Blog Archives

Visiting the Kaneohe Yacht Club

After several weeks anchored in Kaneohe Bay, waiting for quarantine to finish and some sail maintenance to be completed, we were invited to visit at the Kaneohe Yacht Club.

What a delightful change to be docked at this yacht club.  While the Bay is nice, we were almost the only people living on a boat and we had very little interaction with others. Plus the Bay is large and has some considerable fetch so relaxing in very calm water at the Yacht Club is appreciated.

DSC07778Mae and Tommy chillin’ on TTR.

Tommy and Mae came by in Tommy’s fishing boat while we were anchored in the Bay and we have very much enjoyed getting to know these young people. They have told us about some local places to visit, sailed with us, helped with some rudder work and offered to take us out on their whaler.

KYC has a very active junior sailing program. We see the youngsters heading out on a variety of sailboats that range from tiny Toppers and O’Pen Bics all the way up to Waspz.  The kids tack up the harbor right past the bow of TTR with coaches following behind offering instructions.

DSC07514A Waspz out in Kaneohe Bay.

COVID-19 put the kabosh on casual beer can races at the KYC until a few weeks ago but now they are back in full swing with a few modifications.  Crew numbers are limited and instead of starting the race from the bulk-head, the boats take off from their slips and head to the starting line for each appointed class start.

DSC07868Racers jockeying for position before the race start.

As  you can see, the fairway gets pretty tight with all the race boats setting up and bearing off to cross the start line on time. TTR is on the end dock and very close to the rolling start line which is also the finish line.

DSC07897Spinnakers are deployed before the start line.

DSC07783Tacking back to slips just past the finish line.

The folks at the Kaneohe Yacht Club have been incredibly friendly and welcoming! We have met so many people that the names are beginning to run together but the overall feeling of kindness and acceptance has been universal.

Last Thursday we had a few folks over to watch the races and share some “pupus” which is what Hawaiians call bite size appetizers. Drinks and conversation flowed freely but we kept a close eye out for the returning race boats.

DSC07801Looking to see which of their friends is first this week!

DSC07805Dancing toward the fairway.

Lori invited us to join her and Tony for a walk along the Ulupaina Trail.  While the trail was slightly less than four miles, it was often quite steep and the footing was a variety of roots, rocks and pine needles strewn with the spiked round balls of sweet gum trees.

P7010034Frank, Tony and Lori paused for a photo in the shade.

The sweet gum balls hidden in the pine needles made the footing a challenge but the majority of the trail was shaded and we had some really nice views.

P7010042This would be a perfect reading spot; shady with a lot of birdsong.

In addition to meeting sailors, watching races and taking hikes, I had the opportunity to play tennis twice while at KYC. I admit, my racket was dusty and my strokes quite rusty, but it was really fun to whack a few tennis balls around the court. I am certainly not ready for or in shape for Dallas tennis leagues, but the tennis here was very casual and no one seemed to care about the inconsistency of my shots. I hope it isn’t another five years before I play again!

Our time here at KYC is just about finished which is too bad because we already feel like we ‘belong.’  We truly appreciate the warm welcome here, the opportunity to meet the Kaneohe Yacht Club members and enjoy the ambiance of the club.

A special thank you to Ike for finding a spot for TTR at the yacht club and to Noodle (Bill) and Lori for taking us under their wing and introducing us to so many people!

Thanks for stopping to read our this quick update about what we are doing in Hawaii. We hope you and your family are healthy and well in these unusual times.

 

A Few Favorite, Practical and Inexpensive Things Aboard TTR

**Our blog is not monetized. We do not have affiliations with any of these products and are not paid for any links or mentions.**

There are four items on Ticket to Ride that I am really happy to have on board and although they are mundane, they make my life easier and I think they are worth sharing.

My first item to share with you is an egg cooker. 

Regardless of where we travel, eggs are available and they are an excellent, inexpensive source of protein.  We eat them pretty often and we add hard boiled eggs to chicken salad and tuna salad.  And of course we need eggs for baking brownies and other delicious desserts!

