Dave is the Man!!!

Air temp: 70 degrees
Humidity: 71% Barometer: 1024 mb and steady
Speed: 4 knots Course: 330 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 105 miles
Point of Sail: Stbd. Close reach, but being set down by the current and seas, causing are actual course off the wind to be around 60-70 degrees. I know it’s pathetic.
Wind speed: North at 8 knots
Swells: Northeast at 4-6 ft.
Noon Latitude: 40 deg 24′ N (Same latitude as Eureka Ca, but 1500 miles west of it) Noon Longitude: 154 deg 20′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0
Breakfast today: Oatmeal
Lunch today: Everything in site
Dinner tonight: Spaghetti with Dave’s awesome red sauce(shh….it comes in a box)

Still heading north. Well, more like northwest. Nothing new to report. I have been reading and watching TV for most of the day. It was blustery in the early morning and afternoon forcing me to reef down at 0200 this morning. Around 1400 the wind and seas died down and the sun came out. We are once again with full sail up. I hope the westerlies are up north when I get there. The weatherfax and gribs are not giving me much hope.

Still, all is well. The electrical demands are being met by the wind and solar. The watermaker is functioning fine with the exception of a small leak I can’t repair out here. We also have plenty of food on board. So, we are not in any particular rush.

I have been using my PA system quite a bit out here. I love startling the birds with it when they land onboard in an attempt to poop on me. It is weird to see anything but flying fish out here. On the way to Hawaii, I didn’t see any birds until the day before arrival. Earlier today, a bird landed on the port spreader almost on top of the P.A.(public address) speaker. I promptly picked up the P.A. mic while looking up through the hatch and yelled, “HEEEEYYYYYHHHHHEEEEEYYYYY!!!!” If the trail of poo he left was any sign of how much I startled him, then he was very, very startled.

-CAPT

Day #3: Rogue Waves Do Exist!!!

Air temp: 80 degrees
Humidity: 72% Barometer: 1018 mb and steady
Speed: 5-6 knots Course: 350 degrees magnetic
Distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 115 miles
Point of Sail: Beam reach
Wind speed: Northeast at 10-12 knots
Swells: East at 3-4 ft.
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 5 Squid – 0

So, the day started as usual, coffee and sail changes in the morning. Around 10am, after making a sail adjustment, I had just descended the companionway stairs when the boat suddenly rolled violently to starboard. Off I went into the air. Now, this isn’t uncommon. Usually I spin around in the air and land on my backside on the starboard settee in a sitting position with my foot wedged against the computer table’s base. And, this is just what I did. What comes up, must come down. What rolls to starboard, must roll to port. This must have been a very large wave as I could feel the boat skid down the trough as it rolled the opposite direction to port. I held on with everything I had, but off I went again. Hands first into the Superman pose. Lucky for me, my face acted as padding as I slammed against the port galley bulkhead. Good news is, the bruise on my forehead might be an improvement. Surprisingly, I didn’t see the wave before I came down the companionway. I must not have been paying attention because it must have been huge. Lessoned learned; pay more attention. It’s easy to be lulled into a sense of complacency out here.

Camanoe and I are still taking it slow and easy as you can tell from our miles made good in the last 24 hours. Comfort is more important then speed. Unfortunately, we heard on the net last night from a boat about 600 miles north of me that there is a 20 foot section of dock floating around up there. Tsunami debris. Apparently they sailed right past it. This is another good reason to take it slow. If I’m slowly cruising along, riding up and over the swells slowly, I might have a fighting chance if I hit debris. But, if I’m crashing through and over the water, flying over the swells and come down full force on top of a piece of debris at seven knots, that’s it. Slow and easy it is!

All in all it has been a fantastic day. The sun is out, I feel great, and the ocean is beautiful out here.

-CAPT

Sailing with Rats = A Shitty Time

Life is funny.  While in Mexico we were worried about accumulating wild creatures, rats, mice, and cockroaches aboard Camanoe. There wasn’t much we could do to keep out the wildlife except keep Camanoe clean and inspect/clean all fruits, vegetables and foods. Not only did we not have any problems on board, we never saw any indication of potential problems, such as bugs and roach eggs on any oncoming food. This being said, I was very surprised one morning here in Hawaii when I woke in the morning to find various fruits and foods in the cabin nibbled on by what appeared to be a four legged rodent, most of them only 2-3 feet from my pillow. We had collected this fourth member of the crew after less than a week while med-moored to a concrete dock in Radio Bay, Hilo. Potential rodent problems crossed my mind when first tying up, but I quickly dismissed them after naively thinking, “This is isn’t Mexico!”  Besides, I wanted shore power!

