Tuesday, November 30, 2010








We're here, tied up snug as a bug in the world's most expensive marina.  But it's worth it for a day or two.

Had an interesting trip down the outside of Baja.  I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to think of it.  Off to bed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This afternoon we took a run up to the high valleys east of Ensenada to wine country.  It remined me a lot of eastern Washington with it's high sere hills and fertile valley bottoms.  They grow a lot of grapes here and make some good wine.  They also make a lot of wine that struggles to be ordinary.  The wine from the L. A. Cetto winery was good, and very affordable. 


The last couple days have been spent with Angelica, her husband Alfonso and Caroline their daughter.  They are friends of friends of friends, and we were lucky to have had Angelica's help getting through the Mexico check in process.  She would be happy to assist other cruisers with this, and is a good guide to the Ensenada area.  Her email is: peraltaangelicalina at yahoo.com and phone is 001 619 838 3568.  We paid her gas plus $35 for the day.

Now, off to bed, then Turtle Bay.


We're currently clinging precariously to the dock at Baja Naval Marina.  The surge here is the worst we have seen so far.  The boat is being flung this way and that, only stopping when the dock lines are stretched out straight and vibrating from the strain.  The funny thing is the water looks calm.  No waves, wakes, or other discernable disturbances, but the boat is dancing in tune with something.  Must be eddies caused by the breakwaters.

Ever wonder where old Washington ferries end up after the state is done with them?  I never have, but if you have, then here's your answer:  Ensenada.


 We're off for the Ensenada wine country this morning, then will top off the fuel and water this afternoon and depart for Turtle Bay in the morning.  Turtle Bay, or more correctly, Bahia San Bartolome is about 275 miles from here.  The weather looks very settled for the next few days, with light and variable winds, so we may end up motoring a bunch.  Again.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Today's the day!  Mexico here we come. 

I am experiencing a bit of ambivalence about it. San Diego is such a nice place.  It has the weather, scenery, ocean, shopping, boat parts, Internet.  Everything a person could want.  Except perhaps adventure.  Living here is predictable, safe, secure and familiar.

Who needs that?

At my age it's good to get the crap scared out of me on occasion.  But the wall of worry I erect for myself is probably the second component of my ambivalence.  We will be leaving the Coast Guard, NOAA weather, clean fuel and heading off into some fairly remote areas.  I worry about how systems like our water maker, SSB radio, our Volvo engine and all will work.  We will be away from instant help and close parts and supplies.  Oh well, been though this before and am getting used to it.

One thing we don't really worry about is getting involved in the violence that plagues Mexico right now.  We're just ma and pa cruisers and it has not impacted Gringo boaters much, if at all.  We'll just mind our own business, and try to stay out of the cross fire.

The stop in San Diego has been the least productive yet.  We didn't seem to get much done on the boat, and didn't do the tourist thing either.  We finally got to Balboa Part yesterday and the day before.  It's fantastic, except for the Japanese Garden.  I was severely disappointed, hoping to find another masterpiece like the San Francisco garden, but it just did not measure up.  Mostly because it is still so new.  Most of the plantings were barely beyond the seedling stage.  Probably will be nice in 30 or 40 years.





Our first stop is going to be Coronado Island, about 15 miles south of San Diego, then next will be Ensenada to check in, and then on down to Cabo and points south.  Cabo is about 750 miles from here, and we expect the trip will take, with rest stops, about 12 days. 

Don't know when we will have Internet, so long for now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Got our dinghy wheels installed.  What should have only taken a morning turned into a two day job.  A lot of that time was spent riding a bus to the marine store to get needed supplies, and back.  The bus service here is pretty good, but we had to walk about a mile on each end.  The  issue that made the installation a pain was a void in the transom.  The manufacturer should have laid it up solid to better carry the loads imposed by the outboard motor.  A solid transom would also allow me the tighten the bolts holding the wheels on without worrying about squeezing and cracking the fiberglass.  My solution was to drill a bunch of holes and inject epoxy into the void, creating a hard spot for the bolt. 

