Friday, 30 November 2012

Night Passage to Chacala

This was supposed to be an overnight passage from Isla Isabela to San Blas .. but leaving Isla Isabela before dark (which we wanted to do) would have meant hanging around outside the entrance to San Blas (likely hove to) for a few hours (which we did not want to do) so we changed our plan on the fly and are now approaching Chacala (which was our next destination anyway) and will arrive there just after daybreak. Much better.

To quote our guidebook - "Chacala is the quintessential anchorage most people dream about when setting sail for the warm tropical anchorages of Pacific Mexico". Need we say more??

We plan to be in Chacala for about a week, then we will head for Paradise Village Marina (near Puerto Vallarta) possibly via La Cruz.

We are cruising and all is well,

Liz

PS - Isla Isabela was pretty much as advertised - rocky anchorage, clear blue water, and loads of birds & lizards ashore. We arrived there yesterday afternoon, and spent the morning ashore today. We didn't want to spend another night on anchor watches, so here we are on passage!
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At 18/11/2012 06:54 (utc) our position was 23°13.80'N 107°19.92'W

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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dodging Fish Nets

Still trying to get to Isla Isabela without getting stuck in nets or lines. An incredible density of fishing with all the nets or lines marked with the finest 2L pop bottles ... The fishermen in the pangas are very cheery about the whole thing though. They zoom over to tell us which way to go which is usually successful with a mix of hand waving, Spanish and English. One of our friends just behind us has already gotten stuck on one line.

Despite it obviously being a good fishing area we have not caught anything ourselves yet. One turtle spotted by the children. They are very busy at the bow spotting the float marker for us.

Max
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At 18/11/2012 06:54 (utc) our position was 23°13.80'N 107°19.92'W

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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Mazatlan and a Few Photos

We have been in Mazatlan for about a week now.  Four days anchored in Mazatlan Harbour and a few days at El Cid Marina just north of Mazatlan.  A chance to clean the boat, fix a few things, do some homeschooling and take advantage of actually having an internet connection to sort our admin (and update our blog of course).

We will leave here in the next few days with an intention of sailing south for a brief stop at Isla Isabela and then to San Blas.

A few photos:



San Diego was a pretty busy place at start of leg 1.



And we caught and ate some fish.  I guess Johnathan likes fresh tuna.





And were visited by many pods of dolphins and porpoises.  A few whales too.


And a few persistent boobies.

Half Way Across the Sea of Cortez


Crossing the Tropic of Cancer

Cabo San Lucas at Anchor
 
And there was some swimming


 And Liz led the Ha Ha'ers in yoga when the opportunity arose.










And of course some sailing ...

 

Well, we are finally in Mexico and the foul weather gear has been washed and stowed away for awhile.  More adventures to follow.






Sunday, 18 November 2012

Still enroute to Mazatlan

Still on our way slowly ... The winds were very calm today so we motored for a large part of the day. Lots of dolphins and porpoises to keep us company as well as two birds that seemed cute at first when they decided to rest on our boat for a while. Less cute when they started leaving large poops on the deck and the children. One is still on the mast head 12 hours later.

We had swimming stations half way across the sea. Seems unreal to swim in 29C water but it is still refreshing especially when followed by a fresh water rinse from the solar showers.

Trolling two lines but nothing caught. We had some nibbles for awhile.
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At 18/11/2012 06:54 (utc) our position was 23°13.80'N 107°19.92'W

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Departed Cabo San Lucas (Attempt #2)

Our previous attempt to leave Cabo was thwarted about 25 nm miles out when something went wrong with one of the house bank alternators - bad burning smell and no alternator output. We shut down the engine and drifted for awhile to determine the extent of the problem. When switched over to the other alternator it was not clear if the burning smell was getting worse or not and the engine was too hot to do any real troubleshooting. We turned around and had a fun sail in shifting winds (boat speeds between 0.5 and 8.1 kts) back to the anchorage in Cabo with a 0500 arrival.

Still not sure exactly what caused the failure but it appears isolated to that alternator/regulator system so after some testing we left yesterday evening just before sunset. Since then we have been alternating motoring and sailing in the lights winds. For a heavy old boat she does well in light winds. TWS has been around 4.5 to 5.5 kts and we are doing about 3.5 kts through the water. With the beam seas across the Sea of Cortez though it is rolly and hot. Water temp is between 28 and 29 degrees C.

