Here we are back ing Canada. Our Custom’s agent welcomed us back, hard to believe 10 months ago we were leaving on our trip to Mexico. Im sure we will have time for reflection but now we will cruise our beautiful BC for a month or so before heading back to work!!
We finally got a break with a weak low making it through the pacfic high, so we headed north on a straight run to Cape Flattery. The trip was a perfect motor – calm seas and no wind. Thirty six hours after leaving Newport Oregon we turned passed the cape and headed into Neah Bay for fuel. It was still early in the day with the flood in our favour and a NW breeze to help us down Juan de Fuca to Victoria.
Well that breeze soon turned into 35 knots and Adesso with full sail up screamed past Victoria all the way to Darcy Island Marine Park near Sidney. We averaged 10 knots for the 8 hours trip but maxed out at 12 knots – the picture is evidence!!!
Although the locals say winds are early this year we have been caught by the Pacific High that heats the interior of Oregon and California creating a low pressure zone over land. The result is a squash zone between the two and every day from 9 am to midnight the NW winds blow, somedays over 35 knots. Even the harbour channel is often closed as the ever increasing wind swells hit the ebb currents over the bar. Newport Oregon is one of the better places along this coast to trapped but patience is beginning to fade. Every day the rigging is screaming, walking is a challenge and cold ( at least for us ). We have made friends with the other boaters on the transient dock as we commiserate on the weather every day. I have to laugh as the comment in the mornings is often “looks like we might get a break in a few days” but these have all evaporated so far. This is the longest we have stayed on a dock during our whole year away, and never have we been trapped so long, so we now are practicing the spiritual quality of “surrender”. Movies, books, boat projects, food, beer and finding new and interesting hiking keep Sue and I occupied. Josh has been working out and spending time with the kite surfers down at the beach. He’s thinking that will be a sport to check out when he returns to Comox.
Favourite things so far are the Surf Town Coffee shop – they do their own roasting, and the Saturday farmers market – so good to taste local veggies again, and then England Marine Supply – one of the best small town chandleries I have ever seen.
We had a great run up the coast to Newport Oregon, which had a quick stop in Crescent City, CA for a few hours sleep and an early morning fuel up. We decided to stop and have a rest, tour the Rogue Beer facility – craft beer being one of our favourite pastimes, and generally be a tourist for a couple of days, hoping that our luck with wind would continue. A week later we are still at the dock with NW winds blowing in our face every day. We are not alone waiting, four of us wait for the next break in the wind north and two French waiting are heading south. We are now doing boat projects, potlucks, hiking the beach and reading a lot to pass the time.
The best surprise was meeting Vitalii and Larisa from Russia. He sailed from his home near Vladivostok to Seattle and now joined by his wife are sailing south, through the Panama Canal, up the Eastern seaboard to Boston, then across the atlantic to St Petersburg in Russia. They were great fun and it was so exciting to meet a Russian cruiser!!!
San Francisco, more accurately Sausalito was our refuge for a few days waiting for the next weather window north, another small low would soon arrive north of Cape Mendocino. We were also looking forward to meeting up with Paul Guenette who was to meet us in San Francisco last fall for Thanksgiving. As it turned out his project list was too long, although he made it to San Francisco early November we had headed south to Mexico.
Aside from sharing beers and stories he was in possession of our Blue Water Cruising Association’s leavers package. Paul was and active volunteer in Vancouver and would see Jennifer Handley, our Commodore before we would have to time to meet so he was handed the job of presenting it to us. We missed Paul in the fall but now on our way back to Canada we meet for a very late Thanksgiving and officially receive our leavers package! Here we are almost home and celebrate leaving !!!
Paul also had his vehicle in San Francisco which was very helpful getting our shopping list done in short order. Laundry done, Adesso fuelled and the food supplies topped up we passed under the San Francisco bridge, leaving, not knowing if we would ever pass this way again.
Southwestern Yacht Club were very generous again, we found ourselves meeting up with other cruisers headed north not to mention our saviour Frank!!! I had a list of repairs to do: repair the freezer, the boomvang and a full engine maintenance.
Captain Frost – Bill came to look at the freezer and we found that a small bit of moisture in the coolant froze in the expansion capillary tube which kept the freezer from working. This “ is a common problem with early keel coolers” so he put a descant in the loop of the coolant and we were back up and running though a few $$ poorer. At some point in time we would have to upgrade the keel coolers to the new ones. One of the great things about being in Shelter Island is that all you boating needs can be met within walking distance. This made it easy to to prep Adesso for the next leg of our trip in just a couple of days. Sue did the trips to Costco and Safeway to replenish the food stocks that had melted away. Looked like a window was coming our way so fuelled up we headed to Dana Point.
Dana Point was to be a short overnight stay and then continue on, here we should have heeded Predictwind but went anyway, which resulted in our stop only 20 miles north in Newport, CA. With our window closed we anchored in the public anchor area for the Memorial Day weekend which is the first big party weekend of the summer in the states. Waiting for the winds to drop we ventured to Balboa Island, walked the beach, and took our dinghy around looking at all the amazing waterfront houses with yachts attached to them. Josh was especially impressed with an that was at least 120 feet long!!!
