11/12/2008, Bahia Frailes
November 12, 2008 - Wednesday
We had a lazy day for the most part. Due to the rolling sleeping conditions last night, we put out the Rocker Stoppers first thing this morning. A Flopper Stopper is, in essence, two pieces of sheet metal sheet that form "wings" that flop open; these wings are attached to each other on a hinge. You attach the entire assembly to a line and drop one over each side of the boat into about 8-10' of water. When the boat rocks to that side, the wings fold up and the whole device sinks further into the water, however, when the boat goes to rock the other way, the wings open up, creating drag and, in theory, slowing the rocking action of the boat in that direction. With one deployed on each side, the rocking is supposed to slow in both directions. I'm not entirely sure that I buy into the whole concept.
Other than that, we all sort of did our own thing today. I started a new book today, The Bourne Betrayal, so I have been pretty consumed by that; those of you who know me know how obsessed I am with reading once I start a new book.
I went swimming several times and enjoyed the buoyancy of the warm and very salty water. Due to the wind, it was a little chilly when you first get out, but otherwise a joy. It is nice boat swimming because you don't have the sand to deal with. I hooked up the Sun Water Bag again today to rinse off after all the salt water swimming.
So check this out: remember I talked about the "net", the morning broadcast during the Ha Ha? Well, nets exist all over the world and there is one in the Sea of Cortez that broadcasts each morning called the AMIGO NET (Don Anderson on channel 8122 on the single side band radio). Anyway, during his broadcast this morning, he informed us that a high has formed over, of all places, Nevada, that is causing us this grief down here. In the Sea of Cortez, the wind generally blows out of the NNE to the NNW, but under certain conditions it REALLY blows out of the north and is referred to as, amongst other things, a Northerner. It is sort of like the Santa Anna winds in Southern California. If you are sailing north in the Sea of Cortez, you DO NOT want a Northerner blowing, and that is exactly what we have due to the high pressure region forming (formed) over Nevada. Here I am, a thousand miles away, and I'm still getting hit by Nevada weather!
We had pork chops on the grill and a potato, onions, and garlic dish that we cooked in an aluminum pouch on the grill as well.
We plan is to make it to Bahia De Los Muertos on the 13th and should be well on our way by the time you all get this. This is the place that has the little, but modern, restaurant (The Giggling Marlin) and we will likely dinghy to shore for dinner tomorrow.
By the way, I have not had a chance to play with that website at all, but I saw a note - while I was making entries in it before we left Cabo San Lucas - that GoogleEarth was enabled. So....if you click on the map of the earth on the right side, you might also have an option of clicking a button (or some other option???) that will change it from a map to a satellite photo. That might be interesting to try as you can see the actual places I am at, and not just maps. Maybe someone can try it and respond to let me know so that I can share with the others.
We had a beautiful full moon rise just before dark which was still pretty low on the horizon as we had our pre-dinner drinks. The others all had blended margaritas, but I had a cold beer and a little shot of that good Tequila JJ and Steph were kind enough to donate - don't worry, we are only using the good stuff for sipping, not mixing.
I hope you all are well. Take care.
11/11/2008, Bahia Frailes
November 11, 2008
We got up at 6:30 this morning and got the boat ready quickly and then got underway. We motored for about the first hour and then the wind picked up nicely and we were able to sail for several hours. The wind was about 20 knots and we were able to go in about the direction we wanted. At times we were screaming along at as much at 8 knots, but consistently were in the high 6 knot range.
Warning: We just sailed all day, so this is going to be pretty boring stuff for most of you. Remember I described the first part of the trip when had a "following" sea? That is, the swells were coming up behind us and helping us along? Well, now that we are heading back, at least partially, in a northerly direction, we are going INTO those swells, the result is a "bashing" effect where you pound into those swells instead of ride down them as we did on the way south. In addition to the rougher ride, the bow buries into the water and cause huge splashes that spray back across the front of the boat and as far back as the cockpit. I don't want to make this seem rougher than in it was so, in all honesty, the spray was not bad in the cockpit and not constant: maybe 5-6 times every 15 minutes.
