Due West Adventures

The sailing adventures of Captain Kirk & Heidi, Tosh and Tikka Hackler . . .

17 March 2019 | Puerto Vallarta
25 December 2018 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
26 August 2018 | Puerto Vallarta MX, ABQ, NM, and SEA, WA
01 May 2018 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
24 December 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico
02 November 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
11 October 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
16 September 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
29 June 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
26 May 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
07 April 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
26 February 2017 | Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, MX
30 January 2017 | La Cruz, Nayarit, MX
24 December 2016 | Banderas Bay, Mexico
20 December 2016 | Banderas Bay
27 November 2016 | La Paz, B.C.S. Mexico
14 November 2016 | Bahia San Carlos Mexico
17 October 2016 | San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Leg 14: Oceanside to San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico

03 January 2016
Oceanside ~ San Diego ~ Ensenada Photo Gallery (see more photos from Leg 14 here.)

Bienvenidos Ensenada, Mexico!

Happy 2016!! Here's hoping all of you had a wonderful holiday season, endured the cold weather, the last-minute-shopping crowds, and the crazy family members...LOL! Our Christmas tradition is to watch the "Grinch" and Chevy Chase's "Christmas Vacation", if only to remind us just how "normal" our families really are! We had a very low-key Christmas in San Diego with Tikka and Tosh. No gifts for each other, just lots of boat parts, provisioning, LOVE and Gratitude for our abundant life, including our friends and family!

Oh! We did give each other new safety tethers to clip from our PFD (personal flotation device, a.k.a. inflatable life jacket) to the boat, pad-eyes or jack-lines. Our old ones were 20+ years old, and while likely still good, the 6' tether was a tripping hazard. Our new ones are stretchy and retract up shorter so you can't step on them. We are very safety conscious aboard Due West, and ALWAYS clip onto the boat when on watch alone at night, or when going forward of the cockpit, or anytime we're in big, rough seas. As Heidi keeps telling Kirk, if he goes overboard she may not be able to get him back aboard, so it's in his best interest to stay aboard! ;-)

Approaching Ensenada, Mexico.

We arrived in Ensenada Mexico just in time to celebrate the New Year! But before we get into our Mexican adventures, we need to step back and fill you in on our further adventures in Oceanside, and San Diego first.

The day after we arrived in Oceanside, Heidi had a meeting in Carlsbad (about 12 miles away) for a project with the Chopra Center. We contemplated renting a car for the day, or taking Lyft/Uber to run our errands. But via the wonders of Facebook connections, it turned out that a cousin of Kirk's old Air Force buddy, Michael P (RIP), whom Kirk had met years before, lived in Carlsbad and was eager to see us, catch up, and run us around on errands.

It was great to see/meet novelist-mystery writer Taffy Cannon. A HUGE thanks Taffy, for running us around to the Apple Store (to get Heidi's computer fixed!), to a yummy Gluten-free lunch at 2Good2B, and to the Chopra Center! Taffy even gave us a copy of her latest team-collaboration novel which is a FUN page-turner, Beat, Slay, Love ~ One Chef's Hunger for Delicious Revenge. We highly recommend reading it!!

Captain Kirk, Heidi, and yoga-meditation buddy Joan, out for Mexican food in San Diego.

Our spunky-fun, high-energy-friend, Joan, whom we'd first met last year at a meditation/yoga retreat at the Chopra Center, met us there again and gave us a ride back to Due West so she could see the boat and meet Tikka and Tosh. It was so much fun to see Joan and catch up over dinner. We feel so lucky to be able to connect with so many friends old and new as we travel.

We had hoped to leave Oceanside and arrive in San Diego on Tuesday, December 22 (because Heidi had an appointment in San Diego on Wednesday), however once again the weather gods weren't cooperating with us and we were stuck in Oceanside until Thursday...Note to self: NEVER make a plan to be anywhere on a certain date...the weather gods will mess with you! Tuesday it poured rain and blew sideways all day long.

So our next best bet was to take the train from Oceanside to San Diego on Wednesday for Heidi's appointment (thanks Taffy for that suggestion too!) We also needed to check-in in advance at our marina in San Diego and pick up a key since they would be closed when we arrived on Christmas Eve.

