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Thread: Baja Bound Beetle

  1. #91
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    out on the ocean again – Wednesday night

    Tiger Beetle cleared Cabo Falso this afternoon and headed out onto the open Pacific - and we've discovered these things called swells and waves. Not too many of them inside the Sea of Cortez where it was flat flat flat, out here it is bouncy!

    All is good on board, we're holding a course of roughly 255T, working towards the west without giving up too much north position - though I knew it was going to be a south-westerly departure from Cabo so we have dropped some in latitude. Hopefully we can make that up over the next couple of days.

    I checked Beetle into the Pacific Seafarer's net, Beetle is now vessel no. 8 in the roll call (last boat today), and heard about a major aftershock off Chile following yesterday's big earthquake. No tsunami has been reported that anyone knew about. During the net's warmup a spanish-speaking fellow came on frequency and we learned that there are three ham channels now being used for communications to assist with any disaster recovery efforts in Chile. One of the frequencies is 14.255, just below the seafarer's at 14.300. I did not write down the other two frequencies.

    Conditions here are boisterous though not bad, 18-19 knots of wind from the NW, 5-6' seas, and we're running with a triple-reefed main and headsail rolled up to 80% or so, the goal being to keep boat speed down around 6 knots and keep things comfortable on board. The wind itself is oscillating slightly, so there are times the boat will speed up and bonk into a wave as the wind goes aft - well, more sideways, actually as we're close-reaching. Then the wind will shift forward a bit and we slow down to a more sedate speed and things get quieter below decks.

    Above decks the stars are out in force, the moon is just setting as it is now 0434 UTC (roughly 9:30pm local time), there's little water going over the boat which is nice. Lindi is asleep, I came on watch at 8pm and will keep an eye on things until 11, at which time it will be her turn again.

    In the morning I should have some more weather forecasts to look at. Most recent one was from a telephone call from Kristen, stating that the GFS model was calling for lighter winds backing to the north in our area tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. If that happens then I will bring the bow up more and press more into the wind as compared to the close-reaching that we're doing now.

    All in all it's been a good departure from the tip of Baja, next goal is to get our westing and also some northing and see how the weather plays out. Elsewise it's reading books, hanging on, sleeping, and keeping the boat chugging along under reduced sail area to keep the whole program comfortable and fun without too much banging off the waves. The wind generator is also keeping up with power consumption, so no need to run the motor tonight for charging purposes.

    Have a most excellent evening on shore, it's a fairly nice one out here.

    - rob

    April 2, 2014
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  2. #92
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    Thursday morning and lumping along

    Good morning, it's Thursday here, white high overcast scattered about with bright blue above, winds have dropped slightly to the 15-19 knot range and I've unrolled four more rolls of the jib. We're still close reaching, the wind has backed slightly and we're now doing roughly 275-280T at 5.5-6.5 knots. Speed varies depending upon how tall a wave we just climbed up and over. This sort of sailing is exactly the same thing one does when departing Hawaii, reaching across the trade winds to get to the High. The key is how high and how fast do you want to go? The wind will let you push the boat very hard and then it's completely uncomfortable down below. Most folks leaving Hawaii will go into race mode and do that for several hours, until they realize there's no race and it's difficult to read in those conditions. Then they throttle back a bit - which is where we are now, slightly throttled-back mode.

    Current position is 22 degrees 23 minutes N x 111 degress 56minutse W, which puts us not-quite due south of Bahia Santa Maria. There's another 5 degrees of west longitude to make before getting to the same longitude as San Diego, so going west is a good thing.

    I haven't pulled down any weather data yet (next wfax broadcast, the 24 hour surface forecast) is due out in 3-1/2 hours. I'm going to request a GFS model grib file through saildocs, that will cover our local area (Baja to San Diego), and Kristen may have some additional information as she can look at what's available on the web (primarily wfax, passage weather gribs, and predict wind gribs). What I'm hopoing for today is the wind to back more to the north and back off, which would allow more northing in possibly flatter water.

    On board all is well, Lindi and I have been trading off 3 hour watches, she is asleep at the moment and I'm sitting in the nav station typing up this note. The interior has remained reasonably dry for the most part, no surprising large waves have made it in through the hatch, and the hard dodger is working a treat. Nice to hunker behind when some water comes your direction.

    It's fairly warm still, not cold like it would be up off San Francisco, and that makes overall conditions bouncy and lumpy but reasonable. It's certainly been no problem to sleep in my bunk, which is well padded with pillows. Lindi's bunk is well padded with Kristen's fancy blue memory foam mattress topper thingy.

