Barra de Navidad, Mexico

Posted 31 December 2010

We left La Cruz Tuesday morning 28 December for Barra de Navidad, which is about 130 nm south. Banderas Bay is a huge bay, it took us 5 hours motoring to reach the end of the bay and start heading south. We had light winds (8 to 10 knots) and decided that we will hoist the drifter. Dinis has been telling me for ages that sailing downwind with the drifter or the spinnaker the boat should be able to handle up to 15 knots for the drifter and about 12 knots with the spinnaker, but I am still a bit wary. This trip I am very proud of myself, we manage to sail with the drifter up to 18 knots before we took it down and I have to concur with Dinis that the ride was more comfortable the stronger the winds became, as the boat rolls much less. It only took me so long to become comfortable. Now the spinnaker is still on my wary list.

We arrived in Barra de Navidad midday Wednesday. The entrance to the bay is quite narrow, but well marked with red and green buoys. The canal to the anchorage is not marked and a person has to be careful as the canal runs between sandbars. We got all the way points and plotted our course and was doing well, except that we misjudge the dark green round buoys for the fuel dock. We should have kept the bouy on starboard side and ended up on the sand. Luckily not too bad and we manage to get ourselves off with the help of a fellow cruiser in his dinghy.

Barra de Navidad is surrounded by mangroves and has a jungle feeling to it. It is a beautiful setting with a small town and lots of touristy activities.

There is also a small village that we still want to explore and a big hotel. We will stay here until after New Year.

Happy New Year to all !!

La Cruz, Banderas Bay, Mexico

Posted 24 December 2010

We left Isabela Island on Saturday morning 18 December, had a good sail for about 2 hours when the wind dropped. We motor-sail the rest of the way. We noticed that the landscape is becoming sub-tropical, greener and more flowers.

We drop our anchor in a beautiful bay called Matanchen, just south of San Blas. Our friends from S/V Maloose join us the next day to do some exploring. We had a lovely BBQ fish at the beach restaurant and then we took a taxi into San Blas town. We visited the ruins (the Bells of San Blas and the old Spanish Fort).

We spend 2 days in Matanchen Bay and then made our way south to La Cruz in Banderas Bay. Dinis was lucky again by catching another mahi-mahi on route. We arrived in La Cruz on Wednesday afternoon 22 December.

We did all our shopping, getting the propane tanks filled and are ready for Christmas. We will spend a few days here after Christmas and then keep going south.

Isla Isabela, Mexico

Posted 15 December 2010

We were suppose to leave Mazatlan on Saturday afternoon, but after filling the diesel tanks in El Cid marina we decided to spend the night in front of Isla Pajaros. While we were anchoring we heard our friends Ian and Ellen from Kasasa on route to Mazatlan. We contacted them via VHF and they drop their anchor close by just before sunset. We spend the evening catching up on news from home since we have not seen each other since San Diego.

We left Mazatlan around 4 pm on Sunday afternoon 12 December. We had a good sail with full main and genoa in rather light winds (7 to 10 knots) until midnight when the wind dropped below 5 knots. We motored the rest of the way. It was a very clear evening with lots of stars.

On Monday morning around 7 Dinis caught his first fish !! It was a Dorado and we estimate it's weight at about 10 lbs. We were both very excited. Dinis fillet the fish and we put it in the fridge for supper. By this time we were very close to Isabela island. We drop anchor at around 9 am on the east side of the island. There were 8 sailboats anchored at the time.  Isla Isabela is a bird sanctuary with a small fishing village on the south side of the island. There are lots of birds and fish and we also saw whales. It is such a peaceful and beautiful place that we decided to stay longer.

On Tuesday we did lots of snorkelling and we also did some diving using the hooka system. Lots and lots of fish, some of them is so colourful, looks like tropical fish. While we were snorkelling we saw that the bottom of the boat needs a bit of a scrub.

On Wednesday afternoon Dinis got energetic and he dived to clean the starboard side of the hull. There was quite a bit of growth on the hull. Hopefully he will keep the energy level going for the port side. The zinc is still looking OK.

On Friday, our friends Jake and Vicky from S/V Maloose and Dinis and myself went for a dinghy ride around the island. We stopped at the fishing village so that we can take pictures of the birds and to explore. What a fantastic day we had, I took many pictures of the booby and frigate birds. I also took 2 videos of the frigate birds. There are also lots of iguanas.

Mazatlan, Mexico

Posted 8 December 2010

Mazatlan is great, we are having so much fun that I do not know where to start. OK... from the beginning, we left Los Frailes on Thursday morning 2 December and sailed on a beam reach most of the way. It was blowing 15 to 16 knots constant with gusts of 18/20 at times. We manage to sail about ¾ of the way before the wind died and we went the rest of the way under motor. We dropped anchor late Friday afternoon.

Saturday morning we decided to leave all chores for the next day and head into town to explore. There were several cruising couples on the bus with the same idea. On route to the centre of old town, Dinis jumped up and started to wave through the window as he saw a familiar face. He was unable to flag this person down and ask the bus driver to slow down and made an exit. Now all this happened very fast and Dinis disappeared before I could do anything. The other cruising couples looked at me a bit confused and said 'your husband just got off the bus'. I managed to smile and said 'yes, he saw someone we know and was trying to get in touch'. I am sure that all this must have looked strange. Anyway I got off at the next bus stop and started to make my way down the street to find Dinis.

