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Jumping The Puddle ~ Our Longest Passage Ever.

Suppose you were going to take a three week trip and while you were on that trip, you were going to be completely self sufficient. You wouldn’t stop for any reason: not for any supplies or for directions, regardless of the weather or how tired you were or even if you were sick. On this trip you do not expect to see any people other than those with you and your path is unmarked and without signage. Oh, and if you have any problems, you must fix them yourself using only the supplies you have on hand.

Welcome to sailing across the Pacific Ocean!

This description sounds really dramatic but it is actually pretty accurate. 

Of course, we do have electronic charts on board Ticket to Ride to help with directions. We do have a satellite phone system (IridiumGo) that allows us to get weather updates or place emergency phone calls. We have safety equipment and emergency medical supplies. We are well informed and have taken classes to improve our knowledge (100 ton Captain’s licenses and Safety at Sea courses). We will have two extra crew members on board to help us with this trip.

We have done our best to prepare but the truth is, once we shove off, we are on our own for 3000 nautical miles until we reach Nuka Hiva, Marquesas.

So, although we have been having a fabulous time here in Mexico, much of our time and energy is being invested in preparing to leave Puerto Vallarta and sail to the Marquesas Islands.

The trip of about 3000 nm is probably the longest passage we will complete as sailors. TTR is a pretty fast boat and, if the weather cooperates, we hope to complete our trip in just 16 days!

On average, most sailboats take three weeks or more to complete this crossing. When considering passage time, we are fortunate!

We are not alone in our preparations as many other sailors are planning to sail to French Polynesia right now as spring is the best weather window for the trip. Unlike a road trip, we cannot stop along the way if the weather gets bad, so departure timing is important.

Drama aside, this is a big passage and preparation is essential. Fortunately I married an eagle scout who truly embraces the “Be Prepared” motto. Together we are tackling our To Do Lists and getting Ticket to Ride in prime condition.

If you are interested, here are a few of the items we have been and continue to address:

Paperwork check prior to our appointment at the French Consulate.

Long Stay Visas for French Polynesia.  As non EU citizens, we are allowed to enter FP and stay for 90 days.  However, we would like to be able to stay longer, so we have applied to the French Consulate for a LSV which would allow us to stay for one year. Applying for the LSV meant gathering a mound of paperwork, including a police report stating that we are citizens of good standing, financial information, proof of health and boat insurance… well just a bunch of things.  Then we had to travel to Mexico City to visit the French Consulate and apply in person.  We completed that appointment on January 29, 2020 and anticipate the response this coming week – about a six weeks processing period.

Those DHL envelopes held our Long Stay Visas!!!!!! Success!

Crew: although Frank and I originally planned on making this passage alone, we decided that having crew would make the passage safer, faster and more fun. To our delight, our youngest son, Clayton, is joining us for this passage! Clayton has plenty of sailing and water experience, plus he is a mechanical engineer and will be very helpful in case of any issues.  Our second crew member is Connor Jackson. Connor is a friend of Clayton’s and a very experienced sailor who crossed the Pacific two years ago in his 31’ Hunter sailboat. Connor’s experience and knowledge are valuable additions.

Connor, Clayton and Frank enjoying lunch on the trampoline of TTR.

By adding Clayton and Connor to the crew, we have lowered that average age on board TTR by 1/3 and I imaging the energy level will increase by an equal amount.

Every sailboat is like a tiny city that must produce its own power, refrigeration, water etc, so it is essential that all parts are working consistently and reliably for our passage.

For example, we have a water-maker aboard TTR and we rely on this for our drinking water. Frank has checked and triple checked the system to make certain it is working well and we won’t be thirsty while offshore. (We will bring some bottled water in case of a system breakdown.)

Frank is half way up the mast cleaning, inspecting and lubricating.

Rigging/sail inspection: inspecting our rigging and sails is very important since we are relying on them to propel us across the ocean. In addition to making sure the sails are holding up well, Frank has cleaned and waxed the mast, inspected the rigging and connections, oiled the sail tracks, greased winches, inspected blocks and made adjustments to lines and sheets. (I just had to hoist him up and down the mast.)

Spare parts:  Walmart cannot be reached!  TTR is full of spare parts and tools to insure (hopefully) that we can repair any issues we find.

