Saturday, November 17, 2007


Estamos en Mexico! What a relief to have made it through Migracion, Capitan de Puerto, y Aduana, and then Migracion again, and then back to Capitan de Puerto for another set of stamps and a whole notebook full of offical looking papers that I don't quite know what to do with, that somehow allow us and Sula to spend as much time and money in this beautiful country as we want! We like Ensenada very much. We are having to use more of our Spanish than I imagined, the fish tacos are just as good as rumored (and cheap), and the next 1000 miles of deserted Baja coastline are looming to the south. The plan is to head for the Islas Todos Santos tomorrow to spend a few hours at anchor exploring around, as there is a famous surf break there that Ian is pumped to try. There is also a nice cove protected from swell on the east side of one of the small islands, and trails and various ruins to explore. The fishing is also rumored to get good in those parts, so we are excited to begin using our expensive and convoluted Mexican Fishing Permits. The Plan is to use what wind we can find, which is usually West 10kts in the afternoon, and dead most other times, to make our way south and conserve fuel, as there is no fuel until Bahia Tortuga, almost 300 miles to the south. We may stop in a few places such as Cabo San Quintin, or Isla Cedros, to look for surfing, fishing, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, anchoring opportunities. I can't believe this is actually happening! I've been reading about these places for so many years now, its very exciting to be on the verge of exploring them. It's a bit embarrassing, but I am at Starbucks now. Sorry. I know that's not very romantic. Its the nicest and biggest one I've ever seen, and the only place with WiFi that we've found, and seems to be to social lynchpin of the entire downtown area. Globalization! The inside this "cafe" looks like a nice generic ski cabin in Colorado, but for some reason it doesn't diminish the tough, gritty, perfectly Ensenada fisherman's bar we've found 4 blocks away.
Ian and I take some of his friends out for a Sunset Cruise to avoid San Diego anchoring police.
Our lifesaving salvaged beach cruiser, handed off to Ian's pal Annie.
ready to go!

Monday, November 12, 2007

North of the Border

We're still here in SD, wrapping up a few loose ends, slowly, and trying to figure out what we need to do before passing south of the border. We can't quite figure out what we need to get here that we can't get down there. There are many conflicting stories about what to bring, or what's plentiful on the other side. We'll just try to stock up as much as we can. San Diego is a little conflicting itself. The weather here is really nice, but still not quite warm enough. There are tons of young people, but not quite the scene that we appreciate. And the city has its defenses on high alert against any transient sailor that might end up liking the city a bit too much. We are now anchored in a sandy little cove off of mission bay that has a 72hr time limit. We are thinking about how to extend our stay in Mariner's Cove and one tactic we've come up with is to take a sunset cruise every night to avoid the harbor patrol when they do the evening check at 16:20. But we shouldn't stay here much longer, as mexico will hopefully be more,...... of everything.

I found a broken down pink beach cruiser in the bushes last night, and now that I've got it fixed up a bit, it's let me get around much easier. As I was "flintstoning" it to the bike shop this morning along the boardwalk in PB I was accosted by a nice young woman jogging at the same speed who said that her friend had a bike stolen recently that looked just like it, so I guess I may have to give it up before we take off. But at least I can get around in style and she might get her bike back.

I'll update before we drop behind the cactus curtain. I hope all y'all up north are staying warm or at least happy as winter approaches.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

San Diego

Sula is now happily tied to her berth at the Hyatt in Mission Bay. Slips are hard to find in this city. We scrubbed off 7 days of salt, and we are excited to be only 25 miles from Mexico. It was a very calm motor last night from Catalina. We had a few ships in the distance and brilliant phosporescene and the motor purred on perfectly. I'm not sure how long we'll stay here in town, as it doesnt' seem as if the city really wants us to stay, but we'll try to get as much done before we slip south of the border. We are changing out one crew member, Dan's friend Tommy will be sorely missed as his even dispostion, quiet confidence and great skills in the galley and on deck made him an excellent crew member. He also has a condo in town here that's empty at the moment, so that's another point in his favor. Joining the crew is my alaskan cousin Ian, fresh from his job navigating a cruise ship in Hawaii.

There was a problem with the link to Kevin's rescue video. I'll post the actual one below. Thanks DM. Kevin's rescue was on 10/26 so he got pushed off of the main screen into the archives. This should work.

