Baha Ha Ha – Leg One

After months of preparing the boat for Mexico, we finally came down to the last few days. Austin and crew member Richard both arrived on Friday, October 24th. We had a great time that evening celebrating Austin’s 22nd birthday first at Bali Hai for their great Mai Tai’s, then on to Stone Brewery for their great beer, and wrapping up the evening at Queenstown Bistro for a great dinner. On Sunday we said goodbye to Austin as he set off with our car back to school in Arizona. Our fourth crew member Greg arrived that night so now we were ready.

The Baha Ha Ha Rally is quite an event for the San Diego bay as 135 plus boats prepare to depart at the same time. On starting day, October 27th, we formed a parade as we passed the Harbor Patrol Fire Boats to the starting line. I never did see the actual starting line but start we did at around 11:00 am. The sails were up just for show as there was no wind. But we were excited just the same.

The crew of Sereno II.  Cindy, Gary, Greg and Richard

The crew of Sereno II. Cindy, Gary, Greg and Richard

Harbor Police Fire Boats gave us a great send off

A view of a boat in the fleet and the Harbor Police Fire Boats giving us a great send off

Parade of boats while CNN filmed overhead

Parade of boats while CNN filmed overhead

We had pirates in the fleet

We had pirates in the fleet

Gary and I as we leave San Diego

Gary and I as we leave San Diego

At 12:30 pm we crossed into Mexico and celebrated with Tequila shots. On this leg of the trip Richard caught an albacore tuna and a Mahi Mahi. We enjoyed some great sashimi on board.

Richard with his catch referred to as Mahi Mahi or Dorado

Richard the mighty fisherman with his catch referred to as Mahi Mahi or Dorado

He was still moving and right after the picture was taken I was out of there LOL

He was still moving and right after the picture was taken I was out of there LOL

Directly from the sea

Sashimi directly from the sea

I started my first ever night watch at the stroke of midnight on my birthday. It was an uneventful two hours as the seas were very calm with no wind. Motoring along I scanned the horizon every 15 minutes for other lights and checked the AIS for other vessels. Lucky the moon was almost full so it wasn’t totally dark. During the day my focus was on the water looking for sea life, boats and just the beauty of the ocean. At night my focus was on the stars. Just beautiful. Gary managed to bake me a birthday cake and we had one of my favorite meals at sunset, a fish pot using the Mahi Mahi Richard caught that day. Can’t get any fresher than that! Later that night at 11:00 pm after 60 hours at sea we dropped anchor in Turtle Bay. Coming in to an unfamiliar anchorage in the dark is not ideal. The lights from the small town and the anchor lights from the other boats is very deceiving. When I got up the next morning, the bay looked nothing like I pictured the night before :).

If I had to describe this leg I would say uneventful and a good calm introduction to off shore cruising. There was no wind for the duration of this leg so we motor sailed (sails up motor on) the entire time as did most of the fleet. We saw whales breaching, had dolphins playing around the bow of the boat and Greg saw a sea turtle. The seas started out choppy, which took me out of action for a time :(. But by the second day the seas calmed down and we had a pleasant passage down to Turtle Bay, though some wind would have been nice. We were all looking forward to walking on land, showers and meeting the rest of the fleet at Turtle Bay…………

Greg cleaning fish blood out of the dingy.  Dirty job but someone had to do it

Greg cleaning fish blood out of the dingy. Dirty job but someone had to do it

My birthday cake.  You can't tell from the picture but it is slanted to match the heel of the boat LOL

My birthday cake. You can’t tell from the picture but it is slanted to match the heel of the boat LOL

One of many beautiful sunsets

One of many beautiful sunsets

We Made Agua!

We fired up the water maker today. Left the dock and started the commission sequence at 1:00. At 1:45 we were putting new water in the tank. No leaks, no issues all thanks to Gary! Produced 20 gallons in 35 minutes which is 25 minutes less than advertised. We are very pleased. Celebrated with Cerviche, Corona’s and Tequila at our favorite local Mexican restaurant!