My parents and I had a perfect weather window to round the north part of the island, so I hastily went into town and purchased several sticky traps. I underestimated “Monty’s” (the rat) size. I figured he was probably only 3-4 inches overall. I’m not so smart!  We set the sticky traps out around the cabin. Sticky traps are humane traps. When the mouse/rat walks through the traps, their feet stick  to them. Then you can relocate them off of the boat. The first night Monty stepped in one, only three feet from my pillow. I heard him, but when I turned on the light he had already dragged the trap back to his hole between the mast and the floorboards and squeezed through. He had one paw stuck in the trap. So he was stuck momentarily with his hand in the air on the trap, but his body in the hole. Then he was gone. No more Monty, and no chance of him stepping in the traps again. He was smart!  For the next two nights, while we harbor-hopped to Kona where they have an Ace Hardware, I didn’t sleep much. Every half hour I would vaguely see him running around the cabin, hopping up on the table, behind the walls, eating tupperware, eating various food items and boat hardware, including wiring.  Of course he left turds everywhere as a calling card. I went so far as to mix boric acid with chicken broth as a makeshift rat killer. No luck.

Either way, we had a great sail around the island; Hawaii is truly beautiful. After arriving in Kona, Mom and I walked the three miles to Ace Hardware and purchased over $100 worth of rat traps, poison, huge sticky traps, and an electronic rat zapper. It was time for Monty to go!  By then I had cleaned out all the cupboards and isolated the food so he couldn’t reach it. He was hungry and desperate.  I was having visions of an infestation, chewed wiring and hoses. After all, he actually ate my Tupperware.  Monty was a rat! That night, the boat looked like a war zone: sticky traps, huge, spring-loaded traps, Rat Poison, and a fifty dollar electronic rat zapper.

Not ten minutes after shutting off the lights I heard a large snap in the starboard cupboard, followed by a few seconds of thrashing and wriggling by Monty, then silence. Monty’s back was broken. The spring trap got him in ten minutes. No mess. No dealing with a live, biting rat on a sticky trap. No dead rat from posion. Screw humane, screw posion, it’s all about traps. Monty was huge!  At least 15 inches overall, including tail, and about two lbs. He was not attractive, with large teeth and large claws. Monty and I

Living in a small area is tough enough, let alone knowing every inch of the boat, table, counter and sink, has been dirtied by a rat, who by the way, pees and poops as he scurries along. In short, Death to Rats!!!!

 

-CAPT

The Mexican Navy is No Longer Searching For Me!

Air temp: 63 degrees
Humidity: 80% Barometer: 1008 mb
Speed: 3-4 knots Course: 240 degrees magnetic
Distance Left to Hawaii: 2526 miles
Point of Sail: Close Hauled Stbd tack pointed south of Hawaii
Wind speed: West 20-25 knots
Swells: From the west 8-12 ft

Finally enroute to Hawaii. For the last time! Just cleared out of Cabo San Lucas. Cruising along with a double-reefed main and a storm sail. No doubt, the winds will calm down significantly once I get past the cape a few miles.

I have no doubt everybody reading this blog was confused as to my last post. Some of you were thinking “WTF – you left for Hawaii five days ago, what do you mean you’re going to get a Zarpe (Mexico Clearance Papers) in Cabo?” Well, the truth is, the Port Captain in Nuevo Vallarta was a stickler for paperwork. After a brief visit with him and Velma (who did not resemble my lifelong friend from my favorite show at all), the lady at the Nuevo Vallarta book store who does all the gringo boat paperwork, visa’s, TIPs, etc… made it clear I was going to have a problem clearing out due to my lack of a TIP. A T.I.P. – Temporary Import Permit – is a 10 year permit for your imported boat or vehicle in Mexico. No one could tell us upon checking into Mexico if this was something we actually, really needed. We were told by some we should obtain one if we were going to be there for more then six months. We were also told no one really cares. Those who have them said they have never been asked for it. A few cruisers who were asked for it when checking out of the country said they had to buy one on the spot for $300 pesos ($25 American. No big deal). None of this was the case in Nuevo Vallarta. At least not with the Port Captain I was working with. Of course, that’s Mexico. Every situation is different with every person.

