Turtle Bay is the halfway point on the Baja between Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. The bay is huge and can safety anchor a couple hundred boats in 20 to 30 feet. We Taco Runners are sharing the bay with the Baja Ha Ha rally flotilla, a group of mostly sailboats running from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. The flotilla runs annually and this year is estimated to have 140 boats.
When we entered the bay (Bahia San Bartolome) we were greeted by pangas offering “water taxi” rides to shore, delivery of fresh water or garbage pick-up. Compensation for these services is what you offer to them. Cigarettes, candy, pesos, US dollars. Gracias!
We dinghied into shore and were again met by young Turtle
Bay residents helping us pull our dinghy onto the beach. They would point to
their eyes meaning “we’ll watch your boat” for 2 pesos! The Mexican people are
very industrious and helpful, and always polite!
Scott and I walked the semi-paved roads mostly looking for some kind of internet service. After a couple of hours, we gave up and succumbed to a cold cerveza and fish tacos!
We heard that annually, the Baha Ha Ha boaters challenge the residents of Turtle Bay to a baseball game which was scheduled to begin this afternoon. So we headed to the baseball field with Mike and Elaine from Partida. Again, a young industrious Turtle Bay resident named Angel, 12 years old offered to guide us to the stadium in exchange for a few pesos! Gracias! We arrived a little early and watched the boys from Turtle Bay warm up. We had a laugh when a young black lab ran onto the field and grabbed the baseball. All the kids started running after the lab, which of course they couldn’t catch. The lab was having a blast dropping the ball, then picking it up again and running a different direction! The stadium began to fill up with Baja Ha Ha folks and the game commenced, starting with singing the Star Spangled Banner!
The game is played like this: Everyone takes the field (Baja Ha Ha boaters and Turtle Bay residents) at the same time, together. A line of batters gather at home plate. Again, Baja Ha Ha boaters and Turtle Bay residents. The commentator, a long-time Baja Ha Ha skipper introduced each of the batters in turn. The name of the batter may be correct, but what comes next was a hoot! The 9-year boy described as a prosecuting attorney working pro bono, or the 6-year old “socialite” from New York runs a glitter store, or the Turtle Bay teen who has just been drafted on the Nationals Baseball team! The youngest player was a little guy of 4 years who eventually scored (base running proved challenging at first!) No score was kept and all batters hit the ball regardless of the number of pitches.
And in the stadium was again, an industrious Turtle Bay resident, probably in his 70’s selling cold Pacifico Cervezas for 20 pesos (2 USD). Muchas Gracias! Well played Turtle Bay! Well played Baja Ha Ha!
Traveling the coast of California has been awesome. The cruise to Marina Del Rey was a “short” day cruise from Channel Island where we stayed close to shore. We were traveling with Red Rover N55, Alison and Kevin Jeffries and their two pups, Zoe and Max. Marina Del Rey is huge with traffic lanes to enter and exit, separating the power boats from the sailing and human-powered vessels, (i.e. stand-up paddle boards (SUPs), rowers and kayaks). The marina is brand-new and beautiful. Oddly, we were requested to send photos of the boats prior to approval for a slip assignment.
A few days earlier I had texted my nephew Al who lives in Los Angeles to see if we could get together, letting Al know our schedule. I said we would be in Marina Del Rey on Wednesday. Well, when I contacted Al to say we’re here, Al said, Aunt Abby, you are a day early! It was Tuesday! We were a day early! I’m thinking Early dementia? Retirement? Boating? Perhaps the new normal of not really needing to know what day of the week it is….hum. That evening we Ubered to Venice Beach, known for its “laidback lifestyle in a beach-chic neighborhood”. My nephew was able to track us down in Venice Beach, first by car, then by electric scooter! What a hoot to see Al sailing down the sidewalk on a scooter towards us!! We had an awesome visit! We ate at a great rooftop bar and restaurant, then returned to Epoch to share memories and beers!
