Turtle Bay to Asuncion Bay to Santa Maria Bay

I believe I last posted the day before we were to leave Turtle Bay. After 3 days recovering there, we decided to check the motor before our departure. This is when we learned to check the motor upon *arrivals* from then on… Turns out our heat exchanger bracket broke off. The unit was now wedged down against the engine. Too much vibration over our 3 days of travel? We were uncertain if the unit itself had been damaged. It appeared that maybe there was more fluid in our exhaust manifold? We were a little freaked out, because this heat exchanger was fairly new –our old one busted after our first big trip from Half Moon Bay (was that 2012?). At that time we had ended up with salt water running through everything and it was a big ugly process to flush it all out and get it all working again. We thought we needed a new exhaust manifold then, too, but it ended up being OK.

So, here we are in Turtle Bay, a town of very limited resources. If our heat exchanger was really broken, our only option would be to hitchhike or find a bus (?) out to a more main town and try to get a bus to Ensenada, rent a car and drive to San Diego to get a new part. Not a very exciting or affordable prospect. Our first order of business was to remove the heat exchanger and try to test it. We also went to search for an auto parts store and/ welder to see if we could get a new bracket made. The old bracket was not fixable – as it was already welded once after the last time it broke… Ideally we should move the heat exchanger to a different location, but that would take extra lengths of hoses that we will definitely not find for purchase anytime soon.

We ventured back to Turtle Bay town for a little recon to see what might possibly be available to us.

TB Beer StoreWe discovered it was much bigger than we initially thought, although still quite limited. It was ALL dusty and dirty, though. And the wheelchar accessible sidewalks left something to be desired (check out the pole in the middle…) TB Handicap sidewalk

We learned a lot of new Spanish words! The auto parts store owner didn’t carry any anti-freeze (anticongelante) but he did know a welder (soldador) he recommended to us. He took great pains to write down everything and teach us a few new words. Very nice guy.

Meanwhile, back on Summer we checked out the heat exchanger and ran water through it and blew through the ends.TB Heat X broke It appeared that the salt water and fresh water lines remained in tact and were not mixing with each other. This was quite a relief! Now all we had to do was to get a new bracket welded. Luckily Jonny had save a couple pieces of leftover heavy stainless steel bars that would be much beefier than the previous bracket, if we could get them fabricated into a new bracket.

TB Soldador

The next day we hunted for the soldador. He was not at his shop. We stopped back by the auto parts store to ask Juan if he knew where we might find Manuel the welder. He ended up loading us into his giant Toyota truck and driving us around town until we ended up at Manuel’s house. He called from the truck “Manuel! Manuel! Clientes! Clientes!”. Manuel came out and Juan translated for us (although Juan spoke not a word of English). Somehow we managed to convey we needed a new bracket the exact dimensions of the old bracket and he said he could do it and use our stainless. It would cost 200 pesos (around $15). We left everything with him and said we’d come back in the morning.

We met some really nice folks also anchored in the bay, Sugar, Jake and Alyce, who were aboard a gorgeous yawl. Sugar is a very accomplished sailor/captain who has a much larger boat up in Port Townsend, but was on this trip aboard his father’s boat. Alyce, his daughter was also quite a sailor who has worked aboard sailing/teaching boats, Jake was a college friend of Alyce and also a sailing instructor. They had some extra mahi that they thought they couldn’t finish- so they invited us to be their dinner guests that night. We were very excited about the prospect of our first ‘boat visit’ in the anchorage! I decided to make a batch of brownies to take over. I have to say this batch was the BEST I ever made!

TB Best Brownies

We rowed our dinghy over to their boat and had a wonderful evening cooking and chatting. Sugar had some amazing stories – including a tale of being first mate aboard a tall ship that sank off the east coast. Four people died and he spent 5 days in 6 person life raft with 8 people. He had a lot of happy stories, too…

TB Sugar Dinner

The next morning we went to Manuel’s house and he had the bracket. It seemed as if it needed a little bit of tweaking, so he drove us to his shop and made some adjustments for us. Once we had it just right, we asked the price (assuming it would be more for all the extra work). It was still 200 pesos!   We stopped back by Juan’s shop to bring him some brownies to thank him for all his help (we never even bought anything from him). I learned how to say brownies : bizcocho de chocolate.

Jonny also gave Manuel a sanding disk for his sander – as a propina (tip).

Jonny spent an entire day working on further tweaking the bracket so it would all fit back together. There wasn’t much to do in Turtle Bay except sit at the restaurant and use wifi and wander to all the tiny markets trying to piece together a decent food supply. Greens are not something very abundant around here. Baja is a desert, so there’s not much local produce to begin with, and these little towns are so remote and deliveries infrequent. There’s just not much variety or availability of anything. I need to learn more cabbage recipes.

TB Summer Moon

I think we spent 4 more days in Turtle Bay after we had wanted to leave. But finally the day came for us to depart. We were really anxious to get more south, still wearing fleece and uggs every night…no bueno!

TB JC Internet

We left Turtle Bay just before dawn. The sunrise was incredible (and gave Jonny a scare, thinking about the “Red Sky at morning, sailors take warning” saying – but it was really more of an orange, not red…

TB Sunrise leave

We had a lovely sail – plenty of wind and everything going in the right direction. It did get a little hairy at one point – huge seas and fishing buoys everywhere, but we got through it and on to more smooth sailing.

We anchored in Bahia Asuncion. There was only one other boat there aside from the local fishing pangas. We saw a lot of people come and go from Turtle Bay – and we were the only ones left when we finally departed. Kind of felt like we ‘missed the boat’ or something… But Asuncion seemed pleasant enough from the boat and I was anxious to check it out. The bay was full of hundreds of baby sea lions, who were VERY curious. They swarmed our boat the entire first night. I wasn’t entirely sure what they were, but there was definitely “something out there” making noises all night. In the morning we discovered they liked to swim around and through our anchor chain – often stopping to bite at it (later in the week they actually loosened our bridle).

Asun Sealions – VIDEO*******

Asuncion has cliffs that vaguely reminded me of Santa Cruz.