It was made clear to me the lack of having a TIP was going to be a problem in Nuevo Vallarta, as they won’t issue me one on the spot and then I would be on Customs’ and Immigrations’ Radar for not having one. Thus, I might have to stay there and go through the process of obtaining one, which can take a while in Nuevo Vallarta. Velma and the Port Captain made it clear; it would be best to go north to Mazatlan 160 miles and east 100 miles (wrong direction for Hawaii) and check out there. Apparently, Mazatlan will give you a TIP on the spot. This advice took me by surprise. So, of course, I thanked the Port Captain, checked out of Nuevo Vallarta with the Port Captain with exit papers to go to Mazatlan. The Port Captain made a point to stress the importance of checking out of the country and obtaining a TIP. I was now on his radar. Darn. I had every intention of blowing off Mexico and their clearance papers and going straight to Hawaii. What are they going to do in Hawaii? I’m a citizen; they won’t kick me out. I assumed they would search the boat extra thoroughly for contraband because I avoided customs and immigration in Mexico. All I had to do was sail into international waters and what could Mexico do? Unfortunately, Mexico’s international waters extend pretty far west at this latitude thanks to a group of islands 300 miles due west of Nuevo Vallarta, mainly Isla Revillagigedo and Isla Socorro. These islands, unfortunately for me, have a Mexican Navy Base and are known for confiscating vessels who fish in their waters illegally. No matter, I would sail north of them by 50-100 miles and be clear. 200 miles west of Nuevo Vallarta and 75 miles north of these islands I heard what I had been keeping an ear out for on the VHF. It was around 3 am. My Spanish is adequate, but my understanding of it is fairly good. Loosely translated, I heard a radio call informing the Mexican Navy to keep an eye out, if not perform a light search for, a ” Yachtista sail nombre Camanoe ” (Sailboat named Camanoe). I was assumed to be heading for the general vicinity of San Benedicto, which is one of the islands between Hawaii and the mainland. With 36 mile wide radar, I don’t think the Mexican Navy would have had a difficult time finding me. Damn, the Port Captain must have contacted the Mazatlan Port Captain checking up on me. At that point, Camanoe and I tacked over onto the other tack straight for Cabo San Lucas 150 miles north. A little out of my way, but better than a huge fine. As it was made clear to me by Velma, that’s what would happen. It would have been a great sail, except there was a tropical cyclone which was dying out above Cabo. Which meant I had some very strong wind and large seas. In the end, nothing broke, Camanoe did excellent, all the way down to a double reefed main and tiny storm staysail. However, sadly, I lost my spinnaker. I will say it again. I lost my spinnaker. I was in disbelief for a good five minutes.

The spinnaker was securely tied on deck where I always keep it. Thinking back, Camanoe was hit by one particular wave which completely engulfed the boat and even put a fair amount of water in cockpit. Which really means something as Camanoe has a center cockpit. In hindsight, that might have been the wave which freed the spinnaker from the deck. All that was left of it were a few pieces of the bag and the lines I had tied over the top of the bag as an extra precaution. This will be at least a $3500 replacement. Especially, when you include an ATN spinnaker sock, spinnaker sheets, bag, and an ATN tacker. New rule: If I’m not using it, it goes down below! Unfortunately, this is really going to slow down my trip to Hawaii. Especially in light winds. But, If I don’t go now, I will never go. I loaded up extra fuel in Cabo and will have to motor in the light stuff in search of wind. There is a lot of food on board and unlimited water thanks to a watermaker and backup hand-pump watermaker.

Cabo; what a trip. I pulled in, grabbed a slip, which only cost me $62 for two nights, hired an agent to clear me out and obtain a Zarpe for me. The agent assured me Cabo wouldn’t care if I had a T.I.P. or not. All he needed from me was a passport, visa and crew list. Later that day my paperwork was in hand. I washed the boat, topped off fuel and obtained a few supplies. The agent cost me $80, but saved me a day of marina fees and riding buses. The next morning I would be off to Hawaii.

