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.
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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.