One of the fun things we planned to do on this trip was experiment with KAP - Kite Aerial Photography. John bought a kite in San Diego and I bought a waterproof digital camera for the purpose. Earlier today I made a harness to hold the camera out of two pencils, some wire ties and tape. This rig was tied to the kite string and we flew the kite off the stern quarter.
The result is pretty cool, the camera jumps up and down and sways quite a bit but you can see what our sailboat looks like from about 150 feet up. When we get to some place with high speed internet I'll upload the video to Youtube and post it on this blog.
We left Turtle Bay this morning at 8:30 a.m., and headed offshore where we found 15 to 20 knots of wind coming from the north west. This has made for a pleasant sailing day thus far. We are now sailing wing-and-wing and making 8 knots.
One of the sailboats in the fleet lost its steering. They have a cable quadrant, and the last i heard they were setting up the emergency tiller and heading for a bay along the way where they can anchor for the night and try to make repairs. I heard that about three other Ha-ha boats were accompanying them. That's an example of how members of the Ha-ha fleet help each other out.
A few hours ago we heard something snap, and looking up from the cockpit the radar on its backstay mount ahd rotated 180 degrees. The bolt that prevents its rotation had snapped - again. Having repaired it already once before, we all knew what to do. We attached the topping lift around the backstay and used it to support the weight of the radar dome. Francois used the topping lift winch to raise or lower the assembly to just the right level. John used two Vise grips to rotate the assembly back into the proper position, while I leaned over the swim step and inserted a new bolt. Since this is the second time it broke, it's obvious that the 1/4 inch bolt is not up to the task. I'll have to re-engineer that assembly so that it's much stronger when we get to a marina somewhere.
In order to reduce the strain on the radar dome mount, we ran a line from one stern cleat, up and around the radar dome, and back down, so that the dome doesn't swing back and forth. That should reduce the strain on that bold considerably.
Having arrived in Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay), Pascale, the boys, and John took the dinghy to the beach, while I stayed on board to check things out on the boat.
As we arrived the previous night, when we prepared to anchor, I put the engine into neutral. At that time the oil pressure alarm came on intermittently. So this morning I checked out the engine. I found that the oil level was very low. This engine doesn't leak oil, so it must be burning some. I purchased oil in town, and did an oil and filter change. I must carefully monitor the crankcase oil level from now on.
I also installed a new fuel gauge (which I purchased in San Diego). The fuel gauge we had was reading backwards; Full read Empty and vice versa. The new gauge solved this problem.
After lunch, we took the dinghy into the village of Turtle Bay to buy groceries. This is the quintessential third world village. The streets are crooked, unpaved dirt roads. Everything is dusty. The tienda, which we jokingly refer to as the Wal-Mart, has the basic staples in canned and dried goods, milk, beer, a few vegetables. And then there is the meat counter. You don't want to go there. I bought some polish sausages; those are more likely to be sanitary since they're factory shrink-wrapped. I wouldn't touch the beef they sell here for anything. It looks old and gnarly.
We refueled our diesel tank today. This was an interesting process. Turtle bay is getting modernized. In the past we had to tie up to a rickety pier and pass our cash to the operator via a bucket tied to a rope. Now a panga loaded with a huge fuel tank comes up to your boat and fills you up right at your boat. The cost of diesel fuel is a mere $2.50 US per gallon.
Recall yesterday, I reported that the pennant that holds the tack of the jib down was showing serious signs of chafe. Despite our rigger's assurances to the contrary, the pennant was touching the deck opening that the furler passes through when under sail. (Our furler is below decks). I solved this problem by bringing out the ZIP router (a high speed tool somewhat like a Dremel and a router). I used the ZIP tool to cut away the gel coat and fiberglass opening, enlarging it by about half an inch all around. That should solve the chafe problem once and for all. If I hadn't done this, I don't think the jib tack would have lasted until we got to Cabo.
10/29/2008, Pacific Ocean
This is our second night passage on the way to Turtle Bay. John is at the helm; I'm about to start a shift at 2 a.m. If we maintain our present speed we will arrive at 9 a.m.
The total length of this leg is 390 nautical miles. Winds are light, 8 knots coming from behind gives us a very low apparent wind speed so we are motorsailing.
