Saturday, May 04, 2019

Highlights of the Voyage

We have been back in SF for a couple weeks now and after having time to reflect on the trip, here are some highlights that come to mind:

Departing SF and heading to port outside the Gate was amazing.  The wind was up as were the waves.  We sailed the 20 miles to safe harbor in Half Moon Bay.  Our very first landfall.

Sailing the Cali coast was a dream come true.  I have been up and down Hwy 1 so many times dreaming about being on a boat and here I was heading to Monterey and next, Santa Barbara!

Santa Barbara was delightful.  We spent 3 weeks in and around the harbor as well as extended stays at Santa Cruz Island with friends visiting from the Bay.

We pulled into a tiny anchorage on Santa Cruz and challenged a boat load of other dudes to a game of bocce.  We kicked their butts and laughed so hard for hours.  These guys were a ton of fun.

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz was a huge hit for us and our friends.  The largest sea cave on the planet!

Newport Beach with my friend Barry and his wife took us out for an amazing evening of cruising the waterways and seeing some beautiful waterside homes.

I had never been to Catalina and that was a blast.  We played bocce near the plaza.

San Diego - we could not find a slip due to the Haha.  I ended up calling all the marinas and one got back to me saying they had plenty of space and we could stay for 2 weeks!  We arrive at Fiddler's Cove and it turns out they thought we were military folks and this was a military harbor.  They realized our predicament and their mistake and allowed us to stay a week.  We had a ton of fun and they were all very kind.

My friend from Delaware, Steve, came out for a week and we had an amazing time.   Swimming, Frisbee, 420, bocce, hanging with my son and meeting his cousin for a dinner party.

We had a pretty good sail down the coast of Baja.  The best was from Santa Maria to Cabo with 20 knots of wind.

San Jose del Cabo was a very cool stop.  We hitchhiked back and forth and folks were happy to give us a ride.  What a cool art district with great bars and restaurants.

My sisters and family came down to Cabo for NYE and I took them all for a very relaxing sail along the coast.

Our first real cruising anchorage was off La Pax at an island anchorage.  There were several other boats around and we invited them all to join us for a drink.  We had 2 couples join us for a fun evening of stories and lies!  I am kidding about the stories.  : )

Yelapa in Puerto Vallarta was one of my favorite spots.  In a deep valley and surrounded by green lush hills, it is idyllic.  My son and nephew also visited PV along with John.  We had great sails with them and saw lots of whales breaching.

The trip from PV to Ztown was spectacular.  There were a couple anchorages that really stood out.  One of my favs was Pariso.  Secluded and a small bay inside a bay with a pristine beach right off the boat.  Gorgeous.  We were the only boat there!

Ztown was the highlight.  We had a bunch of friends visit and the town was so cute.  We saw the Guitarfest and fell in love with one guy who played like the late Michael Hedges.  We even went to a private show with him playing his heart out.  The Smernoffs, Paul and Murray, Kendall, Michael and Carl all visited.  Good times indeed!  Grand Island was a place we visited at least 4 times and we always had a ton of fun!

My friends ask, would I do this trip again?  Even tho we had the time of our lives over a 7 month period, I would say no!  Why?  The 2000 mile motor from Ztown to SF took 5 weeks.  It was uphill and against mother nature.  If you are familiar with the west coast wind patterns, you know our winds are generated up north and arrive here mostly from the northwest.  You can't imagine how hard it is to motor against 30 knot winds and 14 foot swells.  Day after day.  Week after week.  For that reason, I won't do it again.

I have been home for 2 weeks now and have seen a bunch of friends and it is so nice to be back.  I will continue to sail the Bay twice a week as well as do more Haha's on other peoples boats and then fly home from Cabo.  I may even do the Puddle Jump across the Pacific but not on my boat.

