Friday, April 24, 2009

Rip, not a sound a sailor likes to hear...

One sound any sailor dreads is ripping material. No, not the bathing suit; the sails, the engine. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. We last left you with expectations of a good night's sleep in a near all-weather anchorage, Escondito. Unfortunately for us, we did not have a restful night there. To start, just after setting the hook, we had a plumbing issue. A 3-way valve failed allowing seawater to dribble into the boat and rendering our head system, shall we say, closed for business. So, after wrestling with poopy pipes long after the sunset we were awaken at 1:30 in the morning to our friends Scheherazade weighing anchor because strong winds from the mountains were pushing them too close to their closest neighbor. There were good westerly winds and we had a long passage planned for the next day trying to get north to a safe norther anchorage. For over an hour we debated weighing anchor ourselves, but sleep won out, at least we attempted to sleep. Soon after, the winds shifted to the SE, bringing with it swell directly into the anchorage and pushing us toward the cliffs we were hanging off of when we had set the anchor. Still we held tight as we were preparing Tao and Eeyore to sail and we saw Pisces heading out, we decided that we had waited so long we might as well wait until the morning breeze picked up to get us out into the San Jose channel; but it never came. The anchorage was devoid of wind with 2-3 foot swells at 4 seconds making Tao look like a hobby horse. Rough start, but post weather, around 9am, we finally motored out of the now nearly deserted anchorage into perfect spinnaker winds pushing us toward our new destination- Agua Verde.

Our buddy boats Pisces and Scheherezade were way ahead of us and we had 44-nm to go. We figured we would likely just have a night at sea. But the winds were up and they held. We sailed under spinnaker and mainsail for 8 straight hours with our colors flying high and our speed over ground seeing up to 8.2 knots with several hours solidly just below 7 knots. We had our fishing line out but our lucky lure got chomped and we had no other nibbles. As days end approached we were close to making it when the winds disappeared leaving us bobbing in sloppy seas. Hoping for a good night of sleep and staying with our buddy boats, we fired up the engine and motored the last hour past a large reef an onto anchor nestled at the base of large mountains looming to the west. We collapsed into bed and slept comfortably with 7:1 scope out as the gale on the Outside sent gusts over the Baja mountains throughout the night changing our conditions from no wind to 30 knots with little warning. And the forecast norther marched closer.

Although Agua Verde has a small lobe with great protection from the north, we did not relish the thought of having to jockey for position in it and deal another night with a crowded anchorage. So we weighed anchor and sailed out early, around 7:30, the next morning hoping to make it under sail to Isla Carmen to wait out the norther in a safe anchorage yet away from the crowds. It was a fun filled full-wind-spectrum sail. After a mellow downwind sail off our anchor, when we exited the safety of the harbor, west winds were spilling over the peninsula from the gale on the Outside creating 25-30 knot conditions. We double reefed the main and had some feisty sailing for a couple hours. As we sailed away from the peninsula, the winds diminished until we had the full main and drifter up, and then diminishing to nothing we brought the flopping main down and let the drifter catch every breath that fluttered past. Just after noon the winds filled in from the SE creating some beautiful sailing with flat seas under full main and 100% jib to our destination- Punta Perico on Isla Carmen. We set our anchor in a near deserted anchorage that our three boats soon filled up and settled in to await the norther.

We spent a little over 4-days there with plenty of space to let out tons of scope to feel comfortable enough to leave Tao to snorkel, head ashore for hikes and yoga, and make visits to eachother's boats for happy hours and meals. We even tested our 22-lb Danforth stern anchor, freshly spliced together by Chris (to remove the weak link created by the shackle), in the 30 knot winds setting it as the primary; both it and the splice were bomber. (Just in case, we left Rocky set and ready should it fail and we move more than 20 feet, and we didn't mention our experiment to the boat that had anchored downwind of us). Comforting to know our back up is solid, but we're still in the market for a 70-lb Luke storm anchor. Excited to see more of Isla Carmen, on the 20th the winds finally abated and we decided to sail a few miles into Salinas Bay home to a deserted salt mining town and another spot that had been filled with boats hiding from the norther.

We put the sails up, brought Rocky aboard and wrestled with our salt encrusted lines. It was as we poked out around Punta Perico heading out for a sail to stretch our legs that we tightened in our 100% jib and heard the rip. The jib foot had caught on the bow pulpit life line connection, a known area of chafe, and finally succumbed- ripping 9 inches vertically. Immediately we took down the injured sail, hoisted our 80%, and turned around to sail directly to Salinas. Shocked that we had sustained injuries to our main working sail, we set the hook and went ashore to discuss our plan... For the first time we felt like we were "at the beach" as we walked down a mile of white sand with lapping bright blue water to the interesting little mostly abandoned town. More exciting for us, however, was visiting the huge inshore salt pond whose perimeter was lined with rocks colored white with inches of salt deposition on each. The next day, devoid of wind, was dedicated to sail repair. With the invaluable help of Pisces, Jacob's sail loft experience, our as yet unintroduced crew member Elna (a Swiss made first model computerized home sewing machine), and a few strong stitches from Pisces' solid SailRite machine, it was a very rejuvenating day for our little sail loft and we went to bed looking forward to putting our new improved sail up the next day.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there... once you guys get further south (near Ixtapa, Zihuatenejo or Acapulco) Jen and I would love to come meet up with you for a day or two on land, if you have it in your schedule. Looks like a fun trip!