ETA in Mazatlan is sometime tomorrow (Sun).

Max
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At 09/11/2012 03:01 (utc) our position was 23°07.80'N 110°28.92'W

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Friday, 16 November 2012

Departed Cabo San Lucas

With just enough wind to keep the spinnaker flying we have departed Cabo San Lucas and all of its noisy jet skies and powerboats for Mazatlan. It is about 190 nm across the Sea of Cortez and we will take our time crossing but ensure we are across before the next "Norther" sets in on Monday.

Still debating where to go in Mazatlan. There is an anchorage just outside the harbour and there a closer one at Club Nautico.

Max
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At 09/11/2012 03:01 (utc) our position was 23°07.80'N 110°28.92'W

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Monday, 12 November 2012

To Rally or Not to Rally

Our mentors in SV Totem  http://sv-totem.blogspot.mx/are doing an article on rallies and we were humbled to be asked to provide our perspectives based on our very limited experience so far.


From our limited experience with one rally and limited cruising:

Pros:

- Instant social network.  As a "kid boat" this was our primary motivation for the rally and was worthwhile.
- Mutual assistance.  Not so much at sea although there was a few cases of people being helped at sea with dead batteries and the like.  For us the mutual assistance with helping fix things at the stops was great. For once we were able to help others as well as receive assistance.  This of course happens whether or not you are in a rally but it helps if you have met the folks ahead of time.
- Discounts:  we saved quite a bit at the marina in San Diego while we continued to prepare the boat.  Also we received some discounts at Downwind Marine before departing.
- "Race" mentality.  Not really a race but they are keeping track of times so ... good motivation to learn how to sail the boat efficiently
- Local knowledge:  intro available from the organisers so much of the planning was done for us.
- Schedule:  no excuses to procrastinate cutting the dock lines as you have paid to leave with the group ...

Cons:

- Schedule:  Although the Ha Ha is very informal we found the perceived pressure to depart and arrive with the group a burden.  Several of us "kid boats" decided to stick around Bahia Santa Maria for another day to allow time for a dingy expedition up the estuary which meant we missed the infamous Squid Roe party.
- Racing Mentality:  we can be a bit competitive so we most probably pushed our "home" a bit hard especially with the spinnaker (came second in our division though).
- Crowding:  147 boats is a lot in one place so we flooded some areas creating an environment for inflated prices and supply shortages.  Not a big issue though.
- Nets: although the nets had certain utility, they took a long time.  In harbour there was considerable radio chatter that led us to shut off the radio sometimes.

Overall, we are glad we did the rally as we met some great folks and accelerated our learning process on cruising in Mexico.  That being said, we are also glad to be done with the schedule and slow the pace down a bit.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Baja Ha Ha - Approaching the finish of Leg 3

0034 Local - Max and I are on watch together - we are sailing in 8-12 kts of wind after motoring most of the day and have just crossed the finish line of the last leg of the Baja Ha Ha. We have a few miles to go into Cabo San Lucas itself, where we will anchor for the rest of the night and move to the marina in the morning.

The highlight of today's passage was officially crossing over the Tropic of Cancer. We stopped the boat and took turns jumping into the water (we have all read stories of what can happen to sailing crews who all jump overboard at once!) Frank swam a lap the boat, and the rest of us stuck pretty close to the swim ladder. Even drifting, a big boat can move pretty fast when you are seven or nine! Victoria and Johnathan were amazed at how warm the water was, and how close the colour of our hull was to the water colour - beautiful and clear.

This will be the last of the daily updates for a few days, but watch for some photos of the Ha Ha when we get our Mexican internet access sorted out :)

All is well,
~Liz
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At 09/11/2012 03:01 (utc) our position was 23°07.80'N 110°28.92'W

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Baja Ha Ha Leg 3 Day 1

0200 Local (Baja Ha Ha time - we have not yet changed our clocks for daylight savings or Mexico). The rally left this morning with a lengthy "rolling start" (ie motoring with light winds expected most of the day). Following the example of a few other kid boats, we elected to stay another day in Bahia Santa Maria. It was a bit surreal to radio over to the event organizers last evening to say that Fluenta would be a late start today - in the military if the start time is 0700, then you leave at 0700!

