CUBAR

As our regular readers know, we had decided to participate in the CUBAR, the Cruise Underway to Baja Rally. This rally, previously known as the FUBAR, or Fleet Underway to Baja Rally, was the brainchild of Bruce Kessler. Bruce, with his wife Joan, circumnavigated aboard his trawler, Zopilote, and now cruise aboard Spirit of Zopilote. Bruce has made many contributions to the sport of long distance power boat cruising and is always a joy to speak with.

The rally has been run biannually since 2007, so the 2015 event was the fifth one. It has been sponsored by various yacht clubs, in this case the San Diego Yacht Club (SDYC) was responsible for the event. Starting this year it will continue as a permanent event of the SDYC. The next running will be in 2017.

We had already signed up and approved to travel with the fleet. The event is limited to 50 boats, 40 or so signed up. In the end, 36 made the starting line, as some folks had to drop out for various reasons. About half were experienced, several had done this rally multiple times. The others were setting off on their first big cruise, some had not been further than Catalina Island and others had never been offshore at night. Most boats were traveling with a crew of at least 4, if not more. Duet was permitted to participate with a crew of 2, as we have done distances like the rally before and lived to tell about it.

While we are used to doing trips this way, during the rally we did notice that everyone else was much less tired than we were upon arrival. We enjoy running the boat alone, but are considering taking crew on any ocean crossing or long journey that we undertake. We agree with Don and Sharry, of the Northern Marine Starr, that journeys over 4 days are too tiring with 2 people. None of the planned legs of the CUBAR were longer than about 36 hours, so we were comfortable we could keep up.

Most of the rally participants were gathering at Kona Kai Marina, on Shelter Island in San Diego. They were able to shoehorn Duet into a slip, despite being 100% full. Actually, we ended up in a magnificent 80 foot slip on the outside of the marina, with a great view of Point Loma.

There were 10 Nordhavns participating in the rally, including N50 Colibri, whom we have known since we were berthed in Portland, N46 Northern Ranger I, N55 Enterprise III and N60s Sea Level II and Daybreak, all of whom we knew from BC, and N50 Worknot. Although we have never met, her crew, Gale and Mary, have provided sage advice about the 50 and cruising the West Coast. Having three 50s in one place is pretty unusual, actually, as there are only 26 worldwide. In addition, N63 Piredmus, whom we met in Ketchikan, N55 Insignia and N43 Alamo were also signed up. To add to an already large crowd, N43 Kosmos is based at Kona Kai, as is Lugger whisperer Bob Senter. Nancy was looking forward to lots of social events. Ron just wanted to get enough work done that we could leave the dock.

Once we got Duet settled at Kona Kai, we set off home, to get final things done before leaving for several months. We were gone a week, during which we (actually Ron) sent so many packages that they had to be stored in the hotel, as they wouldn’t fit in the Kona Kai dock master’s hut. Ron would like to note that other captains got lots of packages too. All Nancy has to say is that Kona Kai’s dock master and team get special points for putting up with the endless stream of boxes. Actually Nancy ended up hunting down packages not only for Duet, but for Colibri and Alamo as well, while their crews were out of town.

Once we returned from Tahoe, work began in earnest. We had about two weeks before departure, and Duet was already in very good shape, courtesy of Newport Harbor Shipyard, so we were looking forward to some shore time. There were dinners, get togethers, boat tours, seminars and many trips to chandleries, grocery stores, etc. Ron’s list even got shorter, although it never disappears entirely.

In no particular order, Ron installed a new Victron stand alone charger, to replace our old Xantrex inverter/charger, which failed. He also started on the engine room fan project, which is near and dear to his heart. This project didn’t get finished until we were in La Paz, but at least it got started. In addition, he replaced a custom sea strainer with a standard Groco version. Duet had two of these custom strainers, now she has one. The replacement strainer for the remaining custom unit is on board, it just hasn’t made it up the list yet. These Tawainese strainers are ok, but it’s almost impossible to get parts for them, hence the swap out. 