Most people haven’t seen an egg cooker and they think this is a silly gadget, but I love mine. This little egg cooker was inexpensive and can make hard boiled, poached or scrambled eggs.  I only use mine for cooking hard boiled eggs and it makes them perfectly every time.  While this gadget does use electricity, it uses very little water and it doesn’t use any propane.

DSC07647Dash has a new double layer egg cooker if you want to cook more eggs at once.

To use the egg cooker, you put the indicated amount of water in the bottom of the cooker, make a pin hole in the fat end of the egg using the poker on the bottom of the water measurer, close the cooker, push the start button and walk away. About 15 minutes later you have perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs – every time. Voila!

My egg cooker by Dash cost $15 from Amazon in 2016 and was worth every penny to me. Today the same egg cooker is $19.99.  

Laundry is a reality of land and boat life. I see many on-line conversations about how to wash clothing on a boat but nobody talks about clothes pins for hanging clothes to dry.

For many years on our last boat, Let It Be, we hand washed our clothing.  On Ticket to Ride, we are very fortunate to have a washer/dryer combination unit. However, since the dryer uses a lot of electricity and takes a long time, we usually hang dry our clothing. Twisty Pegs are my favorite type of clothes pin.

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Twenty twisty pegs cost $10.

I like Twisty Pegs for several reasons:

  1. They are flat, easy to store and don’t take much room.
  2. There is no metal soI don’t get rust stains on our clothing.
  3. No moving parts so they don’t break.
  4. They last a long time – my originals are 5 years old.
  5. I like the happy colors.

We have lost a couple of twisty pegs overboard, so I recently ordered more from Defender.  Here is a link if you are interested:

https://www.defender.com/search.html?q=twisty+pegs&x=37&y=15

ICE is a luxury on a boat and we have made it a priority since we began cruising in 2015. Perusing Amazon, I found silicone ice trays that have been perfect for us.  These ice trays can make really large cubes which we refer to as “icebergs.”

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Icebergs coming right up!

The nice thing about these trays is that I can make really large cubes or only partially fill the trays for smaller cubes.  We have a dorm-like refrig/freezer in our cockpit and the upper freezer shelf holds three silicone trays which make plenty of ice for us every day.

One observation about the silicone trays: when we use RO water from our water maker, the cubes are very easy to clear from the tray. However when we use dock water, the cubes are much harder to remove. I think this has to do with the chlorine in the dock water, but I am not certain.

I like these trays so much that I have a spare package of them on TTR, but the ones we have are still in perfect shape after 5 years of use.  Here is the link on Amazon.

Moving to the expensive category.

Finally, cookware. Now this one, I have to admit is a luxury item because of the expense, weight and space usage of these pots and pans. For years I used the nesting cookware with removable handles that is so popular on boats. Frank was not a fan and I was lukewarm about those pots and pans.

Two years ago, at the Annapolis Boat Show, we watched a cooking demonstration by Allen Cerasani of ScaleDown Cookware. I was pretty skeptical about the product because I realize I am a sucker for demonstrations and the product is definitely expensive.  (Website is being rebuilt, but you can reach Allen at scaledownnow@aol.com or by phone at 518-587-6130)

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I love our pots and pans.

Long story short, we ended up buying some of these pots and pans and they are fabulous! I have used them for two years and they are holding up very well. They are truly non stick and clean up is absolutely simple. The handles are oven safe up to 500 degrees so they can be used for nearly any oven cooking.

Using the small pan, I can cook an omelette without using any oil and it folds and slides right out of the pan.  I have had two friends order the cookware after using mine while on board TTR.  Also, do you remember Connor, our stellar crew member? Well he loved these pans and made himself an omelette nearly every day! In fact when he left the boat I double checked to make sure he didn’t take the small pan with him! (I know you wouldn’t, Connor!)

