October 30, 2004

Bahia de Tortugas

Here we are in beautiful Turtle Bay. A lovely little village of around 1500 people, 6 hours off the main Baja Highway down a dirt road. It's basically a fishing village with very nice folks. All the folks on the Baja-Haha added another 500 people to the population - but only for three days. This is a major event for the local folks as it occurs right near the "day of the dead" - the Mexican version of Halloween....

We didn't see lots of people during the day, but at night it was very lively, with cars driving up and down the main (dirt) street.

Today, was the "Beach Party" with a DJ, two bear concessions, a lady making excellent Carne Asada tacos and lot's of great Pot Luck dishes. Mary made a great spicy chicken pasta with a sambal peanut sauce. It was a big hit!

I've turned into "Dr. Radio"... Quite a few folks (5 so far) needed help with their Marine Radios. In all cases so far, it's been "operator error" (they didn't read the fine manual) or had programmed the frequencies incorrectly. It was greatly appreciated.

We did get to go visit these boats and made many new friends - there and at the beach party.

Some of the people we met were commenting that they couldn't catch up to our boat with the "hot pink spinnaker" on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But we've only scratched the surface getting to know folks.

Tomorrow is the start of the next leg to Bahia Santa Maria..... We start at 8 AM

Oh, Mary wanted me to tell you that I won a prize for the best nautical costume at the kickoff party last Sunday.

I took some 1 inch braided line I got as remnants, cut it into short pieces and hot glued them to a ball cap, then unraveled the ends. I took another length of rope, wrapped it around my shoulders and tied a knot in it and unraveled it's ends.....

When people asked me what I was.... I said "I'm a Frayed Knot!" That's also the punch line for an old joke ;-}

Mary went as Elle from the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (From Kill Bill Vol. 1). Nurses outfit, big syringe needle and an eye patch....

That's the news from Turtle Bay!

Next update after we start tomorrow.

Best wishes to all!

composed by both Mary and Bill

October 27, 2004

Wendesday October 27th

Wow! This has been great! I must admit, we weren't saying that on Tuesday. We hadn't gotten into the sleep rhythm yet. But now...we are anchored in Turtle Bay, Bahia de Tortugas.

The breeze is flowing, the sun is shinning, the steaks are marinating and the champagne is chilling (thanks Denise and David). And one by one the other boats are coming in.

I knew we had a great boat but I am surprised that we left almost everyone behind us. We will see how it turns out after they factor in the motoring time. Really, we weren't racing. We are "cruisers". It just turned out that way.

Yesterday, we were swarmed by over a hundred dolphin for a short time. There are some playing around in this bay too. In the evening we maneuvered around the islands. It makes me appreciate the radar even more.

Even by the second day, we were getting used to the night watches. We've had a full moon and good visibility. Tonight, we'll watch the Lunar Eclipse while BBQing our steaks.

Now we'll rest and socialize for a couple of days, while we wait for the smaller boats. The next stop will be Bahia Santa Maria.

I like it!

Warmest regards,

Mary and Bill

October 26, 2004

The day at sea

Bill here, Mary is taking a siesta before her next watch.

All is well this evening aboard Raptor Dance!

We had a great day today and should arrive in Turtle Bay tomorrow morning.

We ran all day with our spinnaker. The winds were light but we still averaged over 7 knots. Our 24 hour run was 168 KM - great for a cruising boat.

Mary and I have been doing 3 hour watches - and it seems right for us.

Right now we're about 8 hours away from San Benito Island. We'll be passing between it and Cedros Island, on our way to Turtle Bay.

The storm that socked Northern and Southern California is forecast to pass to the North with just a little more wind. The biggest winds will be passing by when we're safely at anchor on Thursday - and even those winds are forecast to be much less than a typical day on SF Bay.

The 145 boats in the rally spread out pretty fast after the start. Most of them are behind us ;-} Of the faster ones, we only see about 3 or 4 at any given time within our visual range (about a 5 mile radius circle).