The day we arrived in Oceanside, just after surfing that hairy, we met a local sailor on the dock named Sean. We have met amazingly helpful people everywhere we've been and Sean was no exception, offering to drive us around for any errands we needed. We had originally planned to walk the 3+ miles to the Oceanside train station, but since Sean offered us a ride we gladly accepted. He even dropped us off at the more upscale train station in this picturesque old surfer/skate-punk town of Carlsbad. The hour-long train ride to Old Town San Diego followed along the coastline and gave us a preview of where we'd be sailing (or motoring!) the next day.

Kirk took a stroll around Old Town while Heidi was at her appointment. Check out the gallery for more photos of Old Town.

After Heidi's appointment in Old Town, Maryalice & Rick (who were still a few days ahead of us) picked us up in a car their friends had lent them, and drove us to Sun Harbor Marina where we checked in and got our marina keys. We had originally planned to stay at the Police Dock where Maryalice & Rick were staying, but our friend Gerry from Huzzah! clued us in to Sun Harbor Marina, which cost about half what the police dock charges, is located half-way between Shelter Island and Harbor Island, a lot closer to West Marine, Trader Joes, etc., and was the NICECEST marina we've stayed at yet. While our homeport Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle was a very nice marina, it has nothing on Sun Harbor Marina. Beautiful new art-inlaid docks and spa-worthy showers and bathrooms, plus nice laundry facilities, and extremely helpful managers Kathy and Celeste running the harbor office, accepting packages for us, and even delivering them to our cockpit! Note to San Diego-bound cruisers: STAY HERE if you can!

We were thankful that Maryalice & Rick were able to help us out with transportation around San Diego for a few errands and back to the train station that day, and really looked forward to meeting back up again in SD soon. Back at Oceanside we stowed the boat and made ready for the next day's passage to San Diego, a 6.5 hour trip, just hopeful that there would be no large waves leaving the harbor!

We got this shot on the way OUT of Oceanside, but it shows the type of wave we had to surf IN when we arrived.

Point Loma Light House approaching San Diego.

Feliez Navidad! We were SO EXCITED to finally arrive on Due West in San Diego on Christmas Eve! We'd flown into San Diego many times over the past 20-years to visit Kirk's parents or for sailboat regattas, and every time we flew low over the harbor when landing, and saw all the sailboats on Shelter Island and Harbor Island, we pictured Due West among them. We had originally planned to be here by Halloween, however, Neptune had other plans...See note above about making plans and Neptune... we considered ourselves lucky to be here by Christmas instead.

Christmas in San Diego has everything but snow...although we did get Hail on Christmas night!

Realizing we were getting later and later in the season headed to Mexico and wouldn't have much time to spend in San Diego (we needed to take any weather window we could to keep moving south), and that we were bumping up against the holidays, we had opted to order a lot of our spare parts and provisioning items ahead of time online and have them delivered to Sun Harbor Marina, to save us having to shop during the holidays. As it was, we still ended up spending a few Boat Bucks at West Marine, Downwind Marine, and various other marine parts stores and grocery stores in San Diego.

We spent LOTS of time (and money) on Shelter Island, where most of the marine related services and stores are found. Luckily Sun Harbor Marina was only a few blocks away.

Trying to be as self-sufficient as possible as we cruise south to more remote locales requires us to think ahead and bring "one of everything we think we might need." There is no "running to the marine chandlery" in many of the places we'll be going. And even in Mexico, many cruisers opt to buy a plane ticket home to buy parts and bring them back, rather than try to have them shipped to Mexico, as somehow ordered parts tend to disappear in customs and may never reappear...

Many years ago at a Puget Sound Cruising Club meeting, a couple spoke about their Mexico-South Pacific cruise, urging everyone to "stock-up on Hamburger Helper and Jell-O because you can't get those anywhere outside the US!" At the time we laughed, not eating those types of foods anyway, and as the saying goes, "People EAT everywhere in the world"--you don't need to stock up on food! We subsist just fine on fresh-caught fish, fruits, and vegetables, plus rice and beans, which are pretty easy to come by anywhere in the world.

Stowing groceries for our upcoming passages.

