Ensenada to Bahía Tortugas
Warning: This entry was compiled in collaboration... the point of view may switch on you at any moment.
I would have put pants on if I knew we were going to have company...
From our slip in Ensenada, our GPS said Bahía Tortugas (Turtle Bay) was 262 miles. That's about 70 miles farther than our longest previous trip. That trip, from Monterey to Santa Cruz Island, took 60 hours aboard Crazy Love. The trip to Turtle Bay took almost 6 full days. It was slow going.
Friday, November 22nd
On the day we planned to leave Ensenada we had some trouble with our GPS. I had bought the Mexico charts on an SD card that plugs into the Garmin handheld unit. When we turned on the GPS the morning of our departure, we noticed the details were gone from the map. The GPS didn't even have a label for Turtle Bay. We tried to plug the SD card into the laptop, but it wasn't readable. Boils down to: we paid $110 for electronic charts, we neglected to back up those charts, we lost the charts when the memory card died. Ugh!
Fortunately, we were able to buy a downloadable version of the charts for another $160. Those charts were loaded into the main memory - no more external memory cards - of the unit and we haven't had problems since. I very much hope we're able to depend on the unit for the rest of our trip. If not, no biggie, we have paper charts too.
We left a few hours later than planned, but we were still out of the marina by noon. We motored out of the marina, past two massive cruiseships, and beyond the harbor breakwater. After raising the sails, we cut the engine and wouldn't turn it on again until our final approach to Turtle Bay.
When we got the sails up and the engine off, we realized we'd have to beat into the wind and the waves until we rounded Isla Todos Santos. That took us four hours. By the time we were ready to turn South, the wind had died so we made little progress that evening.
Late in the night the wind seemed to be picking up steadily, so much so that Dave and I thought it best to put a reef in the main. In the howling wind we began to reef and trim the sails, and then it started to rain. I don't mean a little mist, it began to absolutely pour. At the same time the wind stopped and we no longer needed that reef. I went back in the cabin and looked up at Dave. It was as though a bucket was dumped over his head. Apparently some of that water made it down is back and soaked his pants...perhaps this is why he only had is longjohns on in the am.
Saturday, November 23rd
The wind was still light on Saturday morning, so I made pancakes for breakfast. Since the stove aboard Crazy Love is immediately forward of my berth, I saw no need to get dressed before breakfast. The pancakes (with real maple syrup!) were yummy. When I was half done with my tall stack of yummy, Carolyn said "Oh, we've got company."
An orange RIB approached with seven or eight uniformed men aboard. A slight panic ensued until we realized the boat was labeled United States Coast Guard. They came up along side - we continued sailing at about 2 knots - and said good morning. They asked us a bunch of questions and relayed the answers to the mothership and then announced they were going to board our boat for a safety inspection. To jump to the end of the story, we passed the inspection.
While the Coasties (I say that with much respect) on the RIB were communicating with the mothership, I realized I was sitting in the cockpit wearing a t-shirt, long underwear, a San Diego Padres scarf, and a navy blue beanie. I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked. Before the boarding party arrived I jumped into the cabin and put some pants on.
The boarding party was three big fellas. They all had life jackets and belts loaded with gear like a police officer would wear. Crazy Love is a tiny boat. It isn't built to accomodate 5 grown adults so it was a cramped meeting. To add to the cramped-ness, we had a bunch of junk everywhere. The pans, bowls and utensils I dirtied preparing the pancakes were still laying around the cabin and my half eaten pancakes were still on a plate in the cockpit.
One of the boarding party joined me in the cabin to do the inspection while Carolyn sat outside with the other two completing the paperwork. I was able to show them all the required gear and placards and Carolyn was able to show all the required paperwork.
One of the odd things they did was to draw a picture of our boat - check out the photo. Carolyn and I think the guys on the mothership were bored and playing games with the guys in the boarding party. The gentlemen that boarded were friendly and professional. We talked about the good bars in Ensenada and even about where to get good pizza in Ensenada.
Sunday, November 24th
On Sunday, we finally broke through 200 miles to go. We had really light winds, and we didn't want to use up our diesel, so we drifted with the waves. That meant we did 35 miles on each of the first two days. An average speed of about 1.5 knots. We're slow on Crazy Love, but not that slow.
Monday & Tuesday, November 25th and 26th
The following days we got into a very comfortable routine. The winds began to pick up each evening and we really started to get through the miles. Our night watches went smoothly, ensuring at least a cursory watch for large container ships and cruiseships every 20 minutes. We decided instead of leaving someone on watch for 2 hours straight as we did previously, we would each check every 40 minutes. Surprisingly we feel quite rested after each night (perhaps its the regular afternoon naps). The evening sunsets followed by amazing nightly star shows have not become routine. I really wish I could share with you the amazing, breathtaking views of the stars out at sea.
