Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Crashing the Baja Ha Ha Start with SIYC

October 30, 2017

This weekend Ray McCracken and Alicia Watkins came down from Portland for a visit and break from the rain.  Ray is the current Commodore of the Sauvie Island Yacht Club, and Alicia has long worked on the newsletter and been a great friend.

Ray and Alicia at the West Marine in Chula Vista
After bumming around the tall ships at the San Diego Maritime Museum we met up with other SIYC members George and Sue Stonecliff for dinner before their start in the 2017 Baja Ha Ha.  George and Sue own a beautiful yawl called the Julia Max.

The next morning our plans were to follow them out of the Chula Vista Marina, and sail with them in the Baja Ha Ha parade through the port of San Diego.

This morning Charing and I met Ray and Alicia at the boat, with plenty of food and drinks. With any start on the CarolMarie, there are plans until she tells me otherwise.  Of course this was one of those times when we almost didn't leave the dock because she had other plans.  With all the lights on, shore power off I tried to start her up.  Of course that blew the two existing Class T fuses ($30/ea).  After getting them replaced, the engine wouldn't start.  Finally through some trouble shooting I checked the battery terminals, they were all lose enough the charger wasn't charging them correctly.  After locking them down, and 15 minutes of shore power charging, she started.

We motored out of the marina about 45 minutes later then planned, the Julia Max was already under the Coronado Bridge, about 6 miles ahead.  With the motor, tides and wind in our favor, we unfurled the 130% jenny and we took off at 7.5 knots over water.  In no time we'd caught up with the Julia Max.

Deck of the CarolMarie looking at the bridge before setting sail.

Julia Max displaying her flags ready for the start.

It wasn't long before the entire Baja Ha Ha fleet had surrounded us. Over 150 boats had registered this year for the 11 day run to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  One look at the tight quarters shown on the AIS gives you a feel of the pack.  Only about 1/3 of the boats have AIS transponders though, so imagine the photo below with 3 times more boats around us.  We are the little white boat on the screen with the red and green bow.

AIS of the Baja Ha Ha Fleet.

We listened to Channel 69 as the Grand-Pooh -Ba directed all boats to get as close together as possible because media including CNN were on the committee boat taking pictures.  Suddenly we found ourselves locked into formation of a flotilla of slow moving boats approaching the starting line.

We found a sister ship amid the flotilla, another Hans Christian 38, called Amistad.

S/V Amistad at the start

It wouldn't be San Diego with out having the U.S. Navy delay a day's sailing.  With just 4 minutes to start the Grand-Pooh-Ba came on the radio saying the start was to be delayed and he'd call for a one minute warning to the start after a Navy warship had past the flotilla.
Stalled at the start waiting for the Navy to pass by.

The fleet began to break up a bit giving me the chance to turn and slow down as the Navy did their thing.  Julia Max surged ahead as we drifted to the back of the fleet.

Drifting backward looking at the tail end of the flotilla.
The one minute warning was given, the count down began.  As the minute closed, I never heard the starting gun go off, but I did hear more and more boat horns, and cheers.  The 2017 Baja Ha Ha started, and the CarolMarie, even though in the back of the pack passed by the committee boat.  Shortly afterward we turned around and headed back for the marina.

Charing and I sat in the cockpit and listened to the roll call of the boats crossing the line.  When the Grand-Pooh-Ba called out "Julia Max", we heard our friend Sue reply, "Julia Max - three souls aboard."  Charing and I looked at each other, with watery eyes and sighed.

Good luck Baja Ha-Ha 2017 Fleet - fair winds and safe travel to you all.

Movie of sounds and horns at the start

Best Wishes Baja HaHa 2017 Fleet!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

S/V CarolMarie in the CV! - The Chula Vista Marina

Two months in the Chula Vista Marina.....

Before coming down from Portland we did a little research (we actually means Charing did it and I took credit as the captain.) . The Chula Vista Marina seemed to be the best place to moor from a cost and services point of view.

First there is Mike Sullivan the harbor master who keeps a great eye on the marina, seems easy going, and professional.  There is a reason for it too, with 552 slips to look after.  The marina was opened in 1984.  Most of the staff has been there a long time.  