In total, I had 93 pesos ($7 USD) in change I had to get rid of that night before I left. Deep into the local part of town, about a one mile walk inland, I found a local taco restaurant where I gorged on tacos and beer for 86 pesos. Not as cheap as ‘Tacos in the Backyard’ in La Cruz, but in Cabo that’s pretty good. So what do you do with 9 pesos? Less then a buck. In the Tienda (little corner store) across the street from the taco joint I placed my 9 pesos on the counter in front of the lady and said, “Mas cerveza por favor, yo tengo nuevo pesos” (“More beer please, I have nine pesos”). This didn’t phase her for a second. She pointed to the cooler with the cheapest beer and said, “Uno” (one). It was a brand I’d never heard of before or care to give recognition to. It was crap. But it was 9 pesos, so I departed quickly with my prize and cruised around Cabo for awhile walking through the markets and tourist shops. All in all, a good farewell to Cabo.

-CAPT

Chacala Charm

Little side note to the Chacala post.  We couldn’t help but take a picture of one of the signs that lines the trail from the anchorage to the beach.  It’s completely random and we can’t figure out if there was a problem with people on the trail or if they were climbing the chain-link fence to do their…ahem…business.

 

_Chacala 092

Yep…it says what you think it says.

_Chacala 089

Monterey to Carmel to San Simeon

(Sept 19) After a couple of days in Monterey to get the engine running properly again, we thought we’d head directly to San Simeon, but the distance to travel (80 nautical miles (NM))meant either we leave the night before and sail through the night or leave in the morning and definitely enter the harbor after dark.  Neither option sounded very appealing to me, so the Capt agreed to do a short hop over to the Carmel/Pebble Beach anchorage only 13NM so we could make a dent in the trip and have a rest before the long jaunt to San Simeon.

We arrived in Carmel just before 4pm, just in time for the fog to roll in.  As the Capt took a few minutes to set the anchor and I snapped some pics of the Pebble Beach Golf Course and surrounding estates from the cockpit, the fog not only rolled in, it completely blanketed the anchorage and the cliffside.  We were very glad to have gotten in before the pea soup.

We decided to row to shore and it didn’t take log before Camanoe completely disappeared in the mist.  We found a small path up to the golf course and wandered around the fifth tee before heading back to the boat before we lost all light.  One of the coolest moments so far was on our dinghy ride back to the boat; a very curious harbor seal followed closely behind us from the shore back to Camanoe.  Usually we’ll see the seals (or sea lions or sea otters) from afar and they’ll duck into the water as we row past, but this little guy was practically popping up underneath my seat.  I would have taken a picture of him but I hate using it in the dinghy since we’re so close to water and the camera is so new and pretty.

Pictures to come of Camanoe in the fog and a cool shot of a faint rainbow over the boat as we rowed away.

At first light the next day (Sept 20) we were motoring out of Carmel Bay and into the mist towards San Simeon.  We assumed the fog would lift with the sun and as the winds picked up later in the morning, but we were wrong on both accounts.  The fog only got worse throughout the day and the winds never amounted to much (by the way, the NOAA weather service mariners listen to in order to know sailing conditions has been wrong about 95% of the time…that’s not annoying or anything).  So our plan to avoid coming into San Simeon at night was completely busted.  We motored the entire 70 NMs.  But lets look on the bright side: I was NOT seasick on this leg. Yay.  Also, the chart plotter and depth sounder AND engine did NOT break down. Yay.

But regardless, this was not a fun leg.  Although we’d had no actual sunshine, there had been some light throughout the day and once that dropped around 7:30pm, there was nothing we could do but turn on our running lights (red & green lights on the bow, white light on our stern) and keep the radar on in case another ship crossed in our way.

Dave made us some hot chocolate and took our blow horn and our hand held radio up to the bow and stood watch through the fog.  Not only were we looking out for other ships and the channel bouys leading us into San Simeon, but we also had to watch for crab pots and kelp beds that litter this area of the Pacific (really bad to run either of those over while the engine is going).  Dave would radio to me any time he saw something ahead (granted he could only see about 15 feet in front of us).  He also just kept checking in on our progress as I manned the chart plotter at the helm.  I kept us on course and pretty much sang every song I know to keep myself from going crazy.

After two hours of this hell we finally saw the light from the San Simeon bouy.  We steered into the anchorage as best we could based on where the bouy was and what the chart plotter showed but in the morning we realized we had anchored on the wrong side of the San Simeon pier and about a 1/2 mile away from the anchorage!  We figured being on the the wrong side of the pier was why we’d had such a rollie night, but we stayed an extra day to rest and explore the area and even on the correct side of the anchorage we had a bad night of rolling and rocking and things falling all over the place inside the cabin at 2am.  We spoke with some neighbors the next morning and they agreed that San Simeon has the worst anchorage.  We were very glad to sail away.

