An Altere Adventure

Vessel Name: Altere
Vessel Make/Model: Wauquiez Pretorien 35
Hailing Port: Tacoma, Washington
Recent Blog Posts
20 January 2018

19 January 2018 Last Full Day Out Before Landfall

So we had the sails up all night long, not going very fast but using the free energy of the wind and conserving fuel. At this point we will not make it to Cabo San Lucas before dark so traveling slowly is fine. We would like to arrive after first light to be able to see the entrance to the harbor clearly [...]

20 January 2018

18 January 2018: A Lazy Day Gets Exciting

We motored on through the night and by morning the sea was smooth save for the long ocean swells passing beneath us. A solitary porpoise came to look at us as the sun threatened to breach the horizon. A bit of breeze came up from behind causing me to unfurl the jib once more, but it was yet another [...]

20 January 2018

Lazy Day Motoring and Motorsailing

After John and I sorted out sailing gear, we began slowly motorsailing south. We had some push from the wind during the night, but not enough to keep us moving at the pace we were trying to set for ourselves. We are trying to average about 4 and a half knots to get to Cabo in time for Andrew to have [...]

20 January 2018

Enroute from Bahia de Tortugas: 16 January 2018

We sailed slowly during the night until the wind went down to nearly nothing about 13 miles from our destination. We motored quietly on at low rpms trying to time our arrival for first light. As the sun rose, the entrance became clear and we began to head in.

20 January 2018

Whales in the Water: 15 January 2018

We headed south from Three Point Bank enroute to Bahia de Tortugas about halfway down the Baja Peninsula. A capitalist by the name of Enrique there sells diesel fuel to boats heading north or south. With very little wind, we have had to run the engine more than we would have wished. There are rumors [...]

20 January 2018

13-14 January 2018: Ensenada to Three Point Bank

As I write, this we are about 30 miles off the coast of Baja California and about 36 hours out of Ensenada. After a lunch of tortillas filled with a mixture of avacados, smoked marlin, and sour cream we decided to siphon one of our 5 gallon jerry jugs of diesel into the main tank. As we were doing so [...]

19 January 2018 Last Full Day Out Before Landfall

20 January 2018
So we had the sails up all night long, not going very fast but using the free energy of the wind and conserving fuel. At this point we will not make it to Cabo San Lucas before dark so traveling slowly is fine. We would like to arrive after first light to be able to see the entrance to the harbor clearly as well as have a good view of The Arches, towering rocks off the cape.

There is not only concern regarding diesel consumption. John and Andrew like their beer. A great deal of concern has been expressed about the dwindling beer supply with much tongue and cheek blaming each other for the problem. Consequently, quite a celebration erupted when Andrew accidently discovered my hidden stash of microbrews in the bilge. In order to keep my crew happy and prevent mutiny, I can only hope that we make it to port before the supplies run out.

One very noticeable change, especially after we rounded Cabo San Lazaro is the difference in the temperatures. The sea temperature is in the high 70's and the air has a much warmer feel to it. Making a sail change in the afternoon, with my shirt off, I worked up quite a sweat. Another change is that I have been sleeping in my "captain's cabin", a quarter berth with a door next to the engine compartment. That spot was great on the cold Oregon coast, but here I cook in the afternoon. I have to keep reminding myself that this is January. I wonder what the weather is like at home?

We motored slowly for a while and in the afternoon began running downwind with the jib poled out. We were moving about 4 knots towards our destination. Then the wind picked up and backed and we had lovely sail until after dinner when the wind died off. We eventually cranked up the "iron genoa" and began motoring slowly toward Cabo San Lucas.

18 January 2018: A Lazy Day Gets Exciting

20 January 2018
We motored on through the night and by morning the sea was smooth save for the long ocean swells passing beneath us. A solitary porpoise came to look at us as the sun threatened to breach the horizon. A bit of breeze came up from behind causing me to unfurl the jib once more, but it was yet another tease.

We motored slowly, attempting to conserve fuel. We were passed several times by whales. At one point we saw seals feeding with scavenger birds following along to pick up any of their scraps.

A lazy lunch of quesadillas topped by avocado and tomato in the cockpit was a delight.

Eventually, in the afternoon, the wind started to pick up from the starboard quarter. I had been wanting to try out the spinnaker so we began to sort through the boat looking for sheets, blocks, and the actual spinnaker which I had hidden away under my bunk. We got it up and drawing nicely and our speed increased. We sailed with it until just after the sun went below the horizon. My crew swore that they saw the green flash, but failed to get it on video. I missed it, because someone had to sail the boat....

