Saturday, November 29, 2014

Abreojos *updated w/pics*

What started out as a rough anchorage turned into a gem.  We left Turtle Bay with the intention of heading straight to Bahia Santa Maria, a two night passage.  Leaving Turtle Bay we were met with 10-12 foot swell from the NW and a 15-20 knot wind from the NE.  This made for messy seas and an uncomfortable ride.  Jake and I had a meeting of the minds (tired and delirious minds) at 4am and decided to divert to Abreojos.  The wind was going to build throughout the day and into the night.  This would give us a nice rest before continuing down the coast.

We arrived Abreojos early afternoon and dropped the hook in 25 feet of sand in great visibility surrounded by lobster traps.  There are two anchorages here, one in front of the town and the other "quieter" location 2 miles further in front of an RV park.  We anchored in front of the town.  Soon after anchoring, the wind picked up.  The anchorage is pretty much an open roadstead with no protection from the NE winds that we were soon to be hit with.  At 5pm I was sitting in the cockpit looking aft and it appeared as if we were still underway.  The wind fetch was 3-4 feet.  The bow was bucking up and down like a wild bronco.  Not a good feeling at anchor.  We let out a bit more chain, 250' total, secured the snubber, and prayed.  The wind lasted overnight, into the next day, and finally eased up the following afternoon.  We were hostages to the bucking bronco the entire time.  There was no way we were going to attempt to launch the dinghy and put the outboard on in these conditions.  Not to mention, getting to land requires a skillful beach landing in the surf.  There was a lot of napping and reading going on.  The crew moral was low and by Wednesday any one of us were at risk of being sacrificed to the sea by another crew member.

Finally, Wednesday afternoon the wind simmered to a 10 knot breeze and the seas appeared to be calming.  It was time to launch the dinghy and head into town, or else...We actually did pretty well with our first beach landing.  The surf was pretty mellow.  I jumped out and attempted to "guide" the dinghy to shore, but not before getting hit with another breaking wave.  I was quickly on my butt attempting not to get run over by the dinghy.  At least the water was refreshing.  We skimped on buying dinghy wheels which means Jake, Katelyn, and I had to heave, drag, pull the dinghy as far up on shore as possible.  Once on shore, we keep our fingers crossed that it will be there when we return.

This is now the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  We set off to explore the town and gather provisions for a great meal the following day.  After wandering around for a while we came upon a market that consisted of Circle K style munchies.  We grabbed some cold drinks and continued our search.  Jake spotted a sign in the distance with a beer mug on it.  It must be a market, right?  Sure enough it was.  This one had Circle K food as well as some overripe produce.  I almost cried.  How am I going to provide a Thanksgiving Day meal with Doritos and Coke?  Yes, I do realize that we should be eating like locals, but we can't handle any more rice and beans.  I NEED some American something - other than Doritos and Coke.  I don't expect to find a turkey by any means, but at least some fresh meat and potatoes.  The search continued.  It's now getting quite warm and we need ice cream.  Donde esta el helado?  We were pointed in the direction of an azul tienda (blue store).  We walked inside and I was in heaven.  Meat, produce, pasta, canned goods, they had it all.  Well almost.  Still no turkey, but they did have Christmas trees.  I was able to scrape up enough food for a respectable Thanksgiving Day dinner.  I was quite thankful for the azul tienda.

The rest of our time in Abreojos consisted of beach time, swimming, and more exploring the town.  We were amazed at the cleanliness and friendliness of this town.  You could tell the people here have a true sense of community and are happy.  The schools were clean and well kept.  There were at least 4 parks with well kept playground equipment.  The fisherman on the beach when we landed or launched our dinghy were always willing to help.  One day we were lugging three five gallon jerry cans of purified water back to the dinghy and a family stopped in their truck to give us a ride.  Maybe I've been in the wrong neighborhoods, but I haven't seen that in the US.  Nobody is walking with their heads down here, ignoring passerby's, or glued to their smart phones.  It's a nice feeling.

Paved streets, sidewalks, and street lights - oh my!

