Saturday, June 25, 2011

Much Needed Rest

The Happy Crew

Paul, Mike and Don

Mexico to Seattle - Day Forty, THE END (And the Beginning)

It is 2030 on Friday, June 24th. Position 48 deg 05.2 min north 122 deg 40.3 min west. We just past Port Townsend and expect to be in Shilshole Marina by 0400 on Saturday. A very long voyage with no major injuries and no major equipment failures. I would like to reflect on a few of the memorable events. First the crew. When the crew was assembled, it was not by any design. Kirk Hackler is a person I respect and had worked with previously, so I was delighted he was able to help as long as he was able. After that it was somewhat rag-tag. The Puget Sound Cruising Club was notified through Judy Naismith resulting in several possible candidates. In the end, Don Van Valkenburg who has a similar vessel was enlisted. He has been very dependable as a sailor but was also very good in the galley. One of the most helpful members was Ralph Hemphill who marketed himself in the La Cruz Marina with a rather unprofessional note on the bulletin board. I was impressed with his single handed sailing lifestyle and his ability to speak Spanish fluently. He and I spent a long time dealing with difficult sailing conditions without an auto pilot. We got the job done and I am so thankful he was the other guy on board. Through a cruiser met during the voyage south, Andrew on "Windsong", I was introduced to Paul Grossman in Florida. Paul has several sailing experiences on the west coast from California to Washington and he was available for the legs from San Diego to Seattle. Thankfully, he has a great sense of humor and stories to tell because we have now spent a lot of time together and it has been fun. Paul is always willing to do the unpleasant tasks, such as foredeck work in a seaway, and he has learned a few new things along the way - AIS and Furuno NavNet2 technologies. His knowledge of ports along the way became very helpful. Finally, my brother, Peter who has never joined me in a sailing adventure. He fit right in and carried his load. That part of the trip from San Diego to San Francisco went so quickly, I don't know if he got short changed or was just lucky. And finally Nita, who provided logistic support and helped get "Odessa" prepared for the voyage. I suspect her biggest challenge was the absence of boat, home, and husband for nearly a month and a half. The boat and husband will be resolved in a few hours. The home may take longer. To those who sent messages of encouragement - Frosty and Judy - and got no reply, the thoughts were welcomed and appreciated.
The big issue was the W-H Auto Pilot which had no maintenance for fifteen years and got a little beaten up during the voyage. Wil Ham the designer, builder and customer support for the equipment was on top of it. He put it back together making it better than new and got it to me with only a single day interruption. I wish all of the equipment had such great support. While I am talking equipment, the Aqua Signal Navigation lights failed twice in Mexico and, I discovered last night, that they failed again. There has got to be a way to keep water out of a light fixture under real sailing conditions.
In fact the really big issue was the conditions. Nine of the forty days were spent at the dock/hook. Five of those days were weather related. Many of the days underway were so challenging that our knots made good per hour could have been walked easier and faster. As previously warned, the wind was always on the nose. Except for yesterday and today, that was correct. It is wonderful that we ended the voyage on such an agreeable note.
I am glad to have this journey behind me and the daily writings will not be missed either. Thanks for joining me/us along the way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-Nine

We are roughly 50 miles from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Position at 2100 is 47 deg 35.7 min north 124 deg 33.6 min west. Synopsis - we covered as many miles in half a day as we normally cover in a full day, over 70 miles. It helps having westerly winds, good visibility and calm seas and continue to motor sail. We are sailing as a cutter with Yankee and Storm Staysail and have shaken a reef out of the main leaving it double reefed. We are not too excited. But, we did cook a chocolate cake. We expect to be in the straits about day break. The weather report indicates westerly winds beginning at 10 to 15 increasing in the afternoon to 15 to 25. A down wind sail on the last day? There is a really good chance that these reports will end tomorrow. Until then.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-eight

Optimism has overcome me. Our position 45 deg 14.7 min north 124 deg 02.9 min west at 1930 on Wednesday, June 22nd. The wind is less than ten knots (on the nose) and the seas are modest and will probably improve this evening. Only 60 miles to the Washington/Oregon border and another 135 to the Race Rocks buoy at the entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Our goal is four knots per hour which would put is in the Straits in two days. Then, 125 nautical miles to Seattle. Of course, there are upsides and downsides. At this time, the weather looks really good for an anticipated arrival of Saturday night or Sunday morning. Today, we stopped in at Newport, Oregon for fuel. Changed the oil, Don got his shower, and Paul got his Rogue River beer. Back on the road in less than three hours. A final fuel stop will be Neah Bay or Port Angeles which ever works best time wise. We still have plenty of food. Sadly, Don's stash of Trader Joe's chocolate (the really good stuff) has been consumed. Paul redeemed himself completely tonight with a beautiful and tasty preparation of chicken, fresh vegetables and MASHED POTATOES. Eating has become our major form of entertainment. We now have had two great days in a row. Until tomorrow.

