Tuesday, February 10, 2009

La vida es buena (Life is good)!

Passage: Isla Cedros to Turtle Bay
Travel time: 10 hours
Distance: approximately 45 nautical miles
Average speed: 5.2 knots
Engine hours: 0 (we sailed off of and on to our anchors!!!)
MVP: Grizzly who is ready to play even when heeled 30 degrees

Friday February 7th we slowly sailed off our anchor and headed south to an anchorage from which we could reach Turtle Bay in one day of sailing. The winds were barely there, so when our calculations showed we weren’t going to reach Las Palmitas, where there is reportedly a natural fuente (bathing spring), before sunset we again headed for the closer anchorage (no hint of northeast winds, so hopefully not a repeat of our rolly anchorage experience a few days previous). We sailed along the coast with dolphin and sea lions popping up to say hello and all of a sudden realized there were whales paralleling our course about 400 yards away toward land. We continued with them for a half hour watching them take several breaths and finally saw flukes as they dove out of sight. As the sun set and clouds rolled toward us over the island, we sailed for the second time into what we dubbed the “Arroyo” anchorage, again eager to hike up the next morning for views of the ocean on the other side of the island.

A moonlight dinner on deck and a brilliant night of sleep later, we awoke to southwest winds and ominous looking clouds covering the island peaks. The hike was out again, so we readied the boat for the much built up passage to Turtle Bay. We got our tender Eeyore aboard (we’ve made a system to attach him upside down on the foredeck mostly inflated so he’ll be ready as a life raft if needed, and dumb luck makes it a pretty comfy spot to take a nap in the sun on a downwind sail…), raised the jib and weighed anchor. The rain-filled clouds chased us away from the island and we sailed off so quickly that we had to slow progress to get our anchor Rocky aboard. We looked back at the arroyo and saw beautiful rainbows and we looked ahead and saw dolphins fishing in a huge circle and sea lions, seals, pelicans and sea gulls waiting on the side for leftovers.

The weather was moving more slowly than forecast so the much expected northwest winds were no where to be seen. Still, we decided to push on and with southwesterlies instead, we re-ran the jib sheets for upwind work and set a course south. As we pulled away from the lee of Isla Cedros, the winds filled in 10-15 knots and the swell filled in about 5-feet from the west. We watched thousands of cormorant and other birds fighting their way off the now windswept mainland as we put a reef in the main still cruising along close hauled above 5 knots. As we passed between mainland and Isla Natividad squally weather moved overhead, we were flying at over 7 knots and took a second reef in the main for a more relaxed ride as we turned even further south homing in on Turtle Bay. A few short hours later as we were nearing the entrance to the bay, Chris spotted a whale blow- 100 feet to our starboard!! We were going faster than it, but watched as a beautiful California gray whale surfaced several times right along side. What a welcome as we then entered the safety of Turtle Bay out of the swells and wind and were greeted by more rainbows, and of course Ernesto in a ponga offering us fuel. He escorted us in as we sailed under jib alone in search of the perfect anchorage. After circling the area with only two other sailboats, we dropped and set the anchor not having heard the engine all day! La vida es buena (Life is good)!


  1. The most inspiring post yet!!! What an adventure...look forward to hearing about more stories! I will scrape off snow tomorrow in an attempt to ready my sailboat.
    Pura Vida---Enjoy
    jENN & tROY

  2. Hello Shawn and Chris,
    Every time I check in on your blog to learn of your adventure I find myself filling up with a feeling of peaceful happiness. Happiness for you, of course, but also something broader, a sense of being able to rest a moment in the knowledge that two people are following their bliss. If you two are on the path you are on, then, surely, there are more people who are also on their own unique true paths. By experiencing life as it is, as it unfolds to you, you add a richness to the day as it passes. You add colors to the rainbows you see - and I am grateful.
    Your friend Michael,
    PS - the boat across the dock from you in Berkeley has come to a new name.
    She is "Alma".