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S/V Nereida sails around the world

Arrival in San Carlos... Blanca dies down as she heads N over the Baja

Wednesday 3rd June 2015: Landfall in San Carlos, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
{Monday 8th June - all looking fine, despite a very overcast, breezy day - TS Blanca has reduced to a Low and winds and rain here in San Carlos are not much, although over on the Baja peninsula conditions have been a bit stronger - but nothing too bad, TG!}
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
June 7th, 8:00
The friendly little swallows on the boat opposite me in Isla Mazatlan had fledged their nestlings . The closed stern barbecue conveniently had a hole at one end that was just the right size for them.. It seemed the right time to leave Mazatlan to head north again - the prospect of sailing overnight in the bright light of a full moon was appealing...

The hurricane season has started up with a vengeance - Andres obligingly turned out to sea, as expected, but was very early and increased to well over a hundred miles per hour... To my surprise, Blanca was hot on his heels and looking quite threatening, as I made my way up to the Sea of Cortez, in a good southerly swell. I'd spent a pleasant couple of evenings before leaving, firstly with cruiser friends and then with Osvaldo (skipper of 'Romance') and his family..

I was sorry Eduardo (skipper of 'Mi Casa') hadn't taken up my offer of a farewell 'cerveza' on my last afternoon. Both he and Osvaldo had been very keen to help me in whatever way they could, but Eduardo clearly didn't realise just how early I wanted to leave ..... By 7am, I was well underway, avoiding the dredger in the shallow entrance channel and hoping not to run into difficulties with the big swell over the entrance bar. The waves were crashing heavily into the nearby shore, coming from the S as a result of the hurricanes not so far away. Eduardo had appointed himself my Press Agent and I'd had two newspaper interviews and one TV interview by the time I had left - a severe test of the minimal Spanish I've been working hard at trying to improve.. Fortunately, Eduardo was close at hand with his good English, to translate when needed. My time in Mazatlan was made very enjoyable by the many friendly people I met up with (a wedding party included!) and I hope to return there soon.

My passage N was, as expected, full of motoring in increasingly calm seas with a diminishing S swell and occasional light breezes from just about every direction as the heat of the day caused an onshore sea breeze and; later; offshore land breezes. The mainsail had been raised from the start but I was only able to enjoy the peace of sailing a few times in all, with quite a nice downwind run under poled-out genoa, goosewinged for a few hours.
Dolphins came by several times and. in the heat of the midday sun, I enjoyed a brief dip in the sea and a delicious deck shower within sight of San Carlos entrance and its familiar, distinctive, twin peaks . Other boats were only seen on arrival - surprisingly, I'd had the sea, sun and stars to myself for three days!

Now in harbour, I'm trying to find the cause of a major problem I had on passage - the toilet kept back-filling with sea water ... I had to turn off the outlet seacock to prevent the boat from flooding... Quite a worry, but a relief to see the water level in the bowl stay low in the end... I'm still trying to figure out what's going on. The other smaller problem was finding the motor stopping unexpectedly when I reduced power quickly (I was very gentle coming in to dock!). Luckily, there are two good mechanics here in San Carlos, so that problem should be easy to fix.. The other nice thing is the friends and acquaintances that are here - it has felt like a bit of a 'homecoming' having been here for most of last year when I met so many people - but I hope not to be on the hard again this time.

Blanca is still a worry and several boats have crossed over from the Baja peninsula to escape the very strong winds and heavy rain expected - far more so over there, to the West, than is forecast for here (Historically, San Carlos has been a good 'hurricane hole'). With any luck, Cabo San Lucas and the Baja won't be hit too hard. We were expecting some strong weather here also but the last I heard, Blanca will move out into the Pacific soon and not cause so much trouble on land as had been feared. ... Fingers crossed!  (Well, she actually came onshore at Cabo San Lucas and La Paz and on North, but diminished as she came - see above)

Arrival in San Carlos, from Ensenada via San Jose del Cabo and La Paz

23rd February 2014   A long-overdue report...

Arrival back in Ensenada from UK, via San Diego, was late in January - and Navico's local Mexican experts immediately came to help sort out my VHF radio problems - very much appreciated!   Ensenada was warm in daytime but got very cold at night but Cruiseport marina was  notable for its warm, friendly community .   Leaving was delayed - an electrical fire on board was luckily averted when the starboard navlight was found to have shorted and burnt out, with wiring overheating as a result - a certain fire hazard if left.   More rewiring problems were dealt with and we finally got away, with lots of newly-made friends to say a regretful "Goodbye" to, on Wed 12th February - with Joey and Pete coming out in a dinghy to video my departure.

I decided to pause in Bahia de Tortugas where Randy and Joy were anchored and rafted up to 'Spirit of Hanalei'.   We had a great Valentine's party with two nearby boats and another enjoyable get-together the next evening with a new arrival - most of us knew each other from San Diego and/or Ensenada - typical of cruising!  The dusty village was explored - mostly subsisting on fishing and visiting cruisers, with only a few tourists visiting by land.  I needed to find the local Telcel shop - its large towers were easily visible inland from the fuel dock, where  a dinghy landing was made among large numbers of seabirds and their 'guano'...