Juanita's quickly became our favorite eatery.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Ensenada to Turtle Bay *updated w/pics*

We left Ensenada - after wondering why we stayed so long - and headed on an overnight passage to Isla San Martin.  We were anxious to get some Baja miles under our belt.  Mainland Mexico is a long ways away... We had a great sail coming out of Ensenada.  As the sun set, the wind completely died.  We took the genoa down and left the main up and the engine went on.  About an hour later we noticed the wind was coming back, and coming back in full force.  Soon the engine was back off and there was a reef in the main. The wind was getting progressively stronger.  The forecast called for 10 knot winds out of the NW.  We were now up to 20 knots out of the east.  Within another 30 minutes we were on to our 3rd reef, main only, and still cruising 6 knots.  The wind peaked at 35 knots, gusting to 40 knots.  We had a NW swell behind us and wind waves from the east slapping us on our beam.  I'm kind of glad it was dark so that I couldn't see how big the seas were getting... All in all the wind only lasted about 2.5 hours.  Then we were back to "normal" conditions.  It just goes to show that we are not in control on the sea.  We have to adjust to the conditions that are given to us, and be thankful when it's over.

Our first stop was Isla San Martin, about 105 nm south of Ensenada.  Isla San Martin is a small round volcano cone about 1 mile in diameter.  The island is deserted except for a small fishing village.  There is a nice cove on the SE corner of the island with a lava breakwater.  We arrived on a calm day.  It felt great to drop the hook and relax.  Hannah did some fishing while everyone else read and napped.

Sunrise from Isla San Martin

 The next morning we set off for Cedros Island.  Another overnight run about 141 nm south of Isla San Martin.  The day was pretty uneventful with little wind.  We threw the spinnaker up, but even that didn't give us any more than 3 knots.  The wind increased in the evening and we sailed along at a comfortable speed with fairly calm seas.  While on watch that night, I couldn't get over the beauty all around me.  I lay down in the cockpit under a blanket of stars.  I have never seen so many in my life.  Every now and again, I would glimpse a falling star.  We had full main and genoa up and we were gliding at 4-5 knots on a sea of glass.  I couldn't even feel the wind, it was like a breath from up above was pushing us along.  What a difference from the last overnight watch.  We arrived at the north anchorage of Cedros Island the next morning.  The guide book wrote that it was a memorable anchorage with a seal colony.  Sounded interesting enough to stop for the night.  Well, it was a memorable anchorage all right.  We rolled and rolled all night as the wind howled off the island.  We also discovered that seals, especially the pups, make all kinds of interesting sounds.  We heard goats, babies crying, voices, and screams all through the night.  Not much rest to be had that night.

Dolphins greeting Ohana as we sail to Cedros Island

Approaching Cedros Island

We took off bright and early the next morning headed 50 nm south to Bahia del Tortuga (Turtle Bay).  The seas were calm and there was no wind.  Jake snagged a fish late morning.  This would be our first catch that was worthy of eating.  We reeled in a beautiful tuna.  Jake got a little overzealous with the tequila in the gills and the fish started to seize.  I was holding it by the hook, still overboard, and it was spazzing out on me.  I handed it off to Jake and plop, it slid right off the hook and back in the water.  Bye-bye dead, yummy fish.  About an hour later, we had another bite!  This would make up for the one that got away.  Jake reeled him in from the stern of the boat.  This time it was a yellowtail.  I was right there waiting with the gaff, this sucker was coming on board ASAP.  Just as the fish was within reach, we heard a loud clunk and kabloom and a puff of smoke poofed out of the engine.  Huh, what was that?  Jake quickly threw the engine in neutral.  I looked over the stern and saw a bright orange line attached to the boat.  We had clearly run over a lobster pot.  Now what?  Do I throw this flopping fish into the cockpit and deal with it later, or drop it and help Jake.  I dropped it.  So, what now?  No BoatUS to call to rescue us.  Jake grabbed his mask and a knife and jumped overboard to see how bad it was.  We had run straight over 2 lobster pots.  We had one pot wedged between the prop and rudder post and line everywhere.  After several dives and getting hit in the head multiple times by the stern that was bobbing up and down with each swell, Jake was able to free Ohana from the mess.  HUGE bravery badge to Jake on that one.  We put the engine back in gear and we were off again.  I cannot tell you what a relief it was to pull into Turtle Bay as the sun set.