It was lovely to sit in the cockpit in the dawn stillness and see the last of the fleet slipping out of the bay while drinking coffee and looking at Victoria's shells from yesterday's trip to the beach. We launched our dingy, successfully landed it on the beach through the surf, and gave the kids a day to look for shells & sand dollars. In a convoy with three other dingys, we explored the estuary up towards Laguna Santa Maria, and hiked to the top of a ridge from where we could see to the surf on the other side. Supposedly there is a ship wreck and a whale skeleton over there, but it was too late in the day for us to explore any further. All in all a beautiful day, and well worth a slightly later arrival in Cabo San Lucas (Fri am vice Thus pm).

We arrived back on the boat in the late afternoon, hoping for a pre-sunset departure. By the time our dingy was on the davits and the boat was ready, it was 1830 and *very* dark as we left Bahia Santa Maria (to quote Max: "never again"). Suffice to say that we'll enter and leave Mexican bays in the daylight from now on! There are fishermen all along this coast, and fishing boats can be a bit unpredictable. Once we got out of the bay, we sailed for a bit, but we are motoring now in light winds (2-5 kts).

After an early evening nap in the cabin, Victoria woke to help with the watch and is now sleeping in the cockpit. It's warm enough on the night watches that I can leave her there. We only need light jackets this evening. The water temp has risen to over 26 celsius. We'll officially be in the tropical latitudes tomorrow. Foulies haven't been necessary since Day 1 of Leg 2.

The best news of all -- our autopilot has been reliably autopiloting us all evening :) We have been hand-steering since early in Leg 1 (hard work physically and mentally - as an aside, I'd be curious to know if others have experienced hand numbness with lengthy stints at the wheel - talking to a nurse yesterday, it seems that hands do not appreciate the constant vibrations that come through the steering column). Max worked with an electronics guru on one of the other boats in both Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria, and it has been doing its thing for the last six hours. What a difference this makes!

All is well. Here is to some good fishing tomorrow :)
~Liz
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At 04/11/2012 23:21 (utc) our position was 25°44.32'N 113°06.09'W

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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Prepared for Leg 2

In Bahia Santa Maria in between legs 2 and 3. Scheduled departure for Cabo San Lucas is 0700 tomorrow but we will stay until the afternoon to the kids can play with some other boat kids. Plan is to explore the estuary with the dingy. Gribs are showing very light winds tomorrow so we may get better winds by delaying for 12 hours anyway.

Hopeful we have got the autopilot working again as we have been handsteering much of leg 1 and 2. Isolated the problem to the hydraulic drive and we pulled and cleaned off the brushes this morning so fingers crossed. The Robertson autopilot is over 20 years old so may need replacement. We also have a Benmar autopilot but have not yet managed to get it to work.

Great sailing in general with the asymmetric spinnaker up for most of the time. The fishing has been less successful: after our two tasty tuna on leg one we managed to land no fish for leg two. Our squid lures are gone so playing around with the lures that were left on the boat when we got it.
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At 04/11/2012 23:21 (utc) our position was 25°44.32'N 113°06.09'W

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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Baja Ha Ha - Leg 2 Day 2

Had a fun second day of Leg 2 - the weather is warming up (didn't even need foulies overnight, which is a first), and had fun baking our first Fluenta bread today. No fish today - we think we might need different lures, since we haven't caught any fish since our "good" lures got snapped up a few days ago. Both kids had a chance to drive the boat this afternoon with the spinnaker flying - this was announced on the rally radio net with appropriate fanfare. We will be across the finish line of leg 2 shortly (it's been an hour away for a while now ...) and then we have a short transit to Bahia Santa Maria, where we will spend a day or so before Leg 3.
~Liz
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At 04/11/2012 23:21 (utc) our position was 25°44.32'N 113°06.09'W

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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Baja Ha Ha - Leg 2 Day 1

Saturday 2245 Local - We spent a couple of great days in Turtle Bay - got to meet some local folks, learn a few words of Spanish, give away a couple of baseball bats to some very happy boys, and even did yoga on the beach after the afternoon beach party (I understand that this was a Baja Ha Ha first!).

We had a slow start this morning with very light winds (we gave up on our sails after a couple of hours and started our engine when our boat speed went below 0.5 kts). Once the wind picked up, it has been reliably in the 10-18 kt range. When we doused our spinnaker at sunset (in winds that were just at its upper limit) we were pleasantly surprised that the boat moved more comfortably at the same speed with genoa instead. Kind of like when you finally reef an over-powered boat and get the same speed with less discomfort for the crew ...

