The week of storms subsided today and provided us with an opportunity to begin Odyssey’s maiden voyage. She is full to the gunnels with parts, food and equipment. All that is left is to fill’r up! The storms that hit the Pacific coast we reported to be the worst in 12 years, bringing torrential rains of more than 8 inches to the coastal areas, and winds producing 25-foot seas. More storms were on the way, so after a ten-day delay from our original planned departure date, Rebecca piloted the boat to the fuel dock and we brought 1875 gallons of diesel fuel aboard. It took about 1½ hrs. In the meantime Rebecca went to the local subway shop to buy sandwiches for our crew. I ordered a spicy Italian sub. At 14:45 we started the engines and headed out to sea.
Our crew consisted of five people: our able captain is Devin Zwick, who has made this trip many times. He also speaks Spanish. James Leishman is our resident fishing expert and the gentleman who sold us the boat. Among his adventures, he has crossed the Atlantic on a Nordhavn. His father and uncle along with Dan Streech are the creators of the Nordhavn family of yachts. Our final crewmember was Jim Kirby. Jim is a very experienced yachtsman who is a journalist by trade. He will be writing an article on our adventure.
As we left Dana Point Harbor, we were relieved that the sea was relatively calm compared to the previous week. Swells were about 8 feet with a long moment. As the boat began to move we were reminded that it usually takes a day or two to get used to the motion of the boat. Devin and James checked the systems and set a watch schedule. Everyone became a little subdued as they began getting used to the motion. The sun was out, but it was only 58 degrees. Rebecca and I were planning a big dinner for our crew, but no one really felt like eating. As time passed, Rebecca became sea sick. I wanted to help her, but it is something that only time will cure. Later, the Italian sub began swirling around in my stomach, and before I could say Jiminy Cricket, it was over. Lunching on an Italian sub was a decidedly a poor idea. I felt a lot better and leaned a valuable lesson.
That night, and each night since, we fell asleep in what only can be described as a cradle, with the ocean rocking us gently to sleep. It was a lovely end to an exciting first day.
At Sea 15 miles off the coast of Mexico
We awoke the next morning feeling much better, although Rebecca was a little rocky. The sea was calmer and the sun was shinning. We were making 8 knots in sea of about 5 feet. We planned on heading to Mag Bay, about 610 miles south of Dana Point. It would take us about three days. Everyone takes care of themselves for breakfast and lunch, choosing from a selection that we makes available on the counter. However, dinner is different. We planned to gather as a group for a family style meal. Rebecca and I made pot roast, mashed potatoes, broccoli and corn bread. Ice cream was the desert. The day was spent getting into an operational routine and checking the electronics. The water was about 58 degrees when we left Dana Point, but by tonight had reached 62 degrees.
It was a beautiful, sunny day with light seas and a warm breeze. The Pacific Ocean is known for its long and rolling swells, and today we luxuriated in them. We awoke with Cedros Island on our starboard bow. Cedros Island is about 15 miles off the coast of Mexico and is about 20 miles long by 12 miles wide. It used to be covered with a cedar forest, but the Spanish stripped the island of its trees to build ships several centuries ago. Now it is a desert island, used mostly for mining gypsum. Local fishermen ply the waters in their small boats called pangas. One of them hailed us to trade lobster for whatever we could trade. We exchanged a six-pack of beer, a hat, some candy and four cokes for eight lobsters. They were fantastic! We set out our fishing gear and were catching Bonita’s and, fortunately, a Yellow Tail. So dinner that night was fresh seafood cooked on the cockpit grill as we worked our way south.
Life aboard is fantastic. The motion of the sea and the beautiful sunsets are wonderful. Dolphins race with the boat and whales, seals, and other animals look us over as we pass them by. I think the fish and the animals view us as a diversion and curiosity. The fish could pay a pretty heavy price though! As the day came to a close, Rebecca concocted a big celebration dinner for my 65th birthday. She packed away some terrific surprises including one from Kathryn. Although I can’t ell you about each gift, I would like to mention the very special French made pocketknife created in the image of a boat. Pocketknives are a necessity for a serious boater. We had a wonderful dinner, and the men sang Happy Birthday. We called Kathryn in Boston using our satellite phone for the first time. Around 2300 hours we dropped into bed and drifted off as the ship rockedus to sleep.