I found Dinis and Hugh 2 blocks down. After Dinis got off the bus he ran after Hugh unable to remember his name. Now how do you get a person's attention without knowing his name. The only thing Dinis manage to shout is 'Hey Cannuck...' Well it is great that we all manage to connect that day. Hugh is visiting his parents Trudie and Steve. They stay part of the year in Mazatlan. We all know each other from Vancouver, all liveaboards at Shelter Island, Richmond. Before we left on our trip we got all their contact information, but we lost these details and were wondering how we will be able to get in touch with Steve and Trudie.

We met up with Steve and Trudie and their friend Ron later Saturday afternoon at a fantastic restaurant. They told us that on Sunday they are going to Stone Island as there is another great restaurant. They usually take the panga there, so we all decided that it would be more fun taking the boat there, anchor and then going ashore with the dinghy.

On Sunday we anchored off Stone Island and Hugh decided that swimming to shore will be great, the rest of us decided that we will take a chance on Dinis and my 'not so perfect' beach landing record. We went ashore without any problems. Great our beach landing went up to about 70% !!

We had a lovely time catching up with events from home and life in Mexico. The food was great again. The time flew by and we decided that it is about time to head back as the sun is getting low. Should we make several dinghy rides to the boat or would all 6 adults fit in the dinghy ? Sure we will all fit. Trudie got into the dinghy first as not to get wet and the rest of us watching the waves, deciding when to make a run for it, so that Dinis can get the engine started and get us out of there. Neat less to say our co-ordination was not in sync. By the time Dinis got into the boat and got the engine started, Trudie got soak with several waves, the dinghy looked like a small swimming pool and both Hugh and me were wet. We manage to get ourselves into the dinghy. Where are Steve and Ron ? Oh no, knee deep in the waves out of reach. Dinis tried to stear the dinghy closer, avoiding the waves, but it was not close enough without Steve and Ron getting wet getting aboard. By now we were all laughing so hard. Well our beach landing record went down again, but we will all remember this day. We hadn't had so much fun in a long time !!

On Monday Steve and Trudie took us shopping. We needed a major provisioning, the last one was in Vancouver. After Sam's Club (Costco) and Soriana (Safeway) we manage to pack Steve's minivan quite full. Steve, Trudie, Ron, Carol and Hugh took us for supper. These Mexican restaurants are great, the food is fantastic. At night Steve and Hugh drove us back. We manage to put all the groceries in the dinghy. It took us about 2 hours packing all the provisions.

On Tuesday we drop the laundry for washing and went to the market to buy some seafood as Dinis and myself want to cook our friends supper. We did not find what we looked for and decided that prawns will do. We bought 4 kilos of prawns, some onion, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro. Dinis did a fine job and we had a great time. We also met Steve and Trudie's Mexican family, Raul, Lupita, Alex (middle son) and Rodriquez (youngest son). What a great family.

Well it can not be all fun, so today we have to do some boat chores. On Thursday we are meeting our friends again at Stone Island and then we will monitor the weather to leave and head south when weather permits.

Changing our plans

Posted 7 December 2010

We wanted to sail more north into the Sea of Cortes, but change our plan as we have misjudged the winter northern winds. It blows for about 3 to 4 days and then you have a weather window for about 3 to 4 days. With the delay in Cabo San Lucas and the northern winds we decided to head to Mazatlan instead and make our way south from there. We are looking into sailing to Socorro Island which is about 400 nm offshore Banderas Bay and then make our way back to Manzanillo. This would be a great trip getting ourselves back into offshore sailing. We are also changing our route to sail to the Marquises Islands, from either Golfito, Costa Rica or Acapulco, Mexico, instead of Panama.

Bahia Los Frailes, Mexico

Posted 29 November 2010

We left Cabo San Lucas at 7 am on Friday morning 26 November and had quite a tough sail with the wind on the nose to Bahia Los Frailes. The boat had a hard time punching trough the waves and at times the waves stop the boat to an almost standstill with a speed of about 0.5 knots. We decided to turn around and run downwind for about 3 miles and anchor at Point Gorda for lunch and to have a little rest.
After a hour or two we headed out again with the storm jib and the main with 2 reefs. This allowed us to punch trough the waves a little better and also gave us a bit more speed and comfort. We were doing from 3 to 5 knots with the occasional wave breaking over the dodger and soaking us. It was a long beat into the wind and we ended up tacking away from land for about 12 miles and then tack back to get to Bahia Los Frailes. The most wind speed we saw was 27 knots, but it was a constant 23 to 25 knots. We anchored at 2 am Saturday morning quite exhausted.

Bahia Los Frailes is a beautiful bay with a white sandy beach and mountains surrounding the bay. There were several boats anchored, but most of them left and only 3 sailboats remained anchored.
We got our 'Pasaporte de la Conservacion' from the ranger here. This cost us 260 pesos each and are valid for 1 year. Now we will not have to worry about paying the fees at each island or conservation area we visit.

Sunday morning we decided that it is a good day to hike up the mountain with our friends Will and Marilyn from 'Shaman 1' and with Marc from 'Wendaway'. Mark wife Wendy had done the hike before and she opted out for a day of relaxing on the boat.