That being said, we do care a great deal about not putting environmental toxins onto and into our bodies (and into our cats!), and try we to avoid toxins as much as possible. This includes things like laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo/conditioners/deodorant and even toothpaste! It turns out that brands like Tide, Dawn, Crest, Fabreeze, and anything by Proctor & Gamble are actually some of the most toxic things in your house. The FDA doesn't regulate any health and beauty products, or household cleaners, and there are literally thousands of toxic chemicals used in these products, which have never been tested on humans. Heidi has written several articles on environmental toxins if you want to learn more.

While you can easily purchase all of those types of products in Mexico and Central America, finding toxin-free versions like Seventh Generation and NYR Organic is nearly impossible. So we stocked up on all of these things before leaving the US. Cat food is another one. We feed our cats high-quality grain-free foods (because cats in the wild don't eat grains!?!), and we don't want to have to feed them Friskies and other grain-filled cheap cat foods that you find in Mexico and beyond.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, lots of our provisions arrived in San Diego before we did. Our friends and fellow cruisers Kirstin & Eric whom we'd first met in Monterey, and who had just moved to San Diego, offered us the use of their truck for runs to Home Depot (for lashing-boards for our spare jerry cans); West Marine (for everything from new lifelines and boarding ladder to 12volt fans, and netting to keep the kitties on board! Even though it was only 3-blocks away, carrying some of these things a few blocks would have been daunting.) We also stocked up on water-maker filters; a rebuild kit for our head; new fenders and mooring lines (our old ones had really seen better days!) as well as Spanish for Cruisers, a great book with Spanish terminology for all things boating related! And Heidi stocked up on gluten-free products that would be hard to find outside the US. Having the use of Kirstin & Eric's truck was invaluable, and we can't thank them enough!

We even used their truck to take a quick trip to visit our dear old friend, Sally. Sally and her late husband Bob had also owned a Passport 40 like ours, and were our assigned "greeters" when we sailed in the Vic-Maui Yacht Race in 1996. They put on an amazing spread of food and bottomless Mai-Tai's when we arrived at the dock in Lahaina, and we had remained friends ever since. We were so thrilled to have a visit with Sally as we hadn't seen her in years, and she was just recently out of the hospital.

Great visit with long-time sailing friend, former Passport 40 owner, and fellow Lahaina Yacht Club member, Sally, in Mission Beach.

We also had a wonderful visit with family friend Vava. Vava's parents and Heidi's grandparents had been good friends, and she had grown up with Heid's mom, and has known Heidi her whole life. Vava was good enough to let us have some of our mail sent to her house and then took us out to breakfast and delivered our packages. It was like Christmas all over again! So great to see her and catch up. Among the things we'd had sent to her were our cruising guides for Baja and Pacific Coast Mexico, so we were eager to get our hands on those and start to look on down the coast.

Always great to see our family-friend Vava when we visit the San Diego area.

Maryalice & Rick had grabbed the next weather window and scooted on down to Ensenada just after Christmas, but we still needed to get a few things done on the boat before heading south to catch-up with them again. One of those things was getting our fuel polished. For you non-boaters, this is a process of removing the diesel from the tanks in the boat, cleaning the fuel, cleaning out the tanks, and then putting the fuel back in. On a boat, fuel tanks and the fuel itself can collect condensation as well as fungus/algae over time, which can clog fuel filters and/or cause the engine to die like ours had off the coast of Oregon.

We had looked for a fuel polishing service at every port from Port Townsend, WA to San Diego, to no avail. Luckily Maryalice & Rick had just had their fuel polished the day before we arrived in San Diego, and had given us the contact info for Roy, who did an outstanding job for a very reasonable fee. We now have sparkling clean fuel tanks and fuel to head down the coast. If you live anywhere on the coast from Washington to SoCal, there is a definite need for fuel polishers; you'd have great job security!

Roy cleaning our diesel tanks and polishing our fuel to remove water, fungus, and algae. Nice to head off to Mexico with clean tanks and fuel!

We also did a LOT of walking in San Diego, averaging about 5 miles a day between Trader Joe's, West Marine, and other stores. Walking is a major form of exercise for us these days. One late-afternoon we took our big (backpacking) backpacks and headed out on a 3-mile trek to Sprouts (a smaller version of Whole Foods.) The weather was forecast to rain, and dark clouds were looming, but we had our rain jackets and an umbrella, and hey, we're from Seattle right, what's a little rain?! Along the way the sky continued to darken, and the rain began to fall, and fall and fall in the hugest downpour we'd experienced in years. Who's idea was it to walk to Sprouts anyway?! We were using Google Maps on Heidi's phone to direct us through serpentining neighborhood streets between the marina and the grocery store, no grids or straight streets here, no street lights either.

