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Old 12-21-2018, 11:10 PM   #1
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Trip report; San Diego to La Paz

With a crew of three Navigator is heading south for Mexico. On Dec. 6th we left Chula Vista, CA. We came to Chula Vista from Portland, OR via the west coast of Vancouver Island this past summer. Our first, and last for a while, stop was Pearson's Fuel dock behind Shelter Island, San Diego, to take on 540 gallons of diesel oil to fill our 1000 gallon tanks. *Except for being detoured to the edge of the channel by the harbor police to avoid the "situation on the Coronado Bay Bridge", no further explanation offered, perhaps a jumper?, our departure was all smooth sailing. We left on the outgoing tide running counter to the wind. This caused some pretty steep seas in the channel, which in turn lead to some fairly violent pitching but the paravanes, which we had set up for quick and easy deployment before leaving the calm of the harbor, did a great job eliminating roll. *We quickly discovered everything that wasn't well enough secured. *The rough ride wasn't much of a surprise with the opposing wind and tide, but the next twelve hours were. *In spite of forecast 8-10 knots from the south, right on the nose, we got hammered by steady winds up to 25 knots gusting to 30. *We were beleaguered by 6-8 foot very short period waves for the next twelve hours. *Our poor little, 30 ton, boat would climb the face of each wave and then pitch over and plunge into the trough burying the bow, and the portholes, or slamming into the next wave with a horrific crash. We got plenty of blue water over the decks and a fair bit also into our cabins. Plenty of rain, thunder and lightning. *Our speed over the ground was as low as 3 knots for much of the night. *The motion had us all chewing on bonine and some of us vomiting into the teeth of the gale. *Ever the optimist I let the completely discredited forecast, which called for the wind to drop to nothing by ‪4 AM‬, tempt me to press on rather than running for shelter into Ensenada. *Happily, that part turned out to be about right and everybody got some sleep before, and after, a beautiful dawn. *The boat handled herself well and so did the crew. Everyone was uncomfortable, perhaps at times even miserable, but not, Iím pretty sure, scared.
Second day
It's our second sunrise at sea, beginning of day 3, and a beautiful dawn on the Pacific. We've reached latitude 28 degrees 50 minutes north and we're about 70 miles offshore from San Jose. *Nearest land now is Punta Norte on Cedros at 56 miles. *In spite of the distance I see the peaks of some mountains above the otherwise featureless horizon off to the east. *Presumably a couple of the 4 - 5 thousand foot peaks unnamed on my chart (Ed. Note; These turned out to be the high points on Cedros Island itself). The sun is minutes from rising beside them, skies are clear to the east with clouds thick on the western horizon. *I doubt I will ever tire of seeing the sun rise at sea. *We have about seven hours to go to reach our waypoint offshore of Cedros Island. *Yesterday, day 2, was pleasantly uneventful. *Mostly recovering from the beating we took our first day out. *Our speed picked up as the seas calmed to a bit less than 7 knots speed over the ground. Thatís fast for this boat! Almost no wind and a long slow swell from the northwest building in provoking a not too unpleasant roll. *Makes me glad this isn't a sailboat. *We were visited by a pod of dolphins for a while, first marine mammal sighting of the trip unless the sea lion on a buoy in San Diego counts. *We got the fishing lines in the water for a little bit around dusk but no luck. *No company out here, just a couple of ships far off in the distance all day. *Water temperature has been slowly but very steadily rising ever since we left San Diego, it was 61 there and now up to 68. *Still way to cold for me!
Third day
Good morning from another gorgeous dawn in the Eastern Pacific. Our third day at sea was pretty sweet. *Lovely weather, long period swell use big enough so you remember it's a boat and, best of all, finally warm enough to enjoy the view from the flybridge. *Not all fun and games however. During our second night at sea we suffered a minor setback when a small leak in the fresh water system, which I had been unable to locate for several months, turned into a large leak and while I was asleep all our fresh water, around 250 gallons drained into the bilge and was subsequently pumped overboard. *My green crew, having a limited understanding of the water system, watched as the fresh water pressure pump cycled on and off followed with metronomic regularity by the bilge drying pump cycling on and off but didnít wake me until the freshwater pump stayed on. This, of course, because the tanks were empty. Not life threatening, we had about ten gallons of emergency drinking water in jugs, but inconvenient. *Cabo San Lucas being the next port where we could fill up and not a place I wished to visit. *No fresh water had the dishes piling up and by mid-afternoon we were at some risk of running out of clean coffee cups! This was a real problem, at least for me, so, between bouts of enjoying the balmy weather and fishing without success, hours were spent finding the leak. First we had to re-commission the watermaker, which I had just overhauled in San Diego, to get a few gallons in the tanks. *Fortunately I had decided to overhaul it and even more fortunately that seems to have been a successful operation. *Then we tore the boat apart and turned the pump on for a few seconds at a time searching for the leak. *Eventually, after much head scratching and vainly searching everywhere logic suggested a fitting could be, I found it buried way deep in a place no fitting should be. *Makes me think itís high time to re-plumb the domestic water system with a manifold and home runs to eliminate all these leak prone pex fittings. Clear skies led to another lovely sunset; check, green flash; check, at least I think I saw it, delicious dinner of tuna, caught on board previously, and a fabulous sauce that Denise whipped up; check, star-filled sky; check and we were then treated to a very cool moonset when the sliver of the crescent moon was greatly magnified and turned orange as it sunk below the western horizon.
Fourth day