We had so much fun hiking up the mountain, had to make several rest points as it always look easier than what it is. Mark has very good knowledge of the area and also of the plants. The landscape is mostly rocky and we saw lots of cactus plants and some wild flowers. The rangers had mark the trail so it was easy enough to follow. I have no idea how long it took us, but it felt like hours before we eventually reached the top. It was worth every drop of sweat and achy muscles, absolutely breathtaking. You could see the bay on the other side of the mountain and also the reefs in the water. We saw lots of vultures flying.

The downward trip was much easier and in no time we were back on the beach. After a long shower, we ended our lovely day with our friends on 'Wendaway' with a lovely potluck supper and desert.

Monday we went on a mission to walk to the little restuarant and bar. We had a great time, but unfortunately the cheff's vehicle broke down and we had to go without food.

They predict some strong northerly winds for the next couple of days, so we are going to do some walking, snorkeling, diving, photographic and ...

Ballena Point, Cabo San Lucas

Posted 23 November 2010

We moved the boat to Ballena Point to avoid paying for anchoring. Ballena Point is just out of the bay with more of a rocky shoreline. This works great for snorkelling, much more fish to see. The port authority (API) charge 130 pesos a day for anchoring and 30 pesos per day to leave your dinghy at the dingy dock. With us having to wait for the Solar Boost unit this adds up.

The ship’s compass was loosing the oil inside creating a huge bubble making it difficult to read. This morning we decided that it is time to fix this problem. This compass is as old as the boat (29 years) so not too bad. When we took the compass apart we noticed that the screws that hold the compass together and keep it sealed were corroded thus the oil leaking out. Easy enough to fix. Well we could not find any compass oil, nor any premium mineral oil that are recommended for this compass, so we had to use the next best thing until we can find the right oil. We bought the lightest oil we could find (pure Soya oil) and the job went very smoothly. The oil viscosity is thicker than the normal compass oil, but all that will happen is that the compass will react slower to direction change and we can live with that.

There are currently 3 Canadian boats here and we all went shopping yesterday. It was quite a sight and we could not take the bus back as we had far too much groceries. So we club together and got a minivan taxi to take us back. Now we only came with 2 dinghies (3 people per dinghy). Well after packing one dinghy with all the groceries with the driver and 1 passenger and the other dinghy with the rest of us and the rest of the groceries that could not fit, you can picture the sight. What a pity I did not have my camera with me.


Posted 20 November 2010

Good news the solar boost unit arrived in California USA and was fixed. They will send it back on Monday morning so hopefully we should have it before the end of the week.

In the mean time Dinis tried the hooka diving gear and it works great. He dived and spend quite some time exploring the area around the boat. He took a few pictures of the boat’s underwater profile and also of the anchor chain. The unit will come in handy to clean the bottom of the boat and also to change the zinks when needed.

The weather is great and in the mornings it is about 23 to 29 degrees Celsius in the boat and not much hotter during the day. There is usually a breeze blowing which keep the boat airy and liveable. Surprisingly we have not felt too hot as yet. Yesterday while I was hanging some laundry on the lifelines I noticed a stingray swimming back and forth under the boat. It visited for almost the whole day. Not sure if it seek the shadow of the boat. I took some pictures of the stingray swimming.

This morning we went snorkelling and my second time trying the camera under water. It is easier said than done as a person is moving constantly, but I did manage to capture a few pictures that turned out good. We snorkelled just off Lovers Beach where there are a few rocks and some coral. There was a lot of small fish.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Posted 14 November 2010

Luckily for us the weather gave us good wind for the first 20 hours. We had a great sail from Magdalena Bay to Cabo San Lucas. The wind blew a constant 12 to 17 knots. We had just the genoa up and was doing a good speed. We did a 139 nm in 24 hours which were good. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon 10 November in Cabo San Lucas. We anchored in the bay.

During the previous week we had noticed the Solar Boost acting strangely. At times it charged the batteries from the solar panels and at times the led light just blink rapidly. On Thursday it seems to be the final straw and was not charging the batteries at all. We contacted the manufacturer and they told us that we should send the unit back for repairs as it is still under warrantee.

We headed into town after we took the unit out to send it for repairs. To our dismay, we had just missed the 3 o’clock cut-off for all packages to be send out for the week. Monday is a holiday, so the package will only be shipped on Tuesday morning 16 November and should arrive on Thursday in the USA. Hopefully we should get the unit back early the following week.

We were totally stressed out by this, as our plans were to stay here only a couple of days and then heading towards La Paz. Well what can a person do, we decided to just enjoy our extended stay. It is a beautiful area and are sunny with fantastic sandy beaches.

Saturday we added the little wheels to the dingy so that we can pull the dingy easier when going ashore. Our first try heading towards Lovers Beach ended up a bit embarrassing for me. I was not paying attention to the waves and was also standing in front of the dinghy instead of next to it when a big wave came in and pushed the dinghy over me. Well I got up totally wet and full of sand. I scared the hell out of Dinis. Luckily I was not hurt and this was towards the late afternoon with not too many witnesses. Needless to say I did learn my lesson and will be more careful next time.

It seems that this location is not playing along with Dinis calling CQ’s on the ham radio. We are moving to a different location a bit further outside the bay on Monday. Hopefully this will improve the ham conditions for him.

We would also like to say a very big ‘Thank You’ to all who send us an email and for all the best wishes we are receiving. It is great to hear news from everyone. We can only respond to your emails when at port that have internet. We do not have internet onboard while sailing. While sailing we only have the ham email, which we reserve for the weather and for emergencies only. I also use this email during passages to send our 24 hr position reports and to post text on our blog site when conditions are favourable.

Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico

Posted 8 November 2010

We arrived in Magdalena Bay on Thursday 4 November in the afternoon. There was very little wind most of the way and we only managed to sail for about 5 hours. We saw lots of fishermen buoys for lobster all the way. This was quite stressful as they tied a line between 2 buoys, which can get stuck around the propeller. At night time this was even more of a pain as it is very difficult to see the buoys. We changed our course to deeper water to avoid the shoal areas where the lobster traps are.

Magdalena Bay is huge. We anchored off Point Belcher which is about 4 nm from the entrance to the bay. There is a small fishing community there. The tides are quite strong and it reminded us of going up the Frazer river back in Richmond. It is just picturesque. We stayed for 2 days at anchor and with the fishermen's help and technique we manage to catch 12 mackerel fish. Dinis and myself are not much of fishermen, but we getting the hang of it. The only problem is cleaning the fish. After scrubbing the boat for 2 days we are still finding scales. We promised ourselves that the next time we will go to the beach to clean the fish.

Saturday afternoon 6 November we made our way to San Carlos city, which is about 15 nm north-east in the bay. We needed diesel as again the weather forecast predicts no wind. We spend Sunday at anchor and visited the village to get some fresh provisioning. San Carlos is not geared up for sailing boats, more of a commercial boat facility. If we knew this we would have filled the diesel up in Turtle bay. We did manage to take the diesel containers to the dock by dinghy to filled it up on Monday morning. There was no way that we would be able to tide the boat to the docks, unless we tide next to a fishing boat.

With the diesel tanks full, we made our way back to Point Belcher on Monday afternoon. We will leave tomorrow morning (Tuesday 9 November) for Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas), which is about 165 nm miles south. It should take us about 34 hours if we motoring, but all fingers crossed that we will have some wind.

We have not managed to get any internet since we left Ensenada. San Lucas is a much bigger city and we have to do quite a bit there. By now I have a bundle of washing that will keep me busy for a whole day and we need to make a major provisioning as well. I will also upload all the photos and videos from there.

Life aboard Vida Nova

Posted 1 November 2010

Life aboard has fallen into a rhythm now. While at anchor we wake up when the sun shines through our skylight (hatch), have a cup of coffee and breakfast cereal. There is usually something that needs fixing and/or cleaning. By mid morning we should have the chores done and can relax. The rest of the day is taken up by reading, planning the next route, getting the weather information, talking on the radio (Dinis), going ashore to get provisions and to explore.

While on passages, life falls into a watch system. We are still doing a 2 hours per watch at night and have a more flexible watch system during the day. I am still getting nervous when the wind pipes up and there are big seas. Dinis is learning to sail with less sail than what he really wants to sail with. I suppose these compromises will in the end work out as I am sure that I will get used to this eventually.

We had fixed our problem with the automatic tiller pilot by changing the position of the pin on the wind vane. We also replaced the plastic tip of the tiller pilot that fit over the pin with a stainless steel tip that was machined in San Diego. We had bought another tiller pilot as backup just in case we have trouble with the existing one.

The water maker is just great, we run it everyday for a couple of hours except when we are in harbour (usually the water inside harbours are not too clean and this will impact the filters). We try to keep the tanks as full as possible. Just knowing that I can have a shower when I want to and use as much water as I feel like is a great comfort.

As far as eating habits are concern, we find that during passages we eat less and more healthy as to keep seasickness at bay. At anchor we are a little less concern. We have find that food is not as cheap in Mexico as what we had anticipated and a big part of our budget is spend on food.

My hair is driving me nuts, I need a haircut. I had already took the scissors and cut my fringe (bangs), hopefully when we get to San Lucas I will find a hairdresser.

In Turtle bay we discovered that the Baja HaHa fleet had left on Saturday morning, so we missed our friends. The little village here is not big and there is not much of a grocery store, but we did find some fresh provisioning that will last us until Magdalena bay.

We are planning to leave tomorrow morning Tuesday 2 November for Magdalena Bay, which is 250 nm miles from Turtle Bay. Should take us 2 to 3 days to get there.

San Benito and Cedros Islands, Baja California, Mexico

Posted 28 October 2010

The sail to San Benito Islands started with great wind, then no wind and then too much wind. We were surfing down the waves at times at 9.44 knots with only the staysail and 3 reefs in the main. We were doing a constant speed of about 7 to 8 knots. This lasted for about 2 hours and then we took the main down as the waves were too big and push the boat too much on the side for my comfort level. By this time we were quite exhausted by all the hoisting, dropping and putting in reefs, so we settle for the night with only the staysail and was doing 5 to 6 knots. The wind dropped during the night and we did not feel like hoisting the mainsail, so the trip was much longer, took us +- 30 hours to reach San Benito Islands.

During our trip we saw quite a few boats from the Baja HaHa fleet. This year I believe there are 195 boats. We tried to contact our friends on S/V Otter, but they were not within VHF range. We did speak to S/V Music from the fleet and they will pass our regards to Greg and Joyce. We might see them in Turtle bay on Sunday.

We left this morning Thursday 28 October for Cedros Island which is just 21 nm south east. There was no wind so we motored. Cedros Island is the more beautiful Island so far. Dinis had very good propagation on both islands and made a good run on the ham radio.