Hola
Cindy

Cabo or Bust

Back in the 70’s when we had the oil crisis with cars stretched for miles at gas stations and you had to choose between heating your home and feeding your kids, there was all this talk of solar energy. The plan was for every home to have an array of solar panels on their roofs and the USA would no longer be dependent on rich oil nations. Out of college I worked for Exxon Corporation in their Solar Thermal Systems division. I really believed this was our future energy source. But heck, my favorite cartoon was the Jetsons and as a kid I believed when I grew up I would be jetting through space to get to work, Ha! Fast forward 40 some years and I can finally say that Gary and I are off the grid. We installed solar panels capable of generating 500 watts of energy which is enough to power a small refrigerator, small freezer, lights, and our instruments plus phones, IPAD and laptop. It feels good!
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Solar2 10-13-2014

Today marks our 2 week countdown until we leave for Mexico. The last month has been hectic getting projects finished. We have the water maker installed and this Wednesday we will go out in the bay and start her up. Keeping our fingers crossed that all the connections are tight and we have no leaks! Our list of things to get done is getting smaller. There are so many details for a trip like this going down 800 miles on the third longest peninsula in the world which is very desolate. We need to estimate the amount of extra diesel to carry because frankly you can never depend on the wind. Adding to the list is the fact that we are not returning to California or the USA right away. Getting our life in order making sure finances as well as Austin are taken care of and we continue to have reliable communication has taken some planning. We are both so ready to cut the dock lines and just relax! I won’t even go into all the paperwork and bureaucracy involved to allow us to enter Mexico :(

We have assembled a fine crew of accomplished sailors for the trip. Our friend Richard from San Francisco Bay just recently returned from a sailing trip in Croatia. Greg who is a dock neighbor here in Chula Vista, spent many years in South Africa and has sailed on Lake Erie and currently participates in races off the coast of San Diego. He helped us launch the spinnaker for the first time yesterday. Our menu is planned which is important since a well fed crew is a happy crew :). We get our Mexico fishing licenses tomorrow so we can catch a few dinners. This week the captain (aka Gary) will be working on our crew shifts as well as our sailing course. For the last month Gary and I have been taking a navigation course through the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. So hopefully this will help us to arrive in Cabo San Lucas as planned rather than the Galapagos Islands (just kidding Barb)! As we add more things, Sereno II is looking more and more like a cruising boat as you will see from the pictures below.

Over dinner yesterday I happen to glance at my phone and noticed for the first time the date, October 12th. Gary and I went on our first date 40 years ago to a dance at Lenape Valley Regional High School. Who knew 40 years later almost to the day we would be starting on our cruising adventure! How life just keeps evolving.

Hola
Cindy
Dingy 10-13-2014 Our new dingy hanging off the stern davits

Will we have enough diesel

Will we have enough diesel


Baha pic Cabo or bust

This is Oakley Here – I Am Back at College!

I have hacked into the blog to let you all know that I am back at college with my bro. Had a great time on vacation with the folks swimming and playing at the beach and I was really liking those dingy rides. But I had to get off the freaking boat. The rocking kept putting me to sleep. I needed to get back to nacho’s, pizza and beer pong. The guys depend on me and bro needs a study partner even if I’m just snoozing next to him ;) Mom snapped the picture below of me on my last day. This was my favorite place to relax after a hard day of watching dad and mom work on the boat. I would catch the sea breezes and it was good night Louise! Say hi to Dakota, Bam, Peca, Mollie, Mickey Mantel, Lefty and Bogie. Was sad to hear about Princess, give Jeff and Veronica my condolences. See you in Mexico for Christmas, Mom and Dad!
Happy trails, Oakley

My favorite spot on the boat

My favorite spot on the boat

Only 7 More Weeks YIKES!

We set sail for Mexico on October 27th, 7 weeks from today. We have quite a list of things to get done and several big decisions to make. One decision is on our communication needs for keeping in touch with Austin for emergencies if we are outside cell phone range. Right now we are considering a satellite phone. We will be able to purchase a modem and data through a Mexican company so we will have internet and email in most places. But there will be times when we will be in remote areas with no cell coverage. What to do?

We are working on installing a water maker and solar panels at the same time. This was not the plan, however, the guy who is making the stainless steel structure for the solar panels has been shall we say not very customer oriented! The water maker we choose produces 20 gallons of water an hour. I think that will get us each a shower every day don’t you? The system is designed and manufactured by a small company here in San Diego so we met the two owners when we picked the system up. Both are cruisers who were not satisfied with the water makers that were on the market. We know several boats, some as far away as the Caribbean, who have installed one of these systems. We had Sereno II hauled out last Friday so two thru hulls could be installed. One for intake and the other for discharge. Didn’t really want to put new holes in the boat but it was recommended by the owners that the intake not share the same thru hull as the engine. Seemed like sound advice :)

With the clock ticking we haven’t really maintained a good balance between work and play. And the last week or so has been stinking hot and humid. We did have visitors though and that is always fun! An old friend from high school (old as in “from way back when” LOL), Dave Piemontesi, was in the area on business. We enjoyed a great German dinner along with great conversation. Having retired from the Navy, Dave was excited to see Sereno II and I think he liked her. He officially was our first east coast visitor.

