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

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Nighttime Santa Barbara from TTR’s cockpit

After Santa Cruz, we headed to the lights of the mainland at Santa Barbara for a quick visit.  We only had one full day to explore Santa Barbara, so out came the e-scooters for a tour around town.

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Exploring by e-scooter

Santa Barbara was very clean and pretty.  It’s impossible to see it in one day on an e-scooter, but one place we stumbled upon in the midst of the city captured our regard.

There is a one square block park in the heart of Santa Barbara that is a nirvana of green space ~ Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden.

The property where the park lies has traded hands several times since the inception of Santa Barbara in 1850.  In 1903, Mary Miles Herter built a grand home with beautiful grounds on this block. Upon Herter’s death, her sons transformed the home into a hotel and they built bungalows all around the main hotel.  “El Marisol” became THE place for wealthy folks to mingle and find retreat.

In 1920 the property was bought by Frederick Clift who maintained the gold standard of El Marisol until he sold it in 1940.  For the next 35 years, the property changed hands and its use varied.

In 1975, Alice Keck Park anonymously purchased the property and donated it to the city of Santa Barbara with specific instructions that it was to be used only as a public space. She also specified that her identity was not to be revealed until after her death.

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Shade and sun dapple the park.

Alice Keck Park’s original gift of the land included enough funds to turn the then neglected land into a beautiful park and maintain the grounds going forward.

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Birdsong was louder in the park than the sounds of nearby traffic.

Today the park is a bubble of beauty with pockets of themed gardens like the butterfly garden or the water feature overflowing with turtles and ducks.  Within the park is a sensory garden area where visually and physically impaired visitors can enjoy the variety of scents, sounds and textures.

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This is a brugmansia arborea or Angel’s Trumpet.

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Angel’s Trumpet close up.

A special thank you to my SIL, Emily, who told me the name of this plant.  Em also informed me that the flowers and leaves are poisonous…. I cannot believe that here in California there wasn’t a giant sign warning about this tree!!

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Giant palms towered over flowering bushes.

Although we stumbled upon this park, it was so pretty and serene that we ended up spending about an hour just exploring the various areas and soaking up the peaceful atmosphere.

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

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A map showing the 75 different types of trees within the garden. 

One final  picture to share from Santa Barbara…. we scootered past this house and it was so cute and quirky that I had to snap a photo.

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This is so inviting but I’m sure the plants would die under my care.

We left Santa Barbara early the next morning and sailed to Point Dume.  We anchored off of a small cove where some friends live.  Point Dume was also a quick stop but it was full of fun thanks to Sydney and Michael whose hospitality was amazing!

Sydney put together a really delicious dinner on the beach and we enjoyed sharing their company while watching the sunlight disappear.

The views from TTR while anchored off Pt. Dume were gorgeous in the morning light.

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Looking east from TTR

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Love the circle of light in the clouds.

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The little beach where we had dinner is on the left.

Frank and I took a long walk and saw some pretty homes and pretty views from the cliffs.

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The view looking out to the water instead of in from the ocean.

Last year when we were traveling in our RV, fires were ravaging many parts of the west where we visited.  Our plans were altered to avoid the fires and we never really saw the results of the fires.  While walking in Pt. Dume, we were stunned by the remaining evidence of the fires California suffered.  The capriciousness of the fire witnessed by the path of the destruction and how the fire destroyed one home and didn’t even touch another was shocking.

Many homeowners have yet to begin the rebuilding process.  It is truly sad to see the homes that were destroyed and imagine the lives that were lost and permanently altered.

Next up for us is a visit back to Texas, followed by the Annapolis Boat Show then a quick stop in Rhode Island for a hands on safety at sea course where we will actually use our PFDs (personal flotation device), deploy and climb into a life raft, and gain hands on experience with other safety equipment. The safety at sea class is part of our efforts to make sure we are as prepared as possible for our sailing adventures, though we certainly hope never to use any of this particular knowledge!

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A Tiny But Beautiful Glimpse Into Santa Cruz Island

So last week, Frank and I had the opportunity to do a little sailing and explore a bit more of California.  We left Long Beach and headed directly to Santa Cruz Island, which was about 70 miles.