Reviewing and changing boat insurance to cover us while in the South Pacific.  Because insurance companies suffered huge losses during hurricanes these last few years, obtaining insurance is more difficult than one would expect.

Reviewing medical insurance: international travel requires special insurance and our LSV requires us to have coverage in place for the duration of our visas.

Route Planning: gathering information about the best route to take, where it is best to cross the ITCZ, weather patterns on both sides of the equator, determining how/if we can stay in touch with other boats who are crossing, etc.

Connor demonstrating how to use on-line charts with images overlaid.

Navigating in French Polynesia: more and more sailors are relying on electronic chats and imaging as aids to navigation, especially in areas where the charts are not current and where Google images can be overlaid on charts. Fortunately, Connor has used many of the electronic charts and has graciously shared his knowledge with us and friends who are also heading across the Pacific Ocean.

Food Planning: so this could take a whole post unto itself. But the short story is that we have to have enough food on board for 1.5X our planned passage time. In addition to planning and buying the food, I need to have several precooked, frozen meals available in case we aren’t feeling well or the conditions are rough and cooking from scratch is not possible. Three meals a day, plus snacks and considering that at least one person is up and on watch 24 hours a day…. a lot of food and snacks are required.

Favorite foods: traveling to other countries means we get to try foods that are unique to those countries and are unfamiliar to us. That is a fun aspect of travel. However, when this is your full time lifestyle, you begin to miss foods you cannot find away from home. So, we are trying to stock up on a few special items that probably won’t be available after leaving Mexico.

Expensive/hard to find supplies: along the same lines of favorite foods, there are some items that are reasonably priced and easy to find in one place but cost and arm and a leg or can’t be found in other places. We are trying to flush out this information and stock up on some of those items. This can be as varied as motor oil and canned tomatoes or self-rising flour and alcohol.

Storage: once buying food and spares and tools is complete, we have to find places to store all of our extras. We are very fortunate that TTR has many convenient storage areas, but for long term trips like this one, we have to get creative.  Often this means opening up the beds, the floors and the seating areas to store things below them.  Pretty much wherever we can find safe and open spaces could be used for storage.

PPJ Meetings: Puerto Vallarta is a popular jumping off spot for sailboats making the Pacific Puddle Jump. As a result, there are many formal meetings where speakers present topics of interest: reading weather files, how to avoid storms, provisioning for long passages, medical emergencies, communication at sea, etc. Frank and I have attended several meetings and enjoy the information and getting to know others who are in the throws of preparing to jump.

Clean your bottom: boat bottom that is! Sailboats routinely need to have the bottom cleaned to prevent soft and hard growth from accumulating. Not only is the growth unsightly, it slows the boat’s progress through the water. Although we have an excellent bottom paint on TTR, growth still occurs and we will make certain her bottom is clean and smooth before we leave for the Marquesas.

Corona Virus: A unique aspect to our trip in 2020 is the unexpected and very fluid requirements and restrictions pertaining to the Corona Virus. In the past week the requirements for entering French Polynesia have changed depending on how you are arriving. Needless to say, we are staying informed about this and we are preparing to get additional health certificates as the requirements change.

So there you have it, a glimpse into our preparation for sailing across the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, good preparation is essential and we are doing our best to be very well prepared. Frank and I are thankful that Ticket to Ride is a strong, fast and reliable sailboat. We look forward to completing the preparations and actually beginning this voyage since it has been part of our distant plans for years!

Our goal is to depart within the next two weeks depending on finalizing some last items, completing our provisioning and finding the proper weather window.

If you would like to follow our progress, you can look for our location on this blog page: look on the right hand column for our location.

Thanks for reading our blog. If you have any comments, we would love to hear from you. We will try to figure out how to send an update or two as we are crossing the Pacific, but no promises at this point.

Christmas, Family, Sharks and Kites

Having the kids home for Christmas is a wish come true, so Frank and I were thrilled when Hunter and Clayton decided to spend the Holidays with us on TTR.

Having a real Christmas tree is unrealistic on Ticket to Ride, but Frank’s mom, Jackie, made us a festive and pretty lighted Christmas tree mural that we hung up in the salon of TTR.  Although Jackie hasn’t been to this boat yet, she managed to make the tree the perfect size – and it’s easy to roll up and store!

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The Christmas tree Jackie made for us is perfect!

