Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Last leg of epic journey!

Canada, here we come!

The quick and easy bar crossing leaving Port of Newport (Oregon USA) was encouraging, but as soon as we were out there, we faced a stronger than anticipated breeze on the nose and the short sharp waves made for some bashing. It was either turn back and wait for a favourable weather window, which wasn't predicted anytime soon, or persevere and hope the breeze died down. We chose the latter and after a few hours proved the right decision.

As we continued up the coast staying about 5 nautical miles offshore we were eventually cruising along in flat calm sea and in balmy temperatures. Between the Columbia Bar and Cape Flattery we picked up another beautiful salmon.

Wild salmon for dinner

Cape Flattery

We passed Neah Bay just before dark and made our last overnight run down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Not sure of the tides as we approached Race Rocks in the early morning, we crossed through Race Passage and got caught in a 4-knot ebb. Finally through, we continued a short ways to find a respite in a quiet spot off Metchosin. There, at anchor, we did a little cleaning and homecoming organizing. Then our last one hour was a downwind spinnaker run into Victoria harbour; such a pleasant way to end it after hundreds of hours of motoring up the coast.

Adam, our associate member of Bluewater Cruising Association, had organized a welcoming committee that was assembled out at the end of the breakwater. So as we approached, we doused the spinnaker and hoisted up all the flags of the countries and territories that we had visited in the 9 years, 9 months, and 9 days since we had pulled out of this, our home port, in 2009.

40 foreign flags (photo courtesy of Al Kitchen-BWCA)

Cheers went up and horns blared as we passed the finish line. Such a welcome made the climax of our great adventure all the more emotional and memorable.

Welcoming committee

The day wasn't quite finished though. After a quick Customs check in and 50,384 nautical miles later, we took a berth at the inner harbour Wharf Street docks where our welcoming crowd was waiting. Hugs, snacks, and tales of venture ensued. Our hearty thanks to everyone!

Sea Turtle at sunset in home waters

N48°21.698' W123°31.954' Jul 03 Parker Bay, Vancouver Island BC
N48°25.493' W123°22.305' Jul 03 Wharf Street Marina, Victoria BC

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Almost home

We pulled out of Sausalito on June 23rd hoping to continue quite a bit farther up the coast but soon encountered high, steep, confused waves around Point Reyes even though there were only light winds.

We persisted and passed the safe port of Bodega Bay, hoping things would improve, but they didn't. It was actually getting worse and knew that the point of land ahead would probably be even nastier. So we wisely relented and retreated back 25 NM to Bodega to wait for better conditions.

Once inside the channel and bay, it was so calm, making it hard to believe the difference. After topping up on fuel we took a space among a myriad of fishing boats at Spud Point Marina. This is a small, cute, and very friendly village with a couple of restaurants, one proudly claiming to have the best clam chowder and tasty buns with 1/4 pound of clam meat.

Clams this way...

Judging from the tidy condition of the fishing boat fleet, there was pride in their profession.

Bodega fishing fleet

We met Steve Peterson, a real character who co-authored the book Locked Up in La Mesa, and described his surreal experience in the Tijuana jail! Jordan read the book while there with me to follow suit.

We shared tales with another interesting dock resident, a self-described cowboy, artist, and sailor who had spent years sailing around the world and multiple trips in the South and North Pacific, most of it single-handed on his 50-foot ketch.

After 2 days, the forecast looked good so with fingers crossed, we set off again. Evidently the horseshoes were still in the bilge as we got flat no-wind seas.

A sure sign that we were closing in on the Pacific northwest was the presence of salmon and it wasn't long before we landed a nice one. Not sure who was more excited, us or Chanty!

We took advantage of Port Orford's quick and easy in-and-out harbour to top up on diesel. We were expecting to pull up to a regular fuel wharf, not a 10-metre sea wall. But it went quick. Thankfully there weren't any waves or surge that would have had our spreaders smacking the concrete above.

HIGH fuel dock!

After Port Orford, we thought we had a clear run all the way to Canada. But the forecast changed to strong winds so we ducked into the Port of Newport Marina at 19:00 with plans to leave the next day.

Bridge over the River Yaquina (at Marina)

Almost home...(maybe) only 4 days to go...

N38°19.808' W123°03.392' Jun 24 Bodega Bay (Spud Point Marina)
N42°44.365' W124°29.900' Jun 28 Port Orford (fuel stop)
N44°37.442' W124°03.169' Jun 29 Port of Newport Marina

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Coastal run to Sausalito

We have noticed a difference in temperature since leaving Mazatlan Mexico and pulled out our blankets and warmer clothing. And our first stop after checking out of Mexico, San Diego, was also unusually chilly.

Tropics now far behind

This coast shows a prodigious and abundance of sea life. Sea turtles, a variety of dolphins, seals, sea lions, sharks, and even whales to name but a few samples seen. And where there is a bountiful sea, there are plenty of sea birds.

Jordan caught a good sized Pacific Bonito fish, and earlier, the ever tasteful Sierra Mackerel.

Dinner coming up

At San Diego,we were able to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Sailing friends may know Darryl Cross and his gal Heather (Darryl is the brother of Rob Cross of SV Keetya). While at the San Diego Wooden Boat Show, we had a surprising chance encounter with former Bluewater Cruisers when we heard "Sea Turtle, Sea Turtle" and spun around to see Norm and Beth of SV Sarah Jean from Vancouver.

Marlow and Carol, non-sailing friends from way back, drove from Palm Springs to meet us for a visit over dinner.

Sea Turtle anchored in front of San Diego Yacht Club

And at Santa Barbara we made a quick stop for a pleasant reunion with Dennis and Virginia of SV Libertad, a sailing couple that we continually bumped into when we all were cruising through the South Pacific 7 years ago.


We have been SO lucky with the wind, or should we say no wind. The prevailing winds are from the north, so the strategy is head out when the wind dies, running the iron genny (our trusty motor).

The so-called Baja Bash was completed with very little bashing and the run up the coast of USA thus far was quite calm seas for the most part and with only a few lay-days in harbours waiting for weather windows. Our trusty weather routing guru, Adam of Bluewater Cruising back home said we must have horseshoes for ballast!

At this time of year going up the US coast, you can bet if there is no wind, you can expect fog. For hours at a time, we were 'in the soup' and thankful we had radar, radar reflectors, and AIS. However a couple of times out of the fog and not on radar were small recreational fishing boats no more than 45 metres away.

Fishing in the fog

The San Francisco Bay was a planned stop as headwinds beyond were forecast at about the time of our arrival. In calm seas we entered the Bay in dark but the Golden Gate Bridge was well marked with lights and beacons for a safe entry. We dropped anchor in Sausalito, across the Bay from the City at 23:30 just as the winds picked up. (The horseshoes were working.)

To fill our time, one day we took the ferry across to San Francisco (SF) waterfront to take a tour out to Alcatraz. But the tours were all booked up weeks in advance so we were out of luck.

Golden Gate as seen from ferry

Alcatraz from afar

So instead we played tourist, taking in all the sights...

Pier 39: seals' home

San Francisco fishing fleet

...and enjoyed a great lunch at The Old Clam House, the oldest restaurant in SF that has never moved its location. It was in business when Lincoln was President! With every meal they serve a small glass of flavoured warm clam juice which sounds terrible but is very delicious, especially used as a dip on the fresh bread.

The Old Clam House

Sausalito proved a pleasant stop. Lots of exclusive shops displayed products for the rich and an excellent variety of eateries for anyone's taste. We enjoyed an evening in the waterfront park where it was grooving to a live blues band. Then another night we were lured into a small cafe by rock and roll music from again, a live band.

Musical park

After a few days, the winds finally abated and a forecast looked acceptable so we left Sausalito and SF behind to continue up the coast towards Canada and home.

On our way out...

N32°42.582' W117°14.095' Jun 13 San Diego (Police Docks)
N32°42.952' W117°13.848' Jun 14 San Diego (by Yacht Club)
N31°51.660' W122°28.570' Jun 19 Sausalito

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Up the Baja coast

There is a north wind that blows almost all the time along the outside of the Baja coast of Mexico and consequently that passage is appropriately called the Baja Bash for passage-makers heading north. The best you can expect is some light to calm spells. So when that was predicted, we went for it.

We first stopped at San Jose del Cabo 20 nautical miles east of the actual cape where we refuelled. When we went round the cape, we were instantly hit with 30-knot headwinds and steep short waves. Impossible to motor into it, we double reefed the main and flew a small staysail for a 4-hour starboard tack out to sea to get away from the accelerated winds on the cape. We tacked back in, landing us further up the coast where we encountered very light winds, so motored from there.

Between the cape and Turtle Bay we had only a few hours of what we would call some light bashing, so we felt fortunate up to this point. There is little redeeming value to be found in the dreary, dusty, and rundown town of Turtle Bay but it was a required fuel stop.