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Sunrise over Long Beach.

We started the day early and motored until the wind filled in about half way to our destination. Once the sails were out, our speed increased and we managed to arrive at Santa Cruz around 3 pm.

Santa Cruz is 22 miles long and varies between 2 and 6 miles across making it the largest of the eight Channel Islands.  We were able to spend 5 nights on Santa Cruz and we anchored in three different anchorages.

Our first stop was Potato Cove because it was a very calm day which is needed to stop there. We were the only boat and we dropped the bow anchor and a stern anchor, prepared to stay the night in the beautiful isolation of this tiny bay.  But between the noise and smell of the birds and sea lions, plus the pestering of insects, we decided a different location would be better.

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A decent view while lounging on TTR in Little Scorpion.

Instead of staying in Potato Cove, we motored over to Little Scorpion and dropped the anchor.  We spent two nights anchored at Scorpion and relished being back on the hook and feeling like cruisers again.  The anchorage was very pretty and the light during the day and at night was crisp and clear.

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Full moon rising over Santa Cruz while anchored in Little Scorpion.

We took a couple of great walks that offered fabulous views as you can see from the pictures below.

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

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Looking west from up high on Santa Cruz.

There is evidence that Santa Cruz Island has had human occupation dating back 10,000 years! During the mid to late 1800s, ranching and farming were introduced to Santa Cruz Island.  Pigs and sheep were raised on the island and both olive trees and grapes were planted.  

I’m not certain, but I believe the combination of difficult terrain and the challenges of transporting goods needed and for sale soon caused a collapse of the farming on Santa Cruz. 

The sheep and pigs that were abandoned on the island became feral, they multiplied and caused great damage to the vegetation on Santa Cruz. In addition, the chemical DDT caused the shells of native bald eagles to become too fragile to incubate which decimated the bald eagle population on the island. With the demise of the bald eagles, Golden Eagles began hunting on the island to feast off of the piglets and foxes.

Basically the natural balance of Santa Cruz was destroyed by the introduction of the new non-indigenous animals and plants.

Several decades ago, efforts were begun to restore Santa Cruz to its’ natural state by removing the feral pigs and sheep, relocating the golden eagles, restoring native plants and reintroducing the bald eagles back onto Santa Cruz. (Restoration information gathered from The Nature Conservancy.)

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We found areas of  Santa Cruz had more lush vegetation than on Santa Barbara.

The Santa Cruz Island Fox, the smallest fox in the world, was near extinction, but efforts to breed these foxes in captivity and release them on Santa Cruz has been successful. Between the breeding program and the removal of the Golden Eagles, the Santa Cruz fox is beginning to thrive once more.  (The Nature Conservancy)

Our next stop on Santa Cruz was Prisoners Harbor.  We met the folks from our two neighboring boats and enjoyed sharing sundowners with them. Ironically it turns out the people on s/v Fellowship had met Clayton’s friend Connor while Connor was sailing in the Sea of Cortez on his first boat, s/v Sea Casa.  What a small world!!

Although I am admittedly a warm water girl, the water in Prisoners Harbor was calling me so I took the opportunity to swim and snorkel while Frank headed out on the SUP to explore the nearby landing area.

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Anacapa Island shrouded in clouds.

The wind and water were exceedingly calm which was great because, unlike the Caribbean Islands, there is often very little protection in the harbors on the islands. If the wind had changed, Prisoners Harbor could have become very uncomfortable.

One of the reasons we went to Santa Cruz is that we had heard the worlds largest sea cave is on Santa Cruz and Frank and I really wanted to see it.  We upped anchor in Prisoners Harbor and headed to Cueva Valdez anchorage so we would be close enough to dinghy to the Painted Cave.

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How lucky are we to have this view?

Cueva Valdez is a tiny little bay that was just stunning! We spent the first afternoon appreciating it from the boat but the next day we explored the bits of beach.

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Cave dinghy parking for one, please.

How cute is this little spot where we stowed Day Tripper while we climbed around on the rocks on shore? We never did see the Santa Cruz Island fox, but I’m pretty sure I saw fox prints inside the cave!