All Victron gear is blue so it’s easy to spot.



New engine room fans from Delta T



Wire for new engine room fans



Sorting out fan wiring



In the photo below, you can see the new strainer at the lower right, with the bronze top
while the remaining custom one is on the upper right, with the red cap. 



While Ron was working on these projects, the new carpet was fitting and installed. Duet now looks beautiful.

We had a sound insulation pad installed under the salon carpet. While it doesn’t eliminate noise entirely, we figure it has reduced the noise level by about 50%. Well worth the expenditure. Here we see it being cut to fit on the dock.



The carpet around the base of the desk stool in the guest stateroom was sewn together in situ.



We decided to carpet the pilothouse, although it hadn’t been carpeted before. This was both to protect the floor, which Ron tends to drop tools on, and to reduce the noise level. The fit of Jeddys carpet is outstanding.



These pictures show it all together, new carpet, new upholstery and new accent pillows.



Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, we also had a self inflicted problem. These occur every couple of years, no matter how much we learn. This particular issue was related to our careful boat shut down procedure. When we leave Duet, we close all the thru hulls, except the bilge pump. The idea is that thru hulls are a risk and when closed they can’t leak. Ron had, on our recent trip home, carefully closed all the thru hulls. At that time he closed everything, including the above the waterline units.

Duet unlike most boats that we know of, has a ball valve at the thru hull for the generator exhaust. Unfortunately, when Ron started up the generator to warm up it’s oil to be changed, he forgot to reopen this thru hull. The result was quite spectacular, the muffler exploded within about 30 seconds. Ron was standing next to it, but fortunately was not hurt by the flying fiberglass shrapnel.

Below is the bottom of the blown out muffler. It should be a solid piece of plastic.



Ron was standing next to the muffler base when the muffler exploded. 

Needless to say, this put a slight crimp in our plans for departure. It happened about 5 days before we were due to leave. Everything else stopped, even a planned day out with Nancy’s Mom, who lives in La Jolla. Nancy departed her seminar on provisioning forthwith, and rushed back to the boat to provide moral support and fetch parts. Bob Senter, bless his heart, answered his phone on the first ring. The primary issue was whether the genset itself had been damaged. Since the exhaust water couldn’t exit via the normal route, as the thru hull was closed, it could have, prior to exploding the muffler, been forced backward into the generator’s cylinders. Counsel with Bob, who came over later that day, determined that this was not the case. So a serious disaster was averted.

Next, we needed a new muffler. That was easy, Nancy was dispatched to fetch it from the nearest source. Ron installed it. The generator started up just fine, but the gen sep, which allows the generator to run quietly by separating the exiting air and water, and putting the water out under water, was cracked. We were able to find a new one, and Ron slapped that in too, in record time. All was well, and the generator had an entirely new exhaust system. As a result of this unscheduled upgrade, we also changed our procedures, and now never close the generator exhaust thru hull.

In the photo below you can see the single pipe bringing mixed air and water from the generator, as well as the two pipes taking away air and water seperately. The gen sep itself is connected to these pipes. 



Although we were thrown off our plan a bit by the muffler detour, we did manage to be ready to depart in time to join the fleet. It was a little hectic, but Ron has installed mufflers before and the gen sep wasn’t complicated. Bob brought over a bottle of champagne to celebrate our success, or drown our sorrows, should the project not have gone as planned. Ron took some gentle ribbing from friends, who were constantly asking what he had blown up lately. But we all make mistakes, and soon enough it would be someone else’s turn to recover from a self inflicted wound. After several days of hard work, we chugged out of the San Diego harbor with the rest of the fleet in the early hours of November 11, bound for Ensenada.

Amost all of the fleet has AIS, as shown below during our mass exodus. The Glovis Champion was an anchored container ship, which must have been wondering exactly what was going on. Duet is the green icon, as this is a picture of our navigation screen.

