Sailing South

S/V Mariah with Trish & John Billings

15 January 2017 | Tropical Mexico
27 November 2016 | Mazatlan
25 May 2014 | Mission Bay, San Diego
04 May 2014 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
05 April 2014 | St. Maarten
17 February 2014 | Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, DR
31 December 2013 | Thompsons Bay, Bahamas
20 December 2013 | Long Island, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
11 November 2013 | Marsh Harbor, Abaco
31 October 2013 | Grand Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
21 October 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
15 August 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
17 July 2013 | Charleston, SC
14 June 2013 | Hilton Head, SC
14 May 2013 | Key West
18 April 2013 | Key West
25 March 2013 | Venice, FL
06 March 2013 | Orange Beach, AL

Just Add Water - San Diego to Mazatlan

27 November 2016 | Mazatlan
Trish Billings
Just Add Water - San Diego to Mazatlan Oct 31- Nov.27, 2016

We left San Diego Harbor on Halloween morning amidst much fanfare with 150 other boats on the Baha Ha Ha bound for Cabo San Lucas via Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. The horns were blaring, the Coast Guard was spraying water from their hoses, it was great fun. However, there was no wind, so we all motored for several hours. By the time we got some distance away from the other boats, the wind came up along with the swell and we corkscrewed our way down the coast. The weather was beautiful and the sailing/motoring would have been wonderful if not for that aforementioned "corkscrewing" down the face of the waves.

Our wonderful crew, Janet & Don Boursier, were excited to try this monohull stuff (they have a Tri-maran). Don found out that he was really glad he bought a tri-maran as he got horribly seasick for 2 straight days. Not much help for doing watches, but we couldn't begrudge him since he felt so awful. His humor was restored by the time we got to Turtle Bay and was able to catch up to us in copious amounts of alcohol consumed. Our conversations at sea were heavily tilted towards drinking and seasickness, the result being that Don re-named our boat, The SS Betty Ford Colonic. We also renamed Don. He is now referred to as Ralph Chumley.

From the Technical quarter...explained by John:

Lessons learned from Don (our crew), the shade tree VW mechanic.

We set out from Turtle bay, ready to do the next leg (about 200 nm), switched on the auto pilot and got an audible alarm and warning from the "infallible" B&G autopilot that the hydraulic pump was not working. That is bad. We never hand steer least I don't. Trish is always doing the hand steering and the rest of the time Mariah is pointed at some lat/long GSP point to goto.

So, when the alarm went was shocking. The steering is all hydraulic, in that there are no cables or racks, just pistons and such. The pump is just a DC motor that turns one way to steer starboard or reverses to steer port. It stopped working! In anticipation of this passage, I had replaced all the hydraulics with new hose and pipe, had the helm rebuilt but did not pay any attention to the hydraulic steering pump!

We figured it was a brushed DC motor & Don suggested tapping it with a hammer to (free the carbon off the brushes & advance it just a bit) just like an old VW starter motor, which can do the same thing. So, we hand -steered to an nearby anchorage, anchored and had a look. After opening up the access panels Don tapped the motor on the brush end & I applied power...and it worked!!!

We were not the only cruiser to experience autopilot problems. Breakages and damage affected a number of boats after a night of 25 - 28 knots steady wind with 7-10 foot (on occasion 12 foot) following seas). The B&G unit is touted as the best system available (5000 hour MTBF) and we are at about 1500 hours...but this leg had been a real workout. The Fonzi tap did the trick!

End of technical discussion...back to Trish's blog...

Don also taught us to fish. I know, I know, but really, it's like rocket science, you just gotta know stuff. For 3 nights running, we put the fishing pole out at 4 pm and caught a fish for dinner. We thought we were the most fabulous fisher folk. But, of course, we haven't caught one since. On the second fishing night, we had our pole out and immediately found ourselves in the midst of a "tuna boil." Wow! Hundreds of dolphin swimming behind our boat pushing hordes of tuna in front of them. The tuna and the dolphin were all jumping out of the waves behind us. It was amazing and terrifying as we were afraid we would catch a dolphin with our hook. Unfortunately, we were so excited that we didn't even get a good picture of it. There is a picture included in the link below of open sea. If you open the picture and zoom in close, along the horizon you can see a frenzy of activity in the waves. Pretty amazing.

The Ha Ha was fun and we met a lot of fun cruisers, but I think if we did it again, we would take our time coming down the coast and, instead of doing overnights at sea, we would stop in at ports along the way. We feel that we missed a lot and suffered with the overnights. Turtle Bay is a wonderful huge protected bay with a quaint town and lovely people. Bahia Santa Maria is also a wonderful huge protected bay, but uninhabited except for some fishing shacks. In both places, we swam in crystal clear water, visited other boats and drank a lot. Great fun!

We arrived in Cabo San Lucas on schedule and decided to anchor outside the harbor. Bad idea! Boy, did we roll! The southerly swells rolled under us on their way to the beach while the wind kept our bow broadside to the waves. Terrible! We left there as soon as we could and went to San Jose del Cabo...and stayed in the marina. We met up with a boat named 'M' and a dinghy named 'Q'. We went about town with them riding the buses, going to the MEGA grocery store and enjoying a bottle of wine on each others' boats. When they decided to head to Mazatlan across the Sea of Cortez, we went with them along with 6 other boats (it was a good weather window). This required an overnight sail and we were able to talk to the other boats all night long so it didn't seem so lonely. We and M decided to go the city anchorage on the south side of Mazatlan while the other boats all went to the marina. We had a mostly lovely 2 days at anchor near the commercial entry of the port, watching cruise ships come and go. We took the bus into Old Mazatlan and found this fabulous market (see pictures) where only locals shop. It's like a farmers market with individually run for meat, one for chicken, one for cheese, etc. And the fruit stand, oh my, heaven!! We had breakfast at one of the stalls, 2 plates of huevos rancheros, 2 coffees and 2 bottles of water for $5 US. The groceries that we bought excluding the meat and the bucket cost $7 US. And the bus ride to get there...50 cents.

While in the anchorage, we climbed to the top of the highest lighthouse in the world and yes, my knees got me there...eventually. Man, it was hot! The only problem with the anchorage was that when the wind was just right (only a couple of hours per day), we were downwind from the city sewage treatment plant. We only stayed 2 days and are now in the marina with other group. El Cid Marina, the "cruise ship of marinas" complete with an activities director for bingo, darts and water volleyball, has been a good place to park while John went to visit his mom in Carlsbad. There are 2 beautiful swimming pools with "Disneyland-esque" waterfalls and slides. I have managed to always find some child to befriend so I can follow them down the water slides. Hee hee! It is very hot and humid here and whenever I get cranky, John takes me to the pool to "just add water.'' Then, I'm happy again.

On Monday, we will have the boat hauled out for a bottom paint job. That will keep us here until Wednesday or Thursday. After that we plan to head to Puerta Vallarta and more adventures.

Until then, Mariah out and standing by on channel 69.

Click here to view the photos for this blog.

Vessel Name: Mariah
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan 41
Hailing Port: San Diego
Crew: John & Trish Billings
About: John & Trish hail from Mission Beach in San Diego, are avid body surfers and dinghy sailors. They are in their first year of full time cruising.
Extra: We are cruising the East Coast of the US until November when we will head South again.
Gallery Error: Unknown Album [1:]:22797
Mariah's Photos -