Checklist for our Southern Crossing

Getting ready to do any overnight passages takes a lot of prep work (even on a day cruise we will follow many of these steps). Today we head out across the Sea of Cortez - called the Southern Crossing - from La Paz, Mexico on the Baja to La Cruz de Huanacaxtl, just north of Puerto Vallarta on the mainland. At our slow and steady 8 knots, the cruise will take us just about 46 hours. If we take off around 1:00 for fuel today (Tuesday, March 26th), we should arrive Thursday (March 28th), late morning into La Cruz. Below are some of the many things we do before heading out on a long cruise.

368 nautical miles from La Paz to La Cruz

Check the weather - This is the most important! About a week prior, we start checking weather predictions, we use a number of different resources (Windy, Predict Wind and Weather Track), compare them and find a few days that look to be promising to leave. As we get closer, and the weather predictors firm up we finally decide on a departure day. But even choosing the day is often done the day before we leave. The saying goes "On a boat, you either pick a time to go or a place to go, but never both at the same time". We've had our fair share of rough seas, we are looking forward to a calm crossing.

For this crossing, the weather and wave prediction is less than 3 foot seas at 12 second intervals and 2-13 knot winds (mostly around 8 knot) - heaven!!

Chart a course - Pat usually does this on the ship's computer, and on the iPad as a back up. It's important that I take a look at all of the waypoints too and bring up any concerns. We talk about any potential obstacles (not much on this cruise, just a set of islands that house a prison).
Today, we'll cruise up and out Bahia de La Paz in and then southeast toward La Cruz through the Sea of Cortez.

Check the hull - in these warm waters, algae and other critters attach to the hull and grow like crazy. It's important to check to see that the prop is clear and to check that the keel cooler (important for keeping the engine cool) isn't covered in gunk. We use a Brownie's Snuba system to dive under the boat. 
Gas powers our Snuba which provides breathable air to a regulator

Engine room check
 - We make sure everything is secure (you don't want things flying around in there) and just take a look at all of the belts, fittings and systems. 

Emergency Gear - Make sure life jackets and ditch bag (bag we would grab in the event of an emergency) are within reach and functioning. In the ditch bag we also put our passports, copies of the ship's papers and cash.

Housekeeping - I like to leave dock with a clean boat. I clean all the bathrooms, vacuum, clean out the fridge do the laundry etc. 

Provision the boat - I still prepare way too much food. I have meals ready to heat up in individual tupperware and snacks ready to grab and eat. I'd rather have too much than not enough, besides, it's nice to arrive and have another day or 2 with meals already prepared.

After one of my many trips to the outdoor market.

This woman sold the best tamales!

Secure everything on the boat - This includes the dinghy, paddleboards, outside chairs and also all of the items inside. We remove all the 'stuff' off of the counters that might slide around and lock all the latches on the cupboards and drawers. While we expect this to be a calm cruise, we also want to be prepared.

Get fishing licenses - In Mexico, if you have ANY fishing gear aboard, every person on the boat needs to have a fishing license.  This used to be a complicated process of banks, notaries, officials etc. Fortunately, it is all online now. So for $43 a person, we have 4 fishing licenses that will be good for one year. Maybe we'll catch a few dorado on our way across! (The government site to get those is: )

Part of Jack's license

The day before, Jack and I take Stugeron, seasick meds, and we'll take them again before we leave. Again, I don't expect to see waves that would cause me to get seasick, just being cautious. I charge all of the camera and drone batteries so I'm ready when the whales start breeching :) I also download all of the audiobooks I want to listen to while cruising - these work great to keep me awake during my night shifts. This cruise, for me, I think it will be Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens) and Becoming (Michelle Obama). For Jack it is the classic, Lord of the Flies (William Golding).

The Day of the crossing: 

  • Check weather (again)
  • Fill the water tanks (don't forget to grab the hose when finished!)
  • Take out all of the trash
  • Secure all portholes and windows
  • Make sandwiches, cut fresh fruit and veggies
  • Return marina key cards
  • Remove window shades - wash the pilot house windows
  • Check fuel, oils and coolant - for this cruise, we'll be stopping at the marina fuel dock to take on some fuel.
  • Notify family and friends of intended cruise and arrival time
  • Unplug from power
  • Cast off the lines
  • Cross the Sea of Cortez!



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