    Last night we did sail by one strange sight: four large ships spread out in an east to west line, all with lots of bright lights on, none with AIS on, and none appeared to be moving. It was almost as if a flotilla had decided to go to sleep right there in a group in the middle of the ocean.

    That's the morning report, now to type up the grib file request and send this along to shore!

    - rob

    April 3, 2014
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  3. #93
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    Friday morning approaching Mag Bay

    It's a beautiful morning out here on the water, winds have gone light at 4 knots from the north, chop is essentially gone, and a largish 6' swell is running through. Sun is up, puffy box car clouds are hanging out above, and we're making good time at moderate engine RPM towards Mag Bay - some 28 miles up ahead.

    The above is a vast improvement over yseterday afternoon, lumping along with 15-18 knots of breeze headed west. Much nicer to be tooling along in smooth water headed north. San Diego is north, San Diego is not west - unless one goes a very long way west to then turn north (at which point you would be doing what we are doing now) and then turning east for another 600 miles. Lindi is happy, I am happy.

    There is the issue of fuel to resolve, along with cash to pay for more fuel in Turtle Bay. Turtle Bay doesn't do credit cards, and I had not intended to be coming up the coast - so I am a little cash-poor in terms of purchasing full loads of diesel fuel for Beetle. I do have $515 US in my ziploc baggy piggy bank, and I'm hoping that San Carlos, inside of Mag Bay, will have an ATM or a bank with an ATM - though I am not optimistic given how far outside on the coast San Carlos is. On the positive side, there is a Pemex station in town and I require perhaps 30 gallons of fuel. Pemex usually accepts credit cards for payment, I hope this place does, and that would leave me my full piggy bank for purchasing fuel in Turtle Bay.

    On another optimistic note, the expedition cruise ship National Geographic Sea Lion just entered Mag Bay this morning and I can see them on the AIS as they navigate the channel to San Carlos. There is a good chance that I can speak with them and see if there is a way to obtain fuel from them and/or help with getting fuel from shore and pesos to boot. And if they can't, then at lest it will have been an interesting conversation!

    Last night was another pretty night out under the stars, and I talked with two cargo ships as regards passing directions - both ships altered course a small amount and were quite happy to increase their standoff distance as they went by. It's also good to know that Beetle's AIS broadcast is being received by ships 18 miles off, both ships were aware of my presence and were cordial on the radio.

    Plan for today is to get into Mag Bay, turn left, and anchor at Man O War cove. I was here in December, I believe, with Georgia - so I have a clue on what I am doing as regards getting that far. Next thing is to talk with the port captain in San Carlos and sort out the channel (narrow, mud flats on either side, marked with buoys and stakes) and sort out fuel, then plan to hop up to San Carlos Saturday for fuel and pesos (if available) and return to Man O War Saturday night. Weather forecast as of last night called for less wind starting Sunday night, so I would depart Mag Bay Sunday late afternoon and head for Turtle Bay.

    All is well on board, enjoying the morning sun and having a bit of a read.

    - rob

    April 4,
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  4. #94
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    Fuel run adventures in Mag Bay

    It's Sunday morning, the wind has backed off, the sun is doing its thing coming up behind the clouds, and Beetle finds itself back at anchor off Man O War cove. The wind generator is generating and the interior of the boat shows signs of yesterday's fueling adventure to the commercial fish wharf in San Carlos and back.

    The goal Lindi and I had set ourselves for Saturday (yesterday) was to obtain diesel fuel for the run to Turtle Bay. It's 245 miles to get there from here and while there ought to be fuel on board to do that even including the 126 miles already run Friday to get to Mag Bay, that would not leave a lot in the tanks to handle any headwinds; we do not want to repeat what happened to a Gemini Catamaran out there in 2009 - they ran out of gasoline 30 miles short of Turtle Bay and pulled up to a cliff beneath a house, anchored, and were able to somehow get some gasoline lowered to them in 5 gallon drinking water tins which took them much of the night to do - sounded like a nasty business when they told me the story from the comfort of their cockpit at anchor in Turtle Bay the next day.

    I know that San Carlos is a commercial town way up in Mag Bay, reachable through a zig-zag channel that is marked with bouys, and the pier has a reputation for not being a good place for yachts as there are rumored to be mostly big rusty commercial shrimpers, long liners, and net boats tied up there as they load and unload their catch, stock up with ice, and take on fuel. Think of the pier at Half Moon Bay, make it concrete, remove all docks but leave the vertical pilings, all in concrete and rebar - that's what it's like, not a yacht-friendly place. Fish boats are rafted in 3 and 5 deep around the pier, and there are no docks but there is a huge wide road on the pier onto which are driven commercial size big rigs to pick up fish and drop off supplies. Relatively delicately-built private yachts are not made to handle the load of heavy but immensely strong fish boats crushing in on them against the concrete. Oh, and there are no ladders on the wharf, instead you climb up the big tires hung out as fenders alongside the fish boats, and then you climb up the tires that are hung down from the pier; going up and down through the boats and tires presents a good case for why you should climb the jungle gymn in elementary school - someday you might need to do that again.

