Santa Barbara Staycation

Rachel and I had spent so much time working on little projects on the boat and at our real jobs that we decided it was time for a STAYCATION!  We thought we could “sail” north to Santa Barbara for a relaxing weekend.

Untitled

Our friends Kirk, Chris and Carly came along for the trip up. We planned to leave around 09:30, hoping to sail a little over half way to the southern tip of Santa Cruz island, pointing as north as we could before tacking back towards Santa Barbara.

10 o’clock… 11 o’clock… 12 o’clock… still no wind! We decided to motor directly up to Santa Barbara. Even though we didn’t get to sail it was still a beautiful day out on the water. It was definitely more fun than the projects we had originally planned on doing over the weekend.

When we arrived in the Santa Barbara harbor we were a little confused on exactly where to go. We knew where we were supposed to check-in to get our slip, but that dock was full. As we waited for an opening, all the fishing boats began pouring back into the harbor. I couldn’t help but feel like we are going to hit something while we were just floating and waiting. Rachel is usually the one handling the boat under power so that I’m free to handle the lines. She totally has it down and knows what she is doing, but if we are ever going to get ‘snappy’ with each other it’s usually at this time. We continued to wait our turn without hitting anything, eventually making our way to the dock to get our slip number. When they asked the size our vessel was, I told them the ‘actual size’ of the boat…. big mistake!

Here in Santa Barbara, I guess all boat owners are professional captains, because when I said our beam was 13 feet (12.6ft) they gave us a slip to match, 13′ wide. As Rachel was pulling in I just kept thinking, “There is no freaking way! There’s no way can we fit, it’s just not going to happen”. But again, Rachel seemed to know exactly what she was doing (even though it was her first time pulling into a finger slip), and lined her up perfectly, coming in nice and slow. Too bad I set her up for failure!
I had accidentally left one of our large fenders hanging off a cleat on the starboard side as we came in for a port side tie up. This fender made us too wide to squeeze into the slip and caught on the piling. Luckily we had extra hands on deck, Kirk and Carly managed to pull the fender out and we were then able to squeeze into our slip for the night. It wasn’t a disaster but I was a little embarrassed. I always feel like everyone’s watching when a boat comes into to dock, just waiting for a bump or mess up.
Once securely tied up at our slip, Chris, Kirk, Carly, Rachel and I walked downtown to enjoy the rest of the evening.

After dinner the crew took off back to Ventura, leaving Rachel and I to enjoy a relaxing evening on the boat. It’s weird how being thirty miles away from home can feel so different. There seems to be less distractions and we feel like we can finally slow down to enjoy reading a good book or just relax. The to-do lists and chores just seem to fade away, leaving us to slow down and be present. The next morning we attended our church’s Santa Barbara campus (Reality) with our friend Caitlyn who was kind enough to give us a lift. After church we returned back to Agápē to cook up breakfast. The rest of the afternoon we spent reading and walking around the boardwalk enjoying all the local art vendors along the beach.

The next morning Rachel had one of her Instafriends (a friend from Instagram) meet us for the sail back home. Rachel and Quin had been following each other on Instagram for over a year now. She had been following his travels from Canada to Panama, camping the whole way, and he finally made his way back to Southern California. Quin brought along two of his friends, Dane (another instfriend) and Dave.
I’ve always thought it was weird to make friends over social media but I’m now starting to see it as a great way for people with similar interests to come together. Rachel is very outgoing and has made some really awesome friends through social media and has had the opportunity to meet up with some of them through her travels for work.
She met up with Brooke and John Gaynes (avid skiers, climbers and mountain bikers) in Utah, along with Caroline Gleich (a pro skier and adventurer).
She met up with Meg Haywood Sullivan (photographer/fellow adventurer, who later came and hiked with us to the base of Mount Whitney) and her boyfriend, Charles Post up in San Francisco for a few fun adventures. While in town she also met up with Lindsey (an avid climber and sports model) for an after work climbing session.
We’ve had Gillian Gibree over for a short visit and met up with Brian, Morgan and Rachel in Joshua Tree, CA. I believe she has made us some life long adventure friends!

With new friends aboard Agápē, we headed back home to Ventura. Again, we had no wind and had to motor most of the way back. The water was calm and the sun was shinning, we even had a few dolphins stop by for a short visit.  As we approached Ventura, the winds pick up just enough for us to fly our spinnaker!
We love getting to practice flying our spinnaker. We want to get it down to a science for when we finally get to make long downwind passages.