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-seven

Position is 48 deg 50.8 min north 124 deg 16.2 min west; time is 1800. It appears that we have made 75 plus miles in the past 24 hours. The Yankee went up around midnight and we have maintained five knots plus since. The seas have calmed significantly. What a difference a day makes. We are about 47 miles from Newport which is our next stop. Today, has been noted with overcast and some fog. As evening approaches, the weather is clearing. Biggest event of the day was a vegetable, noodle and chicken soup prepared by Chef Don. All for today.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-Six

Bashing in Oregon. Time is 1800 and location is 42 deg 34.6 min north 124 deg 34.0 min west. We are making 3.5 knots, the winds are 25/30 and the seas not too bad, but the boat is wet. At approximately 0130 we finally crossed the Oregon/California border. Since then, we have traveled 50 miles or more but are only 35 miles north of the border. This due to tacking. The winds and seas were very pleasant this morning allowing for good progress. As the day progressed, the wind and seas increased making tacking angles less desirable. Tonight, we expect the cycle to repeat itself. Presently, we are motor sailing with triple reefed main. To make things go a little faster, we have decided to put up the Yankee (which can be done by one person) as soon as conditions allow. When more hands are available, we will raise the staysail and adjust the sail plan as needed during the day. The coast line so far has been a series of capes and other projections. Tonight, we will round Cape Blanco after which the coast line smooths out. Our next port of call will be Newport, 125 miles north. Hopefully, Wednesday. There we will refuel and change the oil. Hoping that summer brings us speedier sailing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day 35

We made it to Crescent City about 1300 to take on fuel and do some shopping. After eating a pizza, we headed on. Crescent City suffered major damage from the recent tsunami. It appears that all the docks are gone in the recreational side of the marina. Thirty-five vessels were lost. It was the worst hit port on the west coast. Crescent City is only fourteen miles from Oregon. But when leaving, the course is eleven miles west before heading north. Our position at 2100 is 41 deg 48.4 min north 124 deg 27.2 min west. We are still working our way to Oregon. The seas are challenging and the wind was up to 30 knots, but has dropped to 20/25. We are expecting more user friendly conditions soon. Yesterday, I failed to report an Orca sighting. During the rounding of Cape Mendocino a pod was spotted off 200 yards and they were very busy. Probably lunch time. Will close for now.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-four

It is only a few minutes past 1731 when at 40 deg 26.928 min north 124 deg 35.843 min west we celebrated our rounding of Cape Mendocena. This puts us roughly 93 miles from the Oregon/California state line. Today, we did experience some wind 20 to 25 and moderate seas. At the cape the wind picked up an additional 5 knots and the seas increased proportionately. However, it did not come close to the rounding of Point Reyes for which we are very happy. As we push forward, the weather looks good into Sunday night and we should make good progress. It is supposed to worsen at that time, but our hope is to be beyond the affected area. Tomorrow, we will make a short stop to refuel. Until then.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty-three

Time is 1700 and position is 38 deg 58.3 min north 123 deg 49.4 min west - just off Point Arena. We are motoring at five plus knots, the seas are a little lumpy but very reasonable and winds are light. We began the day at 0300 when the winds finally dropped. During the day we have had a variety of conditions with winds up to 30 knots at the extreme. The next major rounding is Cape Mendocina, which is 95 miles up the road. Tomorrow, I will report on that event.
Our stay in Bodega Bay was delightful. We discovered the Roadhouse Coffee Shop which provides coffee (of course), fabulous pastries and quiches, entertainment, wonderful customers and valuable resources. The last being "biker" Bill who made a trip to Sebastopol to pick up several oil filters from the NAPA store. On Wednesday, Paul contacted his sailing friend Paul Elliott who lives in Sonoma County. We had a very pleasant visit over dinner at the Sandpiper restaurant. On Thursday, we prepared for the next leg of the journey. The focus was the auto pilot. The control unit was disassembled and washed with fresh water to remove the salt. Then it was completely dried and reassembled. Certain temporary modifications were put into place to make it more difficult for sea water to come in contact with the control unit in the future. We will see. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Thirty

As you may already know, we took Plan B.  During our rounding of Point Arena we took a large gulp of water into the cockpit.  The water caused the auto pilot to go out.  Hand steering wasn't fun in Mexico and the conditions here are at least as challenging, so we slowed down to cover the 12 or so miles in time for the sun to rise.  Bodega Bay has a very long narrow channel which has been known to ground sailing vessels.  But not us.  We spent the day recovering, cleaning and working on the auto pilot.  After disassembly and drying, it appears that the auto pilot is alive and well.  We will give it a field test tomorrow or the next day.  By the way, Bodega Bay is a great small town in Sonoma County.  It is cute, cute, cute. A fact of the rounding worth mentioning, is that Chef Paul during the very worst was preparing a chicken and a fabulous mix of cooked fresh vegetables which he purchased in San Francisco.  The meal was excellent, but we are not going to do any more cooking during roundings.  The weather is scheduled to ease  after midnight on Friday morning.  We will probably make an early departure to make the most of it.  No updates until Friday evening.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twenty-nine

This morning at 0400 Peter steered "Odessa" under the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a relief and a milestone.  Entry into San Francisco Bay is legendary and it made us all believers.  Our thought was to stay at the fuel dock in Gas House Cove until opening.  Our timing could not have been worse.  It was a "spring" low tide.  After backing out of the mud, we found our way to Pier 39.  By this time, the sun was coming up.  I found a "Starbucks" to download the latest weather data; Peter prepared to return to Houston and Paul made sure that I could get back to the boat.  After a talk with the marina personnel to explain our two hour visit, we said good-bye to Peter and returned to the fuel dock which now had plenty of depth.  Don, our newest crew member, was already on the ground.  I explained our schedule.  He arrived at the boat only a few minutes after we had completed fueling.  At 1000, we were on our way.  The exit from San Francisco was similar to our entrance - legendary and believable. Our current plans are to proceed to Fort Bragg where we may stay two or three days to allow a weather system to resolve itself with Bodega Bay as a Plan B.  Our present position is 37 deg 57.7 min north 123 deg 0.6 min west. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twenty-eight

The time is 2000 and our position is 37 deg 17.1 min north 122 deg 28.4 deg west.  We are 30 miles from the entrance to San Francisco.  Sea state is calm, winds about 10 knots on the nose and we are making five knots plus.  This morning we refueled at 0800 after having a great pancake breakfast prepared by Chef, Peter.  The day began calm with winds building in the afternoon to 25.  As the afternoon progressed the winds began to subside.  So, it has been a good day.  This evening, Chef Paul redeemed himself with "better than perfect" grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.  Looks like tomorrow we will have enough time to do a little grocery shopping before beginning the final push.  All for now.