Over the weekend we had lunch with a couple from my past. I worked with Mac and Georgia McCarty back in the 1980’s. We have kept in touch over the years and since they were in town for a wedding, Gary and I were able to meet up with them. These are two people who have enjoyed their retirement by traveling, visiting friends and family, (I think they enjoy the racetrack as well), and opening their home up to anyone that wants to come and visit them. Their annual Christmas card is never dull. We enjoyed great conversation and were happy the planets were all in alignment so we could visit with them. As it turns out, the work on the water maker kept us in town so things do happen for a reason. The one bummer though was right after we said our goodbyes I remembered I wanted a picture with them :( Next time……

Fair winds,
Cindy

Mission Control

Mission Control

Dave Piemontesi, Cindy, Gary

Dave Piemontesi, Cindy, Gary

Stingray’s, Sharks and Toys

Gary found out the hard way that the waters here in San Diego are full of stingrays. While walking in shallow water at the beach near the marina he was stung in the side of his foot by one. Anyone who has been through this will tell you it is extremely painful and in his words worse than going through two child births. Since I have never been stung by a stingray, who am I to argue :) A trip to the emergency room confirmed that the best immediate treatment is soaking the foot in hot water. He is still experiencing swelling so we may be making another trip to the doctor to see if an infection has set in.

Austin and a friend went snorkeling yesterday off the cliffs in La Jolla. I guess you go snorkeling here for the chance to swim with leopard sharks. Very tame if you can use that word in the same sentence as shark but apparently they are bottom feeders. Anyway, Austin was impressed with the size of them and wants us to give it a try. Cold water and sharks. Sounds like a fun time LOL.

And we now have some toys! We never had toys at the house so this is pretty exciting for us. We got a Stand Up Paddle board and a two person kayak. Good core exercise for us and is fun paddling around though it can be quite challenging when the wind is up. Add those to the lifelines along with the dingy off the back and we’ll look like traveling gypsies on the high seas.

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Have you ever sat in a bar and watched people pull up to the dock in a boat, tie up and come in for a drink and think how fun would that be? Last week we actually did just that at the Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island. We have been there many times for their famous Mai Tai’s which according to a friend of ours is the Mai Tai that all future Mai Tai’s will be judged. The Bali Hai does not use any fruit juice so if you arrived by any mode of transportation besides walking, one is your limit. Gary, Austin and I had a great time and afterwards hopped back on Sereno II and enjoyed a relaxing sail back to our marina.

Bali Hai

Bali Hai

Sereno II docked at Bali Hai

Sereno II docked at Bali Hai

Even with all this fun, we still continue to work on getting the boat ready for Mexico. We installed AIS (Automatic Identification System) which identifies ships within range and transmits our position and information to other vessels in the area. This is a safety feature that we felt was really important to have to keep us safer while traveling at night. The system itself was easy to install, it was pulling the wires through the boat that was the ‘fun’ part. We spend a fair amount of time with our heads in tight places.

Still waiting on our solar panels and stainless steel structure that will support them to arrive. Here are some random pictures from the last few weeks.

San Diego Bay

San Diego Bay

Austin taking Oakley for a ride

Austin taking Oakley for a ride

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Getting some last minute instructions

Getting some last minute instructions

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Fair winds and calm seas.
Cindy

First 30 Days on the Boat

Actually we have been on the boat a little longer than that. I can honestly say it feels like home. The few items we kept from the house help and the layout of the boat and comfy beds make it easy to live aboard. We bought a pasta pot today and along with our pasta machine we brought with us hope to be making fresh pasta on board soon.
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Austin surprised us with a visit over 4th of July to see the new home and escape the Arizona heat. We had just put the new name and home port on so we were so excited that he was here for the de-naming and naming ceremony. Champaign was flowing for the Gods and for Gary :)
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We took Austin for a sail and it was a great day topped off with fireworks over the San Diego Bay. We have a fishing pier right behind our slip and as we were coming in we hooked a fishing line. Not sure if the guy lost his pole LOL. Gary had to dive the boat to see if we had the line wrapped around the prop. It was not and no sign of the pole.

And Oakley is now on board. The 100+ temps in Tempe are too hot for a Sheltie with a lot of fur so she will be with us until fall. She has adapted very well to boat life, finding the cool spots where the sea breeze comes in through the hatch. We work and she sleeps :). We thought we would have to carry her up and down the stairs but she is flying up and down them herself. Has only crashed once so far. The occasional military jet flying overhead is freaking her out a bit but we are thinking (hoping) she will get used to it.