Arrival at Bahia Santa Maria
We fished and cruised most of the day. The water is colder than normal because of the storms up north, so the fish are apparently not biting. It was a beautiful day, as the swells lengthened out and rolled gently from the north. We saw a lot of whales, and dolphins, but the big attraction was our anticipation of our arrival at Bahia Santa Maria and our anchoring for the first time aboard Odyssey. It is a desert environment, so the hills are brown and fall sharply to the sea. The bay is very large and offers protection mainly from the north. We dropped anchor at dusk, and within minutes a panga arrived with fisherman who asked us for water (we carry over 600 gallons of fresh water and can make an equal amount each day, so in desolate areas we have more than enough to give away.) We gave the men a few beers and traded for some lobster, which they promised to deliver. We are still waiting. As night fell, we turned on our underwater stern lights, which are blue LEDs. Fish are said to be attracted to them and put on a sort of evening show. We didn’t see many fish, but about 15 Pelicans showed up and were apparently also waiting for the fish to appear.
Bahia Santa Maria and departure for Cabo
A front has moved in and produced cloudy cool weather. A few raindrops have fallen. We all got up early so that we could launch the tender and explore the mangrove forest just off the bay. After lowering the boat we all climbed aboard and headed for the estuary that leads to the mangroves. To get there we had to negotiate a very dangerous surf line that leads to the entrance of the river. It was very shallow and difficult to navigate, but we made it and spent about two hours going up and down different parts of the river, cruising by several fishing camps. Coming back was even more challenging and somewhat harrowing as we surfed up several breakers in order to make it back to Odyssey. The tender rose so high and fell so quickly and then met another wave that pushed us up…it was like a roller coaster. After we got back to the boat, Devin and James prepared to go spear fishing. After lunch, Jim piloted the tender and took them to an area favored by James. Rebecca and I took Odyssey out of the bay and cruised offshore for a couple of hours waiting for them. Jim kept in touch with us by VHF radio, and after about two hours they got a fish and rejoined us at sea, where we raised the tender aboard in rolling and significant seas. While they were spear fishing Rebecca and I had a few challenges with the navigation system, but we got it figured out with the help of Devin over the VHF. Later, I piloted the boat while James and Devin made fish tacos for our dinner. They were terrific. As I sat in the pilothouse, the sunset and the moon rose. The ocean’s color changed from blue, to gold, to red, and then silver in the space of an hour. I put on the ipod and began listening to my favorite music and thinking of how much I wish we could share this experience with everyone we love.
Tonight we will be at sea, but tomorrow we will call at Cabo San Lucus.
Arrival Cabo San Lucas
Today was all sunshine and beautiful seas; whales and their calves where rising and diving all along our course to Cabo. We traveled along the coast, with the semi arid mountains and cliffs turned green from recent rains. In the distance we could see the false cape with the hotels and condos built on and above the beach. “Battleships”, the sport fishing tuna boats that flock here in the winter dotted the horizon. Soon we made the turn and the famous sharp coastal rocks with their graceful arches eroded by sea came into view. The harbor was a mad scramble of activity, and as Devin brought Odyssey in to the harbor’s entrance I felt a sense of trepidation at the close quarters and chaos. We brought the boat to the back of the harbor and docked at the famous wharf that all the tuna boats tie to, right next to the bar and hotel boardwalk. Within a few minutes Victor appeared. He was our port agent who took our passports and ship’s papers and made the rounds of the various official offices to legalize our entry into Mexico. He returned a couple of hours later and we found ourselves $330 lighter. Most countries have entry and visa fees, and our cruising fee is good for ten years. We launched the tender and investigated the harbor and checked in with the harbormaster: $259 was the fee for one night’s dockage. Devin said the cost of dockage in Cabo was about the same as in Monaco: way too expensive. Normally it is about $70. We felt it was a sort of “right of passage”. After we drove around the harbor and out to the famous rocks, we came back to the boat and set up our deck chairs. With a beer and a cigar, we sat there and thought that just two years ago we were with Kathryn walking on the dock and looking at the boats. It was a wonderful time as the afternoon sun began to set.
Tomorrow we will head north about 70 miles to Bahia de los Muertos.