One of the San Diego neighborhoods we walked through in the rain.

The rain continued to pour as hard as it could, the streets becoming rivers 3-4" deep with water, shoes and clothes were soaked. Suddenly Heidi's iPhone died and we lost our map. Kirk turned his phone on (we'd been saving his to call for a Lyft after shopping!) and it promptly died as well. Awesome!! What did we ever do without smart-phones?

We were two drowned rats, in the dark, pouring rain, lost in a neighborhood with twisting-turning streets... using our intuition we finally found our way out and walked another mile to the shopping center. Fortunately the first store we came upon was ATT, and we prevailed upon them to charge our phones for us while we went grocery shopping, so we could call the Lyft to pick us up afterwards. We were soaked to the bone, jeans completely sticking to our legs, and sooooo cold!! But Due West has an amazing heater (that we REALLY didn't think we'd still be using this winter!?) and we were toasty and dry soon after we got home. From Santa Barbara south, we've been wearing wool, fleece, down, and full foulies, not the SoCal weather we had in mind...we even had an almost White Christmas in San Diego, with large pea-size hale on Christmas night, to the point where Kirk was concerned that the hail would break our solar panels! Crazy climate change...

Every minute of our time in San Diego was spent shopping, provisioning, walking miles, stowing, or working on boat projects. No rest for the weary, unfortunately we didn't get to see much of San Diego itself, but we finally feel like Due West is ready to head south to more remote locations

We finally got our next weather window to leave San Diego and head for Ensenada on December 30th. YAY!! We would be in Mexico for New Years!! The trip from San Diego to Ensenada is about 10 hours long, but at this time of year there is only about 9 hours of daylight. Not wanting to enter a new port in the dark, we needed to leave San Diego in the dark instead...

O'dark-thirty leaving San Diego headed for Ensenada.

So up at 0400 and off the dock by 0500, making our way out of San Diego Harbor in the pitch-black, buoy navigation lights blending in with the city lights in the background and crab pots in the water made for a challenging exit. Not much wind and flat calm seas made for a long day of motoring. There is usually a 10-12kt southeast wind that comes up early morning, but just about the time you get the sails up, the wind dies and you have to take them back down. We've done that enough times to learn our lesson, and this time we were not tricked!

Tosh and Tikka are becoming quite the intrepid sailors, on this leg neither of them went into their hidey-holes, they just hung out as if we were at the dock! Tosh likes to come up into the cockpit and hang out on top of the companionway hatch, watching the ocean through the dodger windows. Tikka doesn't dare come outside until we're at the dock or anchor down, engine off.

The furbies, Tosh & Tikka, all relaxed and snuggling after arriving in Ensenada.

We are now in Ensenada for another week, waiting out our next weather window to head south. The rain is forecast to set in tomorrow for the next week, just to remind us of Seattle! We had hoped to harbor-hop down the coast of Baja anchoring in a different bay each night. However it appears that we are late enough in the season that winter storms are coming in every few days now and it may be prudent to beat feet when we get our window. So it's possible our next leg will be straight to Cabo, about a 5-6-day trip. Although we'd love to stop in Mag Bay if we can. Stay tuned...

Wishing fair winds and following seas for all of you in 2016!

Happy 2016 from Ensenada Mexico!
Vessel Name: Due West
Vessel Make/Model: Passport 40
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Captain Kirk & Heidi Hackler + Tosh & Tikka
Captain Kirk and First-Mate/Navi-Girl Heidi untied the dock-lines in Seattle in August 2015 and set sail for Mexico with our two-kitty crew Tosh & Tikka. We've been in Mexico since then.  
Kirk grew up sailing in Seattle and has been boating his whole life. [...]
Extra: See pix of our boat here: Due West Interior Photos and in the Photo Gallery.
Home Page: http://svduewest.com
Due West's Photos - Main
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Leg 1 of our trip to San Francisco, sailing from Port Townsend, WA to Newport, OR. Ducked into Newport to avoid a gale at sea...
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Created 29 August 2015