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twenty-seven

Last I wrote, we were bashing into it at about 2.5 knots.  That continued through the night until say 0600 on Saturday.  From then on we had a near perfect day - 5.0 plus knots.  Fuel was an issue and we had planned on stopping at Monterey Bay, but did not expect to arrive as early as 2130 on Saturday.  After taking a slip, changing the oil and taking showers, we had a cold brew before getting a good nights rest.  The highlights of the day were the beautiful scenery of Big Sur and a pod of whales that were taking the same course as we but 300 yards to our east.  We expect to comfortably make our scheduled rendezvous in San Francisco Monday morning.  All for now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twenty-six

A very successful rounding of Conception Point.  We are presently at 35 deg 26.8 min north 121 deg 04.2 min west which is just beyond Morro Bay and about 160 miles from San Francisco.  The official plan is to be at the fuel dock in Gashouse Cove in San Francisco on Monday, June 13th at noon. A crew change involving Peter and Don will be done at that time and a little refueling.  Presently we are straight into the wind.  We have dropped the staysail and are hugging the coast.  With a the wind at 20 plus, our speed is less than 3 knots.  The wind should reduce a little during the night when we hope make a little better time.  Will close for now.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twenty-five

We arrived at Ventura at noon to pick up the auto pilot.  Fifteen minutes later it was installed and after a stop at the fuel dock, we began our 66 mile trip to round Point Conception.  At this time, we are still forty miles from it.  Our position is 34 deg 19.5 min north 119 deg 58.9 min west.  The sea state is not bad, but just enough to slow us down and force us to motor sail with the staysail and to bear off fifteen degrees.  At this rate we may get there around five or six in the morning.  Not much to report, so I guess that I will mention Paul's attempt at mashed potatoes last night.  Let's just say that a good portion was cast overboard and that the fish probably found them a wee bit salty.  But the chicken and canned peas came off just right.  Tonight, I cooked dinner.  At the crew's request, I boiled the water and served instant soup in styrofoam cups.  It was a KISS dinner.  Based on our sailing experience tonight I expect to project our arrival in San Francisco tomorrow.  Until then.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twenty-four

Three days of San Diego and now to San Francisco.  During my stay, the navigation lights were repaired (again) which included rewiring the bow pulpit; sewing a zipper on the bimini and taping all of the hatches with "preservation" tape to reduce the water leakage.  The high point was lunch with Bob and Sherry Custer who were visiting family in San Diego before returning to "Ponderosa" in La Paz. On Wednesday, the new crew arrived.  They are my brother, Peter and Paul Grossman.  After barely 24 hours we seem to be melding well.  The W-H Auto Pilot did not make it to San Diego before we left, but will join us in Ventura tomorrow morning.  The trip so far has been pretty uneventful.  It is a motoring day with a brief wind opportunity.  Tomorrow we head for Point Conception.  Until then.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twenty

Finally, the arrival time was grossly over estimated.  In my Day Eighteen writing, I predicted an arrival in San Diego after noon on Saturday based on our historic three knot average.  In fact, we got no wind, relatively smooth seas and averaged 5.6 knots.  We arrived at 0515 and completed immigration and customs shortly after 0700.  As we turned out to take a slip, "Darling" appeared from around the corner on her way to Sausalito.  After a mid channel visit, we bid farwell, took our slip and began the days projects.  We did get the auto pilot shipped for repairs with some hope it will be back on Wednesday in time to make the next leg.  Arranged Ralph's return to Puerto Vallarta and completed a few boat cleaning chores.  For the next couple of days, there are a more boat repairs, additional cleaning and provisioning scheduled.  There will be no writings during this stay.  Next writing will be on Wednesday or later if weather prevents our departure.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Nineteen

As usual, I was a little optimistic about our arrival time.  We should have arrived an hour late, but we discovered that a whole naval base has been created inside the commercial harbor and the direct path to Ensenada Cruiseport Village Marina is now just beyond a new inner harbor jetty.  They used to claim that it was the most protected marina from ocean swells.  Now it is even more so.  We probably spent an extra hour exploring the naval base, avoiding major anchoring features and the dredging operations.  It was well worth the effort.  Jonathan, the marina operator, is meticulously helpful.  After some good sleep and cleaning up, I visited with him to settle our charges and to prepare for the exiting process.  Before we left the office, all papers were neatly prepared by computer which made the bureaucratic process so much easier to bear.  A couple of others joined us in the process.  One of those was the new owner of a Nordhaven 58 traveling as cargo to Victoria and then to Anacortes, Washington.  The trip will completed in about eight days.  That will keep me thinking.  The vessel transportation was included as part of the buy/sale deal.
We are busy eating all the items considered suspect by the US Customs.  Ralph has prepared spaghetti sauce which incorporates about a pound and a half of hamburger meat.  I imagine spaghetti for dinner, breakfast and lunch. We are about to depart with a stop at the fuel dock at a nearby marina.  Next writing should be from San Diego.  Until then.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Eighteen

