Tuesday, May 25, 2010

USA phone 954-305-2703

Call us! Our USA phone is working again. 954-305-2703 Looking forward to hearing from you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010 9AM PST
Day 1726
San Diego, California
Miles YTD: 4765
Miles since day 1: 31,032

We arrived in San Diego on the afternoon of the 18th and cleared in with customs. The clearance was a little protracted with tons of questions and lots of inspecting. In the end they confiscated our eggs and meat products, but were allowed to keep our cheese. At least they didn't cut the boat to pieces with a chainsaw as at certain points it felt like that was the next step. Lets just say our border is secure down here in San Diego.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Running for the border

May 18, 2010 9AM PST
Day 1723
Position: 31°53'N 116°56'W
Underway with about 50nm remaining to San Diego, California
Miles YTD: 4755
Miles since day 1: 30,982

Only 50nm to go to San Diego so we should be at the customs dock around 6pm tonight!!!

So the Baja Bash didn't really live up to it's name. I think it is only a bash for those on a tight schedule and can't wait for the right weather or the unlucky. Since we both have time to wait for weather and are lucky it didn't seem bad at all. Clearly, prevailing head winds and head current are no fun, but the Baja Bash was totally over hyped in our opinion.

Looking forward to seeing friends and family and having a USA phone number again. Ours for the short term at least is 954-305-2703 (our old trusty Florida cell phone).

We plan to be in the San Diego / Newport area for about 1 week then start making our way North toward San Francisco for another 1 week layover. Then onward toward the San Juan Islands in Washington State to be there in time for 4th of July.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Turtle Bay Fuel and Great Food aboard LightSpeed

Kathy geared up with warm clothes. Burr!
Fueling up at Turtle bay. Anabelle the fuel scow was really welll set up the guys were great. Prices were only 1 peso more and the pump was accurate.
A great meal of fresh clam pasta and tasty avocado topped salad.
Gotta love the stability and ride of a catamarn that allows the carefree use of fragile wine glasses and the cook a stable platform to be inspired to create meals like this... even while underway.

Day number 1721 ramblings.

May 16, 2010 8PM PST
Day 1721
Position: 28°49'N 115°12'W
Underway from Turtle Bay toward San Diego
Miles YTD: 4483
Miles since day 1: 30,710

Kathy shot out of bed this morning waking me up with a bit of a start. I said "what the heck are you doing up so early?" as she started to pull on some warm clothes. Since out boat has twin heaters and the thermostat is literally located above our pillows I was surprised she hadn't even turned on the heaters to take the edge of the 50 something temps inside the boat. Really, that's frickin cold compared to the overnight lows of 80+ we'd been used to for some many months. Kathys' answer was a simple "Internet". Banda Ancha Baby (our Telcel 3G internet device). I guess even though or maybe because we are pretty much off the grid and out of touch we sure do love internet access... when we can get it. On the Baja, internet is pretty darn scarce as such are the towns. But, if there is a town with a cell tower then the magical Banda Ancha will work sometimes out to 15+ miles to sea . Sweet!
Having no pre-set departure time I tried to go back to sleep, as I knew I could use it, after a late night of you guessed it... Banda Ancha, and I didn't even spend anytime on facebook which can make whole hours simply disappear. Instead I slowly woke up while thinking about my morning to do list. Taking advantage of the calm waters inside Turtle bay I wanted to: Run engines to warm them up for oil changes, make water, download weather, drink some Coffee and try to extract Kathy from the crack like grip of the Banda Ancha so we could get the anchor up and underway. Heading out of the harbor around 8:30 and I hadn't even changed the oil... which I did in turn do later in the day one engine at a time as we motored along in flat seas.

With only 264 nautical miles to go to San Diego I feel like we've made some serious progress toward our goal of Roche Harbor by the 1st of July with only about 1500 nautical miles to go. Considering the fact that we've already sailed 4483 nautical miles this year a mere 1500nm more isn't so bad.

Lots of whale sighting today and we caught a Bonita Tuna which Kathy cooked up for dinner with a great ginger soy sauce. Not as good as a yellow fin tuna, but in this colder water the flesh is pink not red like in the hot climes and seas to the south. Another highlight is we actually spent several hours doing some great sailing in the 8-10 knot range. Subsequently, the wind has clocked around from a nice 12 knots at 270T to a less tenable 7 knots at 305T. The rule of thumb I've established for my lazy sailing style is that we need a minimum of 32 degrees apparent wind to keep the sails set while using autopilot. Pretty sweet angles for any cruising boat. The boat really starts to move when you crack off to about 45-50 apparent or more.

For the first time in what seems like months we have 100% cloud cover, but I doubt any near future prospects for rain. I think the last time it rained was back in Panama in March! The windows and cockpit of LightSpeed sure get salty with occasional spray while sailing and or motoring to weather so I've taken to washing the boat each morning with fresh water via a diversion valve plumbed into my saltwater wash down hose. Works great and so nice to keep from tracking salt from the decks back into the pilot house.

