Tuesday, October 8, 2013

San Francisco to Ensenada

Adios Sausalito - We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sausalito.  When I visited San Francisco years ago on business I always thought that Sausalito would be a very cool place to live. Thanks to Kathryn checking the pages of Latitude 38 for a temporary slip, I got my chance. There was always something interesting happening in town or on the water and we had incredible neighbors.  

Many friends and family took the time to see us and give us their good wishes before we left, making our departure from the Bay Area very memorable.  Here are our next door neighbors Christy and Glen saying good bye - we miss you!   

Christy & Glen - Sirena Gordita

One of the most exciting events in the bay area this summer was the America's Cup.  We watched the cup and many practice sessions from Agave Azul, on the breakwater at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, at the finish line at America's Cup Village and even from the Golden Gate Bridge.  All were exciting but the best place to watch was after the race on YouTube.  

Below are a couple of my favorite shots of Team New Zealand and Team USA at the finish line. Kathryn and I watched these races two days before we left.  Oracle Team USA lost both and the tally was New Zealand +6 and USA -1.  The winner needed to win a total of 9 races.  We thought we were leaving the bay area at a good time since New Zealand was about to run away with the win.  We got to watch the final races on live TV in Ensenada.

On the way out we passed by several mega yachts anchored in Richardson Bay that were in town for the event.

Mega Yachts anchored in Richardson Bay

Our plan was to depart San Francisco at 6:00pm to arrive at Point Conception about 30 hours later at 1:00am when there is a chance that the weather might cooperate.  We were treated to a spectacular sunny afternoon on our way out the gate.

Golden Gate Bridge

Crew - We were fortunate to have John Ryan and Dan Doud as crew on the trip to Santa Barbara.  We have sailed and raced with John & Dan for several years at the Sequoia Yacht Club.  We hoped it would be an uneventful trip, but their skills and experience became very important toward the end of the trip.

John Ryan

Dan Doud

The first night and most of the next day were uneventful.  The wind was directly aft so we were motoring.  We had lots of wind and plenty of sun - it doesn't get much better.  Well, until the High Water Temperature light came on and the alarm sounded.  We shut the engine off and unfurled the sails, then spent the next few hours troubleshooting, even spending 2 hours to remove and check the impeller, which was in perfect condition.  So it was time to become a sailboat and do a zigzag course down the coast.

30 knots & sunny off Pt. Piedras Blancas

The sunny weather soon changed to thick fog and zero visibility, but the wind didn't let up. John and Dan steered the entire night using the compass, wind instruments and radar.  It was a bit tense at times with consistently high wind and tricky following and beam seas.  Thank you guys ... you were awesome!

An interesting night

Point Conception - Since we were sailing a longer course, we missed our 1:00am date with Point Conception.  But by noon the sun was out and the wind was down to about 15 knots, so we shook out the reefs and were sailing comfortably south of Point Arguello.  On our previous two trips we had manageable conditions going past Conception and it looked like our good luck would continue.  I was below talking on the sat phone with the Yanmar mechanic in Santa Barbara when the conditions changed.  Within just a couple minutes, the nice 15 knot breeze was replaced by 35 knots.  Welcome to Point Conception - it lived up to its reputation this time!

Approaching Pt. Conception

Point Conception

We had an interesting time getting the sails reefed, but good crew work (thanks again Dan & John) got us sailing under control again.  The little zig zag on our AIS track just west of Point Conception shows where we got hit with 30 - 35 knot winds.

Agave Azul's AIS Track

It's amazing how little sail is required to keep the boat moving at 7 to 8 knots in 30 - 35 knots of breeze.

Doing 7-8 Knots with deep reefs

Kathryn keeping focused after Point Conception

We still had 40 miles to go to get to Santa Barbara, but with the great sailing conditions we thought we could make it to the channel entrance before dark.  Then we could run the engine for about 10 minutes to get to our dock before the High Water Temperature alarm came on. Unfortunately, the wind died completely 12 miles from Santa Barbara.  So we called Vessel Assist and they dispatched a boat from Ventura, 40 miles away, to tow us.  It was a beautiful afternoon, so we drifted for a few hours, watched dolphins all around us and had a leisurely dinner in the cockpit.

The Vessel Assist boat finally found us after he entered the correct Lat/Lon coordinates.  Being towed was yet another new adventure.  The captain was a really nice guy and very skilled at boat handling and towing.  He assured us that the bridle wouldn't pull the bow cleats out of the boat, even when towing us at 8 knots.  He was right, they're still there!  But he didn't notice that our boat has, well had, anchor locker drain covers at the waterline.  The bridle did a nice job of ripping them both off the boat.  

We were so glad we got the "Unlimited Towing" package

Another boat project!

We had a great Yanmar mechanic come to the boat the morning we arrived.  He determined that the engine was running fine, but that the high water temperature sensor was at fault.  If we had known how to disconnect the alarm, we could have used the motor.  He ordered a new sensor and stopped by the next day to install it.  

Agave Azul in Santa Barbara

My son Mark joined us for the trip from Santa Barbara to San Diego.  We left Santa Barbara at 5:00am and had a great trip down to Catalina Island.  The new temperature sensor behaved and we enjoyed a beautiful day motoring and sailing to Catalina.

Approaching Catalina

It time for Agave Azul margaritas when we arrived in Avalon.

Arrived in Avalon - Mark & Robin

I'd never visited Catalina Island so we had a fun day exploring, learning about Catalina's history and taking a tour of the Casino.  All in all a very good stopover.

Avalon harbor & the casino

We departed Avalon just in time

The trip to San Diego the next day was more of the same, with nice weather and negligible seas for the entire trip.  We sailed past Point Loma which is a beautiful approach into San Diego.  

Point Loma

We arrived at Southwestern Yacht Club and spent the next couple days doing boat chores, shopping and sipping margaritas at the Southwestern YC bar watching Oracle Team USA begin an incredible America's Cup comeback.

San Diego in our rear view mirror

Another pre-dawn departure

Kathryn navigated us out of San Diego before the sun came up.  It was a very peaceful morning.  The marine layer came up once we got past Los Coronados islands, but it was a smooth trip back down to Ensenada.

It feels good to be back at Marina Coral in Ensenada.  This is where we berthed Agave Azul after we took delivery.  It was our introduction to what it will be like to live in Mexico and we are looking forward to our time here.  

This is the most relaxed I have felt in the past year and a half.  The preparation for our departure was very time consuming and at times stressful.  I think this picture captures my new relaxed attitude.  

Back in Ensenada