All in all, the trip, the boat and crew all exceeded my expectations.  I could not be happier at this time.  The boat is waiting for me and I hear her call.  Oh yeah, and I am taking out 10 friends on Cinco de Mayo to celebrate my return as well as go see the races.  We have some foiling cats on the bay that will be approaching 50 knots on the race course!  I am looking forward to alot more chartering in exotic locales as well.  We have the BVI's coming up in 11 months.  Cheerio!

Here is what we will see on Sunday with 6 teams going at it.  SailGP






Thursday, April 18, 2019

Home at Last!


We departed Maz with a run across the Sea of Cortez.  We had a couple days of great sailing all the way to San Jose del Cabo.  We arrived at daybreak and took a nap!  I wanted to show Sean this cute town so off we went to get some food and check out the artwork.  We departed on Wednesday for the famed Baja Bash.  They call it the bash because you are going against the wind and waves and it can be a long slog up the 750 mile coastline.  We topped the fuel off in Cabo and took off.  We would be motoring a lot over the next 9 days.  Our first priority was to make the 400 mile run to Turtle Bay and get fuel.  About 130 miles out of Turtle we hit some big winds and could not make any headway.  We put up some sail and sailed in high winds for the next several hours.  Finally it calmed down and we continued to motor.  Next day we had more of the same and sailed a bit before the winds died for the evening.   We made it to Turtle about 1am.  I had been here many times before on the Haha.  I lingered in the cockpit and reminisced about the good times we had in this beautiful bay.

The next day the fuel guys were at our boat early to fill up our tank and some deck jugs.  We did not have much cash so we waked thru the village to the owners house and put the bill on our credit cards.  We had a nice lunch at Maria’s Restaurant overlooking the bay.  All the guide books give you strategies on when to depart the nortoriously windy cape.  We didn’t listen and took off shortly after noon.  The winds were light and we moved up the coast towards Ensenada.  We had about 270 miles to go.  We arrived in the morning on Wednesday and checked out of the country here.  The town is crazy about micro brews so we headed to the local pub for some fresh suds.  Auga Mala was a place we had been before.  Great views and nice folks.  Then we hit the motherload: Lucky 4.  15 breweries in one spot.  I had a few nice porters and we enjoyed the ocean view. 

We departed at midnight for the 60 mile run to San Diego.  Upon arrival in the US, we are quickly approached by the Coast Guard.  They wanted to know where we were headed.  I told them the police dock for check in.  They allowed us to continue and we arrived about 12noon.  Nice to be back in the USA after 5 months in Mexico.  We checked in with customs and then anchored near the beach at La Playa.  On Saturday, my childhood best friend Andy joined for some drinks at the pool.  He was visiting from Reno. 

We departed a day early as there are some big winds heading our way.  We made to Santa Barbara after a 170 mile motor.  About 20 miles out we were boarded by the coast guard for inspection.  My first in 30 years of sailing.  They were nice and it took about 20 minutes.  We passed!  We will be here for a few days as we have lots of wind heading down the coast.  Saturday looks like our best bet to get around Pt. Conception.  Only 250 miles to go!!

We waited four days for the 30-40 knot winds to die down.   Pt Conception is known as the Cape Horn of California.  In heavy conditions, this can be a very dangerous place.  We departed at midnight and hit the point about 7am.  Very little wind and the conditions were ideal.  Only 200 miles to Monterey.  These were tuff miles and very cold during the night.  We saw winds in the mid 30’s for short periods but mostly 20-25 knots of wind on our nose.  We motored for several days and finally into Monterey.  Had a great lunch at a small Italian place near the boat.  Next day we had a 8am departure for a short run to Santa Cruz.  Arrived about 2 and headed to the local brewery for lunch.  Met a cool guy there and took him for a short sail.  To bed early for the 40 mile run to Half Moon Bay.  Arrived in HMB about 4pm and had dinner with my old friends Ed and Yvonne at Sam’s.
We have 20 miles to go to SF!!!  We took off about 6:30 and we hit our first fog of the entire trip.  We cranked up the radar and made it 6 miles up the coast and the fog cleared.  It was a perfect forecast for our arrival.  10-15 knot winds and sunny and warm.  We arrived under the bridge right about 11am.  It was a cool moment to be back on the bay after being gone for 7 months and 3600 miles!  It was a very warm and sweet ride across the bay.  We arrived safely in Emery Cove about 12 noon. 

