On Christmas Eve the wind was calm as we motored away from La Paz, MX. On the glassy water surface, we saw something in the water that we thought might be rays skimming the top of the water. But it turned out to be a very large something…. a pod of whale sharks!
We turned off the engines and watched them move along the water in was seemed a leisurely pace. This gentle, beautiful creature swam right next to Ticket to Ride!
What a wonderful early Christmas gift to be able to see these pretty beasts!
The kids jumped into the water for an underwater view, then we launched the paddle boards for an above water show. The wales sharks didn’t like the sound of TTR‘s engines, but they didn’t seem at all bothered by us in the water or by the paddle boards.
So big but so gentle!
This was such a fun experience and a nice Christmas gift to share with our kiddos.
Time and internet have been limited, so this is just a quick post to share this very fun whale shark sighting. We hope you had a very blessed Christmas and wish you an adventurous and happy 2020!
Although we are securely tied to a marina in Long Beach, CA, the memory of the jumping rays we saw in Los Frailes, Mexico is still fresh and vibrant. As we headed south toward La Paz, we stopped one afternoon to anchor in Los Frailes and were greeted by the distinct sound of belly flops.
Most folks who have spent any time near a public swimming pool would recognize the sound of a belly flop. This day in Los Frailes we heard that smack over and over and over again.
Wings up for a smack of a landing!
Ray after ray after ray was launching out of the blue sea and slapping back down into the water! Of course we anchored as quickly as we could, then lowered the dinghy and slowly approached the rays.
Wait for the slow motion jumping – they are beautiful!
Our haste was unnecessary as the rays jumped and splatted for hours – literally!
There were so many rays jumping that we feared one would land in the dinghy and we weren’t sure how we would manage to get it out without injuring it or us. So we returned to Ticket To Ride and enjoyed the show from the boat.
Hours later the rays were still jumping. In fact, when we went to bed we could still hear the repeated plops through the open hatch. Even when we awakened, the rays were still jumping.
Mr. Ray mid-flight.
There are a few theories about why rays jump out of the water like this:
- They are trying to remove parasites. (Yuck)
- They are excited about food in the area.
- This is a form of communication.
- This is part of a mating ritual or dance.
Personally, I think this was a combination of numbers two and four since the jumping lasted for well over 12 hours! Either that or these rays were particularly talkative or especially dirty. 🙂
I was trying to determine if these were Mobula or Manta Rays, but according to Dive Magazine, UK, there are no more Manta Rays, only Mobula, at least when determining scientific classifications. This combination of Mantas and Mobulas comes after a DNA study that reclassified Mantas into the Mobulas species.
While the DNA may classify these rays as one group, there are some physical differences. The primary difference is that the Manta Ray has its’ mouth in front of the body and the Mobula’s mouth is positioned a little further back, but still in front of the body.
My favorite picture of the rays.
Regardless of how the rays are classified, they were an excellent source of entertainment that day in Los Frailes. Every once in a while the slapping sound would stop and the bay would quiet. But soon enough the rays would begin their jump and flop once more and the sound alone would bring a smile to my face.
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.
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.)
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….
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.
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.
So recently a reader wanted to know what our average speed is on TTR. His thought was that we have owned Ticket to Ride for more than four months now and must have an idea of what her average speed has been.
This seemingly simple question took me down a rabbit hole because it sort of assumes that the sailing conditions we have had are consistent. This caused me to think about how different it is to sail in the Sea of Cortez compared to the British Virgin Islands.
Looking at Saba Rock in the beautiful BVIs
Long term readers know we had our first boat, Let It Be, in charter in the BVIs through Tortola Marine Management. (TMM has great people and they took excellent care of us and our boat.) It was in the BVIs that I cut my sailing teeth but because I was completely inexperienced, I didn’t understand how perfect the sailing conditions are there. Now that I have sailed thousands of miles in a variety of places, I have a better appreciation for just how nice sailing is in the BVIs.
But I digress. The point is that we don’t really have an average speed to report for Ticket To Ride because the sailing conditions these four months have been extremely varied. The first six weeks we sailed TTR we had professionals on board who were there to teach us and to push TTR to make sure she was ready to go. During that time our fastest recorded speed was 24.7 knots! (And yes, that is under sails alone.) Frank and I have not come close to that speed on our own. Our fastest speed has been 15.6 knots while pinched up at about 55 degrees and true wind speed of 22 knots or so. I thought we were plenty powered up and wanted to stay at a tight wind angle rather than push the boat any faster.
