Monday, December 2, 2013

Ensenada + Mexico!

Cruise ships & Luckness

I checked into Mexico this morning after sailing all night from San Diego to Ensenada. The checkin process was even less painless than the last time I did it two years ago. One of the steps two years ago was to go to a local bank and pay for one of the services - there is now a bank in the same building so you just go to a different window, pay and then continue. After checking in I had a few tacos, went for a wander followed by a nap. Its nice to be back in this country.

The sail over was good, although once again having a schedule can interfere with the quality of the sailing. I left San Diego with decent wind right away, west 10 or so and so I was making good speed toward my destination. That was a problem, as Ensenada isn’t very far away and at the speed I was going I was going to be arriving at around midnight rather than the following morning. So I started to slow the boat down. I went from a full main and genoa to reefed main and double reefed genoa. Then to a double reefed main and double reefed genoa. I ended up sailing on a broad reach toward my destination in around 16 knots of wind with only a double reefed main and was still going too fast. Then I almost centered the main, which when going downwind de-powers the sail and ended up going at around 3 knots, which was perfect for my arrival at around 8am the following morning. Unfortunately, once I had done all of this slowing down, the wind died and I was left bobbing around 35 miles from my destination without any wind. I ended up motoring the rest of the way, arriving at 8am with the wind blowing two or three knots.

There are remarkably few crab/lobster pots in this area which I thought was really nice. There are lots of pots scattered around San Diego waiting to catch your boat if you aren’t watching. As I was arriving toward Ensenada it was still dark, so the lack of pots was handy, although the glow of the city lights reflecting off the water in front of me allowed me to see directly ahead.

At around 5:15am, pitch dark, 8nm from the city with lots of its lights shining around the horizon I saw a few lights from a boat a few miles ahead. The boat wasn’t on AIS, so I couldn’t look it up on my system and see what it was, where it was going, etc. It was far enough away, so I did a sleep cycle (20 minutes.) When I got up it was closer, but still comfortably distant, and I got my binoculars out to have a look. It seemed like it might be a fishing boat towing a net or something? As I got closer and closer I could see the line streaming off the back of the boat but then it just disappeared. As I got to within a few hundred yards I was finally able to identify the dock the tug was towing - the dock was slightly to my left, outside of the city lights reflection in front of me, the tug to my right, which put my course just ahead of the tow, to the stern of the tug. Yikes. Time for a quick about face and some maneuvering to get behind the tow. Once I was on its other side, looking at the tow with the sea as a background, I could see two lights on the tow which had been completely lost in the light pollution as I was looking at it from the sea side toward town. The dock was low in the water and didn’t occlude any lights itself. As I was approaching the tow the first time I heard a stream of spanish on the VHF and had no idea what it was. Shortly after that outburst I saw the tow - I suspect the tug’s captain was saying something along the lines of “you might want to turn around before you hit my tow” or some variant of that message. This is one of the reasons I like being on a passage hundreds of miles away from anything, things are really peaceful out in the middle of nowhere!

As part of my checkin process to Ensenada, I also checked out with the Port Captain and I’ll be leaving tomorrow to continue my journey south. The weather seems like it may cooperate and give me some decent sailing opportunities. Once I leave here I’ll won’t have a schedule, which will be nice.

I’ll try to check in from time to time with updates to the blog via my radio.

Yipee! I’m in Mexico again!

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