Saturday, December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

San Jose

Since we were unable to connect with the insurance company and the boat could not be hauled into the following week, we took the opportunity to leave La Paz for a few days and connect with Roger and Karen on SV Meridien at Ensenada Grande - one of the anchorages on Isla Partida about a four hour trip from La Paz. 

Ensenda Grande - Isla Partida

I spent Christmas Eve day sewing on my Sailrite sewing machine making Michael's Christmas present - a cover for our Honda generator.  The original plan was to run the generator, but by the time Michael had the generator ready to start, I had figured out how to use the hand crank and had the cover half made.  We chose to enjoy the quiet of the anchorage and I completed the entire cover with the hand crank.

Christmas morning didn't seem like Christmas to me no matter how many Christmas caroles we played.  I set about baking cookies and delivered them to the four other boats in the anchorage - Meridien, a Moorings boat which was traveling with another boat owned by a young couple from Mexico City and a boat from B.C.  They all seemed delighted at the gesture and at last it seemed like Christmas.

We shared a delicious non-traditional Christmas dinner (pork tenderloin, yams with pineapple, cabbage and carrot sesame seed slaw) with Roger and Karen aboard Meridien, enjoying the warm, sunny day.

Jan McIntyre, who is taking care of our mail for us, tells us we received several Christmas cards.  We look forward to receiving them and reading them, but it may be a while before they catch up with us.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

La Paz at Last

Ponderosa and Odessa had originally planned to leave los Muertos around 9:00 a.m. yesterday to make it to Playa la Bonanza anchorage before dark.  However, due to the follow-up required after the accident it was after 11:00 a.m. before our boats were able to depart - pushing our time frame to the max.  We heard a small screeching noise when we started the engine and a small vibration that we had not had before the accident.  Ponderosa followed us for a while to make sure there wasn't some other problem.  The noise soon dissipated and Odessa motored along fine.  We were happy to find some wind around the point and sailed most of the way to Playa la Bonanza.

Playa la Bonanza is a large open anchorage with no known rocks, but points and reefs to each side of it to avoid.  It had been a long evening the night before and none of us had a good nights sleep.  We dropped anchor just as the sun set and collapsed to a well-deserved calm night at anchor.

This morning, the two mile stretch of white beach at Playa la Bonanza beckoned us to go ashore.  Reluctantly, we hauled anchor leaving Playa la Bonanza for another day and departed for La Paz, 21 nautical miles (3 1/2-4 hours) through the San Lorenzo Channel, just around the corner.  We needed to get to La Paz and catch up on three weeks worth of laundry and make arrangements to have the boat hauled for further inspection.

After successfully navigating the San Lorenzo Channel and then the long narrow channel into La Paz, we anchored nearby Ponderosa, south of the municipal pier a short distance from downtown La Paz, around 3:00 p.m. this afternoon - getting in a little late to get the dinghy down for ride into town and in order to get back before dark.  La Paz will have to wait for tomorrow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bahia de Los Muertos

The wind started to pick up last evening around 8:30 p.m. as we dinghied back to our boat.  The Blues Explosion had provided our entertainment at the sole restaurant on shore and we had dropped off a couple of young passengers (Tino and Valencio from the boat Neener Neener Neener).  As we approached our boat (in the dark) we saw a large power boat attempting to anchor nearby.  Before going to bed we noticed that the boat had anchored a distance up wind of us.  All night the wind howled gusting 25 knots and above.  Unnable to sleep,  I was up regularly checking to be sure we were holding and taking my usual 360 look around the anchorage. 

Around 12:15 a.m. we were both up and wondering when the wind would calm down and let us get some sleep.  The night before the wind had died around midnight and we were hoping for the same again.  The mainsail acted like it was trying to escape a sail tie, so Michael went up to secure it.  Hearing a clatter on deck and wondering if Michael had fallen, I poked out my head just in time to see and hear Michael blaring our fog horn at a huge power boat heading straight for us on our starboard side and to see Michael try to push the boat away (or push our boat away).  A man appeared at the bow of the other boat and quickly threw a fender between our two boats.  There was a horrible sound of chain and or anchor rattling along the bottom of our boat and out came chain to our stern with the large power boat attached.