In the SOC it looks like we’re sailing in the mountains of Arizona.
In the Sea of Cortez the sea state changes greatly because there is a lot of fetch, land masses come and go, wind directions change and chop is caused by varying wind. It is very rare for us to put sails up and not tack or change sails each time we move anchorages. Some may think this is a down side to the SOC, but it has been an excellent way for us to practice raising and lowering sails and changing sail configurations on TTR.
In the SOC, flat, desert land here and mountains across the way.
As we moved into late spring and early summer, the wind patterns in the SOC have changed. Earlier in the year the wind was driven by northerlies and pressure systems from the north, but as the temperatures heat up the winds are thermally and land driven. That is, the wind is determined by the heating up and cooling off of the land which affects the speed and direction of the breezes.
The Sea of Cortez is well known for some crazy wind conditions with interesting names like Coromuel Winds, which are unique to the SOC. Other wind phenomena in the Sea include Elefantes and Chubascos. This link to the Club Cruceros website gives a brief overview of the weather near La Paz.
BVIs have plenty of places to leave marks of your presence.
When we were sailing in the BVIs, the winds were much more predictable because of the trade winds. Although the amount of wind changed, the direction was usually the same so we could easily plan our destination. In fact, most of the sailors in the BVIs travel from anchorage to anchorage in the same direction. As a result of the predictability of the wind, it would have been easier to say, ‘oh, TTR sails X percentage of wind speed most of the time” if we had spent these four months in the BVIs.
I can tell you that we sail much more often on TTR than we would be sailing on our former boat. We sail more often on Ticket to Ride because she points into the wind well and she moves well in light winds.
A working fishing village in the SOC.
Stark differences exist between cruising the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. First is that the BVIs are much more developed than the Baja Peninsula. This affects many things:
~there are fewer cruisers in the SOC
~there are fewer restaurants in the SOC
~many anchorages are completely undeveloped in the SOC
Party time at White Bay, BVI is a daily occurrence.
~villages often do not have electricity or running water in the SOC
~there is less cell phone/wifi connectivity (think none for days at a stretch) in the SOC
~there are very few chartered boats in the SOC
Los Gatos is a pretty crowded anchorage in the SOC.
~there are more monohulls than catamarans in the SOC
~SOC is less expensive than the BVIs but buying things may be less convenient
~the electronic charts in the BVIs are way more accurate than in the SOC
Cleaning the day’s catch in San Everisto, SOC.
~less commercialism and a greater need for independence in the SOC
~we have stayed in only one anchorage with mooring balls in the SOC
~more large mammals in the SOC
~fewer coral in the SOC
~the local people in the SOC as a whole seem more welcoming
Limbo time on Anegada, BVI.
~the atmosphere in the BVIs is more like a party where the SOC is more about daily life
~the terrain in the BVIs is lush and tropical but the SOC is arid and mountainous
~the temperature changes more in the SOC than in the BVIs
~the water temp in the BVIs is warmer than we have experienced in the SOC
Hopefully this gives you a small insight into the differences between the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. One isn’t better than the other, they just appeal to different people. I can’t say that we prefer the Sea over the BVIs or vice versa. For now, the SOC fits our needs (getting experience on TTR in a variety of situations) and we are perfectly happy being a bit more remote.
IF I had to guess the answer to our reader’s question about the average speed of TTR, I couldn’t. What I would say is that in lighter winds and the right conditions, she is capable of sailing at wind speed. We have had times when TTR actually sailed slightly faster than the true wind speed. I would say TTR is extremely quiet under sail, no creaking of rigging or slapping of halyards. I would also say that we are really happy with our new home.
Thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear from you if you have questions. Feel free to look for us on FB for more regular posts, assuming we have connection while in the Sea of Cortez.
We have been in the Sea of Cortez for two months and we continue to be thrilled with the visual overload here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TTR before her departure from Xiamen.
So let’s state the obvious first: cars are mass produced and before the first one appears on a showroom floor hundreds of prototypes have been well and truly tested. Then a bajillion cars are made and 99% of the time, any problem you take to your local dealer will have been addressed in another car before you arrive.
