11/04/2011, Bahia Santa Maria
We hope that you enjoyed our first official HaHa blog (We are out of internet access presently so we have been unable to check emails since leaving Turtle Bay) and are ready for more. It is now time to tell you about our stay in Turtle Bay and our second leg to Bahia Santa Maria where we are presently located, but before I do that, let me say that the sunsets and sunrises are absolutely spectacular at sea and definitely raise your spirits as you are about to enter or leave night watches in the open ocean. Hope that you have been able to get some of the same feelings as you look at the latest photo gallery thanks to Debra's photography.
After arriving at Turtle Bay, we were all in need of some downtime, having survived three days of non-stop sailing. Debra decided to stay back and clean the boat while Craig and I launched the dinghy and went into town, if you can call it that-a few dirt roads, a couple of marginal bar-restaurants and a gas station were the highlight. At least they had some WiFi there so that is why you got the first official blog (Bahia Santa Maria is totally remote with no facilities, just a beautiful anchorage sheltered from the offshore conditions). Craig and I managed to enjoy Mexican cervesas (beer) while sitting on a porch overlooking Turtle Bay. It was then back to the boat to get ready for dinner back on shore. After changing our clothes, the three of us headed off to the official HaHa restaurant party where they had some very good margs made with fresh lime juice. We then sat down for dinner. After waiting for over an hour for some enchiladas, we got frustrated and left. We went to two other so called restaurants where the fare was nothing less than abysmal, so we gave up on dinner and headed back to the boat in the darkness. Trying to find our boat amongst 100+ anchored boats was a bit of a challenge, as there was little to identify Murar's Dream from the other boats (I should have taken Debra's advice in bringing our handheld GPS to find our location in the dark, but I was too macho for that!). Once back on board, Debra and Craig gave up on eating, but I managed to grill some chicken and have a quick bite to eat before turning in for the night.
The next day was the beach party onshore. We loaded our waterproof bag with our goodies for the day and headed to shore. After beaching the dinghy in relatively calm conditions, we got in line for the potluck dinner. It was quite the array of food -mostly pasta dishes and a lot of grilled tuna which had been the catch of the day during the first leg of the event. Some people played volleyball while others just enjoyed the socializing. The official activity was a male vs. female tug of war which annually has been won by the females. This year was no different. The true excitement, however, was the fact that one of the boats anchored too close to shore and became beached when the tide went out. After hours of trying to free it and the tide finally coming in, it was freed. We returned to our boat before dark and settled in for a good night's sleep before starting the second, two day leg.
The following morning brought sunny skies, calm seas and no wind, so we motored for about the first 4 hours before the winds began to build. We were then able to set our Gennaker and made good for the remainder of the day and through the night. However, the morning sun brought a loss of wind so it was back to motoring for another 4 hours. Finally, we were able to set sail in the afternoon, this time using our smaller 151 Gennaker sail that came with the boat (about 10% smaller). It flew beautifully in the light tropical breezes we have been looking forward to and into the night, as we made good time towards our next destination. We all enjoyed our night watches as the sliver moon first set on the horizon followed by a night of bright stars and a good view of the Milky Way since we were away from any city lights or land to dim their brightness. In the early morning hours, I worked on changing course and speed so that we would arrive at the entrance to the Bahia Santa Maria at dawn. Things went very well as we rounded the point and entered the harbor as the skies lightened. After located a spot to anchor, it was not long before we were all ready for some shuteye. We currently sit at anchor in about 12-15 knots of wind, clear skies and temperatures in the mid 80s (finally). The water temperature has finally decided to cooperate (mid-70s), so paddleboarding and kayaking are in order if the wind ever decides to settle down.
Look for details of our stay in Bahia Santa Maria and our final leg to Cabo in our next blog. That's all for now.