At the moment we are within 10 miles of two other North bound boats with several other some 20-30 miles in our wake. The closest boats are m/v Tranquillo a 40 sportfisher and a 36' Mahe catamaran that is being delivered from France. Both boats are on the rhumb line and powering while we've 'fallen off' the rhumb line as the wind has clocked more to the North. Going into this evening I'm glad to have distance between me and the others as I can be pretty sure we'll be seeing some fog in the very near future. Neither of the other boats have AIS receivers so our AIS transponder will only help us avoid the big ships, if the fog set is thick. We do not have radar, but will put a unit on before departing San Diego as there is plenty of fog along the temperate West Coast. In parts of British Columbia some boaters even joke about the month of August being called 'Fogust'... and it's no joke. Radar will be a great addition.

As far as Radar goes I really like the Simrad BR24 broadband radar that uses new technology, subsequently it is extremely energy efficient for a radar. Less required energy = the more you can run it on a strict energy budget. The only problem is that the system I like is over $3000 and I could buy a stand alone radar that would probably work fine for a mere $1300. Of course I like the more expensive Simrad NSE MFD (Multi-function display) as the MFD can integrate the radar, charts, AIS, depth sounder and other NMEA data. Plus since it's Simrad it will network with my existing and brand new Simrad Auto pilot. The only problem beside the up front $3000 is that with the Simrad MFD I would then want to add digital charts. No big deal for a particular region like Puget Sound, but once you look at the entire West Coast of the USA, Mexico, South Pacifc Islands, Australia, SE Asia, India, Africa and South America you are looking at big bucks measured in the many many of thousands of dollars so that $3000 turns in to $8000 (rough estimate based on no research, but I know it would be very expensive). Right now we have a workable portfolio of electronic charts for the world so I have to remind myself that I do not have a good paying job and that I need to step back to the reality of my modest lifestyle and away from the cutting edge of technology. Whew! I guess we'll end up purchasing a basic monochrome display radar like the Furuno 1715 that is a totally stand alone but solid unit. I also need to remind myself that the vast majority of the time we are in areas that do not have fog and since we don't have a rigid schedule if there is fog we have the option to wait it out.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Turtle Bay (Baja Bash)

May 15, 2010 9:30PM MST
Day 1720
Position: 27°41 'N 114°53'W
Anchored in Turtle Bay (Bahia Tortuga)
Miles YTD: 4403
Miles since day 1: 30,627

Last time I was anchored here in Bahia Tortuga was in early November of 2005 about two months in to the sailing adventure. Sailing the 325nm from San Diego to Turtle Bay with the 2005 Baja Ha Ha fleet represented one of my more significant passages up to this point. Looking back it was laughably easy and I expended far too much stress worrying about everything.

Shortly after arriving and getting the anchor down we took on fuel from Anabelle. I had them fill my 50 liter jug first and guess what their meter showed 50 liters! The price was right at 9.29 pesos per liter only a 1 peso premium over standard PEMEX filling stations and quite a bargain considering we a considerable distance from anywhere else and free delivery. The Anabelle fuel scow was nicely set up sufficient fenders an accurate fuel meter and two filling nozzles. One large for the big boats and one small nozzle for the typical sailboat deck fill. The guys on-board were very conscientious about keeping things clean and wiped up spills and even dirty foot prints with rags promptly. Flow rate was easy to modulate and thus it was a quick and tidy filling operation. The bill was presented in US dollars which based on my calculations would have cost us an extra $5USD over the correct price in pesos. Hey they gotta try right? We paid $1820 pesos for 196 liters and thus got a fair deal and gave each of the guys a beer as a small propina (tip). So as it turns out all the horror stories I read about in the 'Letters' section of my favorite sailing magazine were disproved as we had a perfect experience getting fuel in Turtle Bay. Buy your fuel from Anabelle in Turtle Bay.

Really enjoyed our trip today in the warmth and comfort of our pilot house. Glad we didn't have to sit outside in the cockpit all bundled up. Instead I wore shorts and tee shirt most of the day while water temps dropped as low as 56 degrees and winds to 18 knots true would have made for a miserable wet day in a more typical sailboat. Instead both Kathy and I sat on our 'couch' and were both pretty much on watch all day as we read books and kept a constant lookout which is so easy to do again because of all the great real glass windows in out pilot house Atlantic 42 sailing catamaran designed by Chris White and built by Lombardi yachts of Virgina. I now know why our catamaran won the 1998 multi-hull of the year award and the same design is still built today.

Perhaps, we can show off our boat to some prospective catamaran owners or catamaran fans with a week long British Columbia catamaran sailing charter or two this year. Or perhaps a weekend of catamaran sailing charter in Puget Sound. Interested? Drop us an email.

Tomorrow, we plan to head for San Diego as weather looks good for the remaining 325 odd miles. Lets hope the forecast holds.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Baja Bash

May 14, 2010 Noon MST
Day 1719
Position: 26°45'N 113°49'W
Underway Boca De Soledad (North end of Magdalena Bay) to Bahia Asuncion (About 50nm South of Turtle Bay)
Miles YTD: 4311
Miles since day 1: 30,535

Weather for our Bash North has been pretty good thus far. Winds since 8PM yesterday have ranged from 2 knots to 15 knots with the average of 9.6 knots mostly out of the NW. Long period NW swell and local wind waves have the seas much bumpier than one would expect from only a 10 knot average windspeed telling me that the wind is blowing harder offshore. We've only seen one other boat and that was a fishing panga early this morning as we passed about five miles from Punta Abreojos. In the last 17 hours we sailed 3 when the wind has been in the mid teens providing enough force to keep the sails set. Otherwise it's not worth trying to sail as the confused wave action combined with the quick motion of the catamaran is just slamming the sails too much.

