The voyages and travels of the sailing vessel "Hilbre"

02 June 2016
13 May 2016
07 May 2016 | San Pedro
28 March 2016
02 June 2014 | San Pedro, Los Angeles
19 May 2014 | San Pedro, California
15 May 2014 | Ensenada
06 May 2014 | Turtle Bay
05 May 2014 | Turtle Bay
29 April 2014 | Cabo San Lucas
24 April 2014 | IN Mazatlan
15 April 2014 | Mazatlan
13 April 2014 | San Blas
11 April 2014 | San Blas
26 March 2014 | La Cruz Marina
25 March 2014 | Barra de Navidad
15 March 2014 | San Patricio (Melaque)
09 March 2014 | Guanajuato
06 March 2014 | Guadalajara

Heading North

02 June 2016
Friday, May 27 2016:
Finally, the weather improved and we headed out crossing Santa Monica Bay in light wind. During the afternoon in the Santa Cruz channel, we had both a strong current and a tidal flow which had us battering into confused seas. These calmed down overnight as we headed towards Point Conception.

Saturday May 28 2016:
We cleared Point Conception mid-morning on Saturday and continued up the coast. We all were still getting our sea legs and I was a lot more tired than usual and not feeling well.
On Saturday evening we had our first significant issue which was an air lock in the diesel fuel line. This was cleared by purging the fuel lines and we believed the cause was a faulty electrical pump which was by-passed.

Sunday May 29 2016:
We then continued north overnight and I came on watch at 12:30 a.m. I continued to feel unwell and not my usual self. I had been taking stock of my health and was unsure what was going on. Maybe we were all a bit slow getting our sea legs after the battering in the Santa Cruz Channel.

The skipper was very tired and so during my watch, I planned to let him sleep as long as he needed, ready to take his watch until he woke up naturally. About 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning, we lost power again with yet another air lock in the fuel line. This took a longer to clear and once cleared we continued north. While I was asleep following my watch, a decision was made to turn around and head to Morrow Bay.

The downwind run was easy sailing while we considered what caused the second fuel problem. The fuel filter housing was suspected, as it was not filled to the top by fuel. Upon stopping the engine, to top off the filter, we were unable to restart the engine.

After a number of attempts at solving the issue, we eventually called for a tow into Morrow Bay arriving there late Sunday Afternoon. We tied up to the yacht club dock there with a wonderful view of the Morrow Rock which is a volcanic plug, sticking up over 600 feet out of the surrounding shoreline.

Monday, 30 May 2016:
Nothing could be done on Memorial Day, other than replace the solenoid on the starter motor which looked like a possible culprit. This was replaced but without success.

Tuesday 31 May 2016:
A trip south to a shop that rebuilds and sells starter motors produced a new starter. This was installed and the engine finally came to life. In the meantime, I had arranged for Anita to drive to Morrow Bay and pick me up. We would also need the transportation if we still needed to find a replacement starter.

Wednesday 01 Jun 2016:
Anita arrived late Wednesday morning and we used the car to ferry fuel to the boat and top off the tanks. The fuel dock in Morrow Bay was not conducive to going alongside due to the tall pilings without fender boards, which we did not have. The boat was then prepared for an early Thursday departure. Meanwhile, I moved ashore late Wednesday so the crew could get an early start on the sail south to Smugglers Cove.

They eventually skipped Smugglers Cove as the auto-pilot now had issues. They endured a boisterous rounding of Point Conception and instead went to Channel Islands Harbor. From there they decided to head back to Long Beach ending a somewhat frustrating trip that seemed not destined to be, at least not this year.

Meanwhile and still recovering, Anita and I left Morrow Bay late on Thursday.

Still waiting on the weather

21 May 2016
The change to the weather in early May created unsettled conditions, especially off Point Conception. Here the head winds continue to blow at 20-35 knots depending upon the time of day. We continue to wait for a reasonable weather window in this area.

