Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Pacific Puddle Jump

Those of you who know us personally know that we have left our cruising ground of Baja and Pacific Mexico for the South Pacific. We are currently in Passage to the Marquesas Islands. These islands are the first landfall after leaving the Americas for the South Pacific. We have been preparing for this journey for years, considering our cruising in Mexico as our training for this mission. The boat is ready and we are ready. Our trusty crew member Al is ready, too. It's bitter sweet to leave Mexico; we will be back soon.

Day 1:
Checking out of La Paz required visiting four government offices. First we had to go to the API office. Then we when to the health department to get a health clearance. The doctor was not there, so we left our paper work and continued to the immigration office. An hour later we had our passport stamps. Back at the heath department the doctor had already signed our papers. He must have special powers to know that we are healthy enough to leave without seeing us. Finally, we checked out with the Port Captain. He was very friendly, took all of our required papers and 234 pesos. We were done checking out.

Back on the boat now, we said all of our good byes, started the engine and reversed out of the slip. While backing out of the slip I said "dang this is a lot of port walk". Then I turn around, but the boat went the other way. I then realized what had happened. Al and I had replaced the steering cables a couple of days prior. We somehow did not cross the cables over as they ran up to the wheel, so we had backward steering. Have you ever tried to park a 40 foot sailboat with backwards steering? Oh, joy! Al and I quickly reinstalled the cable correctly and then we were on our way.

Because we had burned up most of the day we decided to anchor the night in Bahia Falsa, an hour from our marina. We ate grilled shrimp and beans for dinner.

Day 2:
We awoke, ate breakfast and were saluted a formal "Bon Voyage" from our friends Burt and Alice on Elegante, folks of our friend Rob on Shindig who is crossing, as well. We attempted to pull up the anchor, but it appeared to be stuck. We fooled around driving the boat backwards, forward, and then in a circle. It finally came up but something felt off; there was a great strain on the windless. As the anchor broke the surface we saw the problem, it is wrapped around an ugly old home made anchor and a big rope. We solved that issue by prying the make-shift anchor off ours with a boat hook. We were now able to head for the Cerralvo Channel. While heading south down the channel we noticed our friend Rob on Shindig on AIS. Just then we got a radio call from them. We chatted about the light wind and decided to anchor together that night in Los Muertos. The wind pushing us to Los Muertos was light and gave us a perfect time to practice flying the spinnaker. The strong north wind was predicted to arrive the following day which would give us a nice push out of Baja. Katie made scones for breakfast, salad for lunch and pasta pesto with fruit tarts for desert.

Day 3:
The Norther arrived! Last would be our last anchorage until the Marquesas, nothing but ocean. We sailed wing on wing with big 10' seas at 10 second periods. When we rounded the corner of the tip of Baja at 8:30 pm the wind died. Baja was creating a wind shadow. We motored all night. The rolling seas made for a nauseating ride. Chef Katie made ginger snap cookies and veggie indian curry for dinner.

Day 4:
We motored in heavy swell until 4 pm. Then the swell improved and we sailed with jib only all night. Katie's world famous lasagna was our dinner.

Day 5:
Sailed in light winds all day and night. Not a cloud could be seen, the stars were amazing. Wow, Katie made carnitas for dinner, in a pitching rolling boat!

Day 6:
We were able to sail until 11:00 am. Motor was on from 11:00 to 2:00 pm. We then were able to put up the spinnacker until 5:00, not wanting to fly it at night. Early in the morning strong NNW winds push us quickly down the road. The Thai shrimp curry Katie made was well received.

Day 7:
Partial over cast, we sailed wing on wing with strong winds. We had two reefs in the main sail and the jib rolled in a little. Eggplant ziti was whipped up by first mate Kate.

Day 8:
We sailed on a beam reach until 11:00 am then went to a wing on wing. It was fully overcast and the crews spirits were low. The beef and veggie stir fry with fried plantains made us happy.

Day 9:
The wind was good and we sailed until 9:00 pm. That's when the wind died again, so we slowly motored to save fuel. Katie was in the galley most of the day. She made clam chowder and jalapeno cheddar beer bread and snickerdoodles. It was silly that she apologized for serving leftover ziti for dinner.

Day 10:
More problems with low wind and sails slapping served as a rough awakening. After trying to sail wing on wing unsuccessfully, we gave up and slowly motored again. At about 5:00 pm the seas quieted down and we poled the jib out tight and the main sail stowed. Then we decide to try using the storm jib as a second sail opposite the jib. It worked but probably didn't give much push. The ride was the most comfortable yet. The crew sleep well and spirits improved greatly. It was not fast but the crew was happy. Katie's beef taco spaghetti squash boats made everyone happier. She brought out fresh blueberries and whipped cream for dessert for a little extra brain power.

Day 11:
On this day we put up the spinnaker with the tack attached to the pole that was rigged on the opposite side of the wind. This way we could bring the front of the spinnaker directly downwind, which was our heading. This worked great. We ran about 7 knots all day in 10 knots of wind. This configuration also reduced the roll to almost zero. We put the spinnaker, or as I call it "the Beast", away for the night at 5:00. Then we poled out the jib to the windward and set up a smaller jib on the other side. We were very happy with this configuration, too. Strong winds kept us alert all night. Katie served up butternut squash lasagna and carmelized veggies.
At 3/27/17 3:58 PM (utc) our position was 18°36.56'N 114°45.81'W

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