26 March 2014 | Ensenada, Mexico
Our voyage has come to an end. As I sit at the Coral hotel in Ensenada, I look back to the 4016 Miles that we have covered. The 3 countries that we have visited (Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico) and the two territories (Tortola - BVI and St. Thomas - USVI) and visited the cities of Tortola, ???, Colon, Panama City, Playa del Coco, Puerto Chipas (formally Puerto Madera), Acapulco, Manzanillo, Cabo San Lucas, Turtle Bay and Ensenada for a total of 54 Days since we left on this expedition, with a since of amazement. Most sailors will never have the chance to accomplish such an undergoing but this is my job and I appreciate every nautical mile that I have sailed.
Joining me (Captain Bobbi Rossini) on the delivery was Lance Botthoff, Roy Siliker (Tortola to Panama) and Swabby -Josh Denham (Panama to Ensenada, Mexico). Without anyone of you, the trip would not have been as much fun as it was. I thank you. I also want to thank the wives and family of the crew, Sheri Rossini, Linda O'Keef, Amiko Siliker and Bruce and Gail Denham for all the support and love you have shown us. It takes a special person to let a loved one run off for weeks or months at a time. And to Bob Adams, the owner of the Leopard 39 Catamaran.
Now on with the rest of the voyage to get here. The trip up the coast of Baja was met with much excitement from the crew. Knowing we were only days (6 to 9) away from being home, every wave we rode, every crash of the hull against the ocean, every mile we sailed took us one step closer.
Almost immediately, we noticed the temperature had changed. For the last many, many weeks our entire wardrobe consisted of shorts a tank top or maybe a t-shirt. That was about it. Temps have been between 80 and 90 degrees with a lot of humidity. Now, jackets are the norm. At night, full "Foulies" are worn.
The sail up the coast was a typical "Bash", as it has become to be know. Northwest winds right on the nose, including the wind swell generated by up to 27 knots of wind. Out of the west or west north west the normal swell that comes from the Pacific. All this makes for a bumpy ride. Little, if any sails are used at all. Crashing against wave after wave takes it effects on the crew. Always wondering if the boat can take it. It's hard to describe the sound as your boat lifts into the air at a 30 degree angle, pierces the crest of the wave and launches itself 60 degrees downward into an oncoming wave. Water breaks over the bow and floods the boat. Most hatches on this vessel, due to sitting in the tropics so long, leaked. Water finds its way into your bedding, where your clothes are stored and every other nook and cranny.
Once we left Magnella Bay, we found ourselves in this situation. During any particular shift our electronics might read 48 hours to the next way point. When the rotation of watches complete and you would once again sit at the helm, the electronics might then read, 53 hours to the next way point. Seeing this news, would have a depressing wave of discouragement wash over you. But little by little we kept chipping away at the miles. This portion of the Baja has never taken me so long to traverse. I would rank this in the top 5 of my most uncomfortable passages. Somewhere 60 nautical miles from Turtle Bay, I had a deliema. We were running short in fuel due to constant pounding. By following the route I had laid in, with the high seas we would certainly fall short of the target destination. However, falling off a few degrees, cutting one of the engines and heading towards land, where the waters should be a lot more calm might save us just enough. But that was a risk, what if the seas still exist that far in, what will the wind be doing when we need to cut back out, what if?
So I made up my mind a laid in a new course. It seemed to be working. Our speed had picked up by 3 knots, we were quartering the waves which gave a much smoother ride and we were making up the distance. An hour later, it was time to cut back. That's were the plan fell apart. The swell were no less than that of the deeper water. The wind still at 25 knots on the nose and now I had to go right through it again.
Within an hours, I told the crew we were not going to make it and we would now need to sail to our waypoint. This would add upto a full day of extra sailing, if not longer. We were all disappointed but no more than me.
I cut one of the engines and started heading west. Lance knew I was extremely frustrated by the ordeal and joined me at the helm station, if nothing else, just to make sure I was alright. Very near our original way point, we had a wind shift,this allowed us to cut back on our line while make "some" forward progress. Now the wind allowed us to cut back and forth along our route. Soon realizing that the seas had calmed and looking at our 1/4 tanks I told Lance we were going for it. We rolled in the jib, turned on both engines and headed straight for the mark. How long it would last, we didn't know but I felt we needed to take this chance. The plan worked, for four watches, the winds became our friend and by morning we had made it. Looking at the tanks, there was 1/8 of a tank left. The minimum that should be left on a boat.
It was a nice rest for a few hours as we waited for the fuel stations to open. Being on a Sunday and remembering the Mexico is very catholic, the stations might not be open for hours. On that note, Lance, once more, when up the mast to fix an ongoing short we had Steaming Light. I sent the boys ashore, since Josh has never been to turtle bay while I stayed on the boat cleaning it up and waiting for Anabelle (little fuel boat that competes for customers with the regular fuel dock) to show up. By 12pm, all fueled up we were once again on our way home.
