Captain’s Log – December 27, 2010 – January 10, 2011
Tonight we are at sea about 850 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. The sea is moderate, with swells about 6 feet and wind waves of about 2 feet, but Odyssey is handling it easily with a sight waddle as each wave passes under her keel. Soon the sun will set creating a spectacular orange and red display. We left Dana Point on January 5; seas were calm with the exception of a pleasant northerly swell that rocked us to sleep. Right away a pod of dolphins joined us and frolicked in our bow wave. It was exciting to be back at sea and hearing the familiar muffled roar of our twin diesels. As we passed by San Diego, I thought again about the many times I left this harbor when I was in the Navy and of my wonderful family and friends who have given me so much over the five ensuing decades; as a 19 year old sailor heading off to Viet Nam (Rebecca tells me that she was in the eigth grade then), who could have predicted where life’s path would lead? It also occurred to me that it would be five months before Odyssey will be back in the safety of U.S. waters. One cannot overestimate the security and comfort of being in America.
We got a late start out of Dana Point because of the failure of our thruster solenoid, the same one we replaced in Petersburg, Alaska last summer. For some reason unknown to all but the Almighty, it simply failed spontaneously when we first attempted to use it, so we had to wait over the holidays for the supplier to open for business and send us a new one. The weather wasn’t very good, so the delay gave us a chance to celebrate the advent of the New Year onboard with our new crew, visit dear friends in California, and then meet with the team at Nordhavn about the design of our new boat, N6823. Odyssey is perfect, but we originally ordered a 64 foot boat, and now with the economy as it is, the folks at Nordhavn made Rebecca and me a very attractive offer and they threw in an extra 4 feet to boot!
The solenoid arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and by 4:30 PM we were underway. The trip takes about six days of cruising due south along the Baja coast, with a brief overnight stop in Bahia Santa Maria, about 180 miles north of Cabo. The first two days were calm and sunny, which gave us all a chance to settle in and get used to the boat again. Our new crew, Buddy and Kathleen Dore, joined us in Dana Point to help us with the trip. I met Buddy and Kathleen in Alaska two years ago. They ran the charter boat that took my family on a fishing trip. Rebecca and I met them again last summer while we were cruising in Alaska, and we decided to share this trip with them. They fished professionally in Alaska for over 30 years. Buddy is a licensed captain and Kathleen knows her way around the galley and the fishing gear. They can run our boat, help with maintenance, and maybe catch some fish! Besides, they are good company and we enjoy being with them very much.
As we cruised south the wind increased and the sea became a little less settled. We made Credos Island on the second morning. It is a beautiful place and a good fishing spot. We put out our gear and within a couple of hours or so we caught a nice Albacore Tuna. Kathleen cleaned it and we grilled it later that evening for dinner. It was spectacular!
The evenings at sea are awesome (in the adult sense of the word). The Milky Way is a starry canopy extending north and south parallel to the coast, a sort of celestial map for us to follow. The moon rises just after sunset. Looking aft from the starboard door of the pilothouse, you can see the swells rolling past with the silvery moon shine on them. Looking up, the sky is full of stars, more than I have ever seen, and the quarter moon hangs amidst them. With binoculars you can see the moon’s craters and its surface detail, as well as the halo caused by sun’s light around its edges. As time passes, the moon changes color to an amber tone, and then sets below the ocean’s horizon.
The third day out we arrived at Bahia Santa Maria at about 2330. We anchored, dropped into bed in now quiet boat absent the sound of engines and machinery. The next morning we awoke to a windy northeasterly wind of about 15 mph. The bay was rough and, without her stabilizers on Odyssey rolled from side to side. The morning sun made the vistas especially beautiful; we could see the barren desert mountains on one side of the bay and the exposed sand bar with the mangrove forest sweeping around the other. Soon after Rebecca put the coffee on, a panga pulled up with two fishermen who wanted to exchange langoustines for whatever we had that would make a deal. After a little discussion, we settled on the following exchange: 1 chicken, 4 AA batteries, 4 Buds, and to 2 coloring books with crayons in exchange for 8 langoustines. We left the anchorage about 1100, bound for Cabo San Lucas 180 miles away.
The final leg of our trip took about 22 hours. During the day, the sea was pleasant, and we cruised close along the coast. We were keen to see the wreck of a 62 Nordhavn (you can see it on a YouTube video clip) that went aground a few years ago on its maiden voyage. Apparently at least one person died. Can you imagine a $3 million yacht being lost on its first voyage? That evening we lit up the grill and enjoyed a tasty lobster dinner. During the evening the wind gradually began to build and by midnight they were up to 25 knots intermittently. Lucky for us, they came from the NE and because of the proximity of the Baja Peninsula there was a relatively short fetch on which the wind could ply its force, so it wasn’t too bad. By morning, things had calmed down and we rounded Cape Falso on flat seas. When we reached Cabo, we learned that they had closed the port the day before because of high winds. Lucky us!
Today I am sitting on our fly bridge looking at all the activity in the harbor and the great white fleet of sport fishing boats. Several boats are ferrying passengers from the big cruise ships to the port, glass bottom boats beckon people to view the great unknown below, and a National Geographic ship is fueling at the dock just across form us. On the dock are barkers of every sort: some selling cigars, others hawking food at the restaurant, and small children sell candy and gum. On guard at each corner is a soldier with a big automatic gun. We have not seen or heard of any problems. It’s fun to be here (for a little while). I spoke with our weather consultant yesterday and learned that a big storm is crossing the North American Continent this week, causing strong winds and uncomfortable waters across the Sea of Cortez. It looks like we will be here until Saturday, then we will leave for Barra de Navidad, about 380 miles southeast of here. Tonight we are dinning at Mi Casa, the famous local Mexican restaurant. I love their chicken mole! (Most of the time I am vegan but I just can not resist this fabulous dish and also recommend a mango margarita on the side.)
Best wishes from the Tisches!