See videos of these two legs HERE and HERE

-SME

Half Moon Bay to Monterey

We set out for Monterey on Friday Sept 16 knowing that Santa Cruz was a back-up anchor point should we feel like we needed to stop.  Thanks to a last-minute prescription for the seasickness patch (I took a taxi into town late Thursday evening to pick up the patch at CVS), I was feeling less nervous about our second ocean sail.  I actually made it for about an hour down the coast before I started to feel…not nauseous, but not well either. So I did what I always do, I took a nap.  After a couple of hours of napping in the cockpit, I eventually did lose my breakfast (sorry to be gross, but ya’ll need to know the truth!) and then went downstairs to sleep in the warmth of the salon.

I could hear Dave banging around in the cockpit and running up on deck to switch out sails.  Every once in a while when I’d hear a loud crash of the boom or sometimes when it seemed a little too quiet, I’d yell up to see if he was ok (he tethers himself in, but I’m still worried that he’ll fly overboard and I won’t know it).  He kept replying that he was having fun and learning so much.  Silly Capt.

Capt’s turn:

Once we left Half Moon Bay we had to motor out the first few miles to clear the breakers.  We had a chance to test our new 130 Genoa.  The winds were light, about 10 kts out of the west.  After about an hour the winds reduced to about 5 kts.  I motored for about 20 minutes, which seemed to increase our apparent wind enough that I could roll out the Genny and shut the engine down and maintain enough momentum to sail.

An hour later the wind died completely.  We bobbed around for a little bit until a faint breeze came out of the northwest.  For the first time in two years I had the opportunity to fly the A-symmetrical Spinnaker.  We were making about 5 kts in 6 to 7 kts of breeze.  At that point we were sailing with the below deck auto pilot because I don’t trust Windy (monitor wind vane) enough yet to use with the spinnaker. 

Several hours later, about 15 miles above Santa Cruz, the wind tripled in strength and before I knew it the spinnaker was forcing the rail of the boat down to the water.  That’s what I get for leaving to check email in the cabin.  I immediately slacked off and dropped the spinnaker.  This is where it got fun.

At this point we were down to a double reef in the mainsail and no head sail (jib).  I’m sure it was just an afternoon breeze but it continued to build with 10 ft seas,  We were making 7 kts, dead down wind with just the double reefed main.  For Camanoe, that’s what we call, Hauling Ass.  At that point, Windy was steering the boat.  We were making such good time, we passed Santa Cruz and decided to keep going towards Monterey.

One hour later, the breeze died and we were bobbing around once again.  Not wanting to increase SME’s seasickness, I fired up the motor.  But after a couple of seconds of the engine being on I realized no cooling water was coming from the engine exhaust (BAD). So I shut it down, rolled out the genoa and trimmed the sails to sail with Windy towards Monterey while I trouble-shooted the engine. 

With no luck with the engine and daylight disappearing fast, we decided to fly the spinnaker after a faint breeze promised a quick ride into Monterey. Stephanie, at this point decided to push on through to the other side of her seasickness to take the helm. We began flying towards Monterey Harbor at 6-8 kts. Which, again, is crazy fast for an overloaded boat, that some would consider more of a motorsailor. Of course, at this point, the depth sounder started acting up, the chart plotter decided to go on vacation,  the engine was taking a premature siesta, and the daylight was all but gone with only a hint of moonlight. AWESOME! 

After an hour of spinnaker flying the wind picked up and we decided to drop the spinnaker for safety reasons. With a partially furled headsail and a double reef in the main we were making a comfortable 5-6 knots towards Monterey.

An hour later we were trying to distinguish the navigational buoys from the stoplights of Monterey. More then once we altered course for what we thought was a red buoy which turned out to be a green light 30 seconds later.  Fortunately, as we approached the harbor, the wind decided to relax a little and we coasted into the anchorage greeted by the sounds of a thousand barking sea lions.

At 11pm, after 6 hours of sailing, we dropped the hook and crawled into bed.  We are planning to troubleshoot the engine and other awesome malfunctioning navigation equipment after a good nights’ rest.