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!