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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Not what we bargained for

October 27, 2004
At Sea, N 28o 59' W 116o 03' (approx 110 nm NW of Turtle Bay)

According to the Baja Ha-Ha add copy most Ha-Ha miles have been light and all but one leg has been down wind. The leg we are on now is neither. We are beating into a 20 kt southerly after motoring all night into a 10 kt southerly. Not fun.

Should still be in turtle bay tomorrow, probably afternoon. Wind is supposed to increase, then die when a cold front arrives, then shift to the NW. We may be hove to but then.

We had a good day yesterday though. Caught a tuna and two yellow tail. Had the yellow tail for dinner last night, excellent!
No fishing today, too rough.

Everyone reading this should wish for lighter winds :-)

John, Linda, Phil and Joann

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

We're Off!

October 25, 2004
At Sea, N 32o 11' W 177o 12' (35 nm NW of Ensenada, Mexico)

We had a great time at the Baja Ha-Ha kick off party. Linda and I dressed in our old standby costumes, cave man and cave woman, while Phil dressed as a pirate and Joann as a little devil. Linda and I entered the 'scariest monster' group competition (mostly because the people assigning categories couldn't figure out where to put us) and I entered the 'most buff' competition by myself. Although I was never a threat to win, I did manage to get a consolation prize.

We left the party after all the prizes had been awarded and we'd had our fill of the atmosphere. We met up with Anita and Ron (http://libertycall2.blogspot.com) to return their car (thanks again for loaning it to us you guys!) and returned to the boat to get to bed early.

This morning, the day of our departure, dawned grey and drizzly. Not the best conditions for sailing to Mexico! We resigned ourselves to the situation though and set about taking care of last minute business. First I had to call my broker and sell some Cisco stock. Two weeks in San Diego and we were just about broke! Then we took NAKIA over to the San Diego Yacht Club and tied to the dinghy dock so we could walk over to Downwind Marine and wait for FedEx to deliver our absentee ballots. We only had to wait around for 45 minutes or so and hurriedly filled in the ballots and dropped them in the mail.

Then it was off to the starting line. Having been in such a hurry to get the ballots mailed we were surprised to make the starting area a little early. No problem however, the Baja Ha-Ha committee doesn't keep track if someone is over early. We did our best to stay behind the line until the appointed moment and had pretty good position when the gun went off.

Off like a herd of turtles, we sailed away from San Diego.

John, Linda, Phil, and Joann

First Day Out

October 26, 2004
At Sea, N 30o 41' W 116o 50' (40 nm west of Punta Camalu)

That's right, Punta Camalu. Frankly I'm not sure if that's even a town, but I have to put something down for where we are :-) This stretch of the Baja coast is very lightly populated.

We caught two large Bonito yesterday afternoon on our way through the Coronado Islands. These were much larger then the ones we kept from Santa Cruz Island and were very easy to clean thanks to our new fillet knife (thanks Sharon!).

We have sailed about half the time, the wind died shortly after sunset last night. Having all these boats around us has taken some getting used to. There are 142 boats that started the Ha-Ha and it seemed like we had 10-15 close around us most of the night last night. Once the sun rose this morning the ranks had spread out a little more and we don't feel so confined.

I put out the fishing lure early this morning and later Joann noticed that we had a fish. She pulled in a small Albacore, as she did one of the Bonito yesterday, and Phil cleaned it. Joann is turning out to be NAKIA's good luck charm; she's pulled in two of our three fish and we always seem to sail fastest during her watch.

We're heading a little further offshore in anticipation of a cold front coming through tomorrow night. Hopefully it won't amount to much as promised by the rally chairman Richard (also known as the Grand Poobah).

More tomorrow, we have at least two more days to go before our first stop at Turtle Bay.

John, Linda, Phil, and Joann

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Get Ready, Get Set ...