We took the spinnaker down as the wind appeared to be freshening. We were also starting to be concerned about two cruise ships that were heading our way. Although they were still over 30 miles out, the AIS was telling us that they would pass very close to us. We were moving south at 4-5 knots and they were coming north at 20, so we were closing relatively quickly. They are big and we are small. At 4-5 knots we have trouble getting out of their way. Thankfully the instruments, AIS and radar allowed us to track them well ahead. We headed up significantly and they passed to port and behind. They seemed out of place here miles off the Mexican coast where everything was dark and quiet. Then they arrive looking as if someone had transplanted a large, very brightly lit, urban hotel into the ocean. One could not discern their navigation lights from all of the other lights on these ships.

We sailed on in lighter breezes, Wally in control.

Lazy Day Motoring and Motorsailing

20 January 2018
After John and I sorted out sailing gear, we began slowly motorsailing south. We had some push from the wind during the night, but not enough to keep us moving at the pace we were trying to set for ourselves. We are trying to average about 4 and a half knots to get to Cabo in time for Andrew to have a few beers and margaritas before his plane leaves.

It was very quiet during my midnight to 2 am watch after we got the foredeck sorted out. I have been using some of that time to listen to Pimsleur Spanish lessons. It is perfect because everyone else on the boat is asleep and I can talk back to my iPhone to my heart's content. I have also started spending a little time with my book Spanish for Cruisers. It has vocabulary for things like "Port" (babor) and "Starboard" (estribor) and many other useful words for docking and marine services. I still have a tremendous learning curve ahead of me. Anyway, nighttime is a great time to listen to books and Spanish lessons.

When the sun rose, there was almost no wind. What little there was came from behind at roughly the same speed as the boat or a bit faster, meaning that the jib would fill and collapse. We rolled it up part way to keep it from chafing on the shrouds and centered the mainsail, using it for stability rather than to push the boat.

The day went on like this, the three of us lounging around the cockpit discussing various topics. We were somewhat glad to be in a sort of news blackout. Andrew and I both admit to being news junkies, and it is nice to be going "cold turkey" from it.

We ate some of our tuna for lunch, John cooking it this time with butter, garlic, and pepper. We stuffed tortillas with it along with avocado and tomato. Delicious! We made a buffet in the cockpit and sat in the sun sipping beer and eating this delightful meal.

We had a long lazy afternoon. The only real work that got done was to transfer some diesel fuel from a jerry jug to the main tank. I have a siphon system that I am getting better at using. Each time I end up getting less diesel in my mouth and cleaning up less at the end. After much experimentation, I have found a technique that works well.

Our evening guest chef was Andrew. He combined a masala simmer sauce with apples, fresh tuna, and garlic on a bed of brown rice with a Mexican cheese on top. Outstanding fusion food!

We motored on through the night and by morning the sea was smooth save for the long ocean swells passing beneath us. A solitary porpoise came to look at us as the sun threatened to breach the horizon. A bit of breeze came up from behind causing me to unfurl the jib once more, but it was yet another tease.

Enroute from Bahia de Tortugas: 16 January 2018

20 January 2018
We sailed slowly during the night until the wind went down to nearly nothing about 13 miles from our destination. We motored quietly on at low rpms trying to time our arrival for first light. As the sun rose, the entrance became clear and we began to head in.

Putting fishing gear away in the early dawn I managed to run into a net in the water. We had already seen several of these with small buoys low in the water. The boat slowed to about 1 knot until, thankfully, this one popped right off.

The bay had a fairly wide entrance and we probably would have been okay, but charts in Mexico are not always accurate. One cannot always trust that we actually are where the iPad or chartplotter says we are. So being able to see the entrance was important.

We anchored, and pretty soon a panga came out and a man offered to sell us fuel. He took our order and then went in to add some to his tank. He returned a while later. There was no gauge on his pump so we have no idea how much we were putting in. All in all, with tips and everything, we paid slightly over $10 US per gallon for diesel. Expensive, but we have peace of mind that we will likely get to Cabo San Lucas without worry. However, that would depend completely on wind.

As if on cue, the wind did pick up to about 16-18 knots from the north. And within two hours of leaving, we had both reefs in the main and still doing almost 6 knots through the water. We ended up carrying on like that until late in the evening making good speed and flying through the water.

The uptick in speed had another benefit. Fish became interested in our lures just when I had begun to despair that our little handline system was not going to work. First, as we left Bahia de Tortugas, several small Bonitos asked if they could become sashimi. We rejected them on the basis of size although the first might have made a couple of small fillets. Then further on, a slightly larger Bonito decided he liked the look of our lure. We had no sooner gotten him cleaned and filleted then a Big Eye Tuna volunteered to be our dinner. He was about 14 to 16 pounds at least and yielded a fair amount of meat.

I have never claimed to be a fisherman and I never claimed to be smart either. Andrew discovered why I should probably leave fishing to professionals. I had left the little protective plastic sleeve on the hook of one of the lures we were using.

For dinner, I made some basmati rice as a bed for thin slices of quickly pan seared tuna that I dredged though a sauce of lime juice, Tapatia, and soy sauce. The tuna was tasty and tender. Everyone aboard was disappointed that we failed to bring along some wasabi.

