Archive for November, 2005

Punta Baja

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

We reached the point, which was 30 miles away, in four action-filled hours. Which means we averaged 8 knots the entire way (including the monkeying around at anchor pick-up and put down). Our top speed was recorded en route by our gps: 15.8 knots. Ayyy! I think I know when we did that too. (Seasickness index is at a goddamn “Hrmmm” mostly because I spent all my time tracking the oncoming waves and had no time to organize myself to puke.)

It was a very rough and “exciting” ride to Punta Baja and notable in that, while out in the middle of it all, where the waves were all big and spray was everywhere, was a seal. Sleeping! His head out of the water and bobbing UP and DOWN Down down, then Up up, then DOWWWNNNN. Asleep. We know this because we ran over him (we couldn’t help it) and woke him up. He jumped up in the air in fright then sat there staring after us.

Our entry to Punta Baja was extra exciting in that we had to come around after reaching in strong wind with a large swell on our quarter. We had jibed first, then came flying around broadside to the swell and finally turned into the wind as we came out of the swell. Ick. We anchored next to Bogtrotter, who had been with us in San Quentin the previous evening, and whose crew were attempting to surf in the harsh wind. My wind recorder showed 25 knots consistent with gusts to 30 and the screech rose through the evening, then died during the night.

The anchorage is notoriously rolly but we were surprisingly comfortable since it was a large swell with a long period. The next morning, the wind was mild and the swell was very large and slow. We headed out late afternoon in approximately 15-20 knot winds and had a great sail.

We also caught our first “real” fish—a bonito! Katsuo! I promptly made sushi rice in the pressure cooker—a device I’m rapidly losing my apprehension over—and we ate seared sashimi with wasabi and rooster sauce.

a good size bonito

The next day we approached Benito Islands but general crankiness and largish swells prevented an anchorage. We headed straight to Turtle Bay, passing Cedros and Navidad.

To Bahia San Quentin

Friday, November 25th, 2005

Still life of beach treasures collected at Bahia San Quentin, Baja California Norte, Mexico

The first thing that I noticed (going South—because it was certainly NOT getting any warmer) was the change in phosphorescence. Particularly in the head water. Huge honking many-legged beasties all a-glowing green and washing down, down to the holding tank.. And I sort of felt bad but was a little too fascinated to feel too bad. Not having cable while growing up does this to a person I suppose. Your typical American might be all “Oh, well, I saw these giant squid once on the Discovery Channel that could take apart a Timex at 1000 feet and they glowed rainbow colors, not just green.” Well, I suppose they might be impressed if one of those multi-colored things turned up in their toilet.

We thought we might anchor off Isla San Martin but annoying windy weather and the cold, cold, cold encouraged us to continue on to Bahia San Quentin. Notable highlights of the trip included the intrepid spotting and expert recovery of a fantastic orange life ring apparently blown overboard (like, there was no decaying body attached, thankfully) from the vessel “Arc of the Seas” out of Nassau. The thing was covered in wicked-looking sea beasties (one of which, named “The Kelp Monster,” Joshua nearly let loose within the cockpit—think “Alien”—good grief) and best of all, had been altered by some clever bored honeymooner to read “N” ARC of the SEAS. The Narc now rests in our aft tramp pocket.

Seasickness was combated with some annoying acupressure bracelets, which work not by magic, as the packaging might have you believe, but simply by cutting off blood and nerve supply to the brain the hard way—via the wrist. Bleargh. Seasickness index = “Sigh.”

Arrival at San Quentin had us anchored directly in the panga route up the estuary and the night was rather bumpy with the wind waves blowing off the beach. The moment we dropped anchor, we had the fishing pole out in an attempt to catch some dinner (it was the day after thanksgiving, I believe, but we had not had the proper “Thanksgiving” so this was it for us). Just when we were resigned to another evening of tunafish sandwiches, some gringo fishermen charged up with their aluminum skiff decked out with about 20 different poles of varying size and chucked a RED SNAPPER onto our trampoline! HOT DAMN!!! They refused trade items (hey we carry Playboy!) and wished us a nice eve before charging off homeward. (Thank you expert fisherman!)

