Arrived today at Bahia Tortuga around 2:30 PM, after a 49-hour passage south from Ensenada. We motorsailed most of the way, but the wind pickup up yesterday afternoon & we were able to proceed under sail for most of the night. Lots of dolphins, a few whales, and an unusual bright white light in the pre-dawn eastern sky.
We passed outside Isla Cedros and inside Islas San Benitas in the early morning hours. Threw out a lure in the afternoon to see if we could get any strikes, nothing so far, but we're hopeful!
After eating dinner at one of the quaint little restaurants in town, we'll head back to the boat for a good night's sleep. Our plan is to depart tomorrow AM and head for Bahia Santa Maria, with the help of a fourth crewmember (who insists on monkeying around!).
Yesterday's departure from Ensenada was pretty uneventful, under overcast skies, calm seas & minimal wind. We wanted to make sure we got underway ahead of the minor storm system that was due to hit SoCal Fri night, though, plus it was time to get this cruise going for real! So far we've motor sailed until about two hours ago when we finally got enough wind to maintain our speed under sail at between 5.5-6.5 knots, but at least the engine has been taking us southward and we are now about twenty miles off shore entering Bahia Viscaino well below San Quintin. Our next way point is Isla Cedros before Bahia Tortuga. Last night we dined on BBQ steaks with baked potatoes, a veggies side, bread and wine while the full moon peeked through from behind partial cloud cover. Temps were in the fifties, so it made for comfortable night-watches, dry decks again and warmer temps. The two nights in Ensenada were good for catching up on lost sleep from all the long days and late nights of preparations getting ready to go and projects, but we are really on our way! Sometimes I have to pinch myself!!
We are still out in front of the weather system that is coming down behind us, but it is looming. The weather grib files indicate continuing good conditions for us through to Bahia Tortuga, although we may get a little wet, we'll see. It is clear out ahead maybe we'll get there first! Our watches are working well, Marisa takes 2100-2400, Mark 2400-0300 and I'm on 0300-0600 when Marisa relieves me. Mark and I have shared most of the cooking, most not all, and Marisa is jumping in there with the clean-up. We have had dolphin with us off and on for hours, several whale sightings, flukes and jumping to boot! We are healing at 15 degrees, I'm on watch sitting in the cockpit writing this with the nearly full moon rising over the Baja Peninsula and the sun setting into the Pacific. Mark is making a curry dish with fish and vegetables for dinner and Marisa is down for a nap. We got a little bit done on our projects today but not at the same hurried pace of the past weeks, maybe we are mentally entering manana land! We are settling into life aboard. Did I tell you what a great chef Mark is? This will be sent remotely from our Iridium phone so no photos, but soon.
We arrived Ensenada Wednesday afternoon about 3 PM, right on schedule. It was a nice trip down, but little wind so it was a motor boat ride. We needed the hours on the new engine to break it in and it gets it's first oil change anyway. We were tired, more from all the work getting ready to go than the overnight passage down. It was a nice ride, overcast but clear at sea level so a dry deck and warmer than we had expected. We got in and were met at the dock by Terry and Michelle. No sooner had we landed and were tied off than we were back into the unfinished projects, then dinner in town at Mahi-Mahi Restaurant then a good nights sleep. We were at the the Port Captain's to check in at 0900, it was a full house, didn't get out until after 1200, then back to the boat for lunch and you guessed it, projects. Mark and Terry pretty well got the solar panels figured out, seems the best way to hook this pair up will be in series. The mounts were done and I got started on the rest. The wifi system Mark found for us is great. We are out at the outter edge of the marina and have a full page of possible sites to sign on too. Oh, did I tell you that while we were coming into the harbor Mark was finishing the baking of a loaf of wheat bread? Too cool! What a team effort.
Thanks for those of you who came down to the dock to see us off. Sorry that we were not more sociable but were were down to the last minutes and trying to get everything on board and of of there by 7 PM, which if you didn't notice we didn't make. It was actually 845P before we cast off our lines and headed out, but what a good feeling. We were just glad that the conditions were benign, we had so hastily taken on so much stuff at the last minute that had there been any seaway at all we couldn't have departed until everything was properly stowed.
