Sans Souci is now anchored at Bahia Santa Maria, arriving yesterday, just after dusk.
First an answer to a question from yesterday: I was asked why the pictures from the pilot house were so blurry. I should have spoken more about what it is like in the pilot house when running at night. In order to be able to see outside, at night, it is important that your eyes adjust to the dark. We darken every instrument in the pilot house to virtual darkness. The pilot house picture in yesterday’s email was taken by setting my high-end Canon digital camera to 1600 film speed. This allows me to shoot a picture in almost total darkness, however it still wasn’t enough to get the shot without it blurring. I really needed a tripod in order to take the picture. That said, I liked how it turned out. Don’t ask me why, but I thought it captured the character of life in the pilot house at night. Even though we keep it almost totally dark in the pilot house we still walk around the pilot house regularly at night to look for lights on other boats.
One other technical detail from yesterday: We have been using our Flopper Stoppers while at anchor.
The flopper stoppers look like giant fishing poles that poke out the side of the boat. They are for “at anchor” stabilization. From these giant poles hang steel plates, called “fish” that float beneath the water. While anchored the side to side motion of the boat causes these plates to be dragged up and down in the water. The friction caused by the plates moving through the water softens the rolling motion of the boat. I can’t imagine anchoring without flopper stoppers.
We ran the 220 miles from Turtle Bay alone. Winds were ok; approximately 20 knots the entire run. I think I was physically exhausted, and not really in the mood for running all night, because I had more trouble with this run than usual. I had the 10pm to 2am, plus the 6am to 10am shifts, along with Jeremy. Throughout our time in the pilothouse both of us kept looking at our watches. I was changing the music about every 20 minutes, tinkering with the electronics, telling stories, anything to help pass the time. At midnight, when we caught up with Dreamweaver, another Fubar boat, I greeted him, and continued on our way. Then 15 minutes later, I was bored and called him on the radio. I confessed that I had nothing to talk about, but was bored, and that I would appreciate it if would tell me about his boat and where he was going. I knew this would help eat up time.
Dreamweaver turned out to be an interesting boat. The owner, whose name I’ve forgotten, has a home in Mexico in Los Barrilles, just south of La Paz. Dreamweaver is a brand new 46’ sportfisher that he was bringing down to its’ new home in Mexico. We chatted for a while about life in Mexico. Roberta and I have owned a home near Cabo San Lucas for ten years, and he has owned a home near La Paz for nearly fifteen years. Back when we first arrived in Cabo, life was pretty primitive. I remember when most conversations focused on shopping and groceries. When someone would find lettuce that looked somewhat edible, that was big news in the neighborhood. Now we have Costco, Home Depot, Walmart, many supermarkets, fast food places, 10-screen movie theaters and more. I made the comment that I would have been happy if Cabo had stopped growing when Costco opened (about three years ago). He said he would have been happier even without Costco. I know what he means.
Toward the end of my first shift, around 2am, I noticed that we were sliding around pretty good. Things were starting to fall off tables, and I had to make a run through the pilot house to move things off the tables, and close all the drawers. This made me curious about how Dreamweaver was faring. If a 68’ 100 ton boat was getting slid around, what could it be like on a 46’ sportfisher? “Dreamweaver. This is Sans Souci. I just got curious. Do you have stabilizers?” This was a dumb question, but at 2am I’m not always at my best. “No” he responded. “How are you handling this?” I asked. As I should have guessed he said “Not very well.” We stayed in touch on and off for the balance of the run. Because we stopped to fish, he actually beat me into the anchorage.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fisherman. Most of my boater friends are serious fisherman, and more than one has tried to get me fishing. It will never happen. On the other hand, I did hope that my son Chris, and my dad, would get into fishing on this trip. Jeff used to fish commercially, and Jeremy, the young guy who is with us from Nordhavn, our boat builder, is a seriously addicted fisherman. Even though Jeremy was worn out from running all night, as soon as we started getting close to Mag Bay Jeremy was on the back deck putting the poles out. We had been watching the water temperature all night, and as it rose from 68 degrees to 74 degrees Jeremy was getting more and more excited.
