02/08/2011, Bahia Tortuga
We last reported that we planned on heading out of San Diego bound for Mexico on Sunday January 30, but the weather forecast wasn't favorable so we delayed until Tuesday. On Monday Virginia took our van to Long Beach to her parents' home and returned to San Diego on the train. That night we treated ourselves to dinner at the Boathouse restaurant in the marina.
We had been in San Diego for about 3 weeks and during that time had finished some major projects such as SSB radio and watermaker installation, but we also spent considerable time packing everything into the boat. Dennis, the master packer, did an amazing job and we were able to fit our full size mountain bikes, a cart to pull behind the bikes, some beach chairs, nearly every tool Dennis owns (including all his power tools) as well as several other items we had considered 'luxuries' that we might have to leave behind. And it is all stowed - not a lot of clutter on deck. We have an extensive inventory list that we need to get into Excel so that we can find things as we have them stashed in every nook and cranny on the boat. During that process of sorting and packing, the boat looked terrible for a few days with all our gear piled up on the deck. Thank goodness we had such nice weather those three weeks to allow us the luxury of keeping things out in the open allowing us to concentrate on the projects. Our 'neighbors' were probably happy that the "trailer trash" boat finally cleaned up.
We headed out Tuesday morning at 11:00. We had 10 knots of wind out of the southeast and managed to sail for a few hours. We headed further offshore where the weather grib files we had obtained via email over our radio said we would have better wind. We found more than enough wind and got a lot of practice reefing the sails. Running the reefing lines back to the cockpit worked perfectly again and again and again. The plan was to sail overnight to Punta Baja. But following the wind took us quite a bit offshore and as the wind was from the SE and against the swell, it made for very sloppy seas and the distance to Punta Baja became quite unattractive. So we didn't try to make that and headed instead forPunta Cabras. A pod of dolphins and four spouting whales welcomed us as we approached the anchorage Wednesday at 14:00.
We were in an unfamiliar anchorage with wind blowing just shy of 20 knots so we set the anchor alarm on the GPS. It awakened us in the early morning, but all was OK. We had our wind generator on overnight and realized that it was a good warning tool for increasing winds...another new sound to get used to, but it's not annoying.
Thursday, February 3 we did some projects in the morning including repairing the guard around the bow light . It had broken loose and instead of guiding halyards and other lines near the main mast away from the light fixture, it was gathering them all in. It caused a bit of trouble when taking down the spinnaker the previous night out to sea. This was the first time Dennis climbed the mast in an anchorage - thankfully a calm one, but still a challenge. At 11:00 when we were ready to pull up anchor two fishermen approached us selling lobster and abalone. We declined, but it was tempting. We were able to sail most of that day. We must already be adjusting to the cruising life as we have decided that we will just take short hops down a couple coves rather than more overnighters (the fact that evenings are dipping into the 40's made the decision quite easy). We arrived at Punta Colnett around 17:00.
Friday, February 4 next stop was to be San Quintin at 9:45. Dennis set up the fishing gear, but we only caught a banana peel and some seaweed. It gave us practice on how to handle the boat if we ever do get something on the line. We had calm seas and mild winds so had to do a lot of motorsailing that day. We spent time working on our Weatherfax - we are determined to figure it out and get it working, even though we've been told it is a museum piece. San Quintin is a huge bay and we had the place to ourselves. We arrived around sunset and anchored off the Hotel La Pinta, where we dropped off Greg J. a few years ago on one of the Baja Bash trips. It has been cold, very cold, since we left Santa Barbara. We are wearing long underwear, neck scarves, gloves, and multiple sweatshirts/jackets day and night. We are anxious to get to warmer weather! But the anchorages have been calm and we've been sleeping soundly.
Saturday, February 5 we spent time checking into some of the southbound radio nets (Chubasco and Baja nets) before heading out. We planned another short hop to Punta Baja. We motored most of that day, only sailing, with spinnaker up, for the last hour or so. The variable wind and wind direction has motivated us to try a variety of sail combinations utilizing the new inner forestay and mizzen staysail stay. Dennis is anxious for that day with the wind on the beam at around 10 knots when he can fly all five sails together. Again, we had the anchorage to ourselves. It was a bit rolly, but Dennis' homemade flopper stoppers really calmed down the boat motion. We were determined to learn how to post position reports onto our website from the radio and did so that night.