We had a very nice afternoon under sail yesterday. The air and sea temperatures are noticeably getting warmer.
We fixed the radar mount yesterday. John held the assembly at the right angle with Vise Grips and Francois adjusted the height of the assembly using the topping lift, while I extracted the broken bolt and replaced it with a new one.
We had a problem with the furling line yesterday. The interior core of the line inexplicably bulged out of the line like a big hernia. This made it impossible to pass the line through a fairlead and impossible to furl the sail. Thank goodness this didn't happen to us in a blow! I removed the furling line and replaced it with a thinner line. Ironically this thinner line is the original line that Harken supplied with the new roller furler.
I also discovered an imminent problem at the furler. The tack of the jib is fastened to the furler with a short pennant made of something like Vectran. This pennant is suffering from chafe and won't last much longer. While we're in Turtle Bay I'll have to improvise something better. A steel cable pennant would be the way to go here. Maybe someone in the Haha fleet has steel cable and crimps that I can use.
I need to add steel cable and crimps to my list of required spares to carry.
John flies a kite, in preparation for our Aerial Kite Photography (AKP) experiments.
We finally arrived at Bahia de Los Tortugas (Turtle Bay) at 8:30 PM. It was the longest leg of the Baja Haha, two nights and a day, about 400 nautical miles, or about half way down the Baja California peninsula.
Overall, the winds were generally light, though we had a few thunderstorms and squalls.
We caught one fish, a small tuna, which we're having for dinner tonight.
As we approached the anchorage, it looked like a city, with all the anchor lights. There were at least 50 other boats already anchored that arrived ahead of us.
We're looking forward to going ashore tomorrow with our dinghy and visiting the tiny town.
The photo attached is of the sunset sky as we approached Turtle Bay.
10/29/2008, Pacific Ocean
First of all I misstated our ETA at Turtle Bay in our last post... It looks to be about 9 PM today, not 9 AM.
Last night's sail was pleasant. There was light wind, but enough to keep the sails full. I was up from 1 a.m. until 8:30 a.m., and never saw the moon once. The stars were brilliant at night. The sunrise was a glory to behold.
It is now 1 PM. Winds are now extremely light, about 4 knots. The good news is we have flat seas. The bad news is we have to motor.
It is quite warm out, and we're all in our shorts or bathing suits. Several boats in the fleet have caught tuna. We put our hook out earlier today.
10/28/2008, south of Ensenada
Quite a bit has happened in the last few days. The new autopilot and new E80 chartplotter are installed and both work great. Prior to leaving San Diego, I tried to get the reluctant aft head working, and in the process removed the hose for overboard discharge. It turned out that the through hull for that hose doesn't close (you can turn the handle all right, but the valve does not shut off water flow).
So Monday morning at 8 a.m., I had the boat hauled out of the water at a yard in San Diego and had the valve replaced. We had the boat back in the water around 11:30 a.m., just in time to catch up with the Haha fleet that departed at 11:00.
We crossed the border into Mexico some time this afternoon and had a shot of tequila to celebrate. The winds were 15 to 20 knots on a broad reach, so we made good time, sailing at about 7 knots.
Towards the end of the afternoon I noticed something was wrong with the radar dome support. The dome was turned at a funny angle. The radar antenna is supported by a stainless steel tube that is bolted to a bracket at the stern and clamped to the backstay further up. The bolt where it is bolted at the stern had partially broken, allowing rotation of the entire radar antenna assembly along the axis of the backstay.
We attached the topping lift to the radar antenna to support its weight and minimize the strain on what is left of that quarter inch bolt. Also if that bolt separated completely, the stainless tube, with the radar cable in it, might damage the radar cable. We're hoping that won't happen before we get to Turtle Bay and can make repairs.
Speaking of which, the sail from San Diego to Turtle Bay is about 340 nautical miles. It's now 4 a.m. and we have another 215 nm to go. I'm doing the 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. shift, but I'm not too tired so I think I'll keep the watch for a few more hours. The night is clear and moonless and I can see the lights, and radar blips, of several Haha boats within a few miles of us. I'm keeping a constant watch for other boats. The AIS does a great job of watching out for ships. I would recommend AIS for anyone planning to do offshore sailing.