Just made what I hope is the last tack which will take us into Ensenada.  Our present position is 31 deg 25.6 min north 116 deg 49.2 min west.  We have sailed all day.  It was beautiful.  The yankee and the storm staysail up front and the triple reefed main.  We made great time and finally got the benefit of a wind direction change.  Then, we neared shore to tack.  Suddenly, the winds were 29 knots and Odessa thought she was a locomotive on her ear.  We doused the yankee and got her back under control, but it seemed that we would have to fight for the last few miles.  It appears that the intense winds were a local condition and now we are enjoying sailing again.  A slip at Ensenada Cruiseport Village Marina has our name on it. They are expecting a later arrival, about 2300 or 0000.  Tomorrow, showers and shaving.  Then, a visit to officials to check out.  Refuel and we will be on our way to San Diego later in the day.  Based on past experience, we will arrive in the afternoon on Saturday.  One of the things that has made this trip a little more challenging is that our autopilot stopped working on Sunday.  I had a chance to contact Wil Ham, the owner of W-H Autopilot on Bainbridge Island.  He and I are "working the problem".  "Carly" the monitor windvane is our new best friend.  Last night we had a good sleep at Cabo Colnett.  Tonight should be even better.  Will close for now.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Seventeen

Last night we put in at Bahia San Quintin.  Actually, it was early morning.  We got a few hours of good sleep and continued on.  Today, we have been motoring - no sails.  The weather is supposed to have picked up off shore, which we have discovered makes for difficult sailing.  Along the coast seems to be a little smoother, but at this point I am not sure.  Our current position is 30 deg 51.8 min north 116 deg 14.4 min west.  We are headed for Cabo Colnett for the evening.  Should be there by 2300.  It is a very straight forward anchorage so I am not concerned about a night time entry.  Tomorrow, we head out early for Ensenada.  It is 54 miles to the bay and a couple of hours to get in.  We will be sailing so maybe we can make some good time.  While in Ensenada, we will clear out of Mexico and fuel up.  Saturday will be the trip to San Diego.  Expect that we will stay at the Police Dock on Shelter Island, sometime Sunday.  Will need a few days to clean up, engine maintenance, and provision.  Based on weather, we could leave Tuesday or Wednesday.  Will close for now.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Sixteen

Yesterday, 24 hours ending 0630 turned out a little over 90 miles.  Today is not going to meet expectations.  We rounded Cabo Baha.  Like all the other capes, it had currents and wind and waves.  It did not appear to be a challenge, but it was and I don't expect 50 miles today.  Very disappointing.   Our present position is 29 deg 52.4 min north 116 deg 11.0 min west.  Will close for now.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Fifteen

As promised, we are at 29 deg 13.6 min north, 115 deg 09.7 min west.  Left this morning at 0630 and have completed the crossing of Bahia Sebastian Vizcaino on a true north course.  We are presently following the coast on a northwest course to Punta San Antonio at which time we turn north again.  At that point we will be about 145 miles from Ensenada.  I am hopeful that my ETA will hold.  Will close.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Fourteen

We made it out of Turtle Bay.  This morning, we cleared the entrance at 0800.  It was not perfect conditions, but not bad at all.  With the reduced sail plan, we were able to keep level.  However, the sail modification did not affect the rocking motion.  We are now at Cedros Island near the main harbor, Lat 28 deg 06.3 min north, Long 115 eg 11.1 min west.  We had planned to go a little further knowing that the weather is to build early this evening.  As we motored along, white caps and a strong breeze hit us.  Assuming that it was the expected weather, we ducked in early.  Of course, the winds subsided in a very short time.  Tomorrow, we expect the weather to ease around daybreak.  The plan to really push hard - hopefully 100 miles, but we will settle for 80.  No stopping on this leg.  Tuesday is supposed to be the best day.  Between the two, our wish is to be far enough along to avoid the serious weather and sneak into Ensenada Wednesday or Thursday.  Reports may be brief tomorrow and the next day, but I will write.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Twelve and Thirteen

Except for dinner ashore last night, we have been pretty much boat bound.  Yesterday, we changed the oil and topped off the batteries.  This morning, we made some revisions to our sail setup.  The staysail was replaced with the storm staysail and the main was reefed to the third reef point.  This is in anticipation of the weather window which is to appear within the next few days.  Monday, the winds are to fall substantially, but the seas are expected to take a little longer allowing for a run across Bahia Sebastian Vizcaino.  The seas are supposed to build from the south, a wonderful concept which has been predicted but, so far, has never materialized.  If so, it should make our voyage much more pleasant.  Tomorrow (Sunday), we will be seriously looking for an opportunity to make a dash for Cedros Island.  There, anchorages on the lee side will allow us to have a 40 to 45 mile leg up on the trip later on Monday.  We are expecting to motor the entire way using the sails for stabilizing and a slight lift.  Our immediate destination will be Cabo San Quintin or Isla de San Martin which are very close together.  Of course, if can, we will go for Ensenada.  But, there is a good chance that we may have couple of days layover.  Hope tomorrow to report some progress.  Will close for now.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Eleven

Don on "Summer Passage" prepares a HAM radio weather forecast daily (except Friday) for cruisers.  On the West Coast, he is legendary.  Today, he reported that the system in the Santa Barbara Channel and down the Baja, is the major weather system between Canada and Chile.  And, that south of the Tehuantepec, it is expected that the first tropical storm of the season would be forming within a few days.  The good news is that the tropical storm should provide benefits to those heading north. We will see.  We decided today, to provision and explore the town of Port San Bartolome'.  We ended up at Carlos' Palapa Restaurant, the place we visited in December on the way south.  There we met the crews of "Darling" and "Sun Baby".  "Darling" (an 82' Oyster) is being delivered from South Carolina to San Francisco Bay.  They spent a few days in La Cruz while we were in the States.  They did say that "Odessa" was the first sailing vessel they had encountered at sea since somewhere in the Bahamas.  The crew has some great stories making for a very pleasant afternoon.  Please note that I would rather be reporting on our progress north, but for the present it just is not possible.  So, for today I will not try to create any more "news".

