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.