Initially we thought the kids might enjoy being in La Paz where they would have access to local restaurants, the Malecón and nightlife, but we were mistaken. The focus of the trip would be sailing, sports and family time…. the usual Stich agenda!

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Just one area of many festive decorations on the Malecón La Paz

Although we consider ourselves to be fairly energetic people, the activity level increased significantly with everyone on board; and it was a blast. 

We toured the local farmer markets in La Paz for some fresh food and dinghied to Magote for a kiteboarding session. We also strolled along the Malecón and had a delicious dinner at Mesquite Grill.

But then it was time to get active.

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Between us and the gear, the rental car was packed!

Kiteboarding is always a focus on TTR especially for Frank and Hunter, but Clayton is an avid surfer so we wanted to find a few good waves. Since the wind did not look  promising for kiting, we rented a VRBO in Todo Santos and drove there for a bit of surfing and boogie boarding.

Christmas-1

This Toto Santos beach was pretty and had good waves!

Toto Santos is a charming little town and the surf beach is really pretty! We spent two days and one night in Toto Santos enjoying the surprisingly warm surf.  In fact, the water in Todo Santos was a good 10 degrees warmer than it was in La Paz. 

IMG_8976My handsome Clayton waiting for breakfast at La Esquina in Toto Santos.

There is a turtle sanctuary in Toto Santos and every day in December they release hatchlings at sunset. I was excited to see the little turtles crawl to freedom and all my guys were surprisingly interested as well.  Apparently many other people wanted to watch the turtle release too as there were about 50 people mulling about! 

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A little glimpse into the incubation tent.

The turtles are hatched in a large incubated tent monitored mostly by volunteers. Just after sunset eight plastic containers holding a total of about 100 hatchlings were released near the surf.

I had no idea that only one in 100 turtles survive to adulthood!  Thinking about it though, I can understand why – there are predators at every step of the turtles birth.

Christmas-3

Look how small and cute these little babies are!

First the egg has to hatch before some animal steals into the nest and eats it.

Next the hatchling has to walk from the relatively protected grass across the open sand to the ocean surf, and it is exposed and defenseless to prey during that slow, awkward crawl.

Driven by instinct, turtles scrabble toward the light of the setting sun they see over the ocean waves. However, these days the artificial lights used by humans can disorient the baby turtles causing them to go away from the ocean instead of towards it, creating another obstacle to survival.  For this reason, flash photography and flashlights were not allowed. 

Christmas-2

That is a long, dangerous crawl for these hatchlings to the ocean.

Once the hatchling reaches the ocean, it must swim for three days without food and catch a specific ocean current that will carry it on its first journey.  And of course, many sea animals think baby turtles make a delicious snack, so again the little things are in danger! 

IF the turtle manages to reach the current without being killed, it can relax and eat the plentiful food also drifting on the current.

I also learned that sea turtles ‘imprint’ the beach where they hatch and will return every year to the same location to lay their eggs.  Researchers do not know how the turtles record their particular beach or how they navigate back to the same spot.

After catching waves in Santos, we headed back to Ticket to Ride in La Paz and planned on sailing to some local anchorages, initially Colita Partida.  We set out one calm morning before the wind had filled in.  The sea surface was a flat, mirror of steel gray as we slowly motored away from La Paz.

Whale Sharks

How beautiful is this giant creature?

But very shortly, the smooth surface was broken by whale sharks!!

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Clayton is a fraction of the size of this whale shark!

We shut down TTR’s engines and grabbed snorkeling gear.  Since Frank and I have already had the whale shark experience, we stayed on board while the kids jumped into the water.

We launched the dinghy so Frank could get close to the whale sharks to let the swimmers jump in, but we found the whales didn’t much care for the engine noise. So we dropped the paddle boards and the guys were able to paddle right up to the sharks without disturbing them.

They swam SO close to TTR!

Even though I stayed on Ticket to Ride, I had a perfect view. You can see from this video I took from the deck of TTR that the whale sharks swam very close to our drifting boat.

Seeing and swimming with these whale sharks was a rare gift!

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Their markings are distinctive and stunning.

