Okay, I've been on the hook here in Cabo San Lucas for nearly two weeks, and things have finally settled down. It's time to update the blog.
The Baja Haha was worth it. To the left are Rod and Elizabeth from Proximity. They were on "N" dock, back in my old marina, for the last five years or so. In fact, we had an "N Dock reunion" at this rally, as just about all of the cruisers or liveaboards on N dock in Marina Village either had taken off for good, or were crewing on another boat for the Haha. From what I hear, N Dock has completely changed character since we left. That makes sense, since all the characters are gone. Even our Harbormaster, Alan Weaver, was crewing on one of the big catamarans. Alan has long been recognized as one of the coolest Harbormasters in the SF Bay area, and he's really good at assigning berths on docks to compatible people and friends.
Oh, right. We were supposed to wear Halloween costumes to the kickoff party. Rod and Elizabeth were Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
I just bought big ears and noses for everyone on my crew.
Okay, I'm lazy -- and cheap. However, they were a big hit.
To the left is Utkon. Yes, he has a boat back on N Dock in Alameda, and joined the crew at the last minute. My sailing bud Mark, back in California, had for bail three days before the start when his business went berserk and started to implode. Stuff happens, oh well. It was a big disappointment for everyone, but sometimes you just have to take care of business. No worries, dude.
Nearly 200 boats signed up for the "Sweet Sixteen" Haha rally, although a dozen dropped out before the start due to mechanical or health issues. Click on the pic to the right to see what the start looked like from my perspective. That was just off the port side; it was just as busy to starboard. I didn't try to lead the pack. Why?
After the start, the fleet started to spread out. The weather forecast was looking nasty, and half the fleet was mildly panicked. Due to a front up north, the forecast was for 30 knot breezes and 15-20 foot waves in the middle of the night on 27/10/09. That forecast mellowed considerably by the 26th, and was down to 15-20 knot breezes with gusts to 30, and a 12-15 foot swell. For non-sailors, note that wave size is measured from sea level, so a 15 foot wave is actually 30 feet tall when you're at the bottom of the trough.
I crossed paths with Proximity again, about 15 miles off shore, and they snapped the pic to the left about a half hour before sunset on the 27th. Thank you! It's so hard to get a picture like that.
The first leg was a bit rough for some folks. Half the fleet holed up for the night, but we looked at that forecast and said "Sounds like fun" and kept sailing. We stayed within 25 miles of the coast, as it was supposed to be a lot rougher on the outside. The waves did stack up between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. and I had a few times falling sideways off the back of a wave and being slammed on the beam by the next one. That was annoying, but no worries. Some folks claimed gusts to 35 and 20 foot waves, but I never saw it. However, I did keep the boat to myself all night, and just told my crew to go back to bed. I was going to be up anyway.
We did lose a boat for the first time, when J/World hit a whale. Scary.
Well, I did suffer a major mishap along the way. I must mention it.
I think the root cause was simply that my crew and I hadn't sailed together enough. We also had a bit of an issue with everyone wanting to be Captain and no one wanting to be crew, but that's another story.
Anyway, in the middle of the night we dropped the asym due to lack of breeze, and then somehow missed a jibe and ended up dead in irons. Planning to just give the boat a nudge to starboard, I fired up the engine. Oops. One of the asym sheets was under the boat, wrapped the prop, snapped one of the set screws and the high tensile bolt that goes through the shaft and bushing, and then pulled the shaft back out of the bushing, which threw the key and left my prop shaft and transmission with nothing but a friction fit.
We then proceeded to motor for about 10 hours, and the shaft and transmisstion bushing slowly ground about 1/32" of surface area into metal dust. I am so screwed. This needs a perfectly machined fit. The least bit of play will wear parts out in a few hours, and eventually destroy the cutlass bearings around the prop shaft.
I missed the beach party in Bahia Santa Maria, as it took about five hours with a six inch gear puller to separate the parts. It had to be done, as the prop was getting close the the strut, and the *last* thing I want is to have the prop grinding against the strut and transferring the entire forward load onto a bronze piece that was only designed to hold the shaft in alignment. Then there was another five hours figuring out how to hack it back together so I could safely use the engine and get back underway. By the time my crew returned from the beach party I was in a very foul state of mind.
Fortunately I have tools and parts to do major on-the-fly repairs, but this one will require some welding and machining. I was able to get it back together well enough to move the boat to and from anchor, and have lots of spare key stock on board.
More on this later. No doubt.
Here's the obligatory sunset picture, pulling into Bahia Santa Maria.
Here's Cory, who taught me how to fish on this boat.
I'd bought some fishing stuff, but really didn't have a clue. I told everyone, including the guys I bought the fishing stuff from, that I didn't have a clue. In fact, the exact words were "I don't have a clue."
So, we started catching fish.
We had a lot of discussion about what to do after the fish was on board, to avoid getting blood and guts all over the entire boat.
For some odd reason, I was the only one concerned about getting blood and
guts all over my boat. Perhaps because this is my home, and I'm going to be
living on this boat for a long time. I want to keep the smell down.
So I insisted that no one go below with feet covered in fish blood and guts. I don't think that's being fussy.
To the left is our first of two Bluefin Tuna. Yup, a Bluefin.
We ate it raw. I keep soy sauce and wasabi on board, of course.
I think this is the six or eighth or tenth Dorado. We lost count.
I love Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) and am not afraid to show it.
After the fourth fish, we figured out a system to keep all the blood and guts outside the cockpit. That's good. I do need to get a better fish cleaning table, but those Starboard cockpit seats on the custom stern rail actually work very well.
Anyway, we finally pulled into Cabo at dawn on November 5, 2009. Apparently there was a big fishing tournament at the time, and as we approached the harbor a big bang sounded and about 150 boats took off in a head-on course towards me, at full speed. I'm glad that didn't happen at night, becuase it would have been disconcerting to watch on the radar.
Finally, with everyone gone, I can start to put my boat back together.
It's taken nearly two weeks.
I'm totally over the "crew" thing. More on that some other day.
From now on, no one crews on my boat unless I'm sure that he or she knows what it means to be crew. If you really want to annoy me, just come on my boat, start ordering me around, tell me how to sail my own damn boat, and treat my home like a rental charter boat.
Heck, I don't need crew to sail this boat.
All's well, though, as I know how to grit my teeth and smile.
20 years in sales teaches tolerance.
Something smells really bad down in the lazarette.
Time to pull everything out and take a look.
As far as I know, all my crew got on planes for home...