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Playa Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santo.
We arrived at dawn on Friday, June 15th and left for Isla San Francisco on Sunday, June 17th after two nights of evening coromuels which brought winds of 30 knots. We often refer to a Simpsons episode when Bart Simpson is left at home alone while the rest of his family is gone.
Daytime is AWESOME!!
Nighttime is SCARY!!
During our hike on shore along the beach, through the brush, and up the surrounding hills we were attacked by thorny bushes and a seagull who repeatedly dive bombed us when we unknowingly got too close to his/her babies. The water is incredibly clear, warm, and beautiful!
Bidding farewell to towel service, 2 pools, and the best ice cream we have had in Mexico, we left Marina El Cid in Mazatlan on Wednesday morning at 8am. We turned off the engine and set the sails by 9am and sailed straight for the next 31 hours! This is not only our longest record of sailing straight without engine assistance, we also had such great winds that we hit 146 nautical miles in our first 24 hours and saw flying fish, dolphins, and sharks!
If I were a cowboy, I would have loved this passage. Crossing the sea was like riding a bucking bronco. The choppy sea had its way with us and inflicted me with a case of mal de mer so bad that I ate little more than a bowl of cereal in the next two days. Surprisingly, I was still able to do all of my watches. As the first time I was seasick was the crossing from west to east, I figured that I would be seasick from east to west. I was happy that we had winds up to 22 knots which would ensure that it would be over as fast as possible!
We were actually doing such great time that we were on track to anchor at Playa Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santo 8 hours earlier than expected. When we had passed Isla Cerralvo and had Isla Espiritu Santo in sight the wind died. We finally turned on the engine, took down the main sail, and as I scanned the horizon I saw that there were wind waves past the island. Our plans to anchor that night were quickly foiled as we were hit with a coromuel and had winds of up to 30 knots on the nose. After a night of 2 hour watches, putting all of our foulies on (ski clothes for sailors), and getting drenched by the waves coming over the bow and in to the cockpit we finally dropped the hook at 7am the next morning.
We have spent two more nights in Playa Bonanza, each night with coromuels containing winds of up to 27 knots coming out of the SW. Our anchor has held very well, we hiked the island, walked the beach, and have experienced the clearest water we have seen so far in Mexico. Last night, we had dinner on the deck and watched what looked like mini longhorns coming down to the beach with babies. We saw schools of manta rays that swam by the boat and waved hello to us. They then spread out across the bay and we could hear flop, flop, flop, for several hours. The flop was the sound of them hitting the water after jumping up and out of the water, waving their fins, and trying to fly in a feeding frenzy.
This has been so much fun and we can’t wait for the next anchorage!
Internet is only marginal here so no photos and we may not be able to post for another 2-3 weeks but we will post when we can!
While at sea and at anchor someone must be “In charge” of the boat. During the day we switch off and each person is responsible for 4 hours at a time. At night each person is responsible for 2 hours at a time (although we may change this to 3 hours) and while underway we are a dry boat (no booze). When couples sail it is as if they are, pardon the pun, ships passing in the night. If you are not on watch it is really important to make sure you take full advantage of your down time and close your eyes, take a nap, or just relax so you will be ready for your next watch. However if the person on watch ever needs help or has a question, they are ALWAYS allowed to ask the resting person for assistance. And it is all hands on deck when we are approaching an anchorage or marina.
What are you watching for on your night and day watches?
We are mainly looking for obstacles.
Crab or Lobster Pots, and kelp. This is usually only a hazard when we are sailing closer to land. If we run over one of those the line could get wrapped around the propeller. If that were to happen and we could not unwind the line by slowly going in to reverse, one person would have to jump over the side and cut the line off of the propeller. If the propeller was still fouled, or the conditions made it too unsafe to dive under the boat at sea, the engine would be useless until we were better able to address the problem. Don’t worry, we have sails (and wetsuits) for a reason!
Other ships. We mainly have to watch for large cargo ships. These ships travel at high speeds and usually don’t see a small sailboat on their radar. It is our responsibility to see them early and adjust our course early so we do not cross paths. This also goes for every other small boat we see out there. We always assume they don’t see us and always assume that we should get out of their way.
We have several tools on board to help us ‘watch.’ GPS helps us track our course. Radar helps us see land, weather, and larger boats. AIS helps us identify the name and type of other (usually just larger) boats. We also have binoculars.
Once the anchor(s) is/are set, each person is responsible for taking their own sightings. To do this, we must line up the horizon on some part of the boat. We will consistently check our sightings during the day to make sure the boat is not moving. At night we must take new sightings, if necessary, to accommodate for the dark. If the weather and swell is calm, you can take turns checking on the anchor sightings throughout the night. If there is significant swell, tide changes, high wind, then we take turns standing on anchor watch and sit in or near the cockpit to vigilantly ensure the anchor is not dragging.
For example, at Prisoner’s Harbor anchorage at Santa Cruz Island I was lined up along a specific tree when standing at the mast. The bow was pointed towards the outer tip of the bay. When sitting on the port side of the cockpit I could see that a tree lined up in between the solar light and the satellite phone antennae that were attached to the stern pulpit. When standing in the companionway (the stairway leading from the cockpit down to the salon) I could see a cluster of tree tops lined up through the top of the binnacle (nonmagnetic stand stationed in the cockpit that holds the compass), a high bush on the horizon when I looking out on the port dodger window, and a lighthouse out of the left side of the starboard dodger window (the green dodger acts like a large windshield and keeps the wind and spray out of our face. port is the left side of the boat and starboard is the right side of the boat).
