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wavetothewind

0 In la paz/ mexico/ the journal

Muertos to Playa La Bonanza

From Muertos, we intended to head straight to La Paz, With a forecast calling for light conditions, we hauled up the anchor early to catch slack tide through the channel. We motor sailed along in the calm-as-predicted conditions, until out of nowhere the wind picked up to 15, then 20, then 20+ knots. Jeff was at the helm, and within minutes his favorite hat flew off into the ocean. Then the chop started to build. We continued to make progress toward La Paz even though the conditions were making for not-so-fun sailing. My handy (aka: poorly constructed) weather cloths blocked some of the splashes, but when Jeff started taking waves to the face, we decided to consider finding a place to call it a day. We could see Punta Morritos ahead, and with a little help from our cruising guide, we headed in to the white sand beach at Playa La Bonanza.

The 27 nautical miles between Muertos and Bonanza that took longer than we care to admit.

The 27 nautical miles between Muertos and Bonanza that took longer than we care to admit.

 

At anchor at Playa La Balandra

At anchor at Playa La Balandra

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and the water looked like this

The anchorage was completely empty when we arrived in the early afternoon. After the chop, the higher than expected wind speeds, and the much longer than expected day on the water we welcomed the calm turquoise hideaway. A few other boats arrived before sunset, but it was still a wide open beautiful anchorage. We went for swims, took showers, made dinner, and slept well that evening. The next morning we tried again for La Paz (and actually made it!)

 

Have we mentioned how much we love our solar shower

Have we mentioned how much we love our Nemo Helio solar shower?

 

0 In the journal

Baja Haha 2014 Leg 2 – Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria

November 3rd – Smooth Sailing

At around 9AM in the morning, we heard the radio announcement from the Grand Poobah that rally was leaving at 10:30 AM. The forecast was for 15 to 20 knots of wind, building to 20 to 25 on second day. This gave us little more than an hour to finish walking Umphrey, put the dinghy away, eat breakfast, and prepare for a brisk sail. After rushing to get the dinghy put away, we finally made it to the starting line a 1/2 hour late and sailed out on a broad reach. As the wind picked up to around 15 knots, we sailed wing-on-wing, averaging more than 6 knots of boat speed. The next few hours would be the most enjoyable sailing conditions that we saw during the entire trip. We blew right past a Hunter 46 that should have been much faster than us in theory.

The rally committee recommended that boats follow a course close to shore to avoid the expected choppy seas. Along with many other boats, we did not take this advice and followed a direct rhumb line course to Bahia Santa Maria that would put us about 50 miles offshore.

Unlike the typical weather pattern in Southern California that sees diminished wind strength at night, the wind during this leg showed a tendency to build up strength at night. This would create some anxiety as the sun went down.

November 4th – Building Seas

Shortly after midnight we started consistently seeing wind speeds beyond 20 knots and seas building to approximately 8-10 feet, with a lot of choppy wind fetch. The wind direction shifted Northeasterly, which made it more difficult to stay on course. We chose to run directly downwind for greater comfort, even though this was pushing us further offshore. With just a reefed mainsail and 50% of our Jib, we were hitting boat speeds of up to 10 knots (highest we’ve ever seen) surfing down the back of the larger waves. Although this is fun sailing, it’s almost impossible to get any sleep with the amount of motion in these conditions.

When I woke up that morning, I remember seeing nothing but whitecaps on the horizon. There were 2 other boats on the horizon that would pop in and out of view with the waves. I enjoyed a nutritious breakfast of saltine crackers and Perrier. The good news is that we were making excellent time and would be anchored in BSM after just one more night of this.

November 5th –  A Quick Break in Bahia Santa Maria

For the first time in over a week, Umphrey was free to run around shore off of his leash. As soon as we set him down, he bolted around large beach, explored its tide pools, and even found a few butts to sniff.

Hurricane Vance put the HAHA behind schedule, so the fleet had minimal time to spare in this beautiful bay. However, Starfire is a small, slow boat and we would have to leave the night before to round the cape in the morning. We chose to leave the anchorage at 7PM the same day, giving us only 11 hours to rest after our exhausting sail.

 

 

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0 In mexico/ photos/ the journal

Baja Haha 2014 Leg 1 – San Diego to Turtle Bay

October 27th – Let the Voyage Begin

It was hard to believe that this day had finally arrived. Breezy whipped up some awesome breakfast burritos con papas, avocado, queso, y huevos to make sure we got started with competitive advantage. We were determined to win first prize in the Enchilada division at all costs. Meanwhile, I turned in our keycards to Cabrillo Isle Marina and made a final inspection of the boat. Umphrey settled in the cockpit – not knowing whether we would be gone for a day sail or a one-way offshore voyage.

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Breezy does some last minute organizing to prepare for the rally.

