La Paz to Banderas Bay

The Tres Marietas at the Entrance to Banderas Bay

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Well, I’m off towards Banderas Bay. All is well, the weather is stellar, and I’m slowly sailing along under reefed main and full jib, with the monitor steering. It is such a joy to turn off the noisy engine. I’m moving slower, but a bit more purely, if that makes sense. I’ve got Isla Cerralvo about 8 nm off my starboard bow, and once I’m clear of that, it’s a nice, wide open Sea of Cortez/Pacific Ocean.

Mom, I finally made my bread pudding this morning, and enjoyed a bit of it for lunch. The cabin of Willow is neat and tidy and ready for the evening. If the breeze holds, it would be absolutely amazing for me to continue on without the engine. The wind generator is aiding in the power, as are the solar panels. If there’s a hitch, it’s that my tachometer and hour meter on my engine panel are out, but I think I know why. The wire harness for that runs along the bolts I had help adjusting yesterday when tightening up my alternator belt. Should be an easy fix.

At the rate I’m going, the computer shows 92 more hours until Punta Mita. That is absolutely fine with me, especially if these conditions hold. I’ll continue to update pretty much daily with Sailmail. I don’t know how I just changed the font, it just did it. Boat ghosts. Just know, if you don’t hear from me for a day or two, this system is dependent on weather, propagation and sun spots. So, DON”T WORRY!!! There’re a lot of other boats out here with me…

Sailing slowly but beautifully. Right now, my ETA is for sometime Sunday, but that may change. All is so stinkin’ perfect!

Thursday, December 19, 2013
This short little passage has been one of epic proportion for me and Willow. I have been so much more relaxed, content with my power situation. For the most part, the light breeze has been forward of the beam, and I’m going downhill to weather… Figures. BUT, the windvane has been driving her perfectly, I’m influenced now by the long, rolling ocean swell, and there is a nice lil’ breeze. When it’s above 4 knots, the wind generator starts putting some juice back in the bank, and it’s all finally dialing in and making sense. Last night, I sailed all night, be it slowly, and just listened to the water music along Willow’s hull. I used the engine this morning for an hour just before sunrise, as I needed to move for a freighter, and for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon when I was in the wind shadow of Isla Cerralvo. Other than that, I can’t tell you how much more of a sheer, delightful, absolute pleasure it is to sail without worry of power consumption. I don’t care how long it takes me to get there now. My use is so very moderate, and replacement so far pretty simple, that this is now a joy for me. The refer is working very well, and very little. Such a comfort. The Linklite monitor is truly helping me see my consumption vs production of energy. And my lil’ (oh, and there go whale breaths!) clamp on meter is a God send. The past year was pretty stressful for me, worrying and wondering about my batteries and their condition. I think I’ve finally got it de-bugged. (I know ‘stressful’ is relative to all in the normal world. I’m really not trying to be disrespectful…) It’s such a relief to have this sorted out. Additionally, it’s wonderful to have the windvane really dialed in. Set it, forget it. Just monitor your compass course. I feel as though a whole bank of light bulbs just went off…

Don’t worry about the length of time this trip is taking. The wind is light, and I’m enjoying every second of it. I’ll continue to keep you posted. That’s all for now.

Friday, December 20, 2013
All is well aboard Willow. I’m about 186 nm out of Punta Mita, sailing nicely along, still going to weather, at around 3.5 – 4 knots. The windvane is driving oh, so well, and I need to come up with a good name for it. It’s a handy, hard-working member of this crew; it deserves a name… It’s mostly cloudy out, pleasant temperature, and the sunrise through those clouds was amazing. I had no contacts, radio or radar, with anyone else out here last night, and that’s the way I like it.

I ran the engine for a couple of hours last night as the wind dropped but not the slop off the bow, and I wanted to keep a little headway going. The fishing fleet was out yesterday afternoon, but I was able to avoid them. Willow is again under sail, moving in rhythm with the ocean instead of against it when engine and autohelm move her.