It takes constant vigilance!
Thanks to a shared recipe from Krista our little propane Force10 boat stove was officially christened tonight. Pumpkin cookies ready for frosting! In case you are interested the link to this easy 2 ingredient recipe is below.
Happy Thanksgiving Eve!
With these five simple words, we can tell that there are so many more questions that people want to ask.
Why are you leaving the safety of your home and network of family, friends, and coworkers?
Why would want to give up the comforts of a home and live on a boat?
Are you insane?
Did you know that you are leaving during your prime career years?
How can you afford this?
Well, the answer to all of these questions is simple, really. We can’t afford not to go. Life is too short to not enjoy it. There will still be time to have kids, get a dog and buy a house with a white picket fence. At a time where people are working in to their 80’s, there will be plenty of time to accomplish career goals.
As for the money- yes it is expensive. Yes, we have worked REALLY hard to earn and save every single penny. And yes, we have spent significantly more than we expected to prepare the boat. But if we get to a point where we are wondering “If we can pull this off” instead of “how can we pull this off,” we simply remind ourselves of the wise words spoken by the character George in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
“There’s plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket—There are only 5 of them in the whole world, and that’s all there’s ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?”
At this time in our lives the experience is worth more than money.
It started out as a simple sail, really. We took my sister, Sabrina, out for a day sail and an impromptu sailing lesson. We saw not more than 15 knots of wind, no waves, and had the company of a few other sailboats in the San Diego Harbor. As we neared Point Loma, two large orange Navy tug boats sped past us to greet something in the distance. But, what could it be?! Sabrina kept a vigilant eye out for the potential obstacle we were about to face.
Within minutes it became clear to us that a submarine was coming in to port and headed straight for us! Sabrina, being a seasoned sailor…for the last ½ hour… recommended that we alter course and we were able to do so just before the gray Navy police boats came rushing at our side. Other sailboats were not so lucky as they were circled by a Navy police boat and pushed off course and out of the way so far over that we feared they may run in to the rocks!
Yes, that is a large gun attached to the bow of the smaller boat in this photo.
Getting closer… The Navy tug attached a line to the submarine
The other sailboat is starting to get a little too close for comfort.
We were so grateful that we scooted by the submarine without an altercation, as we left our machetes* and machine guns* back at the dock. Phew, good thing we had my sister to guide the way, for we surely would have perished otherwise. By the way, we did give her a passing grade on her first sailing lesson.
*To our parents, just kidding about the machetes and machine guns!
San Diego has a rich maritime history and we have wasted no time acquainting ourselves with it.
We stopped off at the Maritime Museum with my sister in the second week of November. Conor practiced his line of sight navigation
And I worked on hoisting the sails
The submarine made me so thankful that we have chosen a sailboat and NOT a submarine as our mode of travel!
On November 13th we went out for a sail with our friends, Jordan and Brett and saw both the Star of India and the H.M.S. Surprise under sail. Magnificent!
Here is a video of the boats sailing by us.
Thank you for visiting Jordan and Brett and helping us try out our BBQ!
To the non sailor the idea of cruising to Mexico is a foreign concept. Adventurous, yes! Weird, yes!
OK, so we get it that we are doing something not ‘normal.’ Most of you who are reading our blog are non sailor friends and family and have many questions. Please comment here and ask away- What do you eat? Are you sleeping? How do night watches work? Let us know your questions and we are happy to respond with the details!!
This is the first of many posts that will detail our Moondance Refit for sailors and non-sailors alike to share what and how we made our updates.
Challenge: What dinghy and outboard motor size do you get to cruise Mexico?
We were planning to get a 8-10 foot PVC dinghy with a short shaft 8hp engine.
PVC is better for warmer climates than Hypalon and the material lasts longer. As our boat bills were rapidly piling up, we started to scour www.craigslist.org for a solution. Luckily the gentleman who sold us Moondance called and asked if we wanted to buy his dinghy and engine that he was now ready to part with. The dinghy is a soft bottom PVC dinghy equipped with a floor, one-way valves, wooden oars, dinghy pump, and seat. It comes with a 15hp Johnson engine. The engine is too large for the dinghy (which has a recommended 10hp for it’s size) but we decided to take the whole lot. The dinghy planes well and we have only had to beach it once on a rock beach on Santa Cruz Island. As of now we are not planning to attach dinghy wheels for the sandy beaches of Mexico.We did buy a handheld vhf to accompany any dinghy for ease of communication and in case of an emergency.
We also learned that the best way to blow up a dinghy so that the air has staying power is to partially blow up each section, add the floorboards, then finish blowing up the dinghy sections. If one side is blown up completely before you start filling the other sides, the dinghy will not be able to hold the air as long, as per Sal’s Inflatables.
Downside? The engine is extremely heavy and we have to attach it to a halyard to raise and lower it off of the boat and dinghy. Cross you fingers for us that we don’t drop it in the ocean!
The engine lives on the stern pulpit when not in use. I am considering spray painting it a loud and obnoxious color so it will be less susceptible to theft.
Conor tries out the oars
We practiced pumping up the dinghy on the foredeck to make sure it would fit.
Test driving the dinghy- woohoo!