These last few months with Ticket to Ride in Mexico have been pretty busy, but also productive and filled with family and friends. After leaving San Diego in December, we spent a couple of weeks moving down the western Baja Coast.
After clearing in at Ensenada, our first stop was Cedros Island which had a population of 1,350 in 2005 with the main industries of commercial fishing and salt production. Cedros is mountainous with the highest elevation reaching 3,953 feet. We chose to ride our bikes on the mostly flat parts of the island out to the airfield and salt loading facility. Traffic was sparse and the roads were very good.
Cedros Town is a rare stop for cruising boats and is not home to convenience stores or souvenir shops. Instead it is a working town with an authentic vibe, filled with people earning a living from the sea.
We made new friends along our route by inviting the boats anchored in Bahía Ascunsión to join us on TTR for a Christmas potluck dinner. We had a fun evening of good food and learning about our boat neighbors. Plus sharing Christmas dinner on TTR created the added benefit of making friends we see here and there as we travel in Mexico.
In addition to Cedros Island, we made four stops along the Baja Coast: Turtle Bay, Ascunsión, Santa Maria and Magdalena Bay. I have many great photos, but here is a sampling.
After making short hops along the coast we took a longer sail from Magdalena Bay to Muertos in the Sea of Cortez which was about 240nm.
All the way south and around the point where Cabo is, the sail was delightful. We saw plenty of whales breaking the surface, slapping fins and tails and even a few breaches!
However, once we rounded the corner of Cabo and headed north, whew, the seas became very different. Opposing current and wind made for steep waves and very choppy conditions. TTR handled it all like a champ but Frank and I were happy to reach Muertos and drop anchor out of the churned up waters.
From Muertos we directed our path to Coasta Baja Marina in La Paz. The time had arrived for us to fly to Mexico City and apply for our Long Stay Visas for French Polynesia. We completed this process two years earlier in the company of Randy and Shellie of s/v Moondance. This time we met up with friends Bruce and Alene of s/v Migration. We shared an apartment for the weekend as well as the cumbersome application process through the French Consulate in Mexico City.
Once back in La Paz, we spent a couple of weeks sailing in the Sea, dodging northerly blows and enjoying familiar anchorages. We celebrated Frank’s birthday while hiding behind Isla Coronado, which gave the birthday boy an opportunity to kiteboard. That was the first time Frank has kited in many, many months.
Next up was a visit from Jeff and Marcy. We had an awesome week together as we shared some favorite places close to La Paz and introduced these land dwellers to cruising life.
The weather cooperated perfectly! The day Jeff and Marcy arrived, the wind was light so we left the dock immediately and motored north to San Evaristo, about 55 nautical miles away. We explored the fishing village, walked to the salt fields and stopped at Abuela’s house to buy some fresh tortillas. In fact, Abuela made the tortillas while we waited on her porch.
We stopped at Isla San Francisco for a couple of nights where we hiked the ridge for another bird’s eye view of the anchorage.
Frank introduced Jeff and Marcy to scuba diving in the shallow waters of Isla San Francisco. It was an uneventful session since we stayed in the shallows and only introduced them to the basics. Diving is kind of a hassle when there is only sand to see and no exotic fish or interesting rock walls to explore.
Next we visited Ensenada Grande where paddleboarding and another hike were on the agenda. The water was still too cold to just hang out in it, but we managed to stay pretty busy doing other things.
Early one morning, the four of us took the dinghy to visit the sea lion colony on Los Islotes before the tour boats arrived. We hopped in the water and watched the sea lions play in the sea. Visibility wasn’t great but we enjoyed watching the young sea lions swim nearby to check us out. The pups are very curious and often come close to snorkelers.
Once back in the dinghy, we circled the island and several of pups followed us. They were like a group of teenagers daring each other, coming close to the dinghy, rising up from the water to look at us, then darting away as their bravery dissipated. Frank expertly slipped Day Tripper through the opening in the rocks for a mini Indiana Jones cave experience without any snakes, spiders or other creepy things.
A fairly strong westerly wind was expected so we chose to sail on the east side of Espiritu Santo and anchor in Bonanza at the southern side of the island in an attempt to find a calm anchorage. Marcy and Jeff ventured out in Day Tripper alone for a little sandy beach time while Frank and I chilled on the front deck of TTR.