Boat builds are significantly fewer in number. The number of units of a “mass” production boat model built is still in the 100s after a couple of years.
Ticket to Ride is one of only four HH55s produced to date, and each boat is customized to the specifications of the buyer. Due to this customization, some of the issues we face on TTR are probably different from issues the other three HH55 catamarans have experienced.
In addition to the uniqueness of each boat, our catamaran is a little city unto itself that must safely carry us from one port to the next and provide all of our electrical, refrigeration, water, power and navigational needs.
Given these facts, it is unrealistic to think that every system on TTR, or any other new boat, would be functioning perfectly at the time of delivery.
La Paz under a full moon taken from where we are anchored.
Knowing we would have issues that needed to be addressed, we decided long before Ticket to Ride was delivered that we would spend a season living on board to figure out what is working and what needs fixing. That is the purpose of our trip to the Sea of Cortez.
First let us reiterate that we are very pleased with our boat. The quality and precision of the interior spaces; cabinetry, tech spaces, painted or veneered surfaces, etc are excellent and we are very impressed.
Ticket to Ride sails like a dream and is more capable than we are. I’m not saying we aren’t decent sailors, but this boat has excellent performance rigging, sails and equipment and she is set up to goooo.
But TTR does have some issues and in the spirit of sometimes removing our rose colored glasses, we will share a few of our current concerns and what is driving us to return to the U.S. for warranty work. To date we have had very good service and response from Hudson Yacht Group with our questions and concerns.
The nav desk on TTR.
Perhaps the most complicated and potentially problematic system on Ticket to Ride is CZone; the electronic control and monitoring system that is the brain of everything with an electron flow on TTR. CZone essentially is the replacement for the AC and DC switching panels seen on most boats plus a whole lot more. With this computer brain and the touch of a screen, through CZone we can program our electrical system to fit our current situation. For example, TTR’s CZone system has 6 programmable modes such as “day cruise” or “anchored home” that allow one to turn off and on all the systems used in those situations with the touch of only a single button. So when we press “day cruise,” VHFs, navigation screens, winches, etc all turn on when we touch that one button. CZONE is a beautiful thing and yes, there is the potential for problems. After many, many hours reading manuals and technical support phone time with CZone Tech Support of New Zealand, the CZone, Frank and Mary Grace are living in harmony.
The company responsible for our electronics package is Pochon out of France. At the time of writing our purchasing contract, we tried to convince HH to use a U.S. company for this pivotal installation. We knew the chances of having everything right from the start were slim because the system interactions and programming are complicated. We lost that battle and now we are facing a few disadvantages because our resource for fixing the electronics is a French speaking group in France. Between the inconvenience of differing time zones and language barriers, even issues discovered during the delivery phase are still not fixed.
Explaining the details of the electrical / electronic / navigational issues is complicated and more details than we think most of our readers would like to wade through. The summary is that we are having compatibility issues between CZone, B&G, Mastervolt and the Victron electronic components. We would really like an expert to come on board to resolve the problems. We also need that expert to communicate clearly so we can become more efficient at modifying the system to meet our particular needs.
Half of the solar panels on TTR.
The solar installation on TTR is excellent and our 1900 watts delivers so much power that we only run our generator once in a while to make sure it still works! The HH team did a first-rate job of adding the individual solar controllers Frank requested and as a result, our solar farm is producing about 80 percent of the energy we require! (The remainder is topped up by the engines when we motor.)
The wiring, neatness, detail and labeling of our boat electronics done at the HH Factory are amazing. Sailors who come on board and peek at our tech room are suitably impressed, as are we. However, there are a few glitches in the wiring that need to be addressed.
That is a pretty tech space!
There seems to be a multi-pronged issue with the wiring to our air conditioning units. Anytime we try to run the port ACs (the side of the master berth), a relay fails, the inverter/generator reads overload and the ACs quit completely. Frank has spent a lot of time trying to trace the issue and with the consultation of Jessica, HH engineer extraordinaire, he has replaced the same relay switch twice. Both of the new relays failed immediately. Our Northern Lights 9kw generator is powerful enough to run our ACs but the inverter isn’t recognizing the power coming from our generator and consistently shows “overload” and shuts down.
