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Home Up 2000 2001 2002 2003 Arabella's 1st season (03-04) Logs Land Cruise 1 2nd Season (04-05) Logs Land Cruise 2 3rd Season (05-06) logs 4th Season (06-07) logs 5th season logs

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.
Since all the local convenience stores were sold out, we had to wait until
morning to get one (from an auto parts store) and it meant we had a
beautiful sunny run down the coast instead of a cold miserable night
passage.  Arriving about dark in Newport meant we got a mooring in the most out of the way corner of the harbor, but they did have one for us, and it was free.  We found Lady Barbara at the pre-race party and got her gear stowed aboard, and that was lucky too- they had found a place to park right next door to the club on a night when you'd be lucky to find a spot within a mile of the place.
Of course there was no luck involved in our perfect start, superb tactics and brilliant navigation on the race itself, but when we jibed over about 2 or 3 am we found ourselves on a perfect course to the finish and the moon trail on the water was right in line ahead of us.  Right then I knew we were going to trophy, it was all too perfect.
Sure enough, when the sun came up, we were looking good, and finished about 10:30 running before a 30 knot  breeze, seconds ahead of several of our competitors who had lower ratings.
I'm still thinking about all the things we could have done to get there 6
minutes sooner (the difference between our time and the class winner's) but hey, second is still good!  We were the first loser!  I feel sorry for the guy who's trying to figure out how he could have saved 27 seconds to beat us, we were there last year.
Once again, not too shabby for a tired old charter boat with a mostly
inexperienced crew, eh?  Look for HMFWIC in the Cruz NS class! "

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!

Good sailing,



sent 8/10/03 to alt.sailing.asa:

OK, so it was a milkrun of sorts.  Lady Sailor, stalwart crewman John and I
got a ride to Ensenada from John's son Jesse, arriving about 4:00 pm Monday.  Barely enough time to clear out, but Roger at Baha Naval got it done while yours truly wrestled with rebuilding the aft head, changing out the
bilgepump and the y-valve for the forward head- some shi**y work indeed!
Lady Sailor and John had the more pleasant task of walking to the local
supermercado and buying some provisions.  They missed all the colorful

Left Ensenada about 2200 after a good dinner in town and arrived San Diego about 1600 Tues.  Was visited by Customs official named Jo Jo who informed me I owed import duty on my 30 year old boat since I had no paperwork showing it had ever been paid.   $2,000 and it had to be cash, plus we had to stay there until it was paid.  I said to hell with it and we left about 1830 after fueling up, making it to Avalon at about 1300 the next day.  Beautiful run with moontrails on the water and shooting stars all night.  Lady Sailor had the 0100- 0400 watch and had so much fun she took another hour!   The Reverend came out to the boat about 1830 and did a beautiful short wedding ceremony.

<Lady Sailor takes over the narrative>

Just as I was coming on watch the moon was drifting into the horizon so my
watch was stars only and they gave a fabulous show shooting all over the
sky.  About 0300 we were approaching the start of the shipping lanes and off my port the ships were stacking up to head north.  I was okay with most of them but one stayed on a collision course with us so I fell off and picked
up some wind to avoid the big ships.  It was perfect, I was having a ball
moving our Arabella across the water at 6 plus knots while the boys slept
below.  The thought occurred to me that it was my wedding day and that made it all the more enjoyable.  I was feeling great!

I let John take over at 0500 so I could get in a few hours of "beauty sleep"
and when I awoke we were in sight of Catalina.  It was warm and sunny and an absolutely perfect day.  The only problem we had was the customs officials had our boat documents and should anybody ask for them in Avalon we didn't have a clue what might happen.  But we forged on, we had an appointment with the minister and it was our wedding day!

The pleasure crafts were stacked up looking for a mooring when we arrived
and that was to our advantage.  When it was our turn the harbor patrol came
over and didn't bother with the document, he just wanted the number.
Fortunately we had that and were directed to a mooring in Hamilton Cove.  It
was a perfect spot for a wedding.  The rock wall we were moored next to was leaden with flowers and we were far enough away from the town to avoid the noise but enjoy the lights.  Only bummer was it was rocky.  Every boat that passed by created a wake that sent our boat and all the boats around us to pitching and fussing with the forces of the wake the passing boats created.

Pastor Sessions arrived on time and we were ready.  I was in my shorts and
peach colored cotton blouse.  Mike in his shorts and Hawaiian shirt and
John, our crew, best man, maid of honor, ring bearer and photographer was
appropriately attired in shorts and Hawaiian shirt.  All of us were barefoot
by the way.  It was perfect.  As Pastor Sessions stepped aboard Arabella he
inquired if anybody else was aboard.  No, it was just us.  Mike and I both
agree that the sacrament of marriage is personal and doesn't need a big
hoo-haa.  Our vows were spoken from the heart as the sun set over the
beautiful Pacific Ocean we both love. It was perfect.

That evening we found our way to the country club for an elegant dinner and
live Jazz.  It was an excellent ending to an extraordinary day.  Great food,
beautiful surroundings, excellent service and the music was wonderful.

We woke up early the next morning, pulled up the dink, battened down the
hatches and headed for home at 0700.  Mike kept expecting the seas to buck
us on that leg but I said my prayers to the sea gods and it was an unusually
calm crossing for theses waters.  Only thing of interest were the "birds on
kelp" and dolphins.  The "birds on kelp" were really just sea birds, terns I
think, who were resting on a big nest of kelp floating in the water.  The
dolphins were great though.  We could see a boil in the water from a
distance and always the dolphins were there stirring it up.  Friendly little
critters they are, always ready to come over and say hello on the bow wave.

As we made our approach to Channel Islands Harbor the sun was setting and we were treated to the most extraordinary show I've seen in years.  It started with a few colors and exploded from one set of colors to another and then another and another and this went on for nearly 40 minutes.  As much as I wanted to get home I didn't want to miss any of this show.

But home we did go and gratefully so.  Now it's time for me to complete this
post.  It's late, I'm tired and Damn those computers anyway!


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.

Good sailing!




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.

Good Sailing,



to continue, go to Arabella's trip log...