The next day we sailed back to La Paz so our guests could enjoy a night and day in “the city” before heading back to Texas. We showed them some local flavor, like the Mercaldo where fresh fruit, veggies and meats can be bought. I’m pretty certain they were less than excited by the non-USDA health standards on display. So we headed back toward the Malecon for lunch in a slightly more touristy area.
Our week with Jeff and Marcy was great fun and we look forward to the next time they visit Ticket to Ride.
Next up was the delivery of our new North Sails mainsail. We have replaced all of the sails on TTR and are now flying a suite of five new North Sails: mainsail, genoa, self-tacker, reacher (TWA @70-130, medium weight sail) and what we call the Drifter; a design Frank, Gino Morrelli and Fuzz Foster worked out for downwind sailing for shorthanded cruisers. North is calling this sail the Code G, I think, and we already know of a couple of other boats that have ordered the sail. (TWA @ 90-170ish, light weight sail.)
Gio of ApexRigging, flew into La Paz to help us dial in our new main sail. Gio was on board for several days working with us to set up the mainsail. We sailed a few times to make sure the main and reef points were in order. Gio and Frank reviewed our rigging, lines, sheets and halyards to make sure everything on TTR is solid so that we are in great shape for our sail to French Polynesia.
In light of our upcoming departure for French Polynesia, Frank and I decided to take a quick trip back to the US to visit our kids; one in San Diego and one in North Carolina – nice of them to live so close together, right?
On our way back to La Paz, we met Frank’s mom, Jackie, at the DFW airport and she flew with us to TTR. We had a wonderful, relaxed visit with Jackie on board Ticket to Ride for a week. We are incredibly blessed that Jackie is willing to travel to our boat and spend time with us. She is an amazing woman and delights in the beauty of her surroundings. Jackie enjoys the 360 degree views on TTR where we are immersed in nature. She delights in the beauty that surrounds her and always finds something interesting or beautiful as we move from place to place or as we swing on anchor.
Once again we visited the sea lions, but this time we watched from on board TTR. The pups were accommodating and came up to the boat to take a close look at us. Jackie was delighted with their silly ways and we all enjoyed observing them in their own environment.
Jackie has returned to the States and now we are in full prep mode for our trip to French Polynesia. We have our long stay visas for French Polynesia in hand and it is finally time to prepare for this trip that has been SO LONG in coming.
Thanks so much for stopping by to wade through this really long post. We appreciate your time and hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into what has kept us busy lately. Stay well and stay positive! All the best from us to you.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
My 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!
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.
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.
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.
How beautiful is this giant creature?
But very shortly, the smooth surface was broken by whale sharks!!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Before arriving in La Paz, I had heard about the Malecón de La Paz. I knew it was a sidewalk and a main feature of La Paz, but in my mind it was something like a boardwalk; an average walkway in town.
I was completely wrong!
The Malecón with the street and shops ablaze in the background.
The Malecón is an incredibly popular and dynamic feature of La Paz. In my mind it is a defining space for this city ~ a pulse of the people.
**Early days of the Malecón. Photo credit: SUDCALIFORNIA OF YESTERDAY.
Colonel Sinaloa Carlos Manuel Ezquerro, who became governor of Baja California Sur in 1925, is credited with undertaking the construction of the Malecón de La Paz. It was to be a long coastal sidewalk for foot traffic, adjacent to a roadway for vehicles. This development would include benches, concrete buttresses, lighting and even the planting of coconut trees.
**The Malecón around 1960? Photo credit: SUDCALIFORNIA OF YESTERDAY
In July 1925, Ezquerro instituted a 2% import/export tax to pay for construction of the Malecón. Fabrication was begun on September 16, 1926 amid great fanfare and crowd-pleasing festivities. (Radar Político article dated 2/18/18.)
The Malecón widens around the statues creating additional gathering areas.
Today the Malecón is a 3.5 mile, beautifully crafted, wide sidewalk lined with palm trees, sprinkled with interesting sculptures placed every 100 yards or so, and benches invitingly located near statues or in the shade of coconut palm trees.
During the daytime, the ocean bordering the Malecón is a captivating view.
But as pretty and inviting as the Malecón is, it is the people who make this place truly special. This sidewalk is extremely well used by the people of La Paz.
Kiddos race about on something like giant ‘Big Wheels.’
Families meander and exchange pleasantries, youngsters romp on the sidewalk or in the sand, lovers stroll hand in hand, kids and young adults propel themselves on bikes, scooters, rollerblades, skateboards, etc.
