Travels with Miss Cindy

Chapter 5

85 Miles in 24 Hours, A Limerick, A Night Entrance to Aqua Verde, We Meet a Little Cal 25, Martini's and Crib on the Beach, Racing to Puerto El Gato, A New Top Speed, Dolphins like us.

November 08 2008

Left Santa Rosalia around 0800 after rigging the temporary gaff boom and putting in some new boom hold down lines to replace the ratty 'temporary' ones in use since September.

A 40' keel boat left the harbour just ahead of me and looked like a giants metronome with her big mast swinging as she rolled gunnel to gunnel on the left over side swells. Our crew was happy to be on 'Miss Cindy' who was just contouring over the swells as she headed south.

Sailing South, The Movie

Aparent Wind on the Beam, The Movie

Had nice steady force 3-4 winds until just before night fall when they dropped a little. By that time we were past Bahia Conception having covered 40 NM in 8 hours.

Bunk View of Sails to Windward, The Movie

The first 24 hours of this hop were the kind of sailing 'Miss Cindy' and I came here for. Easy breezes, modestly challenging navigation, things to see. A gypsum loading operation with two big ships on Marcos island. A rust bucket shrimper we passed close aboard with friendly waves all round. The ambiguity of Mexican charts, just enough to make life interesting. The sounder shoaling fast as we cross thru 10' of pale green to the deeper dark blue with 2' overfalls at the transition from the current in Curtis Channel. A close reach to the next point where a confluence of waves are trying to burst on our beam and make us wet, but 'Miss Cindy' lifts her skirts, laughs, and swooshes out of the way.

There is a different sunset and as night falls a gibious moon sits up high. Sailing is easy and naps frequent. And I write a few limericks. A nautical one here:

While crossing the sea, Miss Cindy

Caused consternation, cuzz it was windy

When she finally pulled in

The skip said with a grin

The seas wuzz so big, they just hid me

With some credit due Donald Crowhurst.

Daytime view from the bunk, with the telltale compass. Looks like we are on a broad reach with the wind forward of the port quarter.

We sailed thru the night and at 0800 in the morning were just 7 miles from Isla Coronado. We have covered 85 miles in 24 hours with the strongest wind about 15 knots and mostly 10 to 12. We had one hour of calm in the night.

Sailing with Tiller Free, The Movie

In winds to 12kt I often sail with the tiller free on broad reaching and running courses. If the wavelength closely matches the boat it needs to be tied, but as the waves get bigger in the 15-20kt wind range it will be fine with a free tiller again.

Aeolous has been kind and generous with his winds but he is not done with us yet. At 1000 we are now 2 miles from Isla Coronado. We anchor there 5 1/2 hours later having passed it on our way to Lorreto but the wind continually shifts against us and the current turns. If we work to the East of the channel the wind turns Westerly when we tack back. The wind remains light and the waves confused. We are content to finally anchor at Isla Coronado where we could have anchored at 1100 if only we had known what was in store.

The anchorage today is in the clearest water I have seen. 23' deep and it looks like a big block of glass with a heavy green tint. As the wind ripples the surface the dark patches on the bottom are giant squid waiting to pounce.

As I write this at anchor, the last of my limes have discovered their raison de etre and I toast 'Miss Cindy' and the original 'Miss Cindy'. The sun has been down a few minutes and the pointy rocks to leeward sit at the intersection of the crinkly deep blue waves and the mauve, pink, yellow, orange sky. This photo is just a hint of the experience.

Sammy the seagull gives us a good look on his way back to the roost where his gal is probably waiting with bells on.

Before dark, Aeolous adds a little extra wind. I know this trick and have anchored with care.

November 10 2008 Monday?

We haul anchor early and broad reach across to Pt Lobo on the North tip of Isla Carmen headed towards Aqua Verde.

Rounding Pt Lobo, The Movie

Coasting Along, The Movie

By 1100 we are coasting down the East side of the island with a line out, traveling at good fishing speed of 4-5kt headed to Isla Monserate. I take a couple of naps and during one a fish strikes and takes the rig from the swivel aft. Clearly need to brush up on my fishing knot tying. As the sun goes down the wind dies and we are 10 miles from Aqua Verde. I spend a bit of effort trying to identify the entrance on the far shore.

By 1800 the wind is back and we are on a close reach into 25kt with a single reef in. A couple of hours later I think I have identified the entrance. There should be a big pinnacle rock about 1/4 mile away from the point. The moon is full but has been hiding behind the heavy clouds. Around 2030 we are committed and heading into what appears to be the bay. We stay clear of the reef on the West side and drop anchor in the big bight at the head of the bay in 23' of water between a couple boats with anchor lights on.

November 11 2008 Tuesday

I listen to the 0600 SSB net and 'Masquerade' booms in really loud and reports she is in Aqua Verde. I scope the ketch 50 yds to port and it is her. The weather guy on the net calls for a big blow from the North for the next couple of days.

