Fifth Year of the Blog
Ahoy and Ahowdy,
I have to admit that this web site has not been at (or near) the top of my priority tree for some time now- just too much other stuff going on all the time, dagnabbit!
Anyway, all that may be changing soon due to a major upcoming change in my life situation. My mother passed away last October, just a few weeks before her 89th birthday. That was a very sad time indeed, but she had a great life and lived it very well right up to the end. She was the major reason I was hanging around this neck of the woods, trying to help her out as much as I could and keep her entertained to the best of my ability. Well, there was some inheritance money, and one of the last things I told her before she left the planet was that I planned to buy a beautiful cruising boat and name it after her. She smiled one last time for me when I said that!
So, as I had promised Mom, I looked quite awhile for the perfect boat, and finally found her. I'm sorry the previous owners are going to see the name changed on their baby, but I have a promise to keep to my mom, and since "Dorothy" didn't quite have the ring, I'm using her middle name, Arabella.
You can see her elsewhere on the website, and my plans. I will be taking some folks along here and there for a small fee to keep my cruising kitty plumped up!
This page will become a real log as I cruise, and this site will become a marketing tool for my new little charter/instruction business. We'll see if it works!
In other news, I'm going to be doing the Ensenada Race this week and it should be another good one the way the weather seems to be shaping up. We'll be taking the O'Day 39 named HMFWIC (don't ask) again, and she's all aquiver with anticipation.
I'll let you know how we do!
Ensenada Race Report and other Stuff
(as posted on alt.sailing.asa):
"The fuzzy dice hanging off the pedestal must have done the trick, because we sure
had a lucky race. To begin with, no matter how well you think a boat is prepared,
something will go south. Warming up the engine at 9:00 pm for the night run down to
Newport, the electric fuel pump decided it had enjoyed a full life and was kind enough to
expire while we were still at the dock.
Some additional post-race notes: We had an interesting passage back uphill to Channel Islands. After a fantastic dinner Sunday night at Ensenada's El Charro restaurant, with a few relaxing glasses of wine under our belts, we decided the wind had subsided enough to set out about 9:00. I won't tell you we forgot to check the engine fluids and belt tension before we left the dock, because I'm not convinced it would have made a difference ;0)
Anyway, about a mile outside of Ensenada, someone noticed white smoke or vapor coming out of the engine compartment and we quickly shut down the mill to see what was up. Turned out we had overheated and boiled out virtually all the coolant- BIG OOPS. Checked the strainer (OK) and filled up with water, started up, watched the water come out of the exhaust, and decided somehow the reservoir cap being MIA must have been the culprit. Never did find it BTW, but made one out of duct tape and thought that might be the end of it. An hour and some minutes later, however, it happened again- luckily we caught it sooner, with less drama.
Now we're in a quandary. Somehow we're losing coolant, and I don't see it coming out anywhere, so maybe it's inside the heat exchanger? All we can do is start 10 minute regular water checks, which we do all the way to San Diego- a very tedious routine indeed. There, while waiting in line to check in with customs, we finally get a good look behind the engine where the heat exchanger lives and low and behold. there's a little squirt of water coming out of the beast. We did the best we could to patch it with duct tape and a hose clamp, but just slowed it down to a 30 minute water check regimen. Still an improvement!
We continued what ended up about 23 hours straight running from Ensenada to Avalon, with just a quick stop in San Diego for customs and fuel, arriving about 8:00 Monday night in beautiful Avalon harbor. A quick call to the shoreboat, and we were having a great dinner ashore at El Galleon just before they shut down their kitchen.
The 10 hour run from Avalon to Channel Islands was one of those trips you'd rather not remember too well- a very wet and slammy ride! Great when it was over!
Now in two weeks or so, I'll be thinking that little jaunt north from Ensenada was child's play compared with the 1300 mile trip from Puerto Vallarta to Ensenada with the new boat. Luckily there is a dodger and an autopilot on that boat! Will report when I get back!
sent 8/10/03 to alt.sailing.asa:
OK, so it was a milkrun of sorts. Lady Sailor, stalwart crewman John and I
The Baha Bash, or, how to do a proper shakedown and still have FUN (Part 1)
Well, the new boat was in Puerto Vallarta, and that was just a bit far to commute from Oxnard, so she had to Go North.
Everyone is terrified of the dreaded Baha Bash. It's over a thousand miles with the wind, waves and current right on the nose. Sometimes big wind and waves, but always big current. It makes big money for delivery skippers and trucking companies.
Operating on the tried and true principle of blissful ignorance, I thought, "what the hell, it'll be an adventure" and began to plan.
I had two enthusiastic volunteers for crew, and despite the fact that one was a new sailor (on lesson 5 or so) and one was a good buddy who I knew had an unfortunate problem with the old mal de mer, I thought we'd be fine. After all, the boat has a bulletproof autopilot and was designed for this stuff. All I needed was a couple of warm bodies to look for traffic and other hard objects in our path. The boat would get us there.
We flew down to PV on a Monday and started to prep the boat. Checked her systems, emptied and filled her water tanks, figured out various things like how to transfer fuel from the auxilliary tank to the main tank, inflated the dinghy and tested the outboard, etc etc etc. Turned out there was a fellow there at Paradise Village who wanted to go with us, so we'd have a fourth crewmember, and by Wednesday morning we were ready to go.