    The zig-zag channel to San Carlos is narrow and deep, 38-50' deep in the center with vertical edges upon which storks walk around in knee-deep water. You do not want to stray outside the channel. According to the guide book, in 2010 a hurricane blasted through here and took out much of the fish pier and dumped enormous amount of rain on the town of San Carlos and moved all the bouys around. Therefore it is unclear as you enter the channel whether or not the bouys have been reset or are scattered about and the local fish boat captains simply know which bouys to use and which to ignore... and the bouys as seen in front of the boat through binoculars certainly do not line up with the bouys as they appear on the chart. Makes for an interesting, somewhat nervous run up through the channel, a hairpin turn at the top to reverse course and go back down the next bit of channel, to turn left and hairpin back up to San Carlos.

    Fortunately for me, there are three other boats here, and one of them, Betty Jane (Hans Christian 43) was up at San Carlos at anchor and was very happy to share information with me as regards how the channel worked (all the bouys seemed ok except for one green one that was simply in the middle of the channel, look out for the mud flats on the edges), and boats Willow and Bonita that shared their local knowledge as regards Spanish and behavior of the local port captains.

    There are two port captains here, one at Man O War cove - Gregorio or so is his name, I met him the last time I was here, super nice - and one at San Carlos - a stickler for paperwork, no fuel without seeing paperwork, it's a fair walk into town to his office where he wants to see the USCG documentation before he will authorize you for fuel. Willow offered that Gregorio might have diesel as she had purchased some from him, but Gregorio had taken his wife to La Paz to see the doctor and she didn't see his panga on the beached in front of the big navigation light that is at his office. And nobody else in the fish camp seemed to be authorized to sell fuel on Gregorio's behalf. Bummer. That would mean that rather than a pleasant dighy ride ashore to pick up fuel, we would have to run up the channel to the stickler's commercial pier and sort things out there.

    After a conference call on the VHF between our four boats it was decided the best solution was to show up at San Carlos and then call the port captain and find out what hoops i would have to jump through before getting fuel. Consensus was that the San Carlos port captain was difficult to understand over the radio, and it hadn't helped to talk with him prior to arrival. Willow and Bonita said they would monitor VHF 16 and if there was a Spanish language issue they could jump in and help me out with their two Spanish-speaking folks. So I would go there and then call and if I couldn't figure it out then Willow and Bonita would help translate.

    So off Beetle went, up anchor and out around 10AM. It was extra windy, 20-25 knots on the nose and 2' chop in the channel. The chop and wind waves made it difficult to spot the shallows on the edge of the channel, radar went on to play spot-the-bouy above the chop (navigation bouys are relatively short compared to what one finds in the USA), we plugged along through the chop.

    Just ahead of us was an large (80' ?) power boat yacht Tourbillon also navigating the channel and they were trying to raise the port captain on VHF and asked Betty Jane if anybody was selling fuel on Saturdays on the pier. Betty Jane said they didn't see anybody up there yet. I figured that worst-case we'd be anchored out there off the pier Monday morning and be first in line for fuel. And there was no response from the port captain, it may be that his office is closed on Saturday.

    By the time we rounded the last corner in the 'N' shaped channel I could see that Tourbillon was rafted up to the outside of three fish boats and there was lots of activity on the pier, fishermen moving around, big hoses running, and fuel was flowing. Good stuff! Actually bringing Beetle in to the pier to raft up did not look like a good idea, what with the chop tossing the boats around and the wind compressing the boats into the concrete pier, even on the more sheltered east side of the pier up against the mud flat. I tried to raise the port captain on the VHF, no response. I decided to anchor out, inflated the dinghy and mounted the motor, put on my foul weather gear and boots (dinghy was going to be really wet going in and out in that wind and chop), grabbed my two jerry jugs and set off for the pier. It takes a lot longer to do that than it does to write it.

    At the pier I met up with the outside fish boat and the four guys on the boat stopped cutting bait for their long line and helped me to tie up, I clambered across their boat, the next boat, and scrambled up the tires and iron plates to road-level. One of the folks, seeing my jerry jugs, pointed me towards the diesel fuel cabinet and two attendants standing there. Super nice people, everyone interested in the yacht person carrying jugs through their midst. They helped lift and lower the jugs, make sure I didn't fall off, pointed out where to go, they made me feel welcome. And one of them had some English, which amazed the other fish boat people.