The following day we cruised to Dana Point on limited sleep (at least on Epoch) and when we arrived, we washed the salt and dirt off the boat. The washing of the boats was Alison and Kevin’s banner idea and I had to be talked into the endeavor. Heck, here we are in Nordhavn Headquarters and our boats are an embarrassment! Epoch was “horrible” (Scott’s word) and our quick wash and rinse took most of the grime off the boat!
Friday evening, PAE hosted a taco party to celebrate the 2019 Nordhavn Taco Run and their mileage pennant program. PAE created the pennant program to celebrate usage of the boats. Nordhavns are known for circumnavigations, around the world voyages and ocean crossings and PAE believes owners should be celebrated. Nordhavn owners log their miles on the Nordhavn website and earn pennants for milestones. We/Epoch received our first burgee for 5000 miles!
Becky Peters was the margarita maker and emcee for the pennant awards. It was a super fun party and we reunited with friends and met new Nordhavn “friends we hadn’t yet met”!
Later that evening, I was invited on to Vincent and Linda Cummings (also Taco Runners) brand new N60Last Arrow. What a beautiful, stunning new boat. We had spent time with Vince and Linda during the summer of 2018 traveling the west coast of Vancouver Island with Slowboats.com. They were skippering a Coastal Cruiser named Doll Face at that time but we knew they were having the Nordhavn built!
Saturday was the Nordhavn Film Festival. This was a new idea
for PAE and about a year ago, they announced the event. With a grand prize promised for the winner,
18 Nordhavn videos were submitted. 10 videos were shown during the
festival. Generational liveaboards, love
stories, cruising lifestyles, and boating passions were celebrated in the
videos. We laughed, ooh-ahhed, and wiped a tear or two. A film made by the crew of the Nordhavn 120, Aurora, won the contest with a sensitive
film about the rescue of a dolphin and two sea turtles entangled offshore in
fishing lines or nets.
Clearly communicated to the film festival invitees was the appropriate dress for the event. The event was deemed “Black-Tie.” Ask Scott what he plans to wear to any family event; weddings, birthday celebrations, dinners, funerals, etc. and he will say, “shorts”. And shorts are what he wore!
Other Nordhavn owners joined in on the “liveaboard black-tie” style! The evening was awesome! Red Carpet, cocktail hour, dinner, emcee Chuck Hawley, and the wonderful, entertaining, thoughtful and funny films made the evening truly awesome and magical! Hats off to PAE, Jim Leishman, Dan Streech, Amy Zahra, Becky Peters and judges! You can see a taping of the livestream and the top 10 videos at this link: https://nordhavn.com/community/nordhavn-film-festival/
The day following the Film Festival, Sunday was a slow day and the day I decided to try my new stand-up paddle board (SUP) we purchased the day before on Balboa Island. California requires every vessel carry one wearable US Coast Guard-Approved PFD for every person on board if the vessel is 11 feet or longer. Well, my Mirac SUP is 11’6”. Required, so, I grabbed my Crewsaver Crewfit 35 sport PFD which was easily retrievable from the hook in the cockpit. The PFD fits like a low-profile vest; has 3-bladders, one at the back of the neck and one on each side with a clasp in the middle.
I wasn’t planning on falling in. I am a rule follower and wearing it was easier than trying to tether it to the SUP. Ready! Scott was in the kayak and as we leisurely paddled in the marina (me on my knees) we talked about PFDs, would they really work when we needed them, do they really deploy automatically, how difficult was it to re-arm, did it deploy slowly with your head gradually emerging out of the water…..blah, blah. Just general conversation as we paddled. I finally felt brave and with Scott’s encouragement, I STOOD UP! Yep, all was well, standing on my new SUP. Standing and paddling. My kids can do it. My grandkids can do it. I can do it. Then I slipped off the SUP and POOM, I was solidly knocked to the left. POOM, I was knocked to the right and POOM, I was bumped forward!!! And then Scott started laughing, belly laughing and pointing – THAT WOULD HAVE MADE A GREAT VIDEO!!! When I finally got my bearings and a grip on my SUP, I laughed too! Getting up on the SUP with the PFD deployed was a challenge but I finally hoisted myself up and paddled back to the boat. So, our conversation had answers. The PFD worked; it deploys automatically. Not gently, but with GUSTO (the website said the capsule fires within 5 seconds!). And Scott was able to re-arm my PFD which will remain on the hook in the cockpit to be used (if I accidentally fall over) when I am outside on the boat deck where I know it will automatically deploy and save me! But for my next SUP adventure, I will trade it out for my NON-inflatable Mustang Survival PFD.