October 23, 2004
San Diego, CA (N 32o 42' W 117o 14')

After almost two weeks in San Diego we're getting ready to take off to Mexico with the Baja Ha-Ha. We've bought so many provisions that we can barely see the water line any more, loaded up on enough beer to float a battle ship, bought Mexican fishing licenses, a new spinnaker, got our tourist cards and, most importantly, picked up our great crew Phil and Joann.

Unfortunately, we didn't see much of San Diego that wasn't boating related. The world famous zoo, Sea World, Old Town, and the Gas Lamp district will have to wait until some other visit. I did have time to get a new shore side hobby though: driving around town looking for unsecured wireless networks to connect my lap top to so we can access the internet. Who needs an internet cafe?!

We went out for a short sail today with Phil, Joann, Alicia, and Doug. It was a little cool but we needed the chance to fly the new spinnaker and are very satisfied with it. The old spinnaker has already been successfully sold on eBay and is on its way to its new owner. Doug wanted to catch a tuna, so we towed the lure around for a while and managed to catch a Bonito which Doug took to a house warming party. I think we got the better half of the deal though since Doug had brought us grapes freshly picked from the fields of Delano, CA which were better than anything you could get from a grocery store.

Tomorrow is the big Baja Ha-Ha kick off party and Monday we take off to points south of the border. We can hardly wait!

John, Linda, Phil, and Joann

This is Alicia, Phil's neice, out on a day sail (Joann in the background).

Here's Dennis Conner on his very nice boat. He's the one with the drink. Is that a Coors Light? (Rick would be proud!)

Here's Doug out on a day sail with us on San Diego bay. The new spinnaker is in the background.

Here is the police station at the police dock. They are flying the small craft advisory penant, and boy was is windy!

Here are a few pictures from recent adventures. This is the boat we sighted that I think was the Argus, any confirmation?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Celebrity Sighting!

We moved from the nice little anchorage at Glorietta Bay to our slip at the public dock yesterday. We'll be here until the start of the Baja Ha-Ha. It's such a relief to know that we won't have to ping pong around until the start. Obviously we're not the only ones with a plan. It's possible to stay 10 nights at the public dock. This morning at least 6 other Ha-Ha boats pulled in to the public dock area and there isn't an empty slip available. The start is 10 nights away.

As for the celebrity, we were in the dinghy near the San Diego Yacht Club and in front of us was a beautiful old sailboat, obviously restored. It was under sail and in the process of taking down the jib. They completed this maneuver and as we got closer I changed course to let them continue on their way to the SDYC dock. As they passed we were only about 15 feet apart and I looked in to the cockpit to see none other than Dennis Conner at the tiller! After we passed I asked Linda if she knew who that was and she said it looked like Dennis Conner with a big gut. (Well he is a little older and heavier then he was in his AC days...)

We're in our final preparations for the rally. I ordered a new spinnaker which is larger then the old one and am trying to sell the old one on Ebay. We need to get this boat to move! (They call it a rally, but we all know it's really a race.)

John and Linda

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Duck! Here comes another helocopter!

October 12, 2004
Glorietta Bay, San Diego (N 32o 40' W 117o 10')

We didn't have much time to enjoy the Dana Point Yacht Club Sunday, we were really only interested in a good night's sleep. We slept very well indeed, for the first time since arriving at Catalina several days before. So well did we sleep that we had no trouble getting up bright and early Monday morning with the intention of sailing the 24 nautical miles to Oceanside. The wind was light and out of the south, so we had to beat. This wasn't working out very well especially since we had the small jib up, but we did our best.

The trip was made more interesting by a Navy ship which had positioned itself directly south of us. At first it looked like they were conducting firing exercises, shooting at a towed target. This was hard to believe, so close to shore, but it was clear there was an object following behind the ship and every once in a while large amounts of spray would fly into the air accompanied by a noise that sounded like an airplane propeller. Finally, when we got closer we saw that the sound was coming from the 'target', which turned out to be a huge hover craft. The spray wasn't bullets hitting the sea but the hover craft hovering. At one point the craft passed astern of us and ran right up on the beach sending sand and dust every where. What a mess! Can you imagine what the deck of that thing looked like after being showered with salt spray for hours then dusted with beach sand?

