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Day 15 Good downwind sailing

Tuesday 9th November

A relaxed, pleasant day with a fair amount of cloud, but no rain, wind mainly from the north and consistently 12-15 kt. Quite a lot of radio chat .... highly sociable!

By this evening, we were 425 ml west of Ensenada, Mexico - I had guacamole to celebrate!! Ensenada is not far south of San Diego and I have pleasant memories of my first check-in to Mexico there in 2005. The Port Captain's people had kept me waiting over someone's lunch-time ('momentido' became over two hours...) on the Friday, to make a credit card payment - and then tried to tell me I'd now need to pay 'overtime' fees since it was gone 2 pm. No way...!! So I stayed for the weekend to complete my paperwork early on the Monday, only to discover that all of Ensenada was 'En Carnaval' - Shrove Tuesday was coming up and the entire population celebrated with dancing and music, with several live bands competing down the main street and in the main square until 4am each night, a fair, lots of food and other stalls, entire families, from babies to grandparents, enjoying the night's entertainment - all in total, friendly security, as I made my way back on sore feet, from so much dancing, to 'Nereida' in the early hours of each morning.

I discovered Mexican bands with their blaring brass and flamboyant costumes - I thought they must be deliberately playing slightly off-key as a joke - but then realized this was their norm!! I well remember dancing the 'pasa doble' in the jam-packed Plaza de la Republica' two nights running! And the processions with lots of floats in the daytime - with the Carnival Queen, ... King, ... and several princes & princesses...! All great fun!

My radio chats today started first thing with the Gt Northern Boaters Net on 3870 soon after 8am .... We're still just making contact, although it's getting more difficult. Went to 14340 kHz at 9am to discuss my battery problem with Bill, VE7WSM in Port Alberni, B.C.. For the second night running, I'd had a major power problem with my batteries showing a voltage way down on what was good for them. I'd been forced to start the main engine to charge them for a short time initially, in order to get the generator to start, the voltage being so low. That kills batteries - so quite a worry!

We decided that the main culprit was running the fridge overnight - the draw is 7A when it's running, so with no power going in from solar overnight or from wind (from sailing downwind), that was pulling the batteries way down . Running the radio for emailing and weather also didn't help - I'm going to have to watch really carefully at night - maybe run the genset for a short while with fridge on & while sending/receiving emails via radio, and then turn fridge off afterwards & overnight if windgen not running. It's called 'battery management'!

At 3.30pm PST, I checked in with Art, K7WAH, Net Control for the US Maritime Mobile Net (in case I couldn't contact the PacSeaNet later) - excellent copy. More discussion about batteries with Bill ... and then I was called by Mike, KE6SAM, of S/Y 'Tortue', in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz - more chatting! We thought it likely that we'd met in 2005 when I was also in the La Paz marina - a nice Mexican town.

I furled in the stays'l to prepare the pole for poling out the genoa (speed promptly went down 0.5-1 knot)... but I couldn't open the jaw at the pole end which takes the lines - so couldn't get it off its holder on deck. I've poured a kind of oil over the part and I'll have to try again tomorrow. If I still can't move it, I'll have to use the telescopic aluminium pole I have - it's much heavier but still works fine. Just much more awkward to manoeuvre than the lightweight carbon pole.

When time came (at 0315UTC) for me to try checking in with the Pacific Seafarers Net, there was no problem - Cirrus, ZL2CVJ, was clear as bell and told me I was to him also... so maybe propagation on that band is getting better at last. Possibly my being further south is a help also.

I'll write my email replies ready for sending now and then get to sleep - being up from 4am in the morning means I have to make up sleep later on. I usually download weather info and look it over at that time also .... radio propagation is usually good then so it's a good time also to connect to send/receive emails.

I was pleased to see the 130 ml 24hr run we made up to noon UTC (4am local time this morning!) - I'm hoping for even better today, with the good speed we've been making - all partly depends on how straight a course we've made. And I just love the way I keep seeing our speed shoot up to over 7 knots, as we surf gently in the following swell...

Written by : Mike

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