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Sail La Vie!
San Diego to Catalina
Sue
05/14/2012

We enjoyed San Diego and met our new friends Cherie and Mike. Cherie and Mike picked Dan up at the airport and arrived at our boat with a picnic lunch in hand. We really appreciated that. Cherie then dropped Mike off at the airport and Shaun and I at Vons. She waited an hour and a half for us (reading her nook) and drove us back to the boat. Thank you so much!!

We left the next morning to head straight for Catalina, versus up the coast to Oceanside first, but the winds were 27 knots steady on the nose, which kicked up waves that were really rough. We endured, the guys caught a fish, and we arrived Catalina Island at 8:30 at night. Took us 14 hours instead of 10. The harbor patrol met us at the entrance and guided us to a buory where we have spent the last two nights.

We are headed over the Two Harbors as we speak.

Gotta go.........

Zihuatanejo to Puerto Vallarta
Sue
05/14/2011

In June, 2011, we helped Pete move his Sabre back up the coast from Zihuatanejo to Puerta Vallarta. On the way we were surrounded by an amazing pod of dolphins. It was truly fantastic and reminded us of why we do what we do. Click on the links below to see the video:

Dolphin Video

More Dolphins

We had a great trip, some rough seas, but all in all it was another great learning experience. If you talk to the dolphins, they will come to the boat!
It was great to spend more time with Pete, never a dull moment, that is for sure. Love you Pete!

Took possession of our boat!
Sue
04/15/2011, San Diego

In April 2011, we took possession of our new boat! Shaun and Dan went down a couple days before me, because I had to wait until after board meeting. They picked me up at the airport Friday morning and we headed to the docks. We were to take possession offshore, come back to San Diego for a couple days to work on the boat, clean the boat, provision, and outfit her with dishes, towels, etc. The offshore signing of documents and exchanging funds went smoothly. It was very interesting actually with photos of the local newspaper showing the date and photos of our surroundings to evidence where we were, along with photos of the GPS coordinates and compass. It was a beautiful clear day. On the way back to the Marina, the wind picked up and she handled fine. We were very excited! We never thought we would be the proud owners of such a beautiful vessel. It felt a little surreal. And then, in an instant, we almost lost her.... The now previous owner was at the helm and was bringing her into the slip. Why he was at the helm I couldn't tell you, but it was his slip so I guess we figured he should bring her in. We knew he wasn't very skilled at boating, sailing, or docking from previous conversations and actions; but little did we know! He lost control of the boat as he headed into the slip. The wind had really picked up and when he turned to starboard to head in he did not anticipate the wind. Before any of us knew what was happening, we were headed sideways down the fairway towards the rocks. By then he was totally out of control and we were afraid to grab the helm in case we made it worse. He was able to stop the boat inches from hitting the rocks, put it in reverse, but then quickly got into trouble again. He ended up slamming into a small dock, heading for a rubber dinghy that was tied there to break our impact. At this point he was able to bounce off the dinghy and head back out the fairway. He decided not to try to go back into his slip again, but headed to the outside guest docks with more room to maneuver. At that point he tried to dock in a downwind slip and instead of bringing the boat in gently and allowing the wind to push her forward into the dock, he hit the throttle and was about to ram her into the dock. By this time Shaun had regained his composure and took the helm and brought us gently into the dock! We were so shocked. He acted like nothing was out of the ordinary, and I guess for him that was standard docking procedure! His broker was so shocked, he couldn't stop apologizing for his client, yet his client never once apologized because I don't think he thought he had done anything wrong. His broker even called us a couple times over the next couple days to say how humiliated he was and how sorry he was. He had never seen anyone mismanage a boat that badly before, let alone the fact that the broker is in charge of the situation when he is selling a boat. We are not sure who's liability it would have been had he smashed the boat up on the rocks. But money had already exchanged hands and the boat was ours at that moment when we almost lost her. We just couldn't believe it while it was happening, and it would have been quite a photo had someone snapped one of all of us with our mouths open in horror! Thank goodness we didn't have to find out. We spent the next two days at a guest dock at Southwestern Yacht Club, Dan and Shaun worked on the boat and I outfitted her like I was outfitting a new condo! That part was fun. We were finally ready and we headed out of San Diego Harbor and into the ocean. It was a perfect day and we spent the night anchored at the Mexican Coronado Islands. We tried to tuck into a little cove but the Mexican navy guys came out and waived us away, so we went around the corner and anchored. It was a great feeling to be there. It was beautiful. We had a nice BBQ, Dan caught some kind of small weird looking fish, not to eat, and we enjoyed the evening. The next morning we pulled up anchor and headed downwind to Ensenada. Of course we didn't have much wind so we motored most of the way. We put Otto on the helm and the three of us took our sun chairs out on the back deck and read while we watched the world float by. Doesn't get much better than that! We arrived in Ensenada with no problems. The wind kicked up to 20 knots plus as we made our turn towards the Hotel Coral and Marina so we turned the motor off and sailed for 20 minutes till we reached the entrance. The Hotel Coral and Marina was to be our home for the next year. Wonderful Marina with a pool and hot tub and restaurant overlooking the ocean, close to downtown Ensenada. Beautiful place and the staff and people in Mexico could not be friendlier.