The rally started in San Diego Bay at 9AM with the fleet taking part in a parade through the harbor. 140+ boats hailing from virtually every harbor the Pacific coast converged together seeking an epic adventure in Mexico. Little did we know that many of souls aboard these boats would become close friends in the coming weeks. In that moment an unexpected realization set in… the preceding years of hard work we put into our boat had finally reached its apex and we could expect nothing but the unknown ahead. ‘The starting line of of the Haha was really the finish line of of our previous life.”

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The 2014 Baja Haha fleets leaves San Diego in light winds.

With almost no wind in San Diego, the rally committee called a rolling start, which allowed the fleet to motor past the starting line without any penalties. We charted a rhumb line course starting on the outside of the Coronado Islands. This course adds about 3 miles to the 340 mile trip, but there was a better chance of catching wind on the outside of the Coronados. Unfortunately, the wind never panned out and we continued to motor at an average speed of 5 Knots. The map below shows our actual course for leg one from our InReach Satellite Tracker – a gadget well worth the $300 expense for this trip.

Our course on leg 1 of the Baja Haha

We chose to take a course on the outside of the San Bonitas Islands to avoid passing near land at night. The blue line shows our tracking points every 10 minutes during the 3 day sail.

As one of the slower boats, we watched the majority of the fleet slowly inch away on the horizon. Nightfall brought on spectacular stars, a sliver of a crescent moon, and the dim glow of Ensenada in the distance. A handful of boats made radio calls in the night with problems (engine problems, family emergencies, etc.) and were forced to divert to Ensenada. As seasickness set in, cutting the trip short in Ensenada seemed like an attractive option, but we pushed on…

October 28th – Barf

By morning we were south of Ensenada, a.k.a. the point of no return. A full 24 hours of motoring with a 4 to 6 foot swell on the beam was taking its toll on the both of us. Diesel fumes, rolly seas, and beating sunlight caused me to get seasick for the first time in my life. Breezy had already thrown up the evening before while I was off watch, so I had to be strong. I tired to eat an oatmeal backpacker’s meal, took one bite, and not 5 seconds later proceeded to ralph over the port side. After fouling up my foul weather bibs, I chose to redirect the heaving over the stern. Needless to say, our Helio pressurized solar shower came in handy for cleaning up the mess. I was extremely impressed by my wife’s ability to hold things together durning this low point in the voyage. Why are we doing this again?

After this ordeal, we had to figure out how to relay our position to to the Baja Ha-Ha rally committee. Since we only have a VHF radio, we have to relay our position to another boat in our line of sight that is equipped with a Single Sideband (SSB) radio. Although we were a couple hours late, we managed to relay our position to the catamaran mothership Profligate. Communicating on the radio can be a tricky task for newbies like us, but it becomes very easy (and fun) after you do it a couple times.

From this point onward, things started to improve. The wind picked up to about 8 knots and seas subsided to around 3 feet. We were able to sail for much of the day on a broad reach. Seasickness faded we were at about the halfway point by the evening. Only 170 miles to go…

October 29th – Umphrey’s Great Relief

We were able to sail intermittently for most of the day. I was extremely impressed at the fuel efficiency of our 20 HP Beta Marine engine. The boat was burning about 1/3 gallon of diesel per hour to push our loaded-down 12,000 pound boat through the Pacific at a respectable 5 knots.

By the afternoon, we could see Cedros Island and the San Bonitas Islands off the port bow. Seeing these islands is an important milestone because it means Turtle Bay is right around the corner.

By this point, the biggest concern was that Umphrey was still holding back from doing his business. Breezy and I took turns taking him on the Starboard deck to use his potty pad. We put pumpkin in his food, “scented” certain spots, and provided enthusiastic encouragement, but he stuck to his guns.

Umphrey Pug Sailing on the Baja Haha

Umphrey sits atop the spinnaker during leg 1, not knowing how long he’s going to be stuck on the boat. We tried to tell him, but he just tilted his head in confusion. 

Finally, at 18:32 on the 29th day of October, a small, yet glorious poop was evacuated by the pug. There was a massive celebration among the crew and Umphrey almost instantly got the clue that it was OK to go potty on the boat. The night followed with several more poops on the deck and about a gallon of pee in the cabin (during which Breezy stood in the puddle cheering him on). We were just glad to see him get some relief after 61 hours of keeping his pride.

October 30th – Buenas Dias Bahia de Tortugas

Another spectacular night sail trying to identify celestial bodies using Sky Guide on the iPad (perhaps the best $1.99 I’ve ever spent), we were closing in on the halfway point of the Ha-Ha. We were finally within view of land again and looking forward to a calm and comfortable anchorage.

