Thursday, September 22, 2011

Marina Coral – Ensenada, Mexico

Our brief time at Marina Coral has been great ... the facilities are top notch, all the staff are very friendly and helpful and we have already met many of our neighbors.  Today we're taking a tour of Ensenada with a couple from Washington and one of the long term residents is giving us a ride to San Diego in a few days.  

Today is Mexico's Independence Day and the marina residents are celebrating with a BBQ this afternoon.  We're looking forward to meeting more of our neighbors.

Agave Azul in our new slip at Marina Coral

Rules are Rules ... 

We topped off our tanks and went for a daysail on Bahia de Todos Santos with neighbors from the marina, also from San Francisco ... Mike on the helm.

Mike & Lynda

We're excited to be in Mexico.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shakedown: San Francisco to Ensenada

We had an excellent trip to Ensenada.  Our intrepid crew showed up at oh-dark-thirty on Monday morning.  Warm pumpkin bread was provided by one of our neighbors and we passed under the Bay Bridge by 0830.

Robin, Peter & Phil

Mark catching up on some sleep

Hmmm ... how do we get to Ensenada?

Our plan was to sail an offshore non-stop course to Ensenada.  Mark and I set some rough waypoints the night before we left to help us follow a shortest distance, south to south easterly route in international waters.

San Francisco to Point San Luis

Point San Luis to San Clemente Island

San Clemente Island to Ensenada

Last look at San Francisco

Very excited to finally be leaving for Mexico

Yeah, I posed for for this pic

We had a good omen to start the trip – just outside the Gate I had my first ever whale sighting!  The seas were calm so we cut the corner around Mile Rock and motored over the bar on our way past the 3-mile limit. 

The wind picked up as soon as we headed south.  Neptune was very good to us as we had 3 straight days of 15 to 25 knot NW winds with manageable waves and swell ... Neptune obviously liked the good tequila we used to christen Agave Azul.  

Peter at the helm ...
Yes, we did use the BBQ

Creative daytime sleeping arrangements

What's that noise in the steering?

Mark trying to coax a bit more speed from Agave Azul 
as he surfed well offshore of Monterey Bay.

We motor sailed a bit on Tuesday and Wednesday morning to charge our batteries, but it was good sailing weather all the way to south of San Clemente Island.  We sailed about 60 - 70% of the time, about half with main & jib and half with main and chute.

Dan enjoying his time on the helm

Our first Dolphin show

Dolphins visited us several times, at all hours of the day and night and it was a great show every time.  We loved it and they seemed to have a great time, too.  As we neared Ensenada Thursday morning, we sailed with a very large pod of boisterous dolphins, many of them leaping completely out of the water.

I doubt we will ever get bored watching these amazing mammals

The trip around Point Conception was easy, 20 - 25 knots with 6' swells.  Those conditions held for most of the trip.  It was mellow enough to use the BBQ.  

Off Point Conception

Phil working hard trimming the chute

We had an interesting call on VHF late Wednesday afternoon.  Navy helicopter "Navy P3" call to inquire about our intentions.  We gave them our destination and course and they asked us to alter course either out to sea (225º M) or north of San Clemente Island (42º M).  We chose the northern route for about a 25 mile detour.  They were very courteous and appreciative of our cooperation, although I wonder what would have happened if we didn't alter  course!?  After the sun set we were treated to a very cool pyrotechnic display as the military lit up the northern tip of the island with extremely bright parachute flares.  As we rounded the tip of the island and resumed our course south, we heard the rumble of a very large vessel approach in the dark.  "This is Warship 102 -- what are your intentions"?  We repeated our destination and course and they said OK, but to be cautious since "we will be doing some very rapid maneuvers in the dark."  That kept us all very alert for the next few hours.

Our crew was amazing!  A big thank you to Peter Leib, Dan Lockwood, Phil MacFarlane and my son Mark Weber.  Our experienced crew shared their knowledge and insights giving us an added margin of safety and confidence.  Without exception they all had a great attitude, good humor and did whatever was necessary to make our journey safe and fun.

And a big thank you to Agave Azul.  In what would have been challenging conditions for previous sailboat Agave, Agave Azul was comfortable and stable.  When we were flying the chute, she started to round up, but with a firm push down on the helm, she held position and stayed down.  The electronics worked well to keep us informed, and we even figured out how to use the SSB radio and SailMail for email and weather reports.

Robin, Dan, Peter & Mark

Peter, Mark & Phil

Peter & Mark

Hmmm ... where is that Marina?

Robin & Peter

Approaching Marina Coral

Narrow, but deep marina entrance

Kathryn relaxing the day after our arrival

After a very busy 8 weeks of commissioning and wondering what the trip would be like, the whole experience surpassed Kathryn's and my expectations.  We are very excited to have completed this phase of our adventure and we're looking forward to more.

Commissioning Agave Azul ... July - September

I visited the factory in Largo, Florida in June, just before our Catalina 470 was scheduled to ship.  This photo was taken at the final assembly stage ... the large holes drilled through the bow will house the thrusters.

A very cool shot, but an even warmer day – 98º and 98% humidity.

Agave Azul's arrival at Svensen's Boat Yard in Alameda, CA for the start of 8 weeks of commissioning; rigging, inverter/charger, water maker, high capacity bilge pump, navigation equipment, lightning protection system, Single Side Band radio, metal work for the stern rails and life raft cradle, bottom paint and, and, and ... 

The hull was sanded to provide a good surface for a coat of primer 
and two coats of bottom paint.

I always felt uncomfortable watching the yard drill holes in the hull.  The first photo is for the water maker intake and the second is for the water maker brine discharge.  Four more holes were drilled for the copper lightning protection plate and one more for the bilge pump discharge.

Water maker intake.

Brine discharge.

As soon as the bottom paint dried, she went into the water for the first time.

I was really pleased to be on hand to observe and participate in rigging the mast.  
I always wondered how all those components went together.

You will see lots of photos of Brian Teobald, Vessel Electric.
Brian handled all electric installations and calibration on Agave Azul.

TV antenna, lightning rod, LopoLight tricolor and wind vane.

Now, this was scary to watch!

In-boom furler mandrel.

Construction zone for building a shelf for the water maker.

Spectra Water Maker under the forward berth.

We spent the better part of a sunny day at the yard applying our boat lettering.

Kathryn peeling off the cove stripe tape.

The finished product!

Electronics installations took the most time.  As you can see, the boat was a construction zone for most of the time it was at the yard.

Yes, I labeled them all so I'll know what they all connect to.

Brian drilling holes for the GPS and AIS antennas.

The team at Svendsen's Metalworks did a great job fabricating solid stern rails and the cradle for the life raft.
Life raft cradle before polishing.

Welding and polishing

Almost finished, but the weight of the raft made the long stern rail unstable.  
The Metalworks team added a brace just forward of the foot block.

The sails were almost the last item installed.  Glen Hansen completed the final installation and rig tuning.

Drilling more holes in the boat.

Attaching the mainsail to the boom mandrel.

Full-length battens for great sail shape.

Our first sea trial was after 5 weeks of commissioning.

Everything works!