Asun Cliffs

There was a main ‘beach’ that panga fisherman landed on and seemed to have the least amount of swell. Jonny was not interested in going ashore the first day, he’d been working on the motor and after the long sail, he just wanted a day to chill on the boat. So he kindly dropped me off so I could explore town. It pretty much blew Turtle Bay away, making me think “Wow, Turtle Bay was a real dump!”. The main drag was clean and tidy and had well kept bougainvillea plants down the center.Asun Flowers I went into the first tienda I saw and bought a Jumex pina (the best pineapple juice around) and asked the woman where the internet café was (first things, first, right?). She told me and I understood, sort of. I headed off in the right direction and figured I’d find someone else to ask if I didn’t see it. I saw it, but the lure of what was up ahead had me pass it by. I figured I’d just walk to the end of town so I could see it all and then come back to it. Just before the end of town I noticed Campo Sirena – which I had read about in one of our cruising guides. Apparently the owner is an ex-cruiser who settled here to run this camp. It was rumored they had a shower and other facilities. I wandered over that way and noticed a nice view overlooking the water. I went down to take some picture of Summer at anchor (how many of these pictures do we need? Why can’t I stop taking them?). As I was admiring the view, a bearded man driving a red quad with a puppy in a shopping basket on the front came out my way. The tiny puppy was ferociously barking at me. Of course I went over to say hi. This is when I met Perry and Bonz. I had a short chat with Perry (which later I realized turned out to be over an hour). Perry was caretaking a house next to the camp. He used to work at the camp and filled me in on all the details. There was a washing machine, shower, fresh water hose, and wifi that could all be obtained at this magic little hut in the midst of the campground. I was ecstatic! We needed ALL those things.

Perry Bonz1

Perry is from Shasta CA and looking for a less stressful retirement situation here in Baja. He recently found Bonz, a 3 month old mutt who was abandoned at the dump – which is what often happens to litters of pups down here. She was apparently the only one of her litter not eaten by coyotes. She was desperately in need of a good home –and as it turns out, Perry came to realize he was desperately in need of a good puppy. Both of them are quite lucky.  Bonz was giving me flashbacks to Flaco, the puppy I rescued one year down at 9 Palms (where we used to go camping every December). Flaco was taken in by a Canadian family and (I hope) is romping in Vancouver to this very day.

Asun Mermaid

The next day I did a load of laundry over at the camp, while Jonny took a load of water back to the boat in our jerry cans. This is when I met Ricardo, a plump guy who was doing work at the camp. He was taking a break to check his phone at the little wifi/shower/laundry hut. We chatted for quite a while. He was a pretty friendly guy, young and speaking almost no English (at least to me…maybe he spoke more?). Most of what he wanted to talk to me about was if I had a lot of boyfriends and sex…and if I wore a bikini or thong. He tried to show me some porn on his phone, claiming it was a friend of his. I said I wasn’t interested and he laughed at how rojo (red) I got. Most of you who know me, know that sort of thing wouldn’t normally freak me out, but I was suddenly very aware that it has been a long time since I had to be mindful of my safety – and I was “not in Kansas anymore”… I decided that I would wait till Jonny came back before taking a shower in the bathroom with no lock on the door. I left the comfort of the magic hut to sit outside and wait for the washing machine (which was outside the hut) to finish up – and leave Ricardo and his phone in peace. When Jonny returned, Ricardo kindly offered to watch our dinghy – for a tip. We were not worried about the dinghy at all, but when someone offers you protection, for a price, it’s not wise to turn them down. I‘ve seen enough mafia movies.

Jonny and I had a brief walkabout to the end of town after our showers and found the ‘big’ grocery store. There was also a store that looked like it might carry hose clamps. Oh yeah, on the trip to Asuncion, although there was very little motoring, the 2 hose clamps holding our heat exchanger to the new bracket – sheared right off. More work needed to do something about the apparently extreme vibrations.

The following day we went ashore for more laundry (we had SO much) and I brought some leftovers in the event we ran into Perry – to help fatten up Bonz. Luckily we did run into Perry and Bonz right when we got to the magic hut. He suggested it might be nicer if we did our laundry in the machine at his place. What a sweet guy! We went over to the house/compound where he was staying – nice and secure with a great clothes line! Jonny and Perry got to talking about our heat exchanger situation and they got to rummaging through Perry’s stuff looking for parts to help with our vibration issues. I realized that Perry reminded me of Cliff (see Chula Vista Time post) – which endeared him even more. I ended up getting 2 loads of laundry washed and hung while we visited with Perry. He is full of fascinating stories and the day just melts by when you are with him. We all went to lunch at a great restaurant at the end of town. I loved the bathroom there…

Asun toilets

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with Perry and finally made our way back to Summer.

The days went on and on with a number of fun visits with Perry and unfortunately several days of a bad headache (in which I did not get to visit with Perry! He was certainly a highlight of Asuncion Bay). Anyway I’m not sure entirely what happened, but 9 days went by… We kept saying we were going to leave, but the weather kept being off – either the wind was coming from the wrong direction, or the waves were huge. I think in the end I said at least 4 “goodbyes” to Perry.

Jonny had caught a tiny nondescript fish and a small mahi. We brought some to Perry (along with more leftovers for Bonz) and it turns out he was just on his way to have tacos at the best taco place in town. We went along and met Spike (from Hawaii) and ran into another gang at the taco shop. I finally met Shari who owns the camp at which we’d been so grateful to shower several times, and a nice couple from Canada traveling around Baja in their Subaru.

Asun Jonny FIsh

One last shower, using wifi to Skype with Mom and Dad, chatting with Spike, yet one more goodbye to Perry, and a final grocery shop and we were READY to depart. We were cleaning up, putting the dinghy onboard and I was cooking up a storm (beans, breakfast jars, all sorts of passage eats) until well after dark. We had planned to get a few hours sleep and then take off so that we could arrive roughly 38 hours later at our next destination in the daylight. By the time we’d finished, it was kind of too late to get any sleep, so we decided to just take off then and give ourselves a little extra leeway on the arrival end. It was kind of smart, but also kind of dumb (we were pretty exhausted already). Neither of us slept the first night, really. It was REALLY rough, big seas. I was glad it was dark because I was pretty sure I didn’t want to see how big the waves were. And cold. It was cold. We were bundled up. Still not far enough south!! This trip would help quite a bit with that, though.   A huge disappointment was that with our dinghy on deck we cannot use our whisker pole. This was a perfect trip for the whisker pole, too. We have yet to come up with a solution – dismantling the dinghy is such a hassle. We may try to find a different storage solution for the parts to make dismantling it easier. Right now it involves taking everything out of our aft lazarette and wedging in the 6 floorboard pieces, 2 rails and seat, and then putting everything else back in on top of that. Putting the dinghy together is that in reverse.