You live on a BOAT? Can you walk around on the boat? How do you cook? Is sleeping on the boat a challenge? How do you find your way? Are you cold? Is it like a cruise ship? Like on the ocean?
Some of our family and friends have been to the boat, so they have an idea about this boating thing. But for others, the idea of living on a boat is beyond comprehension. My sister calls me “outdoorsy”! Ha!
So, for my family and friends, I thought I’d write a blog about
Epoch and what it is actually like – to live and cruise on a boat.
Epoch is an ocean crossing trawler motor vessel, a Nordhavn 47 or also stated: N4717. Our boat is 47 feet in length. 17 is the hull number; 17th hull built in the 47 series. The beam is 16 feet (the boat width) and the draft is 6 feet (the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull or keel). Draft determines the minimum depth of water the boat can safely navigate, so to say. We cruise at around 7 knots per hour.
There are 8 “rooms” on Epoch. Starting at the stern or back of the boat is the cockpit, an outside area with access to the swim deck. We enter the boat from the cockpit into the salon. The salon is the living space and has a television, chairs from home and an L-shaped settee and table. The salon looks into the galley. The galley has a full-sized stove (propane) and oven (electric), dishwasher, trash compactor, microwave, refrigerator and two freezer drawers with an ice maker. Starboard to the galley is the GE clothes washer and dryer closet.
Forward is the pilothouse or wheelhouse where we “drive” the boat. In the pilothouse are the Navigation/Communication Electronics, autopilot, VHF radios, electrical cabinet, instrument displays for wind, water depth, heading, and stuff we like to know. We have a helm chair and a L-shaped settee with table. Behind the settee is the watch berth, an area you can sleep on. Scott uses the watch berth when I am at the helm during our overnight cruises. He is supposed to sleep but I think he has one eye open the whole time!! We spend most of our time in the pilothouse when underway. The pilothouse has two doors, port and starboard to access the boat deck, bow and flybridge. And a coat closet!
Stairs down from the pilothouse lead to the staterooms. The guest stateroom is forward. On the port side of the guest stateroom is a double berth. It is also equipped with a hammock that can be easily installed to sleep smaller people (like you Mayzee and Hadley!). The starboard side of the guest stateroom is a desk and office. In the guest head (bathroom) is a shower, sink and toilet. At the bottom of the stairs to port is the master stateroom. The master berth is a walk-around queen. The head is similar to the guest head.
From the master stateroom you access the engine room. The centerpiece of the stand-up engine room is a single lugger marine main engine rated at 174 HP. The main engine is configured with dry stack exhaust and a keel cooling system. A wing engine is located aft and to starboard in the engine room. It functions as a “get home” engine in the event of a main engine shut down. The wing engine has its own shaft and folding propeller for auxiliary propulsion should it be necessary.
The engine room also houses the Northern Lights generator, water
maker and storage space for extra parts and tools. From the engine room you
access the lazarette. In the lazarette we store scuba tanks, more extra parts
and an air compressor for diving. There
is a hatch from the lazarette to the cockpit.
Epoch also has a flybridge with two helm chairs and a settee. We have not had the opportunity to use the flybridge very much during past cruising, but with Mexico cruising planned, I’m sure we will use the flybridge a lot.