I knew the boat had a serious port propwalk, but it wasn't until I was backing the boat out of the slip for the first time that I realised just how severe it was- we did a complete 270 to port to get pointed out of the channel! Lucky there was room! Usually you can cut power and put the transmission into neutral once you have momentum and the boat will answer the helm, but noooooo, not this boat. So it was a mite ungraceful, but we got her turned around.
So we're off and going, headed for Cabo San Lucas. A mere 195 miles across the bottom of the Sea of Cortez. We settled into our watch system, and were happy to keep the main filled, the engine humming, and pretty much on course, or a few degrees off. There were numerous sea turtle sightings as we made our way past the islands called the Mariettas and then the Marias, and the almost unbearable heat of PV became a tolerable warmth.
It wasn't until we were almost 3/4 of the way across that, as I was retiring to the aft cabin for some rest, took a quick look into the engine room. Before I could find the light switch I couldn't help but notice what looked like lightening flashes coming from the far side of the trusty Izusu diesel. Thought I, this can't be a good thing! It turned out to be the alternator, and we decided this might be a good time to see how the boat sails. She sailed great, and we made it to Cabo harbor entrance only a few hours (well, half a day) later than we would have, and the engine worked well enough to get us into a slip without fires or explosions.
Since it was Saturday when we arrived, we just barely found the alternator repair wizard before he went off for the weekend at noon. It was a real picnic getting that thing off the engine I'll tell ya. It would have been easy for a 3' tall person with 4' arms, but somehow I did it. By Tuesday it was done and reinstalled, but one crewmember had to leave us due to family obligations and lack of time to get them covered had he stayed.
Look for more soon, I'm tired of writing now!
Baja Bash Wrap-up and Employment Change Notes
Hey, this is scary, posting twice in the same month... The trip from Cabo to Ensenada was pretty uneventful, really. I only had one trusty crewmember to help, but John Higbie is the kind of guy you want to have if you only get one guy. He never complains no matter how tired or sick he gets, and he's always there providing all the help needed in any situation. We got rather zombie-like as the days went on, standing watch, navigating, eating and sleeping, that's about it! It took four days to get to Turtle Bay from Cabo, sailing most of one day to conserve fuel. Each new page of the chartbook was like a milestone- "Hey, new page!!!!". Getting past the various "puntas" (points) was a challenge since that's where the current is strongest and the seas the biggest. It's kind of depressing to know you're making 5 or 6 knots through the water but the GPS says 2.8 or 3.2 or some such number.
Anyway, we cruised into Bahia Tortuga early in the morning and were happy to find the windlass worked fine (actually we had tested it at the dock but not for reals) except the down button on the foredeck was suddenly dead. Electrical gremlins were at it again, like the port running light and steaming light that decided for themselves when they felt like working or not. Turtle bay is a very well protected large bay with a fairly narrow entrance. Calm water but the wind comes from several different directions at various times. There is a fellow there named Ernesto who will show up in his panga the moment you drop anchor to offer you fuel or whatever you may need. This guy is a hustler of all hustlers, but he does do what he promises, sometimes even when he promised it. He insisted we pay up front for the diesel we needed, which worried John a bit but not me. I know the guy has a reputation to uphold and wouldn't screw us. Too bad, anyway. The fuel we got was "a bit" contaminated with some black crud- most likely algae, but that's why you bring lots of spare fuel filters, right? The main thing was, he charged us $.65 per liter, and then demanded a tip because he said he wasn't making anything on it! Now I know this place is 100 dirt road miles off the main road, but come on! There is a Pemex station in town and I'm sure it's cheaper there. All we'd have had to do was make about four trips ashore with our jerry jugs...on second thought maybe it was a good deal after all.
From Turtle, once you get past Cedros (we went outside to avoid the nasty conditions at the north end) and north across the big bay, you're kind of home free. At least we were. The only thing we were really surprised by was a big unlit, uncharted rock just south of Ensenada, along with a few lights that were on the chart but nowhere to be seen in real life. That's the fun of cruising in Mexico!
When I returned to my job at Marina Sailing a week later than planned, I got fired within two days. Seems my mind has been elsewhere since buying this boat and planning my ultimate getaway. Imagine that. I couldn't argue, but I was still doing a better job than anybody they'll ever find to replace me! Two days later I landed a job using my captain's license! Finally!!! Who-Hoo! I'm now the full time captain of the Double Dolphin, a 50' sailing catamaran operating out of Santa Barbara Sailng Center.
So far, besides the regular two hour coastal cruises, (which are a lot of fun), I've skippered for an evening jazz cruise featuring a great trio, and a dinner cruise featuring a great menu! This is a great job and a great bunch of people to work with. Captain Mike is a happy guy.
Hola Amigos and Amigas:
We're closing in on our departure date and have been extremely busy trying to prepare the boat.
Lots of stuff has gotten done, and lots more still needs to. I'm just taking a minute here to let you know we're on track for leaving the dock here on October 23, 2003.
I'm no longer working at Santa Barbara Sailing Center and will miss those folks, but hopefully we can stay affiliated and they will help me get students/ charter guests as we go on our journey.
We have given notice to vacate our apartment, and are starting to move stuff to storage and onto the boat.
Next week we'll get our Air-X wind generator installed, and solar panels will be next, then major work will be done. We already got the new radar/chartplotter/sonar (fishfinder) and it is really cool!
Too many other things to list right now, and I've got to get back to it, but my old friend Mike Lancon has been visiting and helping alot as well, so we'll get it done, I know it.