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Ten

A very lazy day.  We did repair the navigation light which failed on the last night of passage.  It was a short which "toasted" the connection post on the port light.  After several attempts to solder the wire to the remainder of the post, we put out an APB to the fleet.  Fortunately, "Psyche" (with whom we visited earlier) had kept a similar Aqua Signal fixture when it was upgraded years ago.  We were able to make a few adjustments and completed the repair.  Ralph did an inventory and tomorrow we will go into town to fill the cupboards.  Kirk spent time cleaning the interior.  For myself, I shaved and made cornbread to go with Ralph's lentils.  The weather still looks like Sunday/Monday/Tuesday before it lets us go.  We have been analyzing and discussing but it does not seem to make it any better.  All for now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Nine

Present location 27 deg 41.0 min north 114 deg 53.4 min west, also known as Turtle Bay.  We arrived at 0430 and fell into the rack.  Some details about yesterday and the night before.  After our discouraging tack on Sunday night we tacked back around midnight.  Just before midnight we got good news, "Psyche" was under power crossing our bow.  Her fuel problem was initially thought to be bad fuel, but turned out to be loose fittings which allowed air into the systems.  We had a very discouraging tack back out; could not find a satisfactory sailing or motoring direction; the boat just was not cooperating.  Our conclusion is that there are some really challenging currents in that area.  Once free, we established a regular tacking pattern.  The winds increased as did the seas.  We worked with sail combinations.  Monday morning, we dropped the staysail and sailed with the Yankee - sloop rig.  For these conditions, it was very efficient: it eased the motion of the boat and maintained the speed but did not keep us off our ear.  Twenty-four hours sailing with the boat at 20 degrees and more makes every move a challenge.  Little tasks become big.  Just putting on your clothes requires extensive planning and constant effort.  As we got closer to our destination we reduced the time between tacks to about two to three hours.  It required all of us to execute them properly.  So those off watch trying to sleep were awakened frequently.  Now we are in Turtle Bay, the boat requires no special handling and we are level.  Small things make us so happy.  Unfortunately, the weather outlook is lousy.  Today and tomorrow there are some bright spots, but after that we would absolutely have to pull in and hunker down.  Here we are protected and have limited services and have lots of cruiser company.  We will continue to monitor, but right now it seems that we are at least ten days from San Diego.  That will push back San Francisco to about June 13th.  Will close for now.  We have lots of maintenance projects.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Eight

We are rapidly approaching Turtle Bay.  Our position at 1830 is 27 deg 08.3 min north 114 deg 38.8 min west.  Sea conditions force me to make this brief.  We hope that it calms so that we can motor in the last few miles.  Will provide detail tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Seven

Today began with incredibly calm conditions.  We motored until 1500 at which time the winds began to increase.  Again concerned about fuel, we set the sails.  Turtle Bay was only 90 miles away at the time.  We tacked out hoping that our return tack would place us close to our destination.  But, the winds changed from WNW to NW, enough that our return tack is putting us only a few miles ahead of our departure point.  Sometimes these things happen.  At least we are not going back to Cabo San Lucas.  Otherwise, everything and everybody is fine.  It does look like though that we may have a coffee crisis.  The French Press is reported to be cracked.  Each major voyage seems to reduce our coffee making options.  Will close for now.  Our current position is 26 deg 24.4 min North 114 deg 02.0 min West Mike

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Six

It is 1800 and we are located at 25 deg 16.7 min North, 112 deg 35.4 min West. My how things change in a day.  Last night the wind died and we turned on the motor.  It has not stopped since - the wind is light and the seas pretty good.  We have the main and staysail up and heading about 20 degrees off the wind.  At the moment we are making 6.5 knots.  Most of the day it has about 5.4 knots. The winds are predicted to have increased which will allow us to turn off the motor. We will see.  The good news is that all the other boats have been accounted.  "Tapatai" and "Sun Baby" are very close behind.  "Brisas" and "Blue Sky" got around Cabo Falso this morning.  Another boat "Darling" is five miles from us.  "Psyche" has fuel issues and is considering returning to Cabo San Lucas.  That is a very tough call; we wish them well.  On board, Ralph developed an abscessed tooth.  First chance to really use the medical kit.  Got him on Ibuprophine for the discomfort and have begun a series of Cephalexin for the infection.  He is doing great.  My best guess is that we will arrive at Turtle Bay around midnight Monday night/Tuesday morning.  That is all for today.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Five

It is 1830 and our coordinates are 24 deg 08.9 min North and 111 deg 40.5 min West.  Last night we tried to motor with poor results.  Today, we continued sailing with good results, but it is a tough ride with the world ("Odessa") on a constant slope.  Tonight we are dropping the yankee and sailing with reefed main and staysail.  We have decided that sailing is far better than bashing to weather.  One of the advantages of sailing is that it almost eliminates the fuel issue.  Another is the ride is much steadier with a reasonable motion.  So, we will not be stopping until we reach Turtle Bay.  The big news is that last night I reported that "Psyche" was out performing us.  I was wrong.  This morning we visited on the VHF and their position put them about ten miles behind us.  The rest of the fleet has not been heard from.  We assume that they decided to wait a little longer.  Will close for now.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Four