Puerta Vallarta to Zijuatenejo
Sue
01/15/2010

Puerto Vallarta to Zihuatanejo, Mexico
We first met Pete when he picked us up at the Puerto Vallarta airport in Mexico with daiquiris in hand! Pete was looking for good crew and we were looking for offshore experience, not to mention a trip to Mexico! Our good friend Ollie had told Pete about us, he called, and we said "heck yeah", when and where!
Pete has kept his Sabre 402 in Mexico for many years. He loves the heck out of that boat, and we loved the heck out of her too. We had a ball moving that boat with Pete. He is a very dear, sweet man. Pete showed us all over Puerto Vallarta and some fantastic stops along the way down the coast to Zihuatanejo. We could barely keep up with him as he showed us all the great night spots. We had great meals, great conversations, danced, drank, and had a terrific time. Not to mention the sailing experience learning from one of the best in a great sailing boat. We stayed at some beautiful marinas and some even more beautiful bays. When we got to Zihuatanejo, we spent a few days anchored out in the bay enjoying the town. We got the boat and Pete down to Zihua in time for Sailfest and headed home. Hopefully, next time we will stay for Sailfest.

My first overnight passage!
Sue
08/10/2009, Santa Barbara to San Francisco

Overnight sailboat passages - A first time experience from a woman's point of view!
My husband and I have dreams of retiring soon and sailing off to warm Caribbean locations and beyond. So, when we were asked if we wanted to help deliver a 40' sailboat home from San Diego to San Francisco Bay, we jumped at the chance for the experience. There would be four of us on board, the delivery captain, myself, my husband, and another member from our yacht club.
A few days later, I found myself outfitted with a new set of women's foul weather gear, complete with drop-seat pants. Along with my special edition Hot Pink inflatable life vest, I was looking pretty good. Presentation is everything! Along with my new gear, I packed an optimistic pair of shorts and flip flops.
We had a nice dinner with a beautiful view at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club the night before. It felt like The Last Supper! The next morning I contemplated taking a shower before we left, but the Captain (and his wife I might add) told me we had plenty of hot water on board; I could take a shower any time I wanted. I was all over that, I would just take a leisurely shower on the sail up to San Francisco Bay. Little did I know...........
The weather was nice as we left at 8:00 A.M. Our first hurdle was Point Conception. I was terrified of going around Point Conception. It is called the Cape Horn of the California Coast. I had read and reread our book regarding this point and the book said to go around Point Conception in the middle of the night. That is the calmest time and with any luck you will have no wind and calm seas. Without luck, you can have up to 140% stronger winds and waves the second you round the point. That can't be good. I was all for hitting that point in the middle of the night. The crew and I did our calculations and figured we would get there around 1:00 P.M. I thought "Should I point out that is the most dangerous time to go around that point? No, I'm in good hands, besides we just threw the dock lines off". The captain's wife was driving home to San Francisco. "Is it too late to jump off and hitch a ride? No, I want to go. This will be fun". The wind was directly on our nose so were motor sailing. We got to Point Conception right around 1:00 P.M. I kept waiting for the wind to get wild and the waves to crash and for our little boat to suffer a knock-down. We went around the point and nothing happened, and I kept waiting. Finally I asked "When is it going to happen?" The rest of the crew looked at me like I was crazy. Nothing really changed but our heading! So far, so good. Conception Point had been my biggest worry. "Maybe I'll go down below and take a shower! Nah, I don't want to miss anything right now".
As we left Santa Barbara I announced I would take the first watch. We did 1 hour on and 3 hours off. No problem, we were motor sailing and the rest of the crew was in the cockpit! I could do this. Little did I know, I was setting a precedent. We had all agreed, previously, that I (the only girl on board) was not going to do watches by myself. I was along for the learning experience and would do watches with my husband, together, the two of us...at all times...you know, fun.
