Update At Last!
18 January 2012 | San Jose Del Cabo
Well it's been a while since our last post, a lot has happened. We took the month of November as an opportunity to make some $$ and went back to Fort Lauderdale where we were both able to pick up work. It also provided us the chance to see friends and family that we won't be seeing for some time.
Back in San Diego we rushed around tackling last minute jobs. Downwind Marine was ridiculously kind and helpful as usual. And without our friends Walter and Roxy we would have froze to death. At the last minute we took our main sail in to Ullman Sails with a huge gash and hopes of a quick repair. They worked with Drew's ideas and within a couple days time were able to provide us with a sail that we could actually use. With 12" cut off the foot of the sail, we are now able to stand in the cockpit without fear of being decapitated by the boom. Our sail inventory was pretty weak before we visited Doyle Sails in Costa Mesa. They had a couple of sails lying around that worked out perfectly for us and at a decent price too. We now feel more capable of sailing under variable conditions.
We left San Diego early Christmas morning. We had decided to skip Ensenada and check in at Cedros Island instead. But without a cruising guide for the Pacific Baja coast, we didn't quite know where to go and ended up at the very southern end anchored in a fisherman's bay 73 hours after departing San Diego. We came in at night which wasn't too bad except for the giant kelp bed we motored through. We were greeted by a school of good sized humbolt squid hunting bait fish on top of the water. Drew was so excited, as soon as the anchor was secured he was all over the squid. He had one on board after five minutes of trying. They are equally eerie and fascinating creatures, pulsating with color and squirting streams of water and ink. Drew prepared and ate it for dinner which won't happen again, not as tasty he imagined.
Next stop was Turtle Bay only a day sail away. Since we are still hand steering the day sails are much preferred to the over-nighters. Fishing was okay, we caught a kelp bass (?) and a sheepshead, both were really nice eating. It feels good to be looking to the sea for sustenance again. There are dolphin that swim right through the anchorage all day long. Although we hadn't checked in, we went ashore for dinner, internet, diesel and water. We took water straight from the dock and treated it with bleach, no problems with that. We forgot about New Years until we woke to hollering Mexicans with guns and/or fireworks. They love to stay up late with blaring music anyway but give them a reason to party and they'll show you what's up.
Looking forward to warmer weather and water we left Turtle Bay for Bahia Santa Maria, about a two day sail. Just outside the bay we saw a marked difference in water temp which brought fish! Drew caught his first Mako shark using a hand line. He pulled it straight to the back of the boat. It looked to be about 5 feet in length. They really are a beautiful shark if there is such a thing. Just as Drew got it along side and we realized we were were going to have to do something with it, the shark miraculously let himself off the hook and swam away. Shortly after, we made way for the entrance to the bay and had our first encounter with a humpback whale. They are currently migrating North along the coast and are quite a sight. They were all around us at the entrance to the bay. We could see the spray from the blow hole first then a tail and then suddenly a whole 25 ton whale body leave the water and come crashing back down creating a splash visible for miles. We stayed only a night in Santa Maria, we were excited to press on to Magdalena Bay where Gray whales congregate to give birth.
We arrived a little too early to Magdalena Bay and didn't see whales like we had hoped. There were a few at the entrance to the bay but we later learned that February is when the majority of the whales make their appearance. We did some flounder fishing after watching the locals and had a nice meal before leaving the bay, Cabo bound.
We found some good wind about 20 miles offshore from the South East and were cruising along at 7 knots when we noticed water spilling from the engine compartment onto the galley floor. Drew pulled up the floor boards to discover water coming in backwards from the bilge pump. After stopping the leak by closing the valve to the sea cock we were able to pump the water out and calm our selves enough to deal with the next catastrophe as we started to smell burning. Again, Drew frantically ripped up the floor boards to find the starter motor smoking. He shut off the main power and disconnected the brand-new-$500-now fried starter motor.
Drew championed through a six hour watch with wind, no wind, wind, no wind until we rounded Cabo Falso at sun rise. Now with the current trying to push us up on the rocks Drew launched the dinghy and pushed us with the Yamaha until we were well clear of the rocks and able to sail into the anchorage. After some much needed sleep we took the dinghy into town to finally check in. We spent three nights in the anchorage and though we spent most of the days in town, were not charged the rumored $200 pesos. We really enjoyed Cabo despite the jet ski ridden, rolly anchorage. The people were great and it wasn't nearly as expensive as rumored.