Sunrise on approach to turtle bay

Sunrise on approach to Turtle Bay

We entered the nearly circular shaped Bahia de Tortugas at first light around 0600 in the morning. We  counted approximately 80 other boats in the anchorage and were able to get the hook set easily in the massive bay. My first order of business at 0800 was to launch the dinghy and haul ass around the rest of the fleet. I was too excited to get any rest. Breezy’s first order of business was to jump in the warm water and take a relaxing solar shower.

We “had” to spend a few extra days in the Turtle Bay Anchorage due the the threat of Hurricane Vance, but we welcomed the extra rest. The next few days included a “Conga-Only” potluck, paddle board races, and some exploring of the friendly dust-covered village of Turtle Bay.  For most sailors this is just small stop on the road, but for us it seems like a pretty big accomplishment.

Enjoying the view at the potluck in Turtle Bay

Enjoying the view at the potluck in Turtle Bay

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To be continued…

In gear/ the journal

Hauling Your Woman Up the Mast

by Jeff Delaney

Going up the mast is not the the most enjoyable activity in the world. If you’re smart, you may be able to convince your wife to agree to this extremely terrifying and utterly unsafe activity. In just her second trip up the mast, Breezy managed to install a new VHF antenna, fix part of the roller furling, install new spreader boots, and fully clean the standing rigging.  Following these few simple tips should get your woman up the mast and back down safely, and she might even enjoy herself.

My wife at the top of the mastTips for Convincing your Wife to go Aloft

Simply saying “Honey, I’m cranking you up the mast today to replace the VHF antenna”, is unlikely to get positive results. If you add a little encouragement and pizazz, you may get a better reaction.

  • Tell her how AMAZING the view of the harbor is at 40 plus feet.
  • Compliment her weight. It’s a rule that the lightest crew member has to climb the mast.
  • Assure her that you’re a disciplined yachtsman and will take all safety precautions.
  • Give her a safety word when she’s ready to come down.
  • Say something like “We need pictures for the blog and it should be you’re beautiful face up there”.
  • Remind her that the halyards have a breaking strength of 7,000+ pounds.
  • Start with an easy project, like cleaning the shrouds.
  • Offer to to take her shopping with the $100/hour you saved on rigging labor.

If none of these worked, I’m sorry. You can stop reading now and hop in the chair yourself.

She Said YES!

Now that you got her to say yes, you’ll need to properly rig the bosun’s chair for a safe and pleasant trip up. Here are a few safety and comfort tips that we have learned from our mast climbing experiences.

1. Tie a Proper Knot. Hint: NOT a Bowline

Figure 8 Knot for Bosun's Chair

Always use a figure-eight knot. The most common mistakes I’ve seen with bosun’s chair rigging its (1) tying a bowline knot and (2) using a the halyard shackle itself. Many people seem to default to a bowline knot, however, you will get considerably more strength and security from a figure eight knot. In order to get the knot around the bosun chair d-rings, you will need to use the figure-eight follow-through method. Rock climbers use the same method for securing the harness to their main support line.

2. Create Safety Redundancy

Breezy Mast Climbing in Harken Bosuns ChairThere should be no single piece of equipment that can fail and result in a fall, except for maybe the mast itself. Tumbling 40 feet is going to mess up your better half’s good looks at the very least, if you’re lucky. I’m sure you’ve heard stories around the marina of riggers who have died from this potentially dangerous chore.

The first obvious safety measure is a backup harness. It’s best if this can be rigged to a spare halyard in the same way you rig the bosun’s chair. If a halyard is not available, it may be necessary to create safety line that can be wrapped around the mast and adjusted by your wife on the way up. Either way, having a backup harness is essential.

When trying off lines, it’s best to have two secure points holding the line. In our case, the line runs through a clutch and is then secured around a self tailing winch with plenty of wraps. If the clutch fails, the winch will provide backup support.

3. Get the best Bosun’s Chair Money Can Buy

Do you really want to put your life in the hands of a muffy 20-year old canvas chair you bought at a swap meet? If you have multiple projects that requiring mast climbing, a new bosun’s chair is a worthy investment. We went with the Harken Deluxe Chair, which will set you back about $200. It’s comfortable, has plenty of tool storage space, and appears to be very strong.

4. Bring a Cell Phone Camera

When she installed the new VHF antenna, Breezy texted several pictures throughout the process. She had never spliced a coaxial cable before, so she was able to send me pictures with questions. If you both have iPhones, you can actually face time to see exactly what’s going on in real time. Here’s a few of the sweet pics she was able to snap on her phone.

Spliced coax cable at top of sailboat mast. VHF Antenna at Top of Mast Sailboat

Final Thoughts

Putting off projects up the mast can result in catastrophic failures down the road. Our VHF antenna was still working, but as you can see, it was due for a replacement with the coax fitting almost completely corroded away.

Corroded coax fitting from VHF on mast

Being self sufficient on a sailboat means you and your first mate should be prepared to go aloft. We’ve both found that the most rewarding projects are those done from the seat of a bosun’s chair. It’s a great feeling to overcome fear-invoking challenge and mark a boat project off the list at the same time.