Everything seemed to happen at once as we jumped into action.  Michael and I put on our headphones that we use for anchoring, he went to the bow, I was at the helm.  We started the engine as we were not certain if our anchor was still holding us or not.  Michael communicated to me to instruct the power boat what to do and I communicated to him via our radio.  I had previously made an announcement to the other boats in the anchorage (there were three other sailboats downwind) to alert them of the situation and to take precautions to protect their own boat.  Michael worked for 45 minutes trying to untangle the anchor and chain.  Finally, Michael said he needed a third hand.  We called Bob Custer on Ponderosa and asked if he could dinghy over to help out.  Michael started raising our chain and anchor and up came two anchors - our 65 pound CQR and a 122 lb Rockna from the power boat.  With Bob's help they were able to get the anchors separated.  It was now 1:15 a.m. or so. 

Exhausted from the episode, both boats  re-anchored and we said we would get together in the morning to assess the damage - it was a sleepless night as the wind continued to blow and Michael and I took turns on anchor watch wondering what damage we might discover with daylight.
First thing this morning we received a call from the other boat.  Michael dinghied over and they exchanged insurance information.  The power boat was headed to La Paz.  The damage was very visibile on his boat - his bow roller had flattened on the port side and his fiberlgass was all chewed up.   We were anxious to inspect Odessa's bottom - Michael and Bob put on their snorkel gear to assess the damage.  They saw some gouges in the gelcoast/fiberglass but nothing that would allow water to penetrate.  The prop appeared to be okay and we felt comfortable enough to proceed to La Paz to have the boat hauled and inspected further.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Leaving Los Cabos San Jose

After a midnight departure on Wednesday, December 8, from Bahia Santa Maria, we rounded Cabos San Lucas approximately 9:00 a.m. on Friday, December 9, slightly behind schedule - behind schedule due to what appeared to be a lack of oil pressure on Odessa's engine.  Fortunately (or unfortunately as there was no wind and we were motoring) the seas were calm enough to allow us to check the oil on the engine.  Everything looked okay, but why did the gauge continue to drop to zero?  Michael put in a call to Mark, our diesel mechanic back in Seattle, and hoped he would return the call.  In the meantime, we babied the motor along at an RPM that seemed to make the gauge happy and keep it in the "green" for the oil pressure.  Ponderosa slowed down with us as we rounded our southernmost destination on the Baja peninsula.  Mark did call back and after consulting with him, decided it was a faulty sending unit and not to fear running the engine at higher RPMs.  So, back up to speed as Cabos San Lucas faded in the distance and we headed 20 nautical miles to Puerto Los Cabos.

The marina is quite beautiful and we continue to be impressed with the friendliness of the locals.  The art of artist Leonora Carrington lines the walkways of the marina and we enjoy walking through our own outdoor art gallery. 

The roosters from the nearby community crow in the morning letting us know it's time to get up and get busy.  We have a planned departure of 10:00 a.m. this morning heading for the anchorage of Los Frailes as we work our way toward La Paz.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

360 Degree View - Last Night's Passage down the Baja Peninsula

As the sun is setting I realize that this is our last night on the passage down the Baja peninsula.  The seas are calm, no land to be seen and not another boat in sight as we motor into the darkness.  I made this video to share the experience.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Turtle Bay to bahia Santa Maria

1:16 a.m. -This is the second night of watch duty on this passage from Turtle Bay to bahia Santa Maria.  We should arrive around noon having departed on Sunday.  The days are blurred since departing San Diego.

Had I been told that I would be on my second overnight passage in a week I would not have believed it.  Somehow,  I had thought we were going to work our way down the Baja coast with short hops and the occasional overnight.  Then we talked with Bob and Sherry on Ponderosa about buddy boating since we were leaving the same day.

Ponderosa, having a longer water line and more sail area, is consistently ahead of us one to eight nautical miles.  It has been reassuring to have Ponderosa’s lights to focus on at night and to have VHF contact, as well, during the long, mostly uneventful, night watches.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fifty Hours to Turtle Bay

Crossing paths with Steve and Cindy on Victoria Rose on their way north.
The trip to Turtle Bay took 50 hours.  This was my first overnight passage and I was a little apprehensive.  Not only would this be my first overnight passage but it would be for two nights at sea.   I was glad to have Ponderosa along for morale support.  We departed Ensenada at 8:00 a.m. arriving 50 hours later at Turtle Bay at 11:00 a.m.

