Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We're in Turtle Bay, Baja California South, Mexico

Her we go again, another quick chronology.

San Francisco to Halfmoon Bay where we anchored and hid from the 35 knot winds for the night behind the breakwater and the big radar ball on the hill. This was the first time to see pelicans flying with military precision, a regular strategic command performance. A nice town that exists for the fishing industry, both commercial and sport.

To Santa Cruz for 3 nights to pick up the Rogue Wave Wifi booster that we ordered in Sausalito. It arrived 2 days late so we walked the town, the boardwalk and carny and love a lot of the old west coast coastal housing that has been well maintained. Unfortunately we saw a +/- 34 foot sailboat that had been at anchor washed up on shore. It was a Santa Cruz boat so we’re not certain why they anchored on the edge of the surf line with a lee shore. Their 27 foot buddy boat managed to get off the beach without washing up. Two days later they refloated her and towed it into the harbor past our mooring. A very dejected owner sitting in the boat, but she was floating. A very sobering image that will influence our anchorage choices.

Across the Bay to Monterey for 3 nights where the folding bikes again came into their own. The tourists have claimed Monterey and Cannery Row since we saw it years ago so it isn’t as quaint as it once was but a beautiful place for riding with lots of bike trails and bike lanes.

Then on to Morro Bay where we had a high anxiety moment when entering. We had furled the sails and were just at the first buoys when the engine died. It sounded starved for fuel but with the surf at the bar we didn’t have time for trouble shooting, just enough time to raise the genny and claw our way out to sea again. The day tank with the bulb pump came to the rescue and we got the motor going without really determining why the main tank feed failed. We took a Morro Bay YC mooring buoy with the tidal current sweeping us one way and the winds blowing us the other. At the Morro Bay YC dock were Kialoa with Scott and Tanya from Saltspring Island who we first met in Bedwell Harbour on South Pender in April and Serafin with Syd and Birgit from Seattle. Scott  used to live in Southern California and a friend in Morro loaned him a car so the four of us bundled off to Costco in San Luis Obisbo to re-provision the boats.

We followed Serafin out of Morro Bay by about 2 hours and had some beautiful wind to sail with for the first several hours but before we rounded the infamous Pt Conception in the night the winds had died so it was less onerous than anticipated. That night had the first of the oil rigs all lit up, looking very sci-fi like. We passed Santa Barbara and the Northern Channel Islands in the night and continued to Oxnard for a morning landfall. Oxnard has re-invented itself with an amazing foreshore development that permits cruisers to go by dinghy up a couple of miles of canals fringed with high end waterfront homes to a Vons shopping mall. You can wheel the cart to the dinghy which was a first since Port McNeil on Vancouver Island in the summer.

We had a fabulous Mexican dinner with Syd and Birgit and then said “see you later” the next day as they are moving much faster than us to the Panama Canal and probably on to Europe. Where next we meet can only be conjectured but they are such a nice cruising couple we will follow their blog and see when we are in the same area.

Oxnard is also the home of the best dinghy wheel manufacturer bar none! I had heard about Danard dinghy wheels thru Bluewater Cruising Assoc. and some blogs had mentioned them so I had ordered them in Vancouver along with some vg quality stainless parts and I had been really impressed with both the quality and price. So Saturday morning saw me onto the bike and off on an 8 mile ride to their address. I had a nagging suspicion that as they are primarily a web mail provider and not located near the water that they may be closed on Saturday. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner and could see the empty parking lot at their modern warehouse/office I knew it was a wasted trip. My traveller’s sense of curiosity kicked in and I went to the tinted window to see if there was any retail displays or just offices. So there I was, face and arms pressed against the glass peering in like a kid at a candy store when to my amazement there was a person at a desk inside jumping up to unlock the door. Steve is the nicest entrepreneur one could ever meet. He took me into the warehouse where I truly was the kid in the candy store picking out the quality stainless parts that are impossible to find. So after some hard negotiating where he beat me down to a price that even a cruiser (yes, you read that right) could afford I was on my way complete with a very heavy backpack. Check out the web site, you will be glad you did and their mainstay product, the wheels, are the best! Oh yea, Danard?, yes it is a play on the Oxnard name from Steve’s old surfing days.