You may also remember that I said you can't sail straight into the wind? The closer you point the boat straight into the wind, you are sailing "closer" to the wind. If you sail real close to the wind, you are sailing as close as you can to the direction the wind is coming from. If you "fall off the wind" a bit, you are moving the front (bow) of the boat further away from the exact direction the wind is coming from. You may ask yourself, why would I want to sail straight into the wind? Because without fail, wherever you are trying to get to is in the exact same direction as where the wind is coming from! It is one of the rules of sailing. Another is: whatever you are looking for in the refrigerator is at the bottom.
Of course, today was no different (actually, the first hour or two were great sailing, but then once we cleared the point (of land), we had to steer in a more northerly direction and into the wind) in that Bahia Frailes was straight into the wind (of course).
To fix this problem (your destination being in the same direction as the wind), you sail as "close to the wind" as possible. This gets you going in about the right direction, but at an angle to where you want to be. For example, you may have to steer to starboard (to the right of where you want to go). Going back to our clock example, assume you are at 6 and the wind and your destination at 12. You can't sail right to 12, so you might have to sail toward 1 or 2 (every boat is different in terms of how "close to the wind" you can sail). Obviously, if you keep going, you miss your target. At some point, you "tack" (change direction) toward, say 10 or 11 on our imaginary clock. In this fashion you can zig zag up to the target. There is much, much more to all this, but that is the simplest, quickest explanation I can give. Any sailors reading this are probably cringing, and with good cause, but...
Our problem in getting to Bahia Frailes was that when we tacked (zig zagged up toward our destination) there was a very strong water current moving from north to south (contributing to the bashing effect we were experiencing). Now go back to your clock, when we sailed as close into the wind as we could, we may have been going from 4 to 10 on the clock you have pictured (or, after we would tack, from 8 to 2 on the clock). Although we were steering to 10, the current was carrying the boat to 9 or even 8:30 on the clock. The same thing would happen in the other direction. The net effect of all that was that although we were making our way north, we weren't making much progress. So, although we had a great sail day, we were making great time, but getting nowhere.
We had to turn on the motor and then we DID sail into the wind and eventually go to Bahia Frailes.
Bahia Frailes is much as I remember it. The opening of the bay faces (more or less) south where as the weather comes, more or less from the north. That is what makes it a good, calm anchorage. When we got in there were only about 20 boats at anchor, including a bunch of sailboats, catamarans, and powerboats. It is a big, but not huge, bay and there was room for more boats, and they came. As we went about readying the boat for the night and as we sat out on deck, the boats continued to poor in.
Alison and I went for a swim and, sadly, the water is already cooling down, having dropped to about 87 degrees. Obviously still very comfortable while at the same time a reminder that we are in fact heading north, albeit now too quickly yet. Reality is already, albeit subtly, encroaching.
After dinner, we all sat on deck and enjoyed a Baileys on the rocks, compliment of Stan. After a game of Quidler with Alison, it was time to call it a night. After getting into my bunk, I realized that the boat was rolling a little more than I had anticipated and I was in danger of rolling out of my narrow berth, so I put the lee cloth (see prior entry) back up, took a Dramamine, put in my earplugs and immediately fell into a sound sleep.
11/10/2008, Bahia San Jose
November 10, 2008 - Monday
I got up early and took a last walking tour of Cabo. It was about 5:30 a.m. and the streets were nice and quiet. The water front, normally a zoo in terms of noise, confusion, and crowds was serene with only an occasional jogger. Normally there is a chaotic mix of sailors, motor yachters, commercial fishermen, sport fishermen, the tourists staying in town, and poor locals selling their wares all milling about together. I guess Cabo San Lucas is somewhat unique in that all this eclectic group co-mingles and comfortably co-exists. The fishermen were already busy, however, on their boats as they made their way out to sea. Those that were not yet gone were a frenzy of activity and the crews looked like ants swarming the boats getting things loaded, tied down, and ready to go. I went by a little coffee shop that JJ and Steph had suggested, but it was too early and it was not open yet. I got some pictures of the "quiet" cabo and returned to the boat about the time the others were getting up.