Recently a neighboring boat wanted to make pancakes and borrowed my large skillet. I laughingly told her I would let her borrow it if she promised to give it back. When she returned the pan she said, “I didn’t really get it when you made me promise to return the pan if I borrowed it. But now that I have used it, I know why you said that!”  She wants the name of the pans now too.

If you buy the whole set of pans, you will need more galley room than normal because they are not space saving, nesting pans. Also, these pans are heavy, so they won’t work if you like lightweight pans.  If you don’t have room for the whole set, you might decide to buy just one pot or pan in the size you use most often.

I found a demonstration by Allen on YouTube,  if you want to see the demo.  FYI, I will definitely keep these pans if we ever move back to land!

There are certainly other, more essential items on Ticket to Ride, but I was stupidly happy about receiving my Twisty Pegs yesterday and it made me think about practical items that “bring me joy” and make life afloat easier. Perhaps they are of interest to you.

Do you have any favorite items I should know about?

Thank you for visiting our blog page. If you want to hear from us more often, visit our FB page.  All the best from us to you.

**Again, this blog is not monetized and I do not receive anything for mentioning these products.

 

May 2019 Blog Post Info Update

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The current view from TTR in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, HI.

About a year ago we wrote a blog post about TTR and some of the issue we were experiencing. As we stated in that blog, we think issues on a new boat are to be expected. Today we review the problems we were having and how those were resolved.

Looking back, it is amazing how few issues we have had with Ticket to Ride. Fortunately all of the issues have been manageable and none of them are structural in any way!

Once again, we must be very clear and express our sincere appreciation to HH Catamarans for their excellent service and support of us and for our sailboat. Each time we reach out to HH, they are prompt, extremely helpful, and reimburse us for labor and materials. We are truly thankful for their continued support and guidance.

The electronics on sailboats have become increasingly important and more complex. CZone is a control system that allows boaters to replace traditional wiring with electrical switching controlled at a centralized computer screen. One cool feature of CZone is that you can program six different settings on your boat and with the touch of one button wanted systems are engaged. For example, one setting we have is “Day Cruise.” When we engage Day Cruise, the electronic charts and VHFs turn on, power is turned on to navigation lights, winch controls are turned on, etc.

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Along the top are the six programs we have customized

Initially we had some issues with communication between CZone and our systems and we thought CZone was not working properly. However, the issues turned out to be programming issues not function problems. When CZone was installed and programmed at the factory in Xiamen, China, the programmers didn’t really understand how we would want to use CZone on Ticket to Ride.

Frank spent plenty of time on the phone and through emails with Jessica Li, overseer of the installation and programming of electronics on our HH55,  and Kiel Moore of CZone in New Zealand. Frank gained a better understanding of CZone and he has worked to get it set up to function well for our purposes. The beauty of CZone is its’ flexibility among other features. CZone is now working beautifully and we are very happy to have it on TTR.

In our original post, we discussed problems we were having with the air conditioning units and the processing of power from the generator to our inverter / chargers and then passing that AC power on to the AC loads onboard. We spent a good deal of time communicating with Jessica and tried a few different fixes without success.

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Mastervolt Inverter/Charger installed.

In the end, the underlying problem was a faulty Victron Inverter / charger. Hudson Yacht Group specified the Victron Inverter/Charger because it was the largest wattage inverter in a single unit on the market at the time. We ended up replacing the Victron Inverter/Charger with a Mastervolt Inverter/Charger and since then we have not had any issues with the ACs or the generator to inverter/charger power.

AIS/VHF issues. As offshore travelers, having the ability to talk to other boats or ships using the VHF is extremely important. The AIS allows us to transmit our location to nearby boats and ships and to receive information about nearby boats if they broadcast on AIS. This information is extremely helpful, especially at night when it is hard to determine distances from other ships. For a while our AIS/VHF were unreliable and when working, only transmitted 2 to 2.5 miles.

