Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Posted by Bill

Thursday December 10th

As we sailed up to the anchorage at Isla San Francisco, the wind backed and we had to tack.  A short while later we tacked again and rolled up the jib.  Soon we found a nice spot in the anchorage and shot up head to wind. As the boat coasted to a stop, I dropped the main and Kathy started paying out the anchor.  For the first time on the trip, we had successfully sailed into an anchorage.  It wouldn't be the last time.  Once the boat was cleaned up and seemed to be secure, I jumped in the water, pulled on my swim mask and ducked my head under the water.  My worst fears were confirmed; the Max-prop was completely gone: blades, hub, nut, keeper, everything - completely gone.

Rewind a few days sooner.  While we waited for the dinghy and the canvas work, we kept busy around town.  On Sunday, they held a paella fest where about 14 teams competed for best tasting paella and best presentation.  We felt compelled to help with the taste testing.

Finally, we received our new hard bottomed dinghy and had mounted the wheels and got it ready for action.  The canvas work finished the next day, so it was time to get out of town for a while.  Our plans were to head north and work our way up to Puerto Escondito then return to La Paz for Christmas.  We got a late start but managed to get into our anchorage on Isla Espiritu Santo before dark.  The next morning we headed North for Isla San Francisco and had a nice sail in about 15 knots of wind.  As we approached the anchorage the wind started going light, so we rolled up the jib and put the engine in gear.  After a few seconds, the engine stopped pushing, surged ahead momentarily, then stopped altogether. I stuck my head down in the bilge and determined that the shaft was still attached and turning (and there were no leaks!), so it had to be a prop problem.  Thus we found ourselves sailing into an anchorage for the first time.

Kathy had an electronic copy of 48 North and found an email address for PYI.  We sent a Sailmail off to PYI and to an importer in San Diego.  Miraculously, everyone answered promptly and by the next morning a new prop was on the way to La Paz.

As the prop would take a week to arrive, we decided to press on, so Friday morning we pulled up the hook and made the short trip up to San Evaristo.  This wasn't a very comfortable anchorage and destinations further North seemed a little out of range without the security of engine propulsion, so after lunch we headed back to Isla San Francisco.  In retrospect this turned out to be a good decision because the wind came up quite a bit over the next two days, and Isla San Francisco was well protected.  We spent the next couple days exploring the Island, cooking up a fish one of the other cruising boats gave us, and having drinks with Dick, Sue and their guests on Mentor one evening.  Below, you can see the new dinghy with the wheels already installed and put to use.

After a total of four nights there, we headed south back to Partida Cove, which lies between Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida.  The wind was light when we sailed off our anchor, but we pressed on anyway, and soon we were on a broad reach in 12 knots of perfect sailing breeze.

The next three nights were spent at Partida Cove, where the wind howled for three days.  Our dinghy, which was hanging from the spinnaker halyard, kept trying to go airborne in the middle of the night.  It took several rounds of adjustments to get it to set still.

Finally, on Thursday the 17th, we sailed back down to the Magote anchorage off of Marina de la Paz.  This was by far the most challenging anchorage as there was 2 knots of current against 10 knots of breeze and there were lots of other boats crowded into the anchorage.  Add to the mix, a big sandbar right down the middle of the anchorage.  In any case, we got the hook set with just enough room to clear the other boats in the anchorage.

The next morning we took the dinghy ashore for coffee at Club Cruceros, and as we were hanging out, I got a call that the prop would be there in 30 minutes. Yahoo!

Shortly thereafter, we had the prop in hand and had made arrangements for a haulout that same day.  We lashed the dinghy to the side of the boat and used it as a tug to get the boat to the yard.

Unfortunately, the tide was going out and there was not a lot of water at the travel lift and we got stuck.  After much pushing and pulling, we got the boat unstuck, but not without a new dent in the side.  We pulled the boat across the way and tied up for the night.  Saturday morning we got an earlier start and the haulout went without a hitch.

The boatyard took care of the damage and installed the prop.  They observed that the original key that held the prop on the shaft was bronze and probably wasn't strong enough.  They made a new key from stainless and got the new prop installed.  I watched every step of the process, as I was nervous about losing another prop, and everything was done to my satisfaction.

Since the tide had dropped quite a bit by the time the work was done, we had to spend the night on the boat in the yard.