Friday or Saturday 29/30 October we are planning to go to Natividad Island which is just 15 nm south from Cedros Island and then make our way to Turtle bay on Sunday. We are running low on fresh vegetables and fruit.

From Turtle bay we will make a run to Magdalena bay which should take us between 2 to 3 days.

Guadalupe Island, Baja California, Mexico

Posted 25 October 2010

We decided to sail to Guadalupe Island first (166 nm south west of San Quintin bay) then we will make our way to San Benito and Cedros Islands. We left on Saturday 23 October morning at 10:00 and had nice sailing on a close reach all the way. The wind picked up (18 to 20 knots) towards late afternoon and we had 2 reefs in the main and the genoa furled to only 90%. We were still doing a very fast passage. Our average speed was 6.42 knots and we did our best 24 hours yet at 154 nm. It took us close to 26 hours to drop anchor in Melpomene Cove on the south of Guadalupe Island.

The island is very high, which has impacted Dinis a bit for his radio contacts. Again the local fishermen were very friendly and gave us lots of lobster, half size tuna and a red snapper look alike fish in exchange for a bottle of wine, half a bottle of tequila and I baked a cake for them. Our freezer is fully loaded. Needless to say we had lobster for lunch and supper yesterday and will have a lobster diet again for today.

The wind picked up, so we will stay another day. We left Tuesday morning 26 October for San Benito Islands, which is +- 150 nm south east of Guadalupe Island.

Isla De San Martin, Baja California, Mexico

Posted 21 October 2010

We left Ensenada on Monday morning heading for the Islas De Todos Santos. The wind was blowing a nice breeze and we decided to get ourselves back into the sailing habit and hoist the sails for a nice little sail to the islands. Dinis new mission is to try and make as many contacts as he can with other ham radio stations from the islands in Mexico. So we drop anchor for the afternoon and early evening for Dinis to do his QSOs.

We left the Islas De Todos Santos at 7pm on Monday night heading for Isla San Martin, which is just north west of Cabo San Quintin. There was no wind so we motored all night. On Tuesday morning a dragonfly and another little bird joined us for part of our trip. We always enjoy picking up hitch hikers along the way. We drop anchor in a beautiful Caleta Hassler anchorage late Tuesday morning. Both of us were tired and decided that a snooze is just what the doctor recommended.

We decided to stay an extra day or two here, as it is very peaceful. Dinis made friends with the local fishermen. They bought us a fresh barracuda and Dinis gave them a bottle of wine. We also caught 3 little fish from the boat. What a feast we had for supper time.

Again Dinis made his QSOs and he is getting better at it. He says it is more difficult to handle the pile ups on the radio than what he had anticipated.

The San Benito and Cedros Islands are the next islands on our list.

Ensenada Baja Mexico

Posted 14 October 2010

We had a lovely sail from San Diego to Los Coronados Islands, Mexico. Dinis made quite a few QSO from there while we were waiting for night fall. We decided to sail during the night so that we can arrive during day time in Ensenada. In the end this strategy did not work that good as again we arrived under fog.

During our trip to Ensenada we noticed that the oil that lubricate the shaft was leaking out and that seawater must have made its way in for the oil to be pushed out. This is not a big problem, but we decided to haul the boat and check it out anyway. Rather now than later.

So on Monday after clearing customs and getting all the paperwork done the boat was hauled out by  Baja Naval Marina and Boatyard. What a fantastic job the boatyard did hauling and launching the boat. They are very profesional, friendly and efficient.

The culprit was that the first lip seal corroded and that seawater was pushing the oil up. Anyway we replaced all the seals and put new zinks on. It took us a little longer than anticipated to re-align the engine. The boat was launched Thursday morning.

On Tuesday we met with a ham radio friend (Hector XE2GAG) that Dinis communicated with previously when we were still planning our trip. Hector and Olga took us to a traditional Mexican restuarant 'El Parian'. The company, food and atmosphere were great. After dinner we went to the famous Hussong's Cantina. The oldest bar in the Californias, established in 1892 and a designated historical landmark. What a fantastic evening. We listened to the Norteños (Northerners), which is a musical folk group. Our friends spoiled us by asking the group to sing 2 songs for Dinis and myself. This is a lifelong experience that Dinis and myself will remember and cherish. It was an absolutely lovely evening. Hector took a video of the Norteños singing, althought the cantina was quite dark you can still hear the lovely song and atmosphere.

Hector and Olga drove us around for shopping and also sightseing Ensenada. Ensenada is a lovely city surounded by many hills. Hector also took us to visit his family and his radio shack. Dinis enjoyed that a lot, made a QSO from Hector's radio to Columbia. We had a pleasant visit with his family and again were spoiled.

We are heading south on Monday morning (18 October) after getting our clearance letter stamp by the harbour master.

Glorietta Bay

Posted 1 October 2010

San Diego’s weather has changed. It is hot and we love it. We had some rain, lightning and thunder yesterday. This year’s weather has been really foggy and cold all the way from Vancouver, BC. Finally we sleep with the hatches open during night time to allow airflow.

Glorietta Bay, this is the first anchorage after La Playa that we both enjoyed. It is next to a golf course with a small beach, just gorgeous. The public dingy dock is great, no problems like the Cruiser’s anchorage.