Our most exciting news (though we are always excited to see Austin and he comes back tomorrow for 5 days!) is we registered for the Baha Ha-Ha. This is a rally of 100+ sailboats and power boats from San Diego to Cabo San Lucus approximately 750 miles. We leave on October 27th and arrive on November 6th. Two other crew members will be on board as there are at least two overnight passages (Gary has done many overnight passages, Cindy 0!). So our to-do list is long and we will be balancing between getting the boat ready and the beach, reading, sight seeing (after all we are new to San Diego) and happy hours. This week we installed a 75 pound Rocna anchor and 225 feet of chain (we do all the work ourselves). We will not drag at anchor!! We got our ships FCC license as well as Gary’s operator license. Next up is probably additional solar panels and new batteries (wind generator at some point). Love the fact that we will be off the grid.
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Till next time fair winds
Cindy
Carpe Diem

Toes in the Sand at Oceanside

We were looking for some serious beach time and somewhere to go for a shakedown cruise of the boat. So our first sail out of San Diego was 30 nm north from Point Loma to Oceanside.

Toes in the sand in Oceanside

Toes in the sand in Oceanside

The trip was around 6 hours from Point Loma motor sailing since the wind was on our nose the entire time. We could have driven there in under an hour but that would be missing the point :) And I got to experience my first encounter with a pod of dolphins. They converge on the boat swimming under and beside it. They like to play with the bow of the boat dodging back and forth. Sorry no pictures. I was too excited watching the show!

The shake down trip went well. About 10 miles out of Oceanside we lost our GPS on the chart plotter. Not cool when you are coming in to a harbor for the first time. Our backup is our IPAD and we were able to get that operational. In the meantime Gary pulled off the electrical panel jiggled some wires and the GPS mysteriously came back up. So hunting down a loose wire is on our to-do-list.

Sereno in Oceanside Harbor

Sereno in Oceanside Harbor


We arrived just in time for happy hour!

We arrived just in time for happy hour!


Sunset

Sunset


Our neighbor let me drive  his 35 foot trawler today down our narrow channel.  I'm glad no warships were on the move!

Our neighbor, Jim, let me drive his 35 foot trawler today down our narrow channel. I’m glad no warships were on the move! Interesting fellow. Former Marine who for the last 40 years has worked for Hollywood flying his C123 airplane for movies like Air Force One and Terminal Velocity to name a few. His real business though is doing parachute payload research for NASA and the military.

Fair winds
Cindy

San Diego Bay

One week ago Gary and our friend Richard sailed Sereno from Oxnard to our temporary home port of San Diego. I had to drive the car and stay the night in a hotel. I’m not usually a lucky person however upon check-in I received an upgrade to a junior suite overlooking the bay. So at 7:00 am the next morning I was able to watch Sereno II sail past the balcony of my hotel. Unfortunately my iPhone camera did not capture a good picture, but here they are arriving at Chula Vista Harbor.
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They had an uneventful 26 hour sail. They could have arrived 4 hours earlier but slowed down so they could arrive after day break.

On Father’s Day we had our first sail in the bay. Light winds so we motored the entire time but it is always fun to see familiar land from the water. While San Francisco Bay is more picturesque, San Diego is much warmer. Here is the ‘happy Father’ relaxing while the crew (aka me) is at the helm chauffeuring him around to see the sights :)
Gary

We went from cargo ships to Navy ships. Here is the US Navy Ship Bob Hope. Unlike cargo ships that just appear, the Navy announces their departure so you are forewarned.
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I have not thought of work one single minute. Friends yes, work no. We spend our time doing things around the boat, planning, and playing. Today we polished some of the steel, went to the beach and started planning our 1st trip out which will be to Oceanside, CA. It is about 30 miles up the coast and should take 6 hours or so. Not sure if we will come straight back here or head further north. We don’t have to decide until we get to Oceanside since we will have our home and all our stuff with us!

What do I miss from land? The last week we were in Oxnard our heater blanket because it was foggy and freaking cold. My salad spinner because I hate soggy lettuce. Other than that (plus Austin and Oakley), not a thing. Enjoying the new life style.

Fair winds,
Cindy

I Put My Big Girl Pants On Today

Both the deck light and streaming light are out and they are half way up our 62 foot mast. When Gary and I travel by car I drive and he navigates. It works for us. So who goes up the mast and who does the hoisting? The obvious is strength on the wench and lighter weight goes up. My only requirement was a backup line and Gary figured that out. Took some figuring out but I got both bulbs out. Once we have the replacements it is back up I go.

Fair winds
Cindy

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