 

The weather was perfect for our first leg and, by about 2PM, all 36 rally boats were tied up at Marina Coral or Cruiseport. Everyone had to go through Immigration, although the SDYC, as part of the Rally, had arranged all the other necessary clearances before the boats left the US. Immigration came to us, in the form of an energetic but somewhat overwhelmed agent, who was faced with checking in approximately 150 people. He soldiered on, and, as the check in was held in a bar, no one suffered unduly during the waiting period. That night we went out to dinner with about 15 other Nordhavn owners and crew.

Below Duet is shown tied up at Cape Coral Marina in Ensenda. You can just see our Mexican courtesy flag flying just above the kayak on her right side. 

There were some interesting folks on this journey. Aboard Colibri were Mary and Denis Umstot, of Teka III. They have crossed the Atlantic and cruised extensively in North America. They are both authors of note, Denis revised the seminal text “Cruising Under Power” originally written by Robert Beebe and first revised by Jim Leishman in the mid ’90’s. They have also written “Cruising to the Mediterranean”, about their adventures aboard Teka III.

Mary recently authored a great children’s book, “How Boats Work” as told by Arnold the Anchor. Illustrations were provided by Penny, from N46 Northern Ranger I. Ron, as a serious anchor aficionado, immediately purchased a copy. Mary and Denis have been actively cruising since 1997, when they purchased Teka III in the PNW. Since then they have traversed the West Coast, the Panama Canal twice and the Atlantic twice. Teka III is now based in the Seattle area.

A latecomer to the rally, actually late enough that she didn’t catch up until the day after our arrival in Ensenada, was Varnebank. Varnebank is a North Sea trawler, which sank and was rehabilitated by a Dutch surveyor. She was then purchased and shipped to the West Coast by her current owners, Ken and Christy, who have been cruising her in Southern California. Ken and Christy are really sailors, having first met working at the America’s Cup in San Francisco, some years ago. Christy is a sailor of note, she crewed for Dennis Connor in the 1980 America’s Cup. She was also aboard one of the larger racers during the infamous 1979 Fastnet Race, during which many sailors and ships were lost.

Varnebank has a beautiful blue hull

While we have only noted a few crews, there were many experienced and interesting folks on this trip, on their way to all sorts of places. The Nordhavn 43, Alamo, for example, crewed by her owner Allan and his wife Monica, were on their way home to Florida, via the Panama Canal. The Nordhavn 60 Daybreak is bound for the Marquesas next spring. This rally was big enough that we didn’t even meet everyone, as boats tended to run with similar types or makes of boats, or with folks they knew. Most of us cruised at around 8 knots, although some were much faster, there were boats capable of 20 knots or more. Some were slower, Alamo and the Nordhavn 46 Northern Ranger I were in the 6-7 knot range.

Anyway, the fleet sorted itself out in Ensenada, and settled in for the planned two day stay. This plan, and the remainder of the CUBAR schedule, went straight down the chute the next day. By 10AM a Captains’ meeting had been called, and by 2PM we were getting ready to pull out. Duet’s plan had been to leave around 4PM that day anyway, as the next rally stop was approximately 36 hours south at our standard cruising speed of about 7.5 knots.

The faster boats would have been able to leave the following morning and still arrive in daylight, but we were concerned that, should we wait another 18 hours or so, until the following dawn, we would arrive at Turtle Bay in the dark. In Mexico there are a lot of unmarked floats and nets, particularly in bay entrances. We have no way to see these, so we plan our arrivals for daylight. We also prefer to arrive, especially somewhere we have never been before, in the early morning. This gives us a full day to sort out whatever issues may arise. Finally, we didn’t want to leave Ensenada in the dark, as we had seen lots of pots on our way in. We would rather leave a little early, in the light, and go more slowly, to arrive in the light.

