Category Archives: Ticket to Ride
On Christmas Eve the wind was calm as we motored away from La Paz, MX. On the glassy water surface, we saw something in the water that we thought might be rays skimming the top of the water. But it turned out to be a very large something…. a pod of whale sharks!
We turned off the engines and watched them move along the water in was seemed a leisurely pace. This gentle, beautiful creature swam right next to Ticket to Ride!
What a wonderful early Christmas gift to be able to see these pretty beasts!
The kids jumped into the water for an underwater view, then we launched the paddle boards for an above water show. The wales sharks didn’t like the sound of TTR‘s engines, but they didn’t seem at all bothered by us in the water or by the paddle boards.
So big but so gentle!
This was such a fun experience and a nice Christmas gift to share with our kiddos.
Time and internet have been limited, so this is just a quick post to share this very fun whale shark sighting. We hope you had a very blessed Christmas and wish you an adventurous and happy 2020!
We departed Turtle Cove early in the morning for our sail to Bahia Santa Maria, a journey of slightly more than 220 nautical miles. At the beginning of this leg we jibed several times because the wind was directly behind us, but a few hours into the sail, the wind shifted and we were able to take a tack about 15 degrees off of our rhumb line and slightly out to sea. The result was a very comfortable and pretty quick run down to Bahia Santa Maria.
s/v Ravenswing flying her kite.
Three boats arrived in Santa Maria before TTR: a J122 named Day Dream, s/v Ravenswing which is a Farrier 36’ trimaran and s/v Kalewa, a 50’ custom catamaran that is light and built for racing. Kalewa was the fastest boat in the HaHa fleet and owners Kevin and Katie are as much fun is Kalewa was fast.
As soon as we dropped anchor, we hailed the crew on s/v Day Dream and invited them over for celebratory cocktails. Day Dream had four gents aboard and no dinghy, so Frank picked them up in Day Tripper and brought them over. Needless to say, the guys were very happy to see iced drinks because, though they were comfortable and fast on Day Dream, some of the luxuries aboard TTR were not available on their boat.
Several boats from the HaHa fleet spoke of a storm that brought rain and reports of wind up to 37 knots but none of the early boats, including TTR, saw any of that rain or wind.
The HaHa Fleet anchored under a full moon in Bahia Santa Maria.
According to Charlie’s Charts, Bahia Santa Maria is four miles wide and 11 miles long, and this small anchorage offered us a range of fun activities. Mindy, Ron, Frank and I spent a quiet morning exploring the sand dunes a few miles from where we were anchored.
Sand strewn with shells and dollars.
The shore is fine sand littered with sand dollars beyond which are mounds of wind swept dunes.
The four of us spent a couple of hours looking at little creatures in the sand and climbing the sand dunes.
Frank was a spec on a distant sand dune.
I like the sharp sand edges created by the wind.
Landing and launching the dinghy can be challenging in Santa Maria and on our way off the beach we managed to take a decent wave over the front of Day Tripper. No injuries or problems occurred, but we did take on an unexpected guest.
This little black bird was swept into our dinghy with the waves ~ notice his duck-like feet!
We gently captured “Nevermore” from the water sloshing in the dinghy and gave him time to dry out as we motored back toward TTR. By the time we were ready to vacate the dinghy, Nevermore was also ready and he flew off to rejoin his friends.
One of the very first songs played at the Beach Party!
The HaHa Rock n Roll Beach Party at Santa Maria included plenty of food, beverages and live music. It was fun to mix and mingle, dance in the sand and hang out on shore with the other boaters.
As usual, Mindy is having a terrible time.
HaHa-ers finding shade on the stoop of a local’s home.
Santa Maria has a long, shallow sandy bottom that becomes visible at low tide. In the two pictures below, the tide is already low and you can see how much of the sand is revealed as the tide continued to go out.
Notice the wave breaking midway out in this photo.
Now sand is revealed all the way to that wave break.
This shallow area also creates some fun, small waves before the tide gets really low. Frank, Ron and I took advantage of the smooth floor and soft waves for SUP surfing and body surfing. We, along with a few other HaHa cruisers, delayed our departure from Santa Maria to spend some extra time playing in the waves.
We really didn’t want to leave Bahia Santa Maria, but the HaHa had a schedule and we were expected at the next stop, Man-o-War Cove, just 27 nm down the peninsula.
I’m pretty certain TTR was the last boat to leave Santa Maria, because you know, we couldn’t stop surfing just to arrive early at the next stop! Still, we arrived and anchored in Man-o-War just prior to sunset and in time for the Great Raft-Up held behind the Grand Poobah’s boat s/v Profligate.
We quickly dropped anchor, gathered beverages and a sharable appetizer, launched Day Tripper and motored over to the Raft-Up. We tied up to the gaggle of about 40 dinghies and enjoyed the musicians and dancers showing their talents on Profligate’s beamy transom.
We hung out until the raft-up ended about and hour later. By then we had met our neighboring dinghies, shared food and swapped stories about our travels thus far.
As is the case with sailing, we are captives of the weather and although the HaHa had a schedule, mother nature decided to make us stand up and pay attention. A tropical depression was developing south of Cabo San Lucas and the Grand Poobah was concerned for the safety of his 153 boats.
Many of the HaHa boats had made marina reservations in Cabo, but since we prefer anchorages, we did not have a reservation in a marina. The storm was forecast to hit Cabo from the south and the Cabo anchorage does not have any protection. We decided to stay in Magdalena Bay and see how the storm developed rather than face an undetermined storm in an open anchorage.
The majority of the fleet left but about 20 boats decided to stay in Man-o-War and see how the storm developed before leaving Magdalena Bay. In the end, the Tropical Storm Raymond moved much more slowly than originally forecast and mostly dissipated before arriving in Cabo. However, the port captain did close the Cabo anchorage and we would have had to quickly sail north toward La Paz had we moved to Cabo as planned.
Our gathering spot in Man-o-War Cove.