Mahi letgo

The next full day was a little calmer. But I found myself wondering how we were going to make it through another night – we were both completely exhausted. We contemplated just heaving to and both going down to sleep. We were 50 miles off shore, hadn’t seen land all day and not another boat in sight, it seemed like a safe thing to do. I went down to sleep and Jonny was going to hold out as long as he could before shutting it all down and coming to sleep, too. But after almost 4 hours I felt kind of OK – so I stood watch and Jonny got about 4 hours of good sleep. The 4 hours watch is a common amount of time when underway and luckily our VHF radio sounds an alarm every 4 hours. No, it’s not supposed to do that, but when it can’t find satellites to maintain lat/long position, it sounds an alarm – and when we use our chart plotter, the GPS doesn’t work on the VHF (someday we’ll fix that, it’s a wiring thing). So, we have a handy dandy watch alarm. It was quiet and the air was getting warmer and I did OK staying awake 11pm – 3am. I did wish Perry were there to regale me with some of his great stories, though. I missed him already!

We arrived in Bahia Santa Maria early afternoon on the 16th – only a few hours later than projected. There was only a powerboat anchored in the giant bay. There’s a tiny collection of lean-tos and pangas on the beach. There are mangroves and a giant long beach. The surf was pounding and we did not go ashore for 3 days. We watched the family from the powerboat try to take their dinghy ashore. They went back and forth behind the surf and finally gave up trying to land. Boats came and went and suddenly there were 5 other sailboats in the anchorage. It’s fun seeing other boats come in – when you’re down here, every boat is a cruising boat – there are no daysailors in this neck o the woods. So I nosily watch everyone come in and see what kind of ‘stuff’ they have on their boats, how they anchor, etc. Hey, it’s my only entertainment!

Today we finally (after much cajoling from me) went ashore. We had been watching the fisherman for days to see how they approached and got by the surf. But the distance makes things look quite a bit different than they are. We ended up going too far and too close to the rocks/ shallows and beached quite far from where we’d expected. We love our dinghy wheels! We dragged Peugeot down to the estuary. [OH, did I ever tell you how our dinghy got it’s name? It got this weird rust stain from being in the rafters of our garage – it looks like a lion – you know, the Peugeot logo? So yeah, that’s that, it stuck].

Puegeot towing

Anyway, at the mouth of the estuary, it all started making sense. We got the dinghy in and were able to motor up a ways. There were a couple of fish camps set in among the mangroves. It got really shallow a few times and we had to row – it was really low tide and we probably should do that when the tide is higher. Finally we gave up and just floated back down stream. I really wanted to go ashore and hike up a hill to see the other side– apparently this is a narrow strip of land and the ocean is just on the other side of the mountain. I tried to get out of the dinghy and drag it ashore in a really shallow spot. The shore turned to deep and suction-y mud. Jonny refused to get out and said we had to wait till the tide was higher and it wasn’t so shallow. So I pried my feet out of the muck and pulled the dinghy back out into the deeper water. I had packed some snacks so we ate and floated along slowly. We were both laughing at how we decided to get off our big boat, which we’d been on for 5 days straight, going really slow and are now spending hours in our little boat, going much slower. But it was kind of nice floating down among the mangroves and watching crabs on the bottom and all kinds of neat birds in the shallows.

SM JC Beach

We decided to check out the beach when we got to the mouth. We beached and started walking. There’s like 14 miles of pristine, untouched, completely deserted beach here. And if that wasn’t enough, the most AMAZING sand dollars I’ve ever seen. Hundreds and hundreds of them. The ocean was gorgeous, the shells amazing, the weather perfect, no one around anywhere. If there is a heaven and I was allowed to go there, that’s what it would be like for me.   Another dinghy did come ashore and I briefly crossed paths with a woman from Seattle on one of the big boats anchored out with us (yeah, they’re ALL big boats compared to us! Get used to it). SM Shark

SM Shells jh

SM beach windy — VIDEO******

So we were going to leave here 2 days ago and we don’t have a new departure date yet. I don’t know why I’m bothering to write that, because we also don’t have wifi yet and by the time we do, that sentence will be meaningless. I guess I’ll have to end here and start a new post for whatever is to come before we find wifi again.



Adios Chula Vista, Buenos Dias Mexico!

I’ve been hearing rumors of restlessness and potential mutiny in the Summer blog reader’s ranks. I have to apologize for taking so long to get another entry done. I don’t even remember how long it’s been. Now that we’re “underway” again, hopefully this will get more regular. You’d better get comfortable, this is going to be a long one.

What on earth have we been doing all this time?!? Go back to the last entry and read that paragraph of all the boat projects we had to do. That’s what we were doing, and then some!

Some highlights of our last weeks in Chula Vista (or, at least things I’m able to remember and have some photos for 😉 ):

We got our new rigging done – the job morphed from something huge and expensive to something far less involved and way cheaper. In the end we just beefed up our upper shrouds and replaced them with Sta-Lok hardware (easier to maintain & ourselves – although we had a great rigger who helped us do this and even taught us how – he was awesome, even if we did have to drive him around because he had no car…).

New Turnbuckles

Corroded BoomWe got our shade solution for the cockpit – that also morphed from hiring someone to design and make something that fit in with our existing dodger and sunbrella color and was extremely expensive – it turned in to “hey we found this manky, moldy canvas-y piece of stuff at Minney’s for $35 – let’s clean it up and put grommets in it and make it a boom-tent.


