Reflections and experiences of Grand Adventure Cruise

Reflections of trip to date - August 26, 2005

I am quite pleased with Dreamerís performance to date.  She has performed flawlessly!  She has handled the seas quite well and comfortably (even those 8í & 10í seas going around Cape Blanco and all bars we have crossed so far), thanks in part to the stabilizers and of course, the autopilot has been an able partner the whole way (except for narrow bar entrances which I steer by hand).

Today, as I write this, we are enroute to Eureka California from Brookings Oregon, a distance of about 87 miles or about 11 hours running at 8 knots.  Another day of thick fog with visibility ranging from 200í to the present 1 mile.  Only the day we ran to Newport Oregon was a clear day, all the rest have been like today, all fog and no scenery.  

Twice we have enjoyed a pod of Dahl dolphins as they played in our bow wave.  Those were brief highlights of otherwise boring runs.

We normally share helm duties 2 hours on 2 hours off.  Most of our runs have been 10 to 14 hours so it hasnít been too bad, but it isnít cruising.  Itís driving or transiting with few of the pleasures one enjoys when cruising.  When the weather is good, we travel.  When itís not, we rest and do chores and try to catch up on things we have to deal with. 

Kath has been a true partner, as usual, pleasant, willing, and able, handling her share of the burdens.  She enjoys catching up on some news and stuff on our seagoing TV sometimes when she is off watch or when we arenít running.  I remember commenting sometime back on the GB Board that I didnít think TV would be watched while underway. Wrong!!!  Itís very nice to have at times and we are glad to have it.

We knew before we started out on this adventure that it would be a grind taking Dreamer down the coast (or her taking us!).  We discussed shipping her down to LaPaz Mexico or Golfito Costa Rica via DockWise Yacht Transport, but decided that the experience was too valuable to pass up on so here we are.  I feel it was the right choice but Iím not sure I want to ask Kath just yet. 

I never dreamed we would put so much onboard that our boot stripe would have to be raised again, but we have.  Sometime in southern California or perhaps Ensenada, we will haul and get-her-done.  That means raising the lower quarter guards, the main and genset exhausts, furnace exhaust, various thru hulls, swimstep and painted boot stripes.  We will probably move everything up about 4Ē, more or less.  While we are out, we will also put on the new props, Spurs (line cutters on the shafts), replace a speed transducer, and put on a fresh coat of bottom paint.  I donít think there is more to do but then one never knows about those things until hauled and inspected.  

We also want to have some new canvas made for the flybridge and dinghy.  Presently and for about 10 years or so, we have had a full flybridge cover over the windshield, dash and seats.  I think we will have one cover made for the windshield and dash, one for the helm wheel, one for port side seats and one for the starboard side seats.  This will be handier and more flexible for various situations.  We also want a full dinghy cover made for our 13í Avon RIB and 50 HP Yamaha outboard to protect them from the ravages of the tropical sun. 


Progress Update - September 10, 2005

If you have read our Log entries to date, you will note that the transit down the coast so far has been just that, a transit.  Just driving the boat with little scenery to enjoy due to fog, fog and MORE FOG!

Most of the docks we have stayed at are not near town or stores where it is easy to re-supply.  Fortunately, we have had sufficient supplies to last.  While in Eureka, we rented a car and went to Costco for some items we enjoy from there and some good meats, greens, fruits, wine & booze.   Then to Safeway for some other items in smaller quantities or not available at Costco.  It's nice to have a car for the freedom and mobility it provides.

While in Eureka, we decided to fuel up and investigated the options which turned out to be only one fuel dock for the whole port.  It didn't have the floating docks we were used to, only pilings to tie up to and to fend off of.  We went to the local lumber yard, purchased a couple 2 X 4s, had them cut to 4' long and some small vinyl hose to protect the varnished rails when we tied the fenders over them.  We made up two sets of fenders with a couple of the 4' 2 X 4 fender boards on each set so we could fend off a couple pilings. By timing our re-fueling at high tide, we didn't have to worry about fending Dreamer's overhang from the pilings.  Refueling went off quite well except the price which was about $2.95 per gallon for almost 300 gallons.  OUCH!!! 

With an extra 2200 pounds of fuel onboard, the lower aft portion of our boot stripe disappeared into the fresh water as it doesn't have the same density as salt water.  Further proof that we need to raise our boot stripe and associated items like lower quarter guards, swimstep, thru-hull fittings etc.  Some yard time to look forward to.

Dreamer has performed well and we are pleased with her!  She has handled the seas well and only once have we turned back.  That was about 10 miles off Cape Mendocino about 5 miles before our course would have us due west of the cape.  There were only light NW winds of 5 to 10 knots but the seas kept building and we found ourselves in 10' to 12' steep seas on the beam with no backsides to slide down.  Thankfully we have Trac stabilizers which virtually eliminated the rolling.  After falling sideways off one particularly large wave with no backside, we altered course until the ride was more comfortable and found our course was straight out to sea.  No good!  We decided to head back to Eureka and try another day knowing that the weather reports were for deteriorating weather and not knowing if the seas would get worse if we continued rounding the cape.