The 20 HaHa boats who remained in Man-o-War dubbed themselves the HaHa Hijos (HaHa children) and made the best of the situation. There is one restaurant in Man-o-War and we used it as a gathering spot. Some folks took pangas (small local fishing boats) to the nearby city of San Carlos where they shopped or dropped off crew who had schedules to meet.
We explored Man-o-War on foot and quickly covered the town.
Ye old lighthouse is a bit worse for the wear.
A hike to the cross.
Man-o-War from the anchorage ~ notice the lack of green vegetation.
The exterior of the church.
People often ask what we do all day on a boat. Our time in Magdalena Bay is a great example of how we spend idle time since Tropical Storm Raymond delayed our departure by five days. The account of our days while watching Raymond will give you an idea…
Chart from “Charlie’s Charts Mexico,” 13th Edition.
Unlike the other HaHa Hijos boats, we decided to move TTR out of the relatively open Man-o-War anchorage and seek shelter from the anticipated winds in another part of Magdalena Bay. After consulting the weather forecasts and scanning the charts, we moved TTR south and east toward “Sector Navy” or the Navy Base.
Motoring past Sector Navy before we were chased out of the basin.
We poked TTR into the basin just south of the Naval Base and very soon three men in a Navy inflatable came roaring out to us and made sure we weren’t planning on anchoring in the basin. We had considered it, but the guns they were carrying convinced us we weren’t welcome.
So we motored TTR to a secluded spot away from the Navy Base where we would be protected from both wind and waves.
The rain set in and we spent the days playing games, evaluating the weather, observing nature, exploring nearby points and wondering how our friends were fairing in Cabo.
We ended up spending four nights in the SE part of Magdalena Bay and changed anchor spots three times in response to the revised forecasts. These moves weren’t strictly necessary, but they allowed us to see other parts of the Bay. And let’s face it, we weren’t very busy.
We kept in VHF contact with the other HaHa Hijos boats in the bay and, as we expected, the long fetch into Man-o-War anchorage allowed a good bit of chop to build up. Those sailors had a couple of unpleasant days/nights at anchor so we were very happy we had moved and had such a calm place to wait out Tropical Storm Raymond.
Ron made the official toast to Neptune.
Adult beverages were a bit low on TTR so we created a rum punch concoction that left much to be desired. Since it wasn’t going to be drunk, we made an event out of a sacrificial offering to Neptune and asked for protection and safe travels. (But I also made sure God knew it was all in fun!)
Hoping our offering would bring fair winds.
One day we dropped Day Tripper to explore our surroundings and went to visit the fishing village of Alcatraz. Fortunately we were not incarcerated but were allowed to freely walk the streets.
Alcatraz is one of the most primitive towns we have explored. Mindy’s Spanish was the best of the bunch and she spoke with a local lady to determine there is not a restaurant in Alcatraz. There was a small tienda, the size of the cockpit on TTR or maybe smaller. We didn’t buy anything because we didn’t want to take goods the locals might really need. Having struck out on a restaurant and tienda, we asked about a place to buy cervesas.
I’m not sure what Jose was running for, but he probably won.
“Oh yes, go down this road until you get to the horse. Turn left at the horse and follow that road. Soon you will see the blue house where you can buy a beer.”
I have to admit, that is the first time a horse has been my cue to make a turn!
A successful quest for cervesas.
We found the beer which was sold from a man’s home. It wasn’t particularly cold, but it was a novel place to buy a beer!
A pretty place to sit and swap stories and plans.
Other things we did to keep busy while on the boat with almost nowhere to go? Sat on the trampoline and enjoyed our surroundings, took care of a bit of laundry, cleaned a bit, made some soft shackles, baked bread and generally enjoyed the company of good friends and a safe, beautiful place to wait out a storm.
The Baja wears green after it rains!
Remember the picture of those dry brown hills from earlier? Well look how green things became after the rain! The landscape popped into a lush green almost overnight after the rain of TS Raymond!
Sunset after the rain.
TTR and the other HaHa Hijos boats left for Cabo five days after the main HaHa fleet. Tropical Storm Raymond turned out to be all thread and no punch; which is exactly how I like my storms! Cabo had a lot of rain and some wind. The ports in Cabo and La Paz ware closed and apparently there was some sewage spillover (yuck) in Cabo, but no damage to speak of.
Magdalena Bay had even fewer effects from the storm. However, I think we made the prudent decision based on the weather information we had. Raymond moved much more slowly than originally predicted and caused us to remain in Magdalena longer than expected. If we had known Raymond would fizzle out, we would have made a run for La Paz or Jose del Cabo so that Mindy and Ron would have had more time in the Sea of Cortez before they returned to Guatemala.
But those thoughts are based on hindsight. I believe our cautious decision was a smart choice.
We arrived in Cabo around 4:30 am and spent the day re-provisioning, getting a sense of the touristy areas as well as parts that felt more authentically Mexican.
We found some very authentic food in a back street of Cabo.
We met up with the Grand Poobah aboard Profligate where the stragglers were given awards form completing the HaHa. This is the first time the HaHa has faced a tropical storm so I’m sure it will be a memorable one for Richard.
HaHa Hijos group aboard Profligate.
We celebrated with others from the Haha, then happily returned to Ticket to Ride, ready to get a good night of sleep after our 4:30 arrival.
HaHa members celebrating their arrival in Cabo.
The end of the 2019 Baja HaHa concluded our second ever sailing rally. Our first was the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally aboard our first sailboat, Let It Be. The two Rallies were incredibly different!
Baja HaHa completion… not sure what our 3rd place was for.
The Sail to the Sun Rally is an eight week journey down the Intracoastal Waterway in the company of 20 boats and every night we stopped in the same marina or anchorage with the other boats. None of the sailors knew each other before beginning the 2016 STTS Rally. In two months we had plenty of time to cement friendships with every boater on the trip. After the STTS Rally ended, we continued to travel with about seven of those rally boats for several weeks. We traveled with Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kia for six months before Mauna Kia was tragically lost in Hurricane Irma because she had engine trouble and couldn’t escape that terrible storm.