Solastra with Lyn and Dean, who we hadn’t seen since San Francisco, and Kialoa with Scott and Tanya arrived and more good food and another mini BCA BURP occurred. Kialoa and Kanilela did an overnight sail to Cat Harbor on Catalina Island.

Kialoa, Sea Rover II and Kanilela in Cat Bay
We had just anchored when a dinghy pulled up beside with Bill from Greybeard, although we had asked numerous boats since we parted in Coos Bay 2 months previous, no one had seen him. It was great exchanging adventures. I did a good bike ride up to Emerald Bay with some incredible views down into the clear water. Bright golden orange Garibaldi fish could be seen in 30 foot deep waters. After a few days relaxing and greeting Sea Rover II’s arrival with Gary and Corina, we moved around to the Isthmus Harbour. After Mags showed her Bocci prowess in the men vs women game we all said “see you later” to Bill who was heading straight to Ensenada while the rest of us were heading to Avalon.

Scott and Bill's body language says it all, the girls were cleaning up!
Avalon felt very Mediterranean. The architecture, the harbour front, the dry vegetation and clear water but it was time to keep heading south, so after a few days we left for Oceanside and on to San Diego.

We had been given a contact person to get us in touch with an unnamed machinist who we could get to rethread our Chinese watermaker pressure vessel parts from John and Jennifer on Spinnaker. The contact, Ed, on B dock in Chula Vista, no last name and no number and Chula Vista has 2 marinas. John and Jennifer, gone to La Paz. Clearly some sleuthing had to be done. It felt like the start of a pulp crime novel. But the best part was we got to travel in past all of the San Diego marinas, thru the downtown, under the Coronado Bridge and wind our way down the 7 mile channel past the US Pacific Fleet to Chula Vista. Wow! There are some spooky looking craft in there!

After one night at the wrong marina, the Chula Vista Harbor Marina, we moved to the right marina, the California Marina and receiving our 3 complimentary nights from the Chula Vista Yacht Club, I went in search of Ed. Now waterfront people tend to be a little secretive when strangers are asking “Where’s Ed?” but to my surprise the first person I met at 8:00 am said: “There’s two Ed’s, which one do you want?” After determining the right Ed and that he would be on his boat because he hated to be woken up early but the stranger insisted I definitely should go wake him up. I felt my best defence would be to have the name of the ne’er do well who had sent me to Ed’s boat so I could at least throw him under the bus for causing my early morning arrival and so it was, I met Tony. When a wild head of long hair with a full greybeard held by a ponytail elastic, eventually rose from the hatch of a very sweet William Gardner designed ketch with immaculate bright work, I quickly told him John Gleadle sent me but it was Tony who said I should knock on the hull this morning, early… The name was like a bone being thrown to a dog, you knew someone would get chewed on.

Over the course of the next 4 days, Ed introduced me to the machinist, loaned us his Miata to go provision the boat and joined us for dinner a couple of times. The machinist, Herman, worked in a huge warehouse, down by the Mexican border, jammed with old dusty lathes and milling machines, all for sale. His friends, the owners, let him use the machines and he worked only in the mornings, some days. I was the kid in this group of players, probably by as much as 10 years in some cases, and all of them incredibly intelligent interesting people. The machining was done perfectly. Tony joined Ed for one of Mags’ dinners on the boat and regaled us with his living in the off the beaten path areas of the Caribbean. Damn, you meet some great people travelling.

Back up to San Diego, on the hook in La Playa Anchorage for the weekend. The clan was gathering. We had six BCA boats for dinner on Sea Rover II. La Playa is only available as a weekend anchorage so we moved with Kialoa to the SWYC for two days. Frank, a member with a boat at the dock, took Mags and I for a tour of Point Loma and San Diego and picked up our exit papers for the US.

Then we were off early for Ensenada, Bahia San Quintin, Las Islas Benitos (to be serenaded by an elephant seal colony for the night) and on to Bahia Tortugas, Turtle Bay.

We are leaving here early tomorrow so I will post this now and revisit the stops in Mexico later. We are almost half way down the Baja Peninsula and a couple more step will see us in Cabo.

No time to edit, sorry for typos and rambling content. Gord

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