Temperatures have dropped dramatically since we've passed North of Bahia Magdalena with water temps now down to 58 degrees and air temps have fallen as well. Our blood is slowing thickening, but still pretty thin from so much time spent is hot and muggy climates. To combat the chill we ran one of our two Espar 4000btu forced air diesel heaters last night which is quite the luxury.

At the moment we are sailing through an area of discolored water. Not exactly red tide, but definitely lots of biological matter clouding the water a strange color of brownish red.

We expect to have our anchor down in Bahia Asuncion around 5-6 PM this evening and then tomorrow will make an early start for Turtle Bay which roughly marks the mid-way point on the trip from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego.

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Boca De Soledad and Bahia Magdalena, Baja Mexico

May 13, 2010 8:00PM MST
Day 1718
Position: 25°52'N 112°38'W
Underway toward Bahia Tortuga from Boca De Soledad (North end of Magdalena Bay)
Miles YTD: 4221
Miles since day 1: 30,445

Over the last five days we found an unexpected adventure in the sixty miles of pristine bays and inland waterways that connects Bahia Magdalena with Boca De Soledad. Adverse weather had us pinned down so we set off to explore the inland waterway North of Bahia Magdalena (Mag Bay). With extremely guarded optimism we hoped to not only embark on a great adventure, but also make some distance good toward our destination by 'hopefully' sneaking back out into the ocean at Boca De Soledad. Our guide books gave little mention to transiting the inland waterway so we undertook an extensive 'Google' search on the topic and found very very little. Google 'Earth' however can be a powerful tool to better understand poorly charted areas, so again taking advantage of our internet access we 'cached' lots of images. As it turned out Google 'Earth' was indispensable in selecting the correct waterway to follow at the many intersections and island filled bays and also in avoiding shoal (super shallow) areas as even these are visible on many of the Google 'Earth' images. As an added bonus our slightly modified Telcel 3G internet device worked the entire way so for areas we had not fully 'cached' the images we could further refine the picture.

After a night anchored at Man-o-War cove we made our way North initially using the buoy'd ships channel toward San Carlos. Surprisingly, the buoys were pretty much as charted and water depth generous in the channel. The adventure really began when we departed the channel and proceeded North. For those who might endeavor to try the same trip be forewarned that this is a very tricky passage and the sometimes murky water is very difficult to 'read' depth wise. We chose to set out on a rising tide so that inadvertent groundlings would quickly be remedied by floating off shoals on the rising tide if engine power was insufficient to back off. Fortunately, our catamaran can sneak around in only 2'-8", but even so we had some close calls ghosting along in 3' of water at times trying to find the deeper channel. We anchored off a scenic ever shifting sand dune and small mangrove at a bend in the waterway that afforded protection from the prevailing NW winds and substantial wind chop with 25 knot winds. Anchorage position: 24°52.0781' N 112°10.9715' W in about 5 meters of water with excellent holding.

Our next day took us through the passage called 'Devils Elbow' and we managed to briefly become grounded on a mid-channel sand bar and had to back track a bit to find a way around the shoal. Through trial and error we came up with a general rule that the water was deeper on the outside bends of the waterway... much like a river. Just North of 'Devils Elbow' an expansive lagoon is riddled with shoal areas so we were fortunate to find some makeshift channel markers to guide us thorough this treacherous area. Our next anchorage was accessed via a 1 nm long parallel and dead end side channel at the base of a huge set of sand dunes. One of our favorite anchorages of all time with the shimmering golden sands ever shifting in the strong wind and a flat calm anchorage at: 25°05.7718' N 112°09.9261' W. We stayed for two nights and had several friendly and curious local fishing pangas stop by for a chat. One panga with four young pre-teen boys were out on a clam gathering trip and offered us some delicious clams. One of the boys opened a clam on the spot discarded the guts and scooped out the abductor muscle for our immediate consumption. Quite delicious. The remaining clams we lightly steamed. As a small gift we gave each of the boys a pair of swimming goggles as apparently they were collecting the clams by feel so we expect the goggles will be of great utility. From here we set out on our foray to the beach to find all the dead turtles and sea mammals (see older post for the full story).

We vacillated back and forth about continuing North toward Boca de Soledad or turning back to San Carlos for fuel and departing the way we had arrived to Bahia Magdalena. The issues were many. 1). Would the strong winds offshore have Boca de Soledad impassable. 2). Could fuel be obtained in Puerto San Mateos (town nearest the Boca)... if not then we would need to turn back anyway as we were short on our safety factor for fuel. 3) Was the passage through Boca de Soledad even possible in settled conditions. 4). Could we find a knowledgeable local guide to pilot us through Boca de Soledad or would we feel uncomfortable with the whole situation. 5). A favorable weather window was approaching putting a little timing pressure on top of everything else.