By comparison, the Baja HaHa is a quick event of less than two weeks and included 153 boats this year! There are a few events before the start of the HaHa, a concluding event or two at the end and three stops along the journey. Although I do not have the numbers, it seemed that many of the boats hailed from the same marina or sailing club and knew each other before beginning the HaHa. The number of boats, the fact that many folks knew each other already and the short duration of the HaHa made it difficult to get to know many people during the HaHa.
For us, the true value of the HaHa is meeting sailors whose travel plans are similar to ours. We think the HaHa is actually more valuable after its conclusion because as we come across other sailors who were part of the Haha, we have an “excuse” to introduce ourselves to them. In fact, in less than a month since the conclusion of the HaHa, we have met people from a dozen HaHa boats in anchorages along the Sea of Cortez.
This is not to say one Rally is better than the other. We had and excellent time on both rallies but they felt radically different.
Both the Sail to the Sun Rally and the Baja HaHa Rally can be seen as a safety net for folks who don’t have a lot of offshore experience and the rally give them confidence to cut the lines and go. The rallies also act as deadlines for some sailors who might continue to put off departure unless they had a specific date they had to meet.
We have only good things to say about the HaHa and our experience. We are very glad we participated and having Mindy and Ron share the HaHa made it even better.
Mindy and Ron had very little time left in Mexico, so we yanked up the anchor after only 24 hours in Cabo and headed into the Sea of Cortez to give them a glimpse of the wonders it holds.
An hour into our trip we spotted a few whales! So hopefully the SOC will share some of its unique beauty before Mindy and Ron have to fly away to Guatemala where s/v Follow Me is patiently awaiting their return.
As always, thank you for reading this (rather long) post! We would love to hear your thoughts if you want to share them in comments. If you want to hear from us more often, please find our FB page.
Hola from Mexico! It has been forever since I have found time (and WiFi) to sit down and actually write about our travels.
Frank and I were quite busy the last few weeks before the start of the Baja HaHa. We spent our last weeks in Long Beach, CA preparing to leave the country for an extended period of time which means we tried to buy some things we will need/want for the next year or two. That means we have ordered a LOT of spare parts for TTR and stocked up on some routine things that we like to have and may not be able to find in another country (think favorite spices, shampoos, lotions or potions).
For anyone who owns Amazon stock, don’t be surprised when their monthly earnings drop after our departure! 😉
Our departure date was a firm one of November 4th with the 2019 Baja HaHa. The HaHa is a casual rally of boats that departs from San Diego and makes two or three stops on the way to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We joined the HaHa to meet other cruisers and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow sailors.
This is where we are going!
We left Long Beach and headed south to San Diego where our dear friends, Ron and Mindy of s/v Follow Me flew in to join us for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally. Mindy and Ron left their boat in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala and joined us on TTR for the Rally.
The first official HaHa event for the four of us was the BBQ and Costume Party. The parameters for our costume were: 1. it must be easy 2. it must be comfy 3. it must not take much time to assemble.
Our costumes aren’t great, but they are met our criteria!
The result was our “Three sheets to the wind” attire. Happily, everyone knew what we were and assembly took less than 15 minutes.
Perhaps our favorite costume was s/v Kalawa’s. Kevin and Katie were Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. I believe they were the funniest costume of the event.
Another favorite was the buoy and anchor chain!
Big kudos to Richard Spindler, the HaHa Grand Poobah, who put on quite the start for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally.
We trailed the HaHa pack and had a great view at the start.
As the 153 HaHa boats left San Diego, we had a Coast Guard escort, a mariachi band playing from a boat and a fire boat to celebrate the HaHa kick off; thus establishing a festive atmosphere for the Rally.
Love this fire boat!
Serenaded as we motor sailed out of San Diego, CA.
The first leg of the Rally was the longest. We had great conditions for sailing and immediately threw up the Doyle cable-less reacher and main sail. The wind speed and direction were perfect for a spinnaker but we do not have one on TTR. The spinnaker would be too large for Frank and me to handle along, so instead we use the Doyle cable-less reacher which we had cut deeper than usual. We can pull the reacher tack toward the windward bow and increase the wind angle range for this sail.
Pretty decent speeds for a cruiser boat and less than 11 knots of wind.
Also, Frank had a small stay sail made by Ulman Sails just before we left Long Beach. This sail helps funnel the wind between the main sail and the reacher. It worked very well and added about a knot to our deeper angled sailing.
Pretty soon we were toward the head of the fleet and had a beautiful view of the kites.
Neck and neck spinnakers.
Fishing on this first leg to Turtle Bay was excellent and the VHF was full of reports from HaHa fleet boats who were catching tuna, dorado, skip jack and more.
Frank and Ron managed to land two tuna.
Sunset our first night out.
Mindy and I took the first watch and enjoyed seeing this colorful sunset. Ron and Frank took over at 1 a.m. so Mindy and I could sleep until 7 or so.
Our first HaHa stop at Turtle Bay was two nights. The first night we invited the four gentlemen from s/v Day Dream to join us for sundowners. Since they had no dinghy or ice, they eagerly accepted our offer for a ride and chilled drinks.
The next day we strolled around town admiring the unique flare the locals have for appointing their homes.
An interesting combination of beads and curios at this home.
After “walking up” and appetite, we found a local taco spot and indulged in lunch and cervezas. Frank was truly happy to reacquaint himself with food from the Baja!
Cell towers trump pavement.
Ambling toward the baseball field.
We also participated in the annual Baja HaHa Cruisers Against the Locals baseball game. The baseball game was silly and fun without many rules. I was amazed how often the cruiser first baseman “missed” a catch! The game allowed the local kids to show off their prowess on the diamond and some of these kids were very talented!
Preparing to play ball!
Once the game was finished, the cruisers donated their baseball equipment and each of the kids was allowed to choose a piece of equipment to keep. I wonder if they agree to play just to get the new equipment? Not really though. The kids were engaging and enthusiastic. I think they had as much fun as the HaHa folks.