Not only the water was warming. The air around us was starting to feel like summer. Sans Souci has a fly bridge, but in the four months we’ve owned the boat, it has never been warm enough to actually drive from it. We decided to give it a try, and to my amazement, it was awesome. I think part of what made it so great was that the wind was coming from behind us. Thus, there was no apparent wind while we were driving. We put some loud music on, and everyone, except Jeremy, who was down in the cockpit fishing, went up to the Fly Bridge. This was the warm water cruising experience I’ve been seeking ever since taking delivery of the new boat. The only disappointment was that Roberta wasn’t there to enjoy it with me. We celebrated our 35th anniversary a couple days before the Fubar departed, but she had work to do, and couldn’t come along.
I was experimenting with the Sonar, using it as a fish finder, with mixed results. Not being a fisherman, I didn’t know what depth would work best for Jeremy. I zig-zagged around chasing anything on the radar that looked somewhat like a fish. To improve our chances, we slowed to seven knots, and even turned off the radar. Jeff thought the radar might be frightening away the fish. Something worked. Jeremy was suddenly screaming “FISH ON!”. Jeff went running down the stairs to help him. I scrambled to wake my son Chris, and sent my dad out to watch. I ran the boat, trying to keep us aligned while Jeremy reeled in his fish. I was two decks up when Jeremy brought the fish into the cockpit, but I couldn’t miss hearing it. Apparently the fish, which turned out to be a large Dorado, wasn’t too happy about how his day was going, and was raising a ruckus in the back of the boat. I heard a lot of extreme flapping about that went on for much longer than I would have expected. Jeff relieved me at the helm so I could go down to see Jeremy’s fish.
Jeremy was a VERY happy guy. Over the next couple of hours, he continued fishing while cleaning the boat, and the fish. I was amazed by how hard he worked. There was far more blood than expected, and Jeremy worked his tail off cleaning it all off the teak and fiberglass. I made the comment that I sure hoped he didn’t catch another fish. I couldn’t imagine him working this hard a second time.
While we were fishing our way south, we passed a roughly 60 foot fishing boat, that was stopped for fishing, and was rolling back and forth in the waves so much that I was getting sea sick watching it. I asked Jeff if the boat had come from Mag Bay. Jeff knew the boat, and said it had come down from San Diego to fish. I couldn’t believe a boat had come all the way from San Diego just to fish. The story gets even more interesting: Jeff said the boat would normally have as many as 21 paying passengers, who were guys who wanted to fish Mag Bay. For seven to ten days, 21 guys jam into little cots, on a small boat, with a single head, and no stabilizers, to journey south to fish Mag Bay, and then return to San Diego. I don’t get it, but then again, there are probably people who don’t understand why I like to spend 12 hours a day staring at my computer screen.
I had little time to ponder all of this, because Jeremy was once again shouting “FISH ON!”. This time it was for a Wahoo, which I now understand is a really big deal.
Chris had gone back to sleep after seeing the Dorado, and my dad also didn’t show much interest. I think Jeff and Jeremy are very disappointed in us. The cockpit was once again flooded with blood, which Jeremy worked for hours to clean up. Jeremy was very contented. We did a bit more fishing without luck, and decided to head to the anchorage before dark.
We anchored at Santa Maria, just outside Magdalena (Mag) Bay. At our arrival there were about 15 other Fubar boats. I was worn out from running all night, and somewhat grumpy (an understatement). Boats tend to break, and this is understandable, but I do wish they could time it better. Sans Souci is a new boat, and still being broken in. During the final hours of our cruise:
1) One of our generators stopped working,
2) We discovered lots of VERY stinky water in the bilge,
3) One of the toilets failed, and
4) The diesel furnace stopped working. I was in the mood for nothing except sleep, and decided to get up early the next day (today) to start repairs.
Repairs that had seemed impossible last night, seemed like no big deal this morning. In the first hour Jeff and I had nailed two of the items (the generator and the Kabola). This afternoon, the designer of the boat, Jeff Leishman, stopped by to assist in tracking down the gray water problem. For those not familiar with the terms “Gray water” and “Black Water”, the first of these refers to water coming from the sink, and the second to water (and, more) which comes from the toilets. Neither has a very pleasant odor, and yet both tend to be an inevitable part of boating. I’ve been blogging for years, and the blog update that received the most email was one I did talking about marine toilets. There seems to be no topic that more frustrates boaters than dealing with marine toilets. For Sans Souci, I told Nordhavn “Spare no expense. I never ever want to deal with plumbing issues.” We have a great system on Sans Souci, and I do not expect future problems. This was nothing more than the boat gods knowing I was exhausted and wanting to mess with me. They succeeded.