Volleyball? Rollerbalding? Or simply a stroll?
As we walk along the esplanade, we listen to the music from restaurants and shops across the street and we hear the laughter of the many people around us. It is easy to feel the warmth and welcoming atmosphere of the Malecón. Frank and I regret that we don’t speak Spanish and are unable to communicate well with the locals because their joy is infectious and we would like to know them better.
NORCECA Volleyball Tournament.
In addition to casual gatherings, professional events are a common and popular occurrence along this esplanade. We have seen volleyball tournaments, bicycle races and the termination of off road vehicle races at the Malecón in the limited time we have been in La Paz.
The matches were well attended but the VIP section wasn’t crowded during the week.
New benches and trash cans yet to be uncovered.
The Malecón is currently being improved and one evening as we strolled along, the benches and trash cans were so newly installed that they were still wrapped in plastic. We can see new pedestals that await delivery of their sculpture and we look forward to seeing the latest additions.
Wheelies, 360s, bike repair and other BMX fun.
I remember once when living in Texas, a young man from Mexico was in our neighborhood and he asked, “Where are all the gringos?” as we drove past the homes. Our answer was that it was hot and the people were inside. He answered, “In my country, we would all be outside with family and friends.”
It is only now that I have experienced a bit of Mexico that I better understand his confusion and how different things looked to him. Regardless of the temperatures here, we see people sharing the shade of palm frond umbrellas or gathering along the Malecón rather than remaining in their homes.
May 2018 marked the 90th anniversary of the Malecón de La Paz and it appears this iconic walkway will continue to play an essential role in this city and the people who live and visit here.
Special Note: There is an app called “Statues La Paz” that you can download and it explains each of the statues along the Malecón. I know it is available for IOS but I do not know about android. I have no affiliation with this application.
**More detailed information about the history of the Malecón and photos from the time of construction are available in the articles linked above.
Thank you for stopping by to read our blog. We enjoy reading your thoughts so feel free to comment below. If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB Page: HH55 Ticket To Ride
One of the unique features of the HH55 is the sunroof in the salon. When I first saw the sunroof on HH55 s/v Minnehaha, I thought it was really fun and I knew that if we ordered an HH, we would want one for our boat.
Sunroof partially open with bug screen in place.
Similar to sunroofs found in a car, this one closes completely and has tinted glass to reduce sunlight. It can tilt up just a bit or can be opened completely for maximum breeze.
The opening is fitted with Ocean Air blinds that can be tucked out of the way or if you slide one direction a bug screen covers the window. Slide the blinds the opposite direction and a complete sun blocking cover extends across the window.
Sun blockout screen in place.
We love this feature for the light it offers, the breeze it allows into TTR and the ability to look at the mainsail from the salon.
BUT, as you probably have figured out, we are always looking for ways to make things “a little more” on TTR so we decided to have a small wind scoop made for our sunroof. We didn’t want a huge scoop that would create a wind tunnel, just a small one to direct air into the opening on hot, still days of summer while we are at anchor.
Here in La Paz, we worked with a sail and canvas shop and they constructed a scoop for us. For now we are attaching it with SeaSucker suction cups to the sunroof and bungie cords around the boom.
Our new scoop for the sunroof.
We need to make shorter attachment points to the window so the air is brought more closely to the opening, but I put this up temporarily to see how it fits and functions. And it definitely adds a little breeze to the salon!
The bungie cord attachments will be pretty slick as they allows us to open and close the hatch with the scoop in place should we have a sudden rain shower.
So there you have it, a little project we accomplished in La Paz and a small tweak for TTR.
Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. We enjoy hearing your feedback so feel free to comment below. If you would like to hear from us more often, visit our FB page.
So recently a reader wanted to know what our average speed is on TTR. His thought was that we have owned Ticket to Ride for more than four months now and must have an idea of what her average speed has been.
This seemingly simple question took me down a rabbit hole because it sort of assumes that the sailing conditions we have had are consistent. This caused me to think about how different it is to sail in the Sea of Cortez compared to the British Virgin Islands.