Sunset at Turtle Bay.
This was the extent of our brief first stop of the 2019 Baja HaHa. I’ll share the remainder of the HaHa in our next blog.
In the mean time, thank you for stopping by. I am truly sorry for the lapse in posts, but travel plus preparations to leave California severely limited my opportunity to write. Hopefully things will settle a bit and I can catch up on some of the things I missed, like our hands-on safety at sea class in Rhode Island!
All the best from Mexico!
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This last two weeks has been one for the travel books, which sounds weird since we live a traveling lifestyle. However, we flew from California to Texas, Texas to Annapolis and Annapolis to Rhode Island. And tomorrow we fly back to California via Chicago.
Texas was all about doctor visits and was so quick we hardly saw anyone! 😦
Annapolis was all about the sailboat show and visiting with sailing friends new and long term. (Notice I do not say “old” about friends anymore!) We had a great time reconnecting with some of our 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally Group. If you are interested in our experience with this rally, see our posts from October through December 2016. Spoiler Alert: We had a blast and are still in touch with many of the Ralliers!
We traveled to Bristol, RI to complete the hands on portion of the Safety at Sea Course, which was excellent! We highly recommend this course and I will write a blog specifically about the class very soon.
The reason for this quick blog is to share photos from our stop at the Newport Harbor today. We went to visit Chris Bailet (captain extraordinaire) who was the commissioning skipper for Ticket To Ride. Our visit with Chris was great and fun and informative, as always.
But walking through the boatyard was like walking through a museum of beautiful boats! You know you are surrounded by some amazing boats when 66 foot catamarans look small.
I took a few quick shots with my phone because the boats were just so pretty and impressive.
First lets start with the boats with which I am familiar:
HH66 Nala ~ a stunner.
Turn 45 degrees and oh, look, it’s Phaedo, a beautiful Gunboat.
Speaking of Gunboat ~ here is the new 68′ “Condor”
But enough of the catamarans, how about a little variety?
This 140′ monohull is in fabulous condition!
Check out the wrap on this racer! And those dagger boards!
Notice the keel?
This boat might not catch your eye immediately, well except for its sheer size. But hey, you want to go shallow? Can you see the rather unusual keel? Check out the close up below.
This keel folds up in shallow water!
But perhaps you are more of a motor sailor…. how about a cute little tug boat that has been refitted?
Isn’t that great? And I am sure you can carry all the toys you desire!
But perhaps you prefer to travel in a slightly more luxurious style. This motor yacht might strike your fancy.
Gitana is giganta!
Notice that Gitana is still attached to the travel lift which we saw move her back into the water. I was nervous when TTR was lifted, so imagine how it feels to have this boat hauled!
Oh, by the way, that is a 500 metric ton travel lift!!!
Hmmm, I thought they did things BIG in Texas…. wonder if there are Texas yards to rival this one?
Which one of these boats is your favorite?
Enough ogling of giant boats for me. I am truly content with TTR and I can hardly wait to fly home tomorrow.
But I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures of these very impressive boats.
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Nighttime Santa Barbara from TTR’s cockpit
After Santa Cruz, we headed to the lights of the mainland at Santa Barbara for a quick visit. We only had one full day to explore Santa Barbara, so out came the e-scooters for a tour around town.
Exploring by e-scooter
Santa Barbara was very clean and pretty. It’s impossible to see it in one day on an e-scooter, but one place we stumbled upon in the midst of the city captured our regard.
There is a one square block park in the heart of Santa Barbara that is a nirvana of green space ~ Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden.
The property where the park lies has traded hands several times since the inception of Santa Barbara in 1850. In 1903, Mary Miles Herter built a grand home with beautiful grounds on this block. Upon Herter’s death, her sons transformed the home into a hotel and they built bungalows all around the main hotel. “El Marisol” became THE place for wealthy folks to mingle and find retreat.
In 1920 the property was bought by Frederick Clift who maintained the gold standard of El Marisol until he sold it in 1940. For the next 35 years, the property changed hands and its use varied.
In 1975, Alice Keck Park anonymously purchased the property and donated it to the city of Santa Barbara with specific instructions that it was to be used only as a public space. She also specified that her identity was not to be revealed until after her death.
Shade and sun dapple the park.
Alice Keck Park’s original gift of the land included enough funds to turn the then neglected land into a beautiful park and maintain the grounds going forward.
Birdsong was louder in the park than the sounds of nearby traffic.
Today the park is a bubble of beauty with pockets of themed gardens like the butterfly garden or the water feature overflowing with turtles and ducks. Within the park is a sensory garden area where visually and physically impaired visitors can enjoy the variety of scents, sounds and textures.
This is a brugmansia arborea or Angel’s Trumpet.
Angel’s Trumpet close up.
A special thank you to my SIL, Emily, who told me the name of this plant. Em also informed me that the flowers and leaves are poisonous…. I cannot believe that here in California there wasn’t a giant sign warning about this tree!!
Giant palms towered over flowering bushes.
Although we stumbled upon this park, it was so pretty and serene that we ended up spending about an hour just exploring the various areas and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere.
To the left was the pond with the butterfly garden beyond it.
A map showing the 75 different types of trees within the garden.
One final picture to share from Santa Barbara…. we scootered past this house and it was so cute and quirky that I had to snap a photo.
This is so inviting but I’m sure the plants would die under my care.
We left Santa Barbara early the next morning and sailed to Point Dume. We anchored off of a small cove where some friends live. Point Dume was also a quick stop but it was full of fun thanks to Sydney and Michael whose hospitality was amazing!
Sydney put together a really delicious dinner on the beach and we enjoyed sharing their company while watching the sunlight disappear.
The views from TTR while anchored off Pt. Dume were gorgeous in the morning light.
Looking east from TTR
Love the circle of light in the clouds.
The little beach where we had dinner is on the left.
