LIfe at Sea and Sea Life

It is 2000 hours on Thursday. We have made 184 miles from Turtle Bay and have roughly 45 miles to go to Bahia Santa Maria. Today was a great day, the kind of day that folks dream about when they buy a boat.

We have had ideal sailing conditions – all broad and beam reaching with plenty of breeze – reaching is when the wind is comes from the side of the boat and when Snug Harbor sails fastest. The seas have calmed way down and Snug Harbor has been gracefully loping along hour after hour.

The skies are clear. We see stars at night. The moon comes out by midnight. It is warm both day and night. Water temp is up to 74 degrees.

And the sea life!! Porpoises accompanied us for most of last night and came out in full force at sunrise. They cruised along side Snug Harbor, played in her bow wave, and flew threw the air. And there were a lot of them! We caught another skipjack and threw it back. A marlin took our lure, took off and ran off with all our line in a flash. Once he was free he made a half dozen leaps in the air – a spectacular silvery sight! We had another 6 or 8 fish on line that got away – two that just took one bite and and left with our lure and leader. We saw multiple sea turtles. They are about 3 feet long,just come swimming along, and often dive when they see us. We saw balls of bait fish with hundreds of birds floating above them and feasting away.

The area we saw the balls of fish was about 30 miles offshore and above a sea mount that reduced the depth to a few hundred fish. We know it was a good spot because we saw two 140 foot party fishing boats there loaded with anglers. For a couple grand you can get a berth on these boats and fish for a week to your heart’s content. The boats were both from San Diego, so as part of the deal you spend a day and half motoring 500 miles south and a similar amount getting home. At least it is quicker than going by sailboat. We were non plused by one of the boats, which manouvered directly in front of our course and dropped and anchor.

Mike made salmon patties for lunch. Wow! We declared them to be in lieu of dinner and just snacked in the evening.

The crew and Captain continue to wear smiles. You would be amazed how chatty four old guys can be.

Next stop Bahia Santa Maria

We upped anchor at 0830 and headed for Bahia Santa Maria which is a 240 mile voyage. The deck wash pump that is used to clean the anchor chain crapped out. Fortunately we were anchored in sand and the chain came up clean. Another project for the Captain.

Light winds were forecast so we planned on motor sailing at an easy 5 knots to save diesel. No need to hurry as going faster would just get us there sometime Thursday night rather than early Friday morning. By 1125 the wind picked up from the west. This gave us a good sailing angle and we killed the diesel. The sky was cloudless and we had a beautiful sunny sail. Later in the afternoon the wind grew to the upper teens and Snug Harbor kicked up her skirts and started to fly. It is now 1800 and we are still sailing. If we hold this pace then we will get to Bahia Santa Maria sometime Thursday night in the dark. The best laid plans… So far we have made 55 miles.

Fortunately BSM is a huge bay (7 miles across) that is easy to enter at night. We have done this before, so we will cope. It is protected from the prevailing northwest breeze by a 1200 foot high palisade and is a secure place to stop.

The water temp is up to 72 degrees and we are now catching more fish. We landed two mackeral and three skipjacks today. None good eating so we threw them all back. It is fun reeling them in.

Mike made meatballs today for a spaghetti feast tonight. Yum! However, along with the stronger winds came bigger seas. No way was Mike going to boil a big pot of water to fix the pasta as Snug Harbor yawed back and forth. We settled for tunafish sandwiches.

The captain and crew are all doing well and continuing to enjoy each others company.

Arrived Turtle Bay

We motor sailed all day Tuesday under a partially sunny skies. Winds were 5 – 12 knots from behind and it was T-shirt weather. The water temp rose to 71 degrees. The seas were not too bad and we had quite a pleasant day. Mike’s pork fried rice for dinner was wolfed down.

Gary, who is our fishing expert, declared that we would not catch any fish until the water temp got to 70 – 72 degrees. He had it nailed, as we caught three fish. The first one was the biggest, at 6 – 7 pounds. It gave quite a fight and Gary worked hard to reel him in on Snug Harbor’s most ancient rod and reel, a hand me down from an old friend. We first thought he was a bonito and filleted him up for later dining. Mike got out the fish ID book and discovered our fish was really just a large, but lowly, skipjack, which we normally throw back. However, Gary wanted a taste so Mike made him some tacos. Gary liked them and gave us all a taste. However, our long held notions that jacks are poor eating were difficult to overcome and the rest of us left it at a taste. We caught two more smaller jacks, which we threw back to swim another day.

We pulled into Turtle Bay at 2130 and had the anchor down by 2200. We covered 326 miles in 2 days and 14 hours, at an average speed of 5 1/4 knots. We motor sailed for all but 4 hours. As best we can figure we burned 30 – 35 gallons of diesel, equivalent to ~10 MPG. We all reached for our cell phones to check in with our better halfs, celebrated arrival with libations in the cockpit and then slept well into the following morning. Having all been to Turtle Bay multiple times we elected to chill aboard for the day. Activities included transferring our 25 gallons of diesel in jerry jugs into Snug Harbor’s tanks, cleaning up Snug Harbor, reading, dozing and engine checks. Tonight we will barbecue brats and watch a movie.

The anchor goes up at dawn tomorrow and Snug Harbor will head for Bahia Santa Maria, another 250 miles down the coast. We expect to arrive early Friday morning. It looks like more light winds and motorsailing.

Motoring Slowly

It is 1900 hours on Sunday and we have had a pleasant, but uneventful day. Some overcast and some sun. The wind has been directly behind us at 8 – 12 knots all day. It is not a fast point of sail so we have continued to run the diesel at low rpm which yields 5 knots. We are flying the jib only which boosts our speed by a half knot or so. There is a quartering sea from behind of 5 foot swells which hits our wide stern and keeps us rolling quite a bit from side to side.

You may be thinking why are they motoring slowly and not bothering to put up the mainsail? Don’t they want to get there and get home to their wives?

First, motoring slowly – We do this because the MPG of sailboats under power is directly related to speed, since a sailboat gets much harder to push the faster you try and push it. In Snug Harbor’s case: 5 knots = 10 MPG, 6.5 knots = 6.5 MPG and max speed of 8.5 knots = 3 MPG. We have 750 miles to go to our next gas stop and we need to be sure we do not run out before we get there. We think our wives would be disappointed if we didn’t make it. If we get enough wind to sail some more, then we can motor faster towards the end of the trip.

Second, not using the main – When the wind is light and the boat is rocking a lot side to side, then Snug Harbor cannot keep her mainsail full. It just slats all around, makes a lot of racket, keeps the off watch crew awake, and wears itself out. Plus, when you are in cruising mode you get a little lazy. If we were in a big hurry we could have taken a jet.

We have now made 181 miles, a bit more than half way to our first stop at Turtle Bay. We expect to arrive there sometime Monday night. The Captain and crew have been there a number of times. The anchorage is large and the entry to it is wide. One of the few places we feel comfortable entering at night. The only problem is there are usually crab pots littering the entrance that we have to avoid. A sharp lookout on the bow with a flash light should take care of that.

For you engineers out there – last night’s post was sent via Snug Harbor’s SSB. We bounced our transmission off a layer of the atmosphere to a base station in Corpus Christy, TX. Not bad for ancient SSB technology.

The crew is all doing well. Gary said he is sleeping better than he has slept in a year. Dinner was Spanish rice, a recipe perfected by the Captain’s mom when he was a kid.

The Captain and crew all send lots of love to their better halfs.

Report from the Nightwatch

Snug Harbor got in 4 hours of excellent sailing on Saturday before the wind tapered off. We have been motoring since 1530 on Saturday. It is now 0430 Sunday morning and we have made 106 miles. We passed Ensenada around midnight. A heavy dew dropped right after sunset and made it a bit hard to see out of the enclosure. Since then it has warmed up and the stars have come out. We decided to take 2 hour watches at night (from 1800 to 0600) and four hour watches during the day. We roll through them sequentially so each crew member is up every fourth watch. All are doing well and Mike stuffed us with tasty tacos for dinner.

We are no longer getting cell coverage so this edition is being beamed to you via Snug Harbor’s Single Sideband Radio. It is very low bandwidth so no pictures are possible.

Bound for Mexico

The fog lifted enough to leave by 0800 and we headed for the fuel dock at Shelter Island. Took on 100 gallons from an exceedingly friendly and helpful attendant. He took our docklines, personally filled our made sure our 6 tanks were all full to the brim (3 on Snug Harbor and 3 jerry jugs), cleaned up every drop of splashed diesel, gave us a 50 cent per gal discount, and threw off our docklines when we left. Don’t let anyone tell you millenials don’t know how to work. We found one that has it nailed.

On the way out the channel we saw some boys out for a day sail:

And then we saw some bigger bigger boys bringing their toy into the harbor:

We should cross the border into Mexico in another hour. We decided to skip the anchorage at San Quintin and head straight for Turtle Bay – about 350 miles – we should be there Tuesday.

Pea Soup!

The best laid plans…. Snug Harbor’s departure is on hold due to pea soup fog in San Diego. Right now we can kind of see the boats on the slipway across from us – but cannot see the very hard rock breakwater that forms the edge of the marina. So the plan is to wait, drink coffee and eat raisinettes, take showers, and leave when the fog lifts a bit, probably sometime before noon.