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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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LIB stripped and prepared for Irma. (SUP was inside while away.)
Well, we are finally back on our boat in Puerto Rico and we are SO fortunate that we suffered NO damage from Hurricane Irma. At the very last minute, this horrific storm decided to go just a bit north and the island of Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit.
In the face of this near miss, the folks here on PR have stepped up and contributed to the efforts to help neighboring islands which have been decimated. There are people taking tangible supplies to PR, others have picked up people stranded on the island and brought them to PR and still others have taken friends or strangers into their boats and homes here in Puerto Rico.
On LIB, we have not contributed physically to the efforts, but we have tried to offer emotional and some financial support. Our intention is to give trained personnel time to reinstate order, then actually go and help rebuild. Admittedly Frank is much better with tools than I, but I have learned a lot since moving onto LIB and I am sure will be able to help in some way.
In the mean time, on our flight back to Puerto Rico, we saw from the air some of the islands we played on while cruising the Bahamas this year. I have not always been a student of geography, but living on a boat has taught me a lot and it was fun to recognize the islands we had visited from an arial perspective.
We spent several days anchored off Normans Cay.
Enjoying the shallows while paddling to “The Pond” on Normans
We stopped on Normans twice this season; once alone and once with some of our Sail to the Sun Rally friends on board LIB with us.
Captain found the soft, deserted beaches perfect for playing chase!
The second great picture from the plane was of Cambridge and Compass Cays. The cut between them is where we met up with s/v Radiance in an amazing feat of timing. We had texted with Radiance crew, Susan and Kevin, who were heading toward the Exumas from Florida while we were returning to the Exumas from Eluethera. Our plan was to anchor near Compass Cay and contact each other upon arrival, but just as we were getting close to the cut and were dousing our spinnaker, we spotted Radiance also approaching the cut! LIB fell into line right behind Radiance and we followed them into the anchorage!
Susan demos the arduous skill of floating about on Compass Cay!
Cambridge Cay is where we first met Kristen and James of s/v Tatiana and Laurie and Chris of s/v Temerity. This area is also the location of another Sail to the Sun meeting where about 10 of us did a float snorkel near the Rocky Dundas in water so clear that Tom and Louise on s/v Blue Lady appeared to be suspended in air in the picture below.
Blue Lady lifts anchor near Cambridge Cay.
Traveling in a plane nearly 100 times faster than LIB sails, we quickly covered the area we sailed this season. But it was fun to look out the window and recall the islands we visited and see again the amazing blues unique to the Bahamas.
For now, we are keeping an eye on the weather here in Puerto Rico and hoping this nasty 2017 hurricane season ends without any more storms anywhere! We look forward to putting LIB back into working shape and once again exploring the Caribbean.
As always, thank you for stopping by our blog. We would love to hear from you. If you want to see what we are up to more often, please see our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44.
Lush growth and conical hills of Los Haitises.
From our slip in Puerto Bahia Marina, I can see the other side of Samana Bay where the Haitises National Park resides. The park, established in 1976, was originally 80 square miles but was expanded to 319 square miles in 1996. Los Haitises has very little road access and includes a protected virgin forest and home to a variety of birds. The park is a fairly popular spot for ecotourism and the number of visitor each year is supposedly limited, although we did not have any trouble getting permission to take LIB across the bay for a visit.
Birds in the air and in the trees.
Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kea and Laura and Chris of s/v Temerity agreed to join us on LIB and head across the bay for an overnight visit to Los Haitises. Ken and Laurie had already visited once so they were our resident experts for the trip.
Laura and Laurie relaxing on the trampoline.
After a relaxing sail across Samana Bay, we anchored near an inlet that Ken told us led to a large ecolodge with beautiful surroundings and fair vittles. Once anchored, we hopped into the dinghy and motored through one of the most beautiful creeks we have explored to date.
I wish I could share the sounds with you as well!
While the water was not the gin clear color we experienced in the Bahamas, the overhanging trees and lush surroundings were breathtaking.
Village Weaver nests.
Nestled among many branches were groups of round bird nests. I later learned that these nests are woven from leaves by the males of the “Village Weaver” species (Ploceus cucullatus). The males weave a nest in the hope that a female will come along, appreciate his handiwork and choose him as a mate. Once she chooses her mate, the female lays 4-6 small blue-green eggs. Village Weavers are not indigenous to the Dominican Republic but rather were brought from Africa on slave ships around 1796. Originally the birds were only found in Los Haitises but recently some have been seen in the capital of Santa Domingo.
This looks more triangular than round… wonder if some female found it exciting?
A short walk past horses, cows, chickens and other livestock roaming in fields was the promised ecolodge. I am not sure what qualifies this as an ecolodge, but I can tell you it is beautiful. We had to pay a small fee per person to enter the grounds and this allowed us to explore the area, have lunch and get in the water. Pictures will do far more justice than my words…
A water feature at the entrance to the lodge.
The sound of waterfalls added to the ambiance of lunch.
Los Haitises has an average annual rainfall of 79 inches. In contrast, Dallas, TX has an annual rainfall of 37 inches. I believe all of the water features are fed from fresh water mountain springs and runoff.
The stonework reminded me of WPA projects from the 1930s.
Laura speaks Spanish very well and struck up a conversation with the gentleman in charge of construction of a new hotel being completed as part of the lodge. All number of US agencies would have slapped fines on the builder for showing us around the construction site but we were thrilled to have a first hand view and he was equally pleased to show off the hotel.
Numerous rooms and additional water features for the lodge.
I must admit that the way these accommodations have been incorporated into the hillside and how the rooms include natural features of the land is truly remarkable. We toured for about 40 minutes and were allowed to see every room and planned space.
Stairways that seem to belong within the hillside.
Use of indigenous materials made the hotel feel more like it “belongs” here.
The view from the upper rooms.
In the picture above, the left side shows a water feature and to the right, the bare areas are the future home of a PuttPutt course. I’m not sure how that fits into an ecolodge but I am sure it will be well liked by visitors.
The construction tour was truly a treat made even more delicious because we knew back home laws would have prevented us from having strolling through this construction site.
Next up was a visit to the caves used by the Tiano Indians way back before Columbus landed! There are two areas for viewing caves on Los Haitises; one is very obvious and is actually a little lame compared to the cave tour we had back in Thompson Bay. But the second option is to hire a local guide who takes you to a more remote cave. Our guide rode in the dinghy and took us through a meandering creek where we stopped at a nicely built wooden dock. From there a quick walk along a path through dense trees led us to a cave used more than 500 years ago by the Tiano Indians.
I just liked the light in this picture.
I was not supposed to take pictures of the hieroglyphics painted by the Tianos and I honored that request. The images were painted with sap from a local tree and the only color used was black. Still, it is interesting to see the “recordings” these people left behind.
Hard to believe all this light is in the caves.
Somehow this makes me think of the resurrection of Jesus.
We were told that the Tianos used the caves to hide and escape from Columbus. Legend has it that they had a few entrances to the caves and the Tianos walked backwards from various directions to confuse their trails, then they escaped through a hidden opening. Very clever!
Looking out from the first caves.
A special thank you to Ken and Laurie who decided to skip the second cave and held on to Captain so I could explore the cave.
Once the cave tour was completed, we motored back to Puerto Bahia as the wind was in our faces. The trip to Los Haitises was quick but it was also interesting and fun to share with friends.
A peaceful bend in the creek leading to the Tiano Caves.
As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog. If you want to see what we are up to more often, check out our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44. We would love to hear from you.