CV Marina

The marina and RV park is separated by Chula Vista Bayside Park.  The separation park is basically a walkway to the park which terminates at south bay.  On the south side of the park is a fishing pier, and on the north side a large walking park with picnic areas.  The parks walkway is alway full of people strolling, running, and walking their dogs.  From the cockpit of the CarolMarie we have a great view of the fishing pier.

Looking back at the pier at sunset

Both the marina and the RV park are fenced and gated with locked gates.  Security patrols from the marina staff patrol the docks at night.

The concrete docks designed in upwind/downwind configuration, with single berth configurations each with a dock box, water, and power.  Every four or five slips is a trash can fixed to the dock, so you don't have to haul the trash all the way to the dumpster. There are free boater education classes every weekend in the boater lounge.  The restrooms are very clean, and nice showers.  There is a pool and hot tub as well.  The laundry room has a row of washers and dryers which always seem to be unused when I pass by.

One of the best parts about the marina is the Boater Concierge Service.  Although this sounds expensive it's not and very much worth the price.  The service offer a once a month boat cleaning above the waterline, a once a month bottom cleaning, and a pump-out service.  Although the slip fees is on par with California prices, the service isn't.  I get the service for the price of what I paid to just have a diver clean the bottom.  The boat has never been cleaner on the outside.

Pump out guy - aka the Pump Out King comes to your boat for $10.00 if you don't have the concierge service.  His dog Shaddy usually lies on bow of his service boat as he does his business.

Pump Out King

What's unique here is the payment method for the Pump Out King.  The preferred protocol is to run out to life lines, clip on the fee (and a tip for Shaddy), then text the POK your marina, your slip number, and your boat name.  Sometime in the few hours to the next day, you'll find your tank is clean, and the fee is collected.

Fee for the Pump Out King
The marina has a restaurant/bar onsite called the "Galley".  The Galley opens at 8am for breakfast, serves, lunch and dinner, then offers drinks and usually a live band at night.

Soup and Salad at the Galley
A couple of weeks after sailing down from Portland I caught a bad case of pneumonia.  Rather then staying at the apartment by myself I recovered at the marina.  The week and a half it took to recover went by fast, in part due to the great service from the Galley.  The bartender was awesome when I couldn't even speak, and brought out bowls of soup.

Every weekend I journey down to the CV to spend the weekend on her.  With the help of Charing's Uncle Keni we've done a few major projects.

Nearly every weekend boaters gather on the docks; camping chairs out to watch the sunset.  Afterwards we sit around, have a few drinks and debate the finer points of cruising.

On August 5th (8-5) was the "Five O'Clock Somewhere" Party - lasting from 5-8.  (get the numbers theme?) . Mike through a great party, with a band, free beer, and BBQ sandwiches.

Party at the marina
The CV Marina is a wonderful place.  If you come to Southern California there is no better place to stay.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Oh That Smell - Replacing the holding tank

After our trip down the coast we had entered into warmer weather, and with warmer weather the cabin began to take on an unpleasant smell.  I had traced the smell back to holding tank which due to poor design was directly beneath the pullman berth where I slept.  After taking all the bedding apart noticed the tank was leaking from around the flanges, hoses, and small cracks on the bottom of the tank.

The first step was to label all the hose and then figure out how all this works.

Hoses all labeled
Once I labeled all the components of the sanitation system, I created a diagram of the system to ensure I would get the right parts, and know how it all works later.

Diagram of the sanitation system.

To show the damage to the holding tank you can see the evidence in the photo below.

Leakage down the hoses
I removed the tank and then spent a good amount of time with bleach, soap, and rags cleaning this area of the bilge.  On the HC 38MKII this area of the boat is isolated from the bilge to create a water tight compartment.  This compartment holds the holding tank, the forward diesel tank, the inlet strainer for the head, through holes for the heads inlet and outlet.  

Old and tank side by side

My good friend who is my wive's uncle, Keni came by to help. With the old tank out we did test fits with the new tank.  Everything seemed to reach without having to add new hoses.  We pulled the tank out and went back to the cockpit to assembly everything. 