The electrical system in Epoch can run appliances, make and heat water, charge batteries. We have hydronic heat and air conditioning! The boat has a bow thruster, a crane for deploying the tenders and water toys, an electric motor (windlass) to lower and raise the anchor (121 pounds), and stabilizers. Stabilizers are little fins on the side of the boat that keep the boat from rolling in the ocean. We also have a flopper-stopper, when deployed when at anchor, will reduce roll. We carry 1500 gallons of fuel, 400 gallons of fresh water, and 400 gallons of holding tanks (waste water). When we are at marinas, we plug into “shore power.” When at anchor, we use the generator for electricity.
We have two tenders or dinghies on board. One is used to explore bays, marinas, estuaries. The other tender has wheels we can lower
which will be used to run through the surf to explore the beaches in Mexico.
Safety equipment? We have our EPIRB,Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. An EPIRB is registered to our vessel and is meant to help rescuers locate us in an emergency situation. We also have PLBs, Personal Location Beacons, designed to be carried on our life jackets. In the unlikely event we need to abandon ship, we have and our Winslow 6-man offshore life raft. The life raft is packed into this case and has a hydrostatic release for deployment. Our “Ditch Bag” containing survival equipment is kept close by in the pilothouse. We also have our Lifesling and MOB, Man Overboard Recovery system.
Maintenance and operation of the boat takes work. Scott spends time in the engine room changing oils, filters, maintaining the water pumps and systems. Epoch runs 24/7 during some cruising so Scott keeps the systems well maintained. When we are not making water and water is available in the marinas, we fill the water tank with a hose. And twice a year, we fill Epoch up with diesel fuel. Me? I do similar things on board that I do at home. When we are underway, Scott likes to be at the helm. I do the majority of the engine room checks. Scott docks the boat. I am the deck hand and put out fenders and lines. We use headphones to communicate during docking or anchoring so we don’t yell at each other!
For fun, we read about the places we are going. We fish and crab. We enjoy beverages on the flybridge or cockpit if it is warm enough. We actually love cruising the days away and enjoy anchoring or docking in marinas for the evenings. We like to explore ports and villages, learning about the history, culture and yummy foods. We take our tender with beverages and explore or visit other boaters. Since we don’t have a vehicle when we get to marinas, we walk a lot.
We read, Scott maintenance manuals and I enjoy fiction and biographies. We both read cruising manuals all the time. I listen to audiobooks and have picked up a new hobby called English Paper Piecing (thanks to my daughter Eileen!). We keep in touch with friends and family by email, text or cell phone and I send postcards! Yep, postcards!
Just in case you were wondering, we do sleep on sheets and pillows in bed. We have an espresso maker for our morning lattes. We watch the ‘Today’ show sometimes. We have computers and a printer/fax on board. I make cookies and use the crockpot. Sometimes we grill dinner in the cockpit. Our beer is COLD! Storage of stuff is sometimes odd. We store things in many locations like drawers, small cabinets, under settees or in floor hatches. Daily question, “where did I put that….?” Really, all the comforts of home. It is our home. Living and cruising on a boat is different, but the same. And….. the scenery and weather is always changing.
250 n.m. south of Turtle bay is Magdalena Bay. We anchored
in Man of War Cove for a few days rest and to wait out a predicted tropical weather
depression, later named Raymond. Magdalena Bay is huge, 25 miles NW to SE and
13 miles E-W. The bay is rimmed by 2
elongated islands, Isla Magdalena and Isla Santa Margarita. Our anchorage was
inside Isla Magdalena and the village of Puerto Magdalena, founded in 1871.
The town of Puerto Magdalena consists of around 50 buildings and dirt roads. Prominent in the village is the desalinization plant, church, preschool, Port Captain’s office and Harbor Light, a restaurant Mira Mar, and large 3-sided concrete frames, perhaps hurricane remnants.
Our first night at anchor we were invited on Gitana N55 for Dorado, freshly caught on the cruise from Turtle Bay. The Nordhavn Taco Runners had temporarily split up; those that preferred to travel only during the day and those who preferred to travel all night with the weather and arrive at the new anchorage in the mornings. We traveled with Red Rover and Gitana as the overnight cruisers. The fish was delicious!