We celebrated Jonny’s 40th birthday (with a flourless chocolate cake he requested, but I think I liked it more than he did). JC Makes JH CakeHalloween was potentially going to be a bust, but we pulled it off in the last hours. I had a penguin hat that Sandra, Kiyomi and Adin had given me and some black and white clothes, so I had a no-frills costume.

JC Halloween Penguin But what about the birthday boy?? We racked our brains and looked at costume ideas online. What goes with a penguin? A leopard seal was too complicated. I know! The JOKER!! Thanks to the many fine thrift stores in Chula Vista, we pulled it off. Some of my best makeup work to date.   We went out to The Galley restaurant and bar at the Marina. We were by far some of the youngest folks there. But the band was lively and we had a good night. I snuck Jonny into the women’s bathroom just after midnight to supervise the clean up.

JH Joker

I sold my car to a really nice fireman – who may even take her to Baja! I think Hondas know when you are going to sell them though – I remember my Accord’s sunroof and alarm system both stopped working the day after I put a for sale sign on it. Well, the CRV developed a cracked radiator for no reason at all, after a perfect track record for 3+ years. I couldn’t sell it as-is (given I was planning to ask above blue book, since it WAS such a great vehicle) – and I couldn’t not disclose the problem (I need all the good karma I can get!). So the day before it sold, I had it in the shop and got a new $300 radiator put in it. Ouch.

We did all our provisioning (I think I single-handedly responsible for some sales records at both Amazon.com and Vitacost.com) and re-organized all our stuff.  Somehow the boxes kept arriving, but yet we still seem to have plenty of space. All this stuff fits away and disappears somehow!! StuffReOrgWe secured a policy to cover Summer all the way to the tip of South America – it even covers hurricane damage or lightening strikes – the most probable things that could destroy stuff – and of course those things are covered at double the deductible. Insurance. Gah.

I managed to get 3 bookkeeping sessions in with a client in San Diego (who apparently didn’t replace me after I left, so we had some catch up to do). Not only did I love working for those guys, anyway – it was really nice to do some work that I not only knew how to do, but was actually good at (this boat stuff often seems bewildering).

I got a hair cut (thanks to a Groupon) and one last pedicure (thanks to Mom).

We had our final Thursday dinner with our Vietnamese friends at Pho Vinh. After thoroughly enjoying 9? 10? Thursdays in a row there, the Vietnamese woman giving me my pedicure informed me that place was “terrible”. She couldn’t believe I liked it (I didn’t bother to tell her how many times we’d been there – I didn’t get past “we went there last night”). Oh well, what do we gringos know??


My on-going and quite baffling search for ice cream in Chula Vista finally ended at the nearby mall. I could barely contain my excitement as we made our way into the shop I had discovered on the internet. Unfortunately, the ice cream was terrible! CV Ice creamHow is that even possible?? I think no one ever goes there and the ice cream was stale. The ‘crunch’ in my whatever-it-was crunch, was merely a squish. Defeated for the last time, I finally broke down and bought a box of ice cream sandwiches that I knew I loved. Unfortunately, not having a freezer meant that we had to devour all 6 bars in one sitting. I have no regrets.6IceCreamBars

I got to have another visit with Mindy (my dear friend of, what? 20 years??), Paolo, Jake and Sammy. They generously shared their San Diego Zoo passes with us and we got to spend the day catching up and marveling at exotic animals. It was almost a tearful farewell, but then adorable 4 year old Sammy wrapped his arms around my legs, looked up and said, quite earnestly “I hope someday I can sleep with you!”. Apparently he’s big into snuggling. I hope he’s not emotionally scarred by how hard I laughed at that.

Norm and Barbara made the trek down to see us from Vista. They were our ‘bosses’ when we managed Surfside Apartments a few years back and we’ve always adored them. We had been hoping to get together with them since we arrived. Norm is 98 and Barbara 92, and they were both battling some health issues –but that didn’t stop them from coming to meet Summer and taking us to a wonderful lunch. We were so grateful we got to spend the afternoon with them the day before we planned to set sail!NormBarbSummerJC NormBarbDolphins

We planned to take off on Friday and sail out just outside San Diego Bay and anchor for the night, so I could get my ‘sea legs’ (or, stomach, as the case may be) before the long trip to Ensenada. I had a bunch of last minute running around to do (including getting an ATM card at our mailbox, and then shutting it down -talk about cutting it close!) and it just got too late to comfortably get out of the bay and be anchored before dark. So we decided to leave Saturday morning instead. We were READY, though! So there wasn’t much to do for the afternoon – this was a first! We actually chatted with our neighbors Gary and Hugh. It felt so leisurely! And I realized how bummed I was not to have had more time to shoot the breeze with all the great folks we’d met in Chula Vista. We were always running from one project to the next. Gary was our next-slip neighbor from AZ, so we only got to meet a couple times – super friendly guy and so excited about our trip that it reminded me to get excited about it. Hugh was a few boats up and was often there enjoying his music and cigars. I’m thinking of taking up cigars again, apparently they can create interesting opportunities. Due to a cigar-smoking friendship, Hugh had the opportunity to teach on a Coast Guard training vessel for 4 months – and making some stopovers in Australia and Antarctica. He was leaving Saturday as well. I asked him to get me a penguin. I was sad I didn’t get to say goodbye to Buffalo Bill (he’s from Buffalo, his name is Bill, how could I not?). He bought a big powerboat down our dock and it took him several weeks before he shared the news with his wife.   He’s such a nice, guy and we really enjoyed it every time he stopped to chat on the way to his boat. We even met his wife (who didn’t divorce him after she learned of the boat – but she is ordering some new home improvements without feeling the need for his permission!) and 2 of the 3 sons. And I just realized he was going to bring us citrus from his yard – now I guess we are going to die of scurvy. Damn. Anyway, now that the go-go-go / work-work-work is over, I think we shall have very fond memories of our time in Chula Vista.CV Rainbow

Since we were now leaving on a Saturday, I gave Erika [my friend of 32 years – wait after 32 years of friendship, you’re really just family at that point, right?] a heads up in the event she wanted to drive all the way down there to see us off. She’s a good sport – and she showed up bright and early. We had a little time to chat and then we shoved off. Of course she made me cry… but we pulled it together and away we went! I’m sure she’ll visit us in Mexico or some other country soon.