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A little birdie came to nap on TTR.

The big appeal for me to head to Santa Cruz, in addition to some quiet, undeveloped anchorages, was the Painted Cave and I was not disappointed! We did make a wrong guess about which cave was the cave at first but our wrong turn exposed us a bunch of sea lions.  It was early morning and the sea lions had a lot of energy.

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Hey who are you guys?

The sea lions looked like a bunch of swimming gophers with their necks extended trying to figure our who we were! But when we came back the second time, they must have already had their morning playtime and feeding as they were much more chilled.

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Supposedly sea lions lie around with flippers up to regulate their body temperature.

After researching the Painted Cave, I have learned that it is the largest sea cave in California and the fourth longest sea cave in the world.  So, though it isn’t the biggest in the world, it’s pretty amazing!

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Yep, we took Day Tripper into that ever narrowing and darkening cave!

Although the water is only 30 feet deep, the cave entrance is 160 feet high! And it extends 1227 feet in length – more than three football fields.  And let me tell you, it is pitch black deep in that cave!

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Colorful and narrowing.

I shot video going into the cave so you can have a better feeling for what the inside of the cave looked like….

Ignore the video quality and enjoy the cave…

The first time we went in Painted Cave, we had the motor running and the sea lions in the back were barking up a storm! I was pretty nervous because I could hear (and smell) the sea lions, but I couldn’t see them unless I shined the flash light right on them!

There was a rock shelf in the darkness and the cave split into two directions. On that shelf were about a dozen sea lions and we were much closer to them than I wanted to be when we spotted them in our flashlights!

The variety of color on the walls of the cave was surprising and really pretty.

The combination of the colors inside the cave and the tall expanse followed by the complete darkness was a very interesting experience.

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Returning to the light at the entrance was very welcome!

Apparently sea caves develop along a weak area of rock which is pummeled by wave action. They can occur in a variety of rock types and often along a line between layers of rock with differing hardnesses.  Painted Cave developed along a fault line which increased its’ weakness and susceptibility to erosion by the waves. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

After exploring the Painted Cave, we returned to TTR and relaxed in our little private anchorage, relishing the quiet of nature before leaving for Santa Barbara the next morning.

Five days was not nearly enough time to see Santa Cruz. There are several other places we would have liked to explore, but at least we had a chance to see a bit of this island and get a taste for its’ unique flavor.

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

 

One Foot On Shore And One Foot Aboard

So life aboard Ticket To Ride is great but the other day Frank and I were talking about how we feel like we aren’t really cruisers at the moment but we also aren’t land dwellers.  That old ‘not fish and not fowl’ situation.

We have truly enjoyed being in Long Beach and sailing to Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands. We have taken full advantage of on-line ordering and I’m pretty certain Amazon thinks we are the greatest customers ever.  We have taken advantage of the grocery nearby and cooked new recipes with foods we can’t find in more remote places.  We have gathered with friends to share land events and sailing events.

However, we don’t completely fit into land life since we live on a dock and we don’t have a car.  If we need to go somewhere, generally we ride our e-scooters or take the dinghy, until we accumulate a few errands that are further away, then we rent a car. Also, unlike those in stationary homes and very typical of cruisers, we scramble and scratch to find decent internet and are quite limited in our ability to stream anything. We do have a cell/data plan, but we go through it surprisingly fast if we have to use it for all of our research.

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The first “internet cafe” we found in the Sea of Cortez 2 weeks after leaving La Paz.

In some ways we have the best of both the cruising and the land dwelling world; the conveniences of US good and services, but the option to leave the dock for short escapes from the city.

One super exciting event for me was that one of my brothers, Jeff, came to visit. This is the first time he has visited us since we moved aboard in 2015.  We did our very best to make sure he had a good time and will come visit us again!

As soon as Jeff arrived from the airport, we tossed off the dock lines and sailed toward Catalina Island.  Since I live on a sailboat, it is hard to believe that this was the first time my brother has ever sailed! But he took to it like a duck on water and was soon manning the helm.