0 In the journal

Making Our Sailing Dreams Reality

We’re all about hustle over here. My husband is especially ambitious and determined. Those character traits were instrumental in making our dreams of living afloat a quick reality. Here is how we went from non-sailing suburb dwellers to boat-owning, liveaboard sailors in under 6 months.

  • ASA Course – In June of 2012, we took ASA 101 on Lake Pleasant in Arizona with Captain Clint. Check out his Facebook page or website. Captain Clint is an awesome sailing instructor. We knew exactly zero about sailing. Clint took the two of us out in crazy Arizona heat and did a great job of not making us feel like idiots (we totally were). He’s knowledgeable, funny, and personable.  If you’re landlocked in Arizona with dreams to set sail, we highly recommend Clint. He even offers coastal cruising courses in San Diego and bareboat charters from Long Beach to Catalina.

  • Boat Shopping – Once we had our ASA under our belt and were pretty sure we liked sailing, the next logical step was to look for a boat to buy. We scoured Yachtworld and Craigslist for boats anywhere on the California coast. We wanted a boat that at least had a good reputation as a coastal cruiser, something big enough to live on, and something that we wouldn’t have to put an excessive amount of work into before we could sail. We did a ton of research but were still pretty naive. Jeff was working remotely, so he began taking trips to look at top contenders around our $20,000 budget.

  • Renting Out Our House – Around the same time that we started boat shopping, we contacted a property management company to manage our house as a rental. After three years in our first home, the rental market was in a good place to be able to keep the house at a little over break-even including the fees from the property management company. We did have a few hiccups with them in the first few months (constant calls for maintenance, a shady pool vendor trying to weasel us out of cash). We got really involved for a couple of weeks, promptly sought out our own trustworthy pool maintenance company, and haven’t heard a peep since.  After a year and a half, we’re still happy with this decision.

  • Selling Our Crap and Moving – Because we were under contract with the property management company, our plans quickly went into overdrive. The faster we got out of the house, the faster they could rent it, and the more money we would save. We said we would vacate in 30 days, making our last day in our little house in Arizona August 1st, 2012. We decided that whether we had purchased a boat or not, we would leave with only what would fit in our cars (we still had two of them). We packed up valuables, wedding gifts, and keepsakes and distributed them among a few kind family members with a little extra storage space. Everything else was Ebay-ed, Craigslisted, yard saled, or given away.

  • Buying Our Boat – We moved out before we had a boat lined up with the intention of possibly getting a short-term lease in Southern California while we shopped. In the interim, Jeff’s (awesome) grandparents let us stay with them for an entire month. They got to hear all of the boat buying dramas first-hand and were so supportive. We ended up finding our boat toward the end of August, skipping the apartment altogether, and moving aboard Labor Day weekend 2012.

  • Sailing Lessons on Our New Boat – We had our ASA, but we thought it would be prudent to have a couple of lessons on our own boat. We’re so glad we did. A few lessons with a sailing instructor who had been referred by a friend gave us that extra boost of confidence for docking, anchoring, and sail trim.

Acclimating to the lifestyle, completing boat projects, meeting new friends, and getting our feet wet in the Santa Barbara Channel (aka Windy Lane) followed over the next year. We have never looked back.

*We have no affiliation with the products/companies mentioned.

1 In the journal

Our New Lehr Propane Outboard (and why we’re stoked about it)

The purchase of our sailboat did not include a dinghy. We actually anchored out at the islands a couple of times sans dinghy, and one time with our dinghy sans outboard (that’s right, rowing to shore). We grabbed an ok dinghy for $200 (which we will probably replace before going to Mexico). But first, we needed an outboard for trips around the California coast, the Channel Islands, and Catalina.

Traditional outboard engines require oil and gas, and normal engine things. All of that is kind of a hassle, messy, and can be volatile. We were really drawn to Lehr Propane Outboards for their easy maintenance, cleanliness, and environmental friendliness. They run off of a simple 16.4 ounce propane canister, but you can use a fitting to attach a larger canister if you choose. The canisters are inexpensive, easy to find, and easy to store.

It was kind of a no brainer. We picked up our 2.5 hp Lehr Propane outboard at Beacon Marine in Ventura (because they had the best price) for $950. The 2.5 hp model weighs only 37 pounds, so I can lower it from it’s mount down to Jeff in the dinghy somewhat gracefully. It’s small enough that if we needed to store it in the cabin or in a lazarette, we could. It also would not leak gas or oil all over the place, which is a major selling point for me.

Soon after seeing us put around the harbor with our purring new outboard, our buddy boating friends on Cantamar picked up one for themselves. So trendy!

*We have no affiliation with the products/companies mentioned.