On a weather hold

13 May 2016
The weather decided to take a turn for the worse and is now blocking our departure. While a small window exists that would get us some distance on Tuesday & Wednesday, it looks like it would shut us off from getting further north than Morrow Bay. As we have no fixed schedule, we have decided to wait the weather out and not leave San Pedro. Our departure now looks to be sometime around May 19/20. Stay tuned.

Ready to go

07 May 2016 | San Pedro
Weather permitting, we depart for Anacortes, WA and then Alaska via the inside passage on May 16th. This time I am crewing a friends boat, a very well equipped and maintained Endeavor 40. We expect a 3-5 week boisterous cruise up the coast of California, Oregon and Washington before arriving in Anacortes. There, we will re-provision and take a short break before pushing on through the inside passage to British Columbia and Alaska via the San Juan Islands.

Alaska here we come

28 March 2016
Stay tuned for a mid May departure from Los Angeles for Anacortes, WA and then the inside passage through British Columbia and Alaska.

The Bash

02 June 2014 | San Pedro, Los Angeles
The Bash:

There are many individuals who are willing to offer advice on doing the Bash but have never done it. Of the people who I talked to who have done it, the best advice was seek out good weather windows, be patient, do not have a schedule and go as far north as you can as fast as you can. Books on doing the bash have lots of advice but in all honesty, it is all up to weather windows and good news does not sell books. Lots of people have done the Bash, you only hear about the horror stories. It is a miserable and often uncomfortable point of sail, but it is possible to complete it without having any major events.

Indeed, we were careful to ensure that the boat and the engine were up to the task. If in any doubt don't do it, getting major parts or doing major repairs can become a big and expensive problem. Having extra crew, and there were three of us, was helpful to keep watches short. We did three hour watches and having three crew was a good balance for a 36 foot boat.

We had many spare parts on board as well as extra fuel and oil filters. We changed engine oil in Cabo, Turtle Bay and Ensenada. All fuel filters were replaced in Cabo and all fuel taken on board was put through a West Marine (Baja) type filter before going into the tank. We also changed the transmission fluid. It was not clear how much fuel we would need to get us to Turtle Bay or from Turtle Bay to Ensenada so we acquired two 'Mexican' Panga style jugs each holding about 11 Gallons of Diesel for about 60 Pesos each in Puerto Vallarta. We already had 6 five gallon containers and while our fuel tank holds 25 gallons, we only used 20 for estimating purposes. The total fuel we carried for each leg was 70 gallons. This was all based upon our estimated burn rate and our speed over ground estimate that allowed for up to three knots plus headwinds. We refueled in Turtle Bay but not in Ensenada and ended the trip in LA with a full tank and five gallons to spare. We had plenty of engine oil on board should we blow a seal or have other engine issues.

The plan called for preparing four pre-cooked main meals that would just need re-heating so that galley time was minimized. We had plenty of snack foods available for whoever was on watch.

We did not have a SSB radio but we did have a Telcel BandaAncha Internet modem which may have worked for getting GRIB weather files in Mag Bay. However, we were too far away from the antenna so although we got a connection, it would drop after a while. It did work in Turtle Bay from the anchorage and also as we passed Cedros Village. While it was slow, we did get the weather information we needed. Otherwise, you have to rely on other cruisers for weather reports or use an internet cafe in Turtle Bay.

We started out from Cabo with a good three day and possibly four day weather window. We cruise at about 5.5 Knots and as recommended we hugged the coast about 2-3 miles off until south of Mag Bay. There was no noticeable south current this close in and we only noticed the current when off Mag Bay which was running at about 1.5 knots. We did encounter sea mist and winds of 15-20 knots on the nose for a few hours at nightfall.

Continuing north with good weather, we closed with land about 30 miles south of Turtle Bay having taken a direct route from Bahia Santa Maria to Bahia Asuncion. After coasting north about 4-5 miles offshore, we finally arrived off Turtle Bay in a morning mist that cleared as we entered the bay and dropped anchor.