We decided to finish our exportation of the inland waterway at least North to the the pueblo of Puerto San Mateo, a sleepy fishing village and bustling whale watching center in season. Getting the anchor down at: 25°11.6659'N 112°07.9213'W we jumped in the dinghy and headed to a fish processing pier where two fairly big boats were tied to the pier. Seemed like a likely place to find both the diesel and 'local' information about the ocean pass at Boca de Soledad. We tied up to one of the 60' fishing boats and the helpful mechanics whom were working on the boat helped us aboard and onto the pier where we made a few phone calls from the guard shack to enquire about diesel. No luck on buying some here and we were directed to the adjoining pueblo (town) of Puerto San Mateos. Back to the dinghy we went into a side estuary and tied up at the town dock. On shore we ran into our young friends from the day before whom gave us the clams and they put us in contact with their uncle 'Angel' whom was eager to help us out. But first a few pangas had to be hauled out of the water and delivered to local homes for storage. I helped move a few of the boats with the most rickety trailer and tired old Nissan pickup whose rear bumper seemed only minutes from falling off from the abuse of hauling the boats around.

Our new friends Angel and Daniel took us to the nearest pueblo with a diesel filling station on the agreement that we would pay for gas for their car and offer a small propina (tip) for the service. It turns out the Pueblo was about 40 kilometers away and we secured the fuel without incident. Unfortunately, the only ATM machine in town was not working so we negotiated to extend the trip to the next pueblo another 20 kilometers further where we found success with a Banamex ATM machine. Back on the road we had to make a few social stops at friends homes and then back to the dinghy just after sunset. We locked the diesel jugs in the dinghy and walked back into the center of Puerto San Mateo for some super tacos.

We awoke this morning to thick marine layer fog that started to clear around 9AM so we raised anchor to head towards Boca de Soledad and re-anchor their to evaluate the pass. Luck was shinning on us as just before we launched our dinghy to check out the pass a local fishing guide with guests aboard pulled along side LightSpeed. Ruben Duran was really helpful and offered to run us out through the Boca in his panga while we recorded the correct route with our hand held Garmin GPS. It was super helpful to use Rubens boat as he had a depth sounder onboard that we would have lacked in a exploration in our dinghy alone.

The pass did not look as good as I had hoped. There was no clear flat water only places where the waves were not constantly breaking. Ruben showed me the two available passes and assured me that with our shallow draft we would have no problem and the water would be plenty deep... just time the wave set correctly to avoid breaking waves. We did NOT take the panga all the way through the pass just looked at where were we would aim for from a safe distance. The fishing guests aboard Rubens boat were getting pretty stressed at this point and were hopelessly under dressed for the brisk wind and spray to found out in the vicinity of the ocean pass.

Delivered back to LightSpeed we tipped Ruben 200 pesos for his service and decided to 'go for it' as the tide was at high slack and the swell forecast suggested that tomorrow the whole pass might be closed out with huge breakers.

Following the track on the Garmin GPS and visually navigating we were almost at the point of no turning back (you never try to turn around in breaking waves) when a fog bank rolled in limiting visibility to only about 100'. A huge problem as we needed to observe the wave set to know when to go for it. So we carefully followed our track back toward the protection of the estuary. Stopping the boat and patiently waiting I silently told myself to wait it out for 30 minutes and if the fog didn't lift we would bail and take the inland waterway back to Bahia Magdalena and back track the 60nm. My nerves were a little tensed with the introduction of the fog on top of the breaking waves in the pass. Fortunately, the fog lifted after about 20 minutes and we resumed our position safely inside the breakers looking for the best spot to cross the bar. No one spot offered calm water it was down to trying to evaluate which areas had less frequent breaking waves and what the pattern might be to the sets. We slowly powered toward what we thought was the right area and after some discussion and a careful eye on the sounder gunned the engines and went for it. Even the waves that were not breaking in huge snarling cascades of white water were still big and LightSpeed rose to each one with confidences that I was not myself feeling. It turns out our instincts were solid and with our eyes flashing back and forth between the depth sounder and waves we punched the engines and shot out the pass between breaking sets of waves. Whew! It turns out my biggest fear that we would fetch up on a shallow shoal were unfounded as the minimum depth we saw on the sounder was 3 meters and that is under the keels so almost 4 meters of depth at the shallowest point. Not so bad. Would I do it again in the same conditions only with a knowledgeable guide like Ruben Duran onboard or in a guide boat. Ruben can be contacted for guided fishing trips or guided bar crossings (Weather permitting) at: 613-11-37303 Cell or 613-13-15263 Home

Happy to be out to sea we are now underway for Turtle Bay our next refuel point. We sailed about 3 hours today before winds became light and the remaining sea state had the sails thrashing about. Diesel is cheaper than sails in such that thrashing sails are more expensive to repair/replace than the alternate of spending money running the diesels.

Ohh and fuel prices were 8.28 pesos per liter NOT the 10.50 the port captain? / guy in panga wanted to charge us at Man-o-War cove and yes our old 'stretched out' jugs still only hold 50 liters. Buyers beware! (See older post for more on the topic of fuel at Man-o-War).

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Eco friendly sailing charters s/v LightSpeed

Enjoy the ultimate sailing vacation aboard our luxury sailing catamaran with a near zero carbon footprint as we glide along under the power of the wind alone. Drink ultra pure fresh water made from the sea using our reverse osmosis desalination equipment, powered by solar cells of course. Dine on the freshest sea food possible caught directly from the sea targeting only sustainable fisheries and using best practices to avoid accidental by catch of non-target species.

Want to join in on the adventure as we travel off the beaten path? Contact us to discuss custom tailored eco friendly sailing charters aboard s/v LightSpeed.

Beach walk that raised lots of questions.