It’s pretty hard to beat the excitement of seeing those whale sharks, but the weather decided to show her stuff and prove that she is worth respecting.  Nothing bad happened, but the day was interesting. The weather changed from flat calm to breezy, then to about 28 knots of wind and dark clouds.  We quickly realized that anchoring in our original destination of Colita Partida was not going to be comfortable and we set our sights on Isla San Francisco or San Evaristo.

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A very vivid double rainbow one rainy afternoon.

After about 25 minutes the wind dropped off and the clouds drifted away. But an hour or two later, more clouds developed and another wind system blew through.  The wind shifted about 40 degrees in the blink of an eye and we decided the all around protection of San Evaristo would be a good choice in the shifty conditions.  Plus the wind was expected to be from the north for the remainder of the week and we could sail our way south as anchorages opened up.

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Hunter pulls Clayton for a foiling session.

San Evaristo is a quiet anchorage with a quaint and usually active fishing village that was inactive due to the Christmas Holiday.  But we managed to enjoy ourselves with a mixture of foil boarding behind the dinghy, SUPing and snorkeling. 

And we celebrated Christmas by exchanging gifts and giving thanks for our blessings.

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I love how Clayton is cheering for Frank’s successful foiling!

The wind forecast was showing excellent possibilities for some good kiting in La Ventana, a well known kite hangout around the corner from La Paz. Although a good place for kiting, La Ventana is not an ideal anchorage.  Instead we wanted to anchor TTR in Muertos and use a car to drive between Muertos and La Ventana.

So we sailed back to La Paz and dropped off half the crew who rented a car and drove to Muertos, while the other half sailed Ticket to Ride to Muertos.   We spent the next several days anchored in Muertos and split our time between Muertos and La Ventana.

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Clayton checking out the mainsail and Hunter kiting in the background.

The days were filled again with kiteboarding, swimming, snorkeling, foiling behind the dinghy, bits of boat maintenance and having shore time at the only Muertos restaurant, Cafe 1535.

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Hunter kite foiling in Muertos

New Year’s was a WILD night…. exhausted from another active day in the water and wind, we sipped champagne at dinner time and went to bed by cruisers midnight – 9 pm!

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Once in a while there was some rest time.

All too soon vacation time was over and we had to sail back to La Paz.  All of us were surprised how quickly the two weeks passed!

In concluding this post, I must be honest and admit that saying goodbye to my kids is hard for me. Sometimes I long for the more ‘traditional’ lifestyles my friends have back in Texas, where their families live nearby and they see each other on a routine basis. I miss the traditions we had with friends and neighbors at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years – sharing meals and parties – but especially spending time reminiscing about our histories together and creating new ones for later.

But then I have to be realistic…. if we lived in Texas, Hunter and Clayton would still live in California and we would see them less often than we do now.  It is much more interesting for them to come see us in unusual places on the boat than it would be to visit in Dallas.  Over the last few years we have spent Christmas together in Bonaire, the Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, etc.  All of these places add a uniqueness to our celebration and because we don’t see each other very often, we relish and appreciate the time we do spend together.

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Just one of the gorgeous sunsets in Muertos.

So when those days pop up and I miss seeing family and friends on a regular basis, I stop those thoughts and remind myself that this opportunity to travel with Frank on TTR brings blessings of its own. We love exploring both well known and more remote places on this planet and we get to meet new friends with whom we also create histories.  And hopefully our long time friends will find time to come visit us on TTR.

We hope your Holiday Season was filled with the love of family and blessings from above.  As always, thank you for stopping to read our blog.  If you have comments, we would love to hear from you.  And if you would like a more regular glimpse into what we see, please check out our FB page.

2019 Baja HaHa Rally ~ The Long, Stormy Conclusion

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. 

Ravenswings/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.

Bahia Santa MariaThe 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. 

Bahia Santa MariaSand strewn with shells and dollars.

The shore is fine sand littered with sand dollars beyond which are mounds of wind swept dunes.

Santa Maria-2Quatro amigos.

The four of us spent a couple of hours looking at little creatures in the sand and climbing the sand dunes. 

Santa MariaFrank was a spec on a distant sand dune.

Santa Maria-1I 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. 

Santa Maria-3This 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.

PB120091As usual, Mindy is having a terrible time.

Santa Maria-4HaHa-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.

Bahia Santa Maria-2Notice the wave breaking midway out in this photo.