The first 8 hours or so, we saw dolphins, seals, and sea lions. Pods of them, hundreds of them. The dolphins swam right along side the boat. Evening came and so did the fog. Thick, thick fog. We could hardly see a thing. I felt confident because I hadn't signed up for night duty. The watch list was hung and I was shocked to see my name on the list every 4th hour. Apparently, since I did day watch, the crew assumed I was up for this. That was a big assumption. I looked at the list and I was due to come back on watch at 10:00.....at night....by myself. "Are they crazy? Did I mention I'm afraid of the dark? It's foggy, wet, and cold out here. You can't see anything......what we're we thinking?" Surely my husband would wake up with me and keep me company (like we talked about). I went down below, had a glass of wine, and crawled into our bunk. I left my foulies ready to go in the salon and slept in my long underwear and sweats. I briefly thought about taking that promised hot shower. My husband's alarm went off at 10:00 P.M. and he says "you're up". I'm like "Okay, let's go". I crawled out of bed and put my foulies on. It took me forever because I really hadn't worn foulies before. There were no lights on in the cabin because everyone was asleep and I had to find buckles and hooks and things. I looked around and discovered my husband was fast asleep in the bunk. "Traitor! Till death do we part brought on a whole new meaning". The Captain was waiting patiently for me. I came out on deck and it was so foggy I couldn't see a thing. He tells me to watch for other boats. If I see a green light off to starboard, that is fine. If I see a red light off to port, we are okay. If I see both red and white heading my direction, we are on a collision course... "Never mind he said, if you see any lights at all, wake me up". I asked, somewhat calmly, "Are you really going to leave me out here by myself?" "Do you really trust I can do this?" He says "Yeah, I'm going to bed". He tells me not to stare into the blackness, it will drive me crazy. Let Otto (Auto pilot) steer and go down below once in a while. Go up on deck every 5 or 10 minutes and search for lights. I couldn't see a thing and I thought it was because I hadn't put my contacts on. "Sorry Captain, can you wait another minute?" I knew I was stalling for time, but I ran down below and put my contacts in. I was sadly aware as I went back on deck that I couldn't really see any better......it was still nothing but fog. I asked the Captain "You're not a heavy sleeper are you?" He said no and went down below without another word and climbed into his bunk. I was now eerily, scarily, amazingly all by myself, motor-sailing a 40' Beneteau 10 miles off the coast of California. I clipped myself in with my tether. "It's black out here...what am I doing? I have people at home who need me....No, wait, don't even think about that. Not many people get the opportunity to do this. They might be smarter than I am....most definitely smarter". Hawaii was sounding pretty good right about then.
I hadn't been alone more than five minutes before I heard this big THWACK and SPLASH in front of the bow. I thought, "Holy crap, what the heck was that"? (I was undoubtedly thinking with stronger expletives). "Did I hit something"? The bow of the boat slammed down into the waves a few seconds later. Then I heard a loud noise off to starboard that sounded an awful lot like the noise a whale makes (on TV) when he blows air out of his blow hole. "I almost hit a frigging whale!! Did he go under my bow and come up on starboard? Is he mad? Is he leaving? What am I doing out here by myself in the total darkness? Where is the moon...where are the stars...where is the romance?" I felt so small. There was nothing but blackness, fog, and the sound of the bow slamming into the waves, over and over and over and over. Then I thought "It's actually kind of amazing. I can hear the waterline of the boat just slicing through the water. I can't see it, but I can hear it. Wow, I'm out here all by myself in this huge, massive ocean. I'm pretty sure there are dolphins all along side keeping an eye on things. I can't see them, but I can hear little splashes and noises. Nothing to be afraid of.......well, maybe if I were to hit that whale, or another boat because I can't see their damn lights. Not sure how the heck I'm going to see any lights, can't see the bow of the boat. Apparently, I should be able to see those tiny little freaking lights that all