I went for a swim in our backyard and tested our underwater camera. The water is not that clear, but I was able to take some pictures and a video just to make sure all is OK. Joyce and Greg from S/V Otter, came over from their marina to visit with us at Glorietta Bay. We visited town and the famous and beautiful ‘Hotel Del Coronado’

Our automatic tiller pilot and outboard engine are all fixed. We had a small leak in our hot water system, but Dinis fixed that and also all the other little problems that seems to keep popping up. We did not yet figure out how we will change our setup for the tiller pilot. The recommendation from another cruiser did not work that well, so back to the drawing board.

We will stay in Gorietta Bay until Sunday morning and then make our way to Mission Bay. It took me 2 months to finally relax and to start to enjoy the cruising lifestyle.

We are monitoring the weather for Mexico.


Posted 24 September 2010

San Diego is very beautiful. We love the different flowers, trees and architecture. Although we encounter lower temperatures than normal, the sun shone everyday and we are wearing shorts and t-shirts most of the time.

There is a big military influence in San Diego, with big navy and air force fleets. We went to the Maritime Museum, all the historic ships and the USS Midway aircraft carrier. We were very impressed. The Seaport Village reminds us of Granville Island with a beautiful setting, the harbour on one side and palm trees on the other.

We left the police dock for the cruiser’s anchorage. The anchorage is good with a glorious view of downtown San Diego. The only problem we encountered was the dinghy docks. There are 3 dinghy docks for public use, but unfortunately there are lots of derelict dinghies around. It also seems that the local live aboard residents laid claim to these public docks and give visitors a hard time by throwing garbage inside their dinghies while away. We had encounter this and several other cruisers had the same problem. There are several other anchorages, so we will change anchorage, just to avoid these silly antics.

Our outboard engine developed a problem. Dinis did all the obvious tests and services, but still it does not produce the power to put the dinghy into plane. Dinis took the outboard to be checked. Hopefully the problem will be found. We are also waiting for our automatic tiller pilot that was send to Raymarine to be fixed.

We did another small provisioning as we would like to do some sailing to the islands and possibly go to Mexico within the next 2 to 3 weeks, depending if we get the tiller pilot back by then. We will clear customs in Ensenada and then sail about 20 miles south of Ensenada, where we will wait for the hurricane season to pass.

We arrived in San Diego

Posted 15 September 2010

The anchoring at Santa Catalina Island was great. We made up the lost sleep, had a shower, cooked a nice supper and was ready for the overnight trip to San Diego. Dinis was full of beans and did a 5 hour watch, which was great for me. There was not much wind so we hook up our little automatic tiller pilot. During Dinis second watch he noticed that the boat was heading into a different direction. On closer inspection Dinis noticed that we finally lost the little arm of the tiller pilot. What a drag…we had to hand steer for about 7 hours.

We made it through the night, had tons of traffic, but the night was clear and you could clearly see the lights. Again the AIS and the radar outdid itself. What a blessing !! The only problem is these fishing boats steaming towards you, just to change course in front of you. I suppose they scan the ocean for fish and follow that.

We saw some dolphins approaching San Diego which is fantastic. They either welcome us or sending us on a save trip at every port we arrived or departed so far. I hope this continue for our circumnavigation.

We arrived yet again in fog on Sunday morning 12 September, they say this year is the worst as far as weather is concern. We tied the boat to the police customs dock to get info for where to dock the boat and also for me to let Customs and Immigration know that we had arrived. What a great welcome we had. The people is very friendly and we felt at home. We also got our anchoring permit.

We did not much exploring as yet, but done all the boat chores. All the sails and lines are washed, it is amazing the amount of salt that accumulates. Monday our friends Greg and Joyce from S/V Otter came to visit and we spend the day with them. Today (Wednesday) we are going into town so that Dinis can get the tiller pilot sorted out and a few other things that are on our to-do list.

I lost 9 pounds since we left Vancouver...can fit into all my clothes much easier now. Dinis did not loose any weight, but lost about 2 cm around his waist. Been tossed like a salad I suppose has it benefits :)

On route to San Diego, California

Posted 10 September 2010

The trip started early Wednesday morning. We are currently in Santa Cruz Basin near San Diego. Our ETA (estimated time of arrival) is Saturday night, but we will anchor at Santa Catalina Island during the day on Saturday and continue to San Diego on Saturday night so that we will arrive during daylight on Sunday.

I had to go beyond my comfort level in many aspects of sailing offshore during the trip so far from Vancouver. We had all weather conditions from very light winds to stronger conditions, but luckily no heavy weather. This was especially good for me as we manage to do sail changes relative easy (although Dinis was the person going forward in stronger winds).

We had no problems with seasickness, although going downwind the boat roll from side to side quite a bit, Dinis did feel queasy.

A person can not compare sailing in Strait of Georgia in 20 knots of wind with sailing offshore with 20 knots of wind. The ocean swell and the wind strength is quite a challenge as soon as the wind blows more than 18 knots. First you will notice the increase of swell height and then the wind increases.

Sausalito, California

Posted 5 September 2010

We are currently anchored in beautiful Sausalito bay. It is very picturesque and have a European feeling to it. We are waiting for the weather to be more favourable and in the mean time doing some sightseeing and spending time with our friends Ellen and Ian. They also sailed from Vancouver on S/V Kasasa and arrived a day before us in San Francisco. Ellen took the photo of our boat under sail in Strait of Georgia (picture to right).

