Baja- Haha

After getting back from our little sailing trip, we brain stormed. We have been away from home a big portion of 2017 so far and our son is not in Kindergarten/school yet. He has also been great when it comes to boat life. The Baja-Haha sounds like it could be fun for all of us. Especially for me and Mats who do not have that much sailing experience, the idea of open water sailing is intimidating and knowing you will always have boats somewhat close by, seems like a good idea. At least I hope. 🙂 The Captain has already done the stretch between San Francisco and Mexico more than once, he knows his way around. So, why postpone, if the resources and minds are on track? At least that is in our thoughts right now. Should we try to do it? What do you all think?

What is the Baja-Haha? It is a boat rally from San Diego to Cabo, Mexico. About 150 boats meet every year in San Diego and make there way to Cabo, with stops along the way. Lots of families with kids. Here are some facts from there website.

The goals of the Ha-Ha are simple: for everyone to get to Cabo safely while enjoying some great sailing and making countless new sailing friends along the 750 mile stretch.

The event begins every year near the end of October. The 2017 dates will be October 29-November 11.

The two stops along the way are Turtle Bay, a dusty but charming fishing village far off the main road, and primitive Bahia Santa Maria, which is truly out in the middle of nowhere. The former has a couple of small tiendas, a few low-capacity restaurants, an internet cafe, and usually some diesel. It does not have ATMs, banks, McDonalds, boatyards or spas. Bahia Santa Maria has nothing — except a restaurant that magically appears one day a year, along with a rock ‘n roll band, just for the Ha-Ha.

October 30, 10:00 a.m. – Baja Ha-Ha Kick-Off Parade. Complete schedule:
9:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. – South Bay boats pass San Diego to Harbor Island.
9:45 a.m. – All boats gather off America’s Cup Harbor between Harbor Island and Shelter Island.
10:00 a.m. – Parade past southwest corner of Shelter Island past San Diego fireboat.
11:00 a.m. – America’s Cup starting gun begins Baja Ha-Ha XXIV.
View a diagram of the parade route here.

October 30, 11:00 a.m. – Start of Leg One for all boats off Coronado Roads. Wear your Halloween costume on the starting line and be eligible for a special prize!

November 2,2 pm – Daytime: The epic, world famous, Baja Ha-Ha Cruisers versus Mexicans baseball game at Turtle Bay. Evening: Restaurant hopping, such as it is, in Turtle Bay.

November 3 – Famous Turtle Bay Beach Picnic Party from noon until sundown. Bring all your gear. Hot dogs will be sold for charity. Beer for sale by locals. Be careful landing your dinghy – you don’t want to be dumped and have your outboard chop you up!

November 4, 8:00 a.m. – Start of Leg Two to Bahia Santa Maria.

November 6 – ‘Bahia Santa Maria Day’ – a lazy layday meant for relaxing and exploring the Bay.

November 7 – Hiking, beach walking, sports and beach party – if surf permits – at Bahia Santa Maria.

November 8, 7:00 a.m. – Start of Leg Three from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo San Lucas.

November 9 – ‘Can’t Believe We Cheated Death Again’ dance and party madness for the young at heart at Squid Roe until the last body falls. Optional.

November 10 – Cabo Beach Party all afternoon on the beach and perhaps with bonfire into the evening. Details on the site and time to be announced later. Hopefully we’ll get discounted food and drinks again this year. Either way, no problemo for a fleet that knows how to have fun.

November 11 – Awards Presentations hosted by Cabo Marina adjacent to the fabulous launch ramp in Cabo at 6 pm. Free soft drinks and beer.

November 30, 4:00-7:00 p.m. – La Paz Beach Party at La Costa Restaurant. Mexican folk dancing, live music, food and drinks, door prizes, more. Free for the first 50 Baja Ha-Ha XXIV participants; everyone welcome.

If you are interested to find out more about it, you can read on there website directly here.

 

Bumpy Sail across San Pablo Bay

After a fantastic last night watching the Meteor Showers anchored at Napa River (watch Napa River here), we headed back towards Sausalito. Through Napa River we decided to motor, since looking at the forecast, we knew we would have a tough sail through San Pablo Bay ahead of us. Trying to figure out the correct navigation route on the computer screen while the Captain took care storing away the anchor chain by the bow (front of boat) , I almost ran us aground. Just seeing the water getting shallower quickly from 24 to 12 feet, I had no clue which way to turn as it looked to me that we were exactly on track. I started yelling for the Captain who than quickly appeared on my side. That was a close one and the suggestion if that happens again to quickly put the motor in neutral at least when not sure where to go, was not coming from nowhere. 😉 It’s easy to freeze up when you don’t know what to do and panic at the same time. Lots of things to learn.