We had been forewarned about the fuel boat overcharging and fudging the fuel count so when they approached right after we anchored, Jordan declined and decided to jerry-jug fuel from the gas station.

So we dinghied over to the pier and climbed the rickety steps and headed to the gas station which turned out to be quite a few blocks away. Upon return to the pier, the disgruntled fuel boat guy said we were not allowed to use the pier because he owned it. So not wanting to do a beach landing for a second sweaty trip back to the gas station, we agreed to take on 40 litres from the fuel boat at almost double the price.

Precarious pier

With weather still favourable, we continued on to Ensenada which would be our last stop and check-out port from Mexico. Arriving just after midnight we dropped the hook, and then the next morning, welcomed by the ever-present seals, obtained a reasonably priced day berth at the Cruiseport Village Marina under the shadow of a gigantic flag.


(The flag is one of the largest in the country at 50 metres long and 28 metres wide with a weight of 120 kilograms. It flies from a pole of 103 metres tall.)

We observed the change in colour of the water caused by the effects of the red tide that was in effect and it was very noticeable as a dark murky colour with a strong hint of red.

The Marina facilitated all the paper work and running us around to do our official check out, and with still a favourable weather forecast, we left later on the same day as our arrival.

Cruising to San Jose del Cabo Jun 03 to Jun 05
N23°03.678' W109°40.395' Jun 05 San Jose del Cabo
Cruising to Turtle Bay Jun 05 to Jun 09
N27°41.280' W114°53.255' Jun 09 Turtle Bay
Cruising to Ensenada Jun 09 to Jun 12
N31°50.358' W116°36.942' Jun 12 Ensenada anchor
N31°51.336' W116°37.268' Jun 12 Ensenada dock

Monday, June 03, 2019

La Cruz and Mazatlan

Instead of making Barra de Navidad (Mexico) our jump-off for the long route towards Hawaii, we kept going north up the coast to Canada. We made a brief refueling and laundry stop at the fishing village of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle of Banderas Bay...

Palm leaf sculpture

Fishing village boats

...before making an easy trip up to Mazatlan. We actually got some pleasant sailing for a change. At Mazatlan, we found the one place adequate to anchor used by few cruisers with its pros and cons. It was just in behind the breakwater of the busy industrial port where ships and ferries come and go.

We dropped the hook in front of Club Nautico (near the smelly sewage treatment plant) and used their facilities for dinghy landing and showers. A check in with the Port Captain was required, and to our surprise, took only about 15 minutes.

Transportation was available from our anchorage via bus, Uber, the ever-present Volkswagen taxis, and regular taxi cabs. We used all 4 methods but found Uber to be the most convenient and reasonably priced.

Tourist taxi

We enjoyed Old Town Mazatlan with its focal point being the quintessential and popular zocalo (town square) and fabulous giant market place. Tightly packed stalls sold everything from clothing, jewellery, knickknacks, etc. and fresh chicken, beef, fish, etc. Fresh produce was second to none and the little eateries served basic but delicious and cheap typical Mexican foods.

Park area of zocalo

Busy vendor of colourful dolls

Early one morning, we climbed to the top of the popular lighthouse peak (Faro Mazatlan National Park) that towered above our anchorage. This cliff rises to only 157 metres but you hike 745 metres of sloping path before climbing 336 steps to the top where you share a 360° panorama with the lighthouse. There is also a short glass walk over the sight directly below for which you pay a small fee.

Cactii along the path

Vista above our anchorage

We spent some enjoyable time with Sylvia and Dirk, friends on another boat, Lison Life. The 4 of us stopped at a small restaurant one Sunday and asked for pescado (fish). At first we were told no, they did not have pescado. But 2 seconds later, they changed their mind, and said, Oh wait, come in, we can serve you pescado. After taking a table, we noticed that a staff member quickly left and soon returned - she had run out to buy some fish to serve us. When Jordan ordered a banana smoothie, she again ran out to purchase bananas. How accommodating!

The next evening, we left Mazatlan and the smell of the stinky sewer treatment plant behind for the crossing to San Jose del Cabo, on the lower end of the Baja, sailing on a broad reach most of the way.

Cruising to La Cruz May 25 to May 26
N20°45.215' W105°22.093' May 26 La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Cruising to Mazatlan May 27 to May May 29
N23°10.931' W106°25.335' May 29 Mazatlan