Debra and Andy
10/28/2011, Turtle Bay, Mexico
The official HaHa start began with a boat parade out of San Diego Harbor. About 140 of the 172 official entrants crossed the starting line outside of the harbor under motor, as there was just not enough wind to sail at any meaningful speed. The original plan was a "rolling start" past the Coronado Islands in Mexico (not the Coronado Island on the south side of San Diego Bay), but winds continued to remain light but increasing. The official call was to continue under motor but being the true sailors that we are, decided to struggle along by sail alone through that afternoon and evening. However, we, too, gave into the desire to progress in the early morning hours when our boat speed fell below 2 knots, so we motored for two hours until winds began to once again build. What we did not know until radio check in at 7AM that morning, was that almost everyone continued under motor as a rolling start until the official start of the event was announced to have commenced at that time. Hence, we were now around 60 miles behind the fleet, along with about a dozen participants who had also chosen to sail (or two who began sailing at the start off of Point Loma) before the official delayed start. We learned this by everyone reporting their positions on the daily roll call, and it was obvious who had motored and who had sailed. Oh well, that put us out of the thick of boats, but even the boats who had motored quickly began to separate due to their different performance levels. It had not been an uneventful day of sailing on Monday. It was so calm that we decided to break out the BBQ grill and cook the TriTip steak which had been marinating for a couple of days (it being our intended meal on our mid-SD leg until we had to deal with the cracked water strainer cover). While I was cooking, we had our first fish strike having set out a lure on a fishing pole off the back of the boat. It began with the usual buzzing sound of the reel's tension setting. I quickly took command of the situation, tightened the tension and reeled in the fish under darkness. As it approached the boat, our spotlight made its eyes glow like redeye of a camera, telling us it was a shark. I had decided to release it, and as it approached the boat, the baby shark bit through the leader and escaped with our lure in his/her mouth, just in time to take the steak off of the grill. Debra put together a Ceasar (Yes, this is the correct spelling, not the Roman one) salad and requested that I cook our last bag of the saffron rice which I brought to Colorado from Miami and then to the boat. With the calm weather, we were able to dine on deck under darkness. It was then time for our second full night of watches under Gennaker.
After a full night of sailing and three hour watches by the three of us, it was time for breakfast. Debra put together oatmeal with fruit to start our nourishment for the day. The remainder of the day was simply sailing along at a moderate pace in moderate trailing winds and seas. Although most of the boats chose to hug the coast, we decided to head offshore (you don't generally like to sail dead to the wind, which was the shortest route) under our new Gennaker (a colorful parachute type headsail). Lunch consisted of my homemade pork green chili. Dinner was Indian fare, chicken vandaloo from Costco which got rave reviews, along with Debra's salad, this time with a balsamic vinegar dressing.
Wednesday brought my turn to cook breakfast. It was french toast and bacon. As we set the Gennaker, the bottle of maple syrup was out on the galley counter and decided to tip over. Debra had the unenviable task of mopping up the syrup, and the paper towels became feed for the fishes which may or may not have been under the surface (You can legally throw non-plastics overboard outside of the twelve mile limit from shore, and we were well outside that boundary since early in the trip). The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. We doused (took down) the Gennaker as the weather report called for afternoon winds over 15 knots which pushes the limit of safely sailing under Gennaker. It was then a long day of increasing northwesterly swells of 6-8 feet and increasing winds which peaked out at 25 knots in the early morning hours as we were on our last long leg of the route into Turtle Bay. The exciting event of the day was the landing of two yellow fin tunas which we landed shortly before dinner, having trolled all day with hand line and artificial lure. I had the pleasure of preparing for the sashimi we were to dine on that evening. My chicken sweet and sour was put on hold for another night. Fortunately, we had chopsticks, soy sauce and wasabi on board for such an event. It was quite the challenge to clean the fish in relatively rough conditions, and we had to use about 10 gallons of water to wash down the decks from the event. We did end up with a substantial amount of blood on our dinghy cover, but it will have to wait for a washing machine and a good dosage of OxyClean before it gets relatively close to its initial, pristine condition.
It is almost 9AM PDT, and we are about to enter Turtle Bay. The next two days are filled with events that we will tell you about in our next blog. That is it for now, as we are all quite tired and should have our first official siestas of the journey this afternoon.
Don't forget to look for photo albums in the photo gallery, but they will have to wait until we get to internet cafés along the route (Debra tells me that there is one in Turtle Bay, so you may be getting them along with this first blog).
10/23/2011, Marriott Marina San Diego
Well you have heard the expression: "The best two days that you own a boat are the days you buy it and sell it." After our trip from Marina del Rey to San Diego, one would be tempted to adopt that position, but we are more committed to our adventure than ever.
