Tuesday, May 05, 2020

15 Years of H2uhO!!

This is kind of a big deal.  There are not many bloggers that last a year!  They say a blogger's year is equal to a dog year so in this case we are turning 105!  Feels like it.  Other sailing bloggers that have been going this long include the Tillerman at Proper Course and the Horse's Mouth, Joe.  Congrats to them!  Heck, they gave me some motivation to get started.  What really inspired me was a couple accidents on the bay.  The most famous of the two was the Santana 22 that got caught at the south tower of the GGB.  Their boat got caught in a huge breaking wave and they were rescued but the boat was at the bottom.  It was all caught on film by a surf photo guy.  I thought, why not do a blog about people making mistakes on the water so we can learn from them.  Bonehead Moves on the Water was born.  The site has evolved over the years, but we still are running with the main theme.

To recognize this momentous occasion, here is a look back at our voyage to Mexico and back to SF on my Jeanneau 40.  We returned about a year ago and I have very fond memories of the adventure.  I was looking thru an old journal of mine from 1986 and the seeds of this journey were born over 30 years ago!


I grew up boating on the Chesapeake Bay with my family and always enjoyed our time on a small boat.  After college at UNLV, I moved west to the Bay Area and started windsurfing on the SF Bay.  I loved the freedom and challenge as well as the speed.  As I hit my mid 30’s, I stated a family and so my time on the water slowed down.  As my son turned 4, I purchased a small sailing dory of 16 feet.  I sailed in the lakes, sloughs and eventually the bay.  As I got more confidence, I moved up to a 30 foot boat that I owned for 17 years.  I started dreaming of the possibilities of where could a small boat take me?  In this case, just about everywhere in the bay and delta. 

About a year and a half ago, I purchased a sexy 40 foot Jeanneau with the intention of sailing to Mexico and back with a few friends.  The boat was in great shape but needed some upgrades, and new electronics.  I also purchased a new, larger jib for the light airs in the south. 

In September of  2018, we departed San Francisco for a 4,000 mile voyage deep into Mexico.  Our first week was amazing as we harbor hopped down the coast in beautiful sailing conditions.  With stops in Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and Monterey, we were living the sailing dream. 

Our first overnight run was from Monterey to Morro Bay, a distance of 90 miles.  We had 4 hour watches set up and my watch was from 2-6, am and pm.  At the age of 60, its important to have some down time and having 3 aboard gives you 8 hours off after your watch is complete.  Sleeping, eating, hanging out in the cockpit, reading or watching a movie was all part of our day and night on the water.  We made it down the coast without a hitch and arrived at sunrise.  We rested for a day and then took off mid morning for our most dangerous part of the adventure.  The rounding of Point Conception, the Cape Horn of California.  Many ships have met their fate here as the currents and waves of the north and south meet violently at times and many a sailor has perished here.  We had read many strategies about this stretch of ocean.  We chose the midnight run and it worked!  The wind was in the high teens and we were 10 miles off the Point.  We got slammed by one big wave but that was about it.  We arrived safely in Santa Barbara the next morning.

We had several sets of friends heading our way for 2 night trips to Santa Cruz Island, 20 miles to the west.  We experienced one of the trip highlights here, Painted Cave.  One of the largest sea caves in the world.  We kayaked in and even with a 120 foot high entrance, it got dark and scary quickly.  The noise the waves would make as they filled the air pockets of the cave was very eerie.  All of our guests got a chance to head in and they loved it.

We wandered our way to San Diego and finally entered Mexico in mid November.  Ensenada was our first port of entry and only 60 miles south of the US border.  We met with the customs folks and successfully checked into the country.  Breweries are very popular in this town and we visited several. 

In early December, we departed for our longest passage of the journey.  700 miles down the Baja peninsula to Cabo San Lucas.  Our hope was to complete the run in 8-10 days.  A sailboat can average 100-120 miles in a 24 hour period.  Our first stop was a small island called Cedros for fuel and an overnight rest.  We departed at daylight and made it to Cabo in 7 days.  We had great wind south of Cedros and sailed smartly over the last 250 miles.