Today at the Capitain del Puerto we had the opportunity to discuss strategy and decided to stay one extra day here in Ensenada to allow us to finish the solar panel installation, organize and properly stow everything and a few other minor projects. The weather forecasts look good enough that we think we will make a straight run to Turtle Bay, about 280 nm. We'll leave tomorrow at noon with an expected arrival on Sunday afternoon, or that's the plan!
More soon and we will try to get some more photos posted
Did I say," what could go wrong?" Well, one of the upgrades this fall was to install a new watermaker. It went in without a hitch and worked great, producing 3.5+ gallons per hour of really good drinking water from the sea. Pretty cool! About 5 gallons into it I saw a few beads of water on the membrane housing. No big deal, wiped them off and kept going, then a few more, and a few more. It seems the housing itself was defective and water was oozing through the fiberglass housing wall. Somebody skimped on the resin in the fiberglass department that day. Anyway, out it came and back to the factor for replacement, which they did and it's back in and working. There is nothing like doing a job twice to know how it's done. As I mentioned we hauled out in October and among other tasks installed a new, three bladed "fixed" prop. The long and short of it is we were "over pitched" and it had to come off. When the prop is over pitched it works the engine too hard and can't get up to top RPM, and also caused some overheating issues. I have to thank Buddy Ellison for all his help in diagnosing the prop issues, double checking the engine and for sharing his cruising expertise. It's been greatly appreciated. Bill Roush was a good soul and brought his wet suit, dive tanks and made not only the dive to pull the prop, but after the repitch came back and put it back on! Then he came back again and spent the day putting me up the mast to install the whisker pole. Thanks for that Bill and the rest of the time you have spent getting us ready to go.
Meanwhile, back at the barn Marisa was working feverishly with the help of friend Sue Dijkman on several canvas projects for Pacifico. The ladies created mesh bags and side curtains for the cabin ports and sidelights, a mesh companion way cover (thanks Sue!) and cockpit shades. These will be handy and of great comfort not only for shade in the tropics, but the mesh exterior covers also keep the bugs and mosquitoes out. If you're interested in some of these for your boat or home, Sue has a business creating just such clever things. She can be reached at [email protected]
Mark has been working dilligently to get our Iridium phone and wifi range extender up and running as well as technical advise in the engineering department. The frame for the solar panels is in place, AIS system extended to the nav station and with computer hook up, way cool.
We have installed the fourth house bank battery, which cost us some hanging locker space, and that gives us 400 amp hours of house with a 65 amp start battery. Not huge but better than what we had. Next we tackle the solar panel installation. Only four days remaining. More to follow.
10/31/2010, Oceanside, CA
It's been a long summer and fall of projects both planned and the unplanned. Along with all the planned improvements and preparations we experienced a leaking fuel tank in June that of course required the tank to be emptied and pulled for repair. Shortly after that we discovered a serious corrosion problem with the Edson steering that necessitated a new wheel hub and just because I was in there new cables and brake pads. I mean, what else could go wrong? Sorry I asked. After that it was the hydraulic ram in the auto pilot system, and then the transmission went out! The engine has to come out to get to the transmission and it just didn't make sense to spend that much time and effort to marry a new transmission to the old engine, so out it came. We decided to go with a Beta, 25 hp 3 cylinder diesel with Twin Disc transmission and to hire Phil, "The Marine Man" to help me install it. I have to say that was a good call. We started on Saturday morning and were sea trialing it by Tuesday afternoon. After that we took a quick shake down to White's at Catalina to meet friends Terry & Michelle (Coastal Passage II) and Jean (Southwind) then back to Oceanside. We have hauled out for a bottom job and new through hulls and pulled the rudder just for fun, actually to inspect it because it has not been out to my knowledge since it went in 22 years ago and put on a new three bladed prop. All is well, we are back into the water and onto the anticipated projects. The list is still long and hope we don't have any more surprises. As much a hassle as all this has been we can say is better to find all that stuff out here than 1200 miles down the coast!
Our friend Mark Robinson is planning to sail down the coast with us to Cabo and he is helping with projects. We hope to be done and starting our trip as planned November 16ish with the first leg from Oceanside to Ensenada where we will check into Mexico.
More to come.