We met up with friends from San Francisco, Bingfang and Bin. We met over 3 years ago in Vancouver, when they were visiting with mutual friends Jingly and Max. It is such a small world. They spoiled us with a great lunch at a Chinese restaurant and then also took us shopping for provisions. We tried to reciprocate their kindness by taking them on a small trip within the bay area. Bin was steering the boat most of the way and did a great job.

Today and tomorrow I will spend cooking and freezing the meals for the trip. We have found this the best solution. It is easy to warm up and you can eat when ever you feel hungry, without having to spend unnecessary time cooking.

San Francisco, California

Posted 2 September 2010

We left Crescent City at 05:00 am on Saturday morning 28 Aug. We had a beautiful sailing day and night, doing boat speeds 6 to 7 knots and with the currents and some surfing doing 8 to 9 knots. We did a fantastic 140 nm in 24 hours. On Sunday the winds picked up a bit, blowing a constant 18 to 23 knots, gusting at times 28 to 30. This tremendously increased the sea swells. At times the swell was bimini height (about 8-12 feet). We dropped the smaller jib and hoist the storm jib. We were still doing 5 to 6 knots. It was very tiresome and we could not do more than 1 and half hour watches at a time. There was also a big weather system just behind us, so we decided to come to San Francisco instead.

I took a video when the seas died down a bit standing in the companion way looking aft, did not feel too comfortable to film during the bigger sea swells.

We arrived in San Francisco on Monday afternoon 30 August under a thick fog. We could not even see the bridge. We had the camera ready, but only fog with a little bit of bridge visible.

We went downtown today using the train system. Very efficient. We had a great day walking and visiting all the touristy spots. We took a ride back on the Cable trolley. What an experience that was. At the end of the line they rotate the trolley to reverse the direction. It is a very beautiful city and it reminded us a bit of Durban in South Africa.

There are some strong winds forecast for Saturday and Sunday and possibly Monday. We might just coastal hop to San Diego, not sure yet. We will most probably only leave next week.

Crescent City

Posted 19 August 2010

We arrived Wednesday 18 Aug. in Crescent City, Northern California. Although this trip was mostly motoring due to the lack of wind, we are happy with our progress. We had the current helping us along as well and we made good time.

On Tuesday about 150 nm offshore Oregon coast, we had dolphins swimming with us and gave us a nice show. They rode the boat’s bow wave and criss-cross under the boat. Dinis took a video of the dolphins.

Our little brown bird, we named her ‘Browny’ got herself a friend. Her friend looked pretty exhausted when arrived as well, but after a few hours of eating and drinking (and yes do not forget the pooping) he was able to explore the decks with ‘Browny’. It is pretty amazing that these little birds were so far offshore. ‘Browny’ joined us about 180nm offshore and her friend about 70nm. They left us when approaching landfall. It is pretty amazing how animal life can put the human life in perspective.

Crescent City is a very good stop over. It is a fishing town and the people are very friendly, helpful and warm. The docking is very reasonable priced at $17 US per night for a 35 foot boat. We stayed for 2 nights and will anchored inside the harbour until departure. The local weather forecast is predicting heavy weather, so we will stay anchored until favourable weather conditions arrives.

Choosing our Weather Window

Posted 17 August 2010

After all our little tasks were done during our week stay in Tofino, we got all our weather faxes and text weather forecasts. We noticed that Friday's 48 and 96 hour weather faxes show good conditions and that the text weather forecast is calling 10 to 20 knots of wind in a N and NW direction for the 4 days. We decided that according to our route planning this was perfect weather to leave on Saturday morning 14 August. This weather window came faster than we expected but we rather error on lighter winds than stronger.

Our first days at sea gave us a mixture of variable S, SE, SW and at times N winds all well below 10 knots. We motor sail but started to think that if the winds do not pick up we might have to re-think our route to San Diego and possibly go to Northern California, maybe San Francisco instead. We got our weather faxes through out the first couple of days and it were still calling for 10 knots of wind, but our actual conditions were much less, blowing 3 to 6 knots from the South and eventually from the North. In the end we decided that with our relatively small diesel tanks (can do about 700 nm including the containers on deck) we will change course to northern California instead, where we will refuel and wait for more consistent winds. We are heading for Crescent City (a suggestion from the Greater Northern Boater's net) and should arrive Wednesday morning 18 August.

In Tofino, I prepared at least 5 days of meals ahead of time and this came in handy. Both Dinis and myself were feeling good with no seasickness. I suppose the calm seas had everything to do with that.
For the first two days both of us were felling lethargic and we did a watch system as in who feels the most tired and that person gets to sleep. Both of us felt much more energetic on the third day and the watch system became more consistent of 2 hours off and on during the night. During the day we have a more informal watch system with overlapping time.

We saw many whales and our first onboard visitor is a small brown bird. It was noticeably tired and is hitching a ride with us. We gave her food and water, which she is eating and drinking. She has been with us for a day and night and I assume that she will stay until closer to land. Now we got little bird poop all over the deck.

During this trip we have to give praise to our little Raymarine automatic tiller pilot and the AIS again. We did learn how to fine tune the radar and use it in conjunction with the AIS. It has been a great help especially during the fogging nights.

1st Offshore Sea Trial

Posted 2 August 2010

We left Winter Harbour in the morning for our first sea trial. The wind was in our favour blowing between 10 and 15 knots. Great we can test the windvane in lighter winds as we had trouble before setting it in lighter winds. With just the genoa we manage to test the windvane. The wind increased and we decided to keep just the genoa flying. 'Morgs' was doing a good job keeping the boat on course. Our target was to head offshore for 60nm and then turn back. Twice we saw whales. The first time was so close that we had to change course and Dinis started the engine to make some noise, the last thing that we want is another whale sinking a boat.