The forecast called for 15 knots or more of wind.  We were able to sail for a few hours and motored the rest of the way.  To watch the sun go down without another boat in site (except for Ponderosa) was a new experience for me.  It takes a leap of faith to rely on what you know (there weren't any boats in site when the sun went down, so why should there be any afterwards) and to rely on your instruments - chart plotter, GPS and radar.  It was very reassuring for me to have the stern light of Ponderosa to focus on in the dark and to watch on the radar as I passed my first overnight passage uneventfully. 

Did I say uneventfully?  During the night, as I was watching the chart plotter and radar I noticed a blip on the radar and the chart plotter showed a cruise ship on a course that would pass within 1/2 nautical mile of our boat.  I was not certain whether his course would take the boat to our stern or bow.  Ponderosa was about 1 nautical mile ahead of us.  A big boat like that threading between the two of us was more excitement than I cared for.  I called Bob on the VHF radio to see if he saw the boat, but it wasn't showing on their equipment.  Our AIS program gives the name of the vessel as well as the dimensions, speed, etc.  So, I hailed Silver Cloud on channel 16 and said something like "We are two sailboats, traveling together, southbound - one 40 feet and one 47 feet - do you see us?"  He had me wait when he came back to confirm that he did see us.  I asked him if he would be passing to our port or starboard.  He said "port" and I said okay - but didn't feel comfortable with that response.  Then he came back on, and said he would be passing on our starboard side and he changed course.  Whew!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Plaza in Ensenada
It was an early morning rising at 3:00 a.m. for a scheduled 4:00 a.m. departure for the trip from San Diego to Ensendada which would allow for arrival before dark.  The morning greeted us with winds gusting to 25 knots on our beam, not good conditions for Odessa or Ponderosa to leave the dock.  The two boats maintained communication every 15 minutes while we watched for a lull in the wind and an opportunity to leave until, finally, at 6:00 a.m. the wind dropped to 8 knots and we were on our way. 

Once we were out of the protection of the bay, the seas were higher than any Michael or I had encountered and the wind 25 knots.  My biggest concern was getting seasick and, thankfully, we were both fine.  It was a fun roller coaster ride, as the wind held.  Due to the sea conditions, we were unable to use either auto pilot, requiring us to hand steer the entire trip, arriving safely in Ensenada around 5:00 p.m. just as the sun dropped over the horizon.

As Sherry and I were discussing which marina we might like to go to we were welcomed with lots of suggestions from other boaters listening in to our radio transmission.  It was our luck to have "Crazy Notion" talk us in to our slips at the marina where we promptly crashed to rest for clearing customs the next morning.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Knots - Dana Point to Mission Bay, CA

Tomorrow marks two weeks since we left Ventura.  Fifteen minutes ago we motored past a small pod of whales three miles off San Clemente.  Had we been distracted by other tasks we would have missed seeing them.

The sun is in my eyes - we are headed, more or less, due east, avoiding the military base.  My biggest fear was getting seasick.  This is my second day without taking seasick medicine, but the seas are relatively flat with minimal swells.  There are lots of things I could be doing – cooking organizing below, polishing stainless, sanding teak.  However, I am content to sit in the cockpit looking out – hoping to see some sign of life other than the occasional sea gull, listening to the chatter on the VHF radio.

Earlier, Michael taught me how to tie a bowline knot.  I have learned and forgotten many times.  Now that I have untied my knots to shore life, it seems important that this time I learn the knot and not forget it.  Michael asks me what are the three things I should know about knots – I tell him (1) easy to tie, (2) easy to untie and (I pause to think) (3) does what it’s supposed to.

