S/V Nereida sails around the world

Old Mazatlan Harbour approach with distinctive high Hill to N of entrance not long after leaving.
Was having a good sail until just before 6pm , often well over 6kt in a good wind but then the wind began to die and our speed dropped a good knot... Land cooling down now...so lessening the enhanced onshore breeze. Forecast is for lighter winds over next day or so so I expect to have to do some motoring before this passage is finished.

Monday 20 February 2017

Had an absolutely wonderful sail over from San Jose de Cabo! With full genoa and two reefs in the main, we made 6-7 knots of speed in a good N wind despite the 2m swell on the beam that was constantly rolling us about. Not long before dawn, the wind had finally veered from the unexpected Southerly that had appeared on Sunday morning in San Jose whose harbour entrance had finally been left behind in the early afternoon bright sunshine.

My main worry was the timing of our entry over the entrance bar at Mazatlan, Having been there before, I knew how nasty it could be in the wrong conditions but I was relieved to find that there would be a prolonged stand of high water around the time of our expected arrival. That meant we were more likely to be able to enter safely, given the swell which was not likely to die down in the good wind we were enjoying, although the water was shallow for quite some way off the harbour entrance, which would help.

With our excellent speed over the day, I reckoned we'd just get there around sunset but it would be touch and go. Daylight would be helpful to see the narrow shallow winding entry channel clearly, as well as for negotiating the bar just before. My back-up plan was to anchor a short distance off in a popular anchorage between the shore and an island close by.

Of course, we were making such excellent speed under sail as we closed the coast that I had to plan ahead carefully - the sun had already just set so daylight was beginning to fade. I hoped to remember where a possible berth was that I'd been told was free - was it a port or starboard tie? I seemed to remember port. but wasn't completely sure.

Put out fenders and lines to port in the rough seas and hope for the best - worse case scenario would be to back off and change them all over. (Otherwise, put out fenders and lines on both sides - time-consuming - so that was a no-no!) I seemed to remember there was a problem with a lot of shallows around the marina area, so preferred to ready the boat for docking in advance of my arrival.

Ease the genoa sheets and furl in the full genoa - flapping madly - heart in mouth - would it furl in OK in view of previous problems? Easy, easy. No problema! It came in smoothly - big relief!!

Head upwind, with mainsail halyard prepared so it was free to run through the clutch. Drop it. Run forward to finish the job and secure the halyard and headboard.

Twilight. Head to the winking red and green lights at the harbour entrance - at speed, heart in mouth again - heart rate definitely well up! (Remember it's 'red right returning' here) I reckoned it was better to head to and over the bar fast, to maintain steerage in the beam-on seas, than to go slowly - I could always quickly ease off the engine revs the moment we were safely over.

We were swung about a lot as we got close. Light was almost gone.. Stay in the middle, keeping a constant eye on water depth, and don't get taken too far off to starboard where it shallows fast (I spotted a small winking white light warning of the edge of those shallows - I'd forgotten that was there). Stay in the middle.. We were over!

Follow the winding channel. eye on depth all the time. dark now. Head up and around to La Isla Mazatlan marina - watch out for several unlit tall piles looming up out of the darkness to starboard. I'm trying to remember where I'm supposed to be headed. Going very slowly now, to be safe.. On approaching the docks, I began to call out for help - to find the right berth and to get in safely in the darkness. There were lights inside some of the boats so, hopefully, people were on board. Suddenly, I saw people moving - and calling back to me - great! Approached the dock - port tie! - people there to help with lines. Thank you! My friends Gillian and Al, from my visit here two years earlier, had told people to expect me - so they were listening out - thanks again! Roberto, of 'Destiny' informed me we'd met at Svenson's in Alameda . ten years ago! Marie and Guy, of 'Notre Reve' invited me over for a celebratory drink when I was ready. I happily accepted and later spent a few hours relaxing with them before crashing out in my bunk to make up for lost sleep.

Plans while here are to climb the mast today (Tuesday) to investigate the problem at the mast head and also see what is catching on the genoa top furler to make it misbehave as it has been recently. and deal with a few other problems, if possible - plans put on hold while I relax over a very late, leisurely breakfast, before checking in with Marissa in the marina office.

This morning, the sun is shining brightly, a small flock of the many waders in this area are flying overhead, it's getting very warm - welcome to Mazatlan!

North wind up nicely now, so sailing at well over 6kt after beautiful clear night full of stars - Southern Cross and Milky Way clear to view.
Good-sized swell so we're rolling about rather a lot.
Hope to make Mazatlan soon after sunset today - with some daylight still, if I'm lucky.
Time for breakfast now after quick radio contact made earlier with two ham friends - one in California, the other in New Mexico.