After a bit of diagnosing with the help of an excellent electrician, Will Immanse in LA Paz, Mexico, we determined that the cable spec’d by Pochon (electronics supplier based in France) that ran from our VHF/AIS to the top of our mast was not properly sized for the distance between the units and the antenna. As signals travel through wire, transmission signal diminishes as the distance traveled increases. Frank and I replaced our RX-8 cable with Ultraflex 400TM (Times Microwave) which has greater signal strength and carries the information between the antenna and our radios and chart plotters.

After changing the cable, our AIS signal reception changed from 2 or 2.5 miles to 6 – 8 miles and on VHF we can talk with ships that are sometimes as much as 15 miles away.

As for the other small issues we listed, happily, they are resolved:

~ the enclosure around our helm station was made sooo tightly that we cannot get it zipped all around, even when we had three people working together.  We had a small strip added to the enclosure and it now closes easily.

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Now we are snug and dry inside this enclosure.

~ the oven on the stove sometimes goes out without any apparent reason.  Easing the burner knobs out a little resolved this problem.

~ there is a leak from a vent box in the engine room that allows seawater into the area when we have following seas. Frank spent a bit of time replacing the hose with a longer hose allowing a large upward loop routed into the outer transom bulwark. The  problem is solved.

Considering the complexity and performance of the HH55 catamarans, the issues we have had on Ticket to Ride are pretty minimal. Today we have over 10,000 nautical miles under TTR‘s keels and we are very pleased to say that her systems are running very well and we are living quite comfortably.

Thanks for stopping to read our blog. We will be finished with quarantine on Oahu very soon and we look forward to exploring this island soon.

Kaneohe Bay And The History Of He’eia Fishpond

Currently Ticket to Ride is anchored in Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu, HI. 

Choosing to anchor where we did was random, but we have found that sometimes random anchor spots allow us to stumble upon something.  Similar to an unexpected find on Martinique way back when, we love it when we happen upon an interesting place that we probably would not have heard about in a guide book. It is sort of like cruising lagniappe! (Lagniappe: something given as a bonus or extra gift.)

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Photo credit: Google Maps satellite images

Located on the windward (east) side of Oahu, Kaneohe is the largest estuary in Hawaii and covers about 11,000 acres.  Although the opening of Kaneohe is more than 4.5 miles wide, outside of the bay lies the only barrier reef in Hawaii which breaks the ocean swell and provides protection in the bay.  Even when the trade winds are blowing outside the bay, the anchorages are very calm, especially in the southern part of the bay. This is particularly nice for us on TTR because the breeze keeps us cool but the boat has very little motion at anchor.

fish pond

It’s interesting to SUP along the coral that rings the sandy areas.

Meandering through the long channel to get to our anchor spot, we passed several shallow areas of sand and coral. These shallow areas are often right next to the channel and the depth on the reef is ankle deep at low tide, but where the outer coral ring ends the depth immediately drops to 30+ feet.

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“The Sandbar” is very popular for family gatherings, kiting and fishing.

Boaters often motor right up onto this sandbar then lay a stern anchor. Unwilling to nose TTR onto the sandbar, we chose to drop anchor a bit off of the bar and SUP to get to the shallows. We were only able to stay at this spot for a night or two.

I read that the Kaneohe area was the most heavily populated part of Oahu during the “pre-contact” era of Hawaii. (Research indicates that pre-contact is considered to be prior to the arrival of Captain James Cook sometime around 1778.)

The fact that Kaneohe is an estuary, which means that one or more fresh water streams or rivers mix into the seawater, is important and was influential in the lives of these Hawaiians. 

The mixing of fresh water and seawater creates a brackish water that is perfect for growing algae that nurtures fish. As many as 600 – 800 years ago, native Hawaiians recognized that value of this brackish water and put it to use for loko iʻa kuapā; walled coastal ponds. Below is a picture of the He’eia Fishpond that encloses 88 acres of brackish water.

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Photo credit School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology, HI

The He’eia Fishpond wall is about 1.3 miles long and has seven gates; four along the seaward wall and three along the He’eia stream, which allows for controlled mixing of the salt and fresh water to create this brackish enclosure.

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One of the seaward gates.