    I walk over to the fuel attendant, expecting to be told to walk in to town to report in to the port captain; instead, the fellow looks at me and we work out how much fuel I want (tres trips, lots of pointing, I pull out my Spanish for Cruiser's book and look up a few words such as 'times' as in how many times to refuel the jugs?) and we're in business.

    Dinghy ride back out with full jerry jugs is really wet, Betty Jane empties their three fuel jugs into their tanks so I can use them for Beetle on my second trip in to the pier, I stop by Betty Jane and pick up their jugs, go back and repeat the fill. Note to self: carry more than two jerry jugs as that will cut the number of round trips needed to refill diesel tanks. Part of the problem I have is I did not expect to be running up the coast under power and therefore do not have a lot of cash on board. I do need cash in Turtle Bay as i know the fuel dock there cannot handle plastic of any kind. Bonita (back at anchor in Man O War) had said there was a way to pay by credit card at the fish pier by taking a two minute truck ride in to the office from the pier - that would be great for me! Only there was no one at the office on Saturday to take the credit card, or so I was told by the attendant at the fuel pump. I paid cash, he had to radio in to the office to find out the cost in US dollars and log the fuel quantity with them, and I only had to take on 26 gallons (100 liters) for Beetle; I therefore know I have sufficient cash on board to refuel at Turtle Bay (a good thing).

    Ran back out in the dinghy, talked with Betty Jane and returned their jerry jugs with fresh diesel in them (they gave me cash to pay for it), and as quick as possible pulled the motor and dinghy out of the water, got the anchor up, and took off. It's much more pleasant at Man O War cove than San Carlos and I did not look forward to running the channel in the dark despite now having a perfect track to follow on the chart plotter from the run in (theoretically I could simply walk that track back out and be fine) and knowing that the bouys were in fact reset after the hurricane and were good to use.

    So we skidaddled from San Carlos, did not have to run in to town and talk with the port captain, and the diesel looked really good - that pier goes through a lot of diesel to keep the boats running! Also found out that my telephone wouldn't work at San Carlos, it said 'Emergency calls only' and wouldn't do much else, which mean I could not call Kristen and say, 'Hi!'.

    We are now back in the anchorage at Man O War, Betty Jane followed us down the channel as I told them it was really pleasant there as compared to nasty chop at San Carlos, and it's now Sunday morning. No big plans for today, the weather window opens up tomorrow morning and looks to run through to Friday night. Today is a bit of organizing on board, not going nowhere, and relaxing!

    - rob

    April 6
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  5. #95
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    change of plans, doing the coastal run instead of offshore

    (editors note, insert this above the previous post to keep things chronologically correct, sorry)


    I've been evaluating and examining and parsing the available weather forecasts and currently there does not appear to be a good way to get all the way to the Pacific NW (lack of solid Pacific High), and there are enough lows and activity happening to the north that made a direct run to San Francisco look not so good.

    So I've decided to head for Southern California and work Beetle north from there. Having made that decision, next question is how best to get to San Diego? There's no need or value in sailing way west to the High and then way back east again; that's 1800 miles of sailing to travel 650 miles north. Much better to follow True Blue that was bashing their way up the coast yesterday, and that's what I'm doing now. Though not exactly in their foot steps, as I'm heading to Mag Bay some 102 miles to the north to take on fuel and wait out the current lumpy weather. The forecasts call for the wind to lay down early next week, and that could be a super time to be running up to Turtle Bay, once again to take on fuel and wait for a weather window.

    Elsewise it's been an uneventful day on the boat, lots of resting, reading, and keeping an eye on what's going on around us. Tonight Beetle will be re-crossing the Panama great circle traffic, of which there is a fair amount. However, the AIS tells us exactly where they are, and my AIS transponder tells them exactly where I am. So far there has been a remarkably small amount of VHF traffic between boats as regards how they are going to pass - AIS sure is helpful in that regard.

    Enjoy the evening! Hopefully tomorrow night will find us anchored in Mag Bay, Saturday run up to Puerto San Carlos for a couple jerry jugs of fuel and back down to anchor at Man O War cove, and we will watch the weather to see if a Sunday or Monday departure makes sense.