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It’s a far cry from a golf course but this pro had no problem.

Jeff has as much energy as Frank does so we keep him busy with hikes, exploring by dinghy, paddle boarding, sailing, etc.  Plus the Long Point Regatta was this weekend which was fun to watch.

The invitation only Long Point Regatta is organized by the Balboa Yacht Club and the Newport Yacht Club and includes three races; the first race was from Newport Beach to White’s Cove on Catalina Island, the second race was a return course from Long Point to Ship Rock and the third race was from White’s Cove to Newport Pier.

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A few of the contestants preparing for race start.

The race start was especially fun to watch as all of the boats danced around the starting buoys waiting for their class to begin. The fact that we had an excellent view of the start while comfortably sitting on TTR’s bow in perfect weather added to the enjoyment of watching the second race.

Here are a few highlights from our weekend:

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

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

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Surprisingly, Emerald Bay was quiet with very few boats.

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Gotta throw some rocks.

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

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Race starts are a little crazy!

When we learned that the final race for the sailboats would begin just outside White’s Cove and end at Newport Beach, we decided to leave a little before the racers, under mainsail alone, and watch the fleet approach. I managed to get a few pics of the sailboats and hopefully we didn’t interfere with their route or wind.

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Grand Illusion was clipping right along.

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I loved watching the boats deploy their spinnakers!

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All the spinnakers made me think of hot air balloons.

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Back row seat for the races.

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Cheers to not racing!

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Sunset dinghy around Naples Island.

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Checking out the houses, boats and greenery.

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Sunrise over Long Beach.

Time on TTR is a far cry from life as a golf professional in Ft. Worth, Texas, but I’m pretty sure Jeff enjoyed the change of scenery and pace ~ for a little while.  Sea life certainly isn’t for everyone and I don’t think any of my siblings would be happy with this nomadic life, but it sure was fun to have my brother aboard. Thanks for making the effort, Jeffrey!

We hope to explore a few of the Channel Islands in mid-September but until then, we are stocking up on US life and making sure we understand TTR as well as possible before we head to Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha in early November.

Thanks for stopping by to read our blog. We will be back to sea life soon and have more cruiser-like posts. But for now we won’t inundate you with our ‘everyday’ life. Please check out our FB page for more frequent posts.

 

 

 

 

Jumping Rays! Mobula Edge Out Mantas.

Although we are securely tied to a marina in Long Beach, CA, the memory of the jumping rays we saw in Los Frailes, Mexico is still fresh and vibrant. As we headed south toward La Paz, we stopped one afternoon to anchor in Los Frailes and were greeted by the distinct sound of belly flops.

Most folks who have spent any time near a public swimming pool would recognize the sound of a belly flop.  This day in Los Frailes we heard that smack over and over and over again.

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Wings up for a smack of a landing!

Ray after ray after ray was launching out of the blue sea and slapping back down into the water! Of course we anchored as quickly as we could, then lowered the dinghy and slowly approached the rays.

Wait for the slow motion jumping – they are beautiful!

Our haste was unnecessary as the rays jumped and splatted for hours – literally!

There were so many rays jumping that we feared one would land in the dinghy and we weren’t sure how we would manage to get it out without injuring it or us.  So we returned to Ticket To Ride and enjoyed the show from the boat.

Hours later the rays were still jumping. In fact, when we went to bed we could still hear the repeated plops through the open hatch.  Even when we awakened, the rays were still jumping.

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Mr. Ray mid-flight.

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

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

Personally, I think this was a combination of numbers two and four since the jumping lasted for well over 12 hours! Either that or these rays were particularly talkative or especially dirty.   🙂

I was trying to determine if these were Mobula or Manta Rays, but according to Dive Magazine, UK, there are no more Manta Rays, only Mobula, at least when determining scientific classifications.  This combination of Mantas and Mobulas comes after a DNA study that reclassified Mantas into the Mobulas species.

While the DNA may classify these rays as one group, there are some physical differences. The primary difference is that the Manta Ray has its’ mouth in front of the body and the Mobula’s mouth is positioned a little further back, but still in front of the body.

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My favorite picture of the rays.