We made about 65 miles before the wind slackened and went east on us. As I came on watch, John and I fired up the engine and put away the spinnaker pole that we had on the jib and shook one of the reefs out of the mainsail. We began motorsailing, still making about 5 knots.

Whales in the Water: 15 January 2018

20 January 2018
We headed south from Three Point Bank enroute to Bahia de Tortugas about halfway down the Baja Peninsula. A capitalist by the name of Enrique there sells diesel fuel to boats heading north or south. With very little wind, we have had to run the engine more than we would have wished. There are rumors of price gouging there. We shall see.

We had an extraordinarily clear and magical night. We could see many stars. When I came on watch porpoises were checking out the boat. Without really trying, I saw six shooting stars during my midnight to 2 watch. It was a good omen that portended an amazing day.

Looking at the chart we decided to pass over Banco Ranger, another seamount. It was not far out of our way and was noted as a good fishing spot. After a breakfasting on hot cereal with fresh mango the sun rose and we had what felt like our first really tropical day. We all shed a layer or two and sat around on deck conversing.

Mid morning, as we approached the bank, we could see whales breaching and blowing ahead. They looked like humpbacks and possibly two adults and a baby. We changed course slightly to come closer. John asked if I minded if he went into the water if we got close enough. We got within a couple of hundred yards and shut off the engine. By this time we had seen several spectacular breaches with one of the adults coming about two thirds out of the water and then making a big splash.

The whales, which we had now clearly identified as humpbacks, seemed to disappear. John got into the water and Andrew and I both remarked about the "white whale". After a period of about two minutes and very suddenly, the big one breached out of the water about 60 yards from the boat. We were astounded. Luckily Andrew caught part of the breach on video and a screen shot of the whale out of the water accompanies this blog. After this, the whales disappeared.

Did I mention that we eat well on this voyage? At some risk to himself, Andrew fried up some guajillo chiles while shirtless and made an incredible presentation of lunch. Each plate started with a thin layer of egg omelet, then tortillas with chipotle salsa, and then the chiles, which had been opened up and stuffed with a wonderful Mexican cheese we found in Ensenada. Dinner was polenta topped with marinara and prawns with a bit of parmesan.

A bit later we crossed over Ranger Bank. Once again, the fish were not cooperating. We have been dragging those handlines since Ensenada and figure that eventually something might hit one of our lures.

Just past the bank, we saw activity on the water that looked like fish. As we got closer, we found ourselves in a large school of porpoises. Standing on the bow, the water was exceptionally clear, and I could see about 15 of them at once under the boat. They seemed to come over and check out the boat, and then as if by signal, that whole group turned and headed back to join their friends.

Fog started to pour over the top of Los Benitos, a small group of islands to starboard and west of Isla Cedros, to port. With that the wind came up a bit and we were able to sail on starboard tack, just making Cabo San Augustin, the western tip of Cedros. The wind eventually backed and we were sailing downwind in about 8-10 knots of true wind making about four and a half knots through the water. We began to talk about timing our approach to Bahia de Tortugas so that we would arrive in the daylight hours to enter a strange harbor. At around 2200 we jibed over and headed directly for Turtle Bay.

13-14 January 2018: Ensenada to Three Point Bank

20 January 2018
As I write, this we are about 30 miles off the coast of Baja California and about 36 hours out of Ensenada. After a lunch of tortillas filled with a mixture of avacados, smoked marlin, and sour cream we decided to siphon one of our 5 gallon jerry jugs of diesel into the main tank. As we were doing so the wind picked up off the starboard beam and we were able to sail slowly for a couple of hours. We did have to first clean a giant piece of kelp off the rudder. The wind died again.

When we left Ensenada, we were encouraged by the opportunity to sail for about an hour and a half out of the bay around Cabo Punta Banda. The wind died and we had the motor on most all of the rest of yesterday, last night and this morning. We left the mainsail up and occasionally we unrolled the jib to motorsail. This allows us to dial back the throttle and conserve fuel.

Last evening, after my watch, I cooked up a one pot meal of panang curry with fresh tuna, sweet potato, onion and pineapple. That really hit the spot out here on the water. It seemed to make the crew happy as well. We found the tuna at the collective pescaderia in Ensenada along with the smoked marlin.

During the night we were socked in by fog. At times we were down to zero visibility, the running lights diffusing in the mist around the boat. On watch, we sat at the chart table watching the AIS and radar displays for ships nearby. At one point we ran between two large ships that we never even saw. They each passed about 4 miles from us.

Once the fog lifted, the day was beautiful. We continue to motorsail whenever possible to conserve fuel. We headed for Three Point Bank. This is a seamount that rises from depths of around 2000 to 3000 feet up to 150 in spots. Our hope was that as we dragged our handlines behind the boat a yellowtail tuna would volunteer to be our food for the next several days. Apparently, the fish had other plans so we kept going. However, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset complete with green flash.
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