ErikaJc LeavingCV

One last sail through San Diego Bay and one last time past the warships, the Coronado Bridge, the ferry boats and all the folks going back and forth in their rental sailboats. To be honest, I think that was probably all I needed of San Diego Bay. It’s a lovely city, as cities go, but bay sailing makes me feel a little claustrophobic. There’s no place to GO. I was ready for the real ocean again.

At the end of the bay we stopped for a final fueling (and told this fuel attendant guy he was going to be famous).FinalFueling

We had some good wind and headed out for some real sailing. SO many boat out! Such a big change from Moss Landing in Monterey bay, where you seldom see many boats out, even on the most gorgeous of weekends (and when you do, it’s always the same 4). There was a regatta or something going on. There were a million sailboats out. We wanted to get a bit of a sail in, get the feel for it again, before dropping anchor in Zunigas, just outside the bay. People were zipping all around us – in their fancy sailboats with Kevlar sails and matching shirts. We tried waving at them all, but many of them literally turned their noses up at us. I guess cruisers (which we clearly are, with our solar panels, jerry cans, slow boat and non-matching shirts…) are just scum of the earth to the “real” sailors out there. It was really funny by the end, we were cracking up as we waved more and more enthusiastically at each boat as they passed by closely as possible in an obvious effort to be super efficient. I guess I’m glad all those hundreds of boats weren’t cruisers all headed in the same direction as us!! They all made a run for the mouth of the bay to squeeze back in there and tie up safely as the sun started waning.

Outside SD Bay LeavingCoronadoBridge

We finally anchored just before dark. It took some doing, as it was our first time with all-chain rode and a new snubber system. We made some final phone calls – since once we were in Mexico our phone plans were getting axed. It started to get cold, dark and realllly rolly. We purposely anchored way outside and I think it was even rollier there. I had been feeling great all day, thinking maybe the whole seasick thing just wasn’t going to happen this time, maybe I was ‘cured’ ? But as the cold set in I started feeling worse and worse. The thought of getting up at 2:00am to sail off to Mexico seemed an impossibility. All I wanted to do was crawl under a blanket and sleep forever. Hugh told me that one earplug was the answer to alleviating seasickness. I tried it. Now I was seasick AND annoyed that I could only hear out of one ear – so I took it out after about ½ hour. On the upside, I didn’t actually lose my lunch. I made split pea soup for dinner (with carrots and bacon) and it stayed where it belonged. I was more than ready to sleep shortly after that. We set our alarms for 2:00am – since I realized the only thing worse than getting up and leaving while feeling sick was spending another entire day feeling sick at that rolly anchorage.

***[This is probably a good time to go make yourself a sandwich]***

At 2:00 am I actually felt pretty good when I got up. It was cold and (surprise) very dark. We pulled anchor and motored off in the direction our chartplotter told us to. We skirted by a huge fishing boat and an even huger warship. Did I mention it was cold? I started feeling gross again. Shortly after we crossed the border (such a non-event when going by boat!) I cocooned myself under blankets and had a snooze.

I started to feel pretty good as the day warmed up and we were getting some sailing in. The wind and waves were all going in the right direction and we actually got to shut off the motor for a while.

It took us just about 12 hours to reach our destination. We approached Ensenada and found our marina (I had booked a slip in advance at Baja Naval marina) and docked Summer without incident. Well, OK, there was this container ship that wanted to enter the harbor at the same time as us. We learned this one in Long Beach – container ship wins. We backed off and followed them in. A nice Canadian fellow helped us as we were docking. Very strange slips with this crazy tidal action – the boats were all moving in and out quite a lot. It actually looked as if everyone was backing out of their slips as we entered the docks. We put 6 fenders on the dockside of Summer as she constantly was moving back and forth a great distance (I think some of them got a little crushed- but they sure look nice, thanks to the fender covers Mom made us!). You had to time your exits from the boat onto the dock so you could actually reach it.


I went up to the gates, which required magnetic key cards to enter and exit. I called to a security guard and then panicked…I don’t speak Spanish! Or do I? A little. I was maybe a little delirious. I pointed down to Summer and said, in French, “Arriver” and then I remembered how to say “keys” in Spanish – llaves? Por favor? He got it, and trotted off to bring me an envelope with my name and a key card. We secured Summer and relaxed a little bit. We were too tired to do much, but we had a little walk around the immediate area and after sufficiently convinced it was too touristy for us, we settled on a very nice, touristy restaurant for dinner. It was a wonderful meal, although my margarita cost more than my entrée (but it was real mango!).   We had crepes with dulce de leche and ice cream for dessert. That was our celebration for making it to Mexico! We went back to crash early.

This was my view upon waking the next morning.  That is the biggest flag I’ve ever seen!

Ensenada Morning

The next morning was to be our “Check In” process. Everything we heard and read about checking into Mexico with a boat seemed arduous, confusing and very time consuming. We were apprehensive about the whole thing. I had collected as much information as possible, along with many multiple copies of forms we may need, our passports, engine serial numbers, boat documentation, etc. The nice folks at Baja Naval helped us put all those papers in order, making separate piles for each of the offices we’d need to visit: Immigration, Port Captain, Customs, etc. All in all the whole process took only 2 ½ hours and cost $126 – it wasn’t nearly as bad as all the hype. The nice thing about Ensenada is that all the offices are in the same building, actually the same room. You just go from window to window – and with each fee we had to pay you have to go to the bank window, pay it, get a receipt and go back to the other window to complete that process. We heard some stories of other countries where each of the offices and the place to make payments can be miles apart, close for lunch, etc. etc. I’m sure we’ll run into that someday, but this time we lucked out.