I am so happy we did this voyage on this boat with my crew!!  The motor was the true hero!  We sailed only about 20 percent of the time.  The rest was on our trusty Yanmar 56!   We had no breakdowns and no major repairs on our adventure.  We met a few cruisers stuck for weeks at a time waiting for a part.  We had none of that.  The crew we had were awesome and the weather was nothing short of spectacular.   We had about 7 days of waiting for wind, we consumed 568 beers, we motored 678 hours, 24 friends and family visited and we caught one mermaid.  People ask if I will do this trip again?  I answer with, only if I don’t have to bash for 2000 miles into the wind and waves.  That was not fun.  But I believe we had a pretty good run without the truly gnarly conditions.  I hope to be part of the 2019 Baja Haha (my 7th) but on someone else’s boat. 

With my original plan to sail to Australia, we were going to sell the boat.  Since we sailed her back home, my plan now is to partner the boat out with 3 other sailors.  I have two ready to join and will look for a 3rd to make it 4 total.  I am looking forward to spending the next 20 years of sailing this amazing sailboat!  I will post some photos over the next few days.

One last note, I have been blogging on this site for over 16 years.  I thought I would be into blogging during the voyage but I was too busy running the boat and crew and having too much fun to worry about writing.  Plus connectivity was not easy with wifi to upload the posts to the internet.  I did not fancy writing long posts on my phone so the blog took a back burner.  Hope you enjoyed our adventure!!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Heading Home


We arrived in in Ixtapa area on the next day and then promptly anchored at Isla Grande.  A cool 3 sided island with beaches at each side.  About a mile away was a croc sanctuary and we had to see it.  The crocs were impressive as was the cold beer.  Nice anchorage and we stayed for a couple days.  Our first visitor was arriving in Zihua so we boogied around the corner to Ztown.  Kendell arrived and was soon swimming off the back of our boat.  We begin to explore this sweet village and find it to be a cute as it is beautiful.  Our friends the Smernoffs arrived the next day and booked a room on the next beach over.  We met them and had a lovely dinner at their beach side hotel.  Next day we started a round of extreme snorkeling with Sean and Kendall.  Kendall is an underwater hockey player.  He has to hold his breath to play the game so needless to say he has amazing breath holding ability!  We would drop them on the rocky coast with big breaking waves and they would find all sorts of caves, swim throughs, spotted rays,  and much more.  We did this on three separate days and Sean loved it.  Tex and I would putter around in circles while they dove.  Had an excellent sail in the afternoon with the Smernoffs and hung out for the sunset. 

The next day we were invited to spend the afternoon at their beach side pool.  They were staying Aura del Mar and it is one cool hotel.  The pool is magnificent as it sits above the restaurant and offers a commanding view of the small bay.  We then head to the suite for a nice relaxing dinner with Dave, Cindy, Kala, Kedall, Sean and Tex.  We also celebrate Dave’s 60th with the best cheesecake I have ever tasted.  Happy Birthday big guy!

The next day we take them up the coast and motor to Isla Grande for some snorkeling fun and lunch.  We drop off the snorkelers for a romp thru a rocky patch.  This is where they see the Spotted Rays.  We have a relaxing afternoon on the beach and everyone gets in the water.  We swam out to the point to catch some waves.

Kendall and the Smernoffs departed and we prepared for our next guests.  Paul and Murray were two of my old boat partners in the Addiction sail boat.  They came down for a short visit and we had a grand time with some sailing and snorkeling.  We also had a visit to Isla Grande with them. 