Regardless of how the rays are classified, they were an excellent source of entertainment that day in Los Frailes.  Every once in a while the slapping sound would stop and the bay would quiet. But soon enough the rays would begin their jump and flop once more and the sound alone would bring a smile to my face.

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

 

Alluring Alamitos ~ Lovely Long Beach ~ Cushy California

Ha! Enough alliteration in that title?

So we have been back in Long Beach for two weeks now and we are having a blast! We have enjoyed an excellent mix of sailing, re-supplying and social time.

In the last two weeks, we have had many guests sail with us on TTR and other folks who have just stopped by to welcome us back or simply ask about our boat.

Needless to say it has been busy, but it has also been a ton of fun.

The sailing conditions in Long Beach Harbor cannot be beaten. There is a long break water just outside the marina that creates a large, calm area of water but the wind still blows nicely there.  It is behind this break water that we first put TTR through her paces back in January and February when she arrived by container ship.

Once you leave the break water area, there is plenty of room to sail and the Channel Islands reduce the waves in the water.

Finally, if you want an easy destination sail, Catalina Island is a quick trip aboard TTR.

As an informational aside, we have the performance polars for TTR loaded into our B&G navigation system and on our nav screens we can see how well we are doing compared to the polars.  This number is expressed as a percentage of optimal performance and is what we most often use to determine how well our sail configuration and sail set are working.

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My view while helming TTR under double headsail.

Frank and I spent one afternoon last week sailing TTR using a variety of sail configurations for downwind sailing because we anticipate a decent amount of 140 port-140 starboard degree sailing when we head south again to Mexico and when we cross the Pacific Ocean toward the Marquesas Islands (spring 2020?). We are planning for times when the wind direction and our course cause our wind angle to move between 140 to 180 and we want to stay on rhumb line.

While sailing our last boat, Let It Be, we had an asymmetric spinnaker in a sock that we used for light downwind sailing. However, we think deploying that type of sail on TTR would be too powerful for the two of us to handle alone.  When outfitting Ticket To Ride, we bought a cable-less reacher from Doyle sails and they cut the sail a bit fuller than usual so we can use this furling sail instead of a socked spinnaker.

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TTR flying the Doyle cable-less reacher.

In an effort to test our downwind sailing options, first we put up our cable-less reacher only and tried sailing between 140-170 degrees.  Sailing with only the reacher was simply delightful! The sail flew well and the motion of the boat was perfectly smooth. TTR moved along at about half of wind speed.

Using our reacher only, we were making about 80 percent of polars which translated into a boat speed of  6 knots in 12 knots of wind.

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Not bad, 79.8% of polar with only one sail up.

Next we left our reacher up and added our jib on the windward side to fly double headsails. With this sail configuration we tried sailing through about 35 degrees of wind angle – say 155 to 170 on the opposite tack.

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Frank walking the deck while sailing double headsails.

Sailing at these deeper angles and edging slightly from a port to starboard tack, we were again making half or a little more of wind speed. The boat was extremely comfortable and the sails were staying full. We maximized our sailing results by using an outboard jib lead on the jib sheet to help keep the clew to weather.

Using the reacher and jib we managed to meet 95-100+ of our polars which translated into a boat speed of 6.3 knots in 11.6 knots of wind.

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Very happy with TTR’s performance under reacher and jib. 

Based on these results, we have decided that we do not need to buy another sail for downwind, light wind sailing situations. We will work with the inventory we have and hope it takes us comfortably and relatively quickly to our destinations.

Our first round of guests back in Long Beach included our son, Clayton, and 9 of his friends who are sailing instructors at a camp on Catalina Island.  These camp counselors don’t have a ton of time between camp sessions, so we picked them up on Catalina and went for a fast but short sail on TTR. As instructors, these kids are very good sailors and I think being on board a performance catamaran was a fun change for them.  We were easily clipping along between 10-11 knots on TTR and they were loving the speed and comfort.  They also enjoyed staying dry while sailing . 🙂

After a quick sail, we provided a home cooked, hot lunch which was enthusiastically consumed – probably it was a far cry from a summer of camp food! “Nomad” dubbed our marinated chicken “10 knot chicken” since Frank fired up the grill and cooked it while we were sailing back toward camp at 10 knots!

