Between our last shore leave at Zihuatenejo and Ensenada, Mexico, lay 1,100 miles of dark Pacific water. Ensenada would mark the end of the first phase of the Hawaii trip, but first we would stop in Cabo San Lucas for fuel and to await delivery of the C-Map cartridge whose coverage included the rugged Baja Peninsula.
Our west-northwesterly course took us along the Mexican coast until the lights of Manzanillo glowed in the night sky. Then we steered to Cabo, now 350 miles away in a section where the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez collide.
And collide they do. In the latter part of our 82-hour Cabo passage, Ho’Okele experienced some confused seas, which, for reasons that still escape me, were far worse at night.
We arrived at Cabo at 11:30 p.m. on January 16, without having seen a single other vessel since we left the shore of mainland Mexico two days earlier. Chef Charles and I were feeling tired and more than a little beat up as we picked up a mooring off the beach. Music and laughter from the beachfront bars reminded us that yonder lay one of the greatest party towns on the planet. But that would wait until morning.
Next day we motored into the man-made inner harbor to Marina Cabo San Lucas, which takes up the space that used to be an airstrip. This world-class marina has every service imaginable for the inhabitants of its more than 300 slips, and the price reflects that. Most of the tenants own sportfish boats, either for charter, or as the weekend playthings of wealthy gringos.
Away from the harbor with its bustling sportfishing industry, downtown Cabo San Lucas becomes a concentration of tourist shops, restaurants and girlie bars, employing hundreds of touts urging you to eat here, shop here, drink here, see the naked girls here.
On our first night ashore, we were pulled like so much space debris into the gravitational field of Cabo Wabo, the latest and greatest music venue established by former VanHalen frontman Sammy Haggar. As luck would have it, the rumor was true. Sammy “Red Rocker” Haggar stepped out on stage to perform at his own club, along with his Cabo neighbor, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead.
I’m no fan of that kind of music, but it was a treat to see a professional act at such close quarters; The club is not huge, but there had to be 600 happily inebriated gringos singing along to Haggar’s straight-ahead party rock ’n’ roll. It was a free concert, and we enjoyed it. I even ran into someone who knew someone that I knew from New Hampshire.
Otherwise, we got Cabo’s number pretty fast. I glibly dubbed it the land of “anglers, closers and whores.” The first and third are self-explanatory, but maybe you’ve never had the opportunity to meet a “closer.” The thing about popular foreign destinations is that the more gringos who move in, the more that can move in. I don’t know the exact formula, but lets say that for every 100 independently wealthy condo dwellers, a job is created for an expatriate American.
One ex-pat job is that of closer-the most elite of touts. When you respond to one of those Condo promotions that promises a day of free golf at an expensive course in Cabo, the closer is the person you have to spend a couple hours with before you can pass go. Charles and I met just a creature at one of the local watering holes; he was on his third martini. Imbued with oily charm, he admitted being a fugitive from both his ex-wife and the IRS.
Our Closer said he held most of his clientele in utter contempt, because most of his clientele just pretended to be interested in buying a condo-a deception to get them a free day of golf. I suppose they would fall under the category of whores and were probably predisposed to cheat at golf, as well. In any event, Cabo, land of the burgeoning condo communities, has a place for anyone who knows the art of sealing the deal.
We waited in Cabo for four days because we were expecting a C-Map cartridge. To me, that was two days more than the place was worth as an attraction, and every day we stayed there, we bled money. When we finally called the shipper-a company that I believe rarely delivers on time or as promised-and learned that the parcel was still hundreds of miles away in Guadalajara, we couldn’t wait any longer.
It’s not like we didn’t have charts; we had paper charts. And the forecast for the Pacific Coast of Baja was benign. This was a blessing we couldn’t afford to ignore because, more often than not, northbound vessels such as Ho’Okele must endure the infamous “Baja Bash.” We left on Jan. 21 at 1:30 in the afternoon.
’Til next time.