Sunday morning, the yard owner and a couple of their workers came down and launched the boat for us on the next high tide.  Try to get a yard to do that for you in the states!

They let us raft up to a boat in their marina for the night, then Monday morning we moved back to Marina Palmira, where we remained through Christmas.

On Christmas eve, we had a nice dinner out with our friends from Done Dealing and Merry J.  On Christmas day, some cruisers in Marina Palmira had arranged for a tent in front of the marina office, where we and about 40 other cruisers had a nice traditional Christmas dinner with Turkey, Ham and all the trimmings.  We were stuffed, but still had room for dessert.  Yum, Yum.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a sandbar in the middle of the Magote anchorage in La Paz.  To get to the anchorage, you have to follow a long narrow channel from two miles or so to the north.  This poor fellow decided to take a shortcut.  Notice how high the waterline is?  He sat there all of boxing day until the next high tide at four in the morning.

It's now December 28th and it's time to move on. For the first time since leaving Seattle, we are getting rained on, so we're dragging our feet on our departure, but we want to be in Mazatlan for New Years. We'll leave as soon as the rain stops. . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

Round Round, Git Around, I Git Around ....

La Paz, BCS  Mexico  7 Deciembre

In San Diego we purchased a couple folding bikes from a guy we on the local VHF net.  They're small and red and look like clown bikes.  After cramming them on the boat for more than a month, we're finally getting our money's worth:  we ride them everywhere.  Kathi got a couple colorful plastic baskets for groceries.  A couple days ago she got two flat tires while on the way home from the grocery store.  Fortunately, Marina Palmira has a shuttle that was on its way back to the marina about that time.  It was her first ride in a car since October 25th in San Diego!

Bill's gotten frisky and has been trying to do wheelies!

Isla Espiritu Santo , 2 Deciembre            

We finally busted out of La Paz for a few days, and a had a very quiet and peaceful visit in Bahia San Gabriel at the south end of the island.  Moreover, we even had breeze to sail up and back.  We used the opportunity to test Bill's modifications to the Sailomat windvane.   (Mods were successful.)  Anyway, without a good dinghy, we didn't even try to go ashore, so the visit was peaceful to the point of being dull.  I guess we missed the "big city" of La Paz.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ham License, La Paz, BCS Mexico

Some things just take a while.

Mexico is one of the few countries that does not automatically grant reciprocal privileges for Radio Amateurs. So, I do some research on line and download a license application.  I print two copies and collect the other relevant documents that are needed.

I discover that the address I have does not show up on the tourist map that I have, so the next day, I ask around and I'm assured that the SCT office is just off the map to the North.

The following day, I get a late start and head to the SCT office on the North end of La Paz.  As in the US, government offices are located in the low rent (i.e. not next to the marina) part of town.  It's about a 25 minute bike ride to get there.  This is complicated by the fact that only about every fifth street is marked with a street name and by the fact that the address I have is actually incorrect.

Eventually, I zero in on a building with lots of antennas.  This is the place, but it's 4:30 in the afternoon.  The guard doesn't speak English, but he finds someone who does, and I'm left to believe that the office that I'm looking for will re-open at 5:00.  This doesn't seem too strange, since many places around town close for siesta and stay open late.  The English speaker gets in a car and drives off.  I wait until a few minutes after 5:00 and walk in.  I learn that no, the radio license office is actually closed for the day and that they are open from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

The next morning seems to get consumed with tasks around the boat, but I ride back up to the SCT office about noon.  I show the application that I had downloaded from the internet to the nice woman in the office, and she begs for a copy.  It turns out that my copy is much better than her forms which have been copied over and over.  I gladly give her my spare copy.  I learn that it will take 3 weeks for the license request to be processed because it has to go to Mexico city and back.  As I don't plan on being in La Paz for that long and don't yet have an address that I can use in three weeks, I decide to postpone my application.  At this point, I actually consider not bothering with the license (or using the radio on the Ham bands for that matter)

Several days later, we have made a reservation at the marina in La Cruz (near Puerto Vallarta) and they have agreed that I can receive mail there.  Once again, I gather up all my documents, hop on the bike and pedal up to the SCT office.  The same nice woman helps me with my application, then hands be another form.