Frank and I took a long walk and saw some pretty homes and pretty views from the cliffs.
The view looking out to the water instead of in from the ocean.
Last year when we were traveling in our RV, fires were ravaging many parts of the west where we visited. Our plans were altered to avoid the fires and we never really saw the results of the fires. While walking in Pt. Dume, we were stunned by the remaining evidence of the fires California suffered. The capriciousness of the fire witnessed by the path of the destruction and how the fire destroyed one home and didn’t even touch another was shocking.
Many homeowners have yet to begin the rebuilding process. It is truly sad to see the homes that were destroyed and imagine the lives that were lost and permanently altered.
Next up for us is a visit back to Texas, followed by the Annapolis Boat Show then a quick stop in Rhode Island for a hands on safety at sea course where we will actually use our PFDs (personal flotation device), deploy and climb into a life raft, and gain hands on experience with other safety equipment. The safety at sea class is part of our efforts to make sure we are as prepared as possible for our sailing adventures, though we certainly hope never to use any of this particular knowledge!
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So last week, Frank and I had the opportunity to do a little sailing and explore a bit more of California. We left Long Beach and headed directly to Santa Cruz Island, which was about 70 miles.
Sunrise over Long Beach.
We started the day early and motored until the wind filled in about half way to our destination. Once the sails were out, our speed increased and we managed to arrive at Santa Cruz around 3 pm.
Santa Cruz is 22 miles long and varies between 2 and 6 miles across making it the largest of the eight Channel Islands. We were able to spend 5 nights on Santa Cruz and we anchored in three different anchorages.
Our first stop was Potato Cove because it was a very calm day which is needed to stop there. We were the only boat and we dropped the bow anchor and a stern anchor, prepared to stay the night in the beautiful isolation of this tiny bay. But between the noise and smell of the birds and sea lions, plus the pestering of insects, we decided a different location would be better.
A decent view while lounging on TTR in Little Scorpion.
Instead of staying in Potato Cove, we motored over to Little Scorpion and dropped the anchor. We spent two nights anchored at Scorpion and relished being back on the hook and feeling like cruisers again. The anchorage was very pretty and the light during the day and at night was crisp and clear.
Full moon rising over Santa Cruz while anchored in Little Scorpion.
We took a couple of great walks that offered fabulous views as you can see from the pictures below.
That anchorage is Little Scorpion but TTR is tucked in near shore and out of sight.
Looking west from up high on Santa Cruz.
There is evidence that Santa Cruz Island has had human occupation dating back 10,000 years! During the mid to late 1800s, ranching and farming were introduced to Santa Cruz Island. Pigs and sheep were raised on the island and both olive trees and grapes were planted.
I’m not certain, but I believe the combination of difficult terrain and the challenges of transporting goods needed and for sale soon caused a collapse of the farming on Santa Cruz.
The sheep and pigs that were abandoned on the island became feral, they multiplied and caused great damage to the vegetation on Santa Cruz. In addition, the chemical DDT caused the shells of native bald eagles to become too fragile to incubate which decimated the bald eagle population on the island. With the demise of the bald eagles, Golden Eagles began hunting on the island to feast off of the piglets and foxes.
Basically the natural balance of Santa Cruz was destroyed by the introduction of the new non-indigenous animals and plants.
Several decades ago, efforts were begun to restore Santa Cruz to its’ natural state by removing the feral pigs and sheep, relocating the golden eagles, restoring native plants and reintroducing the bald eagles back onto Santa Cruz. (Restoration information gathered from The Nature Conservancy.)
We found areas of Santa Cruz had more lush vegetation than on Santa Barbara.
The Santa Cruz Island Fox, the smallest fox in the world, was near extinction, but efforts to breed these foxes in captivity and release them on Santa Cruz has been successful. Between the breeding program and the removal of the Golden Eagles, the Santa Cruz fox is beginning to thrive once more. (The Nature Conservancy)
Our next stop on Santa Cruz was Prisoners Harbor. We met the folks from our two neighboring boats and enjoyed sharing sundowners with them. Ironically it turns out the people on s/v Fellowship had met Clayton’s friend Connor while Connor was sailing in the Sea of Cortez on his first boat, s/v Sea Casa. What a small world!!
Although I am admittedly a warm water girl, the water in Prisoners Harbor was calling me so I took the opportunity to swim and snorkel while Frank headed out on the SUP to explore the nearby landing area.
Anacapa Island shrouded in clouds.
The wind and water were exceedingly calm which was great because, unlike the Caribbean Islands, there is often very little protection in the harbors on the islands. If the wind had changed, Prisoners Harbor could have become very uncomfortable.
One of the reasons we went to Santa Cruz is that we had heard the worlds largest sea cave is on Santa Cruz and Frank and I really wanted to see it. We upped anchor in Prisoners Harbor and headed to Cueva Valdez anchorage so we would be close enough to dinghy to the Painted Cave.
How lucky are we to have this view?
Cueva Valdez is a tiny little bay that was just stunning! We spent the first afternoon appreciating it from the boat but the next day we explored the bits of beach.
Cave dinghy parking for one, please.
How cute is this little spot where we stowed Day Tripper while we climbed around on the rocks on shore? We never did see the Santa Cruz Island fox, but I’m pretty sure I saw fox prints inside the cave!
A little birdie came to nap on TTR.
The big appeal for me to head to Santa Cruz, in addition to some quiet, undeveloped anchorages, was the Painted Cave and I was not disappointed! We did make a wrong guess about which cave was the cave at first but our wrong turn exposed us a bunch of sea lions. It was early morning and the sea lions had a lot of energy.
Hey who are you guys?
The sea lions looked like a bunch of swimming gophers with their necks extended trying to figure our who we were! But when we came back the second time, they must have already had their morning playtime and feeding as they were much more chilled.
Supposedly sea lions lie around with flippers up to regulate their body temperature.
After researching the Painted Cave, I have learned that it is the largest sea cave in California and the fourth longest sea cave in the world. So, though it isn’t the biggest in the world, it’s pretty amazing!