By Tuesday we had less than 115nm to go! Tuesday evening and through the night, the winds and waves really got us going and our buddy Pac Man (our newly named Pacific Light Windpilot) ate up the miles. It was one of those nights that whoever had the high side for sleep was half sleeping and half holding on to the bunk for dear life. I seemed to have the short end of the stick this evening and on one particular surf down a wave did indeed end up in a pile of sleeping bag on the floor. I mean really Dave if you needed me up you could have just asked! (We need a better lee cloth system to hold us in our berths...we're on it!)
Did I mention the flying squid? Yep you read right flying squid. On these windy evenings we would find little squid on deck in the morning. Really how did they get there? Then one night we're having our evening glass of wine watching the sun go down and the stars come up. The wind increases and through the dark I see something come from a wave over the side of the boat and land in Dave's lap. Actually it was two squid that landed next to him in the cockpit.
Wednesday, November 27th
Carolyn has been getting up at sunrise every morning because she's been going to bed at 8pm. I've been sleeping until maybe 8 or so while she makes sure we're still on the right course to our destination.
This particular morning, I got up just a few minutes after her and decided to throw the fishing line in the water while Carolyn was preparing breakfast. I put the line in the water - all 30 feet of it - and before I had a chance to tie the bitter end of the handline to a cleat, I had a fish on the hook! Uh oh, we've got a fish on the hook, what do we do now?
About 25 feet behind the boat I could see a shiny silver fish on the hook. Surprisingly, it wasn't pulling very hard on the line. I think I said (maybe yelled) "Holy crap, we already caught a fish" to Carolyn, but she didn't believe me. I told her to come up and see the fish darting about behind the boat. Then she saw it.
A little background: I did some bass fishing and a little deep sea fishing in San Diego as a teenager, but I've never caught an ocean going fish and I've certainly never cleaned a fish. When preparing for our trip we had many details to attend to so I put minimal thought into fishing. I bought minimal supplies for a handline and two cedar plug lures. Our fishing kit is smaller than the average laptop computer. Carolyn took it one step further and bought a cutting board and filet knife in case we ever caught something. Seriously though, we never thought we'd catch anything!
Back to the story...Now we've got a fish of unknown size and type on the hook. I slowly start to pull in the handline, one foot at a time while Carolyn scurries about the boat trying to put together the tools we need: fish billy club, the filet knife and the new cutting (filet) board. We don't have a gaff, so we're going to bring the fish aboard by lifting it by hand from the water onto the deck. Once I get the fish next to the boat, Carolyn has assembled everything we need.
With the fish immediately next to the boat, I can see its a tuna. I'm thinking yellowfin tuna. Maybe one of our more fishing astute friends will see the photo and tell us what type of tuna it actually is? So I lift the fish straight out of the water and fling it onto the deck seat directly opposite me. Carolyn has the fish billy ready and gives it a love tap. Seriously, she barely hit the darn thing. Uh sweetie, we're trying to kill the big bad sea monster quickly, not give it a massage. I grabbed the bat from her and let the tuna have it. Whack! Whack! Whack! Yikes, I didn't expect that much blood. Anyway, that is how we landed and killed our first fish.
Rosie and I estimate the tuna was 18 inches long and weighed 15 or so pounds. It was more fish than the two of us could eat in the three or so days we had before it would spoil. This is the first time we regretted not having refrigeration.
The following cleaning and filleting of this fish was an absolute hack job and a total blood bath. We apologize to all fish and sea monsters out there. We did learn quite a bit and have been eating tuna for breakfast lunch and dinner.
For the curious we were using a handline composed of 10 yards of 200lb test leader tied to a cedar plug with a big scary hook on it.
Late in the afternoon after a fabulous nap I heard some cursing above from the cockpit. I figured if it were serious Dave would be calling for me. Just as I thought that, I hear "Can I get a little help". It seems the roller furling jib would not roll. It was really stuck. Fortunately it was a time of very light wind and we were able to roll and unwrap it manually to help assess what could be hanging up the mechanism. We tried quite a few things and Dave finally felt he had to climb the mast. Oh my! I now love to hate the mast steps. These most often are just a nuisance... getting halyards wrapped and caught up on. But with our bowson's chair (a rock climbing harness) connected to a spare halyard, Dave was able to climb to the top and unsnag the snagged jib halyard at the top of the roller furling.
He did this only to come back down and have it snag again. Up he went again and duct tape to the rescue. It seems this has smoothed out the hang up temporarily. We will need to sooner than later replace the jib halyard and if Dave has anything to do with anything we'll be replacing the roller furling all together (understandably).
Thanksgiving, November 28th
We arrived in Bahia Tortugas! We motored the last five miles into the bay and anchored a few hundred yards from the town's rickety old pier. We plan to go into town tomorrow to let everyone know we've arrived safely and update the blog.
We'll hang out here for a few days, depending on weather, and head South to Mag Bay. That'll be just North of the Tropic of Cancer. I can't wait for the tropics!
We have much to be thankful this day wishing all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!