We left Marina del Rey on Friday to overcast skies and no wind, so it was motoring well past Palos Verdes. We had planned to make our first stop at Dana Point, about 1/2 way, when we experienced our latest problem. Debra was doing dishes when she commented that we were out of water, as the faucet began to spout air intermittently with the flow of water. I was puzzled because I had just finished making water with our new desalinization unit to fill the water tank. I immediately checked the gauge on that tank to discover that it was down to less than 1/4 of a tank. Where did the 40+ gallons of water go? My first thought was a problem with the water maker which built a high level of concern as it could jeopardize our trip to Mexico, so I began to eliminat possible problems. After much searching, I discovered that the plastic cover to the strainer for the fresh water pump for the boat had cracked, and water was clowing out of the crack into the bilge. After figuring out how to stop the leak, I proceeded to remove the strainer and examine the crack. I also immediately lifted the floorboard to inspect the bilge and breathed a sigh of relief when it was clear that the bilge pump had done its job-pumping the 40+ gallons overboard. We were not able to hear that the bilge had been working because the noise of the engine drowned out the low sound of the bilge pump.
The next problem was fixing or replacing the broken cap. By using epoxy glue and a hose clamp, I was able to piece together the two halves of the broken cap, but I had to let it dry overnight before testing my workmanship. We started to marine supply stores in San Diego to locate a replacement part, with doubtful sucees, so i called my friend Trent in LA to see if he could come up with the part which our crew member for the HaHa, Craig Walker, could pick up as his wife and he were driving down to San Diego on Saturday. Trent immediately went to work and was able to secure a replacement part through the San Diego Beneteau dealer, and I would be able to pick up the part in San Diego.
Thes logistics made for a change of plans. Rather than going halfway to Dana Point, we immediately changed course to Oceanside, which is much closer to San Diego, putting us in SD by mid-afternoon on Saturday rather than possibly too late in the day to get the replacement part. We arrived in Oceanside at sunset without the use of the water system. We were able to sop up enough water out of bilge to use for flushing the toilet, but washing the dishes from lunch was another matter. Debra came up with a great tgemporary fix-Our watermaker puts the test water into our kitchen sink unitl the water is pure enough to go into the storage tank. We started up the watermaker and added water to the sink to wash and rinse the dishes, an ingenious though temporary solution.
We awoke the next morning to dense fog and no wind. We decided to delay the start of the leg to San Diego until there was enough daylight to maximize visibility which started out at less than 1/4 mile. With our radar and new AIS boat locating system on, we felt comfortable in continuing towards San Diego in these adverse conditions. Eventually the fog lifted, but visibility never exceeded 2 miles until we were virtually in San Diego Bay. Our spirits, however, were lifted along the way as we were able to observe three separate pods of blue whales. We took a slight detour to view one of the pods at close range. Watching 40+ foot blue whales surfacing within 50 feet of the boat was quite the experience.
As we approached San Diego, the winds finally began to build, so we set the mainsail but decided to motor sail in order to keep up our speed and get to the Beneteau dealer before it closed on Saturday. We successfully arrived by mid-afternoon, and after contacting the dealer by phone we arranged to meet him at a dock on Harbor Island. He brought two replacement parts which gave us an added level of security should there be another failure in the new part while in Mexico. It was then off to the fuel dock to top off the tank and then on to the Marriott Marina for our two night stay before the official start of the Baja HaHa, the flotilla of 170 boats all heading to Cabo over a 9 day journey with two stops along the way: Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria.
After arriving at the marina, we cleaned the boat. It was then off to the showers followed by dinner at Roy's where we had dined on our previous stay at the marina in San Diego last year. Debra ordered the marinated butterfish which she had ordered in the past, but I decided to make the appetizer sampler my main course. We both shared a sushi roll for an appetizer. Everything was outstanding, and we highly recommend this restaurant in the Marriott Marquis Hotel to anyone visiting San Diego. After returning to the boat, Debra decided to turn in, but I was still a bit wound, so I walked to the Gaslamp district, a local hotspot. Being Saturday night, I would make the scene equivalent to South Beach, as the restaurants and bars were all overflowing, and the sidewalks were full. Eventually I returned to the boat to join Debra for a good night's sleep after our water leak ordeal.
