Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back in the States

Yesterday Sara and I drove up to Tucson from San Carlos. Its a beautiful desert drive but one that seems longer than its supposed 5 hrs of driving time. Tucson is nice, but Mexico does seem, nicer, more real, more relaxed in some ways. The past two weeks of exploring the coastline have been amazing. Really beautiful scenery. On one of her last days on the boat Sara and I climbed the local iconic mountain, Tetakawi, and had privlidged vantage point out over the desert and sea. I have some pictures from up there. In a few hours my friends Max and Sarah will arrive here in Tucson and we'll drive back down for another week of lime drinks, cool breezes and the SPF 50 lifestyle. Sara will be a very hard co-captain to replace. She seemed more at ease and competant onboard than I most of the time. We had some great sailing, and some wonderful days at anchor at Ensenada Grande. She will be missed. Tonight I'm hoping to camp with Max and Sarah at a lake near the border named Pena Blanca to break up the drive a bit and ease them into the desert life. Max has only packed flip flops and a sweatshirt. My next charter guests might take a little more oversight! We have incomming. I've gotta run to the baggage claim. Thanks to anyone who's following.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

some more pics


Sara and I went sailing. Just 15 miles up the coast from San Carlos, to a very protected bay named Ensenada Grande. We had too much fun and saw too many beautiful things to really explain it all here in words so I'll just post pictures now.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Riding the Anchor

I've been tweaking my riding sail for a few days now, and I think I finally have it about right and in a place that doesnt' block the solar panels too much. I like it. I think my dragging episode a few days ago was primarily due to not having enough scope (anchor rode/chain) out, but also Sula tends to 'hunt' at the anchor, meaning that she will yaw back and forth and even sometimes present her broadside to the wind. This is due to the weathervane effect. She has too much windage forward, with the roller furling headstay and the mast both forward of the center. The riding sail counteracts those forward areas by providing a large surface area of windage aft that helps to make her a more effective weathervane, her bow always seeking the eye of the wind. It works pretty well. The constant yawing back and forth at the anchor tends to put much higher loads on the anchor and hence the mud, as you can imagine when she is swinging hard and presents her beam to the wind and the wind is really blowing it will put lots of strain on things down on the bottom. So much strain that with improper scope (maybe 3:1 like I had before) the anchor will steadily drag through the mud and the boat will end up on the rocks. Most riding sails are a single piece of sailcloth. This one was inspired by a German unmanned rocket tail design from the WWII era. In my mind the advantage is that it is providing a more constant drag, and when the angle of attack changes as the boat yaws, it more quickly gives a significant force to correct for the wind direction. A typical riding sail will need to yaw futher to provide much force. This riding sail does have the disadvantage of providing a fair amount of drag even with zero angle of attack, so in super high winds it would probably create lots of drag.

Anyway. What a beautiful day! It was 80 degrees out and low humidity. A light breeze. Just awesome. I went for a swim and didn't want to get out of the water it was so refreshing. As you can see in the pics, there was a slight haze in the air, that gave the mountains that awesome effect of seeming to stretch all the way into the sky.

I'm headed to Tucson tomorrow to pick up Sara from the airport. With two anchors down now with proper scope I'm sure things will be fine while I'm away. Warm spring breezes to all those up north!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

At Anchor -- Bahia San Carlos

What a change to be back in the water. It seems so strange that she floats and water doesn't stream in through a dozen leaks. But things seem fine. There is much less dust, but the boat does move and roll with every wave. There is more to worry about, theft, the anchor dragging. And yesterday, I did drag the anchor a bit! Stupidly, my anchor rode isn't marked and I had out only 150ish feet of rode with a depth of 40 feet. Not quite enough angle. So I veered more rode and put out another anchor and I'm quite confident that things are fine now as I wait in the Captain's Club for a new cooling water impellor to be installed in my outboard engine. The anchorage is also very relaxing. The pressure of the work yard is gone. The wind blows softly, or howls, and Sula is an island of calm. My stolen invention, the wedge shaped riding sail, is set. I'll try to take a photo of it later. Its quite effective and proper looking, but it does partially block the solar panels. I went for an amazing kayak yesterday. Just one mile from the boat. Really great. I will take the camera next time.

The Work Yard

Sula was hauled out of the dry storage yard where she had spend a sweltering year in the dusty desert wind and into the maintanence area where I would try to get her back into sailing trim in 6 days. It was mostly a success. It was a funny life, living on a hauled-out boat, backed up against beautiful desert mountains, with equally incongruous neighbors on each side. The days were long and busy. Pure work, only a few lists of priorities. I would only stop to eat for a few minutes a day and then launch back into another task. Sitting isn't super good for boats, even if it is very dry. They like to be worked on constantly! But she survived pretty well. Things are back into sailing form, some things have improved, a few things might be worse off. Next time I haulout I'm not going to be in such a hurry, and I won't leave so much delicate things onboard. Plastic dies in the heat, and becomes brittle. My dodger might permanantly look like it survived a long campaign with the Afrika Corps. One of my neighbors in the yard is a nice old desert rat from New Mex, and he is a 1/3 owner of a 'ugly duckling' mid 1970's deathtrap fibreglass sailboat. He's divorced and after a 6-pack in the afternoon, after we chat about Peak Oil, Bush, and doomer causes in general, his lonliness will shine through. I've met a few of these gentlemen in my time. Independant, older, single sailing men, who have the whole ocean to roam, but would really rather just have someone to chat with. For whatever reason, there's no woman in their lives, and one has the distinct impression that they are the worse for it. Marriage might have a downside or two, but once you reach a certain age, what are you going to do with all that freedom if you don't have anyone to chat with? After my chats with my neighbor, it made me think of and appreciate even more, the person who will fly and drive thousands of miles on Friday to make her way down to San Carlos to sail with me for a while. She is Sara, from Toronto, and I am a very lucky sailor to have her join me for a little adventure.