This was outside one of the many farmacias we saw, catering to poor Americans who can’t afford drugs (primarily Viagra, I guess!):


We spent the next few hours trying to talk to someone at a TelCel office to see if a phone plan was feasible (it wasn’t, so far) and trying to change some dollars into pesos. I then spent the afternoon preparing for our upcoming 3 day journey to Turtle Bay. I baked a lasagna which would provide 3 meals, I made us some ‘breakfast jars’ (Thanks to the FoodBabe) – which are great to grab on the go – oat groats, oats, raisins, cinnamon, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, goji berries, hemp seeds, all soaked overnight in pistachio milk (can’t be bothered with dairy milk these days- so glad I brought my blender). Really hearty!BreakfastJars I also baked some yummy chocolate chip almond flour muffins and hard boiled some eggs. Not knowing what the conditions would be, I wanted to have plenty of easy-access foods to keep us going.

Tuesday morning we leisurely prepared for our 72+ hour trek down to Turtle Bay. I had my last shower until who-knows-when in the lovely pink marble showers at Baja Naval.

Ensenada Shower

Leaving our slip proved as near-disastrous as Jonny thought it might be. I saw a very easy way to get out and I wasn’t worried – there was a huge, wide open pair of slips diagonally behind us. I was sure I could easily back into that (prop walk would drag us right there) and then just go forward and out. Easy peasy! But Jonny thought backing up down the entire fairway to the harbor made more sense. Although I was quite confident my way was better, I started to worry about the consequences if I was wrong. I was terrified to back all the way out, as Summer does not back up well. But I tried it. Instead of the wind keeping the bow straight, as suggested, prop walk kept pulling the boat to port and in no time we were backing in sideways to an empty slip three down and on the same side we started. Not sure how many of the other boats heard me swearing, but it was probably all of them. I ended up having to do a back-and-fill in the middle of the fairway (for non boaters – this is like a 3 point turn in a tight spot with a car, only with wind, current and no brakes to spin around an 18,000 lb. tub containing everything you own…). Somehow I pulled it off without hitting any other boats but we do have a little new scrape from one of the docks. And I have a renewed vow to try to trust myself more and not be afraid of being wrong. I’d rather learn from my own mistakes – seems like a better way to build experience and confidence, no? (and why has it taken me so long to get this?!).

So, we set off in a rush of adrenaline. There was a giant cruise ship in port – biggest thing I ever saw. I think we were about 50 ft from it as I noticed the sign on it that said “Keep 50 yards away”. Oops. We headed around the cruise ship to the next marina up which supposedly had a fuel dock. I basically parallel parked between a ginormous power boat and a huge catarmaran, and that went well. But alas, it was not actually the fuel dock, as this marina had no fuel dock. We were misinformed. The only fuel in all of Ensenada was clear across the far end of the harbor – back past where we came from.   We’d used about 1/8 of a tank on the trip down and we still had 2 jerry cans…so we decided to just hit the big blue watery road and hope for wind. Neither of us is much for backtracking.

Cruise Ship

As we left Ensenada and kept looking back, all we could see was the cruise ship. I am pretty sure cruise ships are visible from outer space.LeavingEnsenada

I was feeling a bit iffy, and it was chilly, but I was trying to pretend I felt fine. I got a craving for popcorn, so I made a batch with butter and nutritional yeast and ate way too much. I learned that you do not want to tighten the lid on the pressure cooker –it won’t pop!


We watched sunset and made our turn south-er. So. Many. Stars. Really gorgeous. But still, waaaay too cold. Night watch required all our foul weather gear. It took me a full 4 hours under blankets until I warmed up after my first watch. We did a combination of sailing and motoring. We daringly set up our whisker pole (for like, the 3rd time ever) in the dark on the first night. Kind of crazy, but we were dead downwind and the wind was way too light. Eventually we had to take it down and just motor. I started to get plenty of reading in again. I started “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean” – and no, there isn’t a punch line.   Turns out a number of Jews escaped the Spanish Inquisition by pretending to be Christian and making it big in the New World. I had no idea that Jamaica was actually pretty much owned by the Jews. Still, no punch line.   I got a couple of other books going as well. I love my Kindle!

It warmed up in the day and everything was calm and pleasant. A little too calm. We had to motor some. 2nd night was also very cold, but not as. We did our shifts, kind of however made sense rather than sticking to a real schedule. It seemed to work out. Jonny tried out some of his new fishing gear. The strangest looking lure caught us a small yellow fin tuna within 5 minutes!

Yellowfintuna Jonny managed to bonk it to death with a baseball bat – something that was a bit traumatic for me to watch. I apologized to the fish several times. He tied it by the tail and we dragged it for a bit to let it bleed out. Then came the filleting. The freshest ahi I’ve ever seen! Holding a piece of freshly cut fillet in your hand, you can feel it twitching still. That was pretty creepy. TunaFilletsWe both noted how happy we were to have our fish cleaning table in lieu of the BBQ we started off with. No blood in the cockpit! I seared the ahi in sesame oil with garlic and ginger for dinner that night – and for lunch the next day – it was delicious.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. It was a very nice day and not a drop of wind. After watching the knotmeter register 0.0 far too many times, we decided to just drop the sails and drift for a couple of hours – just to give ourselves a break. The water temp was 70 degrees and we decided to jump in for a little clean refreshment. I’d never swam in water over a mile deep before!! It seemed much colder than 70, so it was a really quick dip.   Our new swim ladder worked great – so glad to have that now.


I made sauce from cranberries I had stashed in the fridge – but since I had no orange to put in it, I threw in a couple pieces of dried pineapple – yummy! I roasted a pumpkin to make pie. Or custard I guess, since I didn’t make a crust – I just baked it in a pie plate.  I was a little worried it would slop over the pie plate, since it was a bit rolly and our stove doesn’t gimbal well. But it solidified in time – it was just a bit thicker on one side. It was gorgeous weather and the wind picked up for a nice, quiet sail. I prepared the rest of our holiday feast before dark. I had some sliced turkey that I steam heated in the oven so we could pretend it was just sliced, made mashed potatoes, green beans and a box o’ gravy. Aside from the glaring and heartbreaking absence of stuffing, it ended up looking like a real Thanksgiving dinner! We didn’t get disgustingly stuffed though, which was good because there was no place for a walk.   We enjoyed our custard right out of the pie plate and managed to stop ourselves at eating half of it.