sailboats have on their bow at night. Red on the port side and green on the starboard. Steaming light on the mast. Hopefully the other boats out here read the same book I did and they know which lights to turn on. What about a big cruise ship......will I see it before I hit it?" I was staring too hard into the darkness, continually turning in a 360 degree circle, and driving myself crazy! Before I knew it, my husband came on deck and told me my hour was up and he was on watch. "Are you kidding me? That wasn't an hour. I'm almost not ready to go. Okay, I'd better go down below and get some sleep, because I'm due back up here, by myself, at 1:00 in the morning. Again...are they kidding me?" I checked the watch list again, yep, there was my name at 1:00 in the morning. I went down below, removed my foulies, and crawled into my now empty bunk. You would think the motion of the boat would make it impossible to sleep, but it's not bad, it's comfortable. My husband climbed back in an hour later, and then another hour after that it was my turn again. I climbed out of my bunk at 1:00, threw my wet foulies back on (yuck), put my contacts back in, and climbed out on deck. I found myself in pitch black fog...again....still. I did another 360 degree look. Seeing nothing, I went down below but I was nervous down below. It was dark down there too and there was nothing to do or look at. I'd rather be out in the cockpit. I went back up and sat down in the cockpit and I could see water and waves going by, shining in the light from our steaming light. "It's really kind of cool. The water is glowing and shimmering. It's luminescent....wow, big streaks of glow-in-the-dark fish or something going by. Lots of little glowing things....". My hour was up and I went down below. I slept for an hour and someone woke me up. I had no concept of time at that point, so I just got dressed and went on deck. "Jeez, I would love to brush my teeth. Oh well, maybe later, maybe take a shower". We had electronics trouble since my last watch and now we would have two people on deck at all times. Someone had to stare at the compass and steer us on a compass heading and the other person had to watch for the dreaded lights we may or may not be able to see. It was 3:00 in the morning and I found myself at the helm, without my friend "Otto", and I was trying to keep us on a course by staring at the tiny little lines on the compass. "Yeah, right! Turn the wheel in easy slow turns....oops, I'm off 10 degrees, heading up.......there, perfect, hold that course.......crap, I'm off 10 degrees in the other direction now...heading down.......there, perfect......no, too far.......crap, I'm off 10 degrees in the other direction again. This is not as easy as it sounds". We continued through the night with an hour on the compass, an hour watching for lights, then 2 hours below, and back on deck. Finally, morning came and I found it was much easier to keep a compass course when you could actually see the bow. We had now been at sea for 24 hours and I was doing watches like part of the crew. "Who would have thought?" I did hear a grumpy comment last night that I was 9 minutes late to my watch! "I couldn't help it, the zipper on my drop-seat pants broke"!
The next 10 hours passed comfortably. It was foggy, but we could see in the daylight. We saw lots of whales and dolphins and seals. Somehow we had reset the electronics and we had auto helm back. We were still doing shifts, but it was much easier in the daytime; most of the time someone else or everyone else was on deck. My husband and I went down below and crawled into our bunk and, amazingly, fell asleep almost instantly. The captain crawled into his bunk as well, and the remaining crew member (bless his heart) let everyone sleep for something like four hours. He had his laptop up on deck and he was working, believe it or not, working and billing clients, so he didn't care. We had dinner all together in the cockpit, canned chili on top of baked sausage! Everything was different, good, bad, amazing, wet, cold, warm, comfortable, incredible, scary, fun, exciting, long, and short! Time passes quickly.......and slowly out there.