Morning started at 0100 exiting the marina at San Jose del Cabo.  At 0600 we began to approach and experience Cabo Falso.  The winds and seas were on the nose.  We adjusted our engine but soon were at 3000 rpms and making about 2 knots.  Winds were 30 knots.  I am sure that there were some currents in the mix.  For four hours we worked our way around the corner.  We were advised that staying close to the land in about 100 feet of depth was preferable.  So close to land in those conditions was questionable, but it worked.  "Psyche" was behind us and flew a reefed main and staysail along with motor through the whole rounding and was doing much better than us.  When conditions improved, we put up a similar sail configuration.  Later, we added the Yankee, turned off the engine and got the wind vane going.  For the rest of the afternoon we enjoyed an excellent sail. Given the course, weather conditions, etc, we have just turned the engine on, lowered the head sails and are heading toward Bahia Santa Rosa.  Presently, it is 2200 and our position is 23 deg 36.0 min North and 110 deg. 29.6 min West.  We are running at 2500 rpms and making 3.7 knots.  At issue is our fuel burn which we continue to monitor.  It is desirable to make it to Turtle Bay with our existing fuel supply.  If necessary we will stop at Magdelina Bay but that stop will cost us valuable time and money.  All in all, it has been an exciting day.  I think I need some sleep, so will close for now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Three

Clean boat, clean crew and rested.  We will be leaving tomorrow morning at 0200 with a projected rounding of Cabo Falso at 0600/0700.  "Psyche" with Steve aboard will join us; it will be leaving Cabo San Lucas.  Later tomorrow and early Friday, "Brisas", "Blue Sky", "Tapatai" an "Sun Baby" will follow.  We have created a mini-net meeting twice daily at 1530 UTC and 2230 UTC on frequencies 4417.00 LSB and 6227.00 LSB.  So, if you have a HAM/SSB radio, please feel free to listen in.  The conditions are good for this time of year, but will be challenging.  We are hoping that the seas being from the SW and the wind from the NW will be better than wind and seas coming from the NW. I will report on that tomorrow.  Until then- Mike

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mexico to Seattle - Day Three

We made it to San Jose del Cabo at 0930 and checked in at Marina at Puerto Los Cabos, Lat 23 deg 03.7 min North, Long 109 deg 40.4 min West.  Following my report yesterday evening when the seas were very calm, we had another evening of unpleasant conditions.  The wind picked up to 15 knots from the Northwest and the sea state increased.  The result was that for about five hours we struggled to keep a 5 knot pace.  Things calmed down about 0300 and the rest of the journey was uneventful.  In the marina there are three other boats waiting for proper weather conditions to go around Cabo San Lucas and head north.  In addition, "Psyche" with Steve aboard contacted me from San Lucas to tell me that he too would be making the journey.  At this time, it still looks like Thursday is the magic day.

Marina at Puerto Los Cabos is a very interesting place.  They had only a single slip available when we arrived.  I was anxious to share the art and story of Leonora Carrington.  She is a Surealist still living in Mexico.  Even those that don't particularly enjoy her art seem to find it thought provoking. Her two sons are involved in some financial way with the marina/resort development.  They have used the marina as a venue to recognize their mother. You may find more information about Leonora through Google.  Tomorrow, we are going to explore some the features of this development that I missed the first time through in December.
Today was kind of a work day.  We changed the oil and the primary fuel filter.  Ralph (who has entirely too much energy) washed the outside of the boat.  Kirk worked on the inside with other cleaning projects.  At least tomorrow we can feel good about our clean boat and clean crew.  By Thursday evening, I expect that it will become only a memory.

Will close for now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

La Cruz, Mexico to Seattle - Day Two

Today has been beautiful.  The sea state that developed last night continued to slow our progress until about 0300 this morning.  Since then, we have made excellent time.  At the moment, we are making 6.7 knots and expect to complete the crossing in a total of 48 hours.  During the first 24 hours we traveled about 135 miles leaving 145 miles to be covered in the final 24 hours.  This mornings HAM net weather predicts a favorable change for the outside of the Baja on Thursday.  We will continue to monitor the situation closely.  We did check the oil after 27 hours of motoring, and there was no appreciable change in level.  We have been running at 3000 rpms which is 200 rpms faster than I normally run but well short of the 3600 red line rpms.  The difference in speed is significant, almost 3/4 of a knot, and it help get us through the increased sea state.  I will be interested in the fuel consumption results when we get to San Jose del Cabo.  This morning Ralph prepared scrambled eggs with olives, black beans, onion and jalipenios (sp?)on flour tortillas.  Last night Kirk prepared a pasta dish made with real wheat flour which was a treat both of us.  In the afternoons, Ralph has been preparing sliced fruit.  Bottom line is that we have been eating well, even though it has been pretty bouncy until now.  Tonight, when it should be easy to work in the galley, no one seems interested.  We have been visited by dolphins on both days.  Today, Kirk was able to get some video.  Will call tomorrow from San Jose del Cabo.  On the agenda is the location of the pot hold downs for the stove.  Will close until then.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

La Cruz, Mexico to Seattle - Day One

Mike, Kirk and Ralph
at the marina in La Cruz, day of departure

Departed at 1000 hours from La Cruz, Mexico which was one hour later than expected.  After an immediate adjustment for Mountain Time Zone, it was decided that we departed on time at 0900.  Our position at 1830 is 21 deg 02.8 min North and 106 deg 17.1 min West.  The weather is clear with winds from the West at 9 knots and a westerly swell.  At the moment we are making 4.9 knots, speed over ground.  Most of the day, we have been able to do better.  We are on schedule to arrive at San Jose del Cabo on Tuesday morning for refueling and a study of the weather before continuing on around the cape.  At this time, we are expecting a weather delay.  Ralph Hemphill guided us past Punta Mita during the morning.  He is new to Odessa, but is learning the systems.  At the moment, Ralph is driving the boat while Kirk Hackler is preparing a dinner.  It was a little lumpy this morning and has continued so.  I have taken some mecilizine for the motion and feeling the better for it.  Must close for dinner.  Will report tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cape of Currents