One more night of stilted sleep and fighting to stay awake at all the wrong hours. It was warmer still, though and I was grateful for that. I got my StarWalk app working and started learning my constellations again. The Southern Cross is still not visible yet. We had great wind for most of the night, and didn’t need to motor. It was very slow going, but at least it was consistent for a long time and quite comfortable and pleasant.

Friday, as we were passing Isla Cedros the wind finally pooped out. We motor sailed again as we made our approach to Turtle Bay. Lots of fishing boats and buoys to look out for. It definitely felt like we were about to be somewhere.

We watched the water temperature slowly rise to 80 degrees as we got closer and closer. I had to put shorts on. Things were really looking up!

Turtle Bay is a huge bay and a small village. From the land-based perspective, Turtle Bay is really hard to get out to – it’s pretty remote.   We saw 5 other sailboats anchored as we made our way in. We anchored far out from everyone. I was nearly blinded by exhaustion as we were coming in, but somehow once we anchored, I got a second wind. We covered up the mainsail and then I cleaned the entire boat inside. I couldn’t put the foul weather gear away fast enough! We had a ridiculous amount of dishes – from thanksgiving, a breakfast and a lunch. I cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed and I even cleaned the inside of my oven. The best part about living on a boat is you can do such a thorough cleaning in well under an hour. Everything was tidy and ready for whatever it was we were doing next.


We jumped in the water and had a wash. It was refreshing, just this side of being too cold.   We watched other boats coming and going and had a nice steak dinner. We were fast asleep before 8pm. It’s a really pleasant anchorage – not very rolly, but you don’t forget you’re on a boat.

We had a very lazy morning yesterday. Poor Jonny is struggling to catch up (he may have gotten less sleep than me on this trip, then again I’m pretty experienced at functioning on sleep deprivation). He napped in the morning and I got everything out to put our dinghy together. I was feeling pretty good! We got the dinghy launched and ready for a trip ashore.

We landed the dinghy and pulled it up on shore with our new dinghy wheels. dinghylanded wheelsOn the beach we met a gringa lounging with her dogs. She came just to visit for a few months and learn Spanish. That was over a year ago and she still can’t speak any Spanish. Although it appears she learned how to purchase ballenas easily enough (giant beers) and she had a couple of fine looking dogs (golden retriever-ish- I ‘ve always had a soft spot for them). She shared a little local knowledge with us before we headed off to explore.

TBGrafitti  TB Beachbay

We had a walkabout in the ‘town’. It’s just a lot of dusty, dirt roads, random little arbarrotes (groceries) shops, among homes, trash and scraggly dogs. We found what is supposed to be the biggest grocery store, it seemed to have some essentials. But we are still well stocked for the most part, so I didn’t get anything. TurtleBayView fromTownTB TownAt the other end of town we visited the church and then up to check out a restaurant that had wifi. There we met Adrian – born and raised in Turtle Bay, and the brother of the restaurant owner. He had been working in La Paz taking tourists diving – so his English is excellent. We learned a lot about Turtle Bay and it’s history. The woman and her dogs wandered up and after meeting Adrian it appears they may have a plan to help each other with Spanish/English. It was getting late in the day and we wanted a swim before it got too cold. So we said our adios’ and agreed to come back in the morning for breakfast. I’m hoping I can get this blog posted with the wifi there, as well… {wasn’t opened for breakfast as hoped – but made it here for lunch and got to chat with a lovely Australian couple who have been cruising for 8 years. Great stories!}

It’s still too cold for us here. We need to forge ahead South. I’m wearing sweatshirts and uggs at night still. Our rough plans from now are to leave here tomorrow for Asuncion Bay – which is rumored to have surf. There are a couple more spots we will stop before Magdelena Bay. From Mag Bay? Who knows, probably make a quick stop in Cabo for supplies (and possibly a very expensive night in a marina?) and head over to mainland. Stay tuned!!!

Point Conception/Cojo to Santa Barbara

Time is beginning to turn into that blur that happens to people without a schedule or appointments or plans in the real world. What day is it? How long have we been here? Didn’t you just post a blog entry? No, that was 6 days ago…

Figured I’d do another one before we head out to Santa Cruz Island tomorrow. I think we are going to try to circumnavigate it and then visit Anacapa Island before finally making serious efforts to get to San Diego. There seems to be a lot of anchorages around Santa Cruz Island (although we can’t go ashore in most of it without a permit, which we don’t have), so we will check them out and see what all the fuss is about with these Channel Islands.

Cojo View
View from Cojo Anchorage

We spent 3 nights in Cojo, just past Point Conception. It felt pretty remote but there was a world class wave there (Perko’s) that is only visited by people who live in the ranch area there. It wasn’t very crowded and Jonny just had to jump over board and paddle out to it. The first couple days were overcast and I wasn’t all that excited to be there. The cliffs looked sparse and kind of boring. The lack of sea life and birds made it all feel even more remote and dull. I spent much-needed time figuring out the SSB radio, making contacts and finally being able to send email and get weather information through it. This will be critical when we are out of cell range (tomorrow??). I asked Don, one of the Net Controllers on the InterCon net I check into if there was anyone who could help me with the set up of WinLink2000 (the Ham program available to me since I got my General Amateur license). He sent out word and finally found someone in Florida- Ron -and connected us. Ron talked to me on the phone and walked me through everything. It was amazingly helpful and both Don and Ron were so generous with their time in assisting me.   Quite a big part of this life change –I’m asking other people for and receiving their help!!! So grateful it’s out there

Cojo SunriseCojo Sunrise

The sun finally came out at Cojo and I was getting antsy from being on the boat so long. Jonny stuffed me into my wetsuit and threw me overboard with a surfboard and made me paddle to shore with him. (OK, he may have let me hold onto his leash and towed me most of the way…). As we approached shore I could see how big the breaking waves were. I may have gotten a little scared… Very weird to approach a beach from the water, having no idea what you’re coming onto. As the waves got bigger and scarier, Jonny suggested I get off the board and swim for it. Fast. Because “It would be safer that way”. Implying there was danger, either way. I saw a huge wave about to break on me and at least I knew enough to just dive back through it. I made it to shore quite out of breath (hyperventilating with panic? No, certainly not). Also not used to a wetsuit and I’m sure it was trying to strangle me. After I caught my breath we had a nice walk on the beach. There were 2 wrecked sailboats. One of them, “Gingerbread”, was torn in half – it’s bow end being a good 25 ft from it’s stern. Farther down, an Ericson 30 was beached, missing part of it’s keel and stripped of most everything else. When we first saw that one from shore, we thought maybe there would be some parts or something to scavenge off it. Walking around it and touching the hull, I felt some weird creepiness and sadness, like I was seeing a dead body.   I didn’t feel quite so detached from a wrecked sailboat on a beach as I once might have.