On the second evening the winds picked up. The forecast was for 10 - 20 knots and we were getting a steady 23 knots. We were healed over a little more, but since we were not tacking back and forth, it was not a big deal. From Santa Cruz on, we had 23 knots of steady wind. With the wind directly on our nose, we were still motor-sailing and we had to go a few degrees off course to keep the mainsail from flogging. Eventually we would have to tack to get back on course. I saw a huge cruise ship in the distance lit up like a Christmas tree. I saw a big barge following the cruise ship. We didn't have as much fog the second evening so it was not near as dark. The moon was covered by clouds, but we could see some stars. I had a great, dry, uneventful watch.
We continued two separate shifts with two people, two hours on and two hours off. Eventually the waves got bigger, the fog got foggier, and sitting in the cockpit got wetter! The sole of the cabin was one big puddle of water. My new gloves were not really waterproof. I had to keep wringing them out. My fingers had that wrinkled look you end up with when you stay in the bathtub too long. Only it was saltwater and it was getting harder and harder to get that sticky stuff off my fingers.
I learned the hard way not to jump out of my cabin when it was time to do my watch, because the first time I did that my feet and socks got soaking wet. I did that watch with wet feet because I didn't want to wake my husband up looking for dry socks...I just took it like a man! I learned to keep my boots next to me in my bunk. I would get up, pull my boots on, go to the head in my long underwear and sweats, and then go back to the salon area and very carefully remove my boots again so I could get my very soggy gear back on (still looking good), then I would put my boots back on...again...all in the dark as the boat was pitching and slamming and yawing (I never really knew the true meaning of that word before). Even while I was sleeping, my body had taken on some kind of subconscious balancing act. I thought about all the calories I must be burning.
Speaking of the head, that was an interesting proposition, especially on that second night when the winds were blowing and the bow was crashing into bigger and bigger waves. You try to sit on the toilet, but it's not staying where it is supposed to stay. All of a sudden you're body is about a foot in the air above the toilet....and then you find yourself slammed back down on the toilet.....well you get the picture. They should mount that thing on a floating gimble of some sort. Thank goodness there is a light in the head! Enough said.
I thought for sure the crew would realize I was still the Princess everyone knew I was, and would let me sleep through my next watch as I huddled comfortably in my bunk, but then I heard someone say "You're up". "Damn it"! I took last watch with the captain at 5:00 A.M. It was starting to get light and it was just beautiful. The captain pointed out landmarks along the way, including Half Moon Bay. We were within a few hours. We passed a large cropping of rocks out in the water. We continued on and it was foggy again, very foggy. The captain was down below checking the charts and GPS and calling out heading changes to me. I felt like a pro at that point. Before I knew it, we came to this great big round red thing in the middle of nowhere. I asked "What the heck is that thing?" The captain replied, "That's the Golden Gate Bridge"! I'm like "Where the heck is the rest of it?" We slipped discreetly under the Golden Gate very close to the South Tower (isn't that the demon?). At that point we had to watch for the cruise ship and the container barge we saw earlier on watch. We could hear on the radio their approximate whereabouts. They were coming in behind us. The Bay was total fog, so we maneuvered by GPS and chart headings and got out of their way. Another huge container ship was going out the gate, and we got out of his way. Dang, we passed very close to that ship. It reminded me of a comment my first sailing instructor said when I complained we had come too close to something. She asked me "Did we hit it?" I responded "no". She smirked, "Then we weren't too close!"
Before I knew it we were cruising down Raccoon Straights. There were a few other boats out there (not sure why at that time of the morning), but we could see now. I pulled into Richmond Yacht Club, the captain took the helm and a few minutes later we we're docked. He backed that boat in like it was a scooter. We docked at 8:00 A.M., exactly 48 hours from leaving Santa Barbara. We packed up our gear, secured the boat, and went our separate ways. Wow, were we really out there?
I never once changed my underwear, didn't take that shower I was promised, and brushed my teeth once; but I was smiling when we got off that boat!
8/31/09

