Nicola here, commandeering the luxury yacht Wenchly Winds to escape the frost and snow of the UK at New Year and sail in far warmer waters. On board Wenchly Winds I would like to re-create a trip of a lifetime and invite you to join me.
This time last year I was preparing for a wonderful holiday, a whale watching cruise in the Sea of Cortez followed by ten days in the US exploring the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. We flew out to Los Angeles in February and took the train to San Diego. This in itself was a treat for me as I had never been on a "double-decker" train before and really enjoyed the view from the top deck! I loved San Diego and we spent a wonderful day down by the harbour. My dh was thrilled by the USS Midway Museum and I have to admit that I enjoyed it more than I had expected! But the treat for me was exploring the Star of India, the world's oldest active sailing ship. What a beauty she is!
Later that day it was time to board our very own, somewhat smaller vessel, Searcher, and set out on our own adventure so in my dreams, this is where I board Wenchly Winds and set a course south down the coast of Baja California. The next morning we make our first stop, dropping anchor in the bay off Islas San Benito. We go ashore and walk to the old lighthouse. The island is very arid and we have to imagine the lush tropical vegetation that springs to life after the rains. There are seals sunbathing on the rocks and seal pups playing in the surf.
In the Laguna San Ignacio we moor amongst the grey whales and go out in little boats to sail amongst them. In the old days of whaling the greys were very hostile to man (and who can blame them!) and were known to break a small boat in two with a single smack of their tail. These days they must be able to sense the awe and wonder with which we approach them because they are extremely friendlly, approaching the little boats so that we can touch them and even bringing their babies over to "meet" us. This is the most moving part of the entire trip – touching a baby whale is an extraordinary experience and sailing amongst them whilst they play beside us, diving under the boats and sticking their heads out of the water to peek at us – spy-hopping, as it is called - is so much fun. We are reluctant to leave the lagoon but there are other whales to see, blues whales and humpbacks. On one memorable and very stormy day off Los Cabos we see four humpback males vying for the attention of a single female, leaping out of the water, breaching, jumping higher and higher in an effort to impress her!
We also sail amongst the uninhabited islands of the Sea of Cortez, to Isla Saint Jose with its red sandstone cliffs and Isla Santa Catherina where we see the famous wavy barrel cactus and other stunning desert plants. It is blissfully warm and sunny every day and I take a book and curl up on deck to read up on the rich history of Baja California…
This year we are planning a winter trip to… The New Forest in the South of England. I'm sure it will be beautiful with lots of history and wildlife to explore. But for now I will sit here and imagine that I am sailing in Wenchly Winds on the Sea of Cortez with the sun pouring down and the cool sea breezes and the dolphins swimming ahead of the yacht and calling to each other as they go.
If you could choose to be anywhere in the world now, with friends or family, or visiting places you have always wanted to see, where would you go?