Trapping fish in this brackish enclosure allowed Hawaiians to supplement their food source in an area that naturally developed food for the fish and eliminated the need for a caregiver to feed the fish.

“Ocean fishing is dependent, to a great extent, upon conditions of the ocean and weather.  High surf, storms, and other associated weather phenomenon influence and interrupt most fishing practices.  Therefore, fishponds provided Hawaiians with a regular supply of fish when ocean fishing was not possible or did not yield sufficient supply (Kelly, 1976),” per the Paepae o Heeia website.

It is amazing to me that hundreds of years ago, these Hawaiians had a back up plan for days when traditional fishing methods did not provide enough food for their people.

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A portion of the He’eia Fishpond wall.

As you can see in the picture above, this pond is not built with one wall but two. Each wall is constructed of basalt (volcanic) rock and they are 12 to 15 feet apart. The section between the two walls is filled mostly with coral but also with dirt.  The purpose of the two walls is to slow the flow of water and create a base level of water in the pond so that even at low tide there is sufficient water for the fish.

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Looking over the wall toward shore where early Hawaiians probably lived.

It is estimated that building this loko iʻa kuapā took two or three years of dedicated work by hundreds or even thousands of residents who passed and stacked rock and coral.

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Another example of the seaward gates.

In May 1965 a flood ruined a 200 foot section of the He’eia Fishpond and it went unused until 1988 when Mark Brooks began repairing the wall. In 2001, Paepae o Heeia, a non-profit organization, was established with the express purpose of restoring and caring for the He’eia Fishpond.

Today this historic and innovative walled pond is fully restored and in excellent condition. TTR is anchored about 300 yards from the Fishpond and on calm days we can paddle along the wall and see the waters entering or leaving the gates depending on the tide.

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Shallow sand and coral just off the Fishpond wall.

Kaneohe Bay is so large that there are many areas to explore, but until our two week, inter island quarantine is finished, we have to remain anchored here, so we haven’t had a chance to see as much as we would like.

But the Q will end soon and we have no complaints about our location. The views are stunning, the temperatures are very comfortable and in addition to learning about He’eia Fishpond, we are taking care of routine maintenance on TTR.

As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog. I posted a video of the He’eia Fishpond on our FB page, so be sure to head over there if you want to see the video or hear from us more often.

 

Searching For Calm Anchorages and Old Petroglyphs

After a couple of weeks in Honolua Bay, we decided to change locations on Maui. First we stopped at Mala Wharf but the north winds made the anchorage pretty bumpy. So after just two nights, we moved to Olowalu which is a few miles south of Lahaina.

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Mala Wharf anchorage is quite pretty.

The water in Olowalu is beautiful and we dropped anchor in a large sandy area for excellent holding.  However, we noticed the wind was shifting throughout the day and we were concerned the anchor chain could become fouled in rocks or worse damage coral. While we were swimming we had located a mooring ball nearby, so we decided to up anchor and tie to the mooring ball instead .

We had quite a time of moving just a few feet away as the wind shifted direction and velocity incredibly fast in Olowalu. When we upped anchor, the winds were about 10 knots. However as we were maneuvering and tying up to the mooring ball, the wind significantly changed directions twice and I saw the wind speed vary between 12 and 30 knots!

TTR has a decent amount of windage, but thankfully with two engines we are able to control her well. Soon we were securely tied to the mooring ball and we celebrated our successful mooring and coral saving maneuver with sundown cocktails.

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Sunset at Olowalu.

The next day we decided to take a short walk in search of the petroglyphs reported to be near Olowalu.  Frank and I have a history of very little luck finding cave paintings in a variety of locations.  While in the Sea of Cortez, we took a dinghy trip and a loooong walk looking for cave paintings near Bahia de Conception.  We spent a good two hours traveling to and searching for the caves without any success.

So when Frank suggested we head off in search of the Olowalu petroglyphs, I was a bit skeptical. But hey, it has been forever since we have had a walkabout so I was in.

