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.

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