We have planned to continue up into the Sea of Cortez to find a new home for Serenity and this was the first day of that extension of the Ha Ha. However, there is a new marina that recently opened about 20 or so miles east of Cabo San Lucas that we all wanted to explore, so we headed off to Cabo San Jose Marina. Before leaving, we stopped at the fuel dock to refuel with diesel for the boat. We needed about 35 gallons, so...we traveled about 800 miles on less than $100 of fuel. We could have done better, but there were times that we wanted to get somewhere to participate in Ha Ha fleet events and "assisted" mother nature by using the motor. Still, that just isn't bad. We also got some ice and pulled out about 9:00 a.m.
I would like this blog to be as entertaining as possible, so it is with great regret that I inform you that virtually nothing happened today. There was no wind, with occasional gusts up to as high as very little wind. Because of this we motored at a leisurely 2200 rpms and made it to Cabo San Jose a little after noon. The marina looks like it will nice, and it was certainly much cheaper ($35 per night) than Cabo San Lucas ($175 with the Ha Ha discount), but the marina is in its infancy and there isn't much at the Marina yet. It appears to be in the middle of nowhere, but Cabo San Jose is really just over the hill and a $6 taxi ride away.
After giving Serenity a full washing, we finally inflated the dinghy and will now leave it inflated and tow it behind the boat for the balance of the trip. We went to shore and explored a little bit but, again, it is pretty undeveloped and there are only a few little markets and a bar or two. We had a beer and then returned to the boat.
There were about 20 or so Baja Ha Ha boats here and we were able to chat with them a bit. There was a lady there that looked familiar. I asked if she worked at the Orange Coast College and she did. It ends up that she was the first mate on the Alaska Eagle, the boat I sailed BACK to Newport Beach after the 2006 Baja Ha Ha. At that time, she and her husband had been building a sailboat - and the boat they have now is that now completed boat - it is the third boat they have built. But wait, it gets better. WARNING: non-sailors won't care about the rest of this paragraph. Sailboats go relatively slow. They have a "hull speed" which limits how fast they can go and it is always a very slow speed compared to what a catamaran can do because a catamaran goes "on" the water and a sailboat goes "through" the water. In the Ha Ha there were several legs where a boat called Taboo who was coming in first and reported moving at one time as fast as 20 knots. We all assumed she was a catamaran... it wasn't; it ends up that it was this boat that the couple had built! We don't know what they did to her (there are certain ways that race sailboats can be built to perform), but it sure worked!
That is it for Cabo San Jose and tomorrow it will be off to Bahia Frailes, which is a great anchorage we stopped at last year and which is located right around the corner from Cabo Pulmo, which is, go figure, where the Pulmo reef and the associated national underwater park are located.
11/07/2008, Cabo San Lucas
November 7, 2008 - Friday through November 9 - Sunday
First, when I got to my hotel and the internet, I found that the remote connection to my office computer was not working, and my cell phone had broken in San Diego. Before I go on, yes, I worked on the trip. Everything I needed was downloaded to my lap top and I have been vigilantly working a little each day. However, the "big" plan involved doing substantial work remotely once I got to Cabo, including responding to the over 500 emails I had waiting for me. I couldn't get into my computer to do it.
Anyway, due to no phone and no computer access, JJ, Stephanie, and I had a little trouble finding each other, but ultimately did early on November 7. I got to check out their condo, which is pretty impressive - and by chance I was able to watch Jackie, Stan, and Alison pulling up anchor as they had received a slip assignment and were moving Serenity. Anyway, JJ and Steph were headed home that morning and provided an "orphan bag" of supplies for the boat ranging from tequila, to Jack Daniels, to cheese, to a whole case of water, and much, much more (including animal crackers!) in between. I and the rest of the crew thank them.
