[pin 4320] We find ourselves sometimes doing stupid things and decided to poke fun at ourselves by including some in the blog. So far, they haven?t resulted in anything too bad and are only slightly funny when looking back. Near-Darwin Act #1?The other day after we departed from La Paz, I noticed the knot log was reading 0. The knot log is a mechanical paddle device located on the outside of the hull below the water line. It spins as the boat moves and gets converted to a digital signal that?s displayed on a Simrad gauge. Earlier on the trip when the log was reading 0, I dove under the boat and cleaned some barnacles off the paddle to fix it. After talking with another cruiser, I learned it can be done from inside the boat by removing the device, which is located in the bilge. So while we were underway, I decided to remove and clean it. After I removed a pin, I unscrewed a cap ring that I shouldn?t have, and pulled out the paddle device. A joker valve (one-way valve) protects water from coming in when the paddle is removed, but since I unscrewed the cap ring, the joker valve popped out. At that point I could see bright light and a 2-foot geyser of water was coming into the boat (Jacintha thought it to be quite funny). No problem I thought, I can cover the 2-inch diameter hole with my palm and put things back together. Unfortunately, the joker valve got washed away somewhere inside the bilge. I at least stopped the water from coming in, but couldn?t move around to look for the part, so I called Karen who was at the helm. After we found the part, inserting it back into the hole with a heavy stream of water shooting up was a challenge. The bilge pumps did their thing and we finally got everything put back together. Once the joker valve was back in place with the screw cap holding it, I was able to clean the paddle and when all was put back together, the knot log worked again. In hindsight, I should have practiced this last summer when the boat was hauled out, then I would have seen how all the parts work and would not have unscrewed the cap ring. But then I wouldn?t get Near-Darwin Award #1. Near-Darwin Act #2?We were at a boat store in La Paz looking for a gas can spout to replace the one that came with the can. The spout has a special spring-loaded mechanism that is activated when pouring the gas by pushing the spout against a tank or whatever it?s being poured into. So at the boat store I was trying to figure out how the mechanism worked by blowing air into it without pushing the spring-loaded mechanism, then by pushing it. Unfortunately for my lips, I let go of the mechanism while blowing into it and my lips were now caught in a trap-like device. Five days later and I?m still reminded of this near-Darwin act every time I drink a Margarita with a salted rim!
La Paz (which translates to “The Peace”) is a town know for its casual, easy-paced and peaceful lifestyle. Within a 30-mile radius, there are lots of anchorages in warm turquoise water. There are also national park islands of Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida, both a short day-sail north of La Paz.
We anchored in the large bay and used the dinghy every day to get to marinas or shoreline beaches. Some land-based activities we accomplished include re-provisioning at the Mega store, watching a colorful parade celebrating Mexico’s Independence, attending a cruiser’s dinner party with other Baja Ha Ha boaters, exploring the town’s coffee houses, restaurants, farmer’s markets, and finding a place to fix my iPhone (bad battery). Most places had good wifi that allowed us to update the blog with photos. We’re learning as we go and getting better with money exchanging and communicating with locals, who we find to be very pleasant.
Highlights in La Paz—the mariachi band performance at the cruiser’s party, the colorful parade celebrating Mexico’s independence, dinners with friends, coffee houses, sleep-overs and playdates for Jacintha, warm sunny days.
Energy—since departing San Diego almost a month ago, we have been plugged into shore power for just 2 days (both in Cabo). There are 3 ways to charge the battery bank when not plugged in—the engine driven alternator, a gas powered generator, and solar panels. Even though we have 500 watts of solar panels and every day is sunny, we have been having trouble keeping the batteries fully charged while at anchor. Our biggest power hog is the refrigeration system—mainly the freezer. Sometimes the freezer cycles for over 90 minutes, drawing 36 amps, resulting in a 54 Ahr (amp-hour) deficit. With the freezer cycling 5 times per day, this removes over 250 Ahrs from the house bank per day. In contrast, the refrigerator runs for only 20 minutes and cycles about 4 times per day. Our house battery bank is 670 Ahrs and it’s recommended to not go below 50% discharge, or -335Ahrs. With the solar panels sourcing around 100-150 Ahrs per day, it’s obviously a losing battle keeping the bank above 50% without running the engine or generator (we borrowed a Honda 2000 generator from Kevin on Andante). Since our goal is to be as green as possible, running the generator for long periods of time to keep the batteries charged is not our ideal solution. So I decided to run the freezer in a manual mode and cycle it 2 or 3 times per day for only 30-45 minutes per cycle. This has been working well so far and keeps things in the bottom 2/3 of the freezer frozen solid and the top 1/3 is perfect for keeping a few bottles of beer frosty-cold. The second biggest power user is the watermaker, but we only run it when we are under motor so it doesn’t subtract Ahrs from the house battery bank.