Related to this problem is that the generator and inverter/charger aren’t talking well even for basic charging of the batteries. If we try to charge the lithium batteries using the generator, the charger always shows “float” and never reads “bulk charge” even when the batteries are low enough to accept bulk charge. Frank has spent a lot of time talking to Victron and MasterVolt (inverter/charger and batteries respectively) and neither is willing to work through the problem with us ie, there is some finger pointing going on. Somewhere there is a wiring issue or a setting issue or a communication error in these units. This needs to be fixed as we won’t always be in sunny Mexico where solar power is an everyday full charge event.
We really like our B&G navigation/charting system but there are a few issues with it too. Our AIS and VHF systems are not working consistently and when they do work, they only broadcast or receive information for a maximum of 2- 2.5 miles. Considering our air draft is 88 feet, we should easily transmit and receive for at least 8 miles.
(AIS is an automatic identification system used on vessels to identify traffic. Notices of ships nearby show on the electronic chart and information about that vessel’s size, speed and closest point of approach can be seen. This is a big help when sailing at night and very important because we want large container ships to know we are out on the ocean with them.)
Our B&G autopilot, aka Jude, is mostly excellent. Jude can hold to a wind setting or a heading very well. She can follow a navigation route too. But sometimes Jude decides to change herself from navigating a route to just holding a heading… that would be like skipping a turn(s) when following directions.
Speaking of autopilots, we intentionally outfitted TTR with a completely separate back up autopilot system. Our primary one is on the port side and is working. Our redundant system is supposed to be installed on the starboard side but we have absolutely no reading from it and do not think it has been completely installed.
Also, we have recalibrated our electronic compasses several times and there still seems to be some discrepancies between the true compass readings and the electronic readings. We had our traditional compasses professionally swung before we left L.A. and we are confident that the error is in our electronic compasses. This has a bit of a domino effect and can cause calculated electronic information to be wrong. Frank is confident this issue involves magnetic interference and relocation is the answer. The problem is finding a 6 meter NMEA 2000 cable in Mexico.
Small things still need to be addressed on TTR as well. Some of these include:
~ a light switch mix up where two unrelated lights turn on/off by the same switch.
~ the enclosure around our helm station was made sooo tight that we cannot get it zipped all around, even when we had three people working together.
~ the oven on the stove sometimes goes out without any apparent reason.
~ there is a leak from a vent box in the engine room that allows seawater into the area when we have following seas. (HH is fabricating and sending us a replacement to fix this problem.)
This is not an exhaustive list of things that need to be corrected on Ticket to Ride, but it does give you an idea of the types of issues we need to resolve when we get back to the U.S.
We must make a very special mention of Thomas and Riccardo of the HH Team. These two men have done an amazing job of e-mailing with us, trying to troubleshoot our issues from the other side of the world. They have been extremely prompt and thorough in their responses and we are truly grateful. It is their responsiveness that keeps us positive that these issues will get resolved.
We are currently achored in La Paz, Mexico, preparing to move south to Cabo San Lucas where we will wait for a good weather window to sail back north toward Ensenada, Mexico and eventually California.
Frank is trying to get a few things resolved on our Spectra water maker before we leave here. Yes, there are a few bugs relating to the water maker, but so much progress has been made with it that I am not even listing it as a problem anymore. However, kudos to Spectra WaterMaker support and Riccardo of HH. They have been extremely responsive to Frank’s e-mails and phone calls and so far we have been able to make water all along even with the problems!! (Everyone knock on wood, please!)
Phew, so there you have another “report” from TTR. I promise, the next post will be full of pretty sights from the Sea of Cortez.
Sunset from our anchorage in Isla Coronados.
Thank you for reading our blog. Our posts are pretty sporadic right now because our connectivity is hit or miss here in Mexico. I try to post to the FB page to at least share some of the beauty of this area but I am limited by access. Thank you for stopping by.
This post is long on sailing information and short on photos, but those who want to know about the HH55 Catamaran might find it interesting.
Ticket To Ride was offloaded from the container ship on January 14th and life has been busy since then…in a good way.
The first two months were all about commissioning our HH55 and having people visit the boat. TTR is one of only 4 HH55s on the water, and the first one on the West Coast of the U.S., therefore several people came to see the boat and sail on her. We were happy to meet new people and help Hudson Yacht Group and Morrelli & Melvin show off their 55’ design.
On March 16th we left LA with the Newport Beach Yacht Club Race to Cabo and we arrived in Cabo San Lucas on March 22nd.