Looking at Saba Rock in the beautiful BVIs
Long term readers know we had our first boat, Let It Be, in charter in the BVIs through Tortola Marine Management. (TMM has great people and they took excellent care of us and our boat.) It was in the BVIs that I cut my sailing teeth but because I was completely inexperienced, I didn’t understand how perfect the sailing conditions are there. Now that I have sailed thousands of miles in a variety of places, I have a better appreciation for just how nice sailing is in the BVIs.
But I digress. The point is that we don’t really have an average speed to report for Ticket To Ride because the sailing conditions these four months have been extremely varied. The first six weeks we sailed TTR we had professionals on board who were there to teach us and to push TTR to make sure she was ready to go. During that time our fastest recorded speed was 24.7 knots! (And yes, that is under sails alone.) Frank and I have not come close to that speed on our own. Our fastest speed has been 15.6 knots while pinched up at about 55 degrees and true wind speed of 22 knots or so. I thought we were plenty powered up and wanted to stay at a tight wind angle rather than push the boat any faster.
In the SOC it looks like we’re sailing in the mountains of Arizona.
In the Sea of Cortez the sea state changes greatly because there is a lot of fetch, land masses come and go, wind directions change and chop is caused by varying wind. It is very rare for us to put sails up and not tack or change sails each time we move anchorages. Some may think this is a down side to the SOC, but it has been an excellent way for us to practice raising and lowering sails and changing sail configurations on TTR.
In the SOC, flat, desert land here and mountains across the way.
As we moved into late spring and early summer, the wind patterns in the SOC have changed. Earlier in the year the wind was driven by northerlies and pressure systems from the north, but as the temperatures heat up the winds are thermally and land driven. That is, the wind is determined by the heating up and cooling off of the land which affects the speed and direction of the breezes.
The Sea of Cortez is well known for some crazy wind conditions with interesting names like Coromuel Winds, which are unique to the SOC. Other wind phenomena in the Sea include Elefantes and Chubascos. This link to the Club Cruceros website gives a brief overview of the weather near La Paz.
BVIs have plenty of places to leave marks of your presence.
When we were sailing in the BVIs, the winds were much more predictable because of the trade winds. Although the amount of wind changed, the direction was usually the same so we could easily plan our destination. In fact, most of the sailors in the BVIs travel from anchorage to anchorage in the same direction. As a result of the predictability of the wind, it would have been easier to say, ‘oh, TTR sails X percentage of wind speed most of the time” if we had spent these four months in the BVIs.
I can tell you that we sail much more often on TTR than we would be sailing on our former boat. We sail more often on Ticket to Ride because she points into the wind well and she moves well in light winds.
A working fishing village in the SOC.
Stark differences exist between cruising the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. First is that the BVIs are much more developed than the Baja Peninsula. This affects many things:
~there are fewer cruisers in the SOC
~there are fewer restaurants in the SOC
~many anchorages are completely undeveloped in the SOC
Party time at White Bay, BVI is a daily occurrence.
~villages often do not have electricity or running water in the SOC
~there is less cell phone/wifi connectivity (think none for days at a stretch) in the SOC
~there are very few chartered boats in the SOC
Los Gatos is a pretty crowded anchorage in the SOC.
~there are more monohulls than catamarans in the SOC
~SOC is less expensive than the BVIs but buying things may be less convenient
~the electronic charts in the BVIs are way more accurate than in the SOC
Cleaning the day’s catch in San Everisto, SOC.
~less commercialism and a greater need for independence in the SOC
~we have stayed in only one anchorage with mooring balls in the SOC
~more large mammals in the SOC
~fewer coral in the SOC
~the local people in the SOC as a whole seem more welcoming
Limbo time on Anegada, BVI.
~the atmosphere in the BVIs is more like a party where the SOC is more about daily life
~the terrain in the BVIs is lush and tropical but the SOC is arid and mountainous
~the temperature changes more in the SOC than in the BVIs
~the water temp in the BVIs is warmer than we have experienced in the SOC
Hopefully this gives you a small insight into the differences between the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. One isn’t better than the other, they just appeal to different people. I can’t say that we prefer the Sea over the BVIs or vice versa. For now, the SOC fits our needs (getting experience on TTR in a variety of situations) and we are perfectly happy being a bit more remote.
IF I had to guess the answer to our reader’s question about the average speed of TTR, I couldn’t. What I would say is that in lighter winds and the right conditions, she is capable of sailing at wind speed. We have had times when TTR actually sailed slightly faster than the true wind speed. I would say TTR is extremely quiet under sail, no creaking of rigging or slapping of halyards. I would also say that we are really happy with our new home.
Thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear from you if you have questions. Feel free to look for us on FB for more regular posts, assuming we have connection while in the Sea of Cortez.
TTR before her departure from Xiamen.
So let’s state the obvious first: cars are mass produced and before the first one appears on a showroom floor hundreds of prototypes have been well and truly tested. Then a bajillion cars are made and 99% of the time, any problem you take to your local dealer will have been addressed in another car before you arrive.
Boat builds are significantly fewer in number. The number of units of a “mass” production boat model built is still in the 100s after a couple of years.
Ticket to Ride is one of only four HH55s produced to date, and each boat is customized to the specifications of the buyer. Due to this customization, some of the issues we face on TTR are probably different from issues the other three HH55 catamarans have experienced.
In addition to the uniqueness of each boat, our catamaran is a little city unto itself that must safely carry us from one port to the next and provide all of our electrical, refrigeration, water, power and navigational needs.
Given these facts, it is unrealistic to think that every system on TTR, or any other new boat, would be functioning perfectly at the time of delivery.
La Paz under a full moon taken from where we are anchored.
Knowing we would have issues that needed to be addressed, we decided long before Ticket to Ride was delivered that we would spend a season living on board to figure out what is working and what needs fixing. That is the purpose of our trip to the Sea of Cortez.
First let us reiterate that we are very pleased with our boat. The quality and precision of the interior spaces; cabinetry, tech spaces, painted or veneered surfaces, etc are excellent and we are very impressed.
Ticket to Ride sails like a dream and is more capable than we are. I’m not saying we aren’t decent sailors, but this boat has excellent performance rigging, sails and equipment and she is set up to goooo.
But TTR does have some issues and in the spirit of sometimes removing our rose colored glasses, we will share a few of our current concerns and what is driving us to return to the U.S. for warranty work. To date we have had very good service and response from Hudson Yacht Group with our questions and concerns.
The nav desk on TTR.
Perhaps the most complicated and potentially problematic system on Ticket to Ride is CZone; the electronic control and monitoring system that is the brain of everything with an electron flow on TTR. CZone essentially is the replacement for the AC and DC switching panels seen on most boats plus a whole lot more. With this computer brain and the touch of a screen, through CZone we can program our electrical system to fit our current situation. For example, TTR’s CZone system has 6 programmable modes such as “day cruise” or “anchored home” that allow one to turn off and on all the systems used in those situations with the touch of only a single button. So when we press “day cruise,” VHFs, navigation screens, winches, etc all turn on when we touch that one button. CZONE is a beautiful thing and yes, there is the potential for problems. After many, many hours reading manuals and technical support phone time with CZone Tech Support of New Zealand, the CZone, Frank and Mary Grace are living in harmony.
The company responsible for our electronics package is Pochon out of France. At the time of writing our purchasing contract, we tried to convince HH to use a U.S. company for this pivotal installation. We knew the chances of having everything right from the start were slim because the system interactions and programming are complicated. We lost that battle and now we are facing a few disadvantages because our resource for fixing the electronics is a French speaking group in France. Between the inconvenience of differing time zones and language barriers, even issues discovered during the delivery phase are still not fixed.
Explaining the details of the electrical / electronic / navigational issues is complicated and more details than we think most of our readers would like to wade through. The summary is that we are having compatibility issues between CZone, B&G, Mastervolt and the Victron electronic components. We would really like an expert to come on board to resolve the problems. We also need that expert to communicate clearly so we can become more efficient at modifying the system to meet our particular needs.
Half of the solar panels on TTR.
The solar installation on TTR is excellent and our 1900 watts delivers so much power that we only run our generator once in a while to make sure it still works! The HH team did a first-rate job of adding the individual solar controllers Frank requested and as a result, our solar farm is producing about 80 percent of the energy we require! (The remainder is topped up by the engines when we motor.)
The wiring, neatness, detail and labeling of our boat electronics done at the HH Factory are amazing. Sailors who come on board and peek at our tech room are suitably impressed, as are we. However, there are a few glitches in the wiring that need to be addressed.
That is a pretty tech space!