Apon leaving Turtle Bay, just south of Cedros Island, Poseidon decided once more to throw his wrath at us. Soon after Lance stood his watch, winds would become Gale strength, that upward of 33 knots. Wind swell combined with the normal swell meant waves as high as 8 feet with extremely steep faces at very short intervals. The boat was being tossed around like the U.s.s Minow on Gilligans Island. Josh went forward to help Lance douse what remaining sail we had up. I joined Lance at the helm and literally hand steered the boat. I could react quicker to on coming monsters faster than the auto-helm. Both Lance and I hand steered for the next hour plus until we could reach the leeward side of Cedros Islands. Once there, things calmed down drastically.
Once to the other side of the island, the decision to anchor and wait out the winds was tossed about. But knowing our best chance to out sail the gale was in the very hours of the morning. Josh completed his watch at 12am. Now my turn as I exited the island for open water. I was right. The winds died to around 23 knots on my port quarter with the swell right on my nose. The seas were confused but without those 8 foot monster, there would be no chance in broaching the vessel. For the next 15 hours we motored our way through the pounding seas. Simply moving around the boat took every precaution. But finally we made it back to the coast where the seas and winds are a bit more predictable.
Ever wonder what we do on a day by day basis?
Much of the day, when not on "watch" is spent sleeping, reading or watching the lint in your belly button grow. I think Josh has it the worst being only 18, all the energy needs to be put somewhere. While on watch, a lookout for pangas and other vessels fills most of the time while dodging kelp fills the rest. We constantly watch the wind gauge hoping for a slight change in the wind direction, just enough to fill a sail but we typically watch in vain.
Food provisioning at the last port (Cabo) is always a challenge. I had Josh do a full inventory of everything we had onboard that was not eaten. We anticipate how many days or return would be and filled in our menu with what was left. What meals had blanks in them were filled at the super market. With all this precise planning, somehow we managed to have 4 jars of Prego sauce, two bottle of A-1 sauce and enough past to feed a Mexican army.
For those unaware of cooking on the high seas let me.......educate you. First, there is the sea state. In our case, a roller coaster ride. Second, food does NOT like to stay where it has been placed. It prefers to jump in and out of the pot, kettle, skillet or oven. Add in the cook, who very similar to the food has a hard time staying in the same place. A job most people prefer not to do. That's why so many sandwiches are eaten on a boat. I also believe that is why we have so much pasta left.
That's it everybody. Oh sure, the stories are incomplete and countless tales have been left out but that's the fun we get when we get a chance to see you in person. There's always more stories to be told.
Thank you for taking the time to follow us on this adventure. Here's a toast just for you:
There are big ships
There are small ships
There are all kinds of ships out on the sea.
But here to the best ships
The friendships, of you and me!
19 March 2014 | Cabo Mexico
Well we have crossed the Sea of Cortez and have arrived in Cabo in 3 days.
Finally, off the Mexican mainland and onto what feels like our extended state of California, Baja California. Just a few days away from warm beds, loving wife's, supportive families and of course our ever-loving dogs and puppies.
Leaving Manzanillo, was about of a roller coaster ride for the first 17 hours but as got more into the sea of Cortez it was much less of a pounding we were taking but much more of the mixed seas type sailing. Rolling, pitching, yawling and the vertical rising and falling of the boat. Both Lance and I felt bad for Swabby (Josh) as he had the forward cabin and could not remain horizontal on his bed without being lifted and thrown about.
Our plan now is to provision the boat for the remainder of the voyage, fuel up and head to Turtel Bay, about half way between Cabo and San Diego. There we will top,off the tanks and head to our final stop of Ensenada, Mexico.
We have finally arrive in Cabo. Somebody forgot to tell us that spring break was going on. Our plan is the part later today after we take care of a few Boat fixes. However we just viewed the weather report and see that there is a storm is just slightly north of us.
Poseidon's Fury: an Unexpected Journey
16 March 2014 | Manzanillo Mexico
Let me get you all caught up. I have a bit of time so please let me recap Acapulco. It's a beautiful city with a picturesque skyline. People are friendly and Marina Acapulco (la marina), is /will be a terrific marina. The major problem for cruisers going to Acapulco is the re-fueling situation. The are three Pemex stations in the bay, however, none of the three have pull up to docks. That means wherever you are at you will be using your dingy to fetch fuel. In our case, it was one road trip (supplied by our riggers) and two dingy trips. Luckily, I purchase two more 50 liter jugs that morning to compliment our 15 gallons supplied by the owner and an additional 15 gallon tanks picked up in St. John, giving me a total of 56 gallons in our jerrycans. Our boat holds 91 gallons of on board fuel. Tell you what....you do the math.
While in Acapulco, I had to have the rigging inspected and tighten. During our voyage the shrouds kept getting worse and worse. Before we even reached Costa Rica I could no longer fly the mainsail and the turnbuckles themselves were flexing. Something I have never seen before on a sailboat. Unfortunately, there were no riggers in Costa Rica and had to make a port that had the best chance to find someone. Acapulco was selected.
The job itself took several hours to complete. We took the boat out on a test sail in 20 knot winds with a professional racer on board to do the final inspection of the job. All looks good but will need to have me do a physical inspection when we reach our next port.