After our last guests departed on March 30th, it was time to settle into life on board Ticket To Ride and figure out just how we feel about her.
Hands down the answer is that we are pretty much in love with our new home. We enjoyed sailing our Fountaine Pajot Helia 44, Let It Be, but we wanted to find a catamaran that was faster, sailed upwind and had a tad more space.
We found exactly what we were looking for in the HH55. The fit and finish of TTR is great and we are very comfortable. However, some boats are built to be very comfortable but they sail like dogs. Happily, this boat can really sail!
True wind angle: 134 degrees, true wind speed: 10.6k, SOG: 9.3k, boat speed: 9.6k
We have now had several experiences sailing Ticket To Ride at various wind angles and we love her performance. TTR’s sharp reverse bows allow her to cut through the water cleanly and the dagger boards help maintain her course without much slippage at all.
One afternoon we left Ensenada Grande to sail to Isla San Francisco (Sea of Cortez) which is about a 19 nm trip. The sea was choppy and the waves confused. The wind was fluctuating around 15 knots. Our destination required us to sail with a true wind angle of 50-53 degrees which translated into 30 degrees apparent wind.
We were flying the main and genoa and averaged well over 9 knots! AND we sailed directly to our destination – without slipping. We are definitely fans of the daggerboards.
Oh and not to show off, but we made lunch and sat in the salon to eat it while we sailed!!
Another day in the Sea of Cortez, we were sailing from San Evaristo to Los Gatos and we were tucked in fairly closely to the land, which turned out to be a good thing. Here are the notes I made after that sail:
The early sail was quite mild with 8 knots of wind and we had the reacher and full main up. Not long into the trip, the wind kicked in and we furled the reacher, put one reef in the main and unfurled the jib.
The wind continued to climb and soon we were seeing 25 knots of wind.
On Let It Be we used to be able to “reef” the jib by rolling in some canvas but that didn’t work at all on TTR. When we rolled in a bit of the jib, it wobbled wildly and we quickly unfurled it again. The winds were very strong so we spilled the main a bit to reduce pressure in the main sail. We had to keep a close eye on the main and jib sheets and be prepared to release them as we didn’t want to fly a hull!
Our true wind angle varied between 100 and 65 because we altered our heading when we had lighter winds (20K) so we could make our course. It was a very sporty day and we saw Ticket To Ride move along at 15+ knots for much of this trip!
Frank was LOVING the sail! I was a little nervous at first but I enjoyed the speed once we were prepared to release the main or jib if we had too much power.
I am amazed at how quickly 20 knots of wind seemed mild after bursts of 30!
We reached Los Gatos quickly and had our choice of spots to anchor.
The beautiful anchorage in Los Gatos.
Later in the day as boats we had passed while sailing set their anchors, several called us on the VHF and asked just how fast TTR was sailing. (Did I tell you we passed several boats as we sailed?)
Anyway, our AIS and VHF are only working intermittently (at the moment) and apparently the other boats were unable to contact us or see our speed through AIS. They were very interested to hear how fast we were sailing because they “felt like they were standing still” in comparison to TTR.
Yep, this boat can move!
FYI, in hindsight, although we had a reef in the main we should have hoisted the staysail and furled the jib. But the winds were not in the forecasts and we had no idea they were coming along.
Here in the Sea of Cortez, we have found that the winds vary often and suddenly. The boats that contacted us on VHF were in the center of the channel and saw winds up to 35 knots. They were also caught off guard by these unexpected winds.
The fastest we have sailed TTR is 24.7 knots when we had professionals on board and pretty perfect conditions in Long Beach, CA behind the breakwater. We have not replicated this speed on our own and I’m not sure we will try to anytime soon.
In light air with true wind angles of 85-125 degrees, Ticket To Ride often sails very close to wind speed. It is exciting to be able to put the sails up in 8 knots of wind and sail at 8 knots!
True wind angle: 96 degrees, true wind speed: 8.3k, SOG: 8.3k, boat speed: 8.7k
TTR feels like a race horse that wants to take the bit and ruuuunnnnn! She gallops through the water and is capable of more than I am willing to do. Probably Frank should go out with some guys and put her through her paces just because he wants to and I don’t.
As I mentioned earlier, TTR easily moves through the water. I believe we have less motion on this boat than we did on our Helia and the cleaner motion makes the ride more enjoyable to me.