There seems to be a multi-pronged issue with the wiring to our air conditioning units. Anytime we try to run the port ACs (the side of the master berth), a relay fails, the inverter/generator reads overload and the ACs quit completely. Frank has spent a lot of time trying to trace the issue and with the consultation of Jessica, HH engineer extraordinaire, he has replaced the same relay switch twice. Both of the new relays failed immediately. Our Northern Lights 9kw generator is powerful enough to run our ACs but the inverter isn’t recognizing the power coming from our generator and consistently shows “overload” and shuts down.
Related to this problem is that the generator and inverter/charger aren’t talking well even for basic charging of the batteries. If we try to charge the lithium batteries using the generator, the charger always shows “float” and never reads “bulk charge” even when the batteries are low enough to accept bulk charge. Frank has spent a lot of time talking to Victron and MasterVolt (inverter/charger and batteries respectively) and neither is willing to work through the problem with us ie, there is some finger pointing going on. Somewhere there is a wiring issue or a setting issue or a communication error in these units. This needs to be fixed as we won’t always be in sunny Mexico where solar power is an everyday full charge event.
We really like our B&G navigation/charting system but there are a few issues with it too. Our AIS and VHF systems are not working consistently and when they do work, they only broadcast or receive information for a maximum of 2- 2.5 miles. Considering our air draft is 88 feet, we should easily transmit and receive for at least 8 miles.
(AIS is an automatic identification system used on vessels to identify traffic. Notices of ships nearby show on the electronic chart and information about that vessel’s size, speed and closest point of approach can be seen. This is a big help when sailing at night and very important because we want large container ships to know we are out on the ocean with them.)
Our B&G autopilot, aka Jude, is mostly excellent. Jude can hold to a wind setting or a heading very well. She can follow a navigation route too. But sometimes Jude decides to change herself from navigating a route to just holding a heading… that would be like skipping a turn(s) when following directions.
Speaking of autopilots, we intentionally outfitted TTR with a completely separate back up autopilot system. Our primary one is on the port side and is working. Our redundant system is supposed to be installed on the starboard side but we have absolutely no reading from it and do not think it has been completely installed.
Also, we have recalibrated our electronic compasses several times and there still seems to be some discrepancies between the true compass readings and the electronic readings. We had our traditional compasses professionally swung before we left L.A. and we are confident that the error is in our electronic compasses. This has a bit of a domino effect and can cause calculated electronic information to be wrong. Frank is confident this issue involves magnetic interference and relocation is the answer. The problem is finding a 6 meter NMEA 2000 cable in Mexico.
Small things still need to be addressed on TTR as well. Some of these include:
~ a light switch mix up where two unrelated lights turn on/off by the same switch.
~ the enclosure around our helm station was made sooo tight that we cannot get it zipped all around, even when we had three people working together.
~ the oven on the stove sometimes goes out without any apparent reason.
~ there is a leak from a vent box in the engine room that allows seawater into the area when we have following seas. (HH is fabricating and sending us a replacement to fix this problem.)
This is not an exhaustive list of things that need to be corrected on Ticket to Ride, but it does give you an idea of the types of issues we need to resolve when we get back to the U.S.
We must make a very special mention of Thomas and Riccardo of the HH Team. These two men have done an amazing job of e-mailing with us, trying to troubleshoot our issues from the other side of the world. They have been extremely prompt and thorough in their responses and we are truly grateful. It is their responsiveness that keeps us positive that these issues will get resolved.
We are currently achored in La Paz, Mexico, preparing to move south to Cabo San Lucas where we will wait for a good weather window to sail back north toward Ensenada, Mexico and eventually California.
Frank is trying to get a few things resolved on our Spectra water maker before we leave here. Yes, there are a few bugs relating to the water maker, but so much progress has been made with it that I am not even listing it as a problem anymore. However, kudos to Spectra WaterMaker support and Riccardo of HH. They have been extremely responsive to Frank’s e-mails and phone calls and so far we have been able to make water all along even with the problems!! (Everyone knock on wood, please!)
Phew, so there you have another “report” from TTR. I promise, the next post will be full of pretty sights from the Sea of Cortez.
Sunset from our anchorage in Isla Coronados.
Thank you for reading our blog. Our posts are pretty sporadic right now because our connectivity is hit or miss here in Mexico. I try to post to the FB page to at least share some of the beauty of this area but I am limited by access. Thank you for stopping by.
Dolphins in the La Paz anchorage.
After Kristen and James flew out of La Paz, Frank and I took a couple of days to simply relax and relish being back in cruising mode. La Paz, Mexico was a great place for us to enjoy being on the hook again and get to know a few people.