After a quick flight home for the holidays, we were on our way to Mazatlan and the mainland of Mexico.  As we departed, the winds were up and thoughts of heading back to the harbor crossed my mind.  Instead, we cracked off a few degrees for a more comfortable ride.  We decide to skip Maz and head to Puerto Vallarta.  A longer sail of about 300 miles, but a much safer choice based on the wind conditions.  We had 3 weeks to explore this beautiful bay and have a few friends and my son visit us.  We sailed, toured the city and made new friends along the way.  My favorite anchorage was Yelapa.  A deep valley with rich tropical forests surrounding us, this is an exotic paradise. 

From PV, we headed to our southern most destination of Zihuantenejo another 300 miles to the south.  Some of the loveliest stops are along this coast.  Pariso, Cureyees, Tenicatita and Las Hadas were all amazing stopovers.  Our goal was attend a music fest in Ztown, so we continued south. 

Several sets of friends joined us here and we had a ton of fun taking them out to the islands and sailing on soft breezes in 80 degree temps.  It was sublime.  The last week of our stay here was the International Guitarfest.  We attended the first night and got a chance to hear all of the guitarists that would be performing during the rest of the week.  We feel in love with several and went back to see them over the course of the fest.  The concerts took place right on the beach and we had a table reserved and enjoyed the shows immensely. 

We departed on March 8th for San Francisco.  This would be the most difficult part of the trip.  They call this portion of the voyage, the Bash.  1800 miles into the wind and seas and the only logical option is to motor into it. Luckily, we have a very trusty Yanmar engine to get us uphill to our destination. 

On our way back, we revisited our favorite anchorages and found some new ones as well.  Our guide books were very helpful and helped us avoid any dangers.  We also had a GPS chart plotter that kept us safe and guided the way.  One of the great inventions over the last few years is AIS.  This feature allows you to see any ship or boat around you on the chart screen.  It will also tell you if you are in danger of colliding with said ship.  Great for our over night passages as the dark is really dark out on the ocean.

We eventually made to Cabo again after a fast sail across the Sea of Cortez.  The winds on the west coast come from the north.  Since we were sailing east to west, the winds were on our beam and we could set the auto pilot and enjoy the ride.  We did very little steering during the entire trip and let our auto pilot do all the heavy lifting.  She did an amazing job with only a few hiccups. 

Our next 1200 miles would be the hardest.  Winds of 30 or more knots on the nose, seas up to 14 feeet and an unforgiving, lonely coast.  We took off from Cabo expecting to motor the next 400 miles to the next fuel stop.  We made it to Turtle Bay and refueled and headed on our way to San Diego.  After a short stop there, we took off for Santa Barbara.  A large wind storm was headed our way with 40 knot winds.  We tucked in just before the winds hit and were “stuck” in SB for 4 days.  We made the most of it with wine tasting, bike rides and great meals out.

Our final leg was upon us.  After 5 weeks of motoring north, I was ready to get back home.  Once again, we had to round Pt. Conception, however, we hit it with low wind and waves and moved on to Monterey, 200 hundred miles north.  These were hard earned miles as it was cold and windy all the way up the coast.  

We harbor hopped up the coast again stopping in Monterey, Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay for quick overnights with departures at day break.  On April 17th, we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and back into our home waters.  The conditions were perfect with a flooding tide, light winds, and temps in the 70’s.  A rare day indeed on this windy bay we love.

The people of Mexico were very kind and helpful.  The crew was fantastic and made the trip.  The biggest hero was the boat!  She kept us safe and the mechanical side as well as the rigging were perfect.  I could not have asked for a greater 7 month voyage with awesome weather, great friends and family to share it with.  We love Mexico! (and California too!).  Thanks to my crewmates, Tex and Sean!!

We had over 25 friends and family join us during our voyage.  Thanks gang, for making our adventure so memorable.

 Somewhere near La Paz.



 San Francisco is near the top and Ztown is at the bottom.  We traveled about 4000 miles over 7 months.

Highlights of the voyage:

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!

Would I do this trip again?  A resounding no.  The bash home was against Mother Nature for 5 weeks.  30 knot winds and 15 foot seas were the norm.  The boat and crew took a beating and it was not fun.  I am so happy I did this trip on my boat, but the trip home was very uncomfortable.  However, the other 6 months were delightful!!  A bon voyage indeed!



 

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