Well, that sounds very dramatic, considering that we never saw more than clouds in the sky, about 20 minutes of some rain, and very little wind. The highest winds we saw in Bahia Willard were only in the 20 knots range and that was days after the storm formally known as Hurricane Jimena had past and was well on its way to Texas. But there were days of worry as we heard about the gathering storm. As the storm gathered strength and its path became clear to hit the Baja, are fears grew. Each new weather report sounded worse and worse. There are about 30 cruiser boats floating around the LA Bay area, with a hurricane hole nearby. We were a little worried about so many boats anchoring in the same area for a hurricane. Besides worrying about your own anchor staying put, you also have to worry about the anchor systems of the boats around you. Plus, we had just arrived in the area and had no time to scout out good anchorages and learn the lay of the land. It seemed like our best choice was to get as far away as we could and the next hurricane hole the guide books showed was a hundred miles further north. No problem in our fast little boat.
Imagine our consternation on the next morning when, as we were leaving, our port engine died before we had even pulled the anchor. And it wouldn't restart. The hurricane was supposed to be showing up in our area in three days. We didn't have time to fix it. There was nothing to do but continue on with one engine. Unfortunately that meant we were too slow to reach Willard Bay in one day. The feeling of anxiety, tension and worry had Patrick's and my stomach in knots. Our boat is designed to work on two engines, you can't solidly set an anchor with just one engine. Definitely not good with a hurricane coming. As we motored along, watching the sterns of Windfall and Third Day pull farther and farther ahead of us, Patrick was working on the engine. Finally after several hours, he had it running again, but we only had enough daylight to make it safely to Refugio at that time. Our friends on Windfall and Third Day weren't going to leave us, so all three boats pulled in and dropped anchor
Pulling into Refugio, we were blown away by its beauty and that night at our potluck, we were all throwing around the idea of weathering out the storm in Refugio. Then in the morning we learned that Hurricane Jimena was expected to go over the top of Refugio. So the pressure was back on and worse. We were all pulling our anchors at the crack of dawn in a race to Willard Bay. And of course, again the port engine did not work. I was beside myself. Once again we watched our friends leave us behind as we putted along, with Patrick pulling apart the malfunctioning engine underway. Thankfully there was wind behind us and our sails kept us from falling too far behind. Again after several hours, he got it running and we caught up with our friends just as we approached Willard Bay.
Willard Bay was everything we could have hoped for. We were so worried to see it and find out if it was already full with other boats hiding out, or if its description was not accurate in the guide books. Instead we found a great anchorage, nearly surrounded by land, with plenty of room for us to spread out, good holding sand bottom and a fairly uniform depth at a perfect 25 feet throughout the anchoring area. It was the home run, slam dunk we were hoping for. Once we had set anchor, so much of our worry abated, but still we were faced with the big unknown - where was Jimena going to end up?
Lucky for us, it came no where near us. As you probably know, she went right over the top of Santa Rosalia and caused much destruction there. We were so lucky that we got out of there when we did. We were only five days out of Santa Rosalia when the first reports of the gathering storm came through. Jimena plowed though the Escondido hurricane hole and five boats ended up on the rocks (only one was lost). Conception Bay was also hit pretty hard and I am anxious to see how Isla Coyote looks. Worst hit was San Carlos on the mainland side of the Sea. Jimena parked herself on top of them for many hours and we heard reports that fifteen boats were on the beach, some parked on land were tipped over, or flooded out by the rain. LA Bay got off pretty well with some wind gusts maybe to 40 and a brief torrent of rain. But as you can see from the pictures, Jimena was blessedly a non-event in Willard Bay. Sometimes they can get that far up, but not this time.
Since then, JaM has had more adventures. Third Day and JaM saved a panga full of paramilitaries with sub machine guns when their boat broke down (I got to watch my husband ride off in our dinghy with one gun pointed at his knee - not intentionally). We almost gutted our starboard bow on a very jagged reef while trying to find anchorage on a little-visited island (hmmm... maybe there is a reason why no one goes there?). We attended a party for the net-controllers at LA Bay. We've seen multiple whales, snorkeled for hours over fascinating reefs stocked full of fish. And generally have had a blast.
3 days ago