After making it back into the harbor, we tied up and headed out for some fish tacos. We then drove Quin, Dane and Dave back up to Santa Barbara to get their car, but before dropping them off we took them up to one of our favorite sunset/climbing spots in the mountains above Santa Barbara. It was a perfect finish to a great staycation weekend!

Baja Bash: Part Two

Five days in Turtle Bay was a little too long… Don’t get me wrong, we made the best of being there. We spent an entire afternoon jumping off the pier with some of the local kids, hiked the surrounding hills, ate lots of food and caught up on sleep. I am pretty sure there has to be more going on there when the Baja Ha-Ha is headed south, but during the rest of the year it is pretty dead.

Leaving the calm of the bay, we started out into bumpy and uncomfortable seas. Luckily the winds were light, but as we passed through the Dewey Canal the winds began to pick up into the mid 20’s and were forecasted to continue through the night. We thought about anchoring for the night, but when we got close enough to what we thought were anchor lights, we realized they were small buildings and pier. It looked like a small navel base so we decided to just keep pressing on through the night.

IMG_3785
Pier in Turtle Bay.

IMG_3784

IMG_3797
Agápē on the hook.
IMG_3806
Turtle Bay

IMG_3817

IMG_3818

IMG_3741
Eerie morning on the water.

In the morning when I woke for my shift we were completely socked in. I could barely see the bow through the dense fog. This was probably the most uncomfortable watch of the trip for me, everything was so wet! The mist collected on everything. The dodger, the sails, my face… Everything was consantly dripping. I tried to stay inside for most of my watch and just kept an eye on the radar. On a positive note, the sea was like a lake and we where making great time!
By 18:00 we where just over 100nm away from Ensenada!!!! The morning of the 14th was clear and beautiful, we even got to see a huge pod of whales. We were almost to Ensenada and our next stop at Baja Naval. It was a great trip and good shake down cruise to test our boat. We got into the Ensenada Harbor on May 14th, just as the sun was setting. We tied up at the dock for the night, awaiting haul out in the morning.

For the most part everything went well, nothing broke or fell apart and Mr. Perkins ran great the whole bash back. I think I definitely psyched myself out on how hard the trip back was going to be. I’m so grateful to have had Conor, from SV MoonShadow, on board for this trip. He was extremely helpful and was a wealth of knowledge, I defiantly could not have done it with out him or my brother Chris, aka the constable.

During Agápē’s survey and haul out back in La Paz, we discovered that she had some small blisters on the hull and a few larger ones on the rudder. We had made a reservation at Baja Naval, up in Ensenada to have the work done and the bottom repainted. It was going to be considerably less money to have the work done in Ensenada then down in La Paz. We left our boat at the Baja Naval boat yard for three weeks and after the work was completed we would return to bring her the rest of the way home.

In the picture you can see where we had popped one of the blisters on the rudder during our original survey and scrapped away some foam and fiberglass to see how bad the damage was. If you ever need any work done and in the Ensenada area, Baja Naval does great work and are extremely accommodating. (Read more about the work we had done at Baja Naval.)

IMG_3476
Click to read more about the work we had done at Baja Naval.

When the bottom work was done, my brother Chris and I returned to Ensenada. We took the Amtrak to San Diego and a bus from the border down to Ensenada. The Baja 500 was just starting when we arrived in Ensenada and the city was packed. It was fun to walk around town and see all the race cars and trucks as they lined up. It’s crazy to think how much money is put into those trophy trucks and even crazier to think what they are put through.
Back at the boat yard we had some last-minute preparations to do before our last leg home. We still had to refuel, change the oil and restock the boat with food. At 16:00 it was go time! The lift came and picked up Agápē and returned her to the Pacific. Chris and I rode in the boat and as soon as the lift’s slings were clear, we where out of there!!! Conditions were pretty perfect, the winds were light and right on our nose, with little to no swell.
It’s a quick overnighter from Ensenada to San Diego, we arrived in port checking into the US around 05:00. Just in time to catch the customs officers on the dock before their shift was over. For us it’s seemed faster and less painless to check into the US than it was checking out of Mexico. The customs agents were friendly enough, though they did make us throw away our pineapple and cabbage. We threw away our remaining fruits and veggies, paid the $26 fee and were on our way. We sailed back out of the Port of San Diego and headed north for Ventura.