Ticket To Ride is very comfortable to sail deep downwind, but she isn’t as fast as she could be because we do not have a spinnaker. We decided that handling such a large sail with just the two of us would be extremely taxing so instead we bought a Doyle Sails Cable-less Reacher which is cut deeper and is on a continuous line furler. It is this sail that we use when sailing downwind and so far it has worked well. A spinnaker would sail faster, but the reacher is manageable for us.
L-R: Boat speed: 10.6k, true wind angle: 149 degrees, true wind speed: 18.9k.
We made a long sail from San Juanico to Bahia Conception, about 58 nm, and the wind was deeper than forecast. As a result, we were sailing with a true wind angle of 155-165 in 8-11 knots of wind. In these conditions, we averaged between 6 and 7 knots of boat speed.
At 150-160, our reacher stayed well filled and the ride of the boat was extremely comfortable. Frank and I spent the day cleaning the decks, doing laundry, reorganizing a closet or two, etc.
The bottom line is that our HH55 Catamaran is an excellent sailing boat and sail handling is easy with just the two of us on board. We have high speed winches that allow us to quickly raise sails and make the large sails easy to change or adjust. TTR moves so well in light air that we find ourselves sailing most of the time, even when other boats are motoring. In fact, often we sail much faster than we can motor.
We sincerely appreciate the excellent design Morrelli and Melvin created and the few modifications they made at our request to make TTR an excellent sailing and cruising sailboat for our needs. The design by M&M and the fabulous build quality by HH Catamarans has resulted in a boat home we can sail easily and live in comfortably.
Please understand that Frank and I still have a LOT to learn about our HH55. We have not made an overnight passage by ourselves on TTR and we have not faced adverse conditions. Clearly these observations and comments are based on our current level of experience with our new catamaran. We do not expect our opinion to change much, but we still consider ourselves inexperienced on this boat.
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As Frank and I were leaving Isla Coronados on Thursday, we saw waves in the distance we thought might indicate a reef or shallow area.
We double and triple checked the charts, which are completely incorrect here. But we saw nothing.
Binoculars revealed the disturbance was a huge pod of dolphins! We estimated about 500 dolphin in this pod.
Needless to say it was a blast watching these guys swim around.
We idled in the area of the dolphins for about 30 minutes just watching them jumping and cavorting.
We could hear them chattering to each other as they swam. We were surprised how much noise they created.
Wow! I only wish I could share with you how fun it was to see these guys.
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Dolphins in the La Paz anchorage.
After Kristen and James flew out of La Paz, Frank and I took a couple of days to simply relax and relish being back in cruising mode. La Paz, Mexico was a great place for us to enjoy being on the hook again and get to know a few people.
There is a very active cruisers group in La Paz and we were fortunate enough to get involved immediately through their daily VHF Net which is sort of like morning announcements when you were in school; but more interesting.
For those unfamiliar with a Net, they differ a bit by location but each usually has a set format that goes something like this:
The host of the net starts announcing around 8 am on the same VHF channel each day and the order of business usually includes:
~emergencies among the cruisers
~boats arriving or leaving
~activities in and around the area
~items people have for sale or things people are in need of
~questions about where to buy something or have boat work done
The host acknowledges boats who have information to contribute on each topic, then moves to the next item.
Cruisers nets are very beneficial to boaters and it allows local businesses to let cruisers know if they have special events planned.
Anyway, the La Paz Cruisers net is very well organized and informative. It was a great way to jump start our return to cruising.
Sunset in La Paz
One of the reasons Frank and I wanted to be in La Paz in early April was that the Annual Mahalo/Women Who Sail Rendezvous began on April 6th.
In 2015, Frank and I participated in the very first WWS Rendezvous as a BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) on Let It Be in the BVIs. We thought the coincidence that our first long trip on LIB coincided with the first WWS Rendezvous and our first long trip on Ticket To Ride matched the 5th WWS Rendezvous was too obvious to ignore.
So we contacted Captain Holly Scott and signed up as a BYOB. Holly put us in touch with Sherri and Steve aboard s/v Pablo who were already in La Paz.
I had a great time tagging along with Sherri as she used donations from the WWS/Mahalo group to buy more than 20 pairs of tennis shoes for kids living in a nearby fishing village.