But, given the weather forecast, the organizers, and the weather router supporting the rally, were counseling everyone to leave around the same time we had already planned. There was a sizable storm working it’s way south. To stay ahead of it, the fleet needed to leave 12-18 hours early, or we would be bottled up in Ensenada for a week or so. At this point, several boats, not liking the look of the weather, decided to remain in Ensenada and catch up, or not, later on. The rest of us bolted out the door.

Cloud formation off Turtle Bay as the fleet passsed. 



More weather near Turtle Bay. Fortunately, most of the fleet had passed by already.

There were actually several weather events going on simultaneously. First was the advancing cold front from the north, which is pretty normal for this time of the year. The idea was to get as far south as possible before that arrived. Secondly, there was a tropical storm forming considerably south of us, off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Should it coalesce and decide to move north, we would be closer to it in Mag Bay than in Ensenada.

That said, predicting tropical storm paths isn’t an exact science. Ron has had experience with these storms on the east coast and felt comfortable that this one would not be an issue for us. This is a judgement call that every skipper had to make, independent of the rally organizers and the weather router. We kept a close eye on this system, as well the cold front, throughout the journey, courtesy of our Iridium GO and SailDocs.

When we departed we weren’t exactly sure where we would stop. The rally organizers, and the weather router, were recommending that the fleet skip the first stop, Turtle Bay, and continue another 35 hours (about 260 miles) south to Mag Bay. This would get us south of the worst weather, although we would need to ride out some wind there for a few days.

As you can see in the rally map below, Mag Bay is about 2/3 of the way down the Baja Penninsula. It is about 550 miles from Ensenada to Mag Bay. 

We didn’t definitely decide continue to Mag Bay until we reached Turtle Bay, around 30 hours or so after we left Ensenada. We wanted to ensure that we could arrive at Mag Bay in the daylight. It turned out that we didn’t actually go to Mag Bay, we went to Bahia Santa Maria, which is north and west of Mag Bay. This was on the advice of a rally member who has made this journey a number of times. Given the expected wind direction, he felt that the fleet would be more comfortable in Bahia Santa Maria. Ron, after reviewing the charts, concurred, and Duet joined the group headed for Bahia Santa Maria. The plus was that Bahia Santa Maria was about 24 miles closer than Mag Bay, which helped with our arrival time.

During this trip, many of the rally participants needed to fuel, either at Turtle Bay, Mag Bay or both. The changes in the rally itinerary played havoc with this process.

The boat below was getting set to fuel in Turtle Bay. The fueling facilities were pretty primitive, in some cases fuel was bought directly to the boats in barrels.

This brings up several points, first, the difficulties faced by rally organizers when the weather refuses to cooperate. The folks from SDYC did very well, offering the fleet several choices of destination. Some members continued past Mag Bay to San Jose del Cabo, which was our next port of call. While we could have managed that, we had already traveled about 72 hours with just the two of us on watch and were pretty tired. The leg to San Jose del Cabo would be another 20 hours. We decided that Bahia Santa Maria looked nice, and we stayed with the bulk of the fleet.

When we first signed up for the rally, we wondered what would happen if the weather deteriorated, which is exactly what it did. In this rally, and presumably any rally, all boats were instructed to carefully review what the organizers suggested and make decisions on their own, not just head off with the fleet. We found that we had gotten lazy and hadn’t done our usual due diligence on the entire route to Cabo before we started. If we had’t been with the rally, we would have done a lot more homework on the available anchorages, the route, the prevailing weather, etc. Once we realized this, we caught up fast, but it was interesting to see how easy it is to cede responsibility to the rally leaders. 

We also found that our passage planning was a little more flexible than many rally participants. Nancy plans our passages, she figures out an approximate distance using Coastal Explorer, or iNavX on her iPad. She rounds that number up, for example the first leg to Turtle Bay was, on the rally plan, precisely 282 miles, whereas Nancy was using 295. She then develops an envelope of arrival times, calculated at the slow end with Duet doing about 7 knots, and at the fast end doing 8 knots. So, on a 295 mile journey, it would take us somewhere between 37 and 42 hours to arrive.