As the evening progressed so did the wind, we furled the genoa to just a small amount of sail. This seems to work and all good. In the mean time both Dinis and myself were starting to feel the motion and were getting queasy. We had taken seasick pills in the morning and took some more. Dinis felt worse than me and he took the first off watch and went to sleep. At 22:10 pm we reached our turn around point and turned the boat around. We had quite a bit of sea swells and still 'Morgs' kept the boat on course. What a blessing the AIS was and is as we had quite a bit of sea traffic. We were able to communicate with these vessels so that they were aware that we exists. One thing was unsettling and it was that these vessels did not show on the radar. With some fine tuning, we were able to see them, but still with difficulty.

All in all our first offshore sea trial was a great success. We have a few improvements to make before the next one. In the salon one porthole has a leak. Dinis will replace the seal on the porthole. I will need some more sheets for the banks. We need another line in the cockpit so that we can hook ourselves onto. I did slip and went into the life lines, so easily I could have slip through. All I have left is a sore wrist, bruises on my legs and a swollen knee. I suppose a small price to pay for still being onboard.
We arrived back safely and was quite tired. We are anchored in an absolutely beautiful bay called Dixie Cove on Hohoae Island. Dinis cooked a special dinner and we celebrate with Chuck's bottle of bubbly - Thanks Chuck !!

We will stay for 2 days and make our way to Hotspring Cove.

Wildlife and Scenery

Posted 24 July 2010

For the last week we were just amaze with the wildlife. We saw a grizzly and a black bear, lots of birds and dolphins. The scenery is just breath taking.

We were at anchor in Port Neville for 2 days waiting for the gale force winds to subside. We were able to test our riding sail during this time. Vida Nova tend to 'sail' at anchor and the riding sail cut that by half, definitely worth it.

We decided that we could as well prepare the boat for heavy weather and in the process test our storm sails with the windvane. On Friday morning we were all ready and geared up for the forecast 15 to 25 knots of wind.  Off cause on Friday the water was as flat as a mirror. We motored and towards late afternoon the winds did pickup. Was blowing between 15 to 25 at times gusting 28. Great, we can try the storm sails. It was good and the windvane 'Morgs' did a great job. He did the steering much better than either Dinis or myself could. Dinis manage to capture some video clips.

We arrived in Port Hardy late Friday evening. We are staying here for 2 or 3 days. Next stop Bull Harbour.

Starting our trip

The decision the come north first turned out to be great. We are testing all the boat systems and at the same time getting our sea legs.
We had head winds and waves all the way, which is quite tiresome. We had our first gale in Johnstone Strait with gusts of wind of 32 knots. The boat did well. We are getting better everyday and what a great help the 'biltong' was especially the first day. We also noticed in Campbell River that the alternator is not charging the batteries. Our thoughts were that it was the smart regulator that stopped working. After some tests with the voltmeter it showed in perfect condition. After testing the alternator it also showed no problem. In the end it was the alternator belts that were a little on the loose side. After fixing that all is working again.
The ham radio is working beautifully. I am able to send the position report and receiving the weather faxes everyday. Dinis also made several long distant contacts.

Cast off and final preparation

On Saturday 26 June, after a wonderful afternoon with the boys and Gary it was time to cast off the lines and leave our moorage at Shelter Island. This was our home port for the last 10 years.

On Monday morning, after a relaxing weekend the boat was hauled out at Granville Island boatyard for the final survey, some little jobs and bottom paint. On Wednesday morning, with our nerves at end we finally finished the jobs, gone to get our last vaccinations and waited for high tide to put the boat back into the water.

With full diesel and water tanks, all non-perishable provisioning and all gear onboard, the boat weight in at 22000 lbs. It is quite heavy, but is about the weight we anticipated. 

We are currently at anchor in False Creek and this will be home for the next 2 weeks.

Bon Voyage Party

First we would like to say thanks to Morgan and Aaron for letting us use their house and for been such good hosts. We would also like to say thanks to all our friends who were able to join us on such sort notice. We had a great day with great food and great weather.

Christmas 2009

We left Shelter Island on Thursday 24 December, very cold, no wind but sunny. An uneventful trip down the river and across the Strait of Georgia. We were playing around with our new camera, trying out the different settings. Dinis made his first ham QSO while we were motoring. We anchored in Clam bay for the night.

On Christmas morning after breakfast we left for Cowichan bay on Vancouver Island to visit with some friends. Again very cold, no wind but sunny. What a surprise when we saw ice covering the water. What a bigger surprise was the noise level inside the boat while slowly making our way through the ice. By our estimate the ice was about 4-6 mm thick at most. We took lots of photos and videos of this.

We moored at Dungeness Marina for 2 days. Both days were very foggy and very cold. The marina was iced up. We visited with our friends and had a wonderful time.

We left on Sunday for Saltspring Island. Morgan met his friends there and got a lift Monday morning back home with them. We left Saltpring Island later Monday morning.

We stayed a few more days in the Gulf Islands and then made our way to False Creek on the last day of 2009.  What a nice sail we had crossing Strait of Georgia, the wind was blowing about 18-22 knots and we tried our new staysail with a reef in the main.
We arrived back on Saturday night. What a great time we had.