Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Author: Jacob

The intensity of our trip has been unexpected. Light winds become gale force, safe anchorages become leeshores as darkness falls, days without real sleep and the relentlessness can be overwhelming. The ocean can seem as if it has singled you out; obstacles become personal.

In The Toilers of the Sea Victor Hugo writes:
The sea, in conjunction with the wind, is a composite of forces. A ship is a composite of mechanisms. The sea's forces are mechanisms of infinite power; the ship's mechanisms are forces of limited power. Between these two organisms, one inexhaustible, the other intelligent, takes place the combat that is called navigation.

When things are difficult, the fatigue of it can leave you empty, with only the knowledge that you have to give more, there is no other option. A day later and the same intensity of experience can offer you an evening underneath a panorama of stars untouched by any human influence, or dinner at anchor while music drifts from a small outpost of a fishing town at the end of a hundred miles of dirt road.

We are still very much new to this, and mile by mile we can feel ourselves learning to meet the challenges of the sea with more economy of mind and body, gathering strength from our experiences both good and bad.

Isla San Martin, lobster fisherman camp.

Turtle Bay, might not be pretty, but a welcome rest.

Typical Turtle Bay street, a world from SF Bay.

A rough video of sailing from Isla San Martin to Bahia San Quintin
Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | Author: Jacob
We have been having a wild time for the last few days, slammed by fierce rain squalls, sitting out all night anchor watches on a leeshore anchorage, and now just screaming downwind in an ongoing 25kt flow from the Northwest. We have been making over 5kts under staysail alone all night. Where the hell are the margarita's and the mariachi bands that were supposed to fire up as soon as we entered the country?!

Seriously though, it's been a tiring week, whoa, a flying 'Spanish to English Dictionary' passed an inch from my head just now as we rolled rail down on a particularly large swell. Not really in the right space physically or mentally to blog right now, but we wanted to check in, say hello, and all that good stuff. On the plus side, this wind is making the miles fly by, and we hope to be in to Turtle Bay or Cedros Island by tomorrow morning, at which point we will sleep, and then give a more complete accounting of how it's been going.

(note how many degrees of latitude we've covered!)
Lat 28 Degrees 45' N, Long 115 Degrees 24' W

Friday, January 23, 2009 | Author: Jacob
We are holed up at Isla San Martin, a volcanic crater island that is completely uninhabited except for a 'fish camp' of lobster fishermen. I think we've already arranged a trade for a nice big lobster, although I can't say for sure due to the language barrier and the fact that the negotiation took place immediately after a long night sailing and before the anchor was even down.

This is one of the few anchorages along this stretch of coast with protection from the S-SW, so we will most likely stay here as long as the weather allows.

Lat 30 Degrees 29' N, Long 116 Degrees 06' W

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | Author: Jacob
Well, apologies for the blog silence over the past few weeks. We settled into a (scarily comfortable) routine in San Diego. Wake up, do boatwork, take public transit somewhere to provision or get boatwork supplies, back to the boat, walk into Little Italy in the evenings to use the internet at a cafe or get some froyo. The time just slipped away, but in the end it was productive: we finished rigging up a bridle for the sea anchor, changed out our running back blocks to a 2-1 purchase, replaced the masthead backstay toggle, finished mounting some turning blocks for the windvane lines, resealed our deck box, and some other odds and ends. We also took the bus across San Diego after a Costco run carrying 25lb bags of onions, rice, potatoes and more. And, in the best treat of all, my folks came down for a weekend visit to celebrate my birthday!

Productive, fun, relaxing, but we were way overdue to leave. So, even though not every little thing is done, and we could have used the chance to go to one more hardware store, one more supermarket, we said 'enough is enough' and said goodbye to crazy town. The weather is forecast to be light and variable for the foreseeable future, but we couldn't stand the idea of waiting any longer for the ever-elusive 'weather window'.

Perhaps for the first time this trip, the forecast seems to be correct, and we ended up becalmed last night just on the Mexican side of the border, about 10 miles offshore. Turns out this is not a great place to hang out. It was like some sort of bad futuristic apocalyptic movie about a totalitarian state. Military looking helicopters all over the place, they would circle by at low altitude shining their spotlight at us, and then go a few hundred yards away and drop down to maybe 50 feet off the water, kicking up huge storms of water and wind. I don't know what they were doing, and whether it's like that every night, but when we realized we were drifting back over to the U.S. side we decided that one border crossing per night was enough and fired up the trusty engine.