The rally organizers also provided a detailed and well thought out set of paper charts and waypoints for the trip, as well as detailed write-ups on each harbor we would visit. These were quite handy. We did find, however, that our actual path was considerably further out to sea than that planned by the rally organizers. We do not like being close in when offshore, as, first, there are often pots or nets in the water, second, there are fishing boats everywhere, and, third, we have little room to maneuver should there be a mechanical problem. So we tended to travel on the outside of the fleet.

For some reason, at night we kept get hitting by flying squid. Cleaning them up was a messy job. Some even made it up to Duet’s boat deck, which is 12 feet off the water. We gather they jump when being pursued, although those that landed on Duet didn’t achieve their objective of escape.

The offshore journey south from Ensenada was very enjoyable, with some of the calmest conditions we have ever seen. The rally participants traveled in clumps, based on their cruising speed. Most of the Nordhavns traveled within a couple of miles of one another. Duet ran at about 1700RPM, delivering 8-8.5 knots most of the way. We do not have a way to measure fuel economy, other than using the RPM versus fuel burned curve from our main engine’s manual. According to that, at 1700RPM we burn approximately 5.8 GPH, which would yield 1.4-1.5 nautical miles per gallon (NMPG). At this speed, Duet has a range of about 1,700 miles, with a 15% reserve.

This speed enabled us to keep up with the Nordhavn 55s and 60s. We found this interesting, as those boats have longer waterlines than Duet. The longer a boat’s water line the faster it goes. The 55s and 60s were running at a similar RPM to us, with a similar NMPG. That said, while they have a longer waterline, they outweigh us by quite a bit. Whatever, it was fun, barreling along with the big boys.

The photo below was taken just after the fleet left Ensenada. As you can see, the boats tended to run rather close together. Duet is at the rear, next to the green marker.



Enterprise III pulling out of Mag Bay

 

N50 Colibri also kept up, while N46 Northern Ranger I and N43 Alamo stopped at Turtle Bay, as they were afraid they wouldn’t make Bahia Santa Maria before dark. They caught up the next day, arriving at around 4AM in steadily worsening conditions. Both boats made it into the anchorage safely, but the door closed hard on their sterns. N50 Worknot caught up with the fleet as we headed south to Cabo, a few days later. 

There were several boats with mechanical problems, one had to return to Ensenada with a fuel issue, but caught up later. Another had a steering failure, diverted to Turtle Bay for several hours and rejoined the fleet before we arrived at Bahia Santa Maria. There was one vessel with a hydraulic steering problem and a failed autopilot, they hand steered until they reach Bahia Santa Maria, where they were able to fix both issues.

Overall, the fleet did well. Darkness always brings more stress at sea, there were several “crazy Ivans” and one boat turned around completely by mistake. This is much easier to do than you would think. At night, you can see almost nothing, so it’s like flying an airplane on instruments. It’s quite disorienting. The boat, when not on autopilot, can be difficult to steer in the ocean. You can easily lose track of your heading. We try not to make turns using the wheel, unless it is an emergency, as the autopilot can turn the vessel much more smoothly and predictably than a human can. Also, using the autopilot you are turning to a heading, rather than turning the wheel while watching the compass spin and trying to figure out when to stop turning the wheel.

The photo below is of Duet’s pilothouse at night. You can see both navigation computers, the large radar screen and other instrumentation. We have also shot a video of the pilothouse at night. It is unedited, but it gives some idea of what it’s like in the pilothouse in the dark. You may view it at Running at Night on YouTube.

The other issue is that it can be hard to predict what other boats will do. The ColRegs, namely the boating rules of the road, govern any interaction between vessels at night, or at any other time. Ron has read these in detail, and reviews them with Nancy frequently. Essentially, they boil down to determining which is the “stand on” vessel, namely the vessel that doesn’t have to give way. The “give way” vessel shall, as its name suggests, give way. Usually, the give way vessel gives way to starboard, except in certain situations.

