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!

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