! They told us about their favorite beaches, local restaurants to try and promised us that after a few months in the Sea of Cortez, we’d never want to leave. We started thinking that if everyone was saying the same thing, could they really be that wrong? Turns out, the answer is no. They absolutely were not wrong. Baja California is what daydreams are made of.

We set sail from San Diego October 28th and knew that within a couple of days our feet would be on Mexican soil. Our boat was fully stocked with every possible Trader Joe’s novelty item we thought we couldn’t live without, we had plenty of sun screen, and I’d even packed a Spanish phrasebook in hopes I’d learn a word or two on the way down.

After two days out at sea, the temperature started rising, the water, even though hundreds of feet deep, turned to a pristine blue, and the voices on the radio faded from English, returning in Spanish.

“This is it,” I thought. “This is what we’ve been dreaming of!” What we didn’t realize was that this was just the start of what was to become a love affair with Mexico. After a quick stop in Bahia Santa Maria to enjoy our first bites of local cuisine and a refreshing swim in turquoise waters, we took off for Cabo San Lucas. On the way, the Pacific gifted us with the most delicious dorado fish we’d ever had and enough blue fin tuna to feed our crew for days. The ability to live sustainably and respectfully off the land was a treat we hadn’t expected.

In fact, we were getting ready for many things to not be as expected. Arriving in Cabo, we nervously went to check in with immigration. The stories we had heard of how complicated it could be gave us the chills. In the end, the only thing complicated about our check-in was not stopping to indulge at every stand selling pastor tacos! Even with my non-existent Spanish, locals were so friendly and warm, getting around became a breeze.

Next errand was grocery shopping. Why did I buy so much toilet paper in San Diego? Did I really think they didn’t have TP in Cabo?

From Cabo to Los Muertos, La Paz to San Basilio, my travels through Baja California have exceeded any and all expectations. The stars I once longed to see? They put on a show every night, each one better than the night before. The sunsets? You’ve never seen a sunset until you’ve seen it in La Paz. Blue water? I’ve watched manta ray’s zooming around starfish from the cockpit of my boat, the water was that clear. If you’re reading this, you probably already know and love Baja California. As many have done with me, let me take you on my trip from the desert to the sea, and everything in between. Next issue: Visiting Los Lobos and La Paz. Hasta la proxima! To follow Gina’s blog, go to www.couchsailors.com.