Monday, September 17, 2007

Our Punta Mita Condo - update

Our Punta Mita condo, "El Farito" (Spanish for "Little lighthouse"), is finally starting to look like a real building that could actually be occupied by someone other than the workers who are constructing it. Located on the beach about 45 minutes northwest of Puerta Vallarta on beautiful Banderas Bay the place is scheduled to be completed around he end of November. The interior is well on the way to completion with contstruction on the pool, hot tub and palapa soon to commence. We anticipate arriving at Punta Mita via the water route about the time it's done. Right now we don't have any place to stick the boat while we take possession and furnish it but something will work out. After all, we're not on any kind of schedule. Check out the most recent photos sent by the builder.

To view photos and captions, click on the photos.

Monterey to Catalina Island

Since our first attempt to leave Monterey was less than successful we decided to try again at 10:00 PM, Friday, September 7 and to head for Morro Bay which is about 20 miles further than our original destination of San Simeon. This time we had no headwinds and unfortunately no wind at all so it was motor sail all the way. Although we’ve done a number of overnight trips on other people’s boats this was a first for us on our own. Everything went well on a beautiful star lit moonless night with the Milky Way shining brightly above. At one point our trusty Yanmar diesel engine began to sound like it was not happy with the fuel filter so we switched to another and all else was fine for the rest of the trip.

The clear weather enabled us to see the famous Morro Rock from some distance away and we arrived at the harbor entrance at 3:00 PM under calm conditions. We took on fuel from a dock clearly designed for commercial vessels only with Gilly doing a great job of keeping Destiny from getting scratched up while John tried to wrestle with a filler hose big enough for the Queen Mary II. We then proceeded to the Morro Bay YC where we enjoyed showers and later a super fish and chips dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. A great night’s sleep for both of us that night.

Morro Bay to Santa Barbara
We departed Morro Bay on September 9 at 3:00PM hoping for the right amount of northwesterly breeze to help push us along but it was not meant to be, so it was another fantastically beautiful night of motoring under a brightly lit sky. Gilly saw a number of whales just before sunset including a full out of the water breach. During the night we both saw a number of dolphin shooting toward the boat leaving a big phosphorescent trail. Really looked like torpedoes coming right for us. We rounded the very famous Pt. Conception at midnight in only 4 knots of wind and then headed east for Santa Barbara arriving there at 8:00 AM and secured a slip in the marina . Four other boats scheduled to participate with us in the Baja Ha-Ha were already there so we quickly made friends with them.

John discovered a damaged belt on the engine and further found that our spares were a bit too large. He made a trip to Pep Boys to secure proper replacements. Since it was his birthday Gilly treated him to a great dinner at Chuck’s Steak House located right a the marina. The next day we provisioned the boat and generally enjoyed just being in Santa Barbara which has a lovely climate and overall atmosphere.

Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz Island
On September 12 we departed Santa Barbara at noon in calm conditions headed to Pelican Bay which is just over 20 miles away. Ever since John was a boy he’d heard nothing but great things about Santa Cruz Island so our expectations were quite high. We’d heard about “Windy Lane” which must be transited on the way to the island so we started out with a reefed main and were prepared to reef our new big jib if the wind started to howl. The wind did build to 31 knots so we were flying along at 8.3 knots with the jib reefed to about 80% and it did not abate until we were within a quarter mile of the island. We found that Pelican Bay was crowded with only a few boats and the anchoring looked difficult so we headed east to Prisoner’s Harbor just a short distance away. It was lovely when we arrived and easily anchored under a cliff to the west so we could enjoy a cocktail and pat ourselves on the back for surviving “Windy Lane”. Unfortunately during the night it became very rolly so we scratched Prisoner’s off our list of places we want to revisit.

Prisoners to Smugglers
On September 13 we departed Prisoners for Smugglers on the SE corner of the island hoping for an anchorage with much better conditions than we were leaving behind. The wind still had not laid down from the day before and since we knew our trip would be way off the wind, we sailed with just a reefed main and had a fast trip to our next destination. Smugglers proved to be a much better anchorage and quickly filled up with other boats including two of our new Ha-Ha friends. In the late afternoon the wind started to come up off the hills built to a steady 27 knots with gusts to 30. A great way to test our new oversized anchor and it came through like a champ. Fortunately by 10:00 PM the wind died down to about 15 knots so we scrapped our anchor watch rotation which could have gone on all night. We’ve had enough of Santa Cruz Island which we still think must a nice place but so far it has eluded us. We plan an early morning departure for Cherry Cove, Catalina Island which is only 62 miles away.

Santa Cruz Island to Catalina Island
We departed Smugglers for Cherry Cove as planned at 5:00 AM on September 15. Since we were anxious to leave it wasn’t difficult to get up and underway. The sun rose to clear skies with good visibility but no wind so our trusty Yanmar pushed us along at 7 knots but right into a ¾ knot current. For a long while it seemed like we were back dealing with the currents in S.F. Bay. About half way through our 10 hour trip the fog closed in to ¼ mile visibility. As we approached Catalina we never saw it except on the radar right where it was suppose to be. We arrived at Cherry Cove to find bright sunshine and perfectly clear emerald green water. A true delight to be back to the same location where John spent so much time during his youth. We plan to stay here relaxing until early October when we’ll fly back to Colorado Springs to see Scott, Hillary and the grandkids. In the meantime we’ll be using our solar panels and small generator to make power for our water-maker and other goodies on board, and enjoying the true delights of this island paradise that is so close to one of the world’s major population centers.

To view each photo and captions, double click on a photo.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Our Departure

After several hectic weeks of making our final preparations to leave and saying very difficult "Good byes" to friends who are so special to us, we cast off our dock lines at 0800 on September 1 and headed for Half Moon Bay. Since we were part of 18 Encinal Yacht Club boats going to the same location for the Labor Day holiday it meant further extending our "Good Byes". We think most people were happy to see us finally get out of town. The weather in HMB was uncharacteristically nice with sunshine being the order of the day instead of the normal gray gloom.

After two great evenings of good food and libation we were ready to set off for Santa Cruz which is normally about a 6-7 hour passage. The first three hours were dull motor sailing but then things got much livelier with winds from behind at 30 knots and gusting higher. Even loaded down with our extensive cruising gear, Destiny has never gone so fast through the water with both of us hanging on to our romping home. We arrived safely at Santa Cruz to find Jeff, Adrienne and Ina waving at us from the jetty. Since Mike Pernitzke also sailed down from HMB on Nova it was once again party time. We departed Santa Cruz on Wednesday, September 5 for Monterey. The wind filled in nicely at 13-14 knots from the port quarter making for a very pleasant sail. We celebrated the Wednesday night races at the Monterey Peninsula YC with Mike and Ina and Paul and Ann, from Annalise, with plans to leave at 0400 Thursday morning for San Simeon which is about 90 miles away. We had what we thought were our final good byes and Mike cast us off on schedule. As soon as we were out of the harbor the engine began to overheat and John soon found enough cabbage like seaweed in the raw water intake to make a nice salad. With the engine again running smoothly we encountered building wind and sea conditions right in our face, so after two hours we decided it was wise to head back to Monterey. We later found that three other boats including a very large and sturdy power boat enroute from Alaska to L.A. also made the same decision.

Weather permitting we plan to leave at midnight Friday for San Simeon. In the meantime there are worse places to be stuck than Monterey.

We want to give a special thanks to our friends who have given us lovely cards and been so gracious with numerous offers of places to stay when we are back visiting. It's difficult to express how much all of this means to us. We are just beginning huge change in life style and right now we're taking it one day at a time to see what develops.

To view each photo and captions, double click on the photos.