The Guitarfest at Ztown was next with my bro in law Michael joining us.  We were there for opening night and got a three song introduction from each of the artists.  We loved this guy from Bogata.  Oscar Mendez reminded us of Michael Hedges finger style guitar.  We made reservations for his show the next night.  He was playing in a small hotel pool area.  We gathered for dinner and he put on a grand show.  I moved up towards the stage to get a better view.  Once his set was done, we met him briefly and he said yes he was inspired by Hedges.  I told him that I had met him once in Palo Alto.  He was very impressed.

We saw many other artists and this beach happening is one I would gladly return to.  One last visit to Isla Grande with Michael and our last visitor arrived.  Carl is a sailing buddy from Sauslito.  He had never done ocean passages so he wanted a taste.  We departed Z and headed to Barra de Navidad.  It a 2 day sail that was very routine.  

We love Barra de Navidad, It is a two town beach and we stay at a lovely marina attached to a very romantic hotel on the water.  We get use of the pool and hot tub as well.  Very fun and so relaxing.  We get chores done and head to the pool for lunch and hammock time.  During the evening we head to town and there is a carnival going on.  We met a little boy at the taco stand.  He follows us to the ride area and we buy him a ticket for a fun ride.  He loves it.  We ride the Ferris wheel and he waves.   
 Next up is a run to Tenicatita.  This the most beloved anchorage in all of Mexico.  We arrive in the afternoon and go for a nice sail in the bay.  Winds are 10-12.  We anchor before sundown and enjoy this beautiful place.  What makes it so special is that it can only be reached by boat.  There is a small cantina on the beach and that’s about it.  The cruisers organize activities like walks on the beach, bocce, volleyball and dingy raft up pot lucks.  It is a blast to meet everyone as well. 

Tuesday is a beach day and we head in after lunch and a nap.  There is small gathering and we play some spirited bocce as well as Frisbee golf.  Fun Fun!  Greg makes the shot of the month and wins the tournament. 

We head north and arrive in Puerto Vallarta the next day.  My favorite stop, Yelapa, is ahead and we grab a mooring ball at this lovely spot.  We are surrounded by large mountains on either side of the bay.  We are at the mouth of an ancient river valley.  Palapa restaurants line the bay we sit down for lunch and a cold one.  Sean decides he has to take in a parasail around the bay.  We have a nice game of bocce and call it a day.  We head back to the boat for dinner and rest.

Off to La Cruz the next day and we grab a slip as we need to take care of check in, fuel, provision and water.  Carl checks out on Sunday and heads to town as we will depart on Monday.  We finish up the details and after a quick visit from a cruising friend Shane, we depart for Punta Mita.  This will allow a quick exit of the bay on Tuesday.  We are now headed north towards Mazatlan with and over night in Chamala.

Chamala is as beautiful as advertised.  We head in for some lunch and check out the beach.  We sail for the next couple days to Mazatlan.  We had a shackle break on the jib but we were able to fix it once we reached Mazatlan.  We highly recommend El Cid in Maztown as it is attached to a beautiful hotel on the water.  We depart later today and will head across the Sea of Cortez to San Jose del Cabo.  About 200 mile to arrive on Monday morning.  We are heading north and back to the SF Bay Area.

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Hola from Ztown!!

We have landed in Zihuantanejo, our southern most destination. We departed Yelapa and made our way to some of Mexico’s finest anchorages. Pariso and Careyes were spectacular and we had them to ourselves. Then came the most popular anchorage on our voyage. Tenicatita was special indeed. It is a beautiful bay and beach with one cantina on the beach. The only way to get there is by boat. We met a bunch of cruisers and had some beach fun. We watched the Super Bowl in La Manzanilla and that was a blast. Next day we departed for Las Hadas. Beautiful anchorage next the hotel where 10 was filmed way back when. 40 years at that. Next it was a run down the coast 180 miles to Ztown. We arrived on Wednesday the 13th. Nice little town nestled in the hills and a beautiful bay.  Over the next 3 weeks we have 8 visitors hanging out with us. The last week is the International Gypsy Guitarfest. Michael my bro in law will be here for that. Boat and crew are doing great. More updates soon!