Anchored off Punta Entra near Bahia San Quintin, Baja California Norte, Mexico

Despite harsh winds the following morning, we put our dinghy together and rowed the 10 thousand miles upwind to shore to walk on solid land for a bit. The beach was lovely and deserted and had lots of neat shells and dead seals in various stages of decay. We found a few seal teeth and various other random shell and plant matter that could not be lived without and, thus laden, headed back to the boat for an afternoon departure. The wind had picked up impressively and was blowing 20+ knots. We thought we’d head towards Cedros but after about ten swift minutes, decided we’d head for the next sheltered area to anchor: Punta Baja.

Projecty McProjectson

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Teak handrails! Very very handy (har har); we installed single loop rails forward and two sets of double loops aft. We didn’t have much to hold onto once you left the cockpit heading aft and always ended up grabbing at winches and blocks or random lines.

Installing grab rails on a Searunner 31

Curtains for the companionways! We sewed these together the day before moving out of the apartment and then added the snaps en route from Coyote Point to the Bay Bridge. We’re glad we did because the wave action got rollier once we were around the Bay Bridge and after we left the Golden Gate, it began to rain and the waves splashed us with much abandon.

Not a lot to say about them except they are just awesome and make it easy to get in and out of the cabins while keeping rain water and spray out.

Searunner 31 Companionway curtains

Searunner 31 Companionway curtains


Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Our ejection from the US was celebrated with a bottle of wine (more weight reduction, very important for the small boat) and a fresh dish sponge. I hesitate to admit that I debated long and hard over whether I should throw away the old one. We anchored out at the Coronada islands, just within the Mexican border, for the evening and fished. And caught some mackerels! Of course the guy in San Diego said that they are easy to catch because they will bite anything, but we were very pleased. We let most of them go and saved one for bait (upon which we caught something sort of perch-like; we let him go) and fried up the other half to test the flavor (not bad).

We left anchorage at 3am and arrived to Ensenada at 3pm, home of the largest flag in existence. Everything in Ensenada is $5; the anchorage, showers, water taxi, dingy docking, internet, and the nifty Pacifica enameled tray I wanted but didn’t get because where oh where would I put it. Waa.

Rowing in Ensenada Harbor, Baja California Norte, Mexico

Tuna Boats in Ensenada Harbor, Baja California Norte, Mexico

We decided to officially enter the country here because we heard Ensenada had it very streamlined—no running around town twice to four different offices to get papers stamped. We have already from the US: Fishing licenses for everyone on board and one for the boat and dinghy (those dinghies will up and fish on the sly if you are not careful). Liability insurance, which we debated about getting because it is not required by Mexico and YES! it IS required; but no it’s not and sometimes it’s required depending upon where you go and then you don’t really need it but you might get thrown in jail if you don’t have it since it’s officially required sort of and that guy over on that boat has been to Mexico 30 times and said it was not necessary and the other guy on that other boat lived in Mexico for 50 years and says it is. We discovered that although the office is open from 8am to 5pm, it charges “overtime” if you try to get anything done between 8-10 or 2-5. We waited until the next day to check in.