First Aqua Verde Anchorage, The Movie

I shift into the West bay and anchor in 12'. The bottom is thin sand with rocky patches so I put out the bower anchor as well, just to be sure.

Second Aqua Verde Anchorage, The Movie

Jim from a camper on the beach comes by in a panga in the morning and asks me if I would like a fish. I say sure a small one. Later in the day he comes by while I am chatting with the girl aboard a Cal 25 from my inflatable kayak and asks if I still want one as they are heading out to do some spear fishing. Yep. I mention to the girl that when my Dad had a Cal 20 I thought the 25 was a huge boat that could cruise anywhere in the world. She has sailed it from Sausalito in tandem with her friend who has another Cal 25. She is heading to La Paz to hang out with his boat till he gets back from the states. She does not have an engine but uses a big oar lashed to a spinnaker pole and can get a couple of knots but it is hard work. I mention how the Chinese yuloh has a line at the front to hold down the oar so that you just need to twist your wrists and push and pull, rather than counter the thrust of the oar. She seems keen to try it out.

Several snorkelers from the yachts about burble by and say hi and nice things about 'Miss Cindy'.

Aqua Verde Anchorage from the Hill, The Movie

About an hour later Jim is back and offers me the fish. I say if he would clean it and cook it up I will bring some fixings ashore and make them some beverages. He is game. I meet the team, Jim and his wife Shalon ( originally from Australia ) their daughter Sandy and her guy Nate. I ask Nate if he plans to formalize the arrangement and Mom seems to like the question. They are all down here for a month or so fishing on the east coast and surfing on the west coast. Jim is in great shape and he regularly does the crawl for a couple of miles around the point every day and when I saw him at the end of his swim he was going like train.

Jim has prepped some fantastic yellowtail sashimi with a nice sauce and robust wasabi. Sandy and Nate cook up the snapper et all and we have that with flour tortias with all the fixings. They have ICE. Very civilized. I make drinks all round, Sandy had a V8 with vodka but really liked the olives I brought. Jim was delighted that I brought his ( and the Queen of England's ) favorite, Tanquary gin. We both have gin martinis, and I have mine in the crystal glass I have brought ashore. Before the night is done it meets it's fate. I will get a couple more sent from my stash. We have nice chats about this and that including the precarious state of the US economy, the new president and the clear fact that Jim is an independent not a Democrat. Some where in there I say 'Frisco' and Jim groans, advising me to use San Francisco.

Cards are mentioned and I am keen as are all it seems. Jim cautions me that he is a killer at crib and I should just be prepared to lose from the outset. I recount a similar caution I once received on another occasion and let Jim know that I am a good looser. They play with muggins so this is a serious crib crowd. I have the good sense to partner with Sandy/Nate who are kinda cute as they alternatively alternate the play individually with playing together. I never know who is holding the cards till I look over. Jim and his wife take us on. It is a close game but I am sure to point out the trends particularly when we are at even cribs. Jim comments on the effects of fine gin. Somewhere in all of this I break a big arc off the Baccarat glass. The broken piece has had the good sense to stay out of the olives so all is not lost. I chill the last of the gin and top up my glass and Jim notes I filled it exactly to the broken edge. I am sure to get all the rest into his plastic tumbler.

The game continues and while Sandy/Nate and I are ahead it is not by much. It is my crib and I boldly state the turned up card will be a jack and it is. As I count our two points I tell Jim I have magic but sometimes use it inappropriately. Between the gin and my spin he is starting to look a bit concerned. We are just over the skunk line and I pull out one last trick. I mention that Sandy/Nate and I are in the 'catbird seat'. I explain how we are going to have 4 hands to their two. My current hand and crib and Sandy/Nates current hand and the fact that Sandy/Nate will count first. I explain how with us this close we are going to have enough to win. Jim has not heard of the term and I explain it's origins.

My crib is 10 points and that puts us one point from going out with my partners first to count. A great night. Nice Folks.

Some views around Aqua Verde:

This bush was a cloud of butterflies, but they were camera shy and only a few show here. At sea these often flutter by, brush strokes of cadmium yellow dancing against the richness of the sky.

Wednesday Nov 12 2008

It is 10pm, and I am still stoked from the run into Puerto El Gato. I have just put some tea on as we roll gently in the cross swell that makes it over the reef off the point. It was blowing hard this morning when I walked into the little pueblo of Aqua Verde to see what supplies I could pick up. Had a nice chat while walking down the road with Martin who has lived there all his life. He headed off to his house in the little valley and pointed me in the direction of town. I found the co-op store but the shelves were pretty bare. I picked up two gallons of water and a couple of cans of salsa and started the trek back over the hills. On the way met up with a shore party from some of the boats anchored in the bay. I didn't recognize the slip of a girl from the Cal 25 as she was now in a nice sun-dress. We all had a gam and I headed back to the boat.