The weather had been sunny and in the 70s. By Tuesday afternoon (we departed Turtle Bay on Sunday), the Taco Runners were reunited with the arrival of Partida, Last Arrow and Igloo. Not only did all the Taco Runners arrive in the bay but so did about 130 Baja Ha Ha sailboats! The Baja Ha Ha is a two-week cruisers rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico that takes place every fall. The lights on the sailboat masts in the evening were brighter than the village of Puerto Magdalena.
The restuarant Mira Mar is only open on Wednesdays so we inquired about “reservations”. They were planning fish tacos, served as a buffet with rice, slaw and a couple of toppings at 4pm. There were so many cruisers at the restaurant and it was fun to meet and talk with the Baja Ha Ha rally sailors.
Interesting, the Baja Ha Ha leaves from San Diego and do not check into Mexico until Cabo San Lucas, 183 n.m. south of here at the end of the rally. To leave Mexico, you must first check into Mexico as we did in Ensenada. It appeared (from radio communications) to be a bit of a problem for some Baja Ha Ha cruisers who were needing to return home. The Baja Ha Ha schedule was delayed and some crew were planning a panga lift to Puerto San Carlos to check in, then a bus to Cabo San Lucas to catch flights. Sounded like quite an adventure, considering our location and the language! Two of our Taco Runners, Gitana and Last Arrow also headed out early to Cabo San Lucas.
The five remaining Taco Runners spent 6 more days in Magdalena Bay waiting out the storm which arrived Sunday morning, very early. Epoch pitched with the other boats in the bay for the next 32 hours, bow and stern, up and down. The anchor held through sustained winds of 20 knots with gusts over 30 knots and rain. We had discussed a storm party on Red Rover for Sunday afternoon; however, it was too rough in the bay to travel in the dinghies. Scott and I entertained ourselves watching movies and reading.
While at Magdalena Bay, we enjoyed the beach, collecting shells and watching the puppies play.
We shared another dinner at the Mira Mar with the Baja Ha Ha left-behinds (around 20 sailboaters that decided to stay in Magdalena Bay). They renamed themselves the Baja Yee Ha!
And we celebrated Mike’s birthday (Partida) on Red Rover with caribou tacos made by our Alaska friends on Igloo, “Beat’s me” black bean salad, fixings and a delicious fruit crumble.
Our last night in the bay, I was anxious to get traveling again!
Here we are on the Pacific Ocean 28oN, 55oW anchored on the east side of Isla Cedros, a big volcanic rock of an island (21 miles long) in Mexico. We are traveling as the Nordhavn Taco Runners with Alison and Kevin on Red Rover N55, Lisa and Alec on Audrey Mae N57, Jeff and Shannon on Igloo N47, Mike and Elaine on Partida N46, Hugo, Michele and friend Hugh on Gitana N55 and Linda, Vince and friend Sam (Slowboats.com) on Last Arrow, N60. It is sunny, temperature is in the mid 70s, about 4 knots of wind in 46 feet of water. It is amazing to me that we are on the Pacific Ocean and the boat is not moving. Just a gentle sway. We are not in a protected bay or cove, instead anchored inshore about a quarter mile from the island, on the Pacific Ocean. This Pacific Ocean is far different than the Pacific Ocean on the Washington and Oregon coasts where we cruised in 6-8 foot waves at 10 seconds or 9-11 foot waves at 8 seconds. I do like this Pacific Ocean in Mexico!
Shortly after we arrived at our anchorage, with limited sleep having traveled all night from San Quintin, the water toys came out! Dinghies, SUPs, kayaks exploring the shore of Isla Cedros. Eventually, everyone seemed to gather (unplanned) at Red Rover’s swim deck. Pent-up energy released! People and puppies all having fun, swimming, jumping off the flybridge. The sun was shining and the margaritas were flowing!
After a good night sleep, the following afternoon we congregated on Epoch for a fish fry and birthday party. The fish were caught on the way to Isla Cedros.
