We all have our dream lists of places in the world we hope
to see by boat. For Douglas and me, the Sea Of Cortez when the
whales are calving was near the top of that list. Last year, we chartered a catamaran from The Moorings for three weeks, and made
that dream come true. What we found was stunning. Mountain
ranges painted in variegated orange and red; little islands draped in
sleepy seal families, whose babies rushed out to cavort with us as
we swam together; thousands of unusual plants and cacti, some of
which grow nowhere else on earth; powdery-white beaches where
our footprints were the only ones in the sand; and sweet solitude,
anchored alone in liquid turquoise.
Once you leave the chartering base, there’s no shopping,
bars, or restaurants. We’d been hoping to unplug, connect with
nature, and get back to basics; this was the place to do it.
Getting There: Mexico’s Baja Peninsula runs almost 800 miles
from the California border to Cabo San Lucas. Most charter boats
leave from La Paz and most flights to La Paz from the U.S. connect in
Mexico City or Guadalajara. Alternatively you can fly directly to Cabo
San Lucas from the West
Coast of the U.S. and hire
The Boats: The Moorings
offers power cats, sailing
cats, and sailboats.
Prices for a week charter
aboard a two-cabin
35-foot sailboat in 2010
started at $3,500. You can
order full provisioning,
or order partial provisioning and do the rest of the
stocking up yourself at one
of the large grocery stores
in La Paz (which also
Douglas Bernon finds the fishing
is terrific in the Sea of Cortez.
Into The Great White North
— By Ralph Naranjo, Maryland
TOP PHOTO BERNADETTE BERNON; ALASKA PHOTOS RALPH NARANJO
Ralph Naranjo takes the helm through Alaska’s fjord-like waters.
When my wife Lenore and
I arrived in Seward at the start of
rainy season, fleece jackets, Gortex
foul-weather gear, heavy socks, hats,
gloves, and sea boots were considered essential, so we knew this
would be a charter with a difference.
At Sailing Inc. we were checked in,
given some local knowledge, and
pointed to where Denali Mist, a
well-maintained Catalina 30 MKIII,
awaited our arrival. While the compact cabins, sail system, and reliable diesel engine were all great, it
was the Webasto diesel heater that
became our best friend.
In many ways, a bareboat charter mimics cruising aboard your
own boat. The anticipatory feeling
of getting underway is almost the
same, and so is the elation associated with departure. With provisions onboard, and tanks full, we
were ready to go, except that the VHF weather channel warned us
about 60-knot winds and 25- to 30-foot seas in the Gulf of Alaska.
So we regrouped until the next day. Waiting for weather in Seward
proved to be a great experience as we got to explore the surrounding area. When we awoke to calm seas and a clearing sky the next
morning, we pointed Denali Mist’s bow toward open water.
Resurrection Bay’s fjord-like geology presents a different set
of navigational challenges. Running into a log or a growler (big
chunk of ice) is much more likely than running aground. Glacial
moraine also form sandbar-like shoals well noted on charts. Late
afternoon at this time of year in this part of the world transposes to
about 7:00 p.m. local time, so
you’ll see a few Seward-based
cruisers with the hook down
broiling salmon on stern-rail
barbecues very early in the