0115 GMT/1815 LT was time of sunset tonight, as the Baja was left behind.
Wind has died but SW swell is quite pronounced, so a bit rolly.
Grey clouds over land ahead and astern but not much overhead
Air feels cool but it's 24C

3.30pm Saturday Wind blew up a bit more and rain got heavier - but not for long... calm now, although pressure has dropped a lot over last 6 hrs - to 1007 now. Definitely time for hot food - just had some nice hot soup in a mug & have put some dried beans in to soak for tomorrow.

Later, more wind and rain again - but by sunset all was gone.

Sunday morning - Pressure has risen steeply to 1016 and there's a S wind blowing here in the marina, about 10 kt, I guess. Very little cloud and forecast is benign so I'm thinking I'll leave today for Mazatlan - wind is expected to become N ~20kt by time I arrive tomorrow afternoon, with possible calms in between - we'll see!

Photos already posted of noisy osprey on top of my neighbour's mast this morning.

I got out my gri-gri, thinking to climb the mast before leaving, in case there's an 'easy fix' to the masthead problem but realised time was getting late for heading out - so decided to leave climbing until after I get to Mazatlan tomorrow.

Would be nice to have wind info - and going up will give me a chance to look at the furler problem while I'm up there... Means I might have to use the staysail in place of the genoa, but that's rather small.

In the meantime, having left the marina around 1pm, the wind soon died right back - but is still from S - not as forecast!

I've 'lost' one hour! I forgot that the southern half of the Baja is one hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time, PST ...... same as in Mazatlan, in fact. (We're in Central Standard Time, CST, now)

One noisy osprey has laid claim to my neighbour 's masthead.
And my masthead is looking decidedly weird, with the metal top plate holding the wind instrument and vhf swung around by 90 degrees.
Bright sunshine and slight breeze - think I'll leave for Mazatlan later this morning.

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San Jose del Cabo - Saturday:

Nice to be able to sleep as long as I want without the need to set alarms to wake me up frequently!!

Have been checking on weather situation - doesn't look as though the really strong winds will reach here - although there was some heavy rain overnight - grey, with 15-20kt win and occasional light rain now, but nothing much. Friends in Turtle Bay had 30 kt S winds, gusting higher last night - they’d moved to the S anchorage for protection.

By Sun/Mon, winds will have veered to N and are expected to stay settled from there for several days, becoming 15-20kt over Mon & Tues - a good time to sail - possibly to Mazatlan.

Later in week, winds will be light from NW quadrant, so not such good sailing conditions for heading SE towards La Cruz, athough perfectly tenable.

San Jose marina is mainly about small sports fishing boats - lots of US and Canadian registered boats here, taking advantage of the good fishing off Cabo San Lucas. But this is an expensive place to be in, with high tourist prices….

One very wary, but tame, brown pelican on his home base dock in San Jose del Cabo . I was on my walk back from the friendly but distant marina office after checking in there. Several other cruising boats are here, waiting for the threatened storm to pass by - but that is looking increasingly like a non event - possibly hitting Bahia Magdalena, but no further S.
In the meantime, I'm relaxing.....

Found this slide from a sail batten end, that came out yesterday from the mast track, on deck at the foot of the mast - clearly pulled out from the batten end cover - plastic, with no metal insert? Not strong enough.
Bright sun today; air still feeling cold except in the sun. Sea calm, a slight West wind, motoring still - as expected. No whales seen yet but another cruise ship said plenty around Cabo San Lucas.
Needing to change propane supply tank to galley- gave out y'day just as I finished cooking - so enjoyed my steak & onions etc- all just nicely cooked - lucky!
Expecting to arrive at Cabo San Lucas around sunrise tomorrow. Winds are forecast to stay light at ~5kt until after then so even if they back to S-SW from present W, we should be OK since, after rounding the Cape, we'll be heading 15 mls NE to the safety of San Jose del Cabo with its marina & fuel dock.

Found this slide from a sail batten end, that came out yesterday from the mast track, on deck at the foot of the mast - clearly pulled out from the batten end cover - plastic, with no metal insert? Not strong enough.
Bright sun today; air still feeling cold except in the sun. Sea calm, a slight West wind, motoring still - as expected. No whales seen yet but another cruise ship said plenty around Cabo San Lucas.
Needing to change propane supply tank to galley- gave out y'day just as I finished cooking - so enjoyed my steak & onions etc- all just nicely cooked - lucky!
Expecting to arrive at Cabo San Lucas around sunrise tomorrow. Winds are forecast to stay light at ~5kt until after then so even if they back to S-SW from present W, we should be OK since, after rounding the Cape, we'll be heading 15 mls NE to the safety of San Jose del Cabo with its marina & fuel dock.