I wish I had more to report about my stay in Cabo, but the folks back at the office made the fix on the computer access problem and I pretty much sat under a palapa next to the pool and worked 12-14 hours a day to get caught up. I have to say, however, that working next to the pool with an occasional swim and a Negra Medello every now and then isn't a bad way to go.
Alison, Jackie, Stan, and I met a time or two for drinks, lunch, or dinner.
On Sunday I finally caught up with the emails and I was able to play with this site that Jeff has set up for me. Thank you, Jeff.
On Saturday, Nov. 8, we attended the Baja Ha Ha awards ceremony and had many laughs. There was free beer and I have to tell you, Serenity came in third in our division...of course there were 10 other boats that also got third, but who's counting. I guess you had to be there to enjoy this so I won't get into too much detail, but in addition to the awards for what boats came in first, second, and third, there were awards for such categories as worst injury (no broken bones this year), worst dinghy mishap, best naked sailing story (in hind sight - excuse the pun - it appears we were NOT sailing close to the boats that we SHOULD have been sailing by!), worst snoring story, various fish catching categories, and worst damage to a boat. Good times were had by all and this year's Ha Ha concluded.
My personal thanks to Richard and all involved in pulling this thing off yet again.
11/06/2008, Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas
lNovember 5 and 6, 2008 Wed. and Thursday
We lifted anchor and left about 6:00, slightly ahead of the fleet and headed pretty much straight out to sea. The forecast was for strong winds and what Richard anticipated might be the fastest third leg in history - it didn't happen, at least for us. Although this is a pretty short leg, we were in serious jeopardy of not making it to Cabo in time for the party on the 6th - The "I can't believe we cheated death again party." We ended up motoring part of the way to get in by sunset and to make the party.
Along the way, we decided that we just were not able to salvage the food in the freezer and refrigerator - so it all went overboard. No plastic can be thrown out at sea, so we had to open each and every package of food and toss stuff over. It got a little bit stinky, but we got to the task just in time as it wasn't really that bad.
We were pulling around Los Arcos (lands end, the southern most tip of Baja California) as the sun was setting. First, it was really beutiful. There was no wind to speak of, so it is good that we decided to go ahead and motor - I should note, however, that many boats did motor this third leg. In any event, we were not the only ones enjoying the view as there were masses - a whole fleet you might say - of boats out from Cabo to enjoy the sunset. We fully realized we were back to civilization as it was a zoo. Between the pleasure boats, the dinner/sunset cruises, and the returning fishing boats, it was pretty crazy. Also, there were at least 8 other sailboats getting in at just about the same time as us.
There was no cruise ship in the harbor - we saw one leaving just as we approached - so there was a little room to manuever. However, the previously mention dinner cruises were out in full force, motoring in circles, zig zags, whatever to give the people their monies worth! All of them had music blasting and the "Pirate Ship" had a battle going on.
Cabo has a long, narrow "shelf" that is shallow enough to anchor in and many boats were already at anchor, so we motored about in the dark for a good hour taking depth readings until we found a place to anchor...to be continued
11/04/2008, Bahia Santa Maria
November 4, 2008 - Tuesday
First, there was no email from November 3 as I sort of tacked that on the end of the November 2 email and this one won't get sent until November 5, so we should have a new president by the time you get this email. I voted via absentee ballot before I left so I am glad I got to participate while at the same time missed all the last minute advertisements. I'm sure that they'll fill us in with the results during tomorrow morning's net (the check-in/roll call thing). In fact, you may recall that we are using VHF 69 for the net and this morning they asked people to use channel 18 to keep the fleet posted on all election results - those with Sirus will relay results they are able to gather.
As you know, we have a very irregular sleeping schedule between the middle of the night shifts and then a day here and there at anchor. Last night, though was pretty close to my normal routine and it was nice. We were all tired from having sailed two days to get to Bahia Santa Maria so we went to bed by 9:00 p.m. I woke up by 6:00 a.m. and made coffee and sat on deck for a bit - it was post card perfect. First, we are surrounded by another 100 + boats and they are all gently rocking at anchor in response to the swells that are making their way to shore. When the swells get there (maybe 200 yards from our boat), they break, not with a California type roar, but with at least a pretty good crash. The sun was not up yet, but its glow was obvious as it approaches the horizon. It did not appear as though anyone on the other boats was up yet and I have not heard the fishermen go by on their panga boats yet. It is like I have the whole place to myself.