Yep, we took Day Tripper into that ever narrowing and darkening cave!
Although the water is only 30 feet deep, the cave entrance is 160 feet high! And it extends 1227 feet in length – more than three football fields. And let me tell you, it is pitch black deep in that cave!
Colorful and narrowing.
I shot video going into the cave so you can have a better feeling for what the inside of the cave looked like….
Ignore the video quality and enjoy the cave…
The first time we went in Painted Cave, we had the motor running and the sea lions in the back were barking up a storm! I was pretty nervous because I could hear (and smell) the sea lions, but I couldn’t see them unless I shined the flash light right on them!
There was a rock shelf in the darkness and the cave split into two directions. On that shelf were about a dozen sea lions and we were much closer to them than I wanted to be when we spotted them in our flashlights!
The variety of color on the walls of the cave was surprising and really pretty.
The combination of the colors inside the cave and the tall expanse followed by the complete darkness was a very interesting experience.
Returning to the light at the entrance was very welcome!
Apparently sea caves develop along a weak area of rock which is pummeled by wave action. They can occur in a variety of rock types and often along a line between layers of rock with differing hardnesses. Painted Cave developed along a fault line which increased its’ weakness and susceptibility to erosion by the waves. (Thank you Wikipedia!)
After exploring the Painted Cave, we returned to TTR and relaxed in our little private anchorage, relishing the quiet of nature before leaving for Santa Barbara the next morning.
Five days was not nearly enough time to see Santa Cruz. There are several other places we would have liked to explore, but at least we had a chance to see a bit of this island and get a taste for its’ unique flavor.
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So life aboard Ticket To Ride is great but the other day Frank and I were talking about how we feel like we aren’t really cruisers at the moment but we also aren’t land dwellers. That old ‘not fish and not fowl’ situation.
We have truly enjoyed being in Long Beach and sailing to Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands. We have taken full advantage of on-line ordering and I’m pretty certain Amazon thinks we are the greatest customers ever. We have taken advantage of the grocery nearby and cooked new recipes with foods we can’t find in more remote places. We have gathered with friends to share land events and sailing events.
However, we don’t completely fit into land life since we live on a dock and we don’t have a car. If we need to go somewhere, generally we ride our e-scooters or take the dinghy, until we accumulate a few errands that are further away, then we rent a car. Also, unlike those in stationary homes and very typical of cruisers, we scramble and scratch to find decent internet and are quite limited in our ability to stream anything. We do have a cell/data plan, but we go through it surprisingly fast if we have to use it for all of our research.
The first “internet cafe” we found in the Sea of Cortez 2 weeks after leaving La Paz.
In some ways we have the best of both the cruising and the land dwelling world; the conveniences of US good and services, but the option to leave the dock for short escapes from the city.
One super exciting event for me was that one of my brothers, Jeff, came to visit. This is the first time he has visited us since we moved aboard in 2015. We did our very best to make sure he had a good time and will come visit us again!
As soon as Jeff arrived from the airport, we tossed off the dock lines and sailed toward Catalina Island. Since I live on a sailboat, it is hard to believe that this was the first time my brother has ever sailed! But he took to it like a duck on water and was soon manning the helm.
It’s a far cry from a golf course but this pro had no problem.
Jeff has as much energy as Frank does so we keep him busy with hikes, exploring by dinghy, paddle boarding, sailing, etc. Plus the Long Point Regatta was this weekend which was fun to watch.
The invitation only Long Point Regatta is organized by the Balboa Yacht Club and the Newport Yacht Club and includes three races; the first race was from Newport Beach to White’s Cove on Catalina Island, the second race was a return course from Long Point to Ship Rock and the third race was from White’s Cove to Newport Pier.
A few of the contestants preparing for race start.
The race start was especially fun to watch as all of the boats danced around the starting buoys waiting for their class to begin. The fact that we had an excellent view of the start while comfortably sitting on TTR’s bow in perfect weather added to the enjoyment of watching the second race.
Here are a few highlights from our weekend:
We tramped through some overgrown areas to get to this peak – it’s taller than you think.
We need some serious fishing advice – no bites, no nothin’
Surprisingly, Emerald Bay was quiet with very few boats.
Gotta throw some rocks.
This great view is the reward for walking up the hills in Avalon .
Race starts are a little crazy!
When we learned that the final race for the sailboats would begin just outside White’s Cove and end at Newport Beach, we decided to leave a little before the racers, under mainsail alone, and watch the fleet approach. I managed to get a few pics of the sailboats and hopefully we didn’t interfere with their route or wind.
Grand Illusion was clipping right along.
I loved watching the boats deploy their spinnakers!
All the spinnakers made me think of hot air balloons.
Back row seat for the races.
Cheers to not racing!
Sunset dinghy around Naples Island.
Checking out the houses, boats and greenery.
Sunrise over Long Beach.
Time on TTR is a far cry from life as a golf professional in Ft. Worth, Texas, but I’m pretty sure Jeff enjoyed the change of scenery and pace ~ for a little while. Sea life certainly isn’t for everyone and I don’t think any of my siblings would be happy with this nomadic life, but it sure was fun to have my brother aboard. Thanks for making the effort, Jeffrey!
We hope to explore a few of the Channel Islands in mid-September but until then, we are stocking up on US life and making sure we understand TTR as well as possible before we head to Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha in early November.
Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. We will be back to sea life soon and have more cruiser-like posts. But for now we won’t inundate you with our ‘everyday’ life. Please check out our FB page for more frequent posts.
Although we are securely tied to a marina in Long Beach, CA, the memory of the jumping rays we saw in Los Frailes, Mexico is still fresh and vibrant. As we headed south toward La Paz, we stopped one afternoon to anchor in Los Frailes and were greeted by the distinct sound of belly flops.
Most folks who have spent any time near a public swimming pool would recognize the sound of a belly flop. This day in Los Frailes we heard that smack over and over and over again.
Wings up for a smack of a landing!