At approximately 10:05, we discovered that we needed 5 more copies of the crew list. Argh; I start filling these out. Then we’re back in the immigration line—the guy takes all five of the copies and sends us to the cashier guy across the room to pay and have our passports reviewed. We were also told we’d need 5 more copies of the crew list when we do the exit paperwork (which we could do the same day). Then we went up the street to pay for the anchorage and get a receipt, then to make a zillion copies of all these forms, then back to the office to visit the Harbormaster. We were given another form to fill out (very similar to the crew list, but a little different) and told we needed to fill this out and have three copies. Then over to the customs guy, who made us get copies of the passport and receipt. He told Joshua to ask the Harbormaster girl because she’s nice and will do it so we didn’t have to go back up the street; Joshua went over and asked but she yelled across the room at the customs guy (who laughed); she made the copy anyway and sent the sheepish-looking Joshua back across the room. Customs was pretty easy: “Any firearms or tobacco? Press this button.” We pushed the button and it flashed green for go. He gave all the copies of paperwork we just made back to us without even stamping anything. We headed back across to the Harbormaster to process our departure. She took two of our three forms and stamped the third for our records, saying we needed to show it to the immigration guy. The immigration guy didn’t want to see the Harbormaster’s forms and wanted the other five copies of the crew list, all of which he stamped and gave back to us (all five he gave back to us). He sent us back to the Harbormaster to review the stamps and said she would do something and we were to come back to him afterwards. Back at the Harbormaster’s window, she appeared to have never laid eyes upon a crew list form before and asked us what the hell we wanted her to do with it; much discussion ensued and we produced a fourth copy of her form (had an extra), which she stamped and gave back to us (now we had two stamped copies). Sent us back to the immigration dude. Who looked like he had never before laid eyes upon the harbormaster form; however, he stamped it and took one of the copies for himself and I think he took back one or two of his own crew list forms (that he had already stamped), leaving us with 3 copies of our own. Said we could go.

Several of the boats that were at the transient dock with us in San Diego have arrived (7 total I think); we talked to Lee from Patience and Jasmine from Tranquila, both singlehanding and heading the same direction as us, more or less. Lee took an awesome photo of us en route to Ensenada.

Sunset on Bahia Todos Santos, Baja California Norte, Mexico

We had some awesome fish tacos (angelita fish) and found a grocery store where we went totally nuts over all the cool Mexican grocery items. We’re heading out the 23rd to Bahia San Quentin.

NO WE’RE NOT! We were preparing for departure when Jeff decided to sand the rusty bits off boot thing (yeah, kinda random); while gazing down into the water at the lower attachment of the gudgeon (holds the rudder on), he saw a crack! Joshua and I were called to consult and stick a fingernail into the crack to be sure it in fact was not a mirage of the water brought on by diesel fumes and rust particulate. After much grumbling and mousing around in uncomfortable spaces, the steering was detached, bolts unbolted and the rudder off. We brought the gudgeon to Baja Naval marina where there is a small shipyard and they are welding it for us now. Presumably we’ll get it on tonight and head out tomorrow morning.

Crack in Stainless Kick-up Rudderbox Searunner 31

Working on the Rudder quadrant Searunner 31

San Diego

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

We made our fantastic entry to San Diego early morning and found the transient dock ($10/day!!) almost immediately. Then we went out wandering in the warm warm sun and found a place to stop for lunch and margaritas. Sadly, the lady carded me so no margaritas (like, who the hell carries their ID to lunch anyway?). In fact, every instance of alcohol and me in San Diego resulted in raised eyebrows and the question “Ahhh, you’re 21, right?” asked with much skepticism. This being our last chance for West Marine, we all shifted into full consumer mode and a hundred hours were spent walking back and forth from the dock to West Marine since we could never decide which thing we wanted, forgot to measure the space on the boat anyway, and so we end up buying two, discovering one or both wouldn’t fit, and returning it. But then there was this other model we didn’t even see the first time…

The boat was actually pretty much ready to go; almost everyone at the transient dock was a cruiser or lived on their boat and there was much activity like running up masts, fussing with engines, growling over fussed-over engines, etc. All we really needed was an ordered part, which Fedex actually delivered to us in the boat at the dock (oh yeah!). We added some more handrails to the top of the aft cabin so there would be something to hold onto when heading back to monkey around with the outboard or the trolling line (kelp!). Uncle George took us all out for a night on the town and we left the next day.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell