OK so as you can see, there is a pattern developing or maybe it’s always been there I’m just now recognizing it because I’m actually recording my thoughts online. I say many things, then I do something else.
I think my biggest mistake was not double checking my weather the morning I left Ensenada. My forecast that I posted might have been almost 36 hrs old. It showed almost perfect conditions with light winds the first day and then nice downwind sailing most of the rest of the way. I motored for most of the first day or so as I had expected and was anxiously awaiting my perfect winds so I could actually get some sailing in. I finally figured out how to get weather via PredictWind through my IridiumGo sat phone offshore so I checked at the end of the 1st day and I see this nasty front with up to 35 mph winds that’s supposed to hit me right after dark Sunday evening. I checked again Sunday and it hadn’t changed and I realized I was going to be sailing into the wind and swell instead of going downwind. Sailing downwind is usually comfortable from what I understand and that’s been almost all of my limited experience. I’d heard talk of how it’s not much fun sailing into the wind because your boat speed combined with the wind speed gives you a higher ‘apparent’ wind speed. They don’t call it ‘bashing’ into the wind for nothing. There’s an old say that “gentlemen never sail to weather”. I thought I’d be the exception to the rule. . . wrong! Fortunately I knew it was coming so I started doing things to prepare. I furled my headsail as the winds started increasing and when the wind hit 20 mph just before dark I furled my main because I didn’t want to do all of this with my inexperience in darkness and high winds. The winds wasn’t what made it so daunting. There were 4-6 ft swells coming 4 to 5 seconds apart from one direction 6-8 ft from another maybe 10 seconds apart and it seemed like multiple others as well. I was having problems with my auto pilot not working correctly so all night I had to constantly make adjustments to keep my bow heading into the wind. I can lock the wheel down but with all the different wave patterns the boat will start drifting off course so I had to constantly make corrections. I just learned recently that it takes a wave height equal to the length of side of the boat the wave hits to cause you to flip. My boat is 38′ so it would take a 38′ wave for her to go end over. My beam on the other hand is only 13′ and it’s quite apparent why I wanted to keep her heading into the wind. Other than the night of my heart attack which I wasn’t even aware of I’d have to say it was the most exciting night of my life! The night was pitch dark except for the glow of all of my instruments. Outside of the boat all I could see was the whitecap of the waves near the boat. Beyond that it’s a dark empty void. I had to remind myself that I was in pursuit of different and I had definitely got every bit of that on this night. I’m not trying to be macho but I was never scared or terrified. When we sailed from Portland to Ventura we experienced some pretty windy large swell conditions so I knew Desi could handle some nasty stuff. Granted I had an experienced captain and another crew member onboard that trip which definitely made a big difference. I was anxious for it to be over and a bit nervous no doubt but with each hour that passed I gained more confidence in the boat and what she could handle. When daylight broke I could see how sloppy the ocean was and fully appreciate why my night had been what it was. I was getting low on fuel and knew seas weren’t going to calm down for awhile so I went to plan B. I actually put the sails up heading to Turtle Bay because I was concerned about running out of fuel and it gave me more experience putting sails up and furling them in high winds and sailing in different conditions. I’m still very inexperienced but I’ve always learned best by trial and error. I figured I had enough fuel to make Turtle Bay and took the sails back down and motored. It gave me a chance to read my auto pilot manual but couldn’t see where I was doing anything wrong and eventually turned it off and back on and voila! That night was coming sooner or later and I learned so much from it that it was invaluable in the education for my adventure.
I’ve been reviewing the weather and I’m heading out tomorrow instead. More diesel and to get out of those sloppy seas was the primary objective of this stop. Enrique in a pagoda with two young men came out to the boat to see if I needed fuel just after I anchored (my first time anchoring btw ;)) but I told them I just wanted to eat and sleep having been up for over 36 hrs without sleep. He understood and asked how much fuel I needed and I told him. I asked if I needed to take the boat to him or if he’d bring it to me but I didn’t understand. I assumed I had to go over towards Turtle Bay Village. I’m anchored by myself out in the bay quite a ways from the village and after a long sleep I got up and after the nasty conditions I experienced the day/night before it helped me identify numerous things I needed to stow more securely and I made several changes to how my dinghy was rigged to make it more secure and put the boat in better order.
I’m going to double check the weather in the morning but things look good before the next nasty weather comes through. My goal this time is Bahia Magdalena or Mag Bay as gringos call it. If weather and things are cooperating I may keep going. Sorry no pictures since no wifi. If weather changes and I decide not to leave until the next good weather window I’ll go into the village tomorrow and post some. I really don’t want to stay here. I won’t be happy until I’m anchored in some warm tropical setting that I want stay at for several days! To be continued…………