Cabo to San Diego II (110)

 When I left you last month I was bringing a nice 44′ cruising cutter up from Cabo to San Diego with crew Dane and owner Stacy. We had stopped in Turtle Bay for fuel and ran into a cruiser birthday, complete with 2 twenty-something cruising ladeez. Young Dane had just turned down their offer to crew for them paid in whiskey. But no need to relive that misalignment of the stars.

Fuel in Turtle has become complicated. We used to drop a hook, back up to the pier and they would hand down a hose. You would fill up, pay the coffee can on a string and sail off. On the morning we arrived Stace radioed Annabelle’s for fuel, the new mobile fuel service. Let the games begin. Stace had heard that the fuel was cleaner and better filtered from Ruben’s fuel barge (Annabelle’s) than Ernesto (Gordo’s) fuel pier. While we awaited our fuel barge appointment, Ernesto slithered up in his panga and explained to Stace that if we took fuel from Ruben then we would have to leave the bay. I wonder if the other vendors in town knew that their old friend Ernesto was trying to scare off cash fat tourists like ourselves. We hung out.

Ruben turned out to be the nicest guy. He had a great setup too. From aft you could see that the ‘tank’ on his barge was actually a seeled off panga hull. The fuel was clean, as advertised. Ruben filled our tanks and fuel cans with a smile while we sat calmly at anchor.
There were more projects on the list including the dismantling of the anti-bird, wire cage/sculpture at the top of the mast that was disrupting our wind instruments. For this I had to borrow a bosun’s chair. I looked around the bay and spotted a Lats and Atts burgee. Figuring that particular boat was the most likely to be manned with the finest upstanding individuals and rigged with quality outstanding gear, I dinghied over and traded a not out yet issue of Lats for an hour’s lease of his chair. The boat, as it turned out, had been featured in Lats.

Dane donned his wetsuit and over the side he went. We had a shaky metal sound under the packing gland while underway. Dane checked the shaft zinc and cutlass bearing and it all seemed secure. On the inside I adjusted the packing, epoxied the diesel’s water fill back onto the reservoir and changed the bilge diapers (water repellent, oil sucking, white sheets). I carry with me that Clean Water Solutions enzyme that eats oil, for sprinkling in the bilge. We want the bilge to be clean so we can identify oil and fuel leaks sooner and also to leave a clean wake. Before I arrived at the boat, Stace and Bill dumped a bottle of that Starbright diesel enzyme in the bad fuel tank. After spitting out some rust from the valve, that tank ran perfectly clean.

And just before midnight we sailed on out. Once again it was main up and sheeted hard, motor sailing. Crack off the wind until the main just fills and that’s your course. The usual plan is to tack out to sea and get some space between the boat and the hard stuff but I had confidence in Dane and Stace. We played the wind shifts and tacked behind headlands when the counter-current lured us. Tacking out to get around Cedros Island we ran headlong into a 2 kt current. We tacked over again and slid along inside her mass which both blocked the rough short seas and freed us from the baja current.

We were doing 2 hours on and 4 off. I’m usually a 3 on guy but the legs were short. I’m flexible on the length of the watches but I do think there is value in having your watches at the same time everyday. Your body knows. It makes both sleep and awake times more efficient. The food was goood. When Stace asked how she should provision I gave her the short list and told her that we were flexible but quantity was important. Her and her mom had made a ton of frozen dishes which kept appearing in the refer each day. Heated up, they were gormet meals, by seagoing standards.

Our aproach to Ensenada was sunny and calm. Last time I came up Baja to SD I was coming home from my circumnavigation on Low Key. I had the same weather. Short hard chop and strong wind on the nose from Cabo to just south of Ensenada. Just as you come under radio range of Coast Guard San Diego, the weather lays down.

We arrived at beautiful Marina Coral (say Corral) at 0400. We had our arrival coldies before catching some zzzzzs. The Coral is also called the 90 day marina for its use as an out of state tax dodge for CA boat buyers. Marina manager Fito was nice enough to check us in that morning. He suggested we fuel sooner than later as there wasn’t much water at low tide. In Mex I usually take suggestions with a grain of salt. We inched in, fueled, and sped out to the deep water of our slip. There were showers for the boaters but I led Dane and Stace up to the spa for higher end treatment I had become accustomed to when visiting the more than OK Coral.

We cabbed into town. Ahh, Ensendada. Many fond memories of my many visits including a bunch of Newport to Ensenada events, a thanksgiving spent on a yacht in the yard and, of course, years of teenage spring break debauchery. Our driver took us to my favorite roasted chicken restaurant. Big plates of food to dump into fresh made tortillas soaked in awesome salsa. Iced Pacificos for all. Ensenada is a party town and it was spring break. Yes, there were kidnappings to the north but that didn’t stop the SD college kids from driving through to Ensenada and dancing on the tables of her legendary cantinas – Hussongs, Papas & Beer and some new place laced in orange dayglow.

We sailed out that evening. I plotted our course a little more offshore than usual trying to avoid the Tijuana troubles. It was a fast flat run north to SD. Dane woke me up to show me flares going off inside us near shore. There are sailors that live for this kind of thing, being in a position to help out a fellow boater in need. I am one of them. But being almost onshore I suspected foul play. I decided to let this one go, the safety of my crew coming first. We cruised into San Diego, parked at the customs dock and had the nice boys in blue aboard while we enjoyed our arrival coldies.

I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, somebody’s got to do it. I’m now closing fast on St. Thomas as I deliver this Slocum 43′ from Trinidad to Savannah, GA. From there I fly direct to the five-boat Croatia Share the Sail. Having flown all that way for our annual event I feel compelled to hang around after to do some E. Europe adventuring. On my way back I’m stopping in to visit some friends in VA to help them green their home. In my spare time I’ve gotten my LEED certification. Combining all these trips gets me the most out of my flying emissions (also offset by buying carbon credits).  

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