October 30, 2006

Start of the Ha-ha

Hi Everyone!

What a wonderful day.

It's a bit cooler today than it's been for a while, but we got off to a great start this morning at 11:00 AM PST on the Baja Ha-ha. Next Stop, Bahia de Tortugas - Turtle Bay. At the present rate of progress, we should arrive around the middle of the day on Wednesday.

We left the Silver Gate Yacht Club Guest Dock this morning at 9:15 AM and made our way out to the start area. We arrived a bit early, so we motored around as the fleet gathered. There were 183 sign ups for this years rally and around 160 started. We'll have a better number tomorrow or so.

The start with this many boats is always a little hectic, so we held back from the crowd until after the start. After all it's a cruisers' rally and not really a race.

We were better prepared today than ever before and got our spinnaker up just at the start. The winds were light so we only were doing 5 knots or so for the first hour. Then the winds picked up (to around 15 knots maximum) and our speed picked up to. We have consistently averaged around 7.5 knots. We've even had periods in excess of 8!

It's now approaching sunset and winds are starting to diminish and move aft, so we're slowing down to under 7. We'll see how this holds and figure out what to do as we approach nightfall.

During the day we worked our way by most of the fleet and are now among the front 10% of the boats. We think, it's hard to figure as the boats have spread out all over the place.

We've had an occasional dolphin playing around the boat and have had an overall wonderful day.

That's the news from Raptor Dance - off the coast of Baja just off Ensenada.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

October 29, 2006

Ha-Ha Tomorrow!

Hi Everyone!

We just posted pictures of some of our highlights for the month of October on our website at http://raptordance.com

It's been a very busy 2 1/2 weeks since we got to San Diego. We ran innumerable boat errands, shopped till we dropped and generally got everything ship shape.

We had a lovely stay on the guest dock of the Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island. http://www.sgyc.org The members and staff were extremely friendly and the food in their dining room was outstanding.

Also, on October 21st we drove up to Upland California for Bill's 40th high school reunion. We saw lots of old friends. Six of the folks at the reunion went to the same elementary, middle and high schools. 5 of them were even with Bill in Kindergarten!

Today was the kickoff party for the rally to Mexico, the Baja Ha-ha see http://www.baja-haha.com and we leave the dock tomorrow at 9AM for Mexico!

We'll post position reports a few times a day, so you can follow our progress via the position reporter link on our website or directly at:

We won't be able to check our "raptordance.com" email for the next few weeks, so use this, our winlink.org address to contact us.

Remember, please don't REPLY to this address. Send us a NEW Message!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

October 12, 2006

Dolphins at Dawn!

Hi Everyone!

Just a quick update on the news from Raptor Dance.

We had a great time the last two weeks over on Catalina Island. We met many new friends who will be going on the Ha-ha and had an interesting time at Buccaneer days. We'll report more fully in a later post.

We left Avalon Harbor just before midnight for the run over to San Diego. It was a quiet night with a just past full moon. It was a beautiful passage.

Then at dawn, we were greeted with many Dolphins playing around the boat. They've been coming and going for over an hour.

We'll be arriving at the Silver Gate Yacht Club in San Diego on Shelter Island around 10:30 AM this morning and are looking forward to seeing all our local family and friends.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

October 1, 2006

Catalina Island - Cat Harbor

Hi Everyone!

We had a wonderful week in Marina del Rey visiting with my Dad, Sam; Brother, Bob and Sister-in-law, Stephanie. We stayed at my old stomping ground, the California Yacht Club. We saw a few of my old friends, but there are a lot of new faces at the club. It was 1992 when I moved North and stopped being a club regular.

We left Marina del Rey on Friday the 29th at 10:15 AM and motored out of Santa Monica Bay in Fog and 1 to 2 mile visibility and light winds. After we passed Palos Verdes the skies cleared and we had a wonderful close reach over to the Catalina Isthmus. Again, as on our 2004 trip, this was one of the best "sails" of our trip down the coast.

We tied up at mooring G2 at the Isthmus, got out the dingy and went in to Doug's for a famous "Buffalo Milk". They're much richer than I remembered (from 15 years ago!) so we switched to beer.

The anchorage was so rolly all night that we got up at 11 PM and rigged the "Flopper Stopper". This is the first time we've used it in all our cruising so it took about an hour to figure out, rig up and deploy.

Our Flopper Stopper is an aluminum contraption 2' x 3' consisting of a frame and one way flaps. Hung off the end of our spinnaker pole, off the side of our boat, completely submerged, it acts like a one way valve. When we roll to that side of the boat, the flaps open and the water flows through. When the boat starts to roll the other way, the flaps shut and the whole think acts like a sea anchor, damping the roll. It works pretty well, we were able to sleep the rest of the night.

Enough with this nonsense! Saturday morning we talked with the Harbor Patrol and switched to mooring N1 in Cat Harbor. We're less than a mile from our original mooring, but it's absolutely flat water.

Oh, for those not familiar with Catalina Island, we did have to motor around to the other side of Catalina as Cat Harbor is on the South side of the Island and Isthmus Harbor is on the North. We left at 9:15 AM from the Isthmus and were moored in Cat Harbor by 1130. We went around the West End of Catalina for short passage of 15 nautical miles.

Cat Harbor is wonderful and quiet as it's on the "back side" of Catalina. It gets very little traffic as most folks stay on the side closest to the mainland. It's only about a 1/2 mile walk from the Cat Harbor dingy dock to Isthmus Harbor, so we can still easily get to the little store, restaurant and Doug's Harbor Reef Bar.

We're going to stay here until Monday the Oct 9th, when we'll move to Avalon, then on to San Diego the morning of the 12th. We plan to do a lot of hiking up in the hills and go diving while we're here.

This coming weekend (Oct 7th) is buccaneer days at the Isthmus. It should be very interesting... We have our "2nd string" pirate costumes at the ready (we're saving our best ones for the Ha-ha kickoff party).

That's the latest from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards to all,
Bill and Mary