San Pablo Bay than was a bumpy ride, we tried to hug the coast as much as possible to avoid the worse. The sails took a beating, the dog had to work hard through the bumpy sea and Mats was simply a trooper. Sitting in his car seat nice and safe, watching a DVD, eating or even sleeping. I don’t know how he does it not getting sea sick below. But luckily it is his favorite place to be as soon as it gets a bit rough.

When it got smoother, but still blasting close to Angel Island, Mats wanted to come up and was cheering for his Captain Dad, who took on a sail race with two other boats. This was one of the funnest sails we had, maybe because it is getting easier with our son and also because I am able to help more on the boat. Here is our video clip:

Sailing and Anchoring at the Napa River

After a night in Benicia, we continued our journey to the Napa River. It is always fun to call the Draw Bridge and see how the cars stop and the bridge rises to let the boat pass. All the shallow spots in Napa River are asking for complete concentration and knowledge. After the Captain had mastered getting us to our anchorage spot, we enjoyed some very fun days. Here our vocal Video clip.

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Napa River Youtube Video link

 

 

 

Getting of the anchor in Sherman and sail to Benicia with stop in Pittsburg.

 

After some fantastic days at Sherman Island with the Family (you can check it out here ), we waited for the best conditions possible to leave the anchorage and sail to Pittsburg. You never know what can happen, is the anchor going to get loose by moving the boat around with motor power, in what moment will that happen. Could a wind gust push the boat in the wrong direction, which would cause trouble due to shallow spots all around and since the boat has a very wide turn around. What I am usually mostly concerned is the Captain leaving the boat to help get it going and us alone in that moment on Alsager, afraid not doing the right thing. So, it is always a bit nerve wrecking to get in and out of Sherman. The tensions are on.

But this time it was a smooth and as the Captain says, perfect procedure and off we go towards Pittsburg. We really love this small little Marina, it is well maintained, no problem to get in and out coming at the right time tidewise and getting a slip for a night has been easy so far. It is cheap to stay here and nice to have a normal shower, after some fun but not so clean Delta washes. The KITE BAR is a great place to hang out, have breakfast, lunch, jummy Smoothies and enjoy the comfortable atmosphere. The nights in the slip are quiet and protected. Also a big plus when you slept with howling wind for days. After Pittsburg we have a longer sail ahead of us to get to Benicia. Crossing underneath bridges, sounds easy, but actually not so, since you have to think about the towers and going upwind, you cannot sail straight through them. Lots of tacking involved, but nice to have the time and be able to sail upwind instead of motoring or motor sailing. Benicia is also a bit tricky as it gets really shallow on low tide, but thanks to on time departure from Pittsburg, we are good here too. Thanks Captain! Benicia has a big Marina, we are able to get a slip for the night and enjoy spending time in the downtown area with a fine dinner at Sailor Jack’s. The views are spectacular and we are excited to watch an amazing sunset.

Gunboat 62 ” Chim Chim ” delivery, Waikiki to Seattle in 11 days.

Must read story about the Gunboat 62 delivery and Video clip of parts of the sail and crew and amazing footage of Dolphins swimming with Chim Chim written by our Captain from To Sail or Not To Be!

 