Forty nautical miles from Dana Point to Mission Bay – forty long, boring miles – not unlike the car trips my family took in the fifties through New Mexico and Arizona, unending desert with an occasional roadside stop.  Only, there are no roadside stops here, but a step below deck and we have all the conveniences of home.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Newport Beach, CA

Lots of people fishing on the pier, Newport Beach, CA
Steve and Lulu Yoder on Siemper Sabado, their Westsail 28, Avalon


The Balboa Island Ferry
Yesterday's crossing from Avalon to Newport Beach was uneventful -we were able to sail the last two hours of the four hour crossing.  It's always so peacful when we are able to turn off the engine.

The wind has made things interesting today causing us to take extra precautions and double up on our mooring lines.  We received word that the waves were crashing over the breakwater at Avalon where we were yesterday - good timing.  I was reluctant to leave as I really wanted to stay the weekend for the Jazz Dance Festival in the Casino building.  Our new friends, Steve and Lulu Yoder were scheduled to depart this morning from Avalon.  We hope they were able to make their departure safely.

Our limited adventures today consisted of visiting the famous Minny's second hand marine store and re-provisioning at Trader Joe's.  Sound glamorous doesn't it?

Plans are to depart for Dana Point tomorrow (or on to Oceanside depending on how we feel in the morning).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dolphins Playing at the Bow

Photos from Catalina

Historic Casino Building with Ballroom and Movie Theatre

Interior of the Theatre

Happy Hour on Odessa

Bob and Sherry on their Valiant 47, Ponderosa

Wrigley Memorial

Catalina Island

Bison Buffalo - Catalina Harbor, North End of Island
It is hard to believe we have been away from the dock for only a week – already I find myself losing track of the days.  The biggest inconvenience, so far, is not having regular internet access, which may actually improve once we are in Mexico.

We spent two nights in Catalina Harbor on the north end of the island – the second night I was up watching the anchor as we had to move from where we were the night before because the anchor was not holding.  When I remembered we had been told that raccoons are a problem and that they can swim to your boat, I went down below.  What’s worse – an anchor not staying anchored or an encounter with an uninvited raccoon in the middle of the night? 

Wednesday we motored around the island to Avalon.  On our way down the back side of the island we were joined by many dolphins around our boat.  At one point there were six dolphins all swimming under the bow of the boat, most of the time there were three or four dolphins swimming and jumping at the bow.  This all went on for about 45 minutes.  There are not any marinas or slips on Catalina Island, so we are tied to a mooring buoy.  We are happy just to be hanging out after so much rushing around to get away from the dock and have found time to stow some things and fix some things.

We have been studying our cruising guides – Charlie’s and Pacific Mexico and I found a Baja fishing book at the Avalon Friends of the Library sale on Saturday.  Gosh, there is sure a lot of information to know.  I am beginning to understand why no one is bored when cruising.

Some interesting facts about Catalina Island – In 1915 (or some say 1919) William Wrigley, Jr. purchased the Island and personally developed it into a one of a kind resort.  From 1921 to 1951, the Island was the spring training site for the Chicago Cubs (which Wrigley also owned).

It is thought that bison were brought to the Island in 1924 for filming of The Vanishing American, Zane Grey’s classic novel.  It doesn’t look like any of the scenes from the Island appear in the film, but the buffalo still roam freely.

The movie theatre in the Casino building was the first theatre built for talking movies.

Key things we have seen on the Island are the Wrigley Memorial and The Casino where we saw a movie and enjoyed a pre-movie concert performed on an historical pipe organ.

Wednesday, November 10, we plan to depart for Newport Beach.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Checking in from Ventura

Grace and Odessa in Ventura Isle Marina

White knuckle driving
Gender bending in Ventura, CA

Beach at Ventura Harbor

Patti and Fr osty

Paul and Judy

Red sky in the morning sailor take warning
After two days of white knuckle driving we arrived safely Sunday evening around 7:00 p.m.  When we arrived on the boat waiting for us were warm brownies and a bottle of wine provided by Judy and Paul Meaney on SV Grace from Seattle (who were moored in the slip next to ours).  I was happy to board Odessa and discover that the crew had left her immaculate  - thank you Jim, Sandy and Kirk (and Mike)!  A short walk around the harbor took us to a Greek restaurant where we had dinner with Paul and Judy and enjoyed delicious, tall margaritas.  Returning our rental car on Monday took a big chunk of the day since it is 60 miles to Burbank where we had to return the car.  Fortunately, we made our way through the crazy California drivers.