We walked a ways down the windswept coast, my eyes glued to the sand and shells, Jonny’s eyes glued to the amazing waves. Looking out at Summer on anchor from shore, she looked very tiny, just bobbing around in the big sea. After a brief rest in the sun we hopped on the boards and paddled back to Summer. She was waiting patiently. Unfortunately we were not able to get a good swim ladder before we left, so we had this crappy rope/plastic thing. Not easy to get back home with that! And the wind had picked up quite a bit and it was rocking and rolling (not in a good way). We got all safe and washed off. I managed to wash my hair over the side of the boat and have a freshwater rinse down. And the wind was so strong by this time, I stood out on the stern and got a “blow dry” for my hair.


The next day we decided to head down to another anchorage called Sacate, about 8 miles away. It was supposedly ‘more protected’ there with the kind of wind and swell we were expecting (Note to self and others – never trust that Brian Fagan guy…why are we still using his book??).   It was a beautiful and sunny day and our spot actually looked pretty to me. I think living in Santa Cruz has kind of spoiled me. I think I can safely say that Santa Cruz and Capitola are far and away the most beautiful spots on the CA coastline. We sailed off in a warm(ish) breeze to find anchorages unknown.   We overshot our target a bit (2 miles?) but eventually found the “ideal” anchorage, according to this book. We got right into position and dropped the hook. Lovely little place with a huge, long beach and a wave that got Jonny interested. There were a few big houses up in the hills, supposedly belonging to famous people. Whatever.   We had a very relaxing afternoon. Until….(cue ominous music).

The wind came up. Big time. Wild and crazy wind storm, shaking Summer from the tip of her mast down through the sole. We got the full meaning of “shakedown cruise”. Wondered if our anchor would hold, wondered if anything would break apart. We didn’t sleep much and Jonny was up and out checking on the anchor many times. We survived very well, not even the slightest drag. And the sun came out and the beautiful spot said “oh that wasn’t so bad, you want to staaaaaaaay one more niiiight…right??” So we did. And it blew even harder that night. The next morning we said “ENOUGH” and decided to get ourselves down to Santa Barbara.

The wind was right on our nose almost the entire way of the 33 mile trip. Why does this keep happening? I attempted my first gluten free bread recipe while we were sailing. I think it would’ve been great, but my yeast was dead…it never rose. I insisted we will eat it all no matter what. It actually tastes pretty good, for the dense puck it is.

Also, silicon baking pans are NOT good for an unstable environment
Also, silicon baking pans are NOT good for an unstable environment

It was warm and sunny and relatively pleasant, but, motorsailing the whole way. We saw several Borg ships looming on the horizon. Luckily they didn’t try to assimilate us. I think our radio signals might have caused too much interference for their scans. Or, there’s an off chance they were actually oil platforms.

Borg on Horizon

Much of the time the sea smelled of oily tar. Again we noted the serious lack of sea creatures and birds. We saw some scary slicks on the water, too – like what we saw in that fracking movie, Gasland (1 and 2). Kind of eerie.

The plan was to get to Santa Barbara and just anchor for the night and then splurge on a slip the next night. It was warm and we were happy to arrive.   A little disappointed to notice that Santa Barbara isn’t as pretty from the water as it is from land.

Santa Barbara And again, the sea lions on the red-white buoy were small, sparse and not at all barking. Something strange about the sea life down here, and so little of it. We were really that spoiled in Monterey Bay (and Morro Bay)? We enjoyed a nice dinner (our last steaks from El Salchichero!) and watched the full moon rise.

Enjoying a gorgeous moon rise
Enjoying a gorgeous moon rise

We were exhausted and looking forward to a wind-less sleep. And, it was not that windy here. BUT, OMG…ROLLY AS ALL GET OUT. By far the rolliest, rocking-est night EVER. Awful! We slept not one wink. Where did this come from??? It was so bad that we were just laughing about it. And almost crying. I tried sleeping at different angles in our giant romper-room bed, but nothing was comfortable. But 5:30 am I wanted nothing more than to just LEAVE that spot. We got up and by 7am we were pulling up anchor and heading to the harbor dock to get a slip as soon as the office opened.

Heading for harbor at 7am
Heading for harbor at 7am

We docked and wandered around until 8:00am when the office opened and we secured a nice slip. It’s been 3 weeks since we were tied up to a dock! I opted for the slip closest to the main walkway and bathrooms. Turns out there’s a trash and recycle can right there, too. And we can get full water tanks (the water we got from Morro Bay was horribly stinky – will be glad to get rid of all that). What luxury! And it’s even hot and sunny here. As soon as we docked I hit the showers. Hot water pouring out all over you is the most amazing thing ever.

SB Harbor

We saw this $300 million boat today
We saw this $300 million boat today

After cooking some breakfast (the Corralitos smoked bacon Laura Laura brought us is being doled out in a miserly fashion) and messing about with our anchor line and chain we were ready for the day. Our mission was to get groceries. Sounds simple enough. I had located the Whole Foods and the shuttles and busses we would need to get there. All in all getting our groceries was nearly a 4 hour undertaking. But we got to have a driving tour of beautiful Santa Barbara (and it IS a beautiful city!) and the fridge is fully packed (and I got fresh yeast, I will make a successful bread!). We are ready for whatever the next couple weeks brings us.

Very excited to be sleeping at a dock tonight. Jonny can put earplugs in and not have to worry about the anchor (he tends to worry far more than me…I put ear plugs in and sleep well most of the time anyway ;-)). AND I’m going to take ANOTHER shower in the morning.

For now I’m going to make our black bean and leftover steak burritos. Hope to have some island adventure stories for you next time.