Here are a few pictures from our walk.

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Once we were on this old road, traffic noise receded and bird song could be heard.

After a quick quarter mile walk from the beach, we turned onto this old road and walked about half a mile before we were side tracked by a beautiful spring.

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The fresh water was clear and cool.

We couldn’t resist sitting here for a few minutes to watch the water flow and listen to the birds twittering and fluttering nearby. Before long though we continued our search for the drawings.

Happily, we quickly found the old, out of commission pump house which is the marker for the beginning of the petroglyphs.

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Clearly that old pump house is out of use.

According to the information we read, the images we saw are known as Ki’i Pohaku which means “rock pictures or images.”  The Ki’i Pohaku date back 200-300 years to an era which was referred to as “pre-contact” Hawaii.  I thought the drawings would be older than they are but without any protection from the elements they could be erased in time so I guess “younger” is better in this instance.

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A portion of the smooth wall where the petroglyphs are located.

The guide we read suggested bringing binoculars and that was well worth the effort.  We sat in the shade and spied all kinds of drawings – people, families, a sailing vessel, a dog, etc.

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Can you find the sailboat?

The theory is that this area was along a trail between Ioa Valley and Olowalu Valley and that travelers would rest in the shelter of this rock wall.  I can almost imagine some mom telling her child to stop drawing and come on along. 😉  However the drawings are chiseled into the rock so I imagine adults made these depictions.

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Here is a photo take through the binoculars.

It is kind of interesting how similar looking cave drawings are from different areas of the world. Those we have seen all tend to have triangular upper bodies and stick-like arms and legs. It is probably challenging to make even a crude drawing into rock using hand tools.

The temperatures have been great in Maui and it was a perfect day for stretching our legs and seeing tiny bits of land  but pretty soon we strolled back to Ticket to Ride.

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The little used, older road along the coast.

Maui is so lush that even walking along the old road adjacent to the new, well traveled road is quite pretty with huge trees and flowers.

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TTR bobbing in those gorgeous waters.

Every time I return to an anchorage where we left TTR, I am happy to see her floating there, waiting to welcome us home.

Thanks for stopping in to read this post. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to explore other areas and share that with you. Wishing you all health and comfort during these trying times.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

CaboAdios Cabo

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.

Cabo-1Fin whale?!

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.

 

 

2019 Baja HaHa Rally ~ Part 1

Hola from Mexico! It has been forever since I have found time (and WiFi) to sit down and actually write about our travels.

Frank and I were quite busy the last few weeks before the start of the Baja HaHa. We spent our last weeks in Long Beach, CA preparing to leave the country for an extended period of time which means we tried to buy some things we will need/want for the next year or two.  That means we have ordered a LOT of spare parts for TTR and stocked up on some routine things that we like to have and may not be able to find in another country (think favorite spices, shampoos, lotions or potions).

For anyone who owns Amazon stock, don’t be surprised when their monthly earnings drop after our departure! 😉

Our departure date was a firm one of November 4th with the 2019 Baja HaHa. The HaHa is a casual rally of boats that departs from San Diego and makes two or three stops on the way to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We joined the HaHa to meet other cruisers and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow sailors.

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This is where we are going!

We left Long Beach and headed south to San Diego where our dear friends, Ron and Mindy of s/v Follow Me flew in to join us for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally.  Mindy and Ron left their boat in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala and joined us on TTR for the Rally.

The first official HaHa event for the four of us was the BBQ and Costume Party.  The parameters for our costume were: 1. it must be easy  2. it must be comfy  3. it must not take much time to assemble.

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Our costumes aren’t great, but they are met our criteria!

The result was our “Three sheets to the wind” attire. Happily, everyone knew what we were and assembly took less than 15 minutes.

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Perhaps our favorite costume was s/v Kalawa’s.  Kevin and Katie were Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.  I believe they were the funniest costume of the event.

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Another favorite was the buoy and anchor chain!

Big kudos to Richard Spindler, the HaHa Grand Poobah, who put on quite the start for the 2019 Baja HaHa Rally.