Our sailing wasn't progressing very well during all this so we changed jibs to the 115%. This was only the second time we've done this on NAKIA underway (since getting roller furling) and it went much better this time.

Finally around 1600 we pulled into Oceanside. We were kind of worried about getting a spot at the yacht club since a transient slip in the marina would have cost us $40, so we were relieved to find the Yacht Club guest dock unoccupied. We went up and signed in and were immediately invited to Monday Night football at the club. Potluck sides and hot dogs sounded great to us so we accepted the invitation and hit the showers to wash off the sweat from all that sailing.

The Oceanside Yacht Club membership turned out to be some of the most friendly people we've met on our trip down the coast. They put out a great spread for the football game and really made us feel welcome. It would have been nice to spend a few nights and explore this little town (right next door to Camp Pendleton) but we had a reservation in an anchorage in San Diego and wanted to take full advantage of it so we departed Oceanside at first light for San Diego.

The closer we got to San Diego the busier the sea and sky became. It started off the coast of La Jolla where navy fighters would pass overhead coming and going from Miramar. Then as we rounded Point Loma it seemed like there was a constant buzz of helicopters taking off from North Island and flying offshore, circling back and then buzzing over us again. I told Linda I'm not sure I want to stay in San Diego for two weeks if it's going to be like this!

We checked in with the Harbor Police and made our way down the bay to Glorietta Bay to drop anchor. It's a nice snug spot, with quite a few boats, but well protected. We're within sight of the Coronado Hotel and look out the cockpit onto a golf course. We're not complaining.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Wild Night

October 10, 2004
Dana Point Yacht Club, Dana Point (N 33o 27' W 117o 42')

I think we pretty much got our fill of Catalina. I mentioned before about how rolly the anchorage was, previous nights were nothing compared to what we went through last night. If we didn't have the rocker stopper I'm sure we would have both been thrown right out of bed.

It wasn't all bad, we had a nice hike yesterday in the hills and went to the bar last night with Tom and Kate, a Canadian couple who are taking a year off to cruise the Pacific. There was a DJ and such a great mix of people that we ended up staying until almost midnight.

We woke early this morning (as if we really slept last night to begin with) to make the 40 mile trip over to Dana Point. We arrived at Dana Point this afternoon after a long motor boat trip. Not much happened on the way over except we saw several Risso's dolphins and I caught a few bonito on the way - but none of the yellow tail we heard fishermen talking about on the radio. One other highlight of the trip was seeing what I think was the Argus, a Sea Scout boat that a freind sailed when he was in Scouts. I have a picture which I'll post to the blog the next chance I get. They were returning from Avalon, bound for Long Beach (I think).

We were lucky enough to find a few feet of dock space to tie up to at the Dana Point Yacht Club. We'll be here a couple nights and then head down to San Diego to face the mooring situation down there.

John and Linda

Thursday, October 07, 2004


October 7, 2004
Isthmus Cove, Catalina Island (N 33o 26' W 118o 29')

We spent two nights at Little Scorpion after leaving Santa Barbara. We took one day and went ashore and hiked the bluffs over the east end of the island. The views were incredible and we had no problem with the 8 mile round trip this time. The terrain was easier and we seemed to be getting our lungs back.

One thing we're not getting used to is these rolly anchorages! Canada was so nice - we could walk around the boat without having to hold on. Now the boat is constantly in motion, it's almost like being under sail sometimes. We've set out the rocker stopper every night we've been at anchor and it sure helps, but even with it out the boat rolls and pitches quite a bit.

We made the long trip to Catalina from Santa Cruz yesterday. We motored all the way. We could have sailed the last few hours but as we left Santa Cruz a bird landed on deck (it must have been disoriented in the fog) and we couldn't set sail for fear of scaring it into flight. I tried to convince Linda that if it was really tired it would come back to NAKIA even after being frightened off, but she was not willing to take the chance. Oh well, it only cost us a few gallons of fuel to get the bird safely to Catalina. Hopefully we didn't introduce some non-native species that's going to have to be eradicated later.