Unlike the first leg when we basically had the ocean to ourselves, with just a couple of other boats within a few miles for company, tonight we are surrounded by tri-lights in every direction - lots of chatter on the radio as folks deconflict their tracks. We have about 12-15 kts of wind on our port quarter (which is so much more pleasant than 15 kts on our nose!) and Frank & I are cooking along at about 6-7 kts through the water. We are trying out three-hour watches tonight (vice four-hours) as our autopilot is not piloting reliably and we are hand steering the whole way. This is expected to be a two-night passage.

Everyone is well and happy and we are looking forward to connecting via means other than HF when we get to Cabo!
--Liz
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At 01/11/2012 17:38 (utc) our position was 27°50.04'N 115°12.43'W

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Friday, 2 November 2012

(no subject)

Hello Mexico. We are anchored our first Mexican anchorage - Turtle Bay. Dinner ashore in the small village. Great sail - as it is a rally you can motor or sail but we were stubborn and sailed from the start to the finish with the spinnaker up for most of it. Lots of dolphins to keep us company.
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At 01/11/2012 17:38 (utc) our position was 27°50.04'N 115°12.43'W

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Baja Ha Ha Day 4 - Across the finish Leg 1

1040 Local - We crossed the finish line of Leg 1 about an hour ago and are now motoring the last 30 nm to Turtle Bay where a beautiful anchorage, baseball with the local children, and trick-or-treating for the Ha Ha children await. We are rather proud of ourselves for sailing the whole way, and looking forward to a day of relaxation tomorrow before heading out on Leg 2.
~Liz
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At 01/11/2012 17:38 (utc) our position was 27°50.04'N 115°12.43'W

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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Baja Ha Ha - Day 3

2030 Local - Today's highlight had to be catching our second fish (another 19" tuna) and eating our first one (tuna steaks panfried in butter) for lunch. What a delight to hear the exclamations from the kids that they had never eaten anything so yummy.

It was windier this afternoon, and we had a good lesson in how things can change in a second and take an hour to restore. Our spinnaker wound itself around the forestay when we went too far downwind - it collapsed and got fabric on both sides of the forestay (this was the part that took a second). We then had to figure out how to unwind both spinnaker and "furling sock lines" from said forestay and the pull the sock down over the spinnaker, all without tangling it in the shrouds or getting knocked overboard (this was the part that took an hour and a lot of patience). We did it, and came out unscathed (no damage to boat, sail or crew - whew!) The only saving grace was that we learned this lesson in the daytime instead of at night ...

We think we are into our last night of watches before Turtle Bay. Winds have been consistently 15-18 kts, so even on a broad reach we have a reef in the main and still have a boat speed over 6 kts. We should arrive at the anchorage sometime tomorrow, in time for 1 Nov trick-or-treating. Victoria & Johnathan are relieved not to miss Hallowe'en and excited to go "door to door" by dingy!

All is well.
~Liz
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At 01/11/2012 01:41 (utc) our position was 28°31.98'N 116°22.35'W

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Baja Ha Ha - Day 2

Today we had conditions that make people want to go cruising ... blue sky, calm seas, just enough wind to keep our spinnaker full (8-12 kts), and a happy crew.... what a change from fog, beating to windward and motoring!

I was about to write this little update just before suppertime (chili simmering on the stove) when there was great excitement on the aft deck... we had two fishing lines in the water, and we caught a fish! This was Fluenta's first catch, so we found ourselves a little bewildered ... what do we do now?? Thankfully, Max's youth as a trout fisherman came in handy, and we quickly got a photo, took some measurements (length 19" / weight unknown) and dispatched him - we now have steaks cooling in our fridge. We think it was a small yellow fin tuna (this is what everyone else has been catching) and we will enjoy it tomorrow. During the radio banter earlier in the day, we offered to trade wasabi for fish once we arrive in Turtle Bay, but now we won't have to:)

All is well - tonight the seas are gentle, the wind is behaving (unlike last night, we still have 10-15 kts of wind from the North), and we are making progress towards our destination.
~Liz
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At 30/10/2012 10:20 (utc) our position was 31°32.52'N 117°17.07'

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