Ray after ray after ray was launching out of the blue sea and slapping back down into the water! Of course we anchored as quickly as we could, then lowered the dinghy and slowly approached the rays.
Wait for the slow motion jumping – they are beautiful!
Our haste was unnecessary as the rays jumped and splatted for hours – literally!
There were so many rays jumping that we feared one would land in the dinghy and we weren’t sure how we would manage to get it out without injuring it or us. So we returned to Ticket To Ride and enjoyed the show from the boat.
Hours later the rays were still jumping. In fact, when we went to bed we could still hear the repeated plops through the open hatch. Even when we awakened, the rays were still jumping.
Mr. Ray mid-flight.
There are a few theories about why rays jump out of the water like this:
- They are trying to remove parasites. (Yuck)
- They are excited about food in the area.
- This is a form of communication.
- This is part of a mating ritual or dance.
Personally, I think this was a combination of numbers two and four since the jumping lasted for well over 12 hours! Either that or these rays were particularly talkative or especially dirty. 🙂
I was trying to determine if these were Mobula or Manta Rays, but according to Dive Magazine, UK, there are no more Manta Rays, only Mobula, at least when determining scientific classifications. This combination of Mantas and Mobulas comes after a DNA study that reclassified Mantas into the Mobulas species.
While the DNA may classify these rays as one group, there are some physical differences. The primary difference is that the Manta Ray has its’ mouth in front of the body and the Mobula’s mouth is positioned a little further back, but still in front of the body.
My favorite picture of the rays.
Regardless of how the rays are classified, they were an excellent source of entertainment that day in Los Frailes. Every once in a while the slapping sound would stop and the bay would quiet. But soon enough the rays would begin their jump and flop once more and the sound alone would bring a smile to my face.
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Ha! Enough alliteration in that title?
So we have been back in Long Beach for two weeks now and we are having a blast! We have enjoyed an excellent mix of sailing, re-supplying and social time.
In the last two weeks, we have had many guests sail with us on TTR and other folks who have just stopped by to welcome us back or simply ask about our boat.
Needless to say it has been busy, but it has also been a ton of fun.
The sailing conditions in Long Beach Harbor cannot be beaten. There is a long break water just outside the marina that creates a large, calm area of water but the wind still blows nicely there. It is behind this break water that we first put TTR through her paces back in January and February when she arrived by container ship.
Once you leave the break water area, there is plenty of room to sail and the Channel Islands reduce the waves in the water.
Finally, if you want an easy destination sail, Catalina Island is a quick trip aboard TTR.
As an informational aside, we have the performance polars for TTR loaded into our B&G navigation system and on our nav screens we can see how well we are doing compared to the polars. This number is expressed as a percentage of optimal performance and is what we most often use to determine how well our sail configuration and sail set are working.
My view while helming TTR under double headsail.
Frank and I spent one afternoon last week sailing TTR using a variety of sail configurations for downwind sailing because we anticipate a decent amount of 140 port-140 starboard degree sailing when we head south again to Mexico and when we cross the Pacific Ocean toward the Marquesas Islands (spring 2020?). We are planning for times when the wind direction and our course cause our wind angle to move between 140 to 180 and we want to stay on rhumb line.
While sailing our last boat, Let It Be, we had an asymmetric spinnaker in a sock that we used for light downwind sailing. However, we think deploying that type of sail on TTR would be too powerful for the two of us to handle alone. When outfitting Ticket To Ride, we bought a cable-less reacher from Doyle sails and they cut the sail a bit fuller than usual so we can use this furling sail instead of a socked spinnaker.
TTR flying the Doyle cable-less reacher.
In an effort to test our downwind sailing options, first we put up our cable-less reacher only and tried sailing between 140-170 degrees. Sailing with only the reacher was simply delightful! The sail flew well and the motion of the boat was perfectly smooth. TTR moved along at about half of wind speed.
Using our reacher only, we were making about 80 percent of polars which translated into a boat speed of 6 knots in 12 knots of wind.
Not bad, 79.8% of polar with only one sail up.
Next we left our reacher up and added our jib on the windward side to fly double headsails. With this sail configuration we tried sailing through about 35 degrees of wind angle – say 155 to 170 on the opposite tack.
Frank walking the deck while sailing double headsails.
Sailing at these deeper angles and edging slightly from a port to starboard tack, we were again making half or a little more of wind speed. The boat was extremely comfortable and the sails were staying full. We maximized our sailing results by using an outboard jib lead on the jib sheet to help keep the clew to weather.
Using the reacher and jib we managed to meet 95-100+ of our polars which translated into a boat speed of 6.3 knots in 11.6 knots of wind.
Very happy with TTR’s performance under reacher and jib.
Based on these results, we have decided that we do not need to buy another sail for downwind, light wind sailing situations. We will work with the inventory we have and hope it takes us comfortably and relatively quickly to our destinations.
Our first round of guests back in Long Beach included our son, Clayton, and 9 of his friends who are sailing instructors at a camp on Catalina Island. These camp counselors don’t have a ton of time between camp sessions, so we picked them up on Catalina and went for a fast but short sail on TTR. As instructors, these kids are very good sailors and I think being on board a performance catamaran was a fun change for them. We were easily clipping along between 10-11 knots on TTR and they were loving the speed and comfort. They also enjoyed staying dry while sailing . 🙂
After a quick sail, we provided a home cooked, hot lunch which was enthusiastically consumed – probably it was a far cry from a summer of camp food! “Nomad” dubbed our marinated chicken “10 knot chicken” since Frank fired up the grill and cooked it while we were sailing back toward camp at 10 knots!
We really enjoyed sharing the afternoon with these young people. They were polite, appreciative and full of energy and cheer.
Laura, Lisa and Mary Grace
Our next guests were sailing friends we met in the Bahamas in 2017. We met Laura and Chris when they were volunteer fee collectors for the Exuma Land and Sea Parks. We ended up buddy boating with Laura and Chris off and on in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico! This is the 2nd time we have met up with Laura and Chris while in California because they regularly fly here when taking a break from their sailboat.