Auto Pilot—during a 2-day passage from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria, our electric auto pilot, which we named Otto, failed to keep us on course with the heavy swell and high wind. The result was 45 hours of hand steering, which gets very tiring for 2 people on overnight passages. When leaving Bahia Santa Maria, I re-calibrated the system. This takes the boat through a series of “S” turns and adjusts some settings that take into account the full keel and the weight of the boat. After the calibration finished, I noticed the settings were different and Otto has been working flawlessly ever since! I believe what happened was just before leaving Seattle, I reset the auto pilot settings to a default state while I was calibrating the auto pilot electronic compass.
Wind Vane—our mechanical wind vane, an older Fleming model we named Ian, has proven to be a challenging crew member. His purpose is to steer the boat on a course that is constant with respect to the wind. He will be critical on the long crossing from Mexico to French Polynesia to give the human crew a break from the helm, and also to keep from using Otto, who consumes amp-hours. We tried Ian a few times on the trip from Seattle to San Francisco, but heavy weather and crew fatigue made it difficult. The key to making a wind vane work is to have a well-balanced boat (ie sail trim) before engaging it. Karen’s persistence in taming Ian is starting to pay off as we’ve had some success. Crossing the Sea of Cortez in a few weeks should provide us with a good opportunity to see how well Ian does.
Just 2 day-sails from Cabo, we found a little bit of paradise in Bahia de las Muertos. We anchored with around 10 other boats in warm, crystal clear water where you can watch your anchor drop to the sandy bottom 30’ below. This is a fairly remote area of the Baha peninsula and has just 1 restaurant and a small resort. The snorkeling was great, the food fantastic, and we were among friends from the Baja Ha Ha rally (“kid” boats as well as boats from Seattle), so we decided to spend some extra days since we were in no hurry to go anywhere. The white-sand beach with big dunes provided an afternoon of relaxation and fun for the kids.
Fishing—So far we haven’t had too much luck fishing. Aside from an Albacore Tuna off Oregon, a Striped Bass off Catalina Island, a Skipjack Tuna in Mexico, and a Needle Fish that happened to land on deck, fishing has been a challenging experience. Determined to change our luck, I rigged up 2 more hand lines so that I towed 3 lines–2 with squid lures and 1 with a cedar plug, and then even brought out a rod and reel with another lure. We trolled with this setup from Cabo to Bahia Friars, a 45 mile sail. When we pulled into the small bay at night, it was very dark and was already packed full of boats. Our minds were occupied with figuring out where to anchor, a big challenge at night, and we forgot to bring in the fishing lines. As I was backing down on the anchor with 100’ chain out, one of the fishing hand lines got fouled in the propeller! Since we were pretty sure we would hold for the night, I waited for morning to dive down and cut the line away from the shaft. I used the Hooka diving gear so it was actually fun (plus the water was 80 degrees)!
Compared to our last 2 ports coming down the Baja peninsula, Cabo seems like a big city with lots of tourists arriving by cruise ships. It’s also a big sports fishing town. We spent the first few days anchored out in the bay and used the dinghy to get to shore for the Baja Ha Ha beach party. We also snorkeled around the boat in 30’ of crystal clear water. I noticed some of the zincs were gone so I used the Hooka system (tankless diving) to dive down and replace them. It was only 5 months since I last replaced them but being in quite a few marinas and salt water shortens their life.