Keni brought along his electric drill and bit, so we could mark the location of the hole for the tank's gage.  A 1.25" diameter hole was drilled out in the top of the tank, then the flanges and plugs were added.  The new flanges had sharper rising spurs then the old tank did.  

Once the tank was back in it's spot, the new spurs made putting the hoses on a bit of a challenge.  Keni rose to the occasion, being much smaller then I jump onto the tank and pulled the hoses in.


Hoses on and double clamped onto the flanges, the next step was to install the tank level gage.  The gage has four self-tapping screws which secure it to the top of the tank.   Before mounting it we coated the bottom of it with a thin layer of 3M 5200 chalk it and the screw holes to prevent leakage as well as seal in the odors.

Tank Level Gage in Place
Once the gage was installed we connected the air hose, and installed the restrains.  I added lemon deodorizer to toilet and flushed it eight to ten times to fill the tank 1/2 way. Watching the hoses for the next two hours for leaks was the worst part - there were none.  Now sealed up, we're happy to say the cabin smells a lot better.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hearing Yourself in Someone Else's Book: GOD BLESS Amazon!

My adventure began while unpacking a bin of stuff from our recent move to Southern California.  I came across one of favorite gazettes - my Kindle DX.  My wonderful wife bought it for me years ago, so I was sure it wouldn't work.  I loved this device for two reasons: first it has a free 3G world wide modem built right into it and secondly because it has the capability of text to speech.  The Kindle DX will read just about any book to you from your Amazon collection. As a slow reading dyslexic really appreciated this feature.

Well, I had long ago lost the email account which tied to the Amazon Prime credentials on the device.  Hoping just to get the thing working I de-registered the device and did a factory reset.  After numerous attempts and trying the manual update (just in case you need it - https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201504450) I had not luck in getting it back on Amazon.

With nothing left to loose I called Amazon and after proving I was who I was, for my new account I explained the problem to their tech support person.  She was awesome; she immediately looked into my old account.  I had a ton of books on the old account and only used the new one to order items and watch Amazon prime movies. (I believe Amazon Prime has the largest collection of sailing movies on the web.). By the end of the conversation the help at Amazon had refunded me my $99 from my new account, shut it down, established my new credentials on my old account and in less then 30 minutes I was $99 richer, had all my old ebooks, and my Kindle DX was working!

Once the Kindle DX was finished the first book that popped up was Breaking Seas: An overweight, middle-aged computer nerd buys his first boat, quits his job, and sails off to adventure, by Glenn Damato.  The book is an auto-biography of his life leading up him sailing off into the horizon, and then becomes of travel log of his adventures.

As a Cold War veteran, Glenn found himself in the.technology industry during Silicon Valley's boom.  Much like me, he came just on the tail end of it, so neither of us had Bill Gates like wealth.  Much like myself Glenn read everything on the web about blue water sailing, naval architecture, storm tactics, etc.  He'd become a knowledge sponge soaking up as much knowledge of seamanship as his cranium would allow.  Once again, like your truly purchase a classic boat in much need of repair. Glenn chronicles his next two years of gaining experience sailing in the Bay Area while recommissioning the boat for his dream journey.

Through a series of twists and turns he finally set out under the Golden Gate Bridge, With his crew his experiences along the California coast parallel my own recent exploits. I am not going to say anymore on Glenn's adventure because the ending came as a shocker to me:I spoil it for the anyone wanting to read it

Breaking Seas has become one of favorite books, I actually complete the book in four hours cover to cover last Saturday morning.  Glenn's style, the way he handled and solved problems coupled with his writing style make the book a great book on I would highly recommend

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Days 10 and 11 Sailing from Portland to San Diego - Arrival

June 5th and 6th of 2017

June 5th Day 10

At midnight I came on watch as we neared Point Conception.  Everything was going smoothly until about 1:30am when I noticed on the AIS we had a large cargo ship about 5 miles away on a collision course with us.  The AIS identified the ship as YM Mandate.  I hailed YM Mandate on the VHF and we shifted to another channel to talk about collision avoidance.  The radio operator on YM Mandate stated he could not see us on radar.  I gave them our position, heading and our bearing to them.  After a brief pause on their side the conversation went like this:

YM Mandate: CarolMarie we can't see you on radar or see you visually.  What do you suggest? Over.

