What a ride!
04/24/2013, Ensenada, Baja, MX
It was anchor up at 5:45 AM and we where committed. We where also the only boat leaving Turtle Bay... We reached the Navidad and Cedros Islands just after sunrise and the winds started to pick up. Our decision to stay on the east side of the island was correct. We had a few hours of nice warm motor sailing along the Cedros coast. As our nose poked out from the tip we got nailed. In 500 yards the winds went from 8 to 23 knots and we were sailing at 7.5 knots with no engine assist. Unfortunately the wind clocked around to the nose and we spend the next 18 hours in miserable conditions We dropped of a couple of waves so hard that light bulbs came out of sockets or just broke and a 20 foot section of rub rail separated from the boat. We also discovered, to our amazement, that we where not alone.
It is said that if you can the San Francisco Bay you can sail anywhere. I don't know if that is true or not, but I do know that SF Bay sailors look at weather and grib files with a different set of criteria. This day illustrated this point. The other boat 'out there' was Crissy from South Beach Yacht Club in San Francisco, all of the SO Cal boats stayed put. For the next 2 days we stayed within 5 miles of each other. Fortunately by noon the next day things smoothed out and we where motor sailing at 6.5 knots. This is more like it, although still no fish and it was still in the 50's.
The last 30 hours moved so well that we pulled into Ensenada with time to handle our Mexican check-out. We heard it was easy, but you truly don't comprehend until you do it. If you are deciding if you should check in/out here or at Cabo, do it here. For a Mexican port town I found that I really liked Ensenada. The downtown area is fun to walk around and the roads and public spaces are all very well maintained. We met some new friends heading south and had a great dinner chatting about destinations and life in general. If any of our cruising friends see Carpe Iam please introduce yourselves. We decided that since we accomplished the 'major' checkout that we could rush everything into the next day and get moving north.
Today was a cram day that included laundry, bulb repairs, cleaning, etc and we even managed to find some fresh Oysters and huge clams. We pushed the oil change off till San Diego since the only Delo 400 I could find was 35 US per gallon. I was not out for engine work today though. Our dock neighbor Jim has a Columbia 41 with the same Perkins 4-107 we have. He was having trouble getting some high pressure lines fitted to his new fuel pump so i spun some wrenches for a bit. To return the favor he drove us and our 10 bags of laundry to the lavandaria, BONUS! I am going to miss the cruising community down here.
For our final dinner in Mexico it was steamed shellfish with sautéed garlic in a butter drizzle with fried rice served at Chateau La Ducky. A nice finish to our trek up the Baja coast. It occurs to all of us as we finish the day the adventure is winding down and we are all ready to be home...
Brief Update for a long stay...
04/19/2013, Turtle Bay, Baja, MX
So much for a quick stop to grab fuel. The weather window slammed shut the day we got here. There have been several boats, including the large boat fishing fleet, that have joined us to wait it out. We have pretty much been stuck to the boat with 30 knot winds and large swell. The last few days have seen a decrease in wind and a noticeable increase in temperatures (YAH!). I still dislike Turtle Bay as a whole.
We have been into town a couple of times to grab provisions and use the internet for weather info, etc. We have also met a few boats as well. Intrepid is completing a 12 year circumnavigation and heading back to San Diego. Sun Babies also caught up with us here and they are taking the slow track back to San Diego Yacht Club. Sweet Cherri will be joining us in Alameda, but probably a couple of weeks after we get home. We also chatted with a crew from a Transpack 52 that left Miami headed to Newport to tack part in this years TransPac, sometimes I don't mind my heavy slow boat. Watching these guys come into the bay during the storm was tiring.
After watching all 6 Star Wars, all 4 Twighlights, all 4 Indiana Jones and the entire West Wing series we are happy to note that it's time to go! We probably could have left today, but we got beat up for 6 hours on the way hear and decided to be prudent. Tomorrow starts a huge weather window that goes all the way to San Francisco and lasts more than a week. Our plan is to pull anchor at 5:30 AM and be in Ensenada on Monday. We are going to Naval Marina against better advice, but the price points are just to far off. We are hoping to clear on Tuesday then head direct to San Diego on Wednesday. Once we clear in then it's and overnighter to Marina Del Rey and the final decision on Marcus will need to be made. Oddly enough when he discovered that we only had 3 nights from Del Rey to SF he changed his tune, we'll see what's up then.