The stand on vessel is required to maintain it’s course and speed, unless doing so would cause a problem. If, as the stand on vessel, you start changing your course and speed, it is difficult for the give way vessel to figure out what you are doing and take the appropriate action to avoid you. The problem with this, of course, is if the give way vessel hasn’t figured out that it is the give way vessel. Then, the stand on vessel watch stander must make a timely decision to avoid the give way vessel. Timing is tricky in this situation, as some captains will wait until the last minute to change course. This is where the VHF radio comes in handy, assuming that the other vessel answers when you call.

When running with heavy traffic, or usually when running at night, we run both of our radars, one at 12 miles to identify larger vessels further out, and one at either 1.5 or 3 miles, to keep track of closer vessels. We also run two navigation computers, one set further out to catch distant AIS signals (usually commercial vessels) and one set closer in for local traffic. While many vessels have AIS (automated identification system) today, lots, especially fishing boats, don’t. Actually some fishing boats have AIS but they don’t turn it on, so that their competitors don’t know where they are fishing.

Anyway, target management at night involves the combination of AIS and radar. Our larger radar unit can track targets, using something called ARPA (automated radar plotting aid). It tells us the point of closest approach and when that will occur, as well as the target’s course and speed, much like AIS. So we can track boats which don’t have AIS, or don’t have it switched on. 

We also set our radars on relative motion, with trails. This is a complex subject, which Captain Ron is happy to discuss at great length via email. After much training, Nancy understands what this means in practice, e.g. the radar displays a “trail” on all targets. The direction of the trail shows which way the target is going, relative to Duet. Thus, you can put a ruler (actually we use the edge of a boat card) on the trail and extend it. If that extension goes through the middle of the radar, e.g. where Duet is, then you have a problem.

The picture below was taken in the Gulf of Alaska. You can see the “trails” from the logs floating the water. The smaller trails are birds. The radar was set very sensitively as it was night and there was a lot of stuff floating around that we didn’t want to hit. In the picture below the only target that is a concern is the one coming directly down the center of the screen. It is just under a mile away, so we needed to make a decision about it relatively soon. It is hard to tell whether it is a vessel, a floating log or a bird. Putting an ARPA target on it would help resolve the issue, as it would give us it’s speed. Logs are pretty slow, birds are fast and boats are usually somewhere inbetween. 

 

The key to a low stress night watch is anticipation. If you can identify the target early on, determine whether it is going to be a problem, using either AIS, ARPA or trails, or often all three, then you have time to decide what to do about it. At night we have a standing order not to let vessels, especially large ones, get closer than 2 miles. Obviously, this rule was suspended for rally vessels, which were traveling closer to us than 2 miles. We tried not to get closer to any rally vessel than ½ mile or, better, one mile, at night

So, if you are trying to keep a larger vessel at least two miles away, you end up with a high school math problem. Your vessel, for example, is traveling south at 8 knots. The cruise ship, 15 miles away, is traveling north at 22 knots. You have approximately 30 minutes before you bang into each other. That said, most ships don’t begin to address crossing or conflict situations until they are relatively close, as often the other vessel will change course before you get there. This is particularly true of fishing boats, which tend to change course on what seems to be a completely random basis. Relatively close is defined by each vessel’s standing orders.

We found for example, that on a clear night cruise ships tend to pass at about 1 mile. Nancy actually discovered this while watching a cruise ship pass the entire fleet. The ship and the fleet were both headed south and the cruise ship was the give way vessel, as it was overtaking. The fleet were the stand on vessels, as they were being overtaken.