It's kind of odd seeing a big ol' set of wheels hanging on the dinghy.  They do swing up when we are out on the water trying to get somewhere, and then swing down when coming ashore.  The idea is to run in on the back of a wave until the wheels hit the shore, then Judy jumps off at the bow and pulls us up out of the break.  Theoretically.  I have seen a dinghy launched about five feet into the air, spilling people, fuel tanks, beer and cameras.  And that was only about a two foot break.  Gonna be high anxiety the first few times.

Injecting the epoxy was a gooey job.  There should be a law against me doing gooey jobs.  If there is the smallest possibility of making a mess, I create a catastrophe.  The epoxy job was a disaster.  I spread the goo everywhere possible.  But, being an old fart, I am learning to outfox the goo.  I wear gloves, and change them minute to minute, I spread tarps, I apply reams of tape, I have Judy stand by with rags and advice, and I have gallons of acetone at hand for mop up.  And I need it all.  But at the end of the day everything kind of looks OK.

Today I went around and spread a special black caulk into and around some of the deck seams that were starting to fail.  Same drill, gloves, tape, tarps, Judy and acetone.  Got it done and it's looking good.

Tomorrow I will start to learn how to run our short wave radio.  We need it to get weather.  No internet to get the NOAA weather reports, we have to download them through our radio.  This is kind of like being back in college.  Back then I never cracked a book until the last week of the semester.  My education, what there was of it, occurred on those NoDoz overnighters just before finals.  I remember whining to my friend, Gale, that I was gonna grow up soon and not have to do this anymore.  Well, forty years later, I've got two or three days to learn the process, starting with: "Which dial turns this thing on?"  Oh well, I'm to old to grow up, so I guess I'll just have to deal with it.

One other thing, we're still in San Diego.  It's warm, shorts and tee shirt weather.  

Monday, November 8, 2010


....even here in San Diego.  It should pass through this morning, with the sun returning this afternoon.

We took a drive through downtown yesterday on our way home from Costco.  All those high rise buildings that I thought were the business core of San Diego turned out to be condos.  I didn't see a single office building.  Got me to wondering what San Diego does to earn a living.  Apart from the very large Naval presence and a booming airport (literally) there doesn't seem to be much, other than tourism.  I googled a bit this morning, and about the only recognizable businesses based here are Qualcomm and Jack In the Box.

Maybe being warm and pretty is enough.

Friday, November 5, 2010


It's still summer down here.  Right now it is 76 degrees, last night it was over 80.  It had me wishing that the fans currently residing in their boxes in the the quarter-berth were mounted and running.  It has been sunny since we arrived, and I don't think any changes are immanent. 

Judy found a great restaurant just a short walk down the road.  Wednesday was lobster night: one pound fresh Maine lobster for $9.99.  Thursday we came back and split a hamburger and tonight it was $11.99 prime rib.  Good prime rib.  Mostly meat, not much fat.  One inch thick.  With a baked potato.  We also had mohitos.


Tomorrow we're gonna rent a car for the weekend and do our Costco run.  Everybody does a Costco run.  You can't go to Mexico before Costco, even though the have food down there.

Got the insurance all worked out.  We are now covered from Vancouver Island to Acapulco.  If we go further south we get to pay more.

Other then that just another boring day.  Missing the adventure part of this cruise.  We need to get on down to Mexico.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Today we hauled stuff out of the boat onto our finger pier.  It came from the quarter berth, v-berth, shower stall, lazerettes and various hidey holes.  All so we could have our boat surveyed in order to assure our new insurance provider that we had a seaworth boat and that it probably would not sink of its own accord, and that all the gear we claimed we had was, in fact, on the boat. 

