It’s 3:30 am here in San Juanico, Baja California. It’s been a full day of recovering from a bout of food poisoning immediately after a 13 hour, 100 mile crossing of the Sea of Cortez. Between the sound of the fish feeding frenzy happening all around Cat2Fold, and the fact that my back is tighter than a tourniquet, I’m finding sleep a commodity hard to come by.
…after launching and opening up Cat2Fold at the Marina San Carlos boat ramp, Deidre and I spent the next day really moving in, cleaning and organizing the boat out in the nearby anchorage. We had several visitors drawn in by the uniqueness of our vessel, which is not uncommon in the world of one-of-a-kind multihulls. After all the visitors were gone, and enough of our stuff was put away, we decided to go for a short day sail. A more or less shakedown cruise in preparation for our up and coming crossing of the Sea.
After dropping anchor in Bahia Algadones, we discussed our options after initially looking at the shortest available crossing of 68 miles, and decided that to head further south to San Juanico (100 miles) would be more beneficial for us and our need to be in Banderas Bay by the first bit of December. Knowing from past experiences that there are often hours and hours of slow, windless miles out at sea, we used a conservative 5 knot average to plan our arrival time at our destination. We also decided early on that motoring was an option we were going to use far less than we had the previous winter. So, by leaving San Carlos just before noon, we figured on an 8 am arrival. This would give us plenty of time to enter the harbor within the relative safety of daylight, and allow 10 extra hours before sundown if we were to be sailing slower than 5 knots.
The winds, as expected were light as we left our anchorage. This gave us the opportunity to try out the new drifter sail on the new masthead halyard. We left it up until the winds moved into the 10 knot range. At that point, we furled the big sail, and using the same furling equipment, we hoisted the working jib. With both mainsails and the jib pulling us along at 8-12 knots in 10-15 knots of wind, we couldn’t have been happier. Add to that excitement the catching of two small skipjack fish…life doesn’t get any better.
Maybe it was the new slippery bottom paint, or maybe it was the new jib attachment point further out on the bow, or maybe the new placement of the electronic wind indicator (also out on the port bow) allowing me to try and work the apparent wind more accurately, but somehow, someway, Cat2Fold seemed to be sailing faster and smoother than ever before. The speed was thrilling! We sailed for hours at 11+ knots, and hit a top speed of 13.3 knots! While this may not seem all that fast to some of you, on a cruising cat loaded for a 6 month cruise, with winds in the 10-17 knot range most of the night, we were absolutely flying!
We couldn’t slow down. I didn’t want to. Everything felt so right. We had already discussed the option of making landfall in the dark. Usually not the best practice, however having been to San Juanico just 6 months previous and with our old GPS track still visible on the chartplotter, we decided all would be fine if we enter slowly and cautiously under motor. About 15 miles out, while blasting along at 12 knots, a small light to starboard appeared out of nowhere. Was it a fishing Panga? Or maybe it was marking a fishing net? Remembering getting tangled in a fishing net last year, the last thing we wanted was to have the same thing happen at these speeds with this much power in the sails. So we nervously bore off to port and I furled in the jib. Not without some difficulty though. It seems as though we still need some practice using the furler.
After getting far enough away from the mystery light, we resumed our course. As we got closer and closer to Baja, waves started forming that we found ourselves surfing down. While still feeling pretty nervous about the potential for running into a fishing net, we decided it was time to reef the sails. Rather than shorten each sail symmetrically, we decided to lower the windward mainsail entirely, and leave the leeward sail fully up. Even in this configuration, with the wind blowing no more than 15 knots, we were still rapidly approaching our destination at 7-9 knots.
When we got to within 2.5 miles of the entrance into San Juanico, we dropped the last sail and SLOWLY motored our way in. We dropped the anchor at 1am further out than we would have done in the daylight. We could move the boat in closer in he morning when we could safely see our way around the anchorage.
Unfortunately, around 3-4 am, I was awoken by the call of nature to empty the contents of my stomach. Not sure if it was something I ate or drank, or if I just picked up a bug somewhere, but I spent the entire next day puking and laying down, resting. Which brings us full circle. My back can only take so much laying down before it becomes as stiff as a cable.
I’m feeling much better now, all except for my stiff back, as I sit here typing and watching the sunrise over this beautiful anchorage. One of the many beautiful anchorages that we will be visiting during our extended cruise through the Sea of Cortez aboard the amazing Cat2Fold!!!
While Brian was sick, I managed to get out on the paddle board. It is one of my favorite anchorages in Baja, for it’s beauty, clear water and marine life.