Since Nancy was in the southern most part of the fleet, she heard the cruise ship talk to and pass, first, Northern Ranger I, then Enterprise III, then she herself was passed, and then the cruise ship passed Piredmus, who was traveling about 3 miles south of Duet. All these boats talked to the cruise ship to, first, make sure it saw them and, second, find out what it’s plan was. In every case, the ship’s plan was to pass about a mile off.

Funnily enough, this encounter also clarified that there were a lot of ladies on watch late at night. It was about 2AM when this occurred. Penny was on watch on Northern Ranger, Elzane on Enterprise III, Nancy on Duet and Michelle on Piredmus. To complete this circle, the watch officer on the cruise ship was also female. When we next got together, we checked and it looked like many women were taking the late watches. Nancy enjoys night watches, as it’s mostly peaceful, and the stars are spectacular.

Back to Bahia Santa Maria (BSM). The fleet began arriving pretty early in the day, Duet arrived mid afternoon. BSM is a large bay, you could put the entire fleet in there with no problem. We also noticed that a number of local fishing boats were coming in to anchor. This is an indicator that we always watch, namely, if the weather is deteriorating, where do the locals go? In this case, there were 3 local boats at anchor when we arrived, at the height of the storm there were 11. Definitely a positive sign for this anchorage as a good choice for this particular storm.

Local fishing boats in Bahia Santa Maria

 

Duet and the fleet at anchor



We anchored without fanfare and settled down to await events. They were not long in coming. By the next morning it was blowing 15-20 knots in the anchorage, with some chop and swell. We had our flopper pole out and were quite comfortable. We spent 3 days there, we didn’t get off the boat as there was considerable surf on the beach. Several boats did disembark and one, the intrepid Colibri, left for Mag Bay while the storm was still ongoing. They made it safely, but apparently it was pretty bumpy going out into the open ocean to make the turn to enter Mag Bay proper.

 



In the photo below one boat is providing the other with water, due to a watermaker failure. Cruisers are a helpful group and there were a number of examples of cheerfully rendered assistance throughout the rally. 



While we were in BSM, we bartered for some clawless lobster from the local fisherman. Barter involves the combination of dollars and other items, such as Diet Cokes. Some vendors quote a price, while others say “pay what you think it’s worth”. Frankly, we think the latter strategy produces better results, as most people tend to overpay.




When the weather started to moderate, people began to get out and about. The boat in the photo below is the Nordhavn 46, Northern Ranger I.



The family in the photo below was the only family with young children on the rally. They are just beginning a multi year cruising itinerary.



We have met many cruiser children in our time on the water. They tend to be quite mature and very flexible. 



The following picture is a great shot of Duet. We think it was taken at Mag Bay. Unfortunately, we don’t know who took it. Many of the photos in this blog are from the Flicker collection put up by the San Diego Yacht Club. We want to thank all the rally photographers for their great work. 

On the fourth day, the rest of the fleet followed Colibri into Mag Bay. Duet inadvertently missed the departure, as our alarm clock was in the wrong time zone. When we arrived at BSM, the local time had changed to Mountain Time, but we hadn’t noticed. So we woke up late and charged after the rest of the fleet, taking some grief for our tardiness.

A beach party was held at Mag Bay, and much enjoyed by all. The local residents put it on and did a great job. Various types of fish were served, along with vegetables, and plenty of cerveza. Local handicrafts were for sale. Pangas (15-25 foot dinghies with big outboards, used as a fishing and transport vessel throughout Mexico and other South American countries) transported everyone to and from the beach, which made life much easier. They also came by to take our trash for a small fee. We even scored some beautiful ahi tuna from Daybreak, we reciprocated with fresh baked chocolate brownies. Duet’s crew didn’t fish on the rally, although the fishing was superb. We find it too tiring to be dealing with a fish, when there are only two of us on board to handle the boat and the watches.