Today was the first official event for the HaHa. We rented a car to get around for the day as there were places we needed to go all around SD. Our first stop was fresh fruit and vegetable provisioning at Trader Joe's. I then attended the mandatory captains' meeting while Craig arrived at the boat to join Debra. After the meeting, I picked up my best friend, Bob Grumet, who was visiting friends in SD and then Debra and Craig to go to the kickoff event. It was quite the happening in the parking lot of the local West Marine store with food and music. It was also an unofficial Halloween party where crews could come in costume. Our crew decided to come as ourselves, but the array of costumes was quite entertaining-everything from pirates to movie characters to transgender dressers. The food was Mexican fare (what else?) with plenty of beer and wine if one so chose to imbibe. We all drank in moderation and after watching the costume contests took Bob back to the house where he was staying-a rental directly on Mission Beach. After spending some time there and enjoying leftovers from the prior night's birthday party for one of Bob's friends as our dinner, it was off to the grocery store for final provisioning. After dropping Debra and Craig at the boat, I returned the rental car, and we are now safely aboard for a final sleep in port before we begin our 3 hour watches as we sail south. Look for our next blog which will probably not be until we reach Cabo San Lucas, as internet access is quite limited along the Baja coastline.
09/18/2011, Marina del Rey
We are now safely in our slip at MDR, docking at 5PM yesterday. Compared to the kelp event and rounding of Pt. Conception the night before, it was a relatively uneventful final leg. We saw no sunshine, and the wind was virtually non-existent, so it was a day of motoring when it should have been a nice, downwind sailing day. Oh well, that is part of the sailing life-at the mercy of Mother Nature, be it favorable or difficult. This is what makes our lives so special as we look forward to our next adventure on our trip to Mexico starting in late October. With no commitments or schedule once we reach Cabo at the tip of Baja, who knows what life will bring next? Both all of you and we will just have to wait and see how things develop south of the border. Absent some unique and special event in interim, we will all wait for that adventure before there will be another blog. So take a break and focus on your individual adventures until then.
Debra and Andy
09/15/2011, Santa Barbara Harbor
We have detoured this trip with a stayover in Santa Barbara, and here is why:
You might think that the problem was related to our rounding of the notorious Pt. Conception, but Murar's Dream was a champion performer as we sailed south in 6+ ft. swells and 25 knot winds. This was not nearly as bad as it can get, but we had decided to leave Morro Bay early when we saw that the weather window around the point was about to close. We started the rounding at Point Arguello at around 6PM under better conditions, but it worsened over the two+ hour rounding, coming out the other side in good shape. Now for the real problem:
You have probably heard about some major hazards in open water, particularly the "tropical icebergs," which are partially submerged containers which have fallen off of cargo ships and have yet to sink. We did not encounter one, but we did encounter the major hazard in the waters off of California-floating clumps of sea kelp. We were motoring (lack of wind) down the middle of Santa Barbara Channel at about 4:30AM. Debra was on watch, and I had just climbed into bed having finished my 4 hour stint from midnight to 4AM. All of a sudden we heard a large "thunk" under the hull, and the motor began to struggle. This was not the first time we had to face such a problem. Usually a quick reversal of the engine frees the propeller but not this time. We simply could not free whatever was interfering with the propeller. We thought that it might have been a loose fishtrap line which had wrapped around the propeller-another known hazard. After several tries to clear the prop, it was just not going to happen the easy way.
Fortunately, the winds began to pick up enough to let us sail. Based upon the direction of the wind, we decided to sail to Ventura Harbor which was about 20 miles away. Santa Barbara was closer but in an unfavorable wind direction, and the motor was virtually useless. We would enter the harbor, drop anchor, and I would go overboard with dive gear to determine the nature of the problem and the needed fix. This could be done in the open waters, but it does increase the danger factor should the boat drift away from me. I returned to catch some shuteye, and Debra continued her watch.
At about 6:30AM, Debra woke me up because the wind had totally died-something not unusual as the day begins. At this point, we were running out of options. We started the engine and were able to go at the slowest speed, and now Santa Barbara was the closest harbor. It was not really suitable for diving, so I committed to do the examination in open water as soon as it was light enough. Nevertheless, not knowing of the nature of the entanglement, we headed ever so slowly for Santa Barbara while we waited for more daylight to make the examination. Fortunately, I had full diving gear, including a wetsuit (65 degree water temperature) and the electric diving compressor with 50' hose and regulator-something I had purchased at the Miami Boat Show last year for just this type of event.
