Saturday, January 9, 2010

Summer Fades to Fall

Chloe drags herself back into high school as a junior. Eupsychia and I get ready for another Baja Ha-Ha. The Ha-Ha is best done with some crew. I choose to take some relatively beginning sailors rather than any of the known rabble of sailing friends. I can have my way with them while introducing this very fun event to some new people. I find these two characters, Evan and Christine, by making a posting on the Ha-Ha crew-wanted list. Evan is a eager and well spoken recent college grad. Some sailing experience. Christine is roughly my age, eager, and sails her own big boat on San Francisco Bay. While all the applicants for the positions, and there were about a hundred, express their eagerness and experience I am only looking for people who will not be boring. No experience expected. I can do it myself if necessary and most of the experience claimed is only on paper. I succeeded.

The Ha-Ha starts from San Diego. I choose to make the 3 day sail south from Monterey singlehanded. I had a great trip that was however not without its challenges. In a pretty good evening blow while very close to Santa Cruz Island approaching an anchorage – Bang -all the boat's power went out. No autopilot, compass lights, navigation equipment – nothing - very dark. Windy and bumpy enough that I really couldn't leave the helm to investigate. Fortunately nearby was my new geeky iPhone. The iPhone has a compass, a GPS, and I'd recently loaded a program that has all the California nautical charts. Pretty cool and it sure made the evening safer and easier. Sitting there in complete darkness I pondered just what might cause the power to go out with a bang and what I might do to restore it. Evantually I was able to restore power by simply flipping a nearby switch to a new position. After anchoring I discovered that the liferaft had become unstowed down below and fallen onto the main battery shutoff switch. Swithing it to off, of course.

The next evening, becalmed behind Santa Catalina Island, I start to motor. Bang - the boat becomes a shaking blur. Something bad has happened with the propeller. Forced to motor for 30 minutes because yet again I'm closer to land that I really should be – this time with no wind with which to maneuver. I take a look at the engine. Its just a blur of vibration. But I figure it's maybe not enough shaking to actually damage anything. I very slowly motor out to where the feeble current and breeze will drift me all night away from the island into open water. At morning light I jump in with the mask for a look. Sure enough one of the propeller blades is completely missing. As nice as it is to have a simple and certain diagnosis the prospect is dim for replacing the propeller in the few days remaining before the Ha-Ha start. But I get on the phone to my always supportive sister Sue. Sue gets on the phone and locates a propeller at a San Diego shop. They recommend a diver who can replace it. Christine finds a boatyard to accept us. It all works out great. As an added bonus I get an extra two days at sea sailing very slowly to San Diego. Can I brag here about docking at the unfamiliar boatyard singlehanded under sail? Should I recommend that everyone practice such things as often I have?

The Ha-Ha was great of course. Christine proved she can both cook well and lean on the instrument switches every time she comes on deck. Evan proved he has all the optimistic energy of youth. There was some rather rough weather for a few days. We broke some minor things when sailing went haywire. Some of the watch standing was pathetic. We all learned a lot. The parties were in the tradition of Ha-Ha fun. And the weather got warmer and warmer each day. I was really missing having Heather along like we were the past two years.

Despite my constant ribbing and mild abuse of the crew they decided to stay on for the several day trip from Cabo San Lucas south-east to Bandaras Bay. We spent several fine days in the beach side village of Chacala before dwaddling into La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, my favorite place to idle. But idleness does not happen. Life here is busy and fun. We sail, we race, we party, we wreck kayaks on the beach, we tease women and they tease us. Sometimes we eat bad food other times the alcohol eats us.

Throughout this time I am calling and emailing regarding buying a Santa Cruz 50. On paper Red Sky, the '50 out cruising in Southeast Asia, is by far the best deal. She's all set up for cruising, has a new rig, good rudder, apparently well cared for, and since she's busy cruising must be mostly functional and seaworthy. However her being in Malaysia makes communication, inspection and buying a formidable project. I get serious. Chloe and I decide to take a Christmas break holiday to Malaysia. Wow, I have forgotten just how dreadfully uncomfortable a long flight is. This discomfort becomes a small consideration in moving my cruising venue from nearby Mexico to distant Southeast Asia. I'm thinking an infinity asea is better than 20 hours aloft. On inspection the boat look good. A bit worn, like Eupsychia, from her 3 years and thousands of miles of cruising. But all-in-all in fine shape. She will do just fine. I agree to buy her.

Photo of Red Sky: Yachtdomain, Bundaberg, Australia
Photo of Eupsychia: Richard, Latitude38

1 comment:

Doug Rice said...

Just wanted to say I enjoyed reading about the Ha-Ha about about the new boat in Malaysia.

I'm in Saigon now but live in Sacramento part of the year