    - rob

    April 3
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  6. #96
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    A delightful day on the water – Monday night headed to Turtle Bay

    Evening all, it's been a particularly nice day out here on the pond, as it were. The sun has recently set, Beetle is currently in the afterglow of the sunset, there's perhaps 8-10 knots of wind whiffling the surface of the water as the swell slides by beneath, the funny Mexican fisherman are making their animal noises on the VHF radio (lots of growls, whistles, and the occasional piped in rock music, plus laughs that sound what one might imagine a hyena to sound like - it all certainly does wake on up if the radio is on loud), and the gang of four is spread out in a line: Beetle in front, Bonita next, followed up by Wendy on Willow and then in last place is the party barge Betty Jane.

    Last night was much fun, the impromptu group decided to have a drinks and chips gathering on Betty Jane (aka, party barge), and Beetle offered taxi service with the dinghy - which involved picking up Wendy from her boat (left her two cats behind to guard said boat) and tow Bonita's crew and dinghy over to Betty Jane. Had a fine evening on board, swapped stories, I got to see a Fleet Broadband 150 in the flesh, as it were, and at a cost of $1968/mo with a two year contract minimum the owner of Betty Jane hadn't actually written that check and that explains why they were anchored for four days in the nasty channel at San Carlos - Mark needed cellular modem connectivity to take care of business as he is running a full-on business from his boat.

    Also heard stories about Elena and Ryan on board Bonita - at age 23 and 24, they have already done a bunch: he's been fishing in Alaska for 5 years and set aside some money ('you can make $10,000 in five weeks if you hit it right'), bought the boat, sailed to Mexico for the last 7 months, and are now headed back to the bay area to figure out what they would enjoy dong next. Seems to revolve around selling their boat, which might work out for them. Wendy has been wandering about Mexico for the last 18 months on her Pacific Seacraft Orion (slightly longer than a Dana 24, similar boats otherwise), and Mark and Jim are taking Mark's boat back to LaConner up near Anacortes. We also found out that Ryan had his boat in Grand Marina in Alameda, and in fact had been to some of Arne's barbecues to boot. Seems to me that most everybody we've met here has been to Arne's barbecue at one time or another!

    The morning dawned with no wind, everybody was out, we're all powering in the good conditions directly towards Turtle Bay and the fuel dock there. The Mistress, a 60' powerboat, went by earlier today - they are running the boat up to Marina Del Rey with a professional captain and the captain had retained the services of a private/professional weather forecaster. He relayed his information to us when I asked him on the radio, he said their forecast called for benign conditions for the next 12-15 housr. They had left Cabo San Lucas yesterday morning, had a bumpy night out (that's when we were hiding in Mag Bay as 25 knots from the NW went by), and they were making good time at 8.4 knots burning 1 gallon per mile headed north; with a 700 gallon capacity they were going to make Turtle Bay no problem provided they didn't open up the engines and start pouring fuel down the cylinders.

    On board Beetle it's been quiet, motor is ticking over nicely, played through some long lines set off Thetis Bank 15 miles north of Bahia Santa Maria, and are now powering on into the evening. The breeze did pick up a bit in the afternoon, 12-15 knots or so, and the wind did stay to the west of the path, allowing the triple-reefed motoring main to help with stability and a tiny bit of forwarding. Upshot is we're doing nicely, and have reduced distance to go to 180 miles after starting with 245.

    Lindi is now banging together some instant mashed potatoes and chopped up hot dogs for dinner which was just handed to me (she used the four cheese mashed potatoes, it seems). This is gluey, sticky, warm, and it was handed to me - that is the best kind of food to find out here on the ocean. Given the water is now colder (62F last check) there is a distinct chill in the air. We're not wearing shorts and T-shirts anymore, move like socks, shoes (or sea boots), sweatshirts, jackets and wool caps. Hot mashed potatoes fits right in.

    Plan is to continue powering along tonight and tomorrow, aiming for a Wednesday morning arrival at Turtle Bay to pick up fuel. Mistress said they would call back on the radio as they left Turtle Bay to tell us of their fuel dock experience, and Beetle should be the next boat into Enrique's fuel dock.

    Enjoy the evening, we are having a fine time of it out here what with the good progress and all!

    - rob

    April 7
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  7. #97
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    Tuesday morning, off Bahia Ballenas and heading towards Turtle Bay

    It's a most excellent morning outside, the wind has gone calm, seas are smooth, a slight swell running in from the port bow and we're gliding along at 6 knots making comfortable cruising towards Turtle Bay, some 99 miles ahead. Lindi is sleeping, I've been reading up in the cockpit, my floppy PRBO hat perched on the head and sunscreen on the nose - it's a clear day overhead and it's going to be a warm one, much warmer than last night.