At about 7:30AM, we prepared the boat and me for the dive. I suited up and tied a lifeline around my waist to at least keep me attached to the boat if I could not stay with it-something I did not expect since we would be drifting, but just in case. Over the side I went, and sure enough, there was a significant amount of the ropy type of kelp wrapped around the propeller and shaft. Debra handed me a rigging knife to cut it off, and within a few minutes, the problem was solved. I then made the call that we had had enough for this leg of the journey, and a day in Santa Barbara to recouperate was in order.
After securing a slip and cleaning the boat, it was several hours of napping followed by a late lunch. We are now back on board and planning the rest of the day and our trip home. We will leave Santa Barbara at 7AM and, absent anything out of the ordinary, we should be home by late afternoon.
Debra and Andy
09/13/2011, Morro Bay
We write this blog in complete and utter exhaustion after a 31 hour, non-stop trip from Sausalito to Morro Bay with each of us having an hour of sleep or less-our first overnight passage with just the two of us, but we wanted to keep you up to date on our happenings.
First, our stay in Sausalito was both interesting and eventful. We took the dinghy ashore and dined at Scoma's of Sausalito and had some very good seafood. It was then back to the boat and sleep. The wind continued to howl off and on through the night, but we thought nothing of it until I went to check on everything at 2AM only to discover that the dinghy and outboard motor had done a complete flip, lying on its top with the engine submerged. We can only assume that one of the gusts was so strong that it lifted the bow and inverted the boat despite the fact that it was tied bow and midships to the back of Murar's Dream. I woke up Debra and with joint effort, we were able to upright the vessel and then went back to bed as it was not the time to determine the effects of such an event. The morning did prove our greatest concern: the outboard engine's cylinders were filled with water, so it will need to go into the shop upon returning to MDR for a complete overhaul-So much for anchoring offshore in Sausalito!
Without the dinghy and choppy waters preventing use of the kayak (besides, the two life vests were in the dinghy when it overturned and were nowhere to be found), we were committed to the boat for the full day. Fortunately, we were able to get a lot done on the boat and to watch the women's finals of the US Open on the computer. We were then off to sleep in preparation for the first long leg of our journey home to MDR.
We awoke early on Monday to clear skies, minimal winds and calm waters as we started our journey south. We spent most of the day under motor as the winds were coming out of the south, an unusual condition. When they finally shifted later that afternoon, we were able to set our gennaker sail and spend a few hours cruising until dusk when it was time to prepare for our passage of Pt. Sur, notorious for its bad conditions. It did not let us down with winds of 20-25 kts. and following seas containing 5-6 ft wave and wind swells which would make Murar's Dream do its own version of a hula dance at its stern, but we correctly planned by dousing the gennaker and setting only mailsail. In the early morning hours and in total darkness but for a full moon, when it was time to turn for our final destination of this leg, Morro Bay, we "jibed" (set sails on the opposite side after passing the wind behind the boat vs. tacking which involves setting sails on the opposite side after passing the wind around the front of the boat, a far easier maneuver). Unfortunately, just as we jibed, there was a wind shift resulting in an unintended jibe, a potentially dangerous maneuver. Fortunately, we survived that maneuver so decided to go back on our original course before trying to jibe much later so that we would have a better angle of sail to Morro Bay, a longer but safer route. We successfully accomplished that task in the dark of night. After long hours through the dark of night and coooooold, I had dawn duty, so I had the pleasure of watching the sunrise over the mountains (see the lead picture) in hopes of some warmth which quickly went away as a layer of low clouds and haze kept the temperature cool for the rest of the day. Finally after motoring for a good portion of today, we are safely berthed at the Morro Bay Yacht Club for the night. We are now halfway home and will spend the next 24 hours recouperating before setting out for one or two (another stop in Santa Barbara) more legs, including the infamous Pt. Conception which can be tougher than Pt. Sur. We will be checking our weather forecast tomorrow before starting our late night (best time of day) rounding. This will put us back in MDR on Thursday night or Friday afternoon depending.
That's all for now as it is time to try for an afternoon nap of partial sleep recovery.
Debra and Andy
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