Thursday 2 a.m. LT. Passing by Bahias Sta Maria and Magdalena where large numbers of whales are congregating for calving. Dark now or I'd pause briefly to go in to see them. Hope I don't hit a sleeping whale but motor running should reduce chance of that.

Soon after sunset, sky was completely clear and beautifully starry. Cloudy now but waning moon shining brightly on calmer sea than before. Pleased that I managed to furl in genoa easily.

Cabo is just over a day away - will be reaching it in good time, well before stormy weather arrives - might see whales on way or near there. Will make for San Jose del Cabo for fuel and to wait for better weather.

Photo shows light wind effects - drooping ensign and wind generator blades hardly spinning.
Lovely bright sunny day with far less swell - so we're no longer being knocked about- but light wind, so more motoring... & likely same until reaching Cabo San Lucas (250 mls away) - Friday, hopefully. Should reach there to be safe well before forecast strong weather arrives after the calm.
Looking forward to another delicious steak and onions with potatoes and broccoli later today. Mmmm!

Dull overcast giving way to glimpses of sun. Still having to motor, with very little wind from astern. Managed two hours of sailing last evening. Heater on - air is cold.

USNS Brunswick just passed by, 5mls off, headed North. Nice to make contact earlier with Ham radio friends. It's a long push SSE to get down the long Baja peninsula. ... Likely to be mostly motoring for next several days. .. Ugh...

Season’s greetings to One and all ....  A little humour to explain why the boating life is so enjoyable at times!
Update on boat work done and time spent since my arrival in San Diego two weeks ago will follow shortly.


7.40pm Sun PST/0340 Mon GMT

Just checked in to the Pacific Sefarers' Net - heard nothing at all on frequency yesterday so it was good to make contact with Jane, NH7TZ, on Kauai, who was just about able to take my report. Propagation is particularly bad on 20m at present.

I'd been hoping that the strong winds forecast for tonight wouldn't arrive - but they did - with a vengeance! .... Just to remind me, as if I hadn't already found out several times recently, what winds in the N. Pacific can be like!

We're presently getting 33-44kt of wind, frequently gusting up, and with accompanying 4-5m seas to match, with steep faces fairly close together, making for an uncomfortable ride.

With just 115 n.mls to San Diego harbour entrance, arrival is expected after sunset tomorrow (Monday evening LT).

The good news is that these conditions are supposed to ease somewhat shortly, this being the peak period - let's hope the forecast has got that right!

10.30pm Sun PST/ 0630 Mon GMT Wind only up to mid-30s now... not mid-40s... Great!

San Clemente Island 40 mls off. Seas pretty rough. Will make sure I'm awake as we near the island... a Navy Base.

5am Monday PST/1300 Mon GMT Passing 8 ml south of San Clemente Island. Just changed course slightly to round the island and make for San Diego, 60 miles off.

Beautiful, clear, starry sky... Pleiades astern, high up in West, a bright planet (?) high ahead in East

Wind died down nicely a while ago - to around NW 25kt now - unfurled most of genoa to speed us along - making 5.6 kt in 4m swell. Expecting wind to die more as we close the coast.

Spoke to radio friends on East coast - from Florida to Maine - was great to speak to a few of them that I've not made contact with for some time. All very sympathetic.

7.30 am Back to my bunk for an hour or two of sleep after some brief contacts with West coast radio friends...

12.45pm Enjoyed a late brunch of a very nice onion omelette, followed by fresh coffee and brown bread with home-made marmalade (thanks, Susan - lovely!).

Wind is up and down but slowly dying - presently WNW 15 kt, giving SOG ~5 kt. Sky getting quite cloudy but glimpses of the sun still.

Seas are also down, to 2-3m, so we're ambling gently towards SD, keeping an eye out for frequent shipping - Golden Energy (tanker) just crossed our bow a mile off half an hour ago, on its way to the Panama Canal, and the motor vessel Sally Ride is off to port. (Later: I thought she was on a pleasure jaunt of some kind, out of SD, but it seems she's a very well-equipped scientific research vessel!)