Lisa and Chris at the helm.
Happily we have also become friends with Lisa and Dave, who are long time friends of Chris and Laura. We took the four of them out for a long afternoon of sailing on TTR. It was fun to have experienced sailors on board and have everyone take turns at the helm and handling lines.
Chris, Don, Frank, Mary Grace and Laura (Thanks for the photo, Val.)
The next foursome who sailed with us are new friends we met while traveling in Mexico. We met these two couples in different parts of the Sea of Cortez, but soon realized they are both from this general area and know each other through sailing here. So of course when we realized the overlapping friendships we invited all four to come to TTR for an afternoon of sailing and dinner on board.
Seven out of eight of the people we took sailing this week have only monohull sailing experience. It is always interesting to hear the reactions of monohull sailors when they go out on TTR. First they are concerned that we have left too many items unsecured in the boat when we leave the dock. Next they are surprised by how high out of the water we are and how much space there is, without going down a companionway.
Once we are sailing, our monohull guests quickly appreciate the comfort of not heeling and the speed of TTR. Many times I have heard jokes between spouses that perhaps a cat is in their near future.
Gratuitous picture of TTR at anchor in the Sea of Cortez
Returning to Alamitos has been great. We love seeing our kids, meeting up with friends both old and new, and having access to so many conveniences. Frank is working hard to accumulate all the spare parts we might need when we leave for Mexico, then cross the Pacific. While in Mexico we ordered a couple of items that never arrived because they were held up in Customs, so the ease and speed of ordering on-line and having things delivered is greatly appreciated! I am spending time updating documents, looking for reference materials for our future cruising grounds, lining up a safety course and planning annual doctor visits (oh fun).
So there you have it. This is how we are currently spending our time in Alamitos Bay. Due to marina rules, we can’t stay on this dock long term, so we hope to explore a few of the Channel Islands when our time on this dock ends.
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We arrived in San Diego, CA from Ensenada, MX just after the sun came up and quickly dispatched with the clearing in process. (We used the Border Control app “ROAM” and it was very easy and efficient.)
We motored TTR through San Diego Bay to Glorietta Bay, a public anchorage right across from the Hotel del Coronado and overlooking the Coronado Golf Course.
Our youngest son, Clayton, happened to be in San Diego that day so we were delighted to get to spend the day with him on board TTR. Even though the trip from Ensenada to San Diego was an easy one, Frank and I were a bit tired from not having much sleep, so we all just hung out on Ticket To Ride and spent the day catching up and enjoying time together.
Enjoying this view from the boat was delightful!
Frank and I spent the next day exploring Coronado on our e-scooters**. Coronado is charming and picturesque. Plus the drivers are accustomed to bikers, skaters and pedestrians, so we felt comfortable puttering all over on our scooters.
We stopped at one beach that turned out to be the dog beach. The area was teeming with pups cavorting on the sand and in the water. I swear you could see the smiles on the faces of the dogs as they ran, sniffed and played to their hearts content. Pictures didn’t capture it at all! (Seeing all the dogs made my heart ache for Captain, but also lifted my spirit just seeing them play.)
Not as busy as the Maleçon in La Paz, but a nice place!
All told I think we scootered about eight miles this day, so we saw a good sampling of Coronado.
Looking across to downtown San Diego.
Of course we stopped at the very famous Hotel del Coronado so we could see it for ourselves.
See our trusty e-scooter waiting patiently? 😉
The Coronado Hotel is the second largest wooden structure in the U.S. and when it opened, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. The hotel architecture is classified as “American wooden Victorian beach resort” and is currently undergoing some renovations; but these are being handled very tastefully and are as unobtrusive as possible. The grounds of the complex are beautifully groomed; both the sand areas and the lawns and gardens.
Just one of the elaborate flower arrangements inside the hotel.
Inside the hotel, the woodwork is extremely rich and the old fashioned metal elevator gate gleamed. Greenery and flower arrangements abounded.
It is interesting to imagine what this hotel was like when it opened in 1888; ladies were wearing bustles and gentlemen sported top hats in the 1880’s. Today the attire, including our own, is incredibly casual and the patrons are exceedingly informal. Think how many changes in fashion, protocol, laws and customs that lobby has seen over the last 130+ years! The Coronado had been open for 30 years before women were even allowed to vote. I find it fascinating to imagine all the changes that have occurred during those 130 years the Coronado has operated.
The lobby was opulent but understated.
The Coronado has had an impressive number of influential, powerful and famous guests ranging from presidents to princes to movie stars, as well as military personnel and their families during WWII. The Coronado even claims to have a resident ghost! (Source: Wikipedia)
After an arduous (not!) few hours of scootering, we stopped at Clayton’s Coffee Shop for a late lunch. Clayton’s feels like a 1950’s coffee shop with its U-shaped counter seating and just a few booths. The menu is wide and the food was great, though sadly, the little juke boxes on the counters no longer work. Clayton’s is a popular spot that also sports a walk-up, order-out window if you don’t have time to sit down for a while.
Clayton’s Coffee Shop.
I am always glad to be back ‘home’ to the U.S. and San Diego was a special entry spot. The Navy has a large presence there and as a result I could hear the National Anthem played early each morning as the flag was raised. Listening warmed my heart and reminded me of how fortunate we are to have the opportunities and freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S.
All in all, I would say we scootered the stew out of Coronado and had a great time doing it! Exploring Coronado was fun and it’s nice to settle in and enjoy our own country for a couple of months before we join the Baja Ha-Ha in November and head back to Mexico.
**We bought Glion foldable scooters. They fold up and can be pulled along like a suitcase; they weigh about 22 pounds so they can also be carried and they store easily. We decided to buy the scooters to replace our mountain bikes which we found tiresome to transport to shore in the dinghy. So far the scooters have been a good compromise, though on rough road surfaces the ride can be really bumpy. We are not affiliated with Glion or Amazon.
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