Formalities—Cabo is the first port of entry for immigration check-in. We spent about 4 hours walking from place to place—first the immigration office to hand in paperwork, then to a bank to exchange dollars for pesos, then to the port captain office for importing the boat, then to a bank to pay the fee, then back to the port captain to finalize the paperwork and show the receipt. Aside from finding the various offices and the long walks, everything went well. We could have paid an agent 750 pesos to do it but we figured we better get used to it since we’ll be checking into lots of countries over the next year. We celebrated the accomplishment with a nice lunch along the marina.
Hurricane Odile, which went through Cabo in September, was a powerful Category 3 hurricane–the largest ever to hit Cabo. The damage was evident everywhere we went, from the marina with quite a few damaged docks and boats, to hotels with missing windows and roof tiles, to banged up cars on the streets and damage to houses.
Highlights: Getting our first real shower in 2 weeks (we used our solar showers after salt water rinses). Finding some great Mexican restaurants. Enjoying 2-for-1 Margaritas. The Baja Ha Ha beach party. Finishing in 3rd place for the 750-mile Baja Ha Ha rally (all boats that finished were awarded 3rd place except for the 1st and 2nd place boats!!). Watching the Seahawks stomp on the Giants from a Cabo bar. Relaxing for a few days without any sailing.
Jacintha’s Blog: Beach Party at Bahia Santa Maria!!!!! I was going to a beach party in a dinghy. When we got there I found my friend and we jumped in small puddles along the beach, then we jumped in a puddle that had a crab in it! After that we found shells, pointy ones flat ones bumpy ones and even colorful ones! Then it was lunch time. I had some prawns, then my mom found a hermit crab and we found three more crabs! Then we let them go and found sand dollars and then we made a (crab sized ) maze and put a crab in it . It just ran into a dead end so we trapped it and we put water in it. Then we put a dead fish in it but it just pushed it away! Then it was time to go home. THE END!
The Baja Ha Ha is a 10 day rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. There were about 140 boats that completed the 750 mile ‘course’ to the Cape. The rally is sponsored by Latitude 38 magazine and this was the 21st year. While out at sea, boats keep in contact through twice-a-day nets on VHF and SSB radio to report positions. VHF was also used to report fish catch, wind and sea state, or just to say hello to a nearby boat at 3am. There were 2 stops along the way–a remote village in Bahia des Tortugas (Turtle Bay), and a quiet bay in Bahia Santa Maria. A fun beach party potluck was held at Turtle Bay with lots of fresh fish caught along the way adobe cc master collection for mac pouvez trouver sur cette page. At Bahia Santa Maria, they brought in a small band that played rock and roll during the party. Some cruisers relaxed on the beach while others hiked in the rocky hills. The comraderie of the fleet was amazing and we got to know the crew from other boats, especially “kid” boats. We also kept in contact with other Seattle boats including Mabrouka, Andante, Friday, Abby Normal (the same boats that left with the Cojo Ho Ho with us from Anacortes).
Here are some pictures we took along the way….
(This update is being done by SSB radio, so no pictures can be added until we get to Cabo San Lucas)
Apropos is currently anchored in Bahia Santa Maria, our 2nd stop along the Baja peninsula. The 1st stop was Turtle Bay, which was a 2-day sail from San Diego. It’s been a lot of fun with the Baja Ha Ha fleet–a beach party in Turtle Bay, trick or treating by dinghy to neighboring boats, paddle boarding, playing baseball with the locals, a party here in Santa Maria complete with a live band, and getting to know crew from some of the 140-boat Ha Ha fleet. The 1st leg to Turtle Bay was almost all motoring with very little wind but the 2nd leg was almost all sailing. Unfortunately our electric autopilot wasn’t working properly so we’ve been hand-steering during the 2nd leg https://advising.wisc.edu/facstaff/sites/all/libraries/d3/js/adobe-illustrator-cs6.html. We arrived into Bahia Santa Maria very tired at 5am, but had 2 full days to recover! The scenery here is amazing with a huge bay surrounded by some tall rocky peaks, mangroves, and sand dunes. I hiked up to the highest peak today which is at 2000′ and the view was fabulous (pics will follow when we find wifi in Cabo). Jacintha has been having fun playing on the beach with friends she has made and Karen has been relaxing on the beach (and helping other boaters with some minor medical issues).
We plan on an early 4am departure tomorrow morning for the 3rd leg of the Baja Ha Ha and will arrive in Cabo about 35 hours later.