Local fishermen in a panga

Preparing the tuna

The fleet left Mag Bay the following day, bound for San Jose del Cabo, which along with Cabo San Lucas, comprises the municipality of Los Cabos at the southern tip of Baja California. It was about a 22 hour trip for Duet, and was uneventful, except for a rather choppy beam breeze and sea throughout the night. We were untroubled by it, but some boats reported seasick crews. Everyone arrived safely at Marina Puertos los Cabos, and we settled down for several days of land based R&R.

The marina put on a great dinner, and a dolphin show, for all the CUBAR attendees. This marina had suffereed extensive damage the previous year in Hurricane Odile, and it was amazing how much progress had been made to get it back up and running. We enjoyed it there and would return. We even managed to get a night out in San Jose del Cabo, at a local place. The food was great, as was the company. The most interesting part was the entertainment, which consisted of a very good Polish violinist.

Below is a photo of the dining venue at the marina. 

 

Ron at far right, next to Christy, with Ken at the head, Dennis to his right and Mary at far left. 

Denis and Mary left Colibri at this stop. We much enjoyed getting to know them and look forward to seeing them again in the future. It was also at this stop that Varnebank threw an open house for all rally attendees, which was great. Ron, in particular, enjoyed the tour of Varnebank’s engine room. We had the opportunity to spend several hours exchanging boating stories with Ken, Christy, Mary and Denis. It was a great evening. 

Most of the fleet left Puerto los Cabos three days later, headed for La Paz. We were several days late due to continued difficult weather. In the Sea of Cortez in the winter, it blows strongly out of the north. In those conditions, the trip we were to make, east and then north around the base of the peninsula would have been rather uncomfortable. In addition, a very late season Hurricane, Sandra, was forming south of us. In the end, Sandra didn’t come very near us, but, with hurricanes, caution is our watchword. So the rally organizers postponed the arrival party and most boats waited. Some departed early for La Paz, and some, who were headed for the Mexican mainland (Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Barra, etc.) left the fleet entirely and headed on to their winter destinations.

Duet (left) and Colibri getting ready to depart Puerto Los Cabos at dawn

The trip “around the corner” so to speak, did involve some head seas. We left Los Cabos at dawn, bound for the rather unfortunately named “Bay of the Dead” anchorage. Local developers having been working for years to change the name to “Bay of Dreams” but so far no dice. We slammed into head seas for about 10 hours. Duet did fine, and amazingly enough, so did Nancy and Ron. Our new seasickness meds really proved themselves on this particular day. We were taking spray right over the pilothouse roof and the bulbous bow was slapping for all it was worth. Without the meds, we would definitely have had to slow down, to ease the motion, and we would probably have been sick anyway, but this time we kept the pedal to the metal and arrived at the distant anchorage with light to spare. We felt fine throughout the journey. Other crews did report seasickness, head seas are tough to deal with.

Duet hammering through head seas. Her bow is about 6 feet off the water, which gives some scale to these seas.

 

The next day we all headed into La Paz. During that journey, Christopher on N50 Colibri asked to conduct a side by side test with Duet. We are sister ships, but our main engines are slightly different. Duet has a 300HP Lugger, while Colibri has a 250HP. The changes are minimal and were required as a result of emissions standards changes between when Colibri was built and Duet’s birth.

So the two boats set up side by side, and worked their way up the RPM scale. Interestingly, there was little, if any, difference in speeds at various RPM settings. Christopher has more advanced digital RPM gauges than we do, so he was able to keep good track of what was happening. We aren’t sure what we learned, but it was fun.

Colibri sprinting along

 

We all arrived in La Paz, with most vessels, including Duet, staying at Marina CostaBaja, which was the host marina for the CUBAR. At this point the rally was really breaking up, but about two thirds of the original contingent made it to the farewell bash.

We spent several day with the crews of Colibri, Northern Ranger I, Sea Level II and Varnebank before we all headed our separate ways. Most folks headed home, but Duet and Varnebank were off to cruise the sea of Cortez, as were the crew of Enterprise III. These adventures will be covered in the next blog. In the meantime, we wish our readership a Happy New Year and the best for 2016.