In Mexico, it seems that most government office do not accept payment.  You must go to the bank and make a deposit directly to the government account.  This is also true for immigration and customs, but we've used an agent for that up until now.  I pedal my bike to the heart of downtown (high rent) where all the banks are concentrated and find the Banamex office.  Inside, I take a number and take a seat in the lobby.  This seems much more civilized than standing in a long line, but I can't help but think of the long waits at the driver's license agency in Seattle.  My number comes up quickly, and I am efficiently processed, my form is stamped, and I'm given a receipt for my generous donation to the Mexican government.

I pedal back to the SCT office one last time.  The nice woman gives me a receipt which shows that I have paid for a Ham License and informs me that, with this in hand, I can start using my radio now; I don't have to wait for the actual license to arrive in the mail.  My call sign will be XF1-KF7EJD.

Two days later, I actually go to make a call on the radio and discover that the antenna tuner isn't tuning.  I guess tomorrow's boat project will be fixing the tuner . . . .


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Submitted by Kathy with some edits by Bill

Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria

On our last night at Turtle Bay, they held a beach party / potluck that is famous for catastrophic dinghy landings.  This year the seas were calm, so there wasn't much excitement.

The trip to Bahia Santa Maria was uneventful, with some lovely moonlight sailing.  We saw a few whales along the way, but steered clear of them given the recent news of J-World's sinking.  (Bill:  Early on, there was a lot of misinformation floating around about the sinking and I am guilty of repeating some of that.  It turns out they saw the whale just in front of them as they were surfing down a wave and couldn't avoid it.  The hull was ruptured at the base of the rudder post and they filled with water and sank. They didn't see the whale again after the initial contact.  For the whole story, see lectronic latitudes.  It will also be covered in the December Latitude 38.)

Bahia Sta Maria is larger than Turtle Bay, but the nearest town is about 40 miles away by water.  There was a HaHa party on the beach near the mouth of the outfall from a lagoon.  In the ebbing tide, it was challenging to reach the party if you landed on the wrong side of the outfall.  After schleping the dinghy up the beach to where we thought we could ford, we ended up schleping it back to the water, and travelling around to the far side of the stream.   The locals put on a feast of fish, prawns, rice & beans (but ran out).  It was still good.  A great band played as well.

Bahia Sta Maria to Cabo SL

We had light breezes, but were able to sail much of the way.  The moon rose much later, so the starlight was better. Many boats stayed in sight of us, so we seemed to have lots of company.  Also, several cruise ships passed through the fleet in the night, so that kept us alert.

We finally had 24 hours where no fleece was required - a major turning point in the trip.  We even stopped for an ocean swim before landing in Cabo.

The anchorage at Cabo was frothing with jetskis, parasail boats and water taxis during the afternoons.  But the rest of the time, it was OK.  There were 3 cruise ships in port when we arrived.  After 2 left, the 3rd managed to back up and turn around in a very small space.  It was really impressive.  Bad news:  the inflatable floor on our dinghy blew up, and lost all its rigidity so we depended on the panga drivers for transportation to and from shore.  Strangely, the price seemed to get higher every day. 

Mark roamed the city and provided valuable intell on where to find beer and ceviche.  We spent 3 days there and capped it off with the HaHa awards party, which was lots of fun.  Awards were given in many categories, such as "worst snorer" and "naked sailing".  Candidates presented themselves up front to compete for the prize.  Imagine our surprise when Mark went up front to compete for the best naked sailing story.  (A couple won the prize)

Our friend Stuart Brunell was visiting with his family and invited us for a delicious spaghetti dinner at their condo at our anchorage.  (Thanks Stuart!)

Cabo to Los Frailes

We left Cabo in the afternoon of November 9th and stopped a few miles later in San Jose del Cabo where we anchored in a beautiful bay.  Our friends Gloria and Michael from Paikia Mist stopped by for a chat.

Nov 10th, the next day, we moved on to Los Frailes.  As in most of the next anchorages, the travelling circus that is the HaHa fleet showed up in the same places.  But it was good to see friendly and familiar faces along the way.