Our spirits are up, the weather is getting warmer, and we are exited to be coming home. See you all soon!
Northward ho! (or really due West)
04/13/2013, Off the coast, Baja, MX
It was a brisk and damp morning that met the crew way too early. We had the anchor up before the sun and managed to get underway. Our destination is Turtle Bay, if we can make there by 12 on Sunday we may be able to get fuel and water for a Monday departure. Probably not.
Yesterday, well really the both days we where there, we discovered the true hospitality of the residents of San Juanico. As we walked around town everyone waved, we had a few people stop and chat with us. Several mentioned the boat and it's unusual graphics. Our saving grace was Armando, a local Langostin fisherman who noticed Nicki and I dinghy in with 3 garaphons (5 gallon water jugs) and 4 jerry cans. He met us at the beach and offered to run us around town. We where eternally grateful as he drove us uphill to the water plant, and then to his home to fill the jerry's. He showed us around his property and was proud of the new Matrimonial addition he was building. We never figured out if it was for him or one of his 4 sons. His youngest son, Giuero, helped us get the water back to the dinghy and then they where off.
Curtis and I set off to get the water back to the boat. We then headed off the Farmers Market. It was small, but imaging our surprise when we found Farmers and Ranchers instead of the usual Flea Market/Bizzar crowd. The fruits and vegetables where outstanding and Nicki picked up some Lamb for Lamb Curry tomorrow in Turtle Bay. The boys took the food back while Nicki and I walked the hillside and looked at the really cool houses on the 'upper side'. It is not a Las Hadas/Santiago neighborhood, but there are some really neat houses here. I can understand the draw to this town if you can handle the isolation from city comforts. The whole crew is happy of the routing change, we really enjoyed our stint and Bahia San Juanico and look forward to coming back in few years. Today is looking good, the wind is off the nose. We are able to deviate slightly and motor sail picking up a knot or 2.
If things don't change we are hoping to pull out of Turtle Bay Monday or Tuesday and stop over half way to Ensenada. I wish we could read the blog and FaceBook posts as I am sure someone will have a good recommendation as we have received before. Well other than bitter cold temps, the sun is out and seas are calm so we are just Ducky!
The Bash is still cruising...
04/11/2013, Bahia San Juanico, Baja, MX
There is a psychosis that comes with the first bash. I find it more prevalent with those cruisers who pre-plan, discover, ask questions, get advice (both solicited and unsolicited) and read material more so than those that just decide on a whim to head North. That psychosis changes the trip from cruising to a drudgery that makes the trip north burdensome. That is where we were when we left Cabo. We decided that the only way to get North was to push ahead, wait the weather windows, then push some more. While smoldering in Bahia Santa Maria stuck on the boat for 8 days we where all ready to be at home. We have been getting some advice, and weather info. from our good friend Chris G. at home who is familiar with the trip. As we watched for our window it was looking good for Wednesday. We decided the best time to leave was early evening and that Turtle Bay was our best target. We also where thinking Bahia Ascunciun and Bahia San Juanico if we needed to duck in sooner. We had no reliable information on either of the later, but Turtle Bay was stop #1 on the Baja-Ha-Ha so we knew what we getting into there.
The winds where finally receding on Wednesday afternoon which improved our outlook on leaving. Curtis and I started stowing and tying off everything. At the same time the large boat fishing fleet was pulling into the bay and setting anchor. By the time we started pulling anchor there where 4 of them, and the evening winds where picking up. I grew up fishing off the coast of the Pacific North West. I have family in the Coast Guard and the professional fishing fleet. It is a fact that a working fishing boat will go out in some very nasty conditions, but when these guys come in for weather you don't want to be behind them. We left with some apprehension and a firm resolve to turn around if we felt it was prudent. As we pulled out of the harbor we got hit with 13-15 foot seas at 8 seconds, but only every 8th wave... It was interesting as we motored into 20 knots winds, every minute or so we would fall off the backs of these large waves. The cape is about 3 miles and reminds me of conception so we treated it as such and road it out past the point. It didn't get worse, but we had to be mindful of Marcus, so we enacted the 'Rule for surviving cruising #3' - be flexible. We pulled up the coarse for Bahia San Juanico and it put us just of the wind with waves of the forward beam. Much more comfortable and much faster. So we left Bahia Santa Maria at 4PM, Mountain Time and at 7 PM Mountain Time we finally had a destination. The rest of the ride was just cold and dark. By 11 PM the waves had subsided to a more comfortable state and everyone fell into the overnight routine.