CarolMarie: YM Mandate hold please, over. (I did quick calculations on plotting collision avoidance.)

CarolMarie: YM Mandate I suggest you shift your heading 20 degrees to the west to avoid collision. Please confirm over.

YM Mandate: CarolMarie I confirm we will shift 20 degree to west from our current heading.  Please stand by on this channel until passing over.

CarolMarie: This CarolMarie Standing by. (About 15 minutes pass)

YM Mandate: CarolMarie this is YM Mandate over.

CarolMarie: Please go ahead YM Mandate over.

YM Mandate: CarolMarie are you that small sailboat off to our starboard side about a 1/2 mile away. over.   (I looked at our chart plotter to see, yep its us.)

CarolMarie: YM Mandate I confirm, that is us, over.

YM Mandate: You are a small sailboat, you made us move, over.

CarolMarie: You asked for a suggestion, over.

YM Mandate: Good for you CarolMarie, good night. over.

YM Mandate
We went back to our hailing frequencies and I watched as they disappeared from our screen.  By the next morning we were past Point Conception into the Santa Barbara Channel.

Passing by Point Conception. 
The Santa Barbara Channel was full of fishermen, oil rigs, otters, seals and dolphins. A thick layer of fog surrounded us as we'd pass an oil rig or a fishing boat.

Fishing boat off Santa Barbara

About 2pm our autopilot gave out again, this time the motor stopped working.  We are now on the last one.  

After dinner the third and final autopilot motor failed.  This was odd because two of them failed in calm seas.  With them dead, the sun setting and us approaching the LA basin I didn't want any chance of an accident while hand steering.  We changed the watches to two on switching people every two hours.  This gave each man four on and four off, except for Bill our cook, how had every other shift five off to cook.

June 6th Day 11

I came on watch after midnight to a sea of traffic as we passed the LA basin.  We were now heading eastwardly.  The night was lit in all directions from the city, the ships, and the oil rigs.

Hand steering via compass heading ESE
 For the last few nights a spider has been building a web right above our heads over on the starboard side of the Bimini.  The web building has been a sources of amusement breaking up the boredom of the watch.  
I went off watch at 4:00am, when I woke up it was late into my watch.  Both Paul and Bill let me sleep in, it was about 9:20am when I woke up to a misty rainy fog.

Foggy conditions
The weather cleared up through the day, winds built back up and we were off to sailing again.  Light swells and no waves.

Southern California Sailing

So-Cal Sailing
As luck would have it the dolphins came back at us.  They would come in lined up parallel to the boat, heading direction into us, pushing fish along the way.

We continued motor sailing for a while when we came upon Warship 53 in the distance.  We stay far away from him trying to keep out of their way.

As we got near Point Loma, the Warship turned into the channel for the bay and we thought they'd be pulling in soon.  We had turned off the motor to save fuel and were under sail.

Warship 53 in the distance heading into San Diego Bay

We cut Point Loma close as we were on a heading that would round an underwater buoy at near the end of the point.  The underwater buoy marked the edge of a sewer line that we didn't want to interfere with it.

Point Loma right before our turn.
After a brief dialogue with the Navy and their "warships" we rounded Point Loma to come into the San Diego Bay.

Rounding Point Loma.

Immediately upon turning into the bay we were faced with a Pineapple Ship from Dole.  

June 7th Departing Crew

Monday, June 12, 2017

Day 9 Sailing from Portland to San Diego

Postscript [During the night of the 3rd our Autopilot control unit began acting flakey.  I replace the control unit, we had a spare one. The wires from the connector plugging the unit into the sidewall of the boat had become exposed create a periodic electrical open.]

June 4th of 2017

At midnight I came on watch and decided we should pull into the next harbor on the way to check everything and get the crew some rest from the last few days.  Looking through the charts the bast place to pull in was Morro Bay.

Morro Bay is seen from the water by two geographic features.  The first is Morro Rock, standing 576 feet tall ir is a volcanic plug.  Morro Rock is now a historic land mark with a walking park surrounding it.  The other feature is the three large smoke stacks coming from the old PGE power plant.  The plant was shut down about four years ago and it's unknown what they will do with it.

