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Morning Freighter
Mon Nov 24 18:40:00 EST 2014, 20 58'N:106 42'W, nearing Bahia de Banderas

Shortly after dawn this morning, as the wind lightened, the nearby freighter Govnia called us on the VHF radio. The officer on the freighter wanted to know the boat's name, as there was another sailboat reported missing near Cabo San Lucas. As we were not the missing sailboat, he wished us a pleasant day and continued on his course. We have not seen any other sailboats since leaving the Sea of Cortez...hopefully the missing sailboat is ok.

I'm jumping around a bit on the blog--we cruised the coast for a couple of days after leaving Puerto Escondido, and have been offshore for four days now. The coastal cruising took us to some really nice places, and I"ll have more to say about that later.

Full Moon
Sun Nov 23 13:35:00 EST 2014, 25 48'N:111 17'W, Puerto Escondido

I enjoyed watching the moon rise one night in Puerto Escondido, where this picture was taken.

Puerto Escondido Entrance
Thu Nov 20 16:01:00 EST 2014, 25 48'N:111 17'W, Puerto Escondido

This is one of the entrance lights to the well-protected harbor of Puerto Escondido (near Loreto). The harbor has a marina, moorings, and space to anchor (same charge to anchor as to use a mooring). With a little tienda (store), and the convenience of an easy hitchike to Loreto (a small city with supermarkets, a bus terminal and an international airport), cruising boats often spend quite a while here.

Along the Way
Thu Nov 13 8:05:40 EST 2014, Sea of Cortez,Mexico

The Sea of Cortez is full of beautiful scenes of mountains, cactuses and the sea.

Wed Nov 5 17:47:40 EST 2014

Puerto Ballandra
Sun Nov 2 11:37:00 EST 2014, 24 19'N:110 20'W, Puerto Ballandra

We left La Paz after a few days to see a bit more of the Sea of Cortez--a strikingly beautful place of mountains and desert and sea.

We attempted to sail onto the anchor at Puerto Ballandra (which isn't really a settlement, but is a nice anchorage). Didn't quite make it--reduced sail too early and lost too much speed once we were close in, with the wind becoming very light and variable due to the effect of the cliffs. So we ended up motoring onto anchor just before dark.

I could clearly see the sandy bottom (8m down) in the light of morning. We anchored in front of a beach that is beside the cliff in the picture.

Mon Nov 3 0:49:06 EST 2014 | Karen
I'm jealous!
Fishing Platform
Thu Oct 30 19:32:00 EDT 2014, 24 10'N:110 19'W, La Paz, Mexico

I've been seeing a lot of pelicans on docks and buoys, keeping a close watch on the water, waiting for dinner to swim by. There area a lot of (little) fish here, so the pelicans are well fed.

Functional Art
Wed Oct 29 12:24:14 EDT 2014, La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Normally, the first thing I notice when arriving somewhere isn't the garbage cans. However, on the Malecon in La Paz, I was struck by the nice job they had done with them.

Wed Oct 29 18:26:36 EDT 2014 | Ron Ouwehand
Hello Richard, good to see you are underway. I'm figuring in my mind how to work a way to come and see you in the southern hemisphere. Fair winds from Old Hand.
Sat Nov 1 22:01:00 EDT 2014 | Sonya Klassen
I love the artwork on the garbage cans! Beautiful. Hoping your sailing has been wonderfully uneventful from hazards on the sea; to gorgeously enjoyable weather/winds to sail in and delightful in people you are meeting and locations you are visiting!
Mon Nov 3 18:31:19 EST 2014 | Richard Hudson
Thanks, Ron & Sonya!
The sailing has mostly been pleasant light winds, sunny and hot.
Self Stering (Technical Post)
Fri Oct 24 22:37:16 EDT 2014

Since leaving San Diego, we have been doing a lot of sheet-to-tiller self-steering.

At first, it was just for something interesting to do. At other times, it was because the tailwind had lightened enough that sheet-to-tiller steers better than the windvane does (because of friction in the windvane and because the windvane paddle (sensor) is much smaller than the sensor (a sail) used for sheet-to-tiller.

Sheet-to-tiller self-steering is worth at least practicing on any voyaging boat in case the windvane ever fails, and for downwind in very light conditions when the windvane can't handle it.

In theory, sheet-to-tiller steering is simple:
1. When the boat heads up, apparent wind increases, which increases the force on the sheets. If the sheet is indirectly connected to the tiller via a turning block on the other side of the boat, it can turn the boat away from the wind when the boat heads up (due to the resultant apparent wind increase).

2. A bungee cord or similar pulling the tiller in the opposite direction will turn the boat towards the wind. When apparent wind decreases (which decreases force on the tiller, allowing bungee cord to exert more control)

Note that the sheet does not directly connect to the tiller. The sheet is made down as usual. A control line is tied to the sheet in such a way that it deflects the sheet, and this deflection of the sheet is what goes through the turning block to the tiller.

In practice, there is some trial and error involved (much more at first, until one learns the system). It will take some messing about to get the right positioning of the control line and the right amount of elasticity for the wind speed and point of sail that you are on.

--What sheet to use? Any that one can get a good lead on the control line from. I usually use the main staysail, but any sheet can work.
--How many bungee cords? I usually use one, sometimes two, and aim to get the bungee close to neutral (no pull) when the tiller is at or near midships.
--Where on the sheet to attach? Depends on how much deflection you want--I aim for a deflection of about 15cm/6".

After learning how to do it, it takes a few minutes of adjusting to get sheet-to-tiller setup for a particular course.

Sheet-to-tiller demands a better balanced boat than a windvane does. Either will handle a slightly unbalanced boat, but, for instance, Issuma's windvane can usually steer on a broad reach with or without poling out the jib. Using sheet-to-tiller on a broad reach, Issuma's jib needs to be poled out. This also means that setting/dousing/reefing sails is likely to require an adjustment of sheet-to-tiller steering.

So, while I really like Issuma's windvane, its great to be able to use sheet-to-tiller as well.

Fin Whale
Wed Oct 22 23:03:15 EDT 2014

Often these whales seem to swim along with us for a while. We've been seeing them since southern California.

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