We spent 3 sun drenched, breezy days at Los Frailes.    On Nov 11th, Bill ferried Mark ashore and left him by the side of a dusty road with a couple beers and a bottle of water to hitchhike to San Jose to catch his flight home.  (Bill:  Picture a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, with a dusty rutted road and a sparse ground cover of cactus.  The sun is directly overhead and even the rattlesnakes are in hiding.  I'd have felt more guilty if I didn't know how resourceful he could be.)  He told us later that the local water-truck driver gave him a ride to the first of a series of small towns where he got rides or the bus back to the airport at San Jose del Cabo.

Bill and I limped around the point in our injured dinghy to the next bay to snorkle the reef, but we didn't get far enough for the good stuff.  The landscape is surprisingly green in this area and the mountainous terrain looks kind of like the northwest (from a distance).

Nov 13th: Next stop:  Los Muertos.  Meurtos is a small bay again filled with the usual suspects (HaHa-ers).  This bay has been targeted by developers and there is a nice restaurant, a golf course and a few lavish mansions under construction nearby.  (Bill:  The developers didn't like the name Los Muertos (the dead) so they have dubbed it Los Suenos (The Dreams)).  A big wind came up during the night, and we needed to keep tabs on our position, but we didn't drag. 


Saturday, Nov 16th:  After one night at Los Muertos, we continued north up Ceravallos Passage .  A fresh breeze filled in out of the north, and after seeing some of our friends sailing into it, we figured we could do it too.  We had a lovely sail, and Gloria & Michael took this photo of us as we crossed tacks.  (Thanks Gloria and Michael!)

As we rounded the point into San Lorenzo Channel, the wind lightened and we were escorted by a school of frisky friendly dolphins.   They rode under the bow and took turns rubbing their backs under the boat!  They stayed with us long enough that we starting given them names.  What a thrill.

As the sun set, we made our way down the narrow shallow dog-leg channel to Marina de la Paz to a great end slip on the outer dock.  Along with our friend Jay on Done Dealing, we were able to order a new dinghy from San Diego through another guy that got a good price and had expeditious import connections.  MLP is a cruiser community with all the services you can imagine.  The Club Cruceros conducts a morning net on VHF, covering arrivals and departures, emergencies, club announcements, trading, mutual assistance, etc.  Boats all over the area participate.  Michael from Paikia Mist dove and put new zincs on the shaft.  (Thanks again Michael!)

We've gotten lots of use out of our bikes here.  They're red with small wheels (clown bikes).  It's too small for Bill, so he looks all legs as he winds down the street.  The streets are in fairly good condition here, and many drivers are very courteous to us.  (Bill: I get a lot of funny looks when I ride around town.)

After a few days, we finally got around to finding a canvas-maker to make us a new dodger, bimini and connector awning to cover the cockpit.  Genero gave us a quote, got his metal worker Ernesto on the job, and the bimini frame was done in 36 hours.  They speak English much better than we speak Spanish, so everything seems to going smoothly.

At Behan's advice, I brought my own Sunbrella awning material from the US.  (Thanks Behan!).  It's much more expensive here so that was good.  However, I wasn't able to get enough, so I still had to buy some at $76/yd.   Yikes!!!! 

Anyhow, that work is moving right along.  We'll see how it turns out.  The canvas and stainless steel are more expensive here, but the labor is much cheaper.  So overall the cost should be a lot less.

Our friends Terry and Rob Moore, from the J-42 sistership Merry J, invited us to dinner on their boat with Gail and Jay.  That evening was such a treat.  (Thanks Terry and Rob!)

Nov 25th.  A guy came to the boat peddling large prawns. I bought a kg.  They were terrific.  We anchored out that night, cooked the prawns, drank a bottle of wine and enjoyed a nice quiet night on the hook.

Nov 26th Thanksgiving Day.  We upped anchor and headed for Marina Palmira, a couple miles away.  After various mysterious sounds, we discovered the engine had overheated.  We killed the engine, unfurled the jib and sailed to the next marina.  Fortunately, they had a convenient slip for us and marina staff on the dock to help us land and we sailed in just fine.  Bill isolated the problem and we walked on shore the for the fabulous Club Cruceros Thanksgiving Dinner, and made a few new friends in the meantime.

More from Bill

While we've been stuck in La Paz, we're getting to know some of the other cruisers.  It's amazing to see how everyone is willing to  help each other out.  I spent a few hours helping out a fellow cruiser with his Wi-Fi connection and have received help with other boat issues from others.