    The goal is to be in Turtle Bay tomorrow morning, fill up with diesel, do a weather check, and make a go/no-go decision on pushing on directly for San Diego or, if conditions deteriorate, Ensenada. Current forecast I have (which is now 24 hours old) suggests that we can keep moving and be in the States with good running conditions by Saturday morning. It doesn't really matter what the forecast is right now, as we're definitely going to Turtle Bay - therefore I am not going to pick up weather data right now. Once I get there I'll pull down a new set of weather forecasts and have a better idea of the updated expected weather conditions.

    Last night was uneventful, good half-moon for the first half of the night, and we are traveling close enough to he Panama-bound ships on the great circle route to see their lights at night. There is an extraordinary amount of traffic in the big ships, all moving stuff around the planet. Passenger ships, tankers, cargo ships, all running in lines along the shortest-distance route possible from point A to point B. Sort of reminds me of the comments made by a pilot that flies the US to Hawaii route: from within the plane the passengers only see what's off to the side of the plane, and will sometimes catch a glimpse of a plane flying the reverse route at a slightly different altitude - makes you feel like you're all alone up there in the sky. However, the view from the cockpit is quite different as you can see forward, and what you'll find is a whole line of planes flying nose to tail, and the sky is anything but empty from that perspective. The ship AIS information provides the same view the pilot has; when you only see the lights within a couple of miles, the ocean looks empty. When you can see displayed on the chart plotter all the ship data, you realize there are often 30-40 ships within 80 miles of you, and the tracks show how in-line they are as they motor along across the ocean, almost as if they are on scribed roads.

    One fun thing you can do with AIS is get a sense of weather up ahead by watching the speed/track of a passing boat. Yesterday I talked with The Mistress, an 18M powerboat headed north, they were running a constant RPM to conserve fuel and making 8.4 knots. Last night, when we were plunking along into 15 knot headwinds (and therefore slower) I could watch them 20 miles ahead also going slow, down to 7.1 knots. And when they picked back up to 8.4 a few hours later I knew the wind, or waves, or both, had backed off and Mistress was back up to speed. (It's also possible they had simply picked up revs to make port on a schedule, but the captain said they were carefully running for fuel efficiency as they wouldn't have a lot to spare when they got to Turtle Bay.)

    Beetle is looking good inside, we've been keeping the boat tidied up, no loose gear out and about, and the bilge has remained dry. Today even the decks are dry, not even splashing from the bow wake coming up onto the foredeck. The radar is doing it's watchman 4-off-1-on sweeps and did pick up a south-bound boat passing by 2.5 miles off to the east last night. Betty Jane & Co. are 36 miles astern, no problems were reported last night across our little group of four boats, and this morning we chit-chatted to discuss weather and whether or not we can bolt directly for San Diego rather than hang around in Turtle Bay waiting for a weather window. Consensus is to keep moving, as this window is supposed to last at least until Friday.

    Tourbillon, the 80' power yacht from San Carlos, spent the night at Bahia Ballenas, and I picked them up on AIS this morning, headed north at 9.2 knots. Based on conversation with the captains on Betty Jane and Mistress, Tourbillon is running a lot of fuel into those motors to do those speeds. One of the data points is an Azimut 85 that is run around, at 10 knots they are consuming 40 gallons per hour; at 28 knots the twin 1000 hp engines are consuming 200 gallons/hour - of course you'd get to Catalina Island really fast at 28 knots!

    I'm going pop back topside to continue my book, and see if any dolphin are coming over to play - so far several small troupes have stopped by this morning.

    - rob

    April 8
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  8. #98
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    Tuesday evening report – almost there!

    We're now 42 miles out of Turtle Bay, hurtling in at 6.3 knots (!) as the little engine pushes the boat along through the calm seas. There's been very little to no wind for most of the day and this has made for fantastic going-north conditions.

    A number of times today small pods of white sided porpoise were going by north-to-south and each time a couple of the critters would peel off to come over and play for a minute or two in the bow wake. The water was incredibly clear and without wind ripples, and it was fun to watch them come zooming up from way down underneath the boat, rise vertically to just below the bow and then level off to play in the boat's bow pressure wave. And then they would scoot off, turn tail and head back to the pod.

    Also had my first shark sighting of the trip, I think - a smallish blue shark with a 4" dorsal fin poking up above the surface, going slowly along as we went by.

    Life on board has been mellow today, not much to do other than keep the diesel day tank topped up and watch the course. Meanwhile the radar is waking up and checking for any boats in the neighborhood.