At 6:30, the outdoor temperature was 72 degrees and the water temperature was 83. This water temperature is a couple degrees warmer than normal. Again, the amount of green vegetation on shore is pretty amazing. However, I have only been here once before, so maybe the green is normal. On the other hand, this is VERY much a desert down here, so I think that this must be a result of the hurricane. In case you were wondering where Bahia Santa Maria is, look on a map of Baja. You should see two "hook" type places where the coast first dips to the east and then juts back out to west. The first (northern most) of these two is at Turtle bay (maybe ½ down baja?) and the second (the most southern of the two hooks) is where Bahia Santa Maria is. If you do look at the map, you will see a massive bay called Magdalena Bay and Bahia Santa Maria is just north and adjacent to that huge bay - they are separated by only a narrow strip of land.
We took the panga to shore about noon or so and although it was still fun, it just wasn't as good as last year: the sand bar has changed and the tide was up, so the waves weren't as challenging. I filmed the ride in. We went up to the makeshift bar and had a beer. I came back to the boat and had my naked swim in the ocean, wrote for a little bit, and then went swimming again. I must say that I could get used to this life. The boat is gently rocking and in the distance I can hear the waves breaking on shore. More close at hand, the wind is blowing pretty good and I can hear it whistling through the rigging on the boat. I have some music playing on the computer. The others are still on shore so for the time being this is a clothing optional boat.
We take off for Cabo early tomorrow (by the time most of you get this we will either be in port or near it) and it will take about a day and 10 hours to get there.
I again apologize for the boring entries, but I guess the joy of cruising is the days all blending together and there being no pressing choirs to attend to. Even on a "regular" vacation there is some museum to see, or some attraction to get to - Lord knows I'm as guilty of that as anyone. With cruising, even when you are getting to where you need to be (for instance leaving on the last leg of the voyage to Cabo in the morning), you don't do it quickly and have hours and hours to kill while getting there. Again, for instance, on the leg we start tomorrow, we will have about 34 hours to fill. You read, write, work (if you have work to do) at your leisurely pace. If the water conditions are rough enough to warrant taking sea sickness pills, you get drowsy and might slip off into a 15 minutes nap now and then, wake up, and resume whatever you were doing when you fell asleep. The way I describe sailing it sounds horribly boring, but it isn't and it has been wonderful.
Alison had a great analogy the other day in that she said a night watch on a clear, moonless night must feel like space travel She. On one of my shifts (the night the radar was broken, which if I didn't mention, is fixed again) it was so dark I could not see my hand at arms length from my face. There is a trick that if you see a distant boat, you hold your thumb up (outstretched arm) and cover the boat with your thumb. If the boat "emerges" from the "front" of your thumb, the boat will ultimately cross your bow (front). If it emerges from "behind" your thumb, it will ultimately cross your stern (back). If it just stays hidden behind your thumb, you better do something because you are on a course where the two of you will collide. This may sound obvious to you, but it is true even if you are not pointed right at each other. When it is dark out, you would be amazed how hard it is to tell what direction a boat at a distance is traveling.
Anyway, because we all had to pay special attention on the night the radar was out, there was one time when there was a boat to the front and right of me (off my starboard bow at 2 o'clock) and I tried to do the "thumb" test, but it was so dark, I couldn't see my thumb! I could not see the horizon (you might think that the sudden absence of stars would indicate the horizon, but due to the atmosphere and the humidity at the horizons, there is not a real clear line. Rather, the stars slowly fade as they get to the horizon. The only thing you can see is the stars and the lights on any boats in your area. In the absence of boats, the only thing you see are the stars, thus the astronaut analogy.
That's it. I'll stop rambling.