Had some more snorkelers bobbing by to have a peek in 'Miss Cindy's' bubbles and as the wind was now down to 20kt and Puerto El Gato just 17 nautical miles away I deflated the dingy and hauled anchors. I got the usual chorus of 'be careful' 'be safe' from the concerned cruisers who seem to be channeling for my Mom. We sailed closehauled out of the bay and the Cal 25 followed about 10 minutes later. Stayed hard on the wind to keep clear of the point and to work out towards the off lying island. Could see the waves breaking on the reefs extending North and South of the island so when they started to look interesting I turned South.

Shortly after getting squared away I noticed a big cat buzzing along parallel to us but about a mile in towards the coast. Turned out to be a Moorings 4300 ( 43') under full genoa going the same way as us. I trimmed up the sails and before long they were falling astern.

For the first hour the wind stayed around 20kt then started to freshen. I left the GPS on for a bit to see if I could pick up a new top speed for 'Miss Cindy'. Previous best was just over 10kt. The peak stayed at 9.9 for what seem like the longest time then we saw 10.1 then 10.6. We were romping along comfortably in 5-6' seas, the boat not working too hard and me hardly at all. Soon we were in 25kt with the seas starting to build. We would catch these big waves and surf on down and depending on how that all came together sometimes the helm would get extremely light and very twitchy. With just a couple of fingers you could very quickly make big changes to the course. Just had to pay attention, sometimes the lady wants a gentle touch.

Swooshing along in 5'to 6' Waves, Wind at 25kt, The Movie

We romped along like this for an hour or so before the dolphins joined us. A couple of dozen zig zagging accross the bows, jumping out of the wave crest ahead or astern and splunking in and out of the water all around. They like a boat with a bit of speed and we were cruising pretty steadily at 7-8kt with a couple more while surfing. I took about 5 film shots but only one came out.

Romping with Dolphins, The Movie

With about 6 miles to go I shut down the GPS to save the batteries for scoping the entrance thru the reefs and considered putting in a reef or two myself as the breeze was now up around 30kt with seas in the 6-8' range. I had been a little inattentive when hoisting the sails and had small overrides on the reefing drums on both sails and was a little reluctant to furl up a bit now figuring if there was a problem I would rather deal with it after clearing the reefs into the bay. So we kept all 200 sqft up there. We were a bit over canvassed as 'Miss Cindy' was starting to work harder and the skip was too. Pressing hard we sometimes carried the surfing of a wave right on up over the crest ahead. I know that this is a sure sign of too much sail as you want to stay close to the speed of the waves. We were also occasionally needing to do some heavy steering when the bows over took a wave for example. Not much rudder angle, perhaps 10 degrees, but 30 to 40 lbs on the tiller and often the same in the other direction as the wave crossed under.

It was interesting to see how 'Miss Cindy' handled the hard driving and there were no anxieties just a knowledge that she was being ridden hard over rough terrain. Sometimes a wave would break under one hull and that hull would just drop a foot into the foam, but thru it all she seemed to know what to expect.

With about 3 miles to go I put the GPS back on. The big Moorings cat was hull down well astern and I could not find the little Cal 25 in all the breakers on the horizon. As we approached what looked to be the point the reefs started to show up well. There is a little ledge off the North point and a big one off the South point. I usually like to stay well up to windward and close in to the windward shoals when entering a harbour.

The bottom is starting to come up, we are now in less than 50' and the waves are feeling the bottom and getting a bit steeper. The North reef is spuming nicely and I have a nice close course to it. As soon as I clear it I gybe the starboard sail, always interesting in 30kt, but it goes well. There are two big powerboats in the bay so I will have to share. I carry a bit of a luff on the sails and work in close astern of Jani-Lee from San Francisco ( got chewed out for using 'frisco' the other day ). A little surprise awaits as Jani-Lee has a black line headed to a stern anchor to keep her pointed into the swell. I fall off a bit and drop one then the second anchor. It is 1510. We covered 17 nautical miles in two hours 40 minutes hook to hook. I pick up the GPS and our peak speed was 13.9kt. I am pretty sure I recall that moment.

El Gato Anchorage, The Movie

30 minutes later the Big 43' catamaran comes around the point and motors in to anchor astern of me. I give them that friendly smile and wave that those who 'were not racing' exchange with the vanquished. The skip from Jani-Lee comes by in his 14' centre console RIB after setting yet another bow anchor and says nice things about 'Miss Cindy' and mentions that when we came round the point we were 'flying'.

That is my reflection in the salon mirror of Jani-Lee.

The little Cal 25 comes in right after sunset. Her hull disappears from time to time in the waves off the point. She beats into the bay and tucks in for the night.

Distance Summary:

This Leg: 140 Nautical Miles

Hours Underway: 50

Hours on Motor: 0

Total To Date: 425 Nautical Miles

Total Hours Underway: 227

Total Hours on Motor: 5

Copyright © 2008,2009 Tony Bigras.