Morro Rock

Looking into Morro Bay

There is a Shell fuel dock, and almost no transient moorage so it was going to be a short stop over.  I took the watch from midnight until we got into Morro Bay.  We approached the bay's bar roughly about how 6:30am as the sun came up.  At the same time the fog came in making it hard to find the red and white bar marker.  As we found it raising out of the fog came a fishing boat a 1/8th mile off our bow.  Both of us turning to port avoided a collision.  The swells were still large, as we approached the next red buoy.  Coming into the bar saw both sides of the bar markers keeping to port as the depth and current favored that side.  Once across the bar a series of small buoys supported a dredge pipe which seemed to surround the inlet past the bar.  It was impossible to find our way through and we nearly aborted this beautiful harbor.   We finally found the channel, and motored our way up to the fuel dock.

The fuel dock was 20 foot or so above the water, so docking was a little bit of a challenge with the current moving through the bay.  We finally tied up and we were there before they'd open.  About 7:30am the operator opened the fuel dock.  We topped off the fuel, water, added oil and checked all systems.

Looking down from the fuel dock by the ladder.

Paul getting ready to work his magic on the engine.
One thing that had happened was the clamps holding the transmission heat exchanger had fallen off and no one had noticed.  We'd noticed it a few days back and repaired it temporarily with cable ties.  Since we were in the small town, Bill volunteered to pick up oil as well as hose clamps needed for a proper fix.

Heat Exchanger on the back of the engine for the transmission
Paul disappeared for a walk while I waited on the boat.  Later he appeared with a large brown paper bag.  Once we got the new clamps on, we got underway.  Paul then announced he gotten biscuits and gravy from the local cafe as a surprise breakfast.  Bill warmed them up and it was a nice meal after crossing the Morro River Bar back to sea.

Shortly after crossing the bar.

Conditions through the day were much better then before, but the swells continued through the day and into the night.

Swells on the way to Point Conception

As dusk set in the Autopilot motor basically fell apart on the cockpit floor.  I picked up the pieces and brought out a replacement. It continued to work as we went on to Point Conception in hopes of calmer seas and nice wind.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Days 6, 7, and 8 Sailing from Portland to San Diego

June 1st, 2nd and 3rd of 2017

June 1st Day 6.

I haven't seen our stowaways at all.  I hope they made it back to land safely.  We approached Cape Mendocino thinking it was going to be the hardest part of the trip.  The cape is the farthest western part of California, a place where three tectonic plates come together.  The wave were suppose to be high and confused seas as the sea floor raises due to this geologic intersection of plates.  When we passed it the swells and wave basically hadn't change since we'd left Oregon.

About 3:00pm we listened to the weather reports.  Predictions were that through the evening the wind would grow to 30-35 knots gusting to 60 knots.   I told the crew we should likely take down the sails before I turn in at 8:00pm.  We had an early dinner of chicken, green beans and salad.  I took a quick nap.

When I awoke from the nap Bill and Paul were sitting in the cockpit, sun was setting, and seas were small.  We were sailing well and making good time.  I asked Bill and Paul about taking down the sails.  We all came to the realization we made had e avoided the weather predicted or it was wrong.   I went to bed.

June 2nd and 3rd Days 6 and 7.

If you've ever thought about doing something, then talked yourself out of it, only later to learn your original decision was the correct one.  I have heard that called an idio-second. I should have heeded the weather report warnings.  When I came up on watch at midnight, winds we're howling, 30 knots dead behind us.  The seas had gathered and shift WSW, 15-18 feet tall, with about every tenth wave coming from due west, slapping the boat like a mother how's child cursed for the first time.

With and course adjustment under these conditions we broach in the following seas.

I knew the waves waves were as tall as they were dude the height of the Bimini and the TV antenna on it.  They stand at 15ft from the top of the water.   When I came to take over for Bill I was cresting waves a couple of feet above our Bimini....

It was too hard to turn now, so we rode out the storm.  The press last two days, pushing us out to sea, as far as 148miles offshore in the end.