Welcome to Vagari’s 7th winter of sailing. We have put 8,000 miles under Vagari’s keel during those cruises but this year like last year won’t be a high mileage year. We just don’t have the lust for the long cruises that we did when we started cruising but we still enjoy living on board and sailing near our homeport. Welcome aboard! We hope you enjoy our blog. Your comments, questions and suggestions are appreciated and encouraged.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
The Crossing from the Baja Peninsula to the mainland requires two day hops so we can get as far southeast as possible. This reduces the length of the crossing. We had two pleasant days with evenings in popular cruisers anchorages. We left for Mazatlan at first light on the Friday before Christmas so we would arrive mid morning on Christmas Eve.
One hour into the passage while I was below getting the weather forecast from the amateur radio nets Rhea told me the autopilot was giving an off course alarm. I got us back on course, rebooted the system went below to get the weather. Two minutes later we had the same problem. Worse I could not steer Vagari using the autopilot. Few things are worse than not being able to steer a sailboat.
Our steering and autopilot mechanisms are under our bed in the very back of the boat. We had to remove all the bedding plus the mattress and the mattress topper. There is not enough room in our bedroom for all of this so we have to move it all to the front of the boat.
In a couple of minutes we determined that our main steering was OK but a part of the autopilot was missing. It was a small key that connects the arm that turns the rudder shaft to the actual rudder shaft. We also decided that we would return to our last anchorage (Cabo Frailes) right away to investigate the problem.
Anchored we determined that the missing piece had ground itself into little pieces because two bolts had worked loose. These bolts are countersunk in the back of a metal arm. You can’t see them without using a mirror but a careful look will tell you if they are lose because you will see a crack between pieces of metal. So we now know to check them after each rough passage and at least monthly.
The trip back to La Paz to have the key made would require two legs and be upwind with two notorious channels to get through on the last day. Fortunately there were no strong weather patterns but significant wind is generated in the channels by the temperature difference between the land and the sea. We would have to hand steer so to minimize the waves and wind we decided to do the legs at night. This worked and we have two calm passages. On the first leg we got our backup autopilot to work but on the second night it quit when two metal pins broke.
We spent Christmas Eve in Ensenada de los Muertos (bay of the dead) with friends we met in La Paz. Dinner was great as was the company. Christmas morning we anchored in little cove just north of La Paz.
We are back in La Paz the autopilot is fixed and we are ready to go again. More soon.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
The last couple of legs were uneventful. Moderate winds and seas, warm temperatures and scenic secure anchorages and only one other boat around. A few pictures are posted below.
We will spend over a week in La Paz enjoying a Mexican city preparing for Christmas. Activities every night on the boardwalk, usually programs for children.
Then we will make a couple of dayhops to the very southeastern edge of the Baja Peninsula.
We will then wait for a weather window and make the 165 n. mi. overnight leg over to Mazatlan on the mainland.
My friend Dean Wilson ask me last summer why we jumped over to the Baja from the mainland then crossed back. Why not just stay on the mainland side? The brief answer I gave Dean was that there is only one port between Mazatlan and San Carlos and it is not reasonably accessible to cruising sailboats. That port has a long channel that takes the better part of a day to enter. That is true, but beyond that, the coastline is mostly mangrove swamp and mosquito infested. Cruisers say the area is malaria infested and to stay more that five miles offshore to avoid the chance of getting malaria.
That is still not the full story. The rest of the story is that the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez is some of the finest cruising grounds in the world with beautiful anchorages every 20 to 40 miles and predictable warm winds. As you can see from the photo’s on this blog.
Below I posted some pictures of the inside of Vagari.