HaHa stert

We trailed the HaHa pack and had a great view at the start.

As the 153 HaHa boats left San Diego, we had a Coast Guard escort, a mariachi band playing from a boat and a fire boat to celebrate the HaHa kick off; thus establishing a festive atmosphere for the Rally.

Baja HaHa start-2

Love this fire boat!

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Serenaded as we motor sailed out of San Diego, CA.

The first leg of the Rally was the longest.  We had great conditions for sailing and immediately threw up the Doyle cable-less reacher and main sail.  The wind speed and direction were perfect for a spinnaker but we do not have one on TTR.  The spinnaker would be too large for Frank and me to handle along, so instead we use the Doyle cable-less reacher which we had cut deeper than usual. We can pull the reacher tack toward the windward bow and increase the wind angle range for this sail. 

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Pretty decent speeds for a cruiser boat and less than 11 knots of wind.

Also, Frank had a small stay sail made by Ulman Sails just before we left Long Beach. This sail helps funnel the wind between the main sail and the reacher.  It worked very well and added about a knot to our deeper angled sailing.

HaHa sailing-1

Pretty soon we were toward the head of the fleet and had a beautiful view of the kites.

HaHa leg 1

Neck and neck spinnakers.

Fishing on this first leg to Turtle Bay was excellent and the VHF was full of reports from HaHa fleet boats who were catching tuna, dorado, skip jack and more.

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Frank and Ron managed to land two tuna.

HaHa sunset to Turtle Bay

Sunset our first night out.

Mindy and I took the first watch and enjoyed seeing this colorful sunset. Ron and Frank took over at 1 a.m. so Mindy and I could sleep until 7 or so.

Our first HaHa stop at Turtle Bay was two nights. The first night we invited the four gentlemen from s/v Day Dream to join us for sundowners. Since they had no dinghy or ice, they eagerly accepted our offer for a ride and chilled drinks.

The next day we strolled around town admiring the unique flare the locals have for appointing their homes.

HaHa in Turtle Bay-1An interesting combination of beads and curios at this home.

After “walking up” and appetite, we found a local taco spot and indulged in lunch and cervezas. Frank was truly happy to reacquaint himself with food from the Baja!

HaHa in Turtle Bay-2

Cell towers trump pavement.

HaHa in Turtle Bay

Ambling toward the baseball field.

We also participated in the annual Baja HaHa Cruisers Against the Locals baseball game.  The baseball game was silly and fun without many rules.  I was amazed how often the cruiser first baseman “missed” a catch!  The game allowed the local kids to show off their prowess on the diamond and some of these kids were very talented!

HaHa baseball

Preparing to play ball!

Once the game was finished, the cruisers donated their baseball equipment and each of the kids was allowed to choose a piece of equipment to keep. I wonder if they agree to play just to get the new equipment? Not really though.  The kids were engaging and enthusiastic.  I think they had as much fun as the HaHa folks.

HaHa Turtle bay sunset

Sunset at Turtle Bay.

This was the extent of our brief first stop of the 2019 Baja HaHa.  I’ll share the remainder of the HaHa in our next blog.

In the mean time, thank you for stopping by. I am truly sorry for the lapse in posts, but travel plus preparations to leave California severely limited my opportunity to write. Hopefully things will settle a bit and I can catch up on some of the things I missed, like our hands-on safety at sea class in Rhode Island!

All the best from Mexico!

As always, thank you for stopping to read our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments so feel free to contact us here. Or look for us on FB where we post more often.

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.

Santa Barbara-2

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.

Santa Barbara-3

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.

Santa Barbara-4

This is a brugmansia arborea or Angel’s Trumpet.

Santa Barbara-6

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!!

Santa Barbara

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.

Santa Barbara-1

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.

Pt. Dume

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.

Santa Cruz-1

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.

Santa Cruz-3

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.

Santa Cruz

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.

Santa Cruz-1

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.)

Santa Cruz-2

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.

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