Bahia Santa Maria-1Now 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.

man o war-3Our 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.

man o war-4Ye old lighthouse is a bit worse for the wear.

man o warA hike to the cross.

man o war-5Man-o-War from the anchorage ~ notice the lack of green vegetation. 

man o war-2The exterior of the church.

man o war-1The interior…

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…

IMG_8941Chart 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. 

Alcatraz-2Motoring 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.

Alcatraz-7Ron 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!)

Alcatraz-6Hoping 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. 

AlcatrazI’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!

Alcatraz-1A 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!

DSC05568A 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.

Alcatraz-4The 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!

Alcatraz-5Sunset 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.

Cabo-2We 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.

IMG_8890HaHa 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.

IMG_8894HaHa 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! 

IMG_8895Baja 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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

Newport, RI ~ Home Of The Giant Boats

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:

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HH66 Nala ~ a stunner.

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Turn 45 degrees and oh, look, it’s Phaedo, a beautiful Gunboat.

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Speaking of Gunboat ~ here is the new 68′ “Condor”

But enough of the catamarans, how about a little variety?

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This 140′ monohull is in fabulous condition!

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Check out the wrap on this racer! And those dagger boards!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

Thanks for stopping to read our blog.  Feel free to comment below. And if you want to hear from us more often, please check out our Facebook page: HH55 Ticket To Ride.

Santa Barbara And Point Dume ~ In The Blink Of An Eye.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This is a brugmansia arborea or Angel’s Trumpet.

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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!!

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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.

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To the left was the pond with the butterfly garden beyond it.

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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.

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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.

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Looking east from TTR

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Love the circle of light in the clouds.

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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.

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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!

Thank you for pausing to read our blog. Please feel free to add your comments below.  If you are interested in hearing from us more often, please take a look at our Facebook page.

A Tiny But Beautiful Glimpse Into Santa Cruz Island

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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That anchorage is Little Scorpion but TTR is tucked in near shore and out of sight.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

As always, thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear your comments. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check out our Facebook page.

 

One Foot On Shore And One Foot Aboard

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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We tramped through some overgrown areas to get to this peak – it’s taller than you think.

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We need some serious fishing advice – no bites, no nothin’

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Surprisingly, Emerald Bay was quiet with very few boats.

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Gotta throw some rocks.

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This great view is the reward for walking up the hills in Avalon .

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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.

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Grand Illusion was clipping right along.

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I loved watching the boats deploy their spinnakers!

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All the spinnakers made me think of hot air balloons.

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Back row seat for the races.

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Cheers to not racing!

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Sunset dinghy around Naples Island.

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Checking out the houses, boats and greenery.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Jumping Rays! Mobula Edge Out Mantas.

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.

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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.

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Mr. Ray mid-flight.

There are a few theories about why rays jump out of the water like this:

  1. They are trying to remove parasites. (Yuck)
  2. They are excited about food in the area.
  3. This is a form of communication.
  4. 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.

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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.

Thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear about your favorite ray experiences or your thoughts about our encounter. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check out our FB page.

 

The Baja Bash ~ Bashing 750 NM Toward California.

So we had heard a lot about the “bash” up the western coast of the Baja Peninsula required to return to California even before we left Newport Beach in March. But we figured we would face that bash when the time came.

Well the time has come and thankfully, “The Bash” is pretty much finished. We are nestled into a marina in Ensenada and are happy to be settled for a few days! (San Diego is a mere 60 miles north and Long Beach an additional 85.)

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Sunrise on passage – always SO welcome.

We stayed longer in the Sea of Cortez than anticipated because we enjoyed it ~ there is just so much to see. But with two named storms already in the Eastern Pacific, we knew we had to get moving north.

A reasonable weather window developed so we departed Puerto Los Cabos in San José del Cabo, at 7 am on July 4th.  While our compatriots were celebrating with BBQs, picnics and fireworks, we were beginning our trek north.

I believe we chose a good window for our trip, so we cannot complain about the choice of our weather.  In fact, along the way we ended up in VHF conversations with 5 other boats who had chosen the same timing to move north; two sailboats and three trawlers.

Fortunately we didn’t encounter winds above 19 knots, but when they are coming on your nose they are tiring.  The seas were also cooperative with most of them in the one meter range and none over 1.6 meters.

We even had some time to sail TTR on this trip!