It's ‪5:30‬ in the morning, day 5, and we are about 386(Ed. Note; 36 miles) miles northwest of Punta Hughes. *Also seems to be called Punta San Lazaro. *Around the south side of Punta Hughes is our first stop, Bahia Santa Maria. *We should be dropping anchor around midday. *Enjoying a kodakchrome sunrise while dodging fishing boats. *We are near Thetis bank which looks, on the chart, like a good place for fish. *Wind 4-5 knots from the south southeast. *Yesterday, day 4, was nearly perfect. *Wind came up a little, 10 - 15 kts., for a few hours *in the morning provoking an occasional roll but we are accustomed to the motion and it wasn't a bother. *Have been making water non-stop to refill our tanks. *The watermaker is working well. *Water temperature has hit 72.8 F which, at this hour is a couple of degrees warmer than the air. *During the day it is now warm enough to enjoy the flybridge and the foredeck even with a bit of a breeze. *Big excitement of the day, was catching our first fish. *We hooked, landed and then ate a good sized mahi-mahi. *Truly a thing of beauty. *It struck at dusk, seconds after I said it was time to bring in the lines. *It took all three of us to boat the fish and the teamwork was outstanding. *We were dining on fresh grilled fillets within 2 hours of the strike. *Huge plus was that with the watermaker already running we could use fresh water to hose out the cockpit without a qualm. *I'm thinking a fish cleaning table hanging outside the boat might be a good idea. The cockpit looked like a crime scene by the time I was done filleting the fish.
5th day
OOPS, yesterday's "386 miles northwest of Punta Hughes" was really 36 miles. *Just in case anybody out there is checking up with a map. Approaching Bahia Santa Maria we were inspected by a solitary sea lion. *Just popped up out of the ocean to take a good look at us. *This was still quite a long way, 10 miles or so, offshore which surprised me a bit. *Shows how much I know about sea lion behavior. *Then Denise spotted the first whale, followed by many more. Quite the show. *We pulled into BSM and dropped anchor for lunch. *The enormous bay held a half dozen cruising sailboats and not much else. *We couldn't reach the settlement because the tide was out but did beach the dinghy in a little cove so we could experience solid ground underfoot. *Given our schedule and the benign state of the sea we decided to continue on and pulled out early in the evening. *We didn't see the sunset because it was behind a mountain but still got the usual incredible moonset and star filled sky. *No wind all night and none now(Ed. Note; written on the dawn of day 6). Making good progress. *Cloudy this morning and looks like we may get some rain although the barometer suggests otherwise. *Sea water temp is now up to 77 F. *We're closer to the coast on this leg, about 17 miles off. *Cruising past the skinniest section of the Baja peninsula. *In fact, we are only about 50 miles from La Paz, but that's due east, as the crow flies. *Still a long way to go for us!
6th day
Sun has risen on our 7th day at sea and I'm very, very busy, thinking about breakfast, so this will have to be quick. We are about to pass Punta Arena having rounded the Baja Peninsula and passed the tourist hell that is the two ďCabosĒ, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, during the night. *We are actually heading northwest now, toward La Paz, which feels odd after so many days traveling southeast. *We are only 2 - 3 miles offshore here and, in the early morning light, the coast is quite beautiful. *Much greener than what we've seen until now. *There is zero wind at the moment but a slight swell on the nose that has us lurching a bit drunkenly since we turned into the Sea of Cortez proper. *Yesterday, too, was fabulously calm, so glassy in the afternoon that we even pulled in our paravanes, the stabilizers we tow beside the boat to control roll, for a couple of hours. *That was nice. *We were visited by an astonishing number and variety of creatures. *Countless dolphins, near and far. *Many leaping completely clear of the water. *Had a few riding our bow wave so close you could almost reach down and touch them. *At one point dolphins and sea lions were feeding together in a scrum right beside us, something Iíve never seen before. Lots of seabirds feeding. *We were joined by a cute but unidentified songbird presumably blown out to sea. *Sadly, he or she succumbed to exhaustion before we got back near shore. *He or she tried out every place to perch on the boat, inside and out, but was eventually discovered dead under the tender. *An appropriate ceremony was held and a moment of silence observed. We even had a butterfly aboard for a while. We were about 17 miles offshore then. *Passed a sportfishing boat as they were backing down on a hooked billfish. *Got to see the fish, a marlin?, leaping into the air, pretty close to us. Our own fishing also went well. *We had two lines out and hooked two large wahoo at once. *No idea how we avoided a major tangle but we did. *Cary landed his and mine got right up to the transom, really beautiful fish, before the line parted and it made off with my lure. *We had wahoo sashimi for lunch. *Then Denise landed another dorado, also a very pretty fish, which, owing to the surplus already on board, we released. *Had yet another fabulous dinner, sautťed wahoo. *As good cooked as it was raw. *Pretty exciting day! *On to La Paz.
7th day
Another lovely night, at least until we turned northeast a little before dawn. *Then we started to pitch a bit. *Only 2 foot sea but very short period. *Wind in our face continued to build through the day. *The forecast suggested winds continuing strong overnight and only getting stronger over the next couple days so stopping made less sense than pushing on. *Turned out to be the best choice as winds built over the next few days until the Port Captain closed the harbor. If we had tried to wait for better weather to make our flights it would have only gotten worse. It was a very long day and largely uneventful. *We did snag some fishing gear on one of the paravanes, easily disentangled, but otherwise caught nothing. *Partially overcast and, worst news, the sea water temperature dropped from a high of 79.8 F to around 74 by the time we got up to La Paz. *Night arrival to La Paz was mildly terrifying, imagine trying to identify one particular buoy, out of many, against the backdrop of a large and sprawling metropolis. *All while lurching drunkenly sideways as the swell rolled in because the paravanes were stowed to transit the long and unprotected approach channel. *Worked out without incident, other than some difficulty finding our assigned slip once we arrived at Marina Palmira. *We tried a couple for size and, in the end, wound up in a good if rather narrow spot. *Enjoyed the quiet night at the dock and spent the morning checking in with the marina, the government and the La Paz cruisers VHF radio net. A wealth of information. Need to know where to buy almond paste to make croissant in La Paz, just ask. I spent three days in La Paz before flying home and my first impressions are very favorable. I just wish it was a little warmer. Canít wait to get back to the boat.