The port of San Diego has a huge Naval presence and as you leave you often get to see the warships, submarines, and the coastguard practicing and patrolling. I’m sure it says somewhere on the map but unbeknownst to us, we happened to try and go right through a military testing area on our way home, about a mile from the entrance. We had no idea until the warship that was about five nautical miles to our west started heading our direction. When it look like they’re close enough to ram us they hailed us on the VHF notifying us that we were in a US naval testing zone, kindly asking us to alter course before they would “remove us from the area”. They didn’t have to ask twice! We headed out of the area as fast as our little Perkins would take us.

From there it was a less eventful overnighter, watching freighters go by as we slowly made our way home. Approaching the Ventura Harbor the winds were light and the seas were calm. Rachel’s parents, Jack and Lynn, were waiting to greet us on the jetty, waving to us as we pulled in. They met us at the slip where my grandparents were also waiting for us to arrive. It was a huge relief when we finally got the boat tied up to the dock and the trip home was officially finished! We had managed to get our boat home without breaking or ramming anything! ( Well other than the dining table, which I wait to tell Rachel about for several months). I’ve never been so proud to own anything before!!!! The whole process was a huge learning experience. One thing I took away from our trip is that ‘slow is pro’!  Whether it is moving around on deck, working on a project or docking, take your time!

Bringing Agápē Home: Baja Bash Part One

UntitledThe Baja Bash is a 950-mile run up the wild and desolate Pacific Coast of Baja California. It got its name from the veteran sailors who have returned stateside from Mexico. The passage home fights the wind, waves and current.

Our bash home began in La Paz Mecico and ended in Ventura, California. The compass heading is generally northwest, which means fighting consistently strong winds, large swells, and a nasty surface chop. If timing is wrong, the northbound trip can be 950 miles of constant bashing into heavy seas and strong winds.

Normal afternoon wind speed on the outside of the peninsula during winter and spring can vary between 20 to 25 knots, though 30 to 35 knots is not unusual. It can be a rough and tiring trip for crew, and hard on a boat. Equipment can break, hatches leak, and boats have been lost during the Bash. It’s not Cape Horn, but it can get ugly.

I flew down to La Paz on April 25 to meet up with my brother Chris who was already waiting for me on the boat. Together we finished provisioning for the trip while we waited for our third crew member, Conor, from SV MoonShadow, who would help us bash back. While we waited on our third crew member, Chris and I also worked on the engine. For the most part, everything went smoothly. We changed the oil and the oil filter, changed the two primary and secondary fuel filters, the impeller, and flushed the transmission.

IMG_3579
First time up the mast! Pre-departure rigging check. Some people hate going up the mast but I love it, what a great view.
Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 9.03.22 AM
Chris and I making temporary corner protectors for the solar panels.

Our boat has a Perkins 4-108. An engine that notoriously runs on the hotter side. We decided to tear into the cooling system to make sure there was no obstructions and that everything was working well for the 200+ hrs we would be running the engine to get home. I took off the inlet hose to the heat exchanger and sure enough all of the tubes where clogged. Glad we decided to take a look.  There must have been two to three impellers worth of rubber forced into those tubes. The kind people at Marina Palmira let us use their little machine shop to do any work we needed. A 1/8 welding rod with the flux broken off worked great to clean all the tubes.

2004-12-31 16.01.51Unfortunately this was not the end of the cooling issues. In order to get the heat exchanger tubes out, you have to take off the exhaust elbow, and in doing so we noticed that the threaded nipple leading into the exhaust was completely corroded and about to self-destruct.

One thing always seems to lead to another…

2014-04-25 10.33.05

We took off the elbow and went in search of a machine shop with a welder. We also were hoping to find and purchase some new hosing since we ripped the old ones trying to pry them off.

It took two days to get our elbow back, which thankfully wasn’t a problem as we were still waiting for our weather window. While we waited we also managed to sell the giant window AC, lightening our load.

On the 27th, my parents sailed over from Puerto Vallarta on their boat SV Buena Vida, to say hello and send us off. They have been living on their boat six months out of the year for four years now down in Mexico. It was great to see them and have extra help from my dad to get our SSB radio dialed in. It was reassuring to have them there, as I was getting nervous about bringing the boat up.

leaving la paz
Chris, Conor and I leaving La paz at O dark thirty.

