Dec 15, 2011

One Month of Sailing, Crossing 30' Latitude and Lobsters for Batteries

You can't study the darkness by flooding it with light.
Edward Abbey 

Someone has a sense of humor
Before leaving the bay, heavy dew covered everything, a great opportunity to wash away all the sand from the Santa Ana winds and the salt from the last sail. Although I know it won’t last long it is satisfying to give Déjàlà a clean boost before her next leg.

Note: Looking back to Turtle Bay (since this bit is written two weeks later while in Cabo San Lucas) it overall was a nice place to anchor for a while since it hasn’t been spoiled by tourism like Cabo. It was a quiet, peaceful and rather clean anchorage where we were surrounded by dolphins visiting daily. We could tell it was a local pod of dolphins as one of them (a large male) sounded like he had a bad case of cold each time he blew. We recognized him instantly from that particular sound…

Left anchor without motoring around 8:30am. Out of the bay, the ocean was just like a washing machine, not the favorite of most sailors, being tossed around from all sides, swells from two different directions topped with wind waves. It took several hours of sailing and reaching away from land to finally get calmer waters without the 30 degree heeling (from the inclinometer also called the scare-o-meter by some)…. Later on while listening to the weather reports on the SSB we hear of 100 miles/hour winds in LA on 12/2 so we don’t feel so bad about our 18 knot winds coming out of Turtle Bay.

Cloudy skies give the distant ocean an opaque metallic hue somewhat reminiscent of dancing liquid mercury while nearby on starboard the ocean is deep blue and on port tinged with brownish kelp-like color. The swells are very far apart and deep enough that when we hit the trough between waves the container ship to our right and the cruise ship to our left that are both probably 100 feet tall disappear from view.

First night was calmer but our instruments played tricks on us. They were indicating winds that weren’t there and from the wrong direction. Instead of trusting ourselves however, we kept trying to cater the sails to what the instruments were saying and wondering why nothing worked. Precious time and nervous energy was spent before realizing our error. Restarted the instruments, recovered our wits realizing we hadn’t gone mad (yet) and once the reboot was completed things went much better. Lesson learned: trust our guts more…

Seems like we are sailing near a major large vessel route; have seen lots of activity. Eventually had to heave-to for a cruise ship heading directly for us - always kept on our toes!

As much as we may have ‘complained’ about seas too calmed and bobbing around instead of advancing and feeling like you are getting somewhere, we came to realize, by listening to many of the other sailors who mostly motor-sail that this ‘sitting around quietly’ allowed us to see/hear many whales that others didn’t. The last sighting was of a whale where the spout had to be at least 30 feet away from its nose/snout… The largest I’ve ever seen. Another crossed our stern just as we were cresting a swell near the entrance of the bay Santa Maria.

Mike has a touch of “la tourista” or a touch of sea sickness, not sure which. After a couple of days he’s feeling better but his energy was a little low so we took it a bit easier on the way to Santa Maria Bay.

Time zone has changed; we are now one hour earlier than California, heading more and more easterly.

Mike is having slight doubts about having gone all electric. It has certainly tested our patience to say the least, especially in really calm seas or when approaching land in not the best of conditions for easy anchoring. BUT it has forced us to learn more about sailing than anyone who can easily convert back to motoring (of whatever type). We have to say however that we now better understand why so many people motor-sail. We recognize also that this 1,000 mile leg from LA to Cabo was probably not the best place to learn/test-out so many new things on this sailboat (Hydrovane, water generator, whisker pole, etc).

Although we have overall sailed slower we seem to often catch up with several of the same sailing vessels due to some of them having to wait for parts and/or major repairs (new auto pilot, new props, no transmission, loose rudder housing, manifold fittings, motor no longer running, run ins with shrimp boat taking away anchor and adding hole under the waterline, etc). We don’t feel so bad about the fewer repairs we’ve had to make.

Wave patterns at the beach
Another squid on the deck and this time also a flying fish (too small to eat however)…

Biggest winds encountered to date during this trip, around middle of the night prior to arriving at Bahia Santa Maria = 25 knots. Had to double reef the main and bring the jib 2/3 of the way in. With confused seas it was rather rocky and we heeled to about 45 degrees a few times. Sailing vessels already in the bay (only 3 of them) say it is flat as a pancake there, music to our ears. What they didn’t know was that even though it was calm at anchor, 18 knot winds were blowing up to 2 miles before the anchorage area making reaching it tiring after 70+ hours of sailing.

So much time spent quiet and contemplative at sea (even during the rocky times), especially during the night watches that it becomes almost difficult to shift gears and reconnect back to ‘noises” of internet, radio, people when anchored/docked (our own little world becomes more and more so I guess).

Some fishermen are trying to barter a lobster for candies for kids. Unfortunately this is not an item we carry (added to our grocery list for next time maybe?). We pay them with a few US dollars instead – they seem happy.

Looks like we may be here for a few days as the winds are really picking up until Thursday.

Total mileage for this portion of the trip: 301.3nm, 931nm total.

Mike’s sourdough bread smells pretty darn good – time to be off line for a while…

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