We pulled into Bahia San Juanico at 11AM this morning. I am tempted to throw Charlies Charts for Baja in the garbage. This is a cool little town. The beach landing was cake, there is an awesome double right break out on the point and tiendas and fuel (you have to get it from the station about 4 blocks in). We managed to grab provisions and get 10 gallons of diesel (Nicki even talked a local into driving them down to the beach) and some awesome grub at El Burros, which is also a surf shack. It was reasonably priced and great food. The guide book says the town survives on it's fishing fleet, but it appears that it has also become a surf spot and tourism is making a good profit as well. There a several nice houses that look more at home on the mainland than here on the Baja coast. The boys have been lobbying to stay so they can spend the day ashore tomorrow. There is a farmers market and other stuff going on so we are taking a lay day ashore, then it's off for Turtle Bay on a 36 hour run. We will spend one day there and pick up 350 liters of fuel, 100 gallons of water and stores for a week. We are looking for a spot to hit between there and Ensenada to break up a 3 day run. On the up side, Marcus has used the down time in Bahia Santa Maria to assist with recovery and he is itching to spend some time ashore moving around. On the downside, we are starting to see the end of our little adventure.
We're still here...
04/08/2013, Bahia Santa Maria, Baja, MX
Well, the weather set in and big winds came up. It put the sea into such a state that the surf is incredible to look at. Not really for getting through. Curtis had a pretty intense incident with the kayak. Consequently the last few days have been focused on getting Porthos to do his business on the boat, which finally occurred and I have mixed emotions about. There is a distinct feeling of isolation here. There is one other boat in the harbor that arrived the day after we did. The Sirena, out of Avalon, CA, has been here but no one has left boats to visit due to sea state and temperature. Did we mention it's cold? The wind and water temps are right at 60 degrees and we are trying to find all of our cold gear.
Last night we had a pleasant surprise when a panga showed up peddling fresh lobster. These where so fresh that after we negotiated price and quantity they went fishing for them. Two hours later we had 4 fresh lobsters in the pot. The dinner and a movie feature on Rubber Duckies was Lobster, tomato soup and Bicentennial Man. They even offered to take us in by panga with the pero (dog) for an hour today, weather permitting (unlikely as of this sending).
The biggest issue is that the clouds rolled in yesterday and the solar panels stopped producing. We are trying to decide if we want to make the 50 hour run to Turtle Bay or the 40 hour run to Bahia de la Ascunciun. The gribs and forcasts are hinting that a late Wednesday departure is the earliest we can hope for and at this point we are thinking of Bahia de la Ascunciun, otherwise its Bahia Juanico. Someone please order good weather for us, we are beyond cell and internet range!
I think we made a wrong turn...
04/05/2013, Bahia Santa Maria, Baja, MX
As we where filling our tanks with 310 liters of diesel Nicki chatted with a crew member from a Santa Cruz 70 that attempted to leave Monday for San Diego. Their plan was similar to Adrenaline's, head 100+ miles offshore then sail up. They made it about 50-60 miles out and it was so rough that they broke one of the forward 'O' frames and limped back to Cabo... The day was looking better than it had all week, sunny, warm and breezy. We managed to get off the fuel dock by 11 AM and we where off.
As we cleared Cabo Falso the wind shifted to on the nose and the waves started picking up. Our course was a rhumb line to Bahia Santa Maria, but we decided to deviate inland and stay on the shore where the waves where smaller. This added a few hours to the trip, but it made for a smoother ride. The only real excitement was that our course put us in the middle of a big boat fishing fleet right at sunset. Marcus did well and is starting to do some watch duty during the day.
My real problem is that the temperature dropped so dramatically that we are now wearing sweaters and foulies during the day. We are now moving into Sea Lion territory. This is starting feel like sailing on the San Francisco Bay, not the coast of Mexico. We should have turned left out of Banderas Bay...
BTW, no fish...