LightSpeed anchored off the sand dunes.

Sea Turtle grave yard.
Not sure what animal this bone belongs to, but we found a bunch of these on our beach walk.
Huge Oyster shell.
This Sea turtle shell had been 'Tag'd' we hope this is not grafiti, but scientist at work.
A HUGE Whale bone on the beach believed to be a Gray Whale.

A dead Sea Lion on the beach.
A large Dolphin dead on the beach. What the heck is going on here?It wasn't all carnage on our beach walk, but nearly so as in the distance vultures work on a dolphin that was just washed ashore.
We think this is a Sea lion
Now that's a clam shell!
Dolphin skull one of three we found.
Sea Turtle on left and two more sea turtle skulls on right AND a dolphin skull.
Another, Sea Turtle shell see the others in the background?
Whale Skull bone?

Sea Turtle shell found on Pacific Coast of Baja near Magdalena Bay.
One of hundreds? of Sea Turtle shells we would find on the beach walk. Also, a whale vertebrae? on the left.

A little research yeilded the following from:

Millions of endangered sea turtles have been accidentally captured or killed over the past two decades by longline, gillnet and trawl fisheries worldwide, according to a new report.

The report, published in the journal Conservation Letters, is the first global assessment of sea turtle bycatch for these three major types of fishing. Bycatch occurs when fishing equipment, such as giant nets or longlines with thousands of baited hooks, snag animals other than what they are intended to catch.

Turtle parts. Most likely this turtle and the hundreds of others we found were victims of incedental by-catch from comercial fishing operations. Most turtle species are endangered. What can we do about this? We can all make sea turtle-friendly choices when buying seafood. Best choices include Maine lobster or lobster from California waters, Calamari, King Crab, Stone Crab and Dungeness crabs, Wild Salmon... don't even think about farm raised 'Atlantic Salmon' and if you must purchase farm-raised fish then make it Tilapia.
Nice Sand Dollars! Ok, despite all the carnage we still managed to joke around a bit.
Turtle shell parts and whale vertebra? Sea Turtle skull in my left hand.

Walk to the beach

We crossed this formidable set of sand dunes to reach the Pacific Ocean while we left LightSpeed anchored in the estuary on the far reaches of Magdalena Bay, Mexico on the Baja.
Along the way we came across a few interesting sights like these sea shells almost 1/4 mile from the sea. We also saw several jack rabbits and even a coyote.
Kathy saying something like 'hurry up!' on the next sand dune over while I enjoy the oportunity to take some unique photographs of the boat next to sand dunes anchored in the estuary in maybe 6' of water.
So, here's one of the pictures. Too bad I didn't have the good Canon camera with me to pick up more details.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Magdalena Bay sand dunes

Doing some fishing from the dinghy, but no catching.
Pulled up to the sand dune. Yes, we did do this on purpose. The water was deep and the shore steep so we could pull right up and jump off the boat to shore. Getting back on the boat was a bit more difficult.
Kathy jumped off the boat to snap a few pictures. Pretty cool. Too bad we didn't think of taking a picture from the top of the mast while pulled up to the dune. That would have been really awesome.

Kathy poses for a picture before jumping off the boat to take a few pics herself.
Heading North up the estuary in Magdalena Bay.
Trying to find the channal of deeper water. At severl points we had less than 0.3 meters of water under the boat or about 1' under the keels.

Magdalena Bay

Sand Dunes line the port side of the channel as we make our way North up the bay toward Puerto San Carlos. We understand Hurricane Jimena hit this area pretty hard in early Sept 2009. So far our charts seem pretty accurate with channel markers almost right and likely close enough not to matter anyway.
Man-o-War Cove anchorage 24* 38.180'N 112* 08.230'W with excellent holding just off the Port Captains office offers good protection in prevailing NW winds.

(no subject)

May 9, 2010 1:30PM CST
Day 1714
Position: 24°38'N 112°08'W
Anchored at Man o War Cove Magdalena Bay, Baja Mexico.

We dropped anchor in Man o War cove yesterday afternoon to sit out bad weather that is forecast for the next 5 days or so. Fishing is reported to be excellent in Magdalena Bay so we expect some good dinghy adventures up into the mangroves and around the estuary. Nearing the entrances to the bay we encountered a huge pod of dolphins numbering well over 200 along with tons of seals apparently feasting on a school of fish below. Entering the bay two greeting parties of differing dolphins escorted us while sea birds of all descriptions filled the air and rested in groups on the water.

Bahia Magdalena is famous for Gray Whales as over 20,000 Gray whales migrate to the warm water lagoons of the Baja annually to mate and calf. The shallow warm waters are thought to be ideal for newborn calfs that measure about 13' at birth. Fortunately, we are on the tail end of the migration. Although it would have been wonderful to see the bay and coast teaming with Gray whales up to 52' long and 40 tons, they clearly represent a hazard to navigation. Whales average about 75 miles a day while migrating so we are happy they have a significant head start having largely departed in March-April toward the feeding grounds ranging from Oregon to Alaska.