Sunday, February 6 we awoke to fog. We waited for it to clear before heading out. We planned another overnight trip down to Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay). We have stopped here on our three Baja Haha trips and we are looking forward to visiting the town again, including our favorite restaurants. Favorable NW wind allowed us to sail ALL DAY Sunday and most of the night. It was wonderful and took our mind off of the fact that we weren't hosting or attending a Superbowl party. It was a much milder night trip, no reefing required. We saw the sunrise over Cedros Island. As we passed Pt. Eugenia, the sea was teaming with wildlife. Sealions were frolicking and jumping out of the water; a big gathering of floating seabirds took to the skies as we motored through the center of them and settled back down behind us; huge dolphins swam and jumped alongside the boat and at our bow as we entered Turtle Bay. We could hear music playing from shore and it was warm! We'll stay here two nights, visiting an internet café in town tomorrow so we can post this blog.
If you place a question/comment on this site that desires a response, we will try to review them when we have access to the Internet and add a section to our next update that addresses them. Otherwise you may just contact us through our current email ([email protected]: Dennis or [email protected]: Virginia).
We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves and starting to unwind.
01/31/2011, San Diego Harbor Island West Marina
We must apologize for slinking out of Santa Barbara like thieves but we were still completing preparations up to the minute we had to shove off to avoid the ire of the SB Harbormaster. We also just needed to get out of town as the call of house projects kept luring us away from our boat projects. We would have loved to invite everyone to the boat to show off all our new gizmos but time just did not permit. We've been in San Diego for 3 weeks and made so much progress on the boat items.
We have finally completed all critical projects (after only three weeks!?!), provisioned, and are looking at an attractive weather window for leaving Harbor Island and heading south Tuesday morning, Feb 1 (Santa Ana conditions -offshore breezes into the 15-20 kt range should send us scooting down to Turtle Bay, our first stop in Mexico.
Last Friday we took the boat out of the harbor to test out two of our critical boat projects - the SSB radio and the watermaker. We have tested the email capability of our SSB radio which Dennis installed and all is functional (this is significant because most vendors recommend installation by experienced technicians). This critical piece of communication/information equipment stymied us for a while as we were getting an excessive amount of background noise which we couldn't eliminate, preventing us from hearing anyone clearly. Fortunately we had several experts to consult with (it's not who you are, it's who you know...). A local guy advised that Harbor Island Marinas are notoriously noisy, making reception virtually impossible. We needed to get out of the bay to test our watermaker, so we motored out beyond Point Loma and turned on the radio to discover that we could now hear an operator in Hawaii loud and clear. Problem solved! BTW, the watermaker worked perfectly as well, magically turning salt water into good-tasting fresh water.
As many of you know, Libertad, has gobs of storage space. This turned out to be a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because we could bring an amazing amount of "stuff" to make our voyage comfortable and make us prepared for most contingencies (system failures). A bad thing because we needed to create an inventory spreadsheet to remind us where we stashed things!
We plan to start with an overnighter, if the winds and sea conditions are good, down to Punta Baja. Our second leg will be to Turtle Bay.
Since we are starting 3 months later than originally planned, we are thinking we will delay on crossing the pacific until next season. Those of you that might have been contemplating joining us for the puddle jump will have to wait until Spring 2012. This season we will take more time in Mexico, Central America, and northwest South America - as far down as Ecuador or Peru. Those of you interested in joining us for parts of the trip in those areas, let us know! We'll leave the boat 'somewhere down there' and fly home for a few months in summer/early Fall. But....we'll see how things go...gotta remain flexible!
01/23/2011, San Diego Harbor Island West Marina
We left Santa Barbara on Sunday January 9, as our last blog entry reported, around 12:30pm. There wasn't much wind and so we had to motor/sail out to Smuggler's on Santa Cruz Island. It was a bit rolly and so I got queasy, but Dennis put up some sails to stabilize the boat and I soon recovered. We didn't see any wildlife, just one freighter. We arrived at sunset and joined the one other boat in the anchorage. It was a quiet, restful, night - and we really needed that.
Monday we headed out at 5:00 am, hoping to arrive in Avalon on Catalina before sundown. We had light winds, on the nose, which made for slow going. So we headed off course to get a better angle on the wind, passing by Santa Barbara Island. The mainland was hidden from view all day by the marine layer - eerie, when you are trying to say goodbye. We had lots of freighters emerging from that thick layer as we neared San Pedro. The wind direction never changed in favor of a course to Avalon, so we headed for Cat Harbor on the back side of the island. As we approached the Harbor we saw two whales spouting on our starboard - finally something other than freighters! That change would leave us a longer leg to San Diego , so it would be another early morning start. Cat Harbor was very empty; we got a great mooring with a straight shot out of the harbor. We decided not to go ashore and had another restful night aboard.