Finally we got our window north, a quick stop in Santa Barbara for fuel, an over night stop in Coho anchorage just south of Point Conception to hide from the afternoon NW and then straight to San Francisco Bay.
Baja Bash, well almost – Not – but that story later. Predictwind had us in light winds at least to Turtle Bay so with out stops that was our first destination. This was only to re-fuel which we had heard was the most expensive fuel in Mexico. As we passed Bahai Santa Maria the decision was made to head to Ascension about 50 miles south of Turtle Bay where we could fuel ourselves via Jerry can and save a bunch of $$. Arriving in Ascention late we slept over night and would get up early to fuel an head out. The weather window was still good and we might even catch a low headed to San Diego – this meant SE winds and we would be sailing!!! The morning trip to the Pemex was disappointing – they were out of diesel. We would have just enough fuel to get us to Turtle Bay and yes pay the price!!!
Here is the lesson learned on the next leg. I have been using Predictwind for our 12 hour wind predictions and must say it is excellent – I can rely on it. In Turtle Bay discussions on the weather window ahead had other boaters saying that the GFS grib’s downloaded from saildocs were as good. I decided to take a look at the GFS predictions for the window that lay ahead. Predictwind looked like we would get a great ride as far a Ensenada and then we would have to tuck in as the low went by and the winds clocked to the NW, GFS looked like we could make it above the low and all the way to San Diego. Rather that pull into Ensenada we decided to head to San Diego and about 12 miles north of Ensenada the wind clocked to the NW at 25 knots. We had to jibe and run back into Ensenada. The results were, ‘boomvang ripped off the mast, topping lift pulled off the end of the boom, and one of the crew – me – almost going for a dip! The lesson learned is keep to your trusted weather prediction – don’t change decision making until you have tested others first! It turned out the the boomvang had an installation flaw and was going to come off at some time anyway. We repaired our topping lift in Ensenada and the vang would wait for San Diego.
A couple of days in Ensenada and we got our window to San Diego . It took us 7 days including layovers to go from Cabo to San Diego and it was mostly a non-bash!!
Finally we pulled the plug on Lap Paz ( before the tug to stay got too strong ) and headed off towards Cabo where we would leave Baja behind. The weather window looked good for sailing and Adesso loaded with supplies we were ready for a month or so at sea. It would take three days of travel to get to San Jose del Cabo where we would check out of Mexico and take on our last fuel. I was some where in this zone we found out that Sue would need to be near good internet in about 2 weeks to secure her job when we returned, Yikes. We could do this – it just meant that we might have to come to the coast sooner if we didn’t make it all the way to Canada. As we all know dates or schedules don’t mix well with sailing but we were game to make it work. We left San Jose to head out past Cabo and a blistering SW blew up so we hid and anchored off Cabo for the night. It was here we discovered that our wind window was disappearing fast, but we were still game and hoped to get at least 60 miles offshore before things died near land. The next day things were pretty much a lake so I decided to motor out, where did the wind go!! The next surprise was the game changer – our freezer stopped working, AKKKK. All our food was going to thaw fast and unless the crew was going to live of rice and beans we had turn back. The current weather showed a massive no-weather window for running up the coast to San Diego and a quick crew vote made that our choice. Yanmar purring, we were now committed to the Baha Bash (as this run is often called).
We were looking forward to visiting La Paz because so many cruisers stop here and never leave, or if they do its only for a short cruise and then return. This was also our final stop for supplies and repair before we headed offshore taking the clipper route home.
On the way into the La Paz channel we could not help but notice the large boat (that does’t look like a boat) built for the late Steve Jobs of Apple. This is a massive 200+ foot boat that challenges what a boat might look like and with all that glass I wonder what it would be like in heavy seas!! La Paz itself is the capital of Baja Sur but has very little of the gaudy tourist vibe of Cabo. It is a little more like a University , government town with a great waterfront malecon and protected harbour. Its because of the many marinas and great anchoring field that so many boaters end up here. Supplies were plentiful, yes, even the marine chandleries were well stocked, great restaurants, even brew pubs!!! We could have spent more time getting to know the area but alas our main mission was to fill the freezer with food and do the odd repair on Adesso. We stayed at Palmira Marina and Resort where we met may Canadians some living (on their boats ), some preparing to ship their boats home, some putting boats away for the summer and would return in the fall and then those of us heading north with our boats. The marina was VERY social with daily happy hours that went well past dark.
Another beautiful spot!! No wonder Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortes the worlds most diverse aquatic environment. Fish and turtles would swim around the boat, we took a dinghy trip out to sea caves looking at reefs along the way back. We hiked up onto the ridge and saw some amazing vistas as well. As we look to La Paz I wonder if we will ever get to come back and see more of this amazing place and the people that live here. We have a big challenge ahead so attention now turns to that, as we will soon leave the Sea of Cortes behind.