Shortly after our arrival a panga approached and the man aboard represented that he was the Port Captain, but more importantly that he had fuel to sell. I asked if he wanted to see our 'papers', he asked if we had 'papers' I said yes and he said he did NOT want to see them. More importantly did we want to buy fuel? Onboard his panga were four 50 liter containers. I asked how much the fuel cost and he said prices had just gone WAY up yesterday and the price was 10.50 pesos per liter. Red Flag #1

Ok, It's possible prices jumped on fuel, but highly unlikely they jumped from the 8.20 per liter we just paid in Cabo San Lucas a few days ago! However, this was the delivered price as the fuel dock is quite a way across the bay so all in all not so bad and I was ready to make a deal.

Inquiring further I asked how much fuel each jug contained and then I got a very curious answer of 60 liters. Thinking my Spanish was not up to par I asked again and he responded in English and Spanish that the jugs were 60 liters. Since I own two identical jugs and have recently filled them I know the 50 liter marking on the jug is accurate. The last time I filled up my jugs they took only 50 liters. SO, I asked the man to come aboard for a visual of my 50 liter jugs. 'My jugs are older and stretched out' he says. Humm. Perhaps there is some validity to this, but there is no way there could be an extra 10 liters in each jug. Plus one of my jugs is very old and 'stretched out' as well and still holds only 50 liters. Red Flag #2

Although, I want the fuel I have two big red flags waving in my face. So I thank the man for the offer and defer to a noncommittal answer of 'posible manana'. The Port Captain was visibly pissed and dismissive that I wasn't jumping on his offer and as he is departing tells me to bring my 'papers' to his office for inspection. 'No Probelma" I respond with a smile not wanting to get crossed up with a bureaucrat.

Since we are here for 5 days we will just go to the fuel dock at Puerto San Carlos ourselves as we want to explore that end of the bay anyway. I predict $820 pesos will fill our jugs in lieu of the $1260 the Port Captain wants to get paid. A savings of over $440 Pesos or the equivalent of two cases of good Mexican beer. Even IF and a BIG IF fuel prices did go up then I'm still saving $210 pesos or just one case of good Mexican beer.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Baja Bash Day 1 evening report

May 7, 2010 11:00PM CST
Day 1712
Position: 23°50'N 110°52'W
Underway Cabo San Lucas, MX toward San Diego, USA
Miles YTD: 4037
Miles since day 1: 30,261

Each night the constellation Canis Major chases Orion across the sky and each night as we head north the Southern Cross sinks lower on the horizon. I especially enjoy the Southern Cross and each time I gaze at the sky I usually humm the Crosby Stills and Nash tune of the same name. ... "when you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you'll understand why you came this way"...

Today we made good progress on our 'Bash' north. Aside from some slow going around the cape we've been making surprisingly good time with light winds mostly under 10 knots and no major influence from ocean currents. At the moment we are going 6.3 knots running the engines at 2600 RPM at which speed they might be delivering 8-10 hp each to the props. Too bad we don't have the 27hp engines now or we'd really be making time. Seas are a bit lumpy and of short period which is a very tangible reminder that the wind is blowing pretty hard somewhere not too far away.

0030 Update: Winds at 15 knots on the nose...

Loving the Banda Ancha 3G internet device that has allowed up to upload two really short videos today while seemingly in the middle of nowhere... simply amazing. It's not working now, but we're hopeful there is another town near the coast somewhere up the line that will again give us a good signal. Kathy is already talking about the merits of a cellular plan with 3G and how we'll save money with a yearly contract. Since we'll be back and forth between BC and Washington I'm not sure how many 'contracts' we'll end up with, but having internet is awesome so I have to admit I'm actually looking forward to a yearly contract as well. Going months at a time without internet in this day and age is a hardship few can truly appreciate.

Looking forward to several days of tasty yellow fin tuna and awaiting for more 'benign' weather for the bash north.

About 686 nautical miles to San Diego remain which is not so bad if we can maintain good speed like we've had this afternoon and evening.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Yellow Fin Tuna video

Yellow Fin Tuna

Just caught this nice Yellow Fin Tuna. Sushi for dinner? I think so.

Mothers Day early wishes

Banda Ancha 3G Baby!

Ok, so we are 30 nautical miles out of Cabo on our way North doing the 'Baja Bash' and we have internet! A big thank you to our new freinds on s/v Sea Level for giving us this device shortly before they shoved off for the South Pacific.

So what the heck is Banda Ancha? It's spanish for Broadband internet or 3G. It's the little black USB device seen in the picture above with the work 'TELCEL'. Actually, I'm the last person anyone should ask having been pretty much disconnected any new technological developments the last what five years. So this Banda Ancha is likley old news to everyone except me. But, darn if it is so very cool to have internet while doing the Baja Bash or for at least parts of the Bash.

Current Postion 23* 16' N 110* 13' W at 2:15PM on May 7, 2010.

We are motorsailing at 7.4 knots which is much better than this AM when we got down to 3.8 knots made good over ground as we rounded the cape near Cabo San Lucas.

Baja Bash Day 1

May 7, 2010 11:00AM CST
Day 1712
Position: 22°57'N 110°06'W
Underway Cabo San Lucas, MX toward San Diego, USA (760nm remaining)
Miles YTD: 3966
Miles since day 1: 30,190

Day 1 of the Baja Bash has begun true to form with winds and current on the nose. We departed the Cabo anchorage around 8AM to beat building winds on the cape. Weatherman Don on s/v Summer Passage predicts the next three days will provide 'benign' conditions and I think what this translates to in reality is 15 knot on the nose with adverse current of nearly 1 knot... or at least so far. Currently, we are making only 4.8 knots overground with a boat speed through the water of 5.8 knots. Pretty slow for us.