La Paz is a town that pulls you in and is full of ex-pats who came here to cruise the area and never left.  When you hear someone on the morning net trying to sell an Olds Cutlass Supreme, you know that they've been here awhile.

The town seems to have a fairly high standard of living, but it is also being invaded by US corporations.  Both the Sears and the True Value hardware store are nicer that anything I've seen in the states.  The town also has a Walmart and a Sam's club and there is some evidence that they are hurting some of the local businesses.  The locals are hard working and are extremely patient with our butchered Spanish.  I was even able to get my hair cut the way I wanted it.

It's amazing (or perhaps shocking) how much we've become dependent on the internet and cell phones.  After too much timing struggling to get a good wi-fi connection, we finally broke down and bought a Telcel cellular modem.  We can hook this up to a Cradlepoint wi-fi access point and we can share the connection.  We now have a great internet connection that should work anywhere there is cell phone coverage in Mexico.  Unlike the US, they will sell you service a day, week or month at a time and no contract is required.  We just have to recharge the sim card at any bank, Telcel store or OXXO (a Mexican convenience store more common than Starbucks in Seattle).  With this, we now are able to check our svjarana email on a regular basis.

On the wind vane side of things, I discovered that the oar was not centered on it's post, which might explain why it always was pulling to one side or the other and not just tracking behind the boat.  I've modified it with a stack of shims made from a cut up placemat, and the thing seems to now be properly centered and isn't loose and sloppy like the original design.  It seems to track quite a bit better when under power.  Now we just need to go sailing to test it out.

We're about to head out to the Paella fest and with luck tomorrow we will go find a nice quiet spot to sit on the hook for a couple days while we wait for the dinghy and canvas work to finish.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

San Diego to Turtle Bay

Mon-Wed 10/26-29 - San Diego to Bahia Tortugas (336 Miles)

We spent 10 days in San Diego preparing for the Baja Ha-Ha cruising rally. It's a record year for entries with nearly 200 registered boats. The rally starts in San Diego with stops in Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay) and Bahia Magdelena, ending in Cabo San Lucas. Mark Lincoln rejoined us on 10/24.

We found an economical slip at the San Diego Police Dock. San Diego YC, Silver Gate YC and Southwestern YC provided essential food, drink, showers & wifi. Thanks to Downwind Marine chandlery for their generous support of our fleet and cruisers in general.

After 6 weeks mainly on the boat with few shore side excursions and lots of walking, the freeway and big box store lifestyle of southern California seemed really odd.  People's Coop and Henry's were great for provisioning.  (Henry's carries tetra-pak milk that doesn't require refrigeration before opening.)
Our good friend Lucy Gooding lent Bill her pink bike for local transportation. During a delicious and elegant dinner at her place we did our laundry and rewarded her by flooding her house when the washing machine backed up and overflowed. So the after dinner entertainment was mopping up the water that even crossed through the dinning room.

We departed San Diego on 10/26 as part the Baja Ha-Ha boat parade which appeared off the South end of Shelter Island.  This allegedly appeared on San Diego TV and U-Tube. Since the wind was light, it was a running start at 11:00 with everyone motoring at 6 knots. 20 minutes later, the running start ended and everyone (who was paying attention) began sailing.

20-30 knot winds and big seas were forecast for Tuesday, so many boats ducked into San Quintin (the bay, not the prison) to wait it out. We kept on to Turtle Bay to get used to those conditions for our later passages.

We sailed until early evening when the wind went light, then motored until 4:30am Tuesday. By nightfall the wind was in the 20's, gusting to 27 kts and we were blasting along in the moonlight under reefed main and full jib. (Que vida loca!)

We tried the wind vane but it would only work for short periods before we rounded up in the steep waves. We decided to hand steer rather than put in a second reef.

Approaching Cedros Island, we were greeted by a welcoming committee of dolphins. They appeared to have great fun surfing down faces of the large waves next to the boat. They would surf past, then circle around and do it again. I doubt that we will ever get bored with these animals. We also saw a few flying fish and found a few squid on the deck in the morning.

We crossed the finish line at 10:01 Wednesday and sailed all the way to our anchorage at Bahia Tortugas that afternoon where 15 boats were already at anchorage.