I started out this morning by throwing a fishing lure around the anchorage. Mostly I was just bored, not trying to catch anything to keep. I hooked a small bonito, which didn't fight very much, and I let him go (I'm using barbless hooks now to make the 'letting go' easier). I cast out again and hooked something else which I was sure was a snag but when I got it up to the boat it turned out to be a little California Halibut! It was only a couple of pounds, but filleted into about 3/4 of a pound of meat, perfect for Linda and I. It's really fun to catch something good when the most you're hoping for is a little entertainment.

This afternoon we walked around the little town of Two Harbors to get some exercise. Or at least that's our excuse for getting ice cream sandwiches after the walk. We also took showers which for me turned out to be less then satisfying. $.50 for a three minute shower that was cold, then warm, then cold, then tepid, then warm. I would have rather had a hot shower and paid $1. (Linda reports her $.75 shower was plenty hot the whole time.)

We're going to stick around here for a few days since we don't have reservations in San Diego until the 12th. Not sure what we're going to do with all that time, but I'm sure we'll find something. At least there's ice cream close by.

John and Linda

Monday, October 04, 2004

Farewell to Sharon

October 2, 2004
Santa Barbara (N 34o 24' W 119o 41')

On Thursday we moved from Pelican Bay to Little Scorpion anchorage. Little Scorpion is on the east end of Santa Cruz Island and when we arrived there were two other boats in the anchorage. The guide book says to get as close to the two tall rocks at the north end as possible for shelter. There's definitely a trade off. The rocks are covered by roosting brown pelicans. Get too close to the rocks and the odor is quite strong. We got a great spot and only had to deal with the fumes until the wind came up a little.

We were invited to happy hour on Sol Mates and had a great time talking to Stan and MJ, along with Dennis and Cathy from Pinecone. MJ treated us to bread sticks which she made fresh herself, yummy!

I tried fishing off the point. I was going after sea bass again, under strict orders from the crew not to bring back any more bonito. No success. It's very frustrating to have caught those two near Fry's anchorage so easily/quickly and now I can't seem to find them again.

Friday morning we started out for Santa Barbara at 0900. We soon set sail out in the channel and were treated to the site of hundreds of Pacific White Sided Dolphin. Most of them seemed to be feeding so didn't come over and play in NAKIA's bow wave, but several did so Linda and Sharon had a great time cheering their antics from the bow sprit.

As we got closer to Santa Barbara a sea lion started to trail NAKIA. It would swim from one side of the boat to the other, coming as close as 10 feet away, jumping out of the water and then swimming right under the rudder. This went on for over half an hour. We all whooped and applauded his highest jumps and this seemed to get him going even more.

Santa Barbara Marina is very busy as we got the last guest slip in the marina. Many of the transients are doing the Ha-Ha. It's great to get to know a few people we'll be doing the rally with, though it makes it hard to get down the dock when you stop to chat with every tenth person. One couple in particular, Gene and Pat from Chalet Mer, were very kind and offered us a ride in their rental car to West Marine and the grocery store. This made running errands very quick and pain free not having to carry everything back to the boat on foot.

Saturday we had breakfast at the original Sambo's (yes, that Sambo's - 1957!) and then took Sharon to the Amtrak station for her ride home. We were both sorry to see her go but are also expecting to see her turn up again on someone else's boat in San Diego and/or on the Ha-Ha.

We'll be back out to Santa Cruz island on Monday (more errands on Sunday) and then down to Catalina. We'll probably be in San Diego earlier than we had anticipated but with all the Ha-Ha boats going down, getting a slip is proving very difficult. Hopefully getting there early will help in that department.

John and Linda

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Here's the fish catcher and the fish cleaner with our two Bonito. They were ok in fish borritos but weren't that great grilled teriaki style (this Bonito, not the catcher/cleaner).

Here's the sea lion showing off for us!

This shows how close the sea lion was swimming to NAKIA (details in a later post).