My goal for today was to break out all the toys. This was our first real day of sunshine and warm water. All of the days for months to come will have sunshine and warm water, but the first day is still special. I wanted to drop both of the tenders, including the little jet tender. I also wanted to try out the scuba equipment and even the passarelle.
One of my goals was to discover if everything was working, and if there was anything missing. For scuba I have a “hookah” system which is built into the boat. I have never tried it and was curious to see how it would do. Although the water is blue and clear outside the anchorage, it is dinghy and green where we are anchored. I had to think about if I really wanted to dive or not, but like any kid with a new toy, I just had to do it. All of the equipment was new, and untried. I quickly discovered that the flippers were missing, and then accidentally kicked one of the masks into the water (which immediately sank). As if we didn’t have enough hints that diving wasn’t going well, I discovered that I didn’t have near enough weight to sink, and gave up. This may sound like it didn’t go well, but overall I was delighted. It’s 36 degrees today back home in Seattle. While I’m whining about not being able to find my flippers, there are those who have it a LOT worse.
Both of the tenders performed remarkably well when put into the water. I had never run the little Zodiac jet tender. Jeremy tried it first, and when returning to the boat said “Ken – that thing is dangerous. You can really get hurt.” The jet tender is based on a jet ski engine, and seems to only have two speeds; too fast, and way too fast. Add to this the steering that has only about two inches between being turned fully to the left and fully to the right.
At the back of Bahia Santa Maria there is a Mangrove forest. I was completely surprised by it. We took both tenders, and ran them across a shallow sand bar into a narrow little river. We ran miles through what appeared like something one might expect in a Louisiana Bayou, not a Baja anchorage. We raced the tenders, and had an absolute blast. Along the way we saw several little fishing villages. Very cool!
Did I mention how spoiled we are on Sans Souci? We’re not roughing it too bad. This is Jeff enjoying the view
Once again there was a Fubar event on the beach. I knew it was going to be messy getting to/from the event and didn’t take the camera. The event was held on a cliff overlooking the bay. To get to shore, the Fubar group had arranged Pangas to transport us. We needed to enter the same river I had gone into this afternoon. Earlier in the day we had crossed the sand bar with nearly a foot of water under the bottom of the tender. Tonight, we had a panga loaded with 20+ people, and no apparent way to cross the sand bar. We bottomed almost immediately, and most of the guys jumped out of the tender to help push it across the sand bar.
Dinner was good, the margaritas were excellent, and the chance to talk with the Fubar-ees even better. I spoke with a Nordhavn 43 owner who had just taken his boat up to Alaska from San Diego, was in Roche Harbor (near Seattle) when we were there, and is now with us here on the Fubar. I spoke with another Nordhavn 43 owner from Los Angeles who is planning on leaving his Nordhavn in Cabo all winter, while he flies back and forth from Los Angeles.
The wealth of boating experience here is impressive. I had previously thought that most of the boats would be captained by persons with little or no long range cruising experience. There are some of those here, but generally, this is a very seasoned group that knows what it is doing. To my knowledge no boat has had serious problems of any sort.
During the party I asked around to see what comes next. Our schedule shows the group entering Mag Bay tomorrow, and then making the major overnight run to Cabo the next night. Of the first three people I asked tonight, two were going to stay in our current location another day, and the third was going to head straight to Cabo. This had me thinking about our own plans. We are in an incredible anchorage, but it is tempting to head straight for Cabo. It also sounds good to go into Mag Bay as originally planned. I’ll see what mood I am in tomorrow. That’s one of the bizarre things about the Fubar. I get the sense that no one knows what everyone is doing tomorrow. We know we are loosely working our way towards La Paz, and that we’ll all arrive at roughly the same time, but it’s not the tight coordination I had expected. Some of this is the high degree of competence of the group.
That’s it for tonight. More when I can….
Sans Souci, Nordhavn68.com
PS Donna Palmer-Wilson has been sending out daily Fubar updates, but it having Internet problems. She asked me to pass along that she hopes to have it sorted out tomorrow.