A Whale of a Time

no pictures or video yet, as we’re only sneaking out updates over the international phone plan! So use your imaginations, good people…

Ravenswing comes to you tonight from the LOVELY anchorage off La Cruz, in Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta). Carlos, Rick and I made the crossing from Cabo in about 52 hours, with 292 nautical miles sailed.  By turning around and waiting out that big blow from the north, we set ourselves up for a slow ride behind that system. And in this case, that’s not a bad thing. The ride across from Baja to mainland Mexico was all done under full mainsail, and back and forth between the big blue reacher and the working jib. The wind models showed we’d have some good reaching, but mostly it was heading upwind in light breezes. We had about ten hours of dead calm, and found our motoring groove with the outboard at 3800 rpm, main sheeted down tight, motor sailing at about 4.5 to 5 kts. It’s very fuel efficient, and the shallow-pitch propellor won’t really push Ravenswing much faster. The last 30 miles in to Punta Mita were painfully slow this morning, but once inside the bay the wind came up for a glory reach for the ten miles to the anchorage.

Rick and I are kind of food snobs, and this was a pleasure cruise. So we ate well. He baked fresh cornbread and cinnamon rolls. I cooked a delicious orzo / grilled chicken / multi-veggie pilaf, etc etc etc. Carlos had said PBJs would be fine, but we scoffed at that and he ate like a king. There was plenty of time to do the dishes.

The welcome was warm here, featuring a great reunion with west coast sailing star Paul of J-World. Some of you know I’ve been a big fan of his F31 Sally Lightfoot, then Contour 34 Orange, then the awesome Vanishing Girl he stole off of Sunsail :). But tonight we saw a beautiful thing… Paul sailing up to us on his new Wharram cat, effortlessly single handing, anchoring up for a night aboard. Can’t wait to paddle board over and check out that boat in the morning. He kayaked over with Geronimo, a boat dog that really needs to meet Brizo’s Bella. Kinda jealous of these guys figuring out the ocean dogs!  And we’re so proud of Paul’s expanding sailing career, including a recent stretch of sailing 7,000 ocean miles in just three months covering major ocean race events and deliveries. Very lucky to have this guy willing to show Ravenswing the ropes in Banderas Bay.

I’d say the best thing about the past ten days afloat has been the wildlife. Whale sightings have become ho-hum. Oh yea, there goes another humpback. Yes her tail is fabulous. And that one that just spyglassed up and made a huge splash a quarter mile over. At one point you didn’t bother looking if someone called one out on the other side of the boat where you’d have to sit up or turn around. While I slept yesterday the other guys saw a large dolphin pod. We were going too slow to entice the swimmers in to bow surfing, but still just being among them is cool. I have to make a report to the Turtle Girls from the HaHa, as I counted a dozen turtles across four species this week. The birds have been amazing, especially the blue footed boobies who are very curious around the sailboat rig. Off Punta Mita today they were dive-bombing fish right next to the boat. quite exciting.

No fish caught this leg. We lost one lure, a smaller one, so Carlos sleeps well thinking the big one just got away.

Knowing it was going to be a mellow, light wind trip I asked the guys to go against their preference for two-on-deck and instead take single-person 4 hour shifts. On this short passage, Carlos had 8am & 8pm, Rick had 4am & 4pm, and I took midnight and noon. So we each had 8 hours off at a time, and basically zero sail change awakenings, which felt like a luxury cruise to me. Coming on at midnight last night, I found the boat doing 4-5 knots upwind in perhaps 5 knots of variable breeze. With a huge full moon and mostly flat sea, it was an amazing opportunity to creep around the boat doing everything possible to squeeze another knot of boat speed. Lots of sail trim experimentation, and things like moving gas and water jugs to leeward, trying to roll the windward hull up out of the water (yea fboaters, we were going that slowly). I know we’ve got doubters out there, but our Leneman delta-vee mainsheet / traveler single line setup was fabulous this trip, both in controlling the huge apparent wind Thursday and tweaking in light airs this weekend. This was the first time to really work on her light air sailing and that was a lot of fun. Even at 3am.

JoeS commented on Friday about his Seawind cat experiences in heavy wind going down a small jib and heavily reefed main. My mistake Thursday was staying in the cockpit too long, getting soaked. We could have dropped the main, reefed the jib and sailed from the cabin (autopilot doing fine). There will be a time to do this, and we’ll practice in medium wind sometime soon.