Kevin, all crewmembers aboard Sula were thinking about your experience aboard Passing Wind last night as we motored through calms on the way down. We weren't so sorry to be motoring, and more appreciative to have a dry deck, and a gentle easy roll.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sobering News

I'm still here on the back patio in downtown Two Harbors, currently the only customer at the bar. I just recieved some very sobering news about our buddy boat Passing Wind II. Kevin sent me an email saying that they rolled the boat in a big wave and the boat was semi-destroyed and eventually sank and that both he and Greg had to be rescued by Coast Guard helicopter. It turns out he wasn't joking. I just spoke with him on the phone and he is doing fine, although Greg has a hurt shoulder and wrist. Kevin is back in Seattle without a job, or camera, or laptop, or wallet or clothes, but with a new appreciation of just how nice it is to set foot on this beautiful terra firma we're lucky enough to inhabit. Kevin, my thoughts go out to you and I'm glad you and Greg are okay. I'm sure you were exerting superhuman efforts to keep her afloat and cut the rig away once the capsize happened. I hope to meet up with you somehow down south even if it is by car.

This all occurred somewhere south of the Cape Mendocino area, where Dan and I had a taste of why that area seems to have a bad reputation. I'm reminded that the ocean deserves much respect, and that many areas of the world do not have the amazing US Coast Guard standing by just a few short hours away, and that voyaging on the ocean is not only a non-stop party.

I would like to commend the amazing job of the USCG for hauling Kevin and Greg back to us with such professionalism and skill. Just watching they job they do made me very emotional, to see that they put their own lives at risk to go out into the worst conditions to save mariners in peril.

Please watch the video of Kevin and Greg getting lifted from the sea.

on the right side of the page click on the video link that's second from the bottom. It says something like "2 Persons in Water Lifted to Helicopter." I got the video to play by following the directions and right clicking where it says "download" and then, save.

At the end of the video you get a glimpe of Passing Wind.

Thanks everyone for following along and for all the support. Tommy, my thoughts are also with you, as I've heard you aren't doing so hot lately. Keep the faith, brother, I hope too see you soon. Fair Winds to you all.

Warmer? Climes Part II -- Catalina Island

When you talk to Catalina Islanders more than a few of them say, "yeah I wanted to sail south once too, but we stopped here on this island and it was pretty nice so we decided to stay for a while and well... that was 35 years ago." And so it is with us,.. a bit. We were ready to leave last night for the final push to San Deigo, but then it turned out to be Taco Tuesday at the little bar/food/hangout place in town and its just very relaxing in this village. Its not warm, but there are plenty of palm trees to give the illusion and we do find ourselves happy in shorts for a few hours in the afternoon after the fog clears and before it gets cold again. The "place" has free coffee refills and cheap greasy food and wi-fi, and everybody is very friendly and we are just about the only tourists around, except for a few other cruisers. I have two Spade anchors down, and there is more of the island to explore, by foot, kayak and snorkel, so we may be successful at leaving tonight, to arrive in SD in daylight tomorrow, or the Catalina tractor beam may pull us in for a bit longer. Two Harbors is a funny little town, with dusty dirt roads, beautiful vistas, and lots of cats and people in golf carts. Dan and Tommy have tried to hitchhike to Avalon, the big city on the South end of the island, so who knows when/if they will make it back. Maybe I should just settle in and explore the hills around town. At least I'll have the kayaks to myself, as using them in place of a dinghy for the three of us continues to provide some entertainment, as Tommy proved last night. I'm freezing now on the back patio, so its time to move somewhere, inside or farther yet south, I'm not sure.

Sula is the boat anchored far left.
6 inch breaking waves swamp Tommy and fill up the kayak.