As it turned out, turning back was probably a good thing.  We learned that a boat was selling tuna so I found it, bought some tuna and talked with the fisherman about the best course to round the cape.  He informed us that Fort Bragg was filled beyond capacity with commercial fishing boats awaiting the September 1 opening so we wouldn't have been able to stay there even had we kept going.  He suggested the close in route, which we ended up taking several days later and found it much calmer.  Next came Punta Gorda, which was not as nice!  The seas built up and the winds picked up to 40 knots!  Definitely not comfortable although with the stabilizers, not too uncomfortable either.  I had to take over and manually steer as the following seas had built up and was pushing the stern around too much for my taste.  A
fter a while, the wind dropped down to under 20 knots and the seas settled down a bit and we finished the day's trip with the autopilot steering and arrived at the docks in Fort Bragg just before dark.  It felt good to tie up and have a couple glasses of wine.

We are currently in Fort Bragg waiting out some weather and plan to leave here Monday or Tuesday, weather permitting.  We are in no hurry as we intend to stay in California for a while yet so it really doesn't matter where.  In fact, we are saving moorage costs as the costs are much greater further south.  It will be nice to finally get down in the Sea of Cortez for some warm-water cruising and fishing.  So far, it has been cold and foggy coming down the coast.


October 17, 2005 - More Reflections of trip to date

We are presently in Santa Barbara enjoying some of that famous southern California weather though it rained last night and is doing so now.  The sun is trying to winÖ.we shall see.  We are finished with the transit down the US West Coast and getting into cruise mode and frame of mind.  We will probably hang around here for a couple weeks and then work our way down to Los Angeles.  After the Baja HaHa crowd leaves for Mexico about November 1, we will go to San Diego to get our papers in order for Mexico. 

In some ways, it would be nice to go with them and in other ways it will be nice to take shorter hops and be on our own.  So far, we've met people on eight boats that are going on the HaHa.  Some will return their boats to the PNW next May via DockWise Yacht Transport, some will stay in Mexico for a while and the rest will continue further south.  I'm sure we will meet up again with many of them as we get further south.

We will probably move into
Mexico about mid November and hop our way down the coast as much as possible, overnighting only as is necessary such as from Mag Bay to Cabo San Lucas as there are no anchorages on that stretch of coast.  Weather may render some anchorages impractical forcing us to continue on to the next one.  Only time will tell. 

We arrived in Santa Barbara exactly 2 months after leaving Oak Harbor, a couple weeks longer than we had expected to get to San Diego, though I did go back to Oak Harbor for 8 days while in Monterey.  It hasnít been an arduous trip, though it has had its moments.  Mostly just boring runs in the fog though we have enjoyed some of our stays and found the time relaxing.  That should change a bit now. 

So far, the trip has been easier than we had anticipated.  Much of this is because we have Trac Stabilizers as well as good weather information, both through WxWorx (24/7 via XM Radio signal)  and from the internet via the WiFi on the boat as well as with my new Dell laptop at times.  For those serious cruisers who want internet access via WiFi while cruising, I highly recommend an external 10 db antenna and amplified Ethernet converter mounted close to the antenna to minimize signal loss.  It has been the most reliable.  I hope it works well south of the border.

I wish the Digital Antenna wireless cell phone amplifier system we installed worked.  It seems that it is only good at about 3' from the inside antenna, otherwise, no help.  I have moved the inside antenna around to see if that made a difference, but no help.  I am going to call them tomorrow to see what they say and I will write a report here later to let all know what I learn.  I hope they can resolve the problem.

We intend to do a little fishing once we get into
Mexico, even when running as the trolling speed for the fish we want to catch is about the same as our cruising speed.  If California fishing licenses arenít too valuable, we may get a couple and fish here.  Will check that out later today. 

There is a lot more work to getting to where we want than we had anticipated.  Mostly because traveling in a foggy fishbowl has absolutely no entertainment value.  Having to make runs with the weather sometimes has us running when we would rather relax a bit.  However, itís just part of the effort required to get to where we want to be for an extended period of time doing what we wish to do.  I think from this point on, we will be in cruise mode and just enjoy the times we have whether running, at anchor or port, fishing or just exploring areas.  

Some of the things I want to accomplish before going into Mexico are swapping out the inverters to provide 5000 watts of 240 VAC to take some run time off the genset, swap out the props with the new ones in the lazaret, install shaft cutters and raise at least the swim step.  We also want to go to Panama for a week or two.  Looks like a time crunch to me. L 

We originally planned to go up into the
Sea of Cortez after getting to Cabo San Lucas.  However, Kath thinks we would do well to head straight off to Mazatlan then south before going up into the Sea of Cortez.  I tend to agree with her.   We will do some more thinking and research and make a decision.  More laterÖ..


December 10, 2005 - More Reflections of trip to date


We finally entered Mexican waters yesterday arriving in Ensenada around 1600.  We stayed at the Marina Coral and they helped us clear into Mexico which made the whole experience pleasant.  We drug a couple hooks along the way there but no fish.  Weather has been very nice but a bit on the cool side since rounding Point Conception except for a few warm days.  Today is sunny with a few clouds and light winds and calm seas.