Right now (7PM) I can see only two other boats, including on the Radar within a 6 mile radius. This ocean is a big place!

Warmest Regards,
Bill (and Mary too!)

October 25, 2004

We're on our way!

The Baja-Haha started this morning at 11 AM off Pt. Loma in San Diego.

There were 167 boats that started with us.

The winds were very light in the morning - only 6 knots, but built to a maximum of 15 during the day.

We're on a beam reach and with our spinnaker, we were doing 8.2 knots, sustained with peaks speeds approaching 9! A really great day of sailing.

It's now 6:15 with a beautiful sunset and full moon tonight.

The winds have died, so we took the spinnaker down and are motoring - this is a fun rally after all and motoring is allowed ;-}

For more info, you can go to the Baja-Haha - see the link off our homepage at http://raptordance.com

Oh yea, we caught a 10 pound skip jack tuna right at 5pm. Fish for dinner tonight!


October 21, 2004

San Diego Bound! -- Finally ;-}

We got our part yesterday and the mechanic got it installed and the engine and transmission back working yesterday afternoon.

The storm blew through (lot's of rain and wind) while we were in Dana Point. We found a slip for the worst parts and all was fine.

We left Dana Point this morning at 6:45 and right now we're motoring towards San Diego (again today no favorable sailing winds). We should arrive around 4:00 this afternoon.

We're in great spirits as the sun is shining and we're back on our way!

Regards to all,

Bill and Mary

October 19, 2004

The Tale of the 10 Cent Lock Washer

Hi Everyone!

It's been a few days since you last heard from us, but that's because we've been really busy.

On Sunday, we had a really lumpy motor from the Isthmus at Catalina to Dana Point, intending to layover for the evening before heading on to San Diego Monday morning.

After entering the harbor, we throttled back, lowered the mainsail and were proceeding slowly up the channel to the Western Anchorage at Dana Point (no slips were available) when the engine just QUIT! No noises, no alarms, normal engine temperature and oil pressure.... nothing out of the ordinary.... it just stopped! --Diesels aren't supposed to do that! Also, the engine would not restart or even turn over.

We did manage, with a little tow help from another boat (a little 22 footer with a 9 horse outboard - how embarrassing) to get to the anchorage and safely drop anchor.

Those of you who have seen Raptor Dance in person, may have noticed that we have a "BIG HONKING ANCHOR" with all an all chain anchor rode (that's the line between the boat and the anchor for you non-sailors)- so we're safely at anchor in a very nice place.

I went through the list of all the possible things I could think of Sunday night and did lots of diagnosis - to no avail. I new it was something "major".

Fortunately, the anchorage is just off Dana Point Yacht club and called around and got the reference for a really great mechanic who specializes in the type of engine we have (Westerbeke). He was on the spot at 1045 Monday morning and we spent all day Monday taking the engine apart to diagnose the problem.

Something was binding inside the engine that prevented the engine from starting, running, or even to rotate freely (big scraping noise) when turned manually.

Much to everyone's surprise, when we took off the transmission, there were two bolts rattling around inside the flywheel housing (called a bell housing since it's in the shape of a bell). One of the bolts had it's lock washer in place. We didn't know where the other one got to.

At the end of Monday, it looked really bad! We might need a new engine - which would take 7 to 10 days just to get here and then 1 or 2 days to swap (not to mention the $$$$). We resigned ourselves to having to delay the San Diego family activities and probably missing the Baja-Haha, something we've been looking forward to for years ;-(

Only one more thing to take apart and check out - but that had to wait until this morning as we needed to jack up the engine and remove the back to check why the flywheel was binding. The only other time the mechanics (we had a consult going on by this time) had seen something like this before, the crankshaft was cracked and the most reasonable solution was to replace the whole engine!!!!