We arrived in Cabo early yesterday morning and pulled straight up to the fuel dock to load up on diesel. LightSpeed carries only 48 gallons of diesel in two tanks which translates into a hypothetical 48 hours of motoring with two engines both running at 2600RPM. So our range is pretty limited with only 48 gallons of fuel. To bolster our range for the Baja Bash we've relegated ourselves to carrying lots of fuel in jugs on deck. We have two huge 13 gallon jugs, two 5 gallon jugs and one 6 gallon jug for a total of 42 extra gallons of fuel which nearly doubles our range to a hypothetical 90 hours. So at 5 knots we could go as far as 450 nautical miles if we burned every last drop. In reality we'd never run our primary tanks below 5 gallons each so that drops us back to 80 hours or about 400nm at 5 knots. Turtle Bay is 425nm from Cabo so you can see it's going to be a tough call if we have to motor all the way and our speed overground averages less than 5.3 knots (the speed required to arrive in 80 hours). Why so much fuss? Simple, Turtle Bay has fuel.

We also did a bit of grocery shopping at 'City Club' a Costco like store located within easy walking distance from the Marina dinghy dock (US $2 for a day pass). Shopping at City Club was really pretty ridiculous for us as we really don't like to buy in bulk. If we want some Mexican hot sauce we would prefer to not have to buy it by the six pack. We skipped most of the isles which is unusual for us and managed to escape with only one shopping cart full and 1,500 less pesos in our pocket (Peso to USD exchange around 13:1).

One fun surprise was the arrival of s/v Linda an Atlantic 42 cat very similar to LightSpeed. We spent a few hours engrossed in interesting tours of both boats and engaging discussion on cruising the Atlantic 42 as only two owners of the same boat can. We wish Tom and Maryann a fast and comfortable voyage to Hilo, Hawaii and hope to cross paths again before too long.

Cabo is a great place to visit, but not the best place to enjoy a peaceful anchorage on a small yacht. Although the bay provides nice protection from prevailing winds and solid holding in firm sand there is no escape from the throng of glass bottom boats, water taxis, jet skis, party barges and throbbing bass from shore side night clubs all hours of the day and night.

Murphys law clearly states that: A solitary yacht anchored in Cabo San Lucas Bay shall be denied no possible harassment. Jet ski riders shall circle dangerously close to anchored yachts at the highest speed possible and preferably be operated by persons boasting an absence of any common sense. All such jet ski operators must enjoy a high level of ignorant bliss in regards to boating practices and complete disregard for any semblance of courtesy. The second rule of anchored yachts is that 'Glass Bottom' boat taxi drivers shall at all times pass as close as practical to anchored yachts even if passing closely is considerably out of their way. Further, water taxi operators shall at all times ensure maximum wake speed is maintained while within close proximity of anchored yachts... especially important at night. Needless to say we are glad to have left Cabo in our wake and hope our next visit to this beautiful land will be as guest of friends in a decadent shore side condo in a quite neighborhood.

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Cabo San Lucas

Sailing out of Cabo San Lucas May 7, 2010 around 8am headed for San Diego and the infamous Baja Bash. Consequently, I doubt if we'll have internet the next few weeks.
Arco del Cabo during a rare state of calm weather.
Another Atlantic 42! What a treat to meet s/v Linda here in Cabo with Maryann and Tom aboard. Having built their boat in Australia back in 2000 they've extensively sailed the South Pacific. What a wealth of knowledge.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ipala to Cabo San Lucas (engines, fish and dolphins)

May 5, 2010 9:00AM CST
Day 1710
Position: 21°42'N 107°56'W
Underway toward Cabo San Lucas
Miles YTD: 3820
Miles since day 1: 30,044

Enjoying very settled conditions as we cross the southern boundary of the Sea of Cortez which is also known as the 'Southern Passage' to local sailors. Very light headwinds are dominating the forecast so we expect the remainder of the ride to Cabo to rely heavily on our twin Yanmar 2GM20 inboard diesels. The engines are running incredibly well as they should as I change the oil every 100 hours. We've developed a slight leak in the Yanmar SD20 saildrive transmission on the port engine. Luckily the leak appears to be at the input shaft seal for the transmission and thus not too serious. I keep topping up the oil and then mopping it out of the bilge a messy affair with sticky 80/90 hypoid transmission oil. We are carrying two extra liters so I don't anticipate any issues with the trany prior to our planned winter refit many hundreds of engine hours from now. Or at least that's positive thinking on my part as I don't really want to pull the engine to get to the leaking $5 seal within.

We think LightSpeed would greatly benefit from larger engines with the idea being that when we are required to power we could do so with just one (1) powerful engine at a time. The benefit would be lower overall operating costs as only one engine needs to run at a time. When you consider each engine costs $4 USD (fuel, routine maintenance and amortization) per hour to run and the average run time of 400 hours a year then one could realize a savings of $1000 plus a year by running just one engine. Currently, the horsepower output and propeller combination we have on LightSpeed just doesn't work well running just one enigne thus we run two. I'm thinking about upgrading to the Yanmar 3YM30 which has a continuous rating output of 27hp engine in lieu of the existing Yanmar 2GM20 which has a continuous rated output of 16hp. If we stick with Yanmar then it would be a quick and easy swap even though the new engines are three cylinders in lieu of two. The same transmission is used and the engine bed need not be changed out. We're leaning toward brand new engines and transmissions so it would be the Yanmar 3YM30 engine fitted with a Yanmar SD20 saildrive. The bad news is that these engines saildrive combos are $9000 each before install and new propellers so it's likely a $25,000 job... if I do all the work myself! Anyone know anyone who can get us a discount on Yanmar engines? Any and all leads would be greatly appreciated.

