Velocity Made Good

After a long stay in San Diego, we sailed ~800 miles to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with the Baja Ha-ha fleet. The journey began with a parade of 130 boats through the harbor, roll call on the radio, and a submarine sighting. After the exhilaration of being underway settled, we shifted into the cadence of four hour watches. The autopilot, recently named Arnold Palmer, does most of the driving and one of us is awake always to look out for other vessels, wind shifts, and other reasons to alter course. Ocean sailing has a delightful way of clarifying priorities into safe arrival, sleep, snacks, and soaking in the surroundings.

In sailing, it’s rare to steer directly at your destination, considering tides and currents, wind direction, and various obstacles. Velocity made good (VMG) is not about speed alone, but rather “good progress” towards your destination (or alternatively, towards the wind). The prevailing wind often slides down the Baja peninsula and allowed us to navigate nearly in a straight line dead downwind to our destination. For the linguistically and nautically minded, this course is called the rhumb line or the loxodrome.

We started a ships log and delighted in recording air and water temps rise, latitude fall and longitude inch us into a new time zone. The hours slipped by with sail changes, books, tasty meals, coffee, Stan Rogers, and lots of intermittent naps.

We wondered what traveling in a herd of boats would feel like after going it alone for quite a while, and were delighted to slide into the schedule and company of other participants. Each morning started with a radio net calling for health or mechanical concerns, an overview of any happenings onshore (celestial navigation seminar! sail repair! party on the playa!), and run through of all participants to confirm attendance. There was something simple and nice about replying “Azimuth!” to the call “Azimuth” – to have someone close by check for our presence and affirm that all was indeed well.

We’re catching up on the Internet from a restaurant on the beach in Evaristo, a small fishing village in the Sea of Cortez. Today’s itinerary includes stopping by a shop in search of produce, snorkeling, and figuring out the next destination.

Published by Ash

Knitter, sailor, and sewist on the move from San Francisco to the Chesapeake Bay aboard a 36' sailboat named Azimuth.

3 thoughts on “Velocity Made Good

  1. Love the correlation between VMG and pursuing a goal – plenty of twists, turns and redirection to refine your course. Thanks for sharing a piece of your adventure! Mom


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