Insurance is a hot topic amongst cruisers.  Some think it's just a rip off and refuse to pay up, some think it a rip off,  but necessary if one wants someone else to pay for screw ups.  I happen to fall in the latter category.  If I drive my ship onto the the rocks, I want a check.  So this morning we spent hours moving stuff out, then after the surveyor was done poking around, putting it back.  I'm stiff, sore and my back hurts like hell, but the surveyor loved our boat and found no flaws to report.  Should have coverage for Mexico by early next week.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I was just checking my blog stats, and I noticed some of the folks reading this screed were in Iraq.  If you are in the US military,  let me extend my gratitude for your service and my wishes for your safe return home.  If you are Iraqi let me extend my wishes for peace in your country.


Friday we left Channel Islands Marina, our port of refuge from the Santa Ana winds, heading for Catalina Harbor on Catalina Island.   It was a beautiful sunny day with flat seas and today the Navy was bombing some Island way far to the west of us, so we didn't have a care at all.

As we approached the island I was having all sorts of day dreams, imagining it was a tropical island in the South Pacific and we were approaching after 30 days of sailing and how we would feel, and how brave it must have been in the old days to try to find a small island in a big ocean with only a sextant.  Or that we were approaching Jurassic Park, and would soon be met by hungry pterodactyls dropping in for dinner.  (Did I ever mention cruisers sometime have way to much time with nothing to do?)  One thing I didn't imagine was that I was not going to get any sleep that night.

 Catalina Island should have been two islands.  A mountainous west island and a mountainous east island, separated by a narrow channel.  But it's not.  Instead of a narrow channel there is a narrow isthmus.  The nearly sea level isthmus is only about a third of a mile wide, and not much more then that in length.  There is a harbor on the north side and one on the south side.  The area is called Two Harbors.  We were bound for Catalina Harbor on the south.


 The Coast Guard has designated Catalina Harbor a "Year Round Safe Harbor" even though it is completely open to the south, offering no protection from winds and sea in that direction.  The forecast for that evening was for winds from the south, but only at 10 to 15 knots with small wind waves.  We figured the Coast Guard would not call Cat Harbor safe if 10 to 15 knots would cause problems, so in we went.

Cont. in previous post.


We went into the harbor fairly deep, just in front of the mooring balls and some kind of barge that I think was filled with farmed fish.  We had a wonderful dinner, I smoked one of my cigars, and we settled in for a relaxing evening reading, then off to bed fairly early.  About 9pm the winds started to fill as predicted and we were soon being rocked to sleep by gentle wind waves.  By 10pm we were beginning to be pitched about by the increasing wind and waves, and by midnight we were being pounded.  The wind was up to 20 knots and the waves were high enough to make sleep in the v-berth  uncomfortable.  An hour later sleep was impossible.  We were being slammed  by steady winds of 30 knots with gusts to 35.

What happened to the "Safe Harbor"?  Instead of being protected by the towering hills on either side of us, they created a venturi through which all the winds hitting them were being directed.  Out there somewhere the winds probably were only 10 to 15 knots, but here in the middle of the venturi we were getting beat up.

The fish barge that looked so far away in the afternoon was now a threatening presense.  If we were to drag a little, we could swing against it.  Just in case I put out fenders.  Then got dressed in my foulies, put the key in the ignition and settled in for a night in the cockpit.  About 2am the wind dropped and it began raining.  I was hoping that the front had passed and the worst was over.  No way.  The wind returned, stronger then before, gusting over 40.  The rain was horizontal and visibility was almost nil.  We were hit by several gusts that knocked us down to the point where we were taking water over the bow and side decks.  I was beyond thankful that we had an anchor down that is designed for a boat twice our size.  I was concerned a bit we might drag, but thought it not too likely, and as it turned out we came through the night just fine.

The fenders I had place out had been blown or washed back on deck, and our anchor was so buried that the windlass was pulling the bow down rather then the anchor up.  It finally broke free, and we were glad to be out of there and on our way to San Diego