Happy 50th!
Sue
01/04/2008, Belize

January 4, 2008, Happy 50th, Belize.
Shaun and I both turned 50 in January 2008. Our next charter was out of Placencia, Belize, this time a catamaran. The Moorings Base is beautiful. I love this little town. I could live here. Gary and Sandy came with us on this trip. To get to Placencia, we took a small island hopper with about 12 seats. We landed on a short dirt strip and they took us by taxi to the Moorings Base. The taxi driver, as most of them are, was a wealth of information. We did our briefing and took off on this magnificent 40' catamaran with four cabins and three heads. The shower was bigger than our entire bathroom back home.
We motored a short distance to our first anchorage spot as it was getting late. The next day we anchored at a place called Lagoon Caye. It was truly one of those beautiful lagoons you only see in movies. It was on the "do not go here" list of our briefing, but it was my birthday and I wanted to go there! So with the dinghy anchor dangling off the bow as a lead line to test the depth, we very carefully made our way through the opening of this lagoon. We were in a catamaran so our draft was not much, 3 ½' according to the manual, but the entrance to the lagoon was really shallow. We went in at high tide and made it with half an inch to spare (we like to think). Once inside, we were the only people in the world. It got deeper once we got past the entrance. We spent two days there and got out the kayaks and swam and enjoyed laying on the trampoline. Gary and Sandy made fajitas for my birthday, everything was perfect. It was definitely an Uncle Wiggly adventure. Took a long shower with great water pressure in this huge shower. Didn't have to worry about water because the tanks on the cat were huge. I had a bottle of Marie Sharp's Habanero pepper sauce on board to go with dinner and it was fantastic. Shaun said I can't ever use that much water again on board.
The night before Shaun's birthday (50 too!) we anchored off South Water Cay. It was really hot, but a beautiful little island. Snorkeled up to the barrier reef, pretty cool. Salty, really, really salty. If I had a nickel for every time Gary banged into something on the boat and yelled "ouch", I would be rich. We anchored that afternoon in Pelican Cays, another pretty spot. Shaun and Gary took the dinghy over to the locals fishing and bought a fish. Woke up on Shaun's birthday to hardly any wind and motored to the next spot, Queen Cayes. Three itty bitty islands with palm trees and sand. Dinghied over to the middle island and went snorkeling. The snorkeling was amazing. The sunset was beautiful. We gave our lighter fluid to some fellow cruisers the night before in exchange for cheese, so Shaun used dinghy gas for the BBQ. Yuch!.
We met Marcia living on her boat in the cove in Pelican Cayes. She lives by herself on a 25' sailboat. What a character. She rowed over in her dinghy with a bowl of fresh caught fish and we invited her for breakfast. We had bacon, eggs, fresh pineapple, mango, some kind of mystery fruit, and orange juice. Marcia had been out here for a month, and she was very excited about breakfast. Marcia regaled us with stories of Guatemala and Belize. She was originally from New Jersey.
After a short 7 days, we headed back to the Moorings Base to drop Gary and Sandy off and Shaun and I took the cat back out by ourselves for two days. We ended up at Laughing Bird Caye by ourselves, except for a local fishing boat. These guys were free diving off their boat and coming up with lobster. We took our dinghy over and bought some lobster fresh off the ocean floor, cleaned and ready to throw on the BBQ, which we did. That has to be the best meal I have ever had. We snorkeled and there was flying fish all over the place. Huge schools of fish would jump out of the water, sparkling and glimmering, thousands of them. Amazing! I also saw a few mean ugly looking fish like sharks under there. Watching the schools of flying fish from the catamaran was really something you don't see every day. We stayed two more nights in a cabana on the beach overlooking the Moorings Base before we flew home. We had to dunk our feet in a bucket of water before we entered our cabana each time. We sat outside in beach chairs watching the charteres come and go, reading our books. A great big bright green iguana walked across in front of us, almost across our toes, and crawled up the tree!

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