We really enjoyed sharing the afternoon with these young people.  They were polite, appreciative and full of energy and cheer.

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Laura, Lisa and Mary Grace 

Our next guests were sailing friends we met in the Bahamas in 2017. We met Laura and Chris when they were volunteer fee collectors for the Exuma Land and Sea Parks.  We ended up buddy boating with Laura and Chris off and on in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico! This is the 2nd time we have met up with Laura and Chris while in California because they regularly fly here when taking a break from their sailboat.

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Lisa and Chris at the helm.

Happily we have also become friends with Lisa and Dave, who are long time friends of Chris and Laura.  We took the four of them out for a long afternoon of sailing on TTR. It was fun to have experienced sailors on board and have everyone take turns at the helm and handling lines.

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Chris, Don, Frank, Mary Grace and Laura (Thanks for the photo, Val.)

The next foursome who sailed with us are new friends we met while traveling in Mexico. We met these two couples in different parts of the Sea of Cortez, but soon realized they are both from this general area and know each other through sailing here.  So of course when we realized the overlapping friendships we invited all four to come to TTR for an afternoon of sailing and dinner on board.

Seven out of eight of the people we took sailing this week have only monohull sailing experience. It is always interesting to hear the reactions of monohull sailors when they go out on TTR. First they are concerned that we have left too many items unsecured in the boat when we leave the dock. Next they are surprised by how high out of the water we are and how much space there is,  without going down a companionway.

Once we are sailing, our monohull guests quickly appreciate the comfort of not heeling and the speed of TTR. Many times I have heard jokes between spouses that perhaps a cat is in their near future.

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Gratuitous picture of TTR at anchor in the Sea of Cortez

Returning to Alamitos has been great.  We love seeing our kids, meeting up with friends both old and new, and having access to so many conveniences. Frank is working hard to accumulate all the spare parts we might need when we leave for Mexico, then cross the Pacific.  While in Mexico we ordered a couple of items that never arrived because they were held up in Customs, so the ease and speed of ordering on-line and having things delivered is greatly appreciated! I am spending time updating documents, looking for reference materials for our future cruising grounds, lining up a safety course and planning annual doctor visits (oh fun).

So there you have it. This is how we are currently spending our time in Alamitos Bay. Due to marina rules, we can’t stay on this dock long term, so we hope to explore a few of the Channel Islands  when our time on this dock ends.

Thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear you thoughts or questions if you would like to post them in the comments. For more regular news, please visit our FB page.

 

 

Scooter Time ~ E-sploring Coronado Island

We arrived in San Diego, CA from Ensenada, MX just after the sun came up and quickly dispatched with the clearing in process. (We used the Border Control app “ROAM” and it was very easy and efficient.) 

We motored TTR through San Diego Bay to Glorietta Bay, a public anchorage right across from the Hotel del Coronado and overlooking the Coronado Golf Course.

Our youngest son, Clayton, happened to be in San Diego that day so we were delighted to get to spend the day with him on board TTR.  Even though the trip from Ensenada to San Diego was an easy one, Frank and I were a bit tired from not having much sleep, so we all just hung out on Ticket To Ride and spent the day catching up and enjoying time together. 

Enjoying this view from the boat was delightful!

Frank and I spent the next day exploring Coronado on our e-scooters**.  Coronado is charming and picturesque. Plus the drivers are accustomed to bikers, skaters and pedestrians, so we felt comfortable puttering all over on our scooters. 

We stopped at one beach that turned out to be the dog beach. The area was teeming with pups cavorting on the sand and in the water.  I swear you could see the smiles on the faces of the dogs as they ran, sniffed and played to their hearts content.  Pictures didn’t capture it at all! (Seeing all the dogs made my heart ache for Captain, but also lifted my spirit just seeing them play.)

Not as busy as the Maleçon in La Paz, but a nice place!

All told I think we scootered about eight miles this day, so we saw a good sampling of Coronado.

Looking across to downtown San Diego.

