Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sailing 2: Ensenada to Hautulco

Again - this is from an email that I sent to everyone which I have posted pretty much as it was:

Where to start......First, I want to say sorry for the long email but I haven´t sent anything since the hand incident (it is doing fine by the way) and feel free to skim through this if long emails cause you significant amounts of pain: I feel that way often. Also, I may be off on the dates a little but hey thats the way it goes and the events are all real or based reality, mine that is.

We (Rusty, myself and one of Rusty´s best friends John M. who was the man!) left Ensenada around 3 in the afternoon on the 24 of April for what should have been a 4 day trip to Cabo San Lucas and sailed out of the bay with beautiful skies and a nice wind, sailing south for approximately 8 hours. (I actually didn't write this in the email but when we went to fill up with diesel, we didn't know the caps for water and fuel got switched when the deck was in short, through a closed vent tube, we somehow dumped 40 gallons of diesel onto Rusty's clothes which smelled FOR A LONG TIME).

We drank a toast to the trip and looked forward to the next few days. After my shift at the wheel, I went below for some rest while John took the wheel. Somewhere around 11pm I think, I awake to an incredibly loud bang that sounded like we had hit something and jarred the whole boat, followed by sounds of John and Rusty yelling about and moving around. Apparently the winds had changed and caused us to accidentally jibe due to changes in wind direction (basically, the boom for the main sail which was on one side of the boat tried to swing all of the way over to the opposite side and if it were not for the jibe preventer which is basically a pulley and some rope, the boom would have taken out the rigging (metal wires) holding up the mast. As it was, the event only put a 4 foot crack in the boom which we didn't find out for another couple of days when we finally got out of what the weather people for mariners called the evil front but we didn't know this at the time. For the next 48plus hours we were slammed with 40knot winds, 40plus gusts and up to 18 ft seas, which caused us to lose out steering after around 40 hours (we had a manual emergency control) which we used to limp into a small fishing village off Isla Cedras. However, the port isn't really open to sailboats and we had to call the US Coast Guard and have them call the port to get permission. The marina navy came out armed with M16´s which was a sight but were extremely friendly and guided us into the harbor where we fixed our steering and a few other things while we got some serious rest. We were somewhat popular in the town, one guy came up and offered us soap, I think and manicures from his wife (He thought Rusty might have his wife on board I think), a group of middle school boys in uniform came out to say hi in a 12 foot panga, and we were not sure if they were gonna board us or what, but eventually they just smiled and wanted some candy which we readily gave. We got a full night of sleep and we were on our way to Cabo.

We motored along for about 8 more hours (I think this was around Thursday the 27th) where we hit some more wind and swells but was what we had expected from our Master´s Weather report (this is the service all of the sailing racers etc use) so everything was okay for a day or so but then we started having problems with the voltage in our batteries. I will spare all of you the details of this part of the trip but basically, due to some design flaws in the electrical system and maybe user error one battery became over-charged and was off-gassing hydrogen gas, one battery was dead (the one powering our radar and gps systems) and 4 golf cart batteries were left sitting there fully charged and not being used (we didnt know this till after we got to Cabo). I spent the last 40 hours coming in to Cabo watching the battery systems and switching think around to get as much power as possible while still not causing a fire or blowing up the boat. Needless to say, Rusty was a bit weary, as we all were when we pulled in to Cabo around 11 in the morning on the first of May, I think. John M raced off the boat to catch his plane back to Atlanta, and Rusty went to the boat yard to get an electrician. Eventually, we got everything fixed (a couple new 150lb batteries which we had to install - they were heavy) and the electrician re-wired the system: and left us with a nice wiring diagram.

Kristiaan showed up on Thursday the 3rd and we were off across the sea of cortez to Puerto Vallarta. This time the trip was great and beautiful as we started feeling like we were in the tropics which technically I think we were after crossing the Tropic of Cancer. Rusty made it to a wedding for his wife´s best friend in Puerto Vallarta by at least an hour. The wedding was in the town of Conchas Chinas Beach (right next to Puerto Vallarta) at a place called Casa Tres Vidas - which I highly recommend if anyone is thinking of heading to Puerto Vallarta.

Rusty decided to get some general maintenance performed on the diesel engine (injectors serviced, oil change etc) which was easier to do at the marina then at sea so we hung out for an extra week during which time Rusty took a trip back to Florida and Cori came down to visit for a few days.

Another friend of Rusty´s showed up in Vallarta, Reb, and while we were waiting for the mechanic to be available we headed about 6 miles away to an anchorage in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle for 3 days. Now my favorite dish so far in Mexico, is roasted chicken with tortillas which we eat any time we find a new place and we have probably tried about 12 places so far. In my opinion, the best so far has been at the little beach in La Cruz where a young girl and her grandpa had a little stand on the beach with spice-rubbed chicken BBQ´d over some fresh mesquite with some great roasted pepper salsa in a mason jar; all of which was washed down with a fresh pineapple fruit that was mashed up with oranges,papaya, limes, and picante sauce which was served back in the pineapple....mmmmm.

Eventually we took off on the the 10th of May from Puerto Vallarta heading south where we stayed one night at Bahia Tenacatita which was beautiful, and then motored down to Zihuatanejo, arriving on wednesday the 16th. We went fishing and had our fresh catch cooked for us on a little beach which was great, did a bunch of laundry and then kicked Reb off (back to Florida) and Rusty and I headed down to Huatulco on around the 18th .

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