The first GRIB download was disappointing as it looked like the next weather window would be five days away. In the end we were anchored in Turtle Bay for a full week along with some other cruising sailboats, one with a leaking oil seal and one with a broken Transmission. During that time a few other sailboats with delivery Captains came and went, usually just spending one night for rest and refueling. One of these boats did return one day as they found the going to be too stiff. The rest of us waited out the weather. The week passed quickly enough with trips ashore for supplies and to stretch our legs. The main concern was fresh water however, we carry 72 Gallons in three tanks along with about 21 gallons of purified drinking water. With careful conservation we still had 25 gallons of fresh water and 5 gallons of purified drinking water when we arrived in Los Angeles.

We finally got another good weather window of four or five days and anxious to get out of Turtle Bay, we gritted our teeth and set out after a week of heavy wind and seas had stirred everything up. We knew we would have a rollicking first day until the seas settled down. Indeed, we had long swells but favorable wind in the 10-15 knot range for motor sailing all of the way to Cedros Island.

Our route took us through the channel between Punta Eugenia and Isla Natividad. We did benefit for the time we were in the lee of Natividad but strong beam seas and wind hit us after that as we continued the crossing to the lee of Cedros Island.

Coasting north we did encounter winds of up to 30 Knots blowing down the steep Arroyos just south of the north anchorage in Cedros. Two other boats that had tried to continue crossing Vizcaino Bay turned back and anchored with us overnight. The north anchorage of Cedros is an open roadstead with a few small beaches inhabited by Sea Lion colonies. We anchored on the shelf in about 25 feet of water about 200 yards off one of the beaches. The bottom is gravel and rock and if I anchor there in the future, I will use a trip line on the anchor.

Our final three days from Cedros crossing Vizcaino Bay found us in long swells, up to 18 knots of wind and a strong 2 knot current. We closed with land just south of the Sacramento Reef. From there, we stayed about 3 miles off shore and inside of the continental shelf. We had been told that north of San Quintin the weather is often benign and it was. The final leg from Ensenada to San Pedro was uneventful and our clearance into the US was handled efficiently at the slip in the Cabrillo Marina in San Pedro.

Would I do it again? Probably, but not any time soon. It is a long, somewhat uncomfortable trip where you need lots of patience and some perseverance in a well found and equipped boat. But it can be done safely with careful planning, taking no risks, having no schedule and paying close attention to the weather.
Vessel Name: Hilbre
Vessel Make/Model: 2003 Catalina 36 MKll #2135
Hailing Port: San Pedro
Crew: Family and friends
About: Experienced coastal and off-shore crew in all conditions.
We bought Hilbre in Kemah, Texas in December 2005. After 2½ years on Lake Mead, we relocated Hilbre to the Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro (Long Beach), in May 2009. At that time we prepared the boat for extended cruising. We participated in the 2011 Baja Ha-Ha to Cabo San Lucas and then continued to [...]
Hilbre's Photos - Caleta Partida
Photos 1 to 12 of 12 | Main
Caleta Lobos entrance with Roca Lobos in the foreground. We stayed here for a couple of nights a few weeks ago.
Balandra bay on the right with a good view of the San Lorenzo Channel.
Anita enjoying the warm sun and calm conditions. The San Lorenzo Channel is in the background with Balandra bay in the distance and Cerralvo Island in the far distance.
The bays on the west side of Espiritu Santo.
The islands of Gallo and Gallina on Espiritu Santo.
Approaching Ballena Island.
Bellena Island on Espiritu Santo.
Looking west towards the entrance to Caleta Partida.
The sand spit that separates the islands of Espiritu Santo and Partida. The wind blows strongly through this gap during the afternoon. On the other side of the spit are some small sea caves.
Hilbre at Caleta Partida. The caves on the rock wall did not seem to house any critters, even Gulls.
Caleta Partida.
The bay at Caleta Partida.