Thurs 10/29 - On the HaHa net this morning, we learned that the J-120 "J-World" had been repeatedly rammed by a whale, breaking off their rudder post. (Footnote:  It turned out that this was not true, see later post).  They began taking on water and activated their EPIRB.  A US Coast Guard helicopter picked them off their life raft about two hours later. The boat is presumed to have sunk. The crew is all safe back in San Diego. Mom, skip this part: (Although we would gladly risk injury and death in pursuit of adventure, whatever you do, don't anger the gods, or piss off the whales.)

We are now slipping off the grid with reduced cell phone or internet access.   Until we get a Mexican cell phone and modem in Cabo or La Paz (next week), we'll have even less practical cell and internet access than we found in CA.  So going forward, our main communication with friends will be by sailmail.
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Morro Bay to San Diego

This entry will need to be brief as we are down to two days before the start of the Ha-Ha and there's must left to do.

We departed Morro Bay on 10/1 for Santa Barbara. This was an overnight trip around the much feared
Point Conception.  For us, it was a boring trip and we motored all the way to Channel Islands harbor in Oxnard, but there were tons of dolphins in the morning to keep us entertained.

We spent a few days in Oxnard at the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club. While we were there, we spent time with Lynn Werner, her son Andy, Andy's wife Lorraine and their brand new baby boy.  On the second day there, a gale came up and blew sand all over everything.  During the gale, Capaz came in from Ventura. We also had dinner with Capaz and Mentorm who had preceeded us into Oxnard.

On 10/6 we headed back upstream to Santa Barbara for two nights.  While there we visited the Santa
Barbara Museum of Art.

On 10/8 we headed out to Santa Cruz Island and had a nice sail in about 20 knots of wind.  As it has turned out, this is the last time we sailed before San Diego.  Once at Sant Cruz Island, we spent the night in a rolly anchorage at Smuggler's Cove, but never made it ashore.

The next morning we headed for Marina Del Rey, where we spent three nights.  The last two nights were at California Yacht Club. While in LA, we visited the fabulous Getty Museum.   I think you could easily spend two or three days going through all the wonderful exhibits.  You can visit their website at

On 10/12, we departed Marina Del Rey for Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island despite strong SW winds and rain in the forecast.   Enroute, we found an "art" guitar floating a few miles offshore near Palos Verdes Point.   Among the items pasted to the guitar was a business card of the owner  (from Venice Beach) and we have since arranged for it's return.  On arrival at Avalon Harbor, we found ourselves moored in close proximity to three other Seattle area boats: Mentor, Bella Marina and Delos.  On the first night, we all had dinner together on Delos.  None of these boats were participating in the Ha-Ha, so they decided to arrange their own event (the "Hee-Hee").

After two nights at Avalon Harbor we departed for Dana Point where we spent two nights. Once again, we connected with Capaz, who was lying in the anchorage when we arrived.

On 10/16, we made an early departure for San Diego, where we are staying in the public moorage at the Shelter Island Police Dock. Our time here has been spent making last minute purchases and modifications to the boat, as boating supplies will be much harder to get going forward.

The Ha-Ha starts on Monday, 10/26. You can follow the event on their website at http://www.baja-

Sunday, October 4, 2009

9/19 - 9/21 Sausalito

It turns out that most of our stay in San Francisco was spent drying out the boat, but we did have a really nice dinner at the Saint Francis Yacht Club on our last night.  Sausalito has some marine services that are not available in downtown San Francisco, so we headed over there.  We ended up spending more time drying out the boat and continued to fix some of the leaks.  We had a nice dinner with Patt Crocket on our second night (Thanks Patt).  The next night we met a couple (Ellie and Wayne) from Vancouver who had broken their boom on the way down.

9/21 - Angel Island

We made the short trek over to San Francisco Yacht Club in Tiburon, but there was no room at their guest moorage, so we continued on to Angel Island and tied up to mooring buoys, arriving as the last excursion boats of the day were leaving the docks.  In order to get more boats in tiny Ayala Cove, boaters are expected to tie up to buoys bow and stern.  The is a strong cross current that makes picking up the stern tie a little challenging.  We had a nice dinner aboard and prepared for a morning departure.