    Back behind us on the track Bonita is having a bad hair day. This afternoon their motor changed noises, they shut it down, and Ryan now believes he has a blown transmission. Betty Jane and Willow stood by for a while as Elena and Ryan did the troubleshooting on the motor and Betty Jane even offered to tow them the 100+ miles to Turtle Bay. I did not hear the resolution, as they are now beyond VHF range; last I heard it sounded as though Bonita was going to sail (slowly) to Turtle Bay and consider their options. In this conditions it would be possible, theoretically, for Betty Jane to tow the smaller Bonita, but that would definitely stress the Hans Christian 43's transmission as it is not rated for that kind of sustained low RPM load. Would mostly depend on how good the cooling system is on the HC43 transmission. On the positive side there's nothing life-threatening about losing the transmission but it does throw a big monkey wrench into any kind of mental schedules one might have prepared.

    Up ahead of us I can now see Tourbillon at anchor in Turtle Bay (via AIS), and I wonder if The Mistress has already been and gone of if I will find them there as well.

    My plan is run into Turtle Bay tonight (this will be the fourth time I've been in/out of the place) and with conditions this mellow it should not be a problem to get to the entry and use the radar to run in. There's once again moonlight tonight, and depending on arrival time that might be helpful as well. We'll anchor out and pick up fuel and forecasts as early as we can, then make plans from there.

    Enjoy the evening, it's off into the quiet seas for Beetle!

    - rob

    April 8
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  9. #99
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    A quick pit stop at Turtle Bay

    It's noon o'clock on Wednesday, and we're back out on the water, motoring along at a leisurely 6 knots - good range with a hint of speed - with Turtle Bay some 20 miles to the rear.

    The moon set just 20 minutes before Beetle arrived at the entry to Turtle Bay, which was unfortunate as there are often lots of crab pot buoys strewn about the entry, plus big kelp beds along the edges. The kelp beds aren't that difficult to avoid as they are relatively predictable based on water depth; the pots are completely random and can be anywhere. The fisherman here don't use weighted line for the pots, opting instead for polypropylene (that floats) between the buoy and the trap, and worse yet they apply simple large loops to the line in order to 'shorten' the line to match the depth; the result is large arrays of polypropylene floating about the buoys. When we exited today, in the sunlight, it turns out there were no pots set - perhaps crabs or lobsters are out of season in these parts?

    We got in ok using the radar and prior tracks to run in, found Tourbillon anchored where I normally anchor, and so just dropped the hook about where it seemed reasonable. It was 4:00AM when I went to sleep.

    At 7AM I was up and about, found Enrique's cell phone number in the guide book, as it is Enrique you want to telephone to see if his fuel shed is open on the abandoned fishing pier. He answered, yes, they were open, come on over! Alternatively, they would put fuel into a panga and bring it to us provided I could tell him how much I wanted. Turned out there was 14' of water at his rickety anchored floating docking stuck out from the pier (cannot bring a small yacht alongside the pier, same problem as in San Carlos, and that's why he got the floating dock - to allow smaller yachts to tie up and get fuel), so we motored over, a fellow climbed down to help tie up, and his fenders on the dock were at least twice the diameter of the fenders I have, so no danger of having a protruding bolt or nail punch into the hull.

    Twenty minutes and 165 liters of diesel later, we were done. Cost was $210 US, and I did climb up to the pier to verify the counter was reset to zero before he started. They preferred cash, the fellow I spoke with wasn't sure if the credit card thing was working or not, and I have used up most of the cash on board - at least all the 20s and 10s are gone, so he and I spent a while counting out one dollar bills on his desk to come up with the necessary amount.

    All was good, we cast off, and headed back out to the bay to float for a bit and check things out. The TelCel cellular modem SIM card service and account had expired yesterday, and last night Kristen was able to logon to the MiTelCel website and sign up the account for another 2GB of data for one month. This essentially runs out the money I have had in my account at TelCel (thanks much, Carlos - the system works quite well!), and with Kristen making sure the system would work, this morning I was able to login and pull down a bunch of weather data and forecasts. Conditions look to be light to moderate from the North through to Friday night or Saturday morning between here and San Diego, so decision made we headed out. Definitely the fastest stop I have made at Turtle Bay.

    Current conditions are bright sun, 8-10 knots of wind from the North, no seas to speak of, and we're making 6 knots on our way to the States. This will be one of the longer runs, something like 337 miles, and Beetle has a full load of diesel to push our way north. Ensenada is available as a bail-out point some 80 or so miles south of San Diego, and hopefully that won't be necessary.

    I've also heard word back from Betty Jane this morning (actually, a relay via Willow, as I can't hear Betty Jane directly on the VHF). They have Bonita under tow and are making progress towards Turtle Bay, hoping to arrive around 1AM Thursday morning. I gave them information regarding lack of pots at the entrance, depth at the fuel dock, and Enrique's phone number. Seems that Bonita is going to have to do some sorting out of their transmission, either have it rebuilt in San Diego or have a replacement transmission sent down to Turtle Bay. Willow has sailmail and SSB radio, and she is sending requests for information up to a friend in San Diego that can help track down parts up there. Lucky for Bonita that a bigger boat was right there when they had their problem (Bonita is a Columbia 38 or 39, it seems).