There is a very active cruisers group in La Paz and we were fortunate enough to get involved immediately through their daily VHF Net which is sort of like morning announcements when you were in school; but more interesting.
For those unfamiliar with a Net, they differ a bit by location but each usually has a set format that goes something like this:
The host of the net starts announcing around 8 am on the same VHF channel each day and the order of business usually includes:
~emergencies among the cruisers
~boats arriving or leaving
~activities in and around the area
~items people have for sale or things people are in need of
~questions about where to buy something or have boat work done
The host acknowledges boats who have information to contribute on each topic, then moves to the next item.
Cruisers nets are very beneficial to boaters and it allows local businesses to let cruisers know if they have special events planned.
Anyway, the La Paz Cruisers net is very well organized and informative. It was a great way to jump start our return to cruising.
Sunset in La Paz
One of the reasons Frank and I wanted to be in La Paz in early April was that the Annual Mahalo/Women Who Sail Rendezvous began on April 6th.
In 2015, Frank and I participated in the very first WWS Rendezvous as a BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) on Let It Be in the BVIs. We thought the coincidence that our first long trip on LIB coincided with the first WWS Rendezvous and our first long trip on Ticket To Ride matched the 5th WWS Rendezvous was too obvious to ignore.
So we contacted Captain Holly Scott and signed up as a BYOB. Holly put us in touch with Sherri and Steve aboard s/v Pablo who were already in La Paz.
I had a great time tagging along with Sherri as she used donations from the WWS/Mahalo group to buy more than 20 pairs of tennis shoes for kids living in a nearby fishing village.
Panoramic view from the restaurant in San Evaristo.
The Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous ladies contribute to one needy community each year and this year the fishing village in San Evaristo was the recipient. In addition to shoes, the Mahalo Rendezvous contributed the supplies needed to plumb fresh water from the roadside to the school.
The school in San Evaristo.
The information I received from Sherri on s/v Pablo is that the Mexican Government recently ran plumbing from a fresh water well to the roadside of homes and businesses in San Evaristo and it is up to the individual to get the water from the street to their building.
Mahalo/WWS provided the supplies to pipe the water from the street to the school in San Evaristo.
By the way, the well water only flows twice a week and each family must store necessary water between days. (There is no electricity in San Evaristo. Residents use solar panels to charge batteries and that is their power source.)
An early morning drone shot in Caleta Partida.
I won’t give you the blow by blow of our time with the WWS group, but I will share some pictures of the places we visited.
It was quite entertaining to listen to the 7 chartered boat captains and crew on the VHF net for the group. There was much laughter and banter and each net included jokes and other entertainment. It was very fun to be part of this lively group of women who love sailing and exploring.
Dawn in Caleta Partida.
A couple of ladies joined Frank and me on a little snorkel in Caleta Partida. The water was chilly but the sea life was plentiful and diverse. Much fun.
Swimming with sea lions.
One morning the fleet of boats went to Ensenada Grande where tour operators picked us up and took us to swim with sea lions. It was a blast! The young male pups are very curious and would swim nearby, then roll over like a dog asking for his belly to be scratched.
Fishermen an at Isla San Francisco.
One of my favorite sights during our time with the Mahalo/WWS group was in Isla San Francisco. I awakened early one morning to the sound of men speaking Spanish outside the boat.
Turns out it was fishermen casting their nets for baitfish in the early morning light. It was a beautiful sight and demonstrated the camaraderie of the men and the simple way of life here.
Throwing a casting net for bait fish.
The fisherman chased the baitfish between boats.
But do not misinterpret simple for easy. The people here are hard working and the amenities are few compared to life in the U.S. The villages are remote and most are similar to San Evaristo – no electricity and very little fresh water.
We traveled with the Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous until their most northern anchorage then waved a fond goodbye as they turned south and we pointed further into the Sea of Cortez.
I am exceeding grateful to Captain Holly Scott for organizing these Rendezvous. They offer excellent sailing opportunities for many women on chartered boats but also allow live aboard ladies to join the fun. Holly and her crew facilitate seeing beautiful places while creating new friendships and helping local residents.
This is truly a win win event!
I’m having difficulty publishing with so little connection and I have to work on my phone only, so forgive me typos and abrupt transitions. Thank you for reading our blog. Please check out the FB page for more regular information.