After muchos tacos and cervesas we agreed we should make for La Paz and deal with the starter motor there. La Paz is 150 miles from Cabo so we would do it in legs. First one being to Los Frailes a meager 45 miles. No problem, right? Dead freaking wrong. We left Cabo San Lucas at 7:30 am on Jan 13 with little to no wind, wind, no wind, wind, no wind, then as we rounded the tip of the peninsula we met with the 15 knots we were expecting, on the nose. (Right Don?) That 15 knots built to over 30 until we were absolutely beating into 600 miles worth of square fetch from the Northern Sea of Cortez. We clawed and scratched our way to within 6 miles of the anchorage at Los Frailes when we had to jibe to get through the wind. Our stupid charts on the GPS were telling us we were on land in pitch black darkness with rocky shoals somewhere between 0 and 2 miles of our keel. We had no choice but to turn around and run with wind all the way back to Cabo. By this time the boat was trashed. We watched the fridge eject itself and land upside down on top of our dishes, glass everywhere, beer bottles from inside the fridge broken and leaking beer. A mess! And we were both done. With the wind now behind us we were cruising down waves at 7 knots so Drew put out the drogue to slow us down. It was a quiet sail back, feeling quite defeated. We decided to put into San Jose del Cabo and try to get into the marina. We dropped the anchor out front of the breakwater and took the dinghy into the the marina office. On the way in we met a friendly Aussie who led us in the right direction and within the hour we were towed in by local fishermen and tied to the dock.
So here we are, in San Jose del Cabo on the dock in a beautiful marina surrounded by bunches of beautiful people. We just received word our starter has been rebuilt but we have decided to stay a month here and finish projects needing our attention. Among those projects is skurfing behind he dinghy, fishing for dorado, drinking blue stuff with the neighbors and really just enjoying ourselves. We urge you all to come and visit, now is a good time! Mexico is awesome, the food is cheap and awesome, the fishing is awesome, the weather is perfect, and safety is the least of concerns. Come on...
So relaxed in So Cal!
28 September 2011
So at long last we have an update for you in blog form! This wasn't nearly as daunting a task as I had conjured in my mind. But nonetheless we have been severely taking it easy since we arrived sometime last week. Neither of us knows exactly what day that was which has to be a good thing. Now let us get down to the details of the trip.
What we thought was going to be an 8 (or so) day affair actually turned out to be an over two week ordeal. First off let me say that the seemingly innocent Strait of Juan de Fuca was a miniature nightmare of it's own. Well, not really a nightmare but the crazy currents in pitch black fog had me hollering for Drew to wake up as I fell into some strange vertigo and could not figure out how to steer us out of the spin. Just hours before, while looking for an anchorage we came to the aid of a sail boat (Pura Vida?) hailing us on the VHF after running aground, hard. Drew hopped into our dingy and after 20 minutes managed to pull them off with their main sail halyard but not before nearly getting pulled under in the process.
We arrived the next morning at Neah Bay, delightful place: yummy smoked salmon, good cheap fuel, delicious water for the tank and free internet at their tech center to check the weather one last time. All good, so we pulled out the following A.M. and with nerves tingling rounded a magnificent Cape Flattery. A sunny day found us cruising along at 7 knots under genoa only. Happy with that, we set our course and got to hand steering.
For two days, 20 miles off shore, we raced along pleased with the wind speed, our speed and the overall performance of Born Free. Short lived! By the eve of day three the seas and wind built and the fog rolled in making hand steering a real chore. Not to mention the incessant banging and things flying about the boat scolding us for our haste and improper stowage. We grew real tired real fast. The decision was made to make a rest stop at Port Orford, Oregon. Heading for the entrance in the dark with the wind continually increasing we noticed a "new" sound. Upon inspection, Drew discovered the reefed genoa in shreds. With the engine pushing hard we barely had steerage fighting the wind rounding the point but managed to drop anchor just after sunrise escaping the worst of the weather. Of all the sketchy entrances, this (non-bar) port was a great place to duck out and get some rest.
Despite the stress of the fog without radar, and the seemingly endless hand steering the rest of trip was alright. We made a rest stop in Drake's Bay followed by Half Moon Bay and then the Channel Islands. I can't say enough about this stop over in the islands. Since we were now clear of the big bad Point of Conception (flat calm, nearly hit a whale) the air and water temp was markedly warmer. And what happened to all that bloody fog? We were able to share the beach with Cali sea lions and elephant seals, hike to the top of San Miguel barefoot (highly recommend shoes), bask in some warm sun while tensions built up from the PNW coast melted away.
Since then we have managed to settle into our new and cost effective (free) anchorage of a home with the help of many friendly yachties as well as the delightful San Diegoans.
A big shout out to our Everett peeps for all the help, support and company while in WA. (Chad, that sewing machine saved our butts in Port Orford. Our back up genoa was a #6 luff to our #5 extrusions).
Much more to come......