Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Five days at sea: 99 hours, 39 minutes, 461 nautical miles, average speed 4.6 knots, max speed 10.1 knots. The best part: All but one of those hours involved turning on the engine. It's the best sailing we've done on IO so far. There was some routine to the days instead of just suffering and waiting to get somewhere: numerous sail changes, adjusting the windvane, learning weather patterns, navigation, reading, eating, and hoping for a good catch.
Sailing seems to be all about doing nothing for hours or days and then having everything happen all at once. Racing through the relatively narrow, mountain-bordered entrance to Mag Bay, we found the wind blowing about 20 knots on our nose. I could see the numerous spouts of at least a dozen grey whales that would provide moving targets for us to avoid. We were just discussing the plan to drop the drifter and raise the yankee (the sail we use for beating to windward) when I heard a hit on the line we were towing. I could see several gulls diving and jittering behind us and knew that we were dragging something large. I started to grind in the 250 lbs test line on our big Peetz reel that was mounted to the stern railing. Within about four minutes, we had a 30 lbs yellowtail (Seriola lalandei) clubbed in the cockpit, the drifter down and stowed, and the yankee up and pulling hard in the 20 knot headwind, all in a bucking chop that was rolling out of the bay. I mean seriously, I had been dragging a line for five days, and besides the two hits that broke my 80 lbs test line and lost me two hooks three days ago, we have not had even a nibble! But I'm not really complaining. I wish you could taste this; it's far more delicate than the bonito but delicious nonetheless.We spent the last remaining hours of the day tacking back and forth into the headwind when we heard our name being called out over the radio. "IO, IO, IO, this is Ceilydh". What a treat, to be welcomed to the big warm bay by our friends Evan, Diane, and Maia. Not long after the hook was dropped we were chatting over snacks and sharing huge fillets of yellowtail.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
N26 21.67 W113 54.738
Day 4 at sea. It has been a fine couple of days sailing. Two days ago we had good wind and pushed our haul speed most of the day and well into the night. 121 miles noon-to-noon. Yesterday saw some light air and even calms for a few hours ruining our average speed and our 24-hour mileage count. Thanks to our good speed the night before we still managed over 100 miles.
We saw our first two sea turtles yesterday. Still no fish though!
Yesterday we also had a small incident that reminded us of how precarious our lives aboard IO really are. She really is a life raft.
During a calm spell, we were barely moving and making less than 1 knot. It was really sunny and warm and Hyo stood up and managed to drop her hat overboard. It slowly meandered away from the boat, too fast to grab but seemingly very slowly. I quickly stripped down and dove into the cold but not freezing water and swam the 50 meters to the hat. When I arrived that the hat and turned around I managed to inhale some water and began to cough. At the same time a little breeze just happened to pick up and I could see IO slowly begin to move away. There was no trouble as Hyo was standing right there on deck and abruptly dropped the drifter while is swam back to the boat, which was now about 75-100 meters away. We have always said "if you fall off the boat, you're dead" and held this as our working principle on this voyage. Yesterdays swim reminded us that even at such slow speeds one could never catch up to a sailing boat. Of course it does not help that I am negatively buoyant and without swimming I sink like a rock! I was also abruptly obvious how out of shape I am as I huffed and puffed my way back. We were at a depth of about 3000 feet and while swimming, the image of my ghostly-white naked body sinking to the depths below sent a chill up my spine.
This past leg has also been the first time that we have been able to relax on a passage. We are getting used to our routine aboard IO. The weather has been great and there are no adverse weather warnings for the foreseeable future. The nights have been warm and the waxing moon has accompanied our night shifts with its luminous presence. We have not run the engine in 4 days now. I have not felt the stress associated with sailing when there has been a rush or urgency (weather, timelines, etc.) to reach the next port by a certain date. As we had hoped and predicted, sailing in warmer climates is so nice. I have begun to enjoy the shifts and have even been daydreaming about the longer passages that we may undertake in the future.
Monday, January 25, 2010
N28 52.840 W115 36.553
At sea. Yesterday we said good bye to all the gray whales of Bahia de San Quintin. We enjoyed their constant presence but will not miss the stinky fart breath that we experienced with regularity. We have had good wind all night (10-13 kts) and it looks to keep up.