Panoramic view from the restaurant in San Evaristo.
The Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous ladies contribute to one needy community each year and this year the fishing village in San Evaristo was the recipient. In addition to shoes, the Mahalo Rendezvous contributed the supplies needed to plumb fresh water from the roadside to the school.
The school in San Evaristo.
The information I received from Sherri on s/v Pablo is that the Mexican Government recently ran plumbing from a fresh water well to the roadside of homes and businesses in San Evaristo and it is up to the individual to get the water from the street to their building.
Mahalo/WWS provided the supplies to pipe the water from the street to the school in San Evaristo.
By the way, the well water only flows twice a week and each family must store necessary water between days. (There is no electricity in San Evaristo. Residents use solar panels to charge batteries and that is their power source.)
An early morning drone shot in Caleta Partida.
I won’t give you the blow by blow of our time with the WWS group, but I will share some pictures of the places we visited.
It was quite entertaining to listen to the 7 chartered boat captains and crew on the VHF net for the group. There was much laughter and banter and each net included jokes and other entertainment. It was very fun to be part of this lively group of women who love sailing and exploring.
Dawn in Caleta Partida.
A couple of ladies joined Frank and me on a little snorkel in Caleta Partida. The water was chilly but the sea life was plentiful and diverse. Much fun.
Swimming with sea lions.
One morning the fleet of boats went to Ensenada Grande where tour operators picked us up and took us to swim with sea lions. It was a blast! The young male pups are very curious and would swim nearby, then roll over like a dog asking for his belly to be scratched.
Fishermen an at Isla San Francisco.
One of my favorite sights during our time with the Mahalo/WWS group was in Isla San Francisco. I awakened early one morning to the sound of men speaking Spanish outside the boat.
Turns out it was fishermen casting their nets for baitfish in the early morning light. It was a beautiful sight and demonstrated the camaraderie of the men and the simple way of life here.
Throwing a casting net for bait fish.
The fisherman chased the baitfish between boats.
But do not misinterpret simple for easy. The people here are hard working and the amenities are few compared to life in the U.S. The villages are remote and most are similar to San Evaristo – no electricity and very little fresh water.
We traveled with the Mahalo/WWS Rendezvous until their most northern anchorage then waved a fond goodbye as they turned south and we pointed further into the Sea of Cortez.
I am exceeding grateful to Captain Holly Scott for organizing these Rendezvous. They offer excellent sailing opportunities for many women on chartered boats but also allow live aboard ladies to join the fun. Holly and her crew facilitate seeing beautiful places while creating new friendships and helping local residents.
This is truly a win win event!
I’m having difficulty publishing with so little connection and I have to work on my phone only, so forgive me typos and abrupt transitions. Thank you for reading our blog. Please check out the FB page for more regular information.
While in La Paz, Frank, Kristen, James and myself went on a whale shark adventure. For conservation purposes, visitors must be accompanied by a guide which is a great idea so these giant beasts aren’t bothered TOO much.
I was surprised how much swimming was involved – after spotting the shark, the panga driver would get in front of the fish and the guide would tell us to slip into the water. Soon the whale shark would be upon us and we would swim like crazy to keep up.
A large mouth for filtering food!
We would swim for about 10 minutes then return to the panga and repeat the process. We had a blast!
This swimmer gives you an idea of the size of the whale shark.
The largest confirmed whale shark recorded was 62 feet! The ones we saw were a mere 35-40 feet. The life span of whale sharks has been difficult to determine but using two methods of estimation, modeling and field study, have shown two contradictory life spans. Modeling suggests that whale sharks live about 70 years, but field studies suggest that whale sharks could live as long as 130 years! Amazing.
As we were leaving the protected waters of the whale shark, we saw a large pod of dolphins and asked the guide if we could swim with them. The panga driver accelerated to get in front of the dolphins and we all jumped in as the dolphins approached us.
The water was only about 12 feet deep and the dolphins swam right toward us, checked us out a little, then swam quickly below us and away. We could hear them chattering as they swam and it was exhilarating! Sorry no photos. 😦
I have a great video of the whale shark, but I cannot get it uploaded on WP. I will try to upload it on Facebook….
Thank you for reading our blog. We have zilch connectivity in the Sea of Cortez, so I don’t have the opportunity to write often. This is the best I could do for now. Please check our FB page for more regular posts.