Internet access has been intermittent so we have not been able to update our website.  Thought we would be able to do so at the last three ports but not so.

We topped off our fuel tanks, 126 gallons,  at Ensenada, $2.10 per gallon.  Next fuel stop is Turtle bay, about 300 miles south.  We had originally planned to make day hops down the Baja coast as far as Magdalena Bay and then the overnighter to Cabo San Lucas.   However, I think we will make an overnighter to Isla Cedros tonight, about a 30 hour run.  This will put the long offshore run to Isla Cedros behind us with Turtle Bay only a half day run from there.  It will also put some increased wind speeds forecast in a few days behind us and we can hang out in Turtle Bay a while if the weather kicks up.  We'll see how we feel after about 8 hours when we will be off an alternate anchorage and make the decision then.

We both feel good about finally being in Mexico.  The trip hasn't been hard, just long, almost four months now.   But worth it.
J  No real complaints.  We are running about three to four weeks behind our original schedule of moving into Mexico around mid-November due to yard delays/waiting and just being a bit lazy I think.   But then, we have no real itinerary and are in no hurry as long as we are in Puerto Vallarta when Brian and his lady arrive on January 15.

In many respects, it would have been nice to have started this adventure several years ago, but we are in the here and now and on our way.   We are having to make a few adjustments along the way.   Communications and internet access can no longer be taken for granted.  Provisioning will be a bit more problematic as we work our way down the Baja coast.  The biggest problem will be transportation.  We'll be fine though as we carry enough for a couple weeks in fresh foods plus we could live for a few months on the food in the fridge, freezers and canned and dry foods we carry.

Right now, it is about 2130 on Saturday night December 10 and we made the decision to run all night and I am on watch until 2200 when Kath comes on for three hours.  The biggest problem running at night is the boredom and darkness, things that normally lull us to sleep.  Tis hard to keep the eyes open at times.  We will anchor behind some small Islands west of Isla Cedros just off a village in hopes of acquiring a couple lobsters.  Then the next morning early, we will head for Turtle Bay to fuel up and maybe get a few supplies.

Winds are still light and the seas are pretty flat.  Weather to take advantage of on a trip like this which is why we made the decision to run all night and save 2 to 3 days getting to Turtle Bay.  We are considering making another 30 hour run from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria, just outside Magdalena Bay where we will fuel up again at San Carlos before making the overnight run to Cabo San Lucas.   That could put us into Cabo San Lucas on Monday, we'll see how we feel.  One attraction of that is we could be in Mazatlan by the 22nd after resting up a day at Cabo San Lucas.  That might allow us to rent a car and drive to a Mexican Wedding on Christmas Day which we  very much want to attend.  This is for a Mexican couple that has been married for 25 years and are being remarried.  They have a very large extended family as well as many friends that will be there so it should be fun and I hope we can make it.

It's amazing how busy we have been since leaving Oak Harbor August 13.  I have read only one book, Kath has read maybe two or three.  There is always something to do.  The lists are always there.  A few things get checked off and more is added.

For example, I checked the engine room earlier this late afternoon and found oil splattered all over and around the aft end of the port engine.  It seems the oil fill plug blew off and oil just kinda splattered out all over things.  Quite a mess I will have to clean up, probably in Turtle Bay.  I wiped down the most of it but the engine was too hot to work around for some of it.  Time for some degreaser and clean the engine, surrounding areas and bilge section.  Another half day item on the To Do list.

We met a guy in San Diego who was taking his sailboat up to the bay area to sell along with his wife whom we didn't meet.  Seems he and his wife bought a home in Nuevo Vallarta near Puerto Vallarta.  They intend to buy a fishing boat there.  He mentioned that he enjoyed the passages more than the times at anchor or in port.  His wife the opposite.  I think we think like his wife.  We enjoy the time at anchor or in port more than the passages.  Perhaps we'll hook up with them down there.

Kath has been studying her Spanish much more as we got past Point Conception and is picking it up again rather well.  Of course, she used to speak it pretty fluently.  I have to confess that I haven't been studying.  Just haven't found the time.  Will have to do so though as we are here and I need to pick up the language soon.  We have all four of the Pimsleur Spanish courses on CD so if we complete them all well, we should be able to communicate.  We also have some translation software to enable us to handle documents both ways S/E & E/S along with a couple specialty reference books like for shopping, food, boat maintenance & parts, tools etc.  In the past, when we have gone down to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean for vacation, we are usually there for 3 to 4 weeks or so and just about the time I start to be able to get along language wise, we left and I didn't retain very much by the next time we went down.  Gonna have to get with it I guess.  We tried to bargain with some lobster fishermen on the way out of Ensenada this morning and I couldn't understand more than a word or two.  Kath did pretty well and we ended up not buying any lobster.....they wanted too much and we should be able to buy some in Turtle Bay for about $2 each or trade for a beer or two, so we hear from multiple reliable sources.  More later...........