This morning at the end of her shift Hyo found her first squid on deck (Loligo sp.) and when I put the fishing lines in the water my first strike broke the 80 lbs test on the first hit; big fish! The sun is shining and the weather is pleasant and getting warmer. We are back to the sunglasses and sunscreen at 6-am routine.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Yesterday we were hit with sustained gale force winds, with even stronger gusting winds, and pelting rain here in the anchorage. During the height of the gale, one of the boats broke or lost its anchor and started drifting towards shore. Luckily, Simon from the Ozzy boat was able to get another anchor to it in time to save it from going on the beach. We spent the day inside hanging on trying to be comfortable. During lulls we had to go out to check the chafing gear on the anchor line or rearranging the backup anchors. I have never worked so hard just so we could stay in one place! The winds diminished to a mere 25 knots in the afternoon until about 10:30 pm when the squally lightning storms started up. When the wind hit from the first one, it had enough strength to lay the boat over 45 degrees. Rockaby baby, slosh around and be afraid...Lightning flashed and thunder roared but barely anything could be heard of the driving wind and pelting rain.
Today the storm is supposed to subside and hopefully our cabin fever along with it.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
January 21, 2010 9:35 AM Anchored in Bahia de San Quintin. Rain, heavy at times. Wind: 35 knots gusting to 40 or above. Breaking waves coming over the bow at times. We're pitching and yawing. I just paid out an extra 60 feet of chain, making the total chain length ~220 feet. Depth: 40 feet at high tide. Scope 5.5 of 5/16ths high test on the 35lbs Delta plough anchor. The CQR anchor is at the ready. According to the GPS, we did not move last night but the brunt of the 3rd low is expected tonight. We are anchored in a long narrow channel. When the tide rises, the water floods in a strong (4-5 knot) current heading up the channel. The wind is also coming from the same direction as the flood. When wind and tide are moving in the same direction, it has a noticeably calming effect on the water and life becomes more comfortable. However, when the opposite is occurs, when the tide falls and the ebbing current flows against the wind, a large and choppy sea builds and the boat rides uneasily. So twice a day we get a smooth ride and the other half, errr! Due to this current effect and howling wind, we slept intermittently last night, I want more tonight but that is very doubtful. This wind howling through the rigging has quite an un-nerving effect. It sounds louder than it should be and when IO is temporarily pitched to one side and a sea breaks against her haul, the sound is alarming, especially for the dozing skipper. In the darkness, I found myself awakened several times to a startle followed by a surge of adrenalin. I could hear my heart beat hard as I listen for any telltale noises that may indicate problems. I would usually get up and look at our position on the GPS, then take a line-of-sight on the other boats at anchor to make sure we were in the same relative position, that is, no one's anchor is dragging.
|Here is Misty Moonlight, the boat anchored nearest to us, while you can still see it before the blow. This is the bay before the storm. Notice the Grey whale between us and the Trimaran.|
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Next day: repeat with a whole new set of problems.
However, the weather is nice and we have met some great and generous people. We have had total strangers either drive us around to get to hard-to-reach places like alternator shops (thanks Jim) or lend us their own vehicle for the day to drive around and get all our groceries (thanks Matt and Teal, awesome). We have also spent a lot of time with our cruising friends Evan, Diane and Maia whom we first met in Coos Bay and who have been exceedingly generous about sharing their plethora of knowledge about where this is and how to do that. We did take one day to see the famous San Diego Zoo. One caged animal after another. I thought it could have made a better attempt to at least be educational. I guess we are coming from a different perspective, on this trip, we have seen a blue whale, the largest animal on the planet, far out to sea. Perhaps the zoo was not the best use of our time.
Our next stop is Ensenada, which is about 60 NM down the coast to clear customs and then on to the Baja. The wind is a bit light but there is a decent swell rolling in from a storm up north. It should be okay weather to get our sea legs back. I am really looking forward to getting back out to sea, doing some snorkeling and spending some time with the gray whales that migrate to the Baja to give birth next month. In short, some quality time outside.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Now we move on into Mexican waters. While there is not an abundance of remote islands, we have heard of isolated beaches, good food, great fishing and the promise of warmer water to come.