March 18, 2011

Whenever you have a point of land that extends out significantly from the shoreline, such as Cabo Corrientes (Cape of Currents) wind and currents are created that can be challenging to navigate, particularly closer to shore.  Heading north around Cabo Corrientes you are typically going against the wind, swells and currents so it is important to choose your weather window carefully.  One cruising guide recommends staying at least 3 miles offshore, another recommends 5 miles and some boaters suggest 5-10.  When we traveled south we had sailed from Los Frailes on the tip of the Baha straight to Chemala and were far enough offshore to miss the effects of the Cape.  This would be our first real experience with Cabo Corrientes.

Thursday morning, with our fuel tanks topped off we were anxious to leave Barra.  Out of the lagoon and into the bay we were able to put up our sails for a leisurely downwind sail.  As we passed the entrance to Tenacatita we saw whales.  This seemed to be a favorite hangout for we never failed to see whales in that area.  A few days earlier when we left Tenacatita to head back to Barra, we saw two mother whales with their babes.  We arrived at the entrance to Chemala around 3:00 p.m., the stopping off point for watching the weather to make the passage around Cabo Corrientes.  Earlier, we had checked the weather and it seemed like a good time to go for it, anticipating rounding the Cape in the early morning hours, a time when the seas are typically calmer.  We were making really good time and were actually concerned that we might get to the Cape too early.  About 6:00 p.m. the winds died and we turned on the engine.  Michael went down below about 7:00 p.m. and it was my watch.   It was a beautiful evening with a full moon dancing in and out among the clouds.  As we motored along the swells and wind increased and were right on our nose.  I watched as our time slowed and slowed (we were making over 6 knots when under sail) as we continued to pound into the waves and our speed was less than 2 knots for over an hour and I realized that if we continued at this pace we would be rounding the Cape late in the morning, which is not what we wanted.  Too, we didn’t know whether to expect the conditions to improve in the night or get worse.  We were tired and even though it was 20 miles back to Chemala, we decided to turn around and give ourselves some rest and try it again another day.  Normally, we would never enter an anchorage in the dark, but because we had been in there before we had a track on our chart plotter that would lead us in.

Earlier in the day, when we were sailing by Chemala we overheard conversation on the VHF radio that two boats, both single-handing, were planning to leave at 3:00 a.m. to round the Cape.  As we made our way into the anchorage we saw the two boats making their way out of the anchorage, just as we were getting ready to drop our anchor.  So, there we were, exhausted, anchor securely down and ready to get a good night’s sleep.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Post Tsunami

March 16, 2011

After the tsunami, boats scattered, working their way north or south.  We watched a boat pull up their anchor in Tenacatita and saw that the anchor and chain were all twisted up in a ball, like a cat had batted it round and round.  The skipper had to deploy his dinghy to get it untangled.  Later, we learned that Ponderosa had the same problem with their anchor, which was attributed to the underwater action caused by the tsunami.

It was a few days before we were able to go back to Barra.  As mentioned previously, the tsunami caused a 10 inch water line to float and block boats from leaving or entering the anchorage in the lagoon.  We monitored the status every morning on the “net” and within a few days heard that the water line had been re-anchored and that the channel was open for navigation; we headed back to Barra lagoon to top off our fuel tanks.  I was reluctant to go back to the lagoon as there were 65 boats or so in the anchorage when we left and it wasn’t any fun trying to find a place to anchor.  My fears were unfounded as we found only 14 boats in the anchorage.  In town, it was eerily quiet,  not only had many of the boaters left, but it was nearing the end of the season and most of the Americans and Canadians who winter in Barra had gone back home.  The fun little town of Barra had lost its appeal - it was too much of a “ghost town” after all the hustle and bustle of the winter activities.

Our plan had been to work our way north, slowly, visiting some of the anchorages we had passed along the way.  We weren’t in any hurry because we have flights out of Puerto Vallarta the first week of May to go to Michael’s niece’s wedding in the states.  Normally, we would be happy to have an anchorage all to ourselves.  Maybe it was the tsunami, we don’t know, but our enthusiasm to explore was gone and we decided to head north to join boats from Seattle and other boaters we had met along the way, all who seemed to be gathering at the marina in La Cruz.  After 5 months of being at anchor it would be nice to be tied to a dock for a while – real showers, yoga classes, lots of good and inexpensive restaurants, gatherings with friends and more; to get there we would have to round Cabo Corrientes.  Many agree it is similar to rounding Cape Mendocino, Point Conception or Cabo San Lucas – not to be taken lightly.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Some Interesting Boat Names

Below is a list of some of the boats we have encountered along the way, shared anchorages or overheard on the radio.  I think you will find some of the names quite creative if not entertaining - enjoy!