Not long now to having to break the engine seal so we can motor in to Shelter Island's Police Dock for our Clearance procedure to take place - a 24 ml actual passage from here but only 19 ml away as the crow flies - the N-S SD harbour entrance channel to the east of Pt Loma is very long.

2.20pm Time to furl in genoa, break that engine seal & turn on - making less than 3 kt in dying wind of 7 kt from astern... We're not getting very far like this! 19 n.ml.from San Diego.  Must break engine seal & motor rest of the way - very loathe to do that.

3pm Cut the seal with a bit of effort... Started motoring at 2.30pm. Point Loma has been in sight for a time. Slight drizzle now...

Fairway buoy to entrance channel is 11 miles away. Seas still rolly, with 2.5m or so swell, wind W 6 kt .

4.40pm Mon PST/0040 Tues GMT 2.5 ml off main channel entrance and 7 miles to Police Dock. Grey and murky - very restricted visibility - radar on plus AIS - all helpful to see what's ahead... ETA at Police Dock for Clearance into US still around 6pm, possibly slightly later. Must hoist yellow 'Q' flag for international clearance in...

Arrived Police Dock in San Diego Hbr well after nightfall - stressful entrance in darkness and rain, following the long, lit main channel and then turning to port to make the final entrance inside Shelter Island, avoiding a shoal area to starboard.  With plenty of open water beyond the Dock, I was able to take my time preparing for coming alongside but it was a very difficult final approach, due to a strong current pushing our stern out as we tried to come alongside gently...  More speed ahead was the only answer, in the end, but that made things a bit fraught with an unhelpful kick to starboard in astern and Police boats moored up not far ahead!  Luckily, I just managed to secure the lines ... no-one around, of course...

Took a long time for two very friendly officers to arrive to do paperwork but finally got away and motored over to San Diego Y.C. where a convenient berth, with plenty of water for manoeuvring, had been arranged by friend Rod.  Ed came down with his flashlight to help make sure I knew where to head for and then helped tie up - many thanks to both for their welcome help...   I cooked a late meal and had a very good sleep!

Many thanks for the supportive messages. I'll get repairs done & figure out my options.

7pm Sat PST/0300 Sun GMT

What a lovely downwind sail just now - seas a little down but still quite big, sunset colours just faded, wind ~20kt, SOG 6 kt, clearish sky with bright Venus hanging high in W.... Beautiful and completely therapeutic! No rainclouds in sight...

Pity the forecast is for stronger, even gale force, winds to arrive later Sunday into Monday, as we near the coast...

Getting my position and weather report ready for Pacific Seafarers Net on 14300 at 0330 GMT. (Later: Nothing heard at all on the Net - propagation poor to present position.)

9pm Wind backed into W and down to 15kt - dead downwind - not a good point of sail without poling out the genoa - and that won't happen until daylight - especially in the rather rolly seas at present. Later: veered into WNW at 20kt again - better. Pleasant sailing, most of this evening.

1130pm Sat PST/0730 Sun GMT still sailing gently along: 20kt WNW wind, 5kt SOG - too good to be true! Waiting for the stronger stuff to arrive! Sleep in the meantime...

6.30am Sun PST/1430 GMT A good, peaceful night - gentle sailing in 20-22 kt WNW wind - so had a good night's sleep, with few gaps. Sunrise around now.

Made up log, checked emails and weather and then made contact with friends on the ham radio morning Nets - mostly West coast and inland US and northern Mexico - Baja California. All very relaxed and finished around 9am, ready for late coffee and breakfast.

Midday Wind and seas are up rather - seas to 4.5m or so, quite steep and not that far apart, so feeling quite rough, and wind is WNW-NW at ~25kt. Could reach 30-35kt later today. Cleared up in galley and I'm eating fresh fruit a lot, ready for clearing in to California - they won't let you bring in any citrus fruit from elsewhere so I'm finishing up some delicious, juicy mandarins!

12.20pm Wind is slowly increasing - up to 28-30kt now and just gusted to 33+kt with grey cloud nearby, SOG 6.2kt and over. Blue sky with plenty of cloud around and sunny in between - quite pleasant although seas are well up.

I hear some parts of S. California are having a lot of rain now - good for the reservoirs, ready for summer? Hope it has stopped by time I pull in to SD!

3pm Frequent lulls of 24 kt in between the stronger winds. Blue sky, scattered clouds, lots of sunny spells. Replying to emails.

5.30pm Sun PST(1.30 a.m. Mon GMT) Sun set short while ago... Seas still 4m or so and often steep. WNW wind either ~23 kt or ~ 30 kt... keeps varying....

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