Norther Coming

Thursday night Snug Harbor’s crew watched a documentary on Baja after dinner. However, there was a lot more snoozing than watching, as the crew was tuckered out from the day’s activities. We all hit the sack at, can you believe it, 2000 hours. All slept well except Per who slept in the cockpit and was kept awake by the wind generator making strange noises as it stopped and started throughout the night. The bad behavior of the wind generator was the result of its circuit breaker getting bumped off by mistake at the nav station. Oops!

Snug Harbor upped anchor Friday morning at 0625 bound for Ensenada De Los Muertos. Clear skies and flat seas made for a quick passage and we dropped anchor in 25 feet of turquoise water off the beach at Muertos by 1330. However, the trip was not without event.

The first problem occurred after the Captain entered the route to Muertos into Snug Harbor’s chartplotter. When he pushed the “Follow” button, the two autopilot control units (one by each wheel) went dark and stopped working – dead – kaput. After an hour of fiddling they were still dead. Now this is a big deal as the crew rarely hand steers when on passage. You use the chartplotter to figure out what direction you want to go and then turn on the autopilot to keep you going in that direction. Then you sit back, enjoy the scenery, adjust the sails, periodically monitor your course and surroundings, and adjust the autopilot as needed. You can also duck below to get a snack or attend to other business. When you hand steer you have to constantly pay attention to keeping the boat pointed in the right direction and cannot leave the helm. The Captain was having visions of hand steering the 1200 miles home next spring and was not happy.

The other excitement was the lifting of the “Curse of Snug Harbor”. A few miles before we reached Muertos we hooked a dorado and reeled him in. He was not too big, maybe four pounds. Dorados are a magnificent shimmering green color and quite a sight. Gary filleted him and the Captain grilled the fillets for lunch, not much more than an hour after we landed him. Fish doesn’t get any fresher or tastier. All thanks to Gary’s leadership of Snug Harbor’s fishing department.

Activities after we anchored included Gary and Per kayaking into the beach. Per took a hike and Gary went snorkeling down the beach. Gary freaked a bit when a big eel came at him out of a hole as he snorkeled by. The Captain took a swim and checked out the anchor with snorkel gear. Snug Harbor was anchored on 150 feet of chain. The water was clear enough that the captain could see the chain laying on the sand all the way up to where the 70 pound anchor was dug in. There was not much wind in the anchorage so the first 100 feet or so of chain attached to the anchor just lay on the sandy bottom. The last 50 feet of chain arced up to the boat. Snug Harbor rarely tugs on the anchor. She mostly just lays to the chain laying on the sea bottom.

The Captain eventually figured out that the autopilot units had mysteriously turned themselves off even though their power was on. Fixing them required no more than pushing the power button on each unit, something that has never been necessary before. The Captain is still mystified why they turned themselves off.

Mike left us a nice piece of his home made pastrami which we will have for dinner.

Tomorrow Snug Harbor ups anchor at sunrise for the 60 mile voyage to Ensenada Grande, which is the Captain’s most favorite place in the world to anchor. The Captain was planning to spend two nights, but a Norther is forecast to hit La Paz Monday morning. A Norther is the Mexican equivalent of a Northeaster in New England – the wind typically blows 20 – 30 knots for 3 days. The winds blow down the 600 mile length of the Sea of Cortez and the seas get ugly. If you are out in one it definitely is not “pleasure boating”. So we will head to Snug Harbor’s winter berth in Marina De La Paz on Sunday rather than Monday.

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