The wind was often too light to sail, so the motor was turned on for most of the passage south, but occasionally the wind would get up nicely and I had a particularly good downwind sail one night, heading on S down past the thoroughly arid, desert scenery of the Baja California peninsula - with its often dramatic peaks and eroded sand-coloured hillsides.  I kept a look out for whales - but only saw dolphins, always a pleasure when they keep the boat company, leaping around.  Randy and Joy later went to San Ignacio Whale Reserve, not far S of Turtle Bay, and recounted being surrounded by large numbers of greys - an amazing experience, they said.

It's never good to be sailing to a deadline as I was, needing to reach San Carlos fairly quickly, to catch a flight out to New York via Austin, Texas, soon.  I passed Bahia Magdalena where I'd had the amazing experience in 2004 of leaving my overnight anchorage at sunrise, to be surrounded by  whales near and far - even diving under the boat as I passed close to them unavoidably.  This time I passed the entrance overnight and didn't stop, making instead for Cabo San Lucas - whose increased winds gave a vigorous, lively, thoroughly enjoyable sail , albeit in rough waters until rounding into its lee, where the wind slowly dropped away almost completely.   A local 'panga' with two tourists, clearly on a 'whale-watching' outing, came speeding up to me to ask if I'd seen any whales.  I was keeping well offshore but saw a cluster of pangas at one point closer inshore - a whale there, possibly?

Cabo San Lucas is renowned for its sport fishing but is very expensive so I didn't stop, instead making for San Jose del Cabo a short distance further N, on the inside of the Baja peninsula, where I was hoping to meet up with a 'ham ' radio contact I'd spoken to at times since 2007 from the S. Atlantic.  With difficulty, I persuaded the Marina office there NOT to charge me for stopping 2-3 hours while Mike, KC0YHM, and I went for a pleasant meal and chat in the old town.  $50 for a stop of even just10 minutes seemed rather excessive to my mind!

So I took off at 10pm, without my hoped-for short sleep beforehand, to sail on up the coast towards La Paz - actually a total motoring exercise in 2-4kt of wind... There was beautiful sunset on each of the two hot days it took to get there and lovely starry nights.  Again, I was only stopping in the hope of meeting up with cruiser friends - and managed two of three...   Robert of 'Del Viento', whose family I'd first met in Victoria, B.C., came by the fuel dock next morning in Marina de La Paz, where I had been fortunate to find a lovely long, empty space on arrival there in the dark the previous night.

I'd hoped to raft up to another friend's boat that evening, in peaceful Bahia Balandra, a short distance from La Paz town with its long entrance channel bordered by extensive shoals.  But the wind and sea had got up that afternoon and the small bay was open to the swell, so it was too rolly safely to raft up, as I'd hoped to.   I then found I had a problem removing the bowsprit and releasing the anchor-pin, although I later persevered with that, and finally succeeded in freeing the anchor ready for possible use in case I couldn't find an empty dock to tie to.   Steve, of 'Westerly', who I knew from my 2006 Single-Handed Transpac Race from San Francisco to Kauai, has cruised Mexico regularly since then but is hoping to explore more of the Sea of Cortez, as I do, once repairs and other works on "Nereida' are completed - in June, hopefully.  It was good to catch up over a meal before I left late in the afternoon to head N towards San Carlos,  with several islands passed on the way meaning only short naps were possible so as to keep a frequent watch.    Another windless passage, with hot sun in the daytime - but better than bashing into a 'Norther' which could have been a distinct possibility.

In La Paz it was nice to meet up with a lot of friendly cruisers and I had a lovely arrival in San Carlos where a small group of boats, headed by Bill and Micheila on  came out to welcome me in - it still feels rather odd when people I've never met before come up to shake my hand and greet me!   Having made good time, it was very good to cut the motor and sail very gently towards the dramatic rocky headlands on either side of the entrance to San Carlos Bay where the marina lies tucked away - it's quite a well-known hurricane hole.

I made a lot of radio contacts each morning and evening while on passage - often with people I've now met face to face!   I'll be hauling the boat soon, here in San Carlos, before heading to Austin for presentations to the Yacht Club on Friday and the Radio Club on Saturday.  I'm looking forward to visiting Austin - it's well-known for its music and Brad, NA5BD, and Tom, N5TW, (who helped me a lot with radio communications while I was circumnavigating) will be hosting me.  The following Tuesday, I fly into New York to stay at the N.Y.Y.C., ready for the Cruising Club of America's Awards Dinner on Friday 7th March - when I'll be receiving their 'Blue Water Medal'.

From New York, I'll be flying to London, to take part in an ITV Show - that should be fun!  And in April I'll be receiving the OCC's Barton Cup..... and at some point I'll be receiving the Royal Cruising Club's 'Seamanship Medal' So there's lots happening just now .... and lots of people being met up with...

Work on 'Nereida' that I'd expected to have finished by now is being put 'on hold' until my return.   Typically, friends Robert and Rose, whose boat 'Tillicum' has been totally stripped and refurbished here over the last year , are still busy - each project seems to turns into another unexpected one and they're running several months beyond their expected finish date.

(Photos to be posted soon....)