Well, Tuesday morning dawns and the mechanic is back on the job, using a chain lift with a 2 x 4 across the companionway to lift the engine off it's rear mounts so the bell housing could be removed. An all morning job.

Off it came and guess what - there was the missing lock washer, wedged in between the bell housing and the flywheel. The source of the problem!!!!


Reassembling the engine - and she started right up!

We're not quite back together yet, one part was worn enough to warrant replacement (the damping plate which couples the engine to the transmission). A new part should be here by 10 AM tomorrow and then the transmission will get put back on and we'll be ready to continue down to San Diego on Thursday.... If no other unforeseen circumstances arise.

That's the news from Dana Point! We're off to the yacht club next for Taco Tuesday! ;-}
Let me just put this another way.... We had a bumpy ride between Catalina and Dana Point - the least comfortable segment of the trip so far. But we were looking forward to getting in at 230 to kick back and relax the rest of the day.

Oh well!!!!!!

Then the adrenaline rush, the fire drill, watching the swing around the anchor all night in shifting winds (one boat was a bit too close for our taste) and a lot of attempted diagnosis.

By the next day we had resigned ourselves to the major change of plans, were very disappointed but were OK.

This really made us realize how much we really were looking forward doing the HaHa.

Something could still come up, but it's looking like we'll be back on track by Thursday night, in time for the family and the Haha.

Some seasoned cruising friends gave us a bottle of Champaign for when we have a really "OH S#$%" experience. It's still unopened :-}
Best wishes,

Bill and Mary

October 14, 2004

Great sail!

I sent the earlier email too soon!

Right after we rounded Palos Verdes Peninsula the wind shifted and picked up speed. We had a great sail for the last 3 hours into the Isthmus at Catalina. Winds were 12 to 15 from 50 degrees to starboard. A great close hauled/close reach. We were making faster than motoring 7.5 to 8 knots! A lovely afternoon.

This was the best sailing so far in our trip.

We grabbed a mooring and took the shore boat into Doug's Harbor reef and had our Buffalo Milk.... It was better than I remembered, but much more fat and creme! It's made from Vodka, Creme de Cacao, Creme de Minth, Kalua, whipped cream with a bit of nutmeg on top... OY! Tasty but far too rich. We then switched to beer.

That's the report for this evening!

Bill and Mary

October 13, 2004

Catalina Bound

After a great 5 days in Marina del Rey seeing family and friends, we're off to spend the next 4+ days in Catalina.

Our first stop will be the Isthmus where we'll stop for a Buffalo Milk and do some diving. For those of you who don't know. The bar at the Isthmus is "Doug's Harbor Reef" and their buffalo milk is some what akin to a pina colada, but a bit different in flavor.

On our way out of the Marina we stopped at the fuel dock. We had not refueled since Half Moon bay. Even so, we only needed 69.6 gallons of diesel. Much better than my old boat which would have used more than that just getting to Catalina and back from Marina del Rey!

The sun's back out and it's in the 70s, but the winds are still adverse so we're motor sailing. Normally Catalina is a "reach" from Marina del Rey, but today it's straight windward! Also, the wind is only 6 knots, so if we sailed - we wouldn't get in well past dark on a moonless light.... So the decision - sail and get in late - or Motor and get in by 4 turns into an easy one. Cruising is sooo different from racing ;-}

Hope you all have a great day!

Bill and Mary

October 7, 2004

Enroute to Marina del Rey

We left Santa Barbara this morning at 6:45 AM with light winds and fog limiting visibility to about 1.5 miles. That's sufficient to navigate out of the tricky Santa Barbara marina.

Santa Barbara is noted for it's extensive beaches. This, of course, means sand! Sand originates in in rivers and streams, washes down the ocean and is then carried down the coast by wave action. When the sand migration happens upon a marina, like Santa Barbara's, it tries to fill up the channel.