The big new for the morning is around 7:30 AM nearing the end of my early morning watch I dropped a line over the side and almost instantly caught a nice Marlin. Kathy jumped out of bed at the sound of the screaming reel and strapped the fish fight belt around my waist as the fish tail walked and ripped line off the reel. The reel was getting hot so I asked for bottle of water to pour on it to cool things down. This was a nice fish and lots of fun to fight. Once Kathy was awake enough she took over the battle. Luckily for all involved the Marlin was released near the boat by slacking the line intentionally so he could shake the hook. Lot of good fun. Now I'm too awake to take my off watch time sleeping even though I only got a few hours of fitful sleep last night.

Lots of dolphins kept us entertained during last nights watch as they streaked under the boat aglow with bioluminescence. A very cool sight that is difficult to describe in a way that truly inspires the feelings of awe and appreciation that one can experience witnessing the show first hand. It's sort of like watching the stars on a stary night and seeing an amazing shooting star, one could describe the shooting stars as streaks of light of across the sky, but it wouldn't do the experience justice. The same is true with the dolphins frolicking in the bow waves, dashing back and forth between the catamaran's twin bows, jockeying for position, surfacing to blow and doing all this while aglow like ghosts of shooting stars of the sea. Very amazing!

We should arrive in Cabo early morning on the 6th to refuel do some shopping and look at weather for the next major leg of the journey the 'Baja Bash'. Who knows how long we'll stay waiting for weather.

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Cabo Corrientes

May 4, 2010 8:00AM CST
Day 1709
Position: 20°14'N 105°35'W
Underway from Ipala (near Cabo Corrientes toward Cabo San Lucas)
Miles YTD: 3660
Miles since day 1: 29884

This morning we'll sail past Cabo Corrientes as we make our way toward the Baja Peninsula and Cabo San Lucas, a 48 hour trip. Bob, if you're reading this will still be around, look for us to arrive at Cabo around 7AM on the 6th we'll be anchored off the beach.

It seems a sailing lifetime ago that I last sailed past Cabo Corrientes back in 2006. We were outbound from Puerto Vallarta headed for the Marquesas some 3000 nm distant in the South Pacific. Subsequently, I've sailed nearly 25,000 nm, but wow that 3000nm trip in 21 days was and still is a significant sailing milestone. Actually, I've sailed past Corrientes four times in late 2005 with Casey as crew. Winds were in the mid-twenties and we had some amazing surfs with boat speed bursting up to maybe 14 + knots. This was on my boat s/v La Vie a Beneteau First 405. Thankfully the weather is benign at Corrientes this morning.

On our current voyage we have 2312 nautical miles to go to the San Juan Islands in Washington State... which seems both like a heck of lot and very little in the scheme of what we've done already this year.

Last night we anchored at Ipala, a tiny little cove just south of Cabo Corrientes. The anchorage is pretty small, rolly and crowded with local fishing pangas and some aqua culture buoys. Waves crash on the rocky shore and pound on the sandy beach, luckily we managed the best anchoring spot as no other cruising boats were there to share the limited space. Would have been fun to take the dink to shore for dinner if the beach landing were more tame and we had wheels on the dinghy to assist in getting through the surf and up the beach.

Lots of turtle sightings in the last day or so of travel. Resting turtles are pretty easy to spot as they float high in the water with plenty of shell exposed. Often a small sea bird will sit atop the shell. The combination of the two I've coined a 'birttle' a bird on top of a turtle. The water has been clouded with algae and making water with our Spectra Catalina 300 water maker has involved more frequent prefilter cleaning due to this high concentration of algae. At one point I even shut down the water maker as we were concerned that it might be a 'red tide' algae bloom that could contain harmful toxins. Further research on the topic indicates that the reverse osmosis water maker membrane would NOT allow the algae to contaminate the final product (drinking) water. Even so why take the chance.

The weather is cooling appreciably as is the water. In Tenecatita the water temps had fallen to 70F a substantial contrast to the mid 80's we'd had since Panama. This AM water temps have fallen to 65F as have the overnight air temperatures. Burr! I guess we are now out of the perma-sweat tropics and back into the land of shirts and socks! I even dug out my slippers and beanie hat the other day and admit I even slept with beanie on the last few nights.... it's going to take a while to adapt back to cooler weather.

I joke with Kathy that our current weather seems a bit cool, but it's likely better than most days of summer in the Pacific Northwest. Too bad this isn't a joke!

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Raising awareness

Check out the link below for a very cool project.

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Tenacatita back lagoon

Double parked by a panga. Oh well we just dragged out dinghy around the stern to get her back in the water.Love these translations of the 'rules of the road' for boaters
Dave on the beach in Tenacatita, Mexico

Tenacatita, MX day at the beach

Palapa resturant
Pacifico our favorite beach beer.
Kathy gets a new hat