Tuesday we left Cat Harbor at 4:00 am. We could see a cruise ship all lit up like Disneyland just ahead of us. It was a very calm morning and the island was beautifully backlit by lights from the mainland. We had 7-11 knots of wind after we cleared the island and got to sail, briefly, before the winds died and we were motorsailing again. But those of you who know Dennis know that we tried several sail combinations before we gave up on sailing. We had the A-symmetrical spinnaker up, then the drifter, but not enough wind even for those sails. As we passed by San Clemente Island we got our own personal airshow. We heard a thunderous noise approaching and looked up to see navy jets overhead. The first one made a radical turn just above us to go straight up - it was amazing to see. Didn't have the video camera close enough at hand! The next couple weren't quite as dramatic of turns, but fun nonetheless to watch. That got our juices flowing and we were restless, so we decided to hoist our new new mainsail staysail and determine the position for the track installation.
When I was down below preparing lunch we had a visit from a pod of dolphins. It was warming up. We were able to take off a couple layers. At 3:30 pm the wind clocked around and we were finally able to put up the spinnaker and sail, for about 90 minutes. As we reached Point Loma and headed into the San Diego harbor, we were greeted by helicopters circling overhead, another pod of dolphins and a beautiful red sunset. We were so relaxed - something we desperately needed after the last 6 months of hectic activity remodelling the house and making cruising plans.
But....there were more boat projects on our list that we intended to do in San Diego, so we would be there for a couple weeks before heading to Mexico.
01/09/2011, Santa Barbara
We have been in the Santa Barbara marina this past month and it has been nice to have the boat closer to home during our preparations for heading out. Some of our friends with special expertise were nearby to help and we could crash at home at night and leave projects midstream without having to clear a spot to make dinner and bed down for the night. Tomorrow we finally head south. We will take our routine 3 day route to San Diego (Smuggler's on Santa Cruz Island tomorrow night, Avalon on Catalina Monday night, and into San Diego on Tuesday). We will take the train up to Santa Barbara to close down the house and shuttle our cars to Long Beach (we are storing them at my parent's house), and then catch the train to San Diego. We expect to be in San Diego for a week or so, working on a few more projects and visting family there. Then at the first good weather window, we head to Baja and expect to have more interesting things to report!
We haven't left yet, but soon! Our house remodel is taking longer than we thought, but the big projects are completed. We are working on the interior finishing touches. We get up early each day to tile and paint. It is all turning out so nice, we will definitely be enticed to return and enjoy it at some point. But right now, we are getting anxious to get underway.
We moved out of our slip in Ventura. Libertad is in the boatyard for a check-up. In a few days we will bring it up to Santa Barbara to a transient slip. Having it closer to us will hopefully allow us to spend more time on boat projects alongside the house projects and get us ready to go.
As the weather gets colder, we are dreaming of heading south to the tropics.
10/25/2010, still home in Santa Barbara
It was with a little bit of regret that we read about the Baja Haha fleet leaving San Diego this morning, as we had originally intended for our extended cruise to start with that event. But about five weeks ago we assessed the projects remaining on our house remodel and for our boat preparation and determined we needed to give up on a firm departure date. Good decision....we need a couple more weeks, but hope to leave sometime in November.
Family and friends are interested in our itinerary and have asked for more details; some may be considering joining us on some leg of the trip. Our VERY ROUGH plan is to spend the first four months cruising Mexico, Central America, and South America as far as Ecuador, cruise the Galapagos in March, and then head out across the Pacific towards the Marquesas in April. We will connect up with others doing the "Puddle Jump" who are leaving from Ecuador so that we have some company during that crossing, sharing information on weather, fishing, and other items of interest over the radio. We will stay connected with those at home via Sailmail email and this website.
We will wander through the various island groups in the South Pacific and work our way to Australia and New Zealand by November of 2011. Then we will take a few months break, doing land travel in those two countries, flying home for a visit, and deciding if we are liking it well enough to continue the adventure. If all goes well, year 2 we will travel to the Med via Madagascar and the Red Sea. Year 3 we will head across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.
But most of that is sheer speculation as it all depends on the wind, the weather, and if we are still having fun!