Three Pacific Bonitos, one on Red Rover and two on Epoch. And I think all the boats caught Skipjack Tunas which we understand are not great eating fish so they were released. One of the Bonitos were made into Poke Bowl (Hawaiian appetizer of raw fish) served with tortilla chips. The other two Bonitos were either grilled or baked in three different marinades.
We had 16 celebrators on Epoch (a new record!) Many side dishes were brought over by dinghy; bean dip, ceviche (fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices), rice, green broccoli salad, black bean quinoa salad, caribou with honey mustard dip, Bannock (still warm from the oven).
Scott poured his famous Benton City Coolers!
Brownies and Klondike bars for dessert and a candle each for the birthday couple on Igloo!
We finished the evening with dessert Tequila, a combination of Sex Appeal Cream de Coco al Agava and Milan chocolate tequila, served very cold! Yumm!
Bahia San Quintin was our first overnight as the Taco Runners, a 15 hour run (110 n.m.) from Ensenada. We left Ensenada in the afternoon, traveling overnight so we could arrive at the anchorage in daylight. The bay is a 5-mile-wide crescent shaped anchorage south of a 10-mile-long sand bar. The bay is open to the ocean. This is important to know because to get to the beach on the dinghy, we had to “land” the dinghy through the ocean surf. Charlie’s Charts (a cruising manual), page 18 states, “Landing a dinghy through the surf can be hazardous, few cruising sailors have found it necessary to do so in the US and Canadian waters so it is a technique that will probably be learned in situ.”
Scott was well prepared and had installed Beachmaster wheels on our smaller dinghy. The wheels can be folded down to allow for easy maneuvering of the dinghy once on the beach. The technique of beaching a dinghy through the surf requires waiting for a slack period in the incoming swells and then quickly accelerating forward past the breaking surf zone. This also requires quickly pulling up the outboard motor before/while beaching the dinghy and expediently getting all crew out of the dinghy before the next incoming wave crests. Yikes! Right?
We were ready for our first beaching. On our way to the beach we met Alison and Kevin in their dinghy with their two puppies, Zoe and Max coming back from the beach. How’d the landing go? Their story of beaching their dinghy with the pups was both informative (for me) and entertaining, sort of. They were wet, Zoe was wet and looked a little perturbed, and poor Max was wrapped in a towel shivering! They had overturned during their beach landing and overturned getting back out to the bay but were in good spirits, as they always are! To say the least, I was apprehensive and a little scared! I quickly tied everything down in the dinghy and without a word or preparation, Scott floored the motor and we beached! Yay! We pulled the dinghy up the beach and had a nice walk finding sand dollars and enjoying the sunshine. Then it was time to get back out through the surf. We were successful, but the last incoming wave that hit us was so enormous that the dinghy went airborne bow up about 6 feet! Gasping, I found that I was still in the dinghy and when I looked behind me, Scott was there too with a huge grin. All good.
Today we are in Crescent City, in northern California waiting for weather to travel south to Mexico, joining the Taco Run in San Diego! We are traveling with another Nordhavn, 5505 named Red Rover, friends Alison, Kevin, Zoe and little Max. On board Red Rover are Laura and Kevin of Slowboat fame.
Header photo by Kevin, thanks!
We left Shilshole Bay Marina, WA on September 11 after spending a couple of weeks completing boat maintenance, upgrades and provisioning. Our first stop was in Port Angeles, then Neah Bay before our big left turn South! At 11:30 pm (Dark!!), we departed Neah Bay to cruise to Grays Harbor. This was my first overnight travel. My daughter Eileen sent me a text “you got this mom” which became my mantra for the cruise. We arrived in Grays Harbor after crossing the bar (quite terrifying!) at 9:30 pm (Dark Again), 21 hours from when we left. After two days in Westport, WA we then cruised into Crescent City, CA arriving 11:00 am (daylight Yah!), September 21. Sea Quake Brewery greeted us shortly after with cold brews, on tap!