Winds have continued to be light, and we have been averaging under 3 knots. Everything is very comfortable, quiet, and relaxed onboard, so I have been trying not to think too hard about how long it's going to take us to get to Turtle Bay at this rate (over 10 days!!!). We spent all last night and this morning accompanied by grey whales. Back in the Bay we learned a lot about tacking angles, taking advantage of windshifts, and all the rest from racing onboard Fancy, but last night we had to also take into account the fact that there was a pod of whales only a few hundred feet off our beam when deciding if we ought to tack! Well, the fishing lines are out, it's warm, and we are creeping along, as the Kiwi's would say 'not too shabby'.

Lat 31 Degrees 57' N, Long 117 Degrees 15' W

Tuesday, January 06, 2009 | Author: Julia
We've been in San Diego longer than we expected so we figured it was about time to mention some stand out moments.

San Diego = Crazy-town

San Diego seems to have an unusually high proportion of crazy people on boats (CPOBs). This ranges from the jackass tearing through the harbor on a high-speed jet boat all the way to the guy drinking a Natty Ice on his busted up kayak near the dinghy dock at 10:30 AM on a Monday morning. The concentration of CPOBs could be due to where we have been hanging around (first the municipal dock, and now a mooring field near the airport), but we both are getting near our limit of people running busted generators at all hours, half sunk dingies, major boat projects at public docks, filling up water jugs at the pump-out station tap (okay yes, just because the sign says 'not-potable' doesn't necessarily mean that it's not potable, but it's the pump-out station! It shouldn't matter how convenient it is, you really really should find somewhere else to get your drinking water), and on and on.

As far as we can tell there's a lot CPOBs who are just using their boats as floating junkyard castles, one step away from homelessness. It's strange because San Diego is a fairly locked-down harbor, with strict time limits and permit requirements for every single anchorage. The weather is nice though...that could be it...

Bucket from the future
Over the past month the bucket-as-toilet has proven slightly less ideal than you might imagine...I know! Shocking! But before you go running around patting modern civilization on the back, let me clarify what exactly the shortcomings were.

1) Emptying the bucket overboard while underway didn't feel entirely safe, especially at night. I think we both felt that if there was a time when we were vulnerable to going overboard, it was while we were standing at the rail emptying the bucket (generally a two-handed operation) or trying to drag it in the water to clean it.
2) We just weren't savage enough to use the bucket method in most places. To make the bucket method work reasonably well you really have to be willing to use it in anchorages even if you aren't the only human being within 200 miles. Even in situations where we could have gotten away with emptying directly overboard, we felt pretty bad about the idea, and instead ended up using Wag Bags.
3) Wag Bags are expensive, and if you are using them frequently (see point 2 above) they will quickly outpace the cost of a head.
4) Certain people were using the lack of a head as a major negotiation point in their likelihood of visiting us (you know who you are).

The 'grossness' factor wasn't ever an issue, and in reality the bucket-and-chuck-it method and the head with holding tank have a very similar ultimate outcome. However, the pendulum swung back and we have gone ahead and installed a fancy Lavac head. It was pretty awful to install as it had an intermittent failure of the vacuum which caused us to dismantle every element in the system several times before getting customer service on the phone who kindly pointed us to a hard plastic ring on the lid that needed to be pressed down, 'click', and all was well.

Space Age Technology

The longest time we've been away from Pisces
We spent New Years with our friends Scott and Rochelle at Scott's apartment in Del Mar. They picked us up from Pisces on the 31st, and we spent a wonderful New Years with them, enjoyed eating out for only the second time since we left the bay, showered twice (each), and did piles of laundry. By the middle of the day on the 1st, we were wondering how Pisces was faring back at the municipal docks.

Here's the view from our New Years day constitutional—staggering back from eggs benedict breakfast.

This poor guy got sucked into our engine intake water strainer.

The view from our mooring near downtown.