Of course we stopped at the very famous Hotel del Coronado so we could see it for ourselves.

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See our trusty e-scooter waiting patiently? 😉

The Coronado Hotel is the second largest wooden structure in the U.S. and when it opened, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. The hotel architecture is classified as “American wooden Victorian beach resort” and is currently undergoing some renovations; but these are being handled very tastefully and are as unobtrusive as possible.  The grounds of the complex are beautifully groomed; both the sand areas and the lawns and gardens. 

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Just one of the elaborate flower arrangements inside the hotel.

Inside the hotel, the woodwork is extremely rich and the old fashioned metal elevator gate gleamed.  Greenery and flower arrangements abounded. 

It is interesting to imagine what this hotel was like when it opened in 1888;  ladies were wearing bustles and gentlemen sported top hats in the 1880’s.  Today the attire, including our own, is incredibly casual and the patrons are exceedingly informal. Think how many changes in fashion, protocol, laws and customs that lobby has seen over the last 130+ years!  The Coronado had been open for 30 years before women were even allowed to vote. I find it fascinating to imagine all the changes that have occurred during those 130 years the Coronado has operated.

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The lobby was opulent but understated.

The Coronado has had an impressive number of influential, powerful and famous guests ranging from presidents to princes to movie stars, as well as military personnel and their families during WWII.  The Coronado even claims to have a resident ghost! (Source: Wikipedia)

After an arduous (not!) few hours of scootering, we stopped at Clayton’s Coffee Shop for a late lunch. Clayton’s feels like a 1950’s coffee shop with its U-shaped counter seating and just a few booths. The menu is wide and the food was great, though sadly, the little juke boxes on the counters no longer work.  Clayton’s is a popular spot that also sports a walk-up, order-out window if you don’t have time to sit down for a while.

Clayton’s Coffee Shop.

I am always glad to be back ‘home’ to the U.S. and San Diego was a special entry spot.  The Navy has a large presence there and as a result I could hear the National Anthem played early each morning as the flag was raised.  Listening warmed my heart and reminded me of how fortunate we are to have the opportunities and freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S.

All in all, I would say we scootered the stew out of Coronado and had a great time doing it!  Exploring Coronado was fun and it’s nice to settle in and enjoy our own country for a couple of months before we join the Baja Ha-Ha in November and head back to Mexico.

**We bought Glion foldable scooters. They fold up and can be pulled along like a suitcase; they weigh about 22 pounds so they can also be carried and they store easily. We decided to buy the scooters to replace our mountain bikes which we found tiresome to transport to shore in the dinghy. So far the scooters have been a good compromise, though on rough road surfaces the ride can be really bumpy. We are not affiliated with Glion or Amazon.

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The Baja Bash ~ Bashing 750 NM Toward California.

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

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

Baja Bash

Sunrise on passage – always SO welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baja Bash-2

I think everyone loves dolphins!

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

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

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

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

The Malecón ~ The Pulse of La Paz?

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!

Malecon

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.

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**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.

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**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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Malecon-8

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.

Malecon-3 The matches were well attended but the VIP section wasn’t crowded during the week.

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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.

Malecon-4

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 NoteThere 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.

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BVIs? Sea Of Cortez? Both Are Beautiful Sailing Locations. So How Do They Compare?

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.

SOC vs BVI-8

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.

SOC vs BVI-5

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.

SOC vs BVI

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.

SOC vs BVI-4

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.

SOC vs BVI-6

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

SOC vs BVI-2

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

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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

SOC vs BVI-7

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

SOC vs BVI-3

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.

Geological History and Unusual Sights Define the SOC.

We have been in the Sea of Cortez for two months and we continue to be thrilled with the visual overload here.

Overview-5

TTR at anchor at Isla Coronados.

Our time in the Sea is limited this year because we need to go back to the States to have some warranty work done on Ticket to Ride.  As a result, we have covered a lot of area at a fast clip. We have seen many beautiful places and I will share some thoughts and sights through pictures in this post.

Overview

I know there is a story written in these layers but I don’t know how to read it!