9/22 - Angel Island to Half Moon Bay

We left the bay area in a bit of fog, but it cleared up outside the gate and we had a nice sail down to Half Moon Bay as the wind built to about 20 knots out of the Northwest.  Half Moon Bay offers an anchorage inside an outer breakwater and a marina inside the inner breakwater.  As it was quite breezy in the anchorage, we elected to go into the marina.  There are a few restaurants at the marina, but the main town is quite a hike to the South, and the marina is right on busy highway 1, so it really had little to offer for us other than a place to tie up for the night.

9/23 - Half Moon Bay to Monterey

We were faced with a 64 mile passage to Monterey and wanted to arrive in daylight, so we departed early the next morning.  A strong Northwest wind was blowing and we were soon under sail in 15 - 20 knots of breeze (oh, and fog).

We put a new radar and AIS on the boat before the trip, and they have proved their worth on the way down the coast.  We have had some trouble seeing smaller boats until they are really close, but there has never been any question about where the big ships are.

During our trip, we monitored a conversation between the Monterey Coast Guard and a boat in distress who had lost their engine and one of their shrouds had parted.  I had given some thought to going to help until I learned that they were about 50 miles South of us.  We later learned that it had taken Vessel Assist 5 1/2 hours to get to them, and another 7 or 8 hours to tow them back to Monterey.

9/23 - 9/26 Monterey

As the anchorages in Monterey looked quite rolly, we again elected to go into the marina.  I guess at some point, we will need to start sitting on the hook; maybe in Mexico?

Monterey is a nice little town and we soon realized that our planned two nights wouldn't be enough, so we decided to make it three.  While we were there, the Cherries Jubilee Car Show was going on which offered one of the nicest assemblages of classic cars that I have ever seen.

There is also a nice little Maritime Museum at the harbor that can be seen in one to two hours.

The main attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It is divided into two main sections, with the west building featuring "Ocean's Edge" exhibits and the east building featuring "Outer Bay" exhibits.  Some highlights included a sea otter feeding, a kelp forest exhibit, the one million gallon Outer Bay Aquarium, a sea-horse exhibit and a jellyfish exhibit.  This is by far the nicest aquarium I have ever seen, and would highly recommend that you see it.  You can learn more about the aquarium at

9/26 - 9/27 Monterey to Morro Bay

Midday Sunday, we departed Monterey for a passage of 107 miles to Morro Bay with warm temperatures under clear blue skies with a promising North Wind.  As we motored up around Pt. Pinos and turned South, the wind tapered off and we were soon enveloped in thick damp fog.  Enough said.

9/27 - 9/30 Morro Bay

On Monday morning, we arrived in Morro Bay tired after a long passage and tied to a fishing boat at the city pier.  After a nap, we went out and explored the town.  Morro Bay has a lot more to offer than you would guess from looking at the charts or the coast pilot.  There is a large tourist district along the waterfront and a bustling community up the hill, with most everything we need within walking distance.

On Tuesday, we arose early and took about a one hour bus up to the Hearst Castle.  Incredible is all I can say.  The amount of art that was collected in incredible.  Any one room would outdo many small museums and there are lots of rooms.  The picture at the right is just the guest house.  You can read more on the web site at

We committed to staying in Morro Bay until Thursday as a gale was blowing through Tuesday and Wednesday.
As I sit here updating the blog, we are waiting for the tsunami (from South of Samoa) while listening to wo'pop on KEXP over a poached wifi connection.  The only real concern is that there could be some strong currents in and out of the harbor.  The owner of the fishing boat just came down and doubled up all his mooring lines, but it's the derelicts behind us that I'm worried about.  Add a nice fish dinner and finish it off with a glass of white wine and a piece of Theo Chocolates Nib Brittle, and we're ready.  OK, so the tsunami was a non-event; less than a foot of change and no noticeable change in current.

9/30 - 10/1 Morro Bay to Channel Islands Harbor.

We departed midday Wednesday for an overnight passage of 133 miles to Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.  The weather was nice for a change but winds were light and we motored almost all the way.  Fortunately Point Conception failed to live up to its reputation and we arrived in Morro Bay dry but tired.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seattle to San Francisco

I need to thank a few people for the advice and support they gave us in preparing to go.  Paul Baker and Suzette Connolly for lots of great advice on getting the boat ready to go.  Mary and Joel Thornton for more good advice as well as charts, first aid supplies, and agreeing to be our property manager.  Roger and Lynn Werner for charts and moral support.  Mike Ross and Seth Siegal for help with some boat projects.  And there are others too numerous to mention.