It’s a slow trip, but as I said, I don’t mind since everything is going so well. I don’t think I’ve been over 4 knots for any appreciable amount of time. For non-sailors, that’s about 4 mph… Now, I really don’t want to speed up because that’ll put me arriving after dark. The anchorage at Punta Mita is easy, it’s just making it around the rocks and breakers of this world famous surf spot after dark that is hazardous. As things go now, I should arrive sometime Sunday afternoon, so I’ll try to keep things like this.

I tried numerous times today, Friday, to send out some mail, but there was a front in the area, alot of cloud cover, and I don’t remember what that does to propagation, but I don’t think it’s good. But I must write about the day. And better yet, day’s end…

I was able to sail all day in varied conditions. Initially, the breeze was pretty light and on the nose, and there were the requisite pre-frontal clouds prettying up the sky. As the hours wore on, the seas and the breeze increased, of course, on the nose. The Monitor windvane was driving the boat very well. Of course, as time went on I got cocky and decided to put up the staysail, too. It was lovely. When conditions are right, Willow’s cutter rig rocks! It’s even better when conditions last, which they didn’t. Just as Willow was settling in, the breeze continued to build. I reefed the jib, and for a bit, things settled. Minutes later, I dropped the staysail, as there was just too much canvas up. Still, not good enough. Reefed the jib some more, and it helped, but I was still over powered. The mainsail has been reefed since I left La Paz, single reef, for my own convenience. Time to take in that second reef. That was the trick. Willow settled down, the vane was able to handle the load, and we drove through the line of squalls nicely under control.

Everything remains as is, and I rinsed the salt off me and prepared Willow for night. After making a log entry, I noticed the sky start to color something other than gray. On the western horizon, the hues were first orange, then golden, then a myriad of roses, purples, pinks, yellows and reds clashed in a way only you can imagine, and God can paint. Use your imagination, and you won’t be close. A single snapshot couldn’t do it justice…

I’ll send this off as soon as I can. All is well aboard. Conditions are calming, and I’m about 148 nm from Punta Mita. I should be there sometime Sunday. I’ll stay in touch.

Saturday, December 21, 2013
It’s early Saturday afternoon, and boy, what a difference 12 hours makes! It’s lovely out, warm, patchy clouds, no wind, and a confused but settling sea. Yesterday evening and all night, I was pretty busy. A southerly front moved through the area, bringing SE winds, rain, lightning and no rest! As I wrote earlier, I went through a myriad of sail changes, learning to speak ‘windvane.’ The boat’ll tell you what it wants, you just need to be able to listen, then act.

Well, the wind rose and rose on up to a steady 25 and frequent gusts to the low 30s. The winds were abeam at first as were the seas, and then they clocked aft later. After alot of work, what worked best for us was a tiny little jib out with the vane driving. Took a while playing to figure that out, but once I did, things settled down a bit. My next play was going to be heaving to, but I didn’t have to go there.

This morning, things broke and began calming down. Right now, I’m about 85 nm out of Punta Mita, and should get on the hook by 5PM tomorrow. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll call.

The learning curve on this passage has been huge, and Willow has performed beautifully. I have a list of small adjustments and fixes here and there, but nothing big. Enjoy your weekend, and know I’m thinking so much about all of you! I’ll probably write once more tomorrow, and then it should be regular email again. I love you all and miss you!

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Woo-dang-hoo! I’ve got the punta of Punta Mita in sight, and better yet, a big, fat rain cell is just about ready to go overhead. It would be absolutely perfect to get a nice, fresh water bath right about now, for me and the boat. I had a great but lumpy night of sailing, and for now, am just ghosting along. Once I get near the point, I can head up a bit and sail a bit faster the last two or so miles until the anchorage. I’d put out a bit more sail, but that cell looks like there’s a bit of wind in it, and I’d just fight to get it back in. All is well, and it’s (ooooh,it’s pouring right now!) nice to be able to see where my finish line is. Because it’s been so lumpy, I haven’t seen as much sea life as I did last year, but the whales are out! I may have even hit one early this morning. I felt a solid, but soft, jarring as I was slowly making way. No damage that I’m aware of, to me, Willow, or the whale.

I’ll go on and sail the last 9.6 of my miles now. I love and miss you all, and thank you for following and supporting me on this little leg. Have a great beginning of Christmas week!

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