As I have stated, two main reasons we bought our HH55 are her ability to sail well in many conditions and comfort. Ticket To Ride did not disappoint us in her sailing on this slog.

Over the 754 nautical mile, 5 day trip, we were able to sail at least a full 24 hours – that is without any engine assistance.  Our usual sailing wind angle for this trip was a true wind angle of 50-55 degrees with an apparent wind angle of 28-32 degrees. Even pinched up that tightly we were able to hold our course and TTR sailed faster than we could have motored.  We were often clipping through the water at close to 8 knots SOG with a current against us.

We also spent a good amount of time motor sailing with either our genoa or mail sail up.

The benefit of sailing instead of motoring, in addition to speed, is the comfort of the boat motion plowing through waves.  When sailing, the boat is much quieter because she moves through the water with less banging into the wave troughs and the engine is off.

I find the constant noise of upwind trips fatiguing, so sailing allowed us a slight sensory break.

The work on our AIS/VHF that we had done in La Paz has certainly improved our reception and transmission of our VHF.  The AIS is also improved but we suspect the unit itself might be faulty as it sometimes ‘goes out.’ Fortunately when Frank disconnected and reconnected it, the AIS resumed.**

Frank did a little fishing, without success. Well he did manage to catch one, but not a keeper….

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Frank carefully unhooked this guy and pushed him back into the water.

Clayton researched this shark for me and has decided it is a long fin mako. Any ‘sharksperts’ out there who want to confirm or correct this?

One of the trawlers we saw during the trek is here at The Marina Coral.  It is a beautiful Nordhavn 65′ yacht that also started at Marina Puerto Los Cabos and they completed the trip more quickly than we did.  The captain estimates they used slightly more than 800 gallons of fuel compared to our 150 gallons for this trip.

I found it interesting to have a mile for mile comparison on fuel consumption between the trawler and TTR. I wish I knew exactly how long the trip took them. Don’t take this as a criticism of motor boats…. someday sailing may become too much for us and we might move to one.

The weather has definitely changed already. While in the SOC, we never saw rain and rarely saw any clouds.  It was hot and the water was a welcome respite from the heat. But now the clouds cover the early morning sky and burn off throughout the morning and the weather is much cooler – long pants and a jacket are definitely possible.

All in all, our bash was tiring from a noise and motion standpoint. The boat performed well and we felt very secure on TTR.  Generally the days were less windy than the nights and we had little or no moonlight so it was dark! Other than the boats mentioned above, we saw a tug pulling a barge piled with salt (daytime thankfully) and at night a few fishing boats. The local fishing boats have very little light but thankfully they would shine a bright light our direction and we would reply with a white light acknowledging their location. Oh and we saw a Carnival Cruise Ship as we were entering Ensenada.

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I think everyone loves dolphins!

Other than those few ships, our greatest entertainment was the dolphins we saw occasionally.  The dolphin usually appeared when I was pretty fed up with the banging motion so I found them an especially delightful distraction!

We were definitely ready to arrive in Ensenada and enjoy less motion and more quiet. As always, we are thankful for a completed and safe passage.

**Although this AIS problem is a warranty issue, we do not consider it a fault of HH Catamarans. Likely this is an issue within the AIS unit itself. I sometimes think todays electronics are mass produced and never really tested; just sent out assuming it is cheaper to replace a faulty one than spend the time and labor on quality control.

Thank you for stopping by to read our blog. If you want to hear from us more often, please check out our FB page: HH55 Ticket To Ride.

Santa Rosalia ~ French Influence In The Baja.

Like many cruisers, our northern most stop in the Sea of Cortez was the town of Santa Rosalia which has a relatively large population of approximately 15,000 residents. Santa Rosalia is a popular port of call and often the point from which cruisers jump across the Sea to the mainland side. We had no plans to cross to the mainland, but had heard so many positive comments about Santa Rosalia, we decided to check it out.

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Old area of Santa Rosalia and TTR at the marina in the background.

According to San Diego History Center 1988 Institute of History, Santa Rosalia’s beginnings can be traced to a rancher by the name of Jose Rosas who, in 1868, discovered some “strange green pellets” in the area and sent them to Guaymas, on the mainland, to be analyzed. Response to the pellets was very quick and two German men, G. Blumhardt and Julio Müller, paid Rosas 16 pesos to show them where the pellets were found. Blumhardt and Müller immediately began prospecting the area.