4 Our Play

Alma Inquietta

Aqua Bella




Bat Wing

Beverly J

Blue Dolphin

Blue Rodeo

Blue Sky

Boppy Star




Bright Angel




Cedar Spirit


Cloud Nine


Crazy Horse

Crazy Notion


Dark Side

Deanna B




Dragon Flight

Dragon's Toy

Easily Influenced



E-Z Lady

Forty Love

Freudian Slip


Full and By

Full Quiver

Gadflight Two
Gato Go



Gray Max

Hana Cru

Happy Nest


Hemisphere Dancer



Ideal I





Katie Hill

Lady Ann

Lady Home


Life is Good

Little Christian

Loomba Loomba

Lovely Lady

Loving It



Magic Places








Misty Sea

Moana ali





Nancy Rae


Neener (cubed)


Norwegian Steam


Off Tempo

Optical Illusion




Out of Here


Pacific Jade

Panta Rhei


Passage II

Peregrine Spirit



Prevailing Wind

Reality Check



Rose of Erin

Risk Taker

Safety Cat


Sarah Jean II

Saucy Lady

Sea 42

Sea Bear

Sea Bird

Sea Dream

Sea Silk

Sea Turtle II








Siempre Sabado


So Inclined

Sol Mate



Southern Cross

Spirit Bird

Stella Blue

Stray Cat

Sun Dancer

Sunny Side Up

Sweet Destiny


Taking Flight

Tanque de Tiburon


Touch Rain


Uncle Tio


Victoria Rose


Warren Peace

Water Dog


Whatca Gonna Do


Wind Rose

Windward Bound


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunami Update - Barra de Navidad and Tenacatita, Mexico

Yesterday morning started out like many.  It was 6:30 a.m., dark, quiet and I was still in bed, but awake, mentally making my plans for the day.  Then I heard something on the VHF that got my attention.  (Note:  We leave our radio on at night just in case there is an emergency such as an anchor dragging, etc.)  What I heard was a boater calling another boater asking if they had heard about the earthquake in Japan and whether they knew anything about a tsunami alert.  I jumped out of bed and turned on the computer to learn, that yes, there had been a large earthquake and that a tsunami warning had been issued.

By now, it was close to 7:00 a.m., the radio was quiet and that surprised me.  I made an announcement on the radio to the fleets within hearing distance to alert them of the earthquake and the tsunami warning and asked for others to "come back" with some discussion as to a plan of action.  It wasn't long before I heard from Jake on SV Jake.  He said boats would probably be leaving the lagoon soon.  There was lots of discussion among other boaters on the radio about whether or not to leave the lagoon.  Last year, when a Chilean earthquake spawned a tsunami alert, a few boats chose to stay in the lagoon and were fine.  Early in the day the Port Captain had instructed boats not to leave, yet.  However, mother nature being unpredicable as she is, we chose to take the safer alternative and left the lagoon about 9:30 a.m.  As in a parade, all but seven boats orderly exited the lagoon joined by a few boats from the marina.

Tom on MV Misty Sea did a great job as a radio net controller keeping all of the boats updated on when the "event" might be expected to reach our area and filtering information from others as it became available.  It was a beautiful day with light wind, so after motoring for a while and running our water maker, we hoisted the sails, made water and waited and waited and waited to see what would happen.  Initially, we thought we might go back to the lagoon, but the day was getting long and reports didn't sound promising from the lagoon.  It seemed that there was a strong current that continued to surge through the entrance - not a condition inviting for transiting an already challenging entrance.  We were a few miles outside the entrance to the Tenacatita anchorage, so we headed that way and around 4:30 p.m. we dropped our anchor.  First it looked like high tide and then, nope, it looked like low tide and then high tide again over and over and over.  The water was rising and dropping exposing and hiding rocks on shore.  When we noticed a 5 to 10 foot change in water level beneath our keel we decided to pull anchor and move a little further out to deeper water.  There were about half a dozen boats in the anchorage and after anchoring the second time, we looked up to see another half dozen boats headed for the anchorage.  It had been a long and stressful day.  Bob and Sherry on SV Ponderosa had come into the anchorage along with us.  Once everyone was anchored securely, Bob and Sherry joined us on Odessa for a tsunami party, letting go of all the stress of the day as the four of us sat in the cockpit and discussed the day's events, okay, and we had a few beers and some wine, too.

What we learned this morning from our morning "net" on the radio, is that an 18 inch water line that was previously submerged in the lagoon came loose and is now floating.  This water line has basically trapped the boats in the lagoon and keeps any other boats from entering.  The fuel dock is on the inside of this water line, so that means no access to the fuel dock as well (for those not already in the lagoon).  We also heard that the boats in the La Cruz marina in Banderas Bay further north, were told to leave the marinas and the Port Captain closed Banderas Bay (La Cruz and Puerta Vallarta) and no one is allowed to enter or exit.  There were some boats that were prepared for a big regatta (race) and they had removed their anchors for the event.  Now these boats are out of the bay and have no way to anchor.  I am looking forward to some more first hand information on this particular situation from friends in the area.

Last evening when we anchored, we put out extra length of chain to take into consideration the change in water level from the surge.  This morning we heard that Barra is still experiencing minor changes in water level and that this can be expected to last for 24 hours from the event which was said to be  4.1 feet at 2:37 p.m. yesterday afternoon and 4.8 feet at 7:00 p.m. yesterday evening.

The effects we saw and see are not a great wall of water as some imagine.  It is an extra surge of water onto the beach or shoreline and then the extra surge coming back.  Imagine the big splash when someone does a belly flop in the pool and you start to get the picture.

It is a beautiful day here in Tenacatita, but a little quiet in the anchorage.  I suppose most are weighing their options as we are.  We were not quite ready to leave Barra as we had planned to top off our fuel tank with diesel and gasoline for the outboard motor and generator.  We have enough fuel (after all we are a sailboat) and our water tanks are topped off after running the water maker several hours yesterday.  This morning two local fisherman came by our boat and now we have a lovely provision of Cambria (I will have to look this one up myself, but it sure looks good) and we didn't have to catch it or clean it and the price was right.

There is a bit of a gap from my last posting on February 14th through today and I promise to work on that soon but I thought it was important to let everyone know that we are safe and sound and our cruising life goes on somewhat normal (whatever that means).