We got our weather window at 0600 on April 29th! It was still dark out but we casted off and waved goodbye to my parents, headed for San Jose del Cabo to refuel and possibly wait out some weather. Our boat weighs 30,000 pounds and is not very fast under power. Mr. Perkins (our engine) is said to be a 50hp, but I think he puts out more like 30. We also didn’t know what to expect once we were out to sea so we definitely babied the motor since it had a long way to go. We were averaging 5 knots and running her at about 1800 rpms.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 7.37
Homeward Bound

While rounding the Baja Peninsula late in the day, we were able to finally get the sails up for a bit. After arriving in San Jose del Cabo we fueled up both tanks and the jerry cans, we were fully loaded with 260 gallons of diesel. Before departing we checked the weather and it looked like there were going to be stronger winds around Cabo Falso that evening so we opted to get a slip for the night. We spent the rest of the evening walking around town and eating ice cream.

untitled-5At 6pm, May 1st, we left Cabo heading toward our first obstacle, Cabo Falso. It was a little bumpy but the winds where light . Our biggest problem was the current, during Chris’s watch, (7pm-10pm) he said our speed over ground was never over 1.5kts. AAHHHHH! Very frustrating! We probably should have headed further offshore to avoid the longshore current. Luckily it was only current slowing us down and not 30kt+ head wind.

From Cabo, we had planned on stopping for a night at Bahia Santa Maria but our weather window was still good, so we kept pushing north. Four and a half days later we are dropped anchor at Bahia Tortuga, (Turtle Bay). By then we were very excited to get off the boat and stretch our legs. So far the trip had been pretty easy, we had light winds averaging 10 to 13kts.

Turtle Bay is a older fishing town,  it once had a cannery but shut down long ago. Now it’s only a small stopping point for sailors. I think the only reason that it’s still here is that it’s the best all weather anchorage and the fuel dock within a few hundred miles. We had a fun time exploring, went on a great hike and topped off our tanks. We calculated that Mr. Perkins uses about .85 gallons an hour if we run him at 1800rpms. We also noticed the engine leaking a little oil. In the 150 hours we put on it since the last oil change, it’s about a quarter quart low.

What was suppose to be a 2 day stop ended up being five and a half days at anchor.

IMG_09872
Shower time!
bash
I hope I never get tired of watching dolphins swim in the bow wake. I love watching them play.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 7.33

Offer Accepted!!!

After we sent in our offer for Entre Nous, the real work started. Luckily, I have a work schedule that allowed me the time to be able to go and see the boat a few times before we had to commit to anything, (I work 7 days offshore followed by 7 days off). When I got off work that next week I barely got to see Rachel, maybe eight hours before I hopped a plane back down to La Paz to see the boat again. The owner Kevin was very welcoming and let me spend two days peaking into lockers and snooping around the boat before having the official survey conducted. We discussed what he thought of the boat and what he would have changed, what systems worked well and which ones had issues. He was very honest and forthcoming with the pros and cons of the boat and when the day came for the sea trial and haul out I had a good sense of what to expect.

As far as sea trial goes, it was just ok. There was about 4 to 4.5 knots of wind, the sailing was slow and not as exciting as I thought it would be. I was able to get a feel for the boat or as much as you can while essentially drifting quickly. The haul out was the only thing that gave me real pause about the boat. Kevin had been honest that the boat was overdue for new bottom paint. We aslo discovered some small blisters on the hull and a few larger ones on the trailing edge of the rudder. Other than that everything went very well.

I called Rachel and explained every detail I had learned about the boat and gave her my thoughts as well as the surveyor’s. We talked long into the night. The next day before I flew home, I met with the owner again and the broker to hash out the last details and sign the paper work!!!!!!

Woooohooooo!!!!!!! WE OWN A BOAT!!!

I had been very worried about handling large sums of money through Mexican banks but as it turns out the brokers used an escrow company based out of Washington to hold the money and complete all the paperwork work for an offshore delivery. So buying a boat in Mexico is really the same for us as it would be buying a boat in San Francisco area. We could have saved ourselves several thousand dollars in sales taxes if we would have left her down in Mexico for a year but we couldn’t imagine leaving her there. We couldn’t wait to start small projects and take her out to the islands just off our coast.

The only problem was trying to figure out how to get her back to the states…..

Higher a captain, or take the time off to bash up the coast ourselves?

IMG_3443
Time for the haul out.