Turtle Bay was a great resting stop.  We stayed for 3 nights and hung out with the crew of S/V Solace and S/V Rose Bud.  They are both headed northbound to San Diego and San Francisco.  I do not envy that journey.  Turtle Bay had a great selection of markets which made provisioning a breeze.  As we walked through town, we noticed that everyone was super friendly.  We got a wave and/or hola from everyone we encountered. The guys from Enrique's will bring fuel and water to your boat.  Very convenient.  We ate out at Maria's one night, at the recommendation of Rose Bud crew.  Maria's is a house on the water with no running water.  Yes, we ate at a restaurant with no running water and I lived to tell you about it.  The next night we had a great time eating lobster tacos at another house/restaurant.  This time, with water.

Dinner with the crew of S/V Rose Bud & S/V Solace.

It seems like we had a few too many "adventures" on this leg of the journey.  It is always reassuring though to talk to other cruisers and share stories.  We all go through our rough times, but then we get to hang out on the patio of a beach side restaurant or snorkel with dolphins.  Just like in land life.  Your car can break down, your water heater can flood the basement.  Life is not always perfect, but we overcome our obstacles and become stronger because of it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ensenada, Mexico *updated w/pics*

So, we ended up staying in San Diego for a few extra days to take advantage of our reciprocal moorage at the San Diego Yacht Club. The SDYC took the cake as the BEST yacht club from San Francisco to San Diego.  They had a great lap pool, hot tub, free ice, laundry, fitness center, and beautiful grounds and facilities.  The staff was very friendly and accommodating.  We received 3 complimentary days and they let us stay in our slip on the fourth day till 1 am at no charge.

We took off for Ensenada on Monday at 1 am and pulled into Baja Naval Marina around 3:30 pm.  US Customs & Immigration stopped to have a chat with us as we left SD Bay, other than that it was an uneventful trip.  The girls were up at 3 am practicing their Spanish from their bunks.   They were in a state of giddiness, excited to finally be heading to Mexico.

We checked into the country the next day.  The offices close at 4:30 on weekdays.  If you are not there well before that they'll charge overtime fees to check in after hours.  Every agency is in one office which makes it convenient.  We obtained tourist visas ($24/person) which allow us to stay in Mexico for 6 months.  Then we checked in with the Port Captain ($18).   After that we secured our temporary import permit (TIP) for the boat ($60).

Everyone at Baja Naval Marina has been extremely nice and helpful.  The haul out yard is the nicest I've ever seen.  It is apparently THE place to get a bottom job with very reasonable prices.  The yard and marina are only accessible by key card.  There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance.  There is also easy access to public transportation to Costco & Walmart for 50 cents/person.

Today we watched the Baja 1000 event.  I had never heard of it, but apparently it's a pretty big deal.  The Baja 1000 is a race in which several different classes of off-road vehicles race through the desert from Ensenada to La Paz.  Here is how I would describe the event after watching: grown men who have spent way too much money on off-road vehicles (toys) line up on the street and take off one by one while spectators line the streets praying that they don't get run over.  Let's just say that there would be a few more safety precautions had this been happening in the States.

So far we're having a great time exploring, attempting to speak Spanish, and hanging out with cruiser friends.  The plan is to take off Sunday for Turtle Bay.   We have disconnected our cell phones so please email us at

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Still in San Diego...

We have now been in San Diego for over 2 weeks, the longest stop in any port thus far.  It's time to go.  Vamos a Mexico!

I have a very busy schedule so I'm going to give you a brief summation of our time here in sunny SD:

  • Visited with family (mom & dad)
  • Played tourist - SD Zoo, USS Midway, Point Loma Lighthouse, Old Town SD
  • Went to West Marine
  • Installed new steering cables
  • Watched the Baja HaHa boats take off
  • BBQ'd poolside with cruiser friends
  • Rented a car so we could cruise around and spend way to much money on boat stuff
  • Bought Mexican fishing licenses
  • Changed engine fluids/filters
  • Went to West Marine
  • Attempted to make the girls brilliant (boat school) - ongoing project
  • Went trick or treating uphill in some random neighborhood with no kids and a bunch of dark houses
  • Went to West Marine
  • BBQ'd with more cruiser friends
  • Installed new prop
  • Played hotel guest poolside at an unnamed Shelter Island hotel that does not close their pool gates
That's it for now.  Off to provision.  Next stop Ensenada - hopefully Thursday or Friday.

Who let them fly a plane??

The girls photo bombing Grandma & Grandpa on the USS Midway.

Point Loma Lighthouse

Approx 130 boats leaving for the Baha HaHa sailing rally.