Youtube Video Gunboat ’62

After the America’s Cup gig in Bermuda ended, I was lucky enough to land another fun one as part of the crew delivering  ” Chim Chim ” back to the mainland after she had raced the Transpac. Not having much multihull experience (aside from racing Hobie 18’s a couple of decades ago), I was really curious about the boat and how it would be different from Alsager (our boat) and the other monohulls I typically sail, and I was very much looking forward to making a passage that I’ve dreamed about doing since I was a kid.
We departed Waikiki after dark on a moonless Friday night (bad luck I know but we wanted to get ahead of the remnants of a nearby tropical storm) and made for Diamond Head. Once we got a few miles out things got a little bit real, as we quickly found ourselves over-canvassed and beating into a messy mix of trade swell combined with a southerly swell from the storm further offshore. After some debate, rather than slamming into it in the pitch black on our first night out and together as a crew, we back-tracked and went around the west side of the island, which proved to be quite relaxed. Unfortunately, once we rounded Oahu and headed north, we then endured about 36 hours of the not so pleasant swell cross-up while close reaching into 20-25 knots. While we were making good speed, sleeping was very tough on account of the noise and quick motion. I think most of us were feeling it in one way or another and our provisions were hardly touched. I’ve never even felt queasy offshore (and I’ve been through an F9 storm off California), but I was feeling it big time, though I managed to avoid feeding the fish!
After that, conditions mellowed considerably as the sea state gradually smoothed out and the wind slowly abated, and the barometer soared. Appetites returned, and we all started to get to know each other a little bit and really enjoy the trip. Our track was almost due north, and we enjoyed a few days of close reaching with a mellow swell, warm temps and 10-15 knot breeze. Chim Chim really shined, making 9-10 knots SOG in true wind speeds of 8-9 knots! Eventually we ran out of breeze all together, and resorted to motoring across the high in search of the prevailing westerly on the other side. We took a break one day and went for an awesome swim in beautifully warm and clear water, and had a fantastic dolphin visit. Then, the sky began to change as the barometer fell, and it did really look like we were soon to have a totally different experience. The wind filled in from the southwest, and we had a few days of on and off rainy weather and much cooler temps. About 600 miles west of landfall the wind died altogether, and with a poor forecast we resigned ourselves to a long motor to finish up the remainder of the passage. Just when it looked like the wind wasn’t going to happen, we came out of the fog and ended up broad reaching towards Cape Flattery, sailing consistently at speeds in the high teens, and peaking at 26! On the last morning the breeze died again and we motored through the strait of Juan de Fuca in calm conditions with very smokey skies on account of all of the forest fires still burning in BC. We stopped in Port Angeles just before dark and had a great dinner ashore, and finished up the final leg to Seattle the next day.
Overall, it was a great trip on a great boat with a great group of people, and I’m thankful I was included. I learned a lot about sailing a modern fast cat. Some observations:
1) ” Chim Chim is a good boat. ”  We ate great meals in comfort while blasting along at 20 knots and more, though the motion is quick and does take a bit of getting used to if you come from a monohull background.
2) Coming from monohulls, the downwind sailing angles in light wind can be frustrating, since significant VMG gains aren’t really made until the wind hits 12-14 knots. It’s just something that takes getting used to. And order to maximize VMG you need the right kite up. We primarily used a fractional reacher since it was forgiving and had great range.
3) We pushed Chim Chim pretty aggressively, and aside from blowing up the bearings in one block, nothing broke and Chim Chim arrived looking great. One of the Yanmar sail drives was acting up, but ultimately it sorted itself out. All boats need continuous maintenance, and no matter how expensive or extravagant, you’ll deal with leaks and clogged heads.
4) Take more books than you think you will need.
5) Hawaii to the mainland is an easier (though much longer) trip than Cabo San Lucas to SF and points north.
6) Though I already love Alsager, I have a new appreciation for her, and while she won’t do 25 knots and certainly doesn’t sail flat, I was fired up to sail her up the Delta and Napa river with my family as soon as I got back!

Sherman Island Anchorage

When it is foggy in San Francisco, you can find Paradise in Sherman Island. One of the privileges of having a Sailboat is that you do not need to sit in traffic and have your bed and kitchen always with you. The little island across the Sherman Island Kite launch, is a little bit protected and thus, a good spot to anchor. It is not an easy task, especially since it is mostly blowing strong during peak months and tides are important for this to be a success. But ones managed, it is absolutely heaven for the Kid, the Dog and the Kitesurf crew. On low tide, it is possible to setup and launch your Kite and it seems less of a hazard zone having less people around. This time it was only our little Family, but it was super nice to have people come by and visit and to watch the Kiters do there thing!

Enjoy our little movie, the Dinghy took us to shore and also to the sketchy Marina at Sherman, where you can stock up on ice at the little General Store.

 

Delta Sail from Sausalito – Sherman Island

We have packed our Kitesurfing gear, the Dog, Food, Drinks, Kid and Toys to go on a Sail up the Delta. First destination is Sherman Island, where we hope to get a bit of Kite surfing in. The sail is smooth, the kid easy and the dog relaxed. Even starting off with not having the amount of wind we expected, from Port Chicago to our destination we were sailing fast. It took about 7 hours and our friend greeted us a few times foiling all over the place. Thanks also for your help anchoring by the island. 🙂