The same day a complete change of oil was done on both engines. Around 7pm we had completed only 2 task of the 4 to be completed that day. My crew was hot, dirty, sweaty, tired and hungry. What else could I do, so we went to dinner. The other task would have to wait till morning.
That following day breakfast, refueling the boat (dingy trips - see above), washing the boat, provision for the next crossing, shower and checkout was the order of the day. The plan was to depart sometime on the morning. Well 1:15pm wasn't too bad.
The next passage would take 5 days and a handful of hours to reach Cabo San Lucas. As I write this update, we are only 24 hours into the sail. The winds (12 to 15 knots) have been on the nose all except for 1.5 hours. We are also heading right into the swells making for a slow journey.
Log entry: we are 30 hours into sail and all he'll broke loose. I'm writing this passage some 17 hours later as Poseidon decided we had had enough.
It started out simple enough, with the winds increasing, pretty standard stuff. But they didn't stop. At its peak, as I sat at the helm, i saw the wind indicator top,out at 28 knots on the nose. By itself, still not bad but now add in the trade swell and the wind wave action and we were tossed around like a puppy with dad's old slipper. The wave height only topped out at a height somewhere between 4 to 6 feet with very steep faces but it was the interval of 2 seconds between waves that batted us around for 17 hours. To make any headway, both engines needed to be run and till we only averaged 2 to 3 knots of speed.
As I spoke with Lance this morning, he reported that he need to strap himself in to the helm seat rather than be tossed from the helm. I faired no better.
Back to the present moment. Unfortunately, we will now need to make an unexpected stop at Manzanillo, MX. the delay should be short as we only need to take on fuel. Last nights escapade used almost a third of our fuel to battle Poseidon. Not enough to make it to Cabo. Manzanillo is still 18 hours away, based on current conditions and speed. If all is right, we will pull into the fuel dock sometime in the am hours tomorrow.
1700 hours: Poseidon has once more seen fit to throw some more trying times our way. On Lances watch winds clocked to 24knots, which of course brought rough seas of 3 to 4 foot swells at 1.5 second interval. I do believe there is not a dry spot on the boat. We are once again taking a pounding.
Earlier, due to the extremely poor speeds at which we can maintain, fuel need to be added to each tank. A difficult job in turbulent seas.
It is unanimous, we all want to get home!
We arrived in Manzanillo just a few minutes ago. It's beautiful here. But getting in we had to deal with some extreme fog. As we were waiting for the fog to clear, very near was a ships foghorn. Without radar we had no idea where it was at. I was near the traffic separation zone and turned the boat 180 degree and full speed ran into the separation zone. We could here the large ship pass to our stern, never seeing the ship or how close he was.
After refueling, we went at anchored nearby. We dingy ashore for a few hours to answer emails, do some Cabo calculations, update this blog and take a quick break from the pounding seas.
Our plan is to depart in an hour or so. My next update will be from Cabo.
Work to be done
12 March 2014
Sorry for not updating the blog earlier but we have been very busy since we arrived in Acapulco. Coming up from Porta Madero we had an uneventful sail except for the sake that we were unable to fly the mainsail. Being on a port tack our starboard shroud was flexing like we have never seen before. Although we arrived in Acapulco yesterday we had many things to take care of including meeting with the riggers this morning.
The job of taking care of the shrouds took no less than seven hours and included an afternoon test sail. The company sent over four people to take a look at our problem.
We also had to take care of changing the oil as well as provision the boat and trying to figure out how we are going to refuel the boatl with absolutely no Boating fuel docks here. Our rigors took us to the PEMEX station to refill our jerrycans, we will have to accomplish that three more times tomorrow.
Again I apologize for not updating the blog sooner I will try to do a better job at our next court in Cabo San Lucas
07 March 2014 | Mexico
What a busy day. We had to circle until daylight before we would be interested Marina. After an hour or so I contacted the marina manager and issued us to come in. Upon arrival we had to stay on the boat till 9 AM when the office opened.
Sometime later I emerged with numerous documents, forms and papers. Immediately following that we were boarded by the port captain and naval officers for vessel inspection.
Immediately following that me and the boys needed to take off to the immigration offices and several other stops including the Port Captains office.
An hour or two later we had completed most of the paperwork. We only had time for a quick lunch then had to meet with Enrique who took his downtown to the local Walmart to provision the boat.
A Taxi ride home a few minutes to put away the groceries and up to the restaurant finally getting a chance to update the blog
At 8 AM tomorrow morning we have one more inspection of the boat then finish the paperwork here at the marina. The manager will call the Pemex station which we will drive the boat over there for refueling.
Then we plan on doing a straight run across Tehuanapeck.
The next stop will be Acupulco in around four days. There we will spend more than likely two days to see if we could fix the rigging on the boat. Then another four days plus to Cabo San Lucas. Cabo will be just a refueling stop and we will continue to push on to Turtlebay, which will be another feeling stop as we make the final run to Encinada.
This will be the last email update until we get to Acapulco.