Ventura is a beautiful town - the area surrounding the marina is a mix of hotels, shopping and residential and then just across the street is a strawberry farm.  The old downtown Main Street is remininscent of the 50's complete with the cute little bunglaow motels like the one's my family stopped at along the way on our drive from Texas to California when I was just a kid.

Our friends, Paul and Judy had planned to leave on Tuesday, but didn't, so the four of us took the opportunity to do some provisioning and run some other errands.  Paul and Judy left on Wednesday morning, but due to the Santa Ana winds, only made it to Oxnard which is five miles away.

I hope this doesn't get too confusing.  In the meantime, other friends, Patti and Frosty, who have been  housesitting in Santa Monica, called and said they would be at our boat around noon (Wednesday) to visit for the afternoon.  They have been cruising in Mexico and passed along some helpful information.  Later, the four of us drove to Oxnard and joined Paul and Judy for happy hour.

Thursday (yesterday) was our first solid day to work on some projects.  Michael went up the mast in his new bosun's chair and said it was actually comfortable.  I managed to get a handle on what kind of provisions we had left over on the boat from the trip down from Seattle.  We enjoyed our first dinner on our boat last night (alone) since arriving.  We we still have a few projects and stowing to do, but then it's a boat.

Weather permitting, we plan to leave the dock on Sunday to head down the coast a short ways, then to Newport.  From Newport we plan to visit Catalina Island and work our way to San Diego on November 17th.

I asked Paul, who has been out cruising for a couple of months if they feel like they are on vacation.  He said "No, it's just a way of life."  That being said, I think I'm going to like "this way of life."

Friday, October 15, 2010

My car is gone – Michael sold it the night I arrived back from Florida from visiting my mother.  I never met the new owner or had to watch my car drive off without me, it is probably for the best.  You realize how expensive it is to own and maintain a car when you start cancelling your auto insurance.  The two cars combined cost over $100 a month in insurance alone - I knew that, but somehow you don’t think about it when you have your “freedom” to move about.  Now that I don’t have a car, I have a new kind of freedom - I won’t have to worry about finding a parking place or pay for parking or take my car in for an oil change or pay for the inevitable repairs – and – I get more exercise. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

They talk about the American’s love affair with her car - Sunday afternoon I posted my car on Craig's list.  I love my car.    My Texas friends will understand.  It's not quite so bad in Seattle where we have a wonderful transportation system.  This time of year, with the agreeable weather, riding the bus is not all that bad, but wait until it starts raining.  Fortunately, I will be gone by then.  Those of you familiar with Craig's list will understand when I say I was disappointed that I didn't get any calls within a couple of hours of posting - then the phone rang, half an hour before our dinner guests were scheduled to arrive.  Just as they drove up, there I was - driving away with a long haired, bearded young man (did I mention how cute he was?).  Later, at dinner, I found out our friends thought I was driving away to my new life - if only it was that easy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yesterday I gave notice at my job, no turning back now.  It's hard to believe that in less than a month we will be back on Odessa, where she waits for us at a marina in Ventura, California.  We still have a few last minute things to do in Seattle while we have access to bank accounts, U.S. medical services, cars, etc.  We look forward to having you drop in from time to time to see what we are up to.  Nita

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Odessa Departs Shilshole - August 7

We are less than five miles from Neah Bay which will mark our exit into the Pacific.  It is very calm, cloudy, and visibility is improving.  I have received all messages except for Dave and Ann to whom I am making initial contact.  We have settled into a very workable rotation.  Everybody likes the eight hours off to rest.  Jim Knapp has begun his first meal preparation and we are looking forward to it -  rice, vegetables, peanut sauce with chicken and tofu.  Kirk is driving and Sandy is just now waking.  I will be hitting the sack just after dinner to prepare for my midnight to 4:00 shift.  We will take a southwesterly course as we leave the straits with the idea of finding some wind.  Everything is working well.  Special thanks to Nita for all the provisioning and canvas work.  And to Nita and Heidi for the illuminating blow fish. - Mike