Since we left San Francisco, and even before, a lot of people asked where the boat is headed, and I’ve been saying Through the Canal and on to Europe. Well, not so fast. The Pacific side of Mexico is pretty fabulous, and there’s just no need to rush all this. We’re going to call the insurance guy and figure out an extension for the MX coverage. Looks like Ravenswing has much to explore in this country. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Sea of Cortez by sea, we’re looking for crew. Drop me a line.

The rising full moon just crested over vee-berth hatch edge. Time to stop typing and start gazing. Waves are breaking on the beach – with that sound sleep will come very soon. Goodnight all.

 

An About Turn

Ravenswing pulled out of Cabo San Jose at 11:30am, rearing to jam down the track towards Puerto Vallarta. Mainsail with single reef and working jib, with reacher out on the sprit, rolled up and strapped down on deck like sausage.

North breeze was stiff out of the harbor. And kept building as we cleared a headland. Weather software had us expecting 15-20 kits and 1 meter waves. We progressed through dropping the jib and then 2nd reef on main. At that point we saw apparent wind gusting to 40 (we were doing 10 kts+) and short steep seas. Splashes doused the cockpit. All rather snotty. Carlos and Rick suggested either bare poles, or turning back. So we executed a 180degree tack and smartly got back to a slip in Puerto Los Cabos. Tonight we’re studying more weather info and make a decision on trying again, perhaps looking like Saturday. Actual reports had the true wind gusting over 30kts while we were out there. During dinner we agreed we’ve handled those winds back at home daysailing and racing, but the prospect of bashing like that for 24+ hours is a whole new ball game, especially when you don’t have to. Instead we’re choosing a weekend run that will likely include motoring across windless stretches. And that’s the right call here. Yet another day of big learning on Ravenswing.

Big thanks to the crew for keeping level heads and being prudent.

And I’m so proud tonight of the boat. Zero boat drama today and she handled the conditions very well. The right amount of weather helm when needed and the rig performed as intended, especially the new reefing lines sheave box.

Stay tuned. Now we know what a MX Pacific coast Norther looks like. Not particularly fun.

Hola from Bahia de los Muertos

You guys have waited quite a while to find out what’s up with Ravenswing now in Mexico. After that sprint to La Paz, the boat was left for two months while we did family stuff and started in to a backyard makeover. Don’t ask me about hitting the septic tank and water main lines with my rental Bobcat, and getting it bogged down in the winter rains’ mud…

I got to the boat last Saturday, and immediately removed the boom to install the new reefing clew-lines sheave box and upgrade the way the mainsail headboard interfaces with the mast track. Also got the prior rudder repairs faired and primer painted. These new padeyes are obviously a big improvement for barber hauling and other float-deck tweaking tasks. Numerous other little tasks over two days, and we were ready to receive crew extraordinaire Cosbey. Yes, the Sierra Buttes mountain man also has a long history of seven Americas Cup campaigns across three decades as shore crew, boat builder and ocean crossing sailor. But his primary Baja challenge was to be this boat’s first Fish Slayer. In our travels from La Paz to Espírito Santo and on to Los Cabos, we fished many days and threw back a lot of wrong species. (Both too lazy to marinate skipjack!). On the last possible fishing hour, just off the Pulmo reef, Cozmo caught us an amazing dinner fish and we taco’d up like kings. We caught the SuperBowl in a palapa bar at Bahia de Los Muertos, and the nice people found us an English broadcast that wasn’t Joe Buck! That plus Shakira shaking her stuff for the Mexican waitresses was pretty funny.

In the end I had to put Coz on the plane because I couldn’t afford the cerveza bill anymore. I figured 4 twelve packs was plenty for six days, but we made it to Cabo by the skin of our aluminum teeth. All good fun, and now with yesterday’s arrival of Rick and Carlos, Ravenswing is fueled, watered and provisioned to cast off towards Puerto Vallarta as soon as I hit send on this post. Go to our tracking page on Cartersboat.com to follow the Iridium tracker map.

Also click through to the Videos page and grab the first YouTube link to see our exit from LaPaz. I’m still learning how to get video uploaded from the new GoPro. If anyone can comment back to help me make the file sizes smaller, please do so. I can’t upload 1gig+ video files in these remote spots. Need a way of compressing / lower rez video on the computer before attempting the YouTube load. It’s easy from the iPhone but can’t figure out GoPro yet. So you guys will have to wait a bit more for coming stories.

Be well and wish us luck today. Strong winds off our port stern quarter should mean a good ride to Isla Isabel…