In a couple of years, two men by the name of  Guillermo Eisenmann and Eustaquio Valle had managed to buy out smaller prospectors who had been working the area near Jose Rosas’s find since 1870.  Eisenmann and Valle started a copper mining company called El Boleo, which is Spanish for copper-bearing pellets. 

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Boys of all ages love trains, even old trains.

Eisenmann and Valle brought one hundred Yaqui Indians from the prison of Guaymas as the first laborers to dig the mines.  In time, many more Yaquis were brought to live in barracks and they continued to be an important labor force in Santa Rosalia.  By 1884, El Boleo was a well established mining company with 11 mines and a significant network of tunnels.

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I’m not sure why an overhead sidewalk was needed. But it is unique.

El Boleo is usually credited with the founding of Santa Rosalia, but in May of 1885, a French company bought El Boleo from Eisenmann and Valle.  It is the French influence from the Compagnie du Boleo still visible in the buildings of Santa Rosalia that give this town its unique flavor.

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Not the usual architecture of the Baja California Sur.

The French influence in Santa Rosalia was most often mentioned by cruisers who told us about Santa Rosalia and indeed, the building architecture is unique among the Baja Peninsula anchorages where we stopped.

Today there is a mining museum which overlooks some very decrepit remnants of the mining buildings along the waterfront.  The buildings are interesting because they allow one to have a feeling for how large the operations was; but they look like they could fall apart any day.

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These old mining buildings have seen better days.

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Iglesia de Bárbara designed by G. Eiffel.

Another attraction in Santa Rosalia is the Iglesia de Bárbara. Supposedly the French architect Gustave Eiffel designed this church and won an award at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.  The church is made of stamped squares of steel and was dismantled after the Exposition to be transported to Africa.  

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The interior of Iglesia de Bárbara is bright, clean and fairly simple.

However, the director of Compagnie du Boleo found it disassembled in Belgium, so he bought the church and had it shipped to Santa Rosalia, where it was reassembled in 1897. Some slight modifications have been made to Iglesia de Bárbara, but it is still in excellent condition.

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Something about this grabbed my eye.

Although we found the buildings and history of Santa Rosalia interesting and colorful, what we truly enjoyed about this town was the lack of tourism and the friendliness of the people.  Santa Rosalia is what I would consider a working or average town, sort of an “Everyman’s” town. We really enjoyed ambling along the streets and being part of the regular, day to day scene.

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A typical street in the older part of Santa Rosalia.

Aannnddd, I have to admit, we spent a fair number of days tasting a variety of taco places! 

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Our first stop with Laura and Don of s/v Intuition. This one was good but….

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This was our favorite taco spot in Santa Rosalia.

Our favorite spot, Super Taco, was a small, very casual place right on the street and popular with the locals.  For $5 US, the two of us enjoyed lunch here more than once!

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Super Taco is clean inside with maybe five small, round,f plastic picnic tables.

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Gotta love a good tortillaria!

After eating so many tacos, we stopped at a tortilleria to buy our own fresh flour tortillas. They were excellent! And allowed us to have a taste of Santa Rosalia after we sailed away.

Religion is a major influence and visible all along the Baja. Churches and crosses are numerous.  Along sidewalks and on highways there are grottos. Even in bars and restaurants there are pictures of the Virgin Mary or Jesus.  Our Lady of Guadeloupe is especially popular. Often the highest hill in town has a cross boldly proclaiming the importance of God here.

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Our path up to the graveyard.

Santa Rosalia was no different. We hiked up the hill to the cross, to see the graveyard and the view. Okay, maybe we also needed to walk off some tacos!

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The view and the breeze were worth the walk.

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Another God-centered view from up on the hill.

Santa Rosalia is the only place we have seen wood siding on the majority of the buildings rather than the more typical stones or stucco. The wood certainly allows owners to express their love for bright colors!

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The paint is accentuated by the muted color of the land in the background.

All together we spent about a week in Santa Rosalia. We never really ventured into the newer parts but instead stayed in the area close to the marina where the original town developed.  We definitely enjoyed being there and hope to visit again next year.  If you like visiting towns away from tourism, do visit Santa Rosalia.  And be sure to stop by Super Taco – we think you’ll like it!

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