01 November 2014 | Current location: Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay) 27? 41.1'N 114? 53.2'W
Baja Haha Day 6.5:
Current location: about 30 miles offshore of Baja, south of Bahía Tortuga
Sorry that I didn't get yesterday's update online, but we were busy sailing and such. To make up for it, I'll give you an update for yesterday and today through about 2:30 pm...
Baja Haha Day 6 (Sunday, Nov. 2)
This morning on the radio check-in, there was some discussion about the weather forecast. Specifically, there were two similar but slightly different interpretations of the weather forecast by two different forecasters. It's kind of like when you wear two watches and they have different times; you never know which has the correct time.
While everyone was in agreement that Tropical Storm/Hurricane Vance was no longer an issue for the Baja Haha fleet, there was some disagreement on whether the conditions forecast for the area between Bahía Tortuga and Bahía Santa Maria, our next scheduled anchorage, were too gnarly for travel. One forecast predicted 15-20 knots of wind from the NW and 6 foot swells; the other upped the wind to 30 knots. The forecast provided by our weather prediction software was very similar to the first forecast. Some cruisers--the crew of SCOOTS included--considered the first forecast to be a ticket to a fast, though probably rolly, ride to Bahía Santa Maria. Others felt that it would probably be more boisterous a ride than they wanted.
During the morning roll call, the Grand Poobah had each boat indicate whether they wanted to stay in Bahía Tortuga for another day (or possibly more), or leave for Bahía Santa Maria today. About 30 boats--about a quarter of the fleet--opted to leave. SCOOTS was among them.
Because of his responsibility for the Baja Haha fleet, the Poobah stayed in Bahía Tortuga with the bulk of the fleet, while the rest of us headed out. About 20 boats eventually headed out, with one skipper volunteering to do a roll call twice a day on the single sideband (SSB) radio.
We started our run going downwind at almost ten knots, with the spinnaker poled out. For awhile were really flying...until the spinnaker pole broke. Yes, broke. Without any warning, our carbon fiber pole splintered: BAM! Eric ran forward to try to collect the thrashing spinnaker, shouting instructions back to the cockpit, where Seán had taken the helm and I was working the lines. There was much excitement and flapping of sailcloth for awhile, but Eric managed to snuff the spinnaker and we stuffed it in the foc'sle, while Seán steered.
Before we'd even caught our breath, we put up the jib and spent the rest of the day sailing downwind with the jib and mainsail wing on wing.
It was a rolly, squirrelly ride all day, and as sunset approached, we opted to take a reef in the mainsail, before our night watches. Seán and I went on deck to tie up the reefed mainsail, while Eric steered. What a crazy, bumpy, wet ride we had, as we headed up into the wind and waves to reef the sail and tie it down! The ride downwind is so much more comfortable, even if it is squirrelly.
I should probably mention here that whenever we're on deck at sea, we wear our PFDs and/or safety harnesses, and clip onto the jacklines that run the length of SCOOTS' deck, so that we won't be able to fall off the boat. Also, our safety rules for night watches are: (1) anyone who is in the cockpit at night must be clipped into the cockpit jackline, and (2) no one leaves the cockpit to go on deck at night unless there is another crew member present and you are both clipped into jacklines. We take safety very seriously.
Dinner was one-pot pesto spaghetti. I had the first watch, from 8 pm-midnight; Eric had midnight-4 am; Seán had 4 am-8 am.
Nov. 3. Still sailing...
Wow! What a rolly, squirrelly night we had! No one got much sleep on their off-watches. Bender, our electronic autopilot, did an excellent job of steering us on course, while the swells pushed SCOOTS' stern first one way, then the other, making her track like a corkscew.
Seán and I each had a ship pass us during our watch. They were well-illuminated, and quite easy to see at a distance. Otherwise, our watches passed without anything else notable.
This morning at first light, we gybed and angled back toward shore. Although we were originally projected to arrive at Bahía Santa Maria this afternoon, we are now projected to arrive after dark. This will be our first time anchoring at night. Bahía Santa Maria is a wide-open bay, with lots of room to anchor, not a bad place for a first time. Eric and I have anchored quite a bit lately, and there will be a bright half- moon tonight, so while anchoring at night is not ideal, it will be good experience.
After breakfast, Seán put some fishing lines off the stern. He hooked something big on the rod and reel, but after about twenty minutes, it got off. It didn't even leave us its head this time. As I type this, he's fishing off the stern again....
Eric is in the process of adjusting Leela, our wind-pilot, so that she can steer us instead of Bender. She does a great job when there's a lot of wind (as we have now), and she uses no electricity at all. So far, she seems to be dialed in really well. You may recall that she did an excellent job steering us from Seattle to San Francisco a year ago.
Also, lately Bender has not been playing nicely with some of the other electronics, most notably our SSB radio (which we use to download weather and to check in with the rest of the fleet) and our generator (which we need to run for about an hour every day to charge our batteries, make fresh water, and make hot water). He shows his displeasure by "checking out": no bells, whistles or alarms, he just silently and suddenly stops steering. As you can imagine, this can be quite disconcerting. So today, we've done some hand-steering while using the SSB radio and the generator.
So that's where we are right now. It's about 2:30 pm now and our projected arrival time is about 9:30 pm. Next time I write, I should be able to tell you what Bahía Santa Maria is like.