IMG_3486

IMG_3503

DCIM100GOPRO

Here is a list of what the boat had on it at the time of purchase:

  • Navigation and electronics:
  • SSB: ICOM 710.
  • SSB TUNER: ICOM AT 130 Tuner.
  • RADAR: Raymarine C120 Digital MFD system, Plus Raytheon RL70C, Garmin 521 with world maps.
  • VHF: ICOM MC412.
  • VHF #2: Standard Horizon.
  • HANDHELD Standard Horizon.
  • GPS: Furuno standalone GPS which is tied into Raymarine chartplotter. Raymarine C120 also has internal GPS. Garmin 521.
  • TV/DVD/VCR: 22” Samsung Flat Screen TV.
  • STEREO: SONY New 2010.
  • PRINTER / SCANNER / FAX : Furuno SSB Weather Fax.
  • DEPTH SOUNDER: Raymarine ST60 Depth plus C120 digital depth.
  • SPEED RaymarineST60.
  • WIND SPEED / DIRECTION: Raymarine ST60 series.
  • AUTOPILOT: Garmin under deck autopilot New 2012 with remote control.
  • PLOTTER: Raymarine Radar C120, Raytheon RL70C, Furuno RN300, Garmin 521.
  • SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS: Antenna and Boat wired for Iridium.
  • Furuno NAVTEX system with dedicated antenna.
    Electrical:
     
  • HOUSE BANK 1: (2) 8d AGM of type AGM.
  • START BANK: AGM New 2011 of type AGM.
  • BATTERY MONITOR: E Log Xantrex. LINK 10.
  • INVERTOR: Xantrex New 2010 2500 watt.
  • ALTERNATOR: Heavy duty high output with load meter.
  • BATTERY CHARGER: Xantrex New 2012.
  • SOLAR PANELS: 3 x 140 watt with two Blue Sky Controllers.
  • SMART REG:  Balmar plus spare.
    Mechanical:
     
  • WATERMAKER: Spectra 200T Tropical watermaker with electronic controller for auto flushing and filling. 100 hours
  • OTHER: Dual fuel filters and Fuel Polishing system with auto change feature (Filterboss) installed 2012.
  • WINDVANE: Monitor windvane with light and heavy air vanes, new 2010.
  • BOW THRUSTERS: New in 2010.
  • BILGE PUMP: Manual and electric. Electric new 2011.
  • FIRE EXTINGUISHING: Halon in engine compartment.
  • FUEL FILTERS: Dual racer filters. Full automatic. Filterboss system with alarms.
  • FRESH WATER COOLING SYSTEM: Flushed and serviced 2012.
  • HEAD TYPE: Electric with Manual over ride. New 2009.
  • WATER HEATER: New in 2011.
  • TRANSMISSION: Rebuilt 2009.
    Sails and rigging:
  • MAIN: New Doyle 2010.
  • JIB: New Doyle 2010.
  • SPINNAKER: New 2010.
  • STAYSAIL:  With loose fitting club and deck sweeper.
  • PRO ROLLER FURL
  • WINCHES: 3 – 2 speed self tailing in cockpit, 2 winches on mast (new 2011).
  • BOOM VANG: Garhauer Rigid Boom Vang.
  • MAST: Both the mast and boom were stripped and professionally painted with 2 part paint in 2010.
  • STANDING RIGGGING: New 2010.
  • WHISKER
  • OTHER: Spare Main and Genoa under v berth in good condition.
    Deck and hull:
  • ANCHOR: ROCNA 25KG with 330 feet HT chain.
  • CQR: 45lbs.
  • ANCHOR 2: Fortress 25 with 50 feet of chain and 150 feet of rope.
  • WINDLASS: New 2010.
  • NAV LIGHTS: Upper LED’s, lower are standard.
  • LADDER: Folding wood ladder.
  • DECK WASH: Salt water wash.  New in 2010, never used.
  • SWIM STEP: Life Line expanding stainless steel ladder.
    Galley:
  • REFRIGERATION: Adler Barbor.
  • FREEZER: Dometic.
  • MICROWAVE
  • PRESSURED WATER SYSTEM
  • WATER HEATER
  • STOVE: Propane (2 burner and oven).
  • COOKING FUEL: Propane, 2 tanks plus 1 BBQ Tank.
  • SINK: Deep Double .
    Covers & cushions:
  • DODGER: New 2011.
  • BIMINI: Full bimini custom made in 2011 with screens.
  • HATCHES: 4 with custom screens.
  • FULL WINTER COVERS: Full cover for summer.
  • GENOA: New 2010.
  • STAYSAIL: New  2010.