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Old 12-22-2018, 01:04 AM   #2
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Nice update

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Old 12-22-2018, 04:15 AM   #3
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Sounds like a fun trip.
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:07 AM   #4
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Nice trip report, was wondering where you headed off to. Noticed that you had departed Salpare when we returned from our trip this summer.
Keep us posted and safe travels.
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Old 12-22-2018, 01:10 PM   #5
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Thanks for the trip report. Sounds like quite the ride down...even got some fishing in. Nice recovery on the FW leak!
My boat is my ark. It's my mobile treehouse and my floating fishing cabin. It's my retreat and my respite. Everyday I thank God I have a boat! -Al

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Old 12-22-2018, 02:25 PM   #6
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Losing a bunch of freshwater can be a big problem on a long passage, and it can be caused by something as simple as a guest leaving water running somewhere. If you are going to re-work your water system, you might consider installing a second pickup, somewhere between half and two-thirds of the depth of the tank.
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Old 12-22-2018, 07:20 PM   #7
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Great post...thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-26-2018, 06:34 AM   #8
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Thanks. A great account.
I also had a vexing problem with a pex fitting on my fresh water system.
Richard on Dauntless,
New York

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Old 12-26-2018, 07:07 AM   #9
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"didnít wake me until the freshwater pump stayed on."

There are sensors that can secure the FW pump if there is no water pressure.

"*Makes me think itís high time to re-plumb the domestic water system with a manifold and home runs to eliminate all these leak prone pex fittings."

Health concerns alone would want an all copper Fresh Water system on any cruising boat..
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Old 12-26-2018, 10:40 AM   #10
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Great cruising report.. let the Mexico fun begin!
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Old 12-26-2018, 10:43 AM   #11
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My question - what type of pex clamp are you using? Great After Action Report. Thank you.
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Old 12-29-2018, 10:57 AM   #12
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All good points to consider. There is almost always a quote better unquote way to do things on a boat! Tontoross, my system is all the 15mm press together fittings that depend on an o-ring to seal. Various manufacturers including Whale. I donít like them. In my experience, and Iíve done a great deal of plumbing and heating work over many years, they occasionally weep. By the way, anybody out there know where all those asterisks in my initial post appeared from?
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Old 12-30-2018, 09:29 AM   #13
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I don't use the press-on clamps. Also, I don't use the "O" ring style. I use the clamps that progressively decrease in size when using the crimping tool. I use the system on air and water systems. NO leaks. By-the-by, I use this system coming off a large air-compressor that shakes a lot when running, again, no leaks. I thought of using the "shark" style, now I'm not so sure.
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:50 AM   #14
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Nice read, thanks!
I'm curious about the customs/immigration check in. Where/when is that required?
Can you anchor or beach a dinghy without officially entering the country?
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Old 01-04-2019, 02:48 PM   #15
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Enjoyed taking the trip with you - thanks! Looking forward to more
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:58 PM   #16
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No easy answer to that question. I was told that, because I had obtained a TIP, temporary import permit, prior to leaving the US, I could stop en route before checking in at my first stop with customs and immigration facilities. Absent the TIP I would have needed to stop in Ensenada to get one. It was explained to me that the issue was the boat being in Mexico without a TIP that was the problem I’ve also been told that isn’t true. In any case, we didn’t clear in until our arrival in La Paz. Nobody asked if we stopped before that.

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