Santa Barbara's problem is so severe, that they have a full time dredge in operation. For us, this means that the constantly moving entrance channel is marked by buoys that the harbor patrol moves around frequently to mark the then usable channel. So it's nice to be able to see the little red and green buoys that mark the fish hook shaped channel.

We're now about 3 hours out and are using our Radar for longer range traffic spotting and backup navigation. We should be arriving in Marina del Rey this evening around 4:30.

We're now approaching one of my favorite places on the coast. I've never actually been there, but I like it because would have a great challenge figuring out it's pronunciation from it's spelling and besides, it sounds funny. It's Port Hueneme. FYI it's pronounced "why knee me", sounds like something from the WWF.

A few of you have asked about this email mechanism we're using. Winlink is a volunteer organization that has set up Amateur Radio based email relays around the world - you can get more info at http://www.winlink.org and info on Amateur Radio at http://www.arrl.org.

Since we're using high frequency radio and bouncing off the ionosphere, the closest geographic station doesn't always work best. A lot of the messages I've been sending you have been via station WU3V in Great Falls, MT. It's 875 NM from here, but that's just a single bounce off the ionosphere. You can go to http://www.qex.com and find out about the nice fellow who set up that station. If you're curious, you can also look up my call WB6JAO and Mary's KG6GEX.

That's all for now. Time for an early lunch (bacon and avocado in a pita today).

Bill and Mary

October 4, 2004

Finally in Southern California!

Well - we made it around the famous Pt. Conception, often called the Cape Horn of California. Woopie, we've seen more wind on SF Bay and bigger seas coming back to SF from Monterey.

The journey was not uneventful, however. We had a bit of a to do, in the middle of San Luis Bay (near San Luis Obispo) when we caught a floating crab pot line in our propeller (we were motor sailing at the time in light winds). We were able to untangle it after about 10 minutes of twiddling with no damage. The bolt holding the autopilot drive also fell out about the same time, so we had to go lazaretto diving to replace it (we waited until we got to the anchorage). But hey, that's what cruising is all about!

Truly, Pt. Conception was no big deal today. Moderate winds and seas. For once, our wind vane didn't point to our bow ;-}

After rounding, we tucked in safe and sound to Cojo Anchorage, just around Pt. Conception (Santa Barbara side). Check out the map on the website - it should show us there.

For dinner, we had a nice Rosemary and Garlic infused rack of lamb, with oven roasted new Yukon Gold potatoes, broccoli and a lovely Sausal Zinfandel.

We are happy, content and (now that we're in Southern California and had a sunny day) WARM!

Regards to All!

Bill and Mary

October 3, 2004

On our way to Morro Bay

It's a beautiful morning!..... OK, it's foggy and overcast with 3 miles visibility.... (at 8AM) and cool - in the mid 50s, But it's nice and warm in the cabin.

We left Monterey this morning at 1:10 AM and are motoring as we still don't have enough wind to make Morro Bay by nightfall if we were sailing. True Wind speed is only 4.0 knots from the North.

A big difference between racers and cruisers: when there's no wind, we use the engine!

We rounded Pt. Sur at 5:05 AM and right now we're 24 Nautical Miles from Pt. Piedras Blancas on a heading of 130 Deg M, making around 7.3 knots. We should make Morro Bay by 4:00 PM.

I just sent in a position update and it should be posted on the website.

Mary is up sitting watch and I'm down below fiddling with the computer and radios.

We're having a great time and can't wait until we get to warmer weather. Mary's wearing her fleece and warm fuzzy hat.

We enjoyed watching a pod of dolphin's playing in our bow wave this morning for over an hour. There were at least 8 leaping, frolicking and having a good old time. I tried taking some stills, but they were a bit fast and it was still twilight, I'll see what comes out and put any decent pictures up on the website next time we get a good high speed connection.

Oh and (knock on wood) all systems are functioning properly - that is, nothing's broken yet.....

We are having a great time.... We should have done this years ago!

That's the morning update from Raptor Dance!

Bill and Mary