Warmer Climes- SF to Catalina and the City of Conception

On the morning of our departure from SF the fog had rolled in overnight and was dense enough to provide a good excuse to have a relaxing, slow morning. We finally made it to the downtown fuel dock around noon. Sula burns about half a gallon per hour and we had burned about 15 gallons on the way south from Eureka, as after the storm passed we had mostly dead calm. We were informed we were the last boat to recieve non-taxed diesel at $3.85, it was going up to $4.35 per gallon with no sign of coming down soon. Who knows if fuel prices will ever come down? Sobering, but also a little exciting. Yet another reason to wait for the wind. Maybe it could hasten the return of sail as viable way of moving things? We were ready for some wind as we motored in a calm out under my favorite bridge.
The fog still lurked there past the gate and after enjoying a last sunny glimpse of the huge red span, and passing an impressive inbound containership we were swallowed up into the ever threatening offshore fog bank. The wind picked up, only to die off again a few hours later, leaving us to lurch around in its remnant waves, turning on the radar every short while to make sure there were no more containerships bearing down on us. The wind returned again later that night, this time to stay for a bit, and the fog lifted finally as well. For two days we made great time south on a broad reach, steering directly for the big turning point at Point Conception. It was the wind we had waited for all trip, a stiff NW breeze and no fog. It was not to last however, after those two great days, the wind gave up and the fog came back, thicker and wetter than ever. The motor kept us moving nicely down the face of the swells for the third day and we rounded Point Conception at dusk with only the lonely sound of the fog signal from the lighthouse letting us know that land was near. We had tired of motoring in fog and Charlie's Charts, our cruising guide, provided us a sanctuary named Cojo Anchorage, protected from the NW swell, a small cove in name only, just around the corner to the E of Point Conception. The sensory deprivation of spending a long time in fog makes a landfall even more exciting. In the old days, without radar and GPS, this was simply not possible, for good reason. Even with these amazing tools, and a great depth sounder, all my senses were on high alert entering a strange cove, at night, in fog. I love it. I've realized that its these experiences that are actually why I like sailing so much. There are so few ways to actually test oneself in our modern society, we spend a lot of time finding ways to bring the adrenaline back in, rock climbing or jumping out of planes. It may not seem very exciting, but seeing strange lights appear out of the fog and getting the anchor down in the right place is my equivalent of jumping out of a plane. The lights and shapes that appeared out of the dark and fog were confusing and huge and scary. Its very hard to get a sense of scale, but what we theorized may have been a tug towing a huge barge, or a small ship and a wharehouse turned out to be simply two other boats at anchor in Cojo, a 60' sailboat and a 200'oil spill response ship. With the anchor snugly down in 5 fathoms of water with a sand bottom, and my homemade kellets thrown in for good measure, we were treated to another sensory feast, as an Amtrak train blasting its whistle and blazing a ghostly trail through the fog, passed us, very close, just on the edge of the beach. A warm meal was cooked and we all settled into damp berths with a promise to make our way to shore the next day to explore this strange corner of California, and find the small town of Conception, charted not far from the beach. In the morning the fog had cleared a bit and we had an enlightening view of the cove and shoreline. Landing on the beach in small surf in kayaks turns out to be a great way to start off the day with soggy clothes, especially when there are three crew and two kayaks. Dry bags, and making the trip with as few clothes on as possible on seems to be the solution.
We ignored the No Trespassing signs, and surveyed the awesome beach and cliffs that we had to ourselves. Above the bluffs we followed a few lonely dirt roads past expansive views of thousands of acres of grassland, ocean and a few cows. As the day wore on the fog began to lift, and the air warmed and we slowly dried out. The beautiful and desolate Santa Ynez Mountians appeared, trimmed in blue, as the fog slid off back out to sea. The least private property seemed to be the railroad tracks themselves so we followed them for a few miles, as the city of Conception, was sure to be an old railroad town.
After a while we realized there really was nothing, no highway, no town to be seen anywhere. At a lonely railroad crossing we did meet the owner of the huge cattle ranch on either side of the tracks. We apologized for tresspassing and gave our excuse as looking for the town of Conception, as we were overdue sailors who only needed to call our mothers. He was nice enough and gave us free reign of his ranch, and explained that there was absolutely no town of Conception, it had only been a small Spanish garrison and outpost in the days before the Mexican-American war. Its still there on the chart though, a small square of dense urban shading, just bordering the railroad.
Mystery solved, and coast surveyed, we stuffed our pockets with fennel seeds and braved the surf to spend another calm night at anchor with a good hot meal, and watched trains rumbling on through the night. I had a beach fire and watched the stars come out while Dan and Tommy stayed dry on the boat and read various books on nautical disaster. We shoved off the next morning, and had a very pleasant motor in light airs and clear weather past the impresseive Northern Channel Islands. Our next stop would be Catalina Island, for a rest and exploration of that harbor and town of Two Harbors.