Nearly a week has past since arriving in San Carlos. With Cat2Fold awaiting us in the work yard the day we arrived, it was time to get down and dirty and get to work. Speaking of dirty, between all the sanding that we, and everyone else in the yard was doing, and the painting, and epoxying, coupled with nearly triple digit temperatures, every evening we looked like salt/dust/paint covered creatures. Luckily there are showers here on site. Not very hot, but it doesn’t really matter.
Although everyday seems to be filled with hurry up and wait for the current batch of paint or epoxy to dry, we have managed to complete many items that were/are on our “to do” list. The first thing we did upon our arrival was to replace the main halyards so we could safely lower the twin masts. With the masts down, we were able to add a masthead crane with a turning block to each mast so we can fly a spinnaker from the top of the mast, rather than only3/4 of the way up. We also added a custom “hole in the bow” on each bow to use as a padeye attachment for the luff of my new (used) drifter sail (see pics).
Unfortunately, when we hoisted the drifter to try it on for size, the luff was still about a foot too long to get any tension on the sail. So, unfortunately we will have to have the sail recut for optimum performance. There is a good sail loft in PV where we can hopefully have the work done for not too much $$$. In the meantime, it should work just fine for sailingoff the wind.
With the masts, and any other kind of heavy item removed from the boat, it was time to try and lift her up off the trailer to get some much needed bottom paint applied to the belly of the beast. We had been thinking of this process throughout the summer. Much anxiety had built up through the past few months. “Would we need to hire a crane?” We surely didn’t want to spend the several hundred dollars needed for that. So, after donning the thinking cap for a few days, we came up with a way to elevate the boat above the trailer without even using the heavy duty bottle jacks we brought along.
Using only the trailer jack, we lowered the front of the trailer until the hitch was literally on the ground. This gave Cat2Fold an ass up attitude. With her ass as high up in the air as physically possible, we stacked blocks at the very stern of the boat (to ensure a vertical bulkhead was there to help carry the load). Then, by cranking the front of the trailer back up, Cat2Fold became magically suspended nearly a foot above the rear of the trailer. We deflated 4 of the 6 trailer wheels which gained an extra precious few inches. Now we could reach well over 3/4 of the boats bottom!! Several days later, we reinflated the tires and essentially reversed the system, allowing us to access the remaining hull bottom. Now, Cat2Fold is sitting back on the trailer, safe and sound, with a complete double coat of blue bottom paint. Hopefully, the HUGE battle we had going on against marine life trying to make a home of Cat2Folds’ hulls last year, will be a long distant memory.
Sitting here in the camper up to our axles in San Carlos beach sand!!! The sound of the ocean just feet away. The idyllic location in SO many ways, albeit…
…after arriving here Saturday afternoon, and finding Cat2Fold awaiting us in the work yard, we did a quick reacquainting session, and then drove the camper to a spot over looking the beach just North of San Carlos. It was a nice spot. Beautiful sunset!
A morning walk on the beach found us playing with two puppies that lived in the nearby fishing village. We soaked in the warmth. Even in the middle of the summer, the Tetons are never this warm so early in the morning. A quick breakfast, and we were off to get some work done on Cat2Fold!
The first bit of work on the list was to replace the main halyards. The old ones were chafed through enough that I did not feel comfortable lowering the masts with them this past spring. So with some new halyards aloft, we were able to safely lower the masts, allowing us to add the new masthead spinnaker blocks, so we can run some larger, light air front sails.
We finished the day with some prep for the large job of applying bottom paint. Last year, we had to deal with a fouled bottom WAY more than we ever want to deal with again. We are hoping that some anti-fouling bottom paint will help us out immensely in this regard.
We left the marina, as the sun was setting. One quick stop for some groceries, and we were off to find a different beach spot to camp at.
Just as it is imperative to arrive at an unknown anchorage by the light of day in an ocean going vessel, arriving in the dark to an unknown beach in a 12,000 lb. truck turned out to be a bad idea. So, we sit, up to our axles in a sand pit, in an AMAZING spot to be camping, and marvel (and curse) at this amazing adventure we are just beginning to embark on.
We could be sitting at home. Warm by the fire. Worried about what tomorrow will bring… Instead we chose to drive 1,000 miles to spend a winter on board an amazing catamaran sailing another 2000 miles around Pacific Mexico.
Getting stuck on the beach is just the proverbial icing on the adventure cake. 😉
…hopefully we get outta here easily (cheaply) enough!…