    And in other news, Rebel Heart (another Hans Christian) was abandoned by the owners and long term liveaboard cruisers, after departing La Cruz headed for the South Pacific. ARound 900 miles out it seems their one year old child got badly ill, then they had some problems with the boat, resulting in the US Air National Guard parachuting a group of EMT-type folks into the Pacific who were able to board the boat and stabilize the kid, and a US Navy ship was nearby to take on everybody. All of that is pretty wild stuff; I haven't heard much more than that, though I did hear that the US Navy then sank the Hans Christian as they do not like to leave hazards to navigation floating around in their wake. Rebel Heart is a well-know blogging cruiser in the cruising community, it's a bummer that this happened to them. Hopefully they will pick up and keep on going.

    So that's what is going on out here - lots of boats are moving around these last couple of days as the weather has been so nice, and continues to be so. I was passed by the 78 meter long 'VENUS' a little while ago, they are northbound at 13.4 knots; that's the largest private yacht I've seen out in these waters. Another sail boat was entering Turtle Bay as we were leaving (Catalina 36, I believe), and we're northbound. General route is to the west initially to clear Cedros and the shoal bank to the west that can house big kelp beds, then turn more north and run the length of the Vizcaino Bay. Thinking is to be half way across by Thursday noon, and off Ensenada Friday noon. We shall see!

    And now back to the serious task of reading my book.

    - rob

    April 9
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  10. #100
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Doing the lumpy run north, Wednesday night

    The wind has dropped off at the moment, leaving behind a somewhat confused, though low, sea state behind. Unfortunately for us, the choppy water is making Beetle hop up and down, and then the two sets of swell roll through and cause Beetle to then roll from side to side. Between the four motions happening at random, but short, intervals, it is now difficult to move around the boat and I am collecting my fair share of bruises as I bang into things. This is all good though, as we're progressing up the track quite nicely - having knocked off 75 miles since departing Turtle Bay this morning.

    The VHF radio reception has been amazing tonight; currently I'm listening to a US aircraft carrier 8 running around with lights that do not accord with the rules of the road off San Diego telling the world they are out conducting night time flight operations and to stay away at least two miles away. A tanker and a lightering ship are conducting transfer operations that will take 20 hours whilst traveling at 5.5 knots - they are also by San Diego. And the US Coast Guard is yelling at the Asian fisherman to stop yacking on VHF 16. I don't know if that last bit is going to help much, as I rather doubt the fisherman understand the English the USCG is broadcasting.

    Astern of us I can see, via AIS, the Santa Cruz 50 J World Hula Girl; I believe they participated in the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race, and they are now powering up the coast back to San Diego - which is where I think J World has their sailing/racing training program. It's been interesting to watch the larger power boats stay inshore as we cross the Vizcaino Bay while the smaller sailboats are on the outside track. I chose the outside track mostly to stay away from the island and associated kelp beds, I wonder if the power boats went inside to play counter current?

    I'm still working on my book, I've got my red light headlamp on, and have been sitting in the cockpit turning pages in between standing up to inspect the horizon for boats. So far no boats seen, which works fine for me. Currently there is 248 miles to the Coronado Islands, and from there it's about 10 more miles to San Diego. Part of the game is to make the run up the coast before stronger winds fill in over the weekend. It's unclear now if the new winds will arrive Saturday or Sunday, and I'm hoping to be off the water and at the US Customs dock in San Diego some time Friday night or early Saturday morning. I also need to remember to tell the US Customs folk, when I call them from the dock to let them know I have arrived, that I do not have a 2014 Customs fee sticker and to please bring one with them. I heard the fee decals were implemented during the Reagan administration as a way to have the people that are actually crossing borders to help pay for the Customs folk, and I guess that's fair enough. The stickers aren't very pretty, though - kinda unsightly to have a small sticker with a big number on it affixed to your craft near the entry way; perhaps they can employ someone to design a better looking sticker, eh?

    And lastly, the sky is now mostly overcast, which would normally turn the ocean into a jet black world. However, Mr. Moon is up and he is lighting up the sky from above such that it feels like I am in a perpetual pre-dawn state, the sky doesn't get darker, and the sky doesn't get brighter - it just sort of glows enough to make out the waves on the water. Kinda interesting.

    Here's to getting to San Diego!

    - rob

    April 9
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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