Our Bon Voyage party was well attended and included some unexpected, but not unwelcome guests.  A good time was had by all and I can only wish that I had had a chance to talk to everyone that attended.

We’ve successfully made the passage down to San Francisco after leaving Seattle a day late.  Last minute details pre-empted our departure until Tuesday, September 8th.  We were accompanied on the voyage by Susie Stillman and Mark Lincoln.

We made stops at Port Townsend and Neah Bay along the way.  On the morning of the 10th, we departed Neah Bay on a rare East wind in the Straits and turned the corner for California.  Going South, the wind was light, so we motored about half the time.  The next evening, we became concerned that we could need fuel before we got to San Francisco, so we began angling in shore toward Newport, Oregon.  In the morning, we looked at the wind forecast and fuel usage and decided that we could make it without stopping, but decided to make the stop anyway.

There was now an 11 foot swell running (from a storm in the gulf of Alaska), so the approach to Newport was quite intimidating, with big breaking seas on both sides of the boat, but the channel was fine down the middle where the coast guard had recommended we stay.  In Newport, we hooked up with Susie’s friend Hannah, who works at the Newport Aquarium and got a behind-the-scenes tour.  They were very excited that the NOAA ships were moving there.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have stopped.  The forecasts were for moderate south winds, so it looked like progress could be slow, but we were on our way again.  We found ourselves making good progress on a fairly lifted South East wind when it began to build.  It turns out that the low pressure system that was supposed to be further West landed right on top of us, and in the middle of the night we found ourselves headed straight into gale force winds, with waves coming from three different directions.  We reduced sail and continued to push South, but soon discovered that the boat had a “few” leaks.  We had one big leak in the aft locker that flooded the cabin.  Because of the heel angle, the water wasn’t making it to the keel sump, but was instead washing around in the main cabin.  In addition, the anchor locker flooded and water gushed into the V-berth through a hole at the top of the forward bulkhead.  As the V-berth was packed full, there was a lot of soggy gear to deal with.

The gale continued into the middle of the next day, then slowly began to subside.  Sometime in the early morning, a Coast Guard helicopter came by to check up on us.  We gave them a thumbs-up and they flew off.

We spent the next day trying to dry out the boat and take an inventory of the damages.  Among the stuff that died:  Pressure Water control switch (saved by the foot pump),  connections to the HF antenna tuner (repaired), connections to the VHF hand mic (repaired), two KVH maxi displays (obsolete),  one printer, one international cell phone, one broken batten.

Our last night before San Francisco, we finally got some strong North winds and had a boisterous sail down to Point Reyes before the wind went light again. Mark and Susie both went their separate ways shortly after we arrived at St Francis Yacht Club as they have friends/family in the area.  Mark intends to join us again in San Diego.  We’ve been here two night and are still drying things out and trying to seal up some of the leaks before our next offshore passage.  Today we head over to Sausalito where we have access to chandleries and other marine related services.  The city front in SF is somewhat of a wasteland in that regard.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Years ago, I read a book on investing. It was full of useful advise such as "Don't buy 30 year bonds" and "If the investment return seems too good to be true, you'll probably lose all your money". It also offered the following important advice: "Whatever you do, do not buy a boat". Somehow, in the spring of 2008, we found ourselves owning not one, but two boats.

This last winter while tramping around the marinas in Puerto Vallarta, we decided it was time to finally embark on the cruise that we had only been talking about for so long. Since then, we have quit good paying jobs, sold the old boat, moved out of our house onto the new boat, sold or stored a house full of stuff, hired a property manager and rented the house, and worn ourselves out trying to get the boat ready.

We are now just four days from departure with more to do than can possibly be accomplished. Some of it will get done along the way, and some of it may never get done, but we will go.

Our plans are to work our way down the US coast from Seattle to Mexico for the winter. Once in Mexico, we will likely continue out into the Pacific, eventually ending in New Zealand. What happens after that will be decided once we get to New Zealand.

Time for sleep. We have to rearrange to boat (again) tomorrow to get the last batch of stuff and provisions on board, then host our Bon Voyage party.

All for now.