Frank and I  should have studied geology to fully appreciate all the beauty and history of this stunning area. Every part of the Sea is dramatically framed by rugged and arid land masses. When we traveled the U.S. by RV this summer, we felt our lack of geological knowledge but we were fortunate that many of the parks had signs explaining the history told in the layered deposits of the cliffs and canyons we visited.

Overview-3

Very well defined layers at Punta Pulpito.

Here in Mexico, we sail or dinghy or hike past amazingly well defined layers of the earth’s history but we have no way to learn the story revealed by the lines.  The internet is unavailable and neither of us studied geology, so we can’t even pull on long forgotten knowledge.

Overview-6

We hid from SW winds at colorful Bahia Cobre. 

However, even without an understanding of the rocky history, we are amazed at the beauty and diversity of the formations we see.

Overview-2

The back side of Caleta Partida where we took the dinghy into small sea caves.

Any geology buffs want to chime in and explain the geological history for any of these pictures?

But the SOC isn’t just about geology.  While returning to La Paz, the wind was shifting and changing and as we were accepting the need to furl sails and start engines, we came across a pod of whales. The rocky bluffs near Espiritu Santo made a perfect backdrop for this whale spray.

Overview-10

A whale’s blow is it exhaling air from its’ lungs. 

There were about 10 whales and each would surface three or four times before disappearing for a while. None of these whales breached and we never saw the tail. I’m not certain but I think they were Fin Whales.  (Can anyone confirm that?)

Overview-9

Such a big mammal and such a small dorsal fin.

Fin Whales are the fastest of all whales and can swim up to 37 kilometers per hour! After rolling in our foresail, we just drifted for about an hour watching the whales surface all around us. It was a thrilling experience.

Overview-8

The whales were pretty close to TTR!

Each day we see amazing things that make us pause and appreciate the Sea of Cortez again and again. Sometimes it is a beautiful sunrise….

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Sunrise at Caleta Partida.

Other times it’s the birds we see coasting on air drafts or diving like sharpened arrows into the blue waters. Or it is spying Blue Footed Boobies like these on nearby ledges.

Overview-12

Blue footed boobies!

The depth of the blue color of the male Booby’s feet play an important role in courtship of the females as the males display their feet to woo a female. The intensity of the blue can vary from a pale turquoise to a deep aquamarine.

Overview-11

The bird 2nd from left seems intent on the camera.

This quote from Wikipedia about the color of Booby feet is interesting: “The blue color of the blue-footed booby’s webbed feet comes from carotenoid pigments obtained from its diet of fresh fish. Carotenoids act as antioxidants and stimulants for the blue-footed booby’s immune function, suggesting that carotenoid-pigmentation is an indicator of an individual’s immunological state.”  Bottom line; the deeper the color the healthier the bird, and the more likely he is to get the girl.

Overview-7

The cloud bank between the sailboat and land was interesting.

We have not seen an abundance of coral when we snorkel here in the SOC, which sort of surprises me since we see so many mammals like dolphin and sea lions. We see some fish when we snorkel and they offer the most color when we are underwater.  We have seen hues of green and brown and hardly any coral. The visibility under water has not been very good either.

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Stretching our legs on Isla Coronado. 

In my opinion, the dramatic landscape, the surfacing of dolphins or sea lions and the rays jumping out of the sea combined with the lack of color under the water means the views from on the boat or on land are more interesting than those below.

On the whole, the weather here has been much cooler than I expected. In fact, when we sail, I often put on a long sleeve shirt or a light jacket.  The water is still chilly and we are wearing wet suits if we get in the water.  I am sure there are places where the snorkeling or diving are excellent and hopefully we will find them next Fall when we return to the Sea of Cortez.

The local people we have met in towns and fishing villages here have been amazingly warm and deserve a post unto themselves.  I won’t expand on that now but in the future I hope to capture a sense of our experience and share it.

For now, we are enjoying the beauty of the Sea and watching the water and land to see what new surprises present themselves.

Thank you for taking time to read our blog.  We would love to hear from you if you have questions or comments.  You are welcome to visit our FB page where we hope to have enough connection to post pictures more often than we post here.

 

 

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