Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Entries in hydrovane (2)

Sunday
Oct202013

puerto escondido to la paz

We had actually decided to leave Puerto Escondido (Spanish for "a goat's filthy asshole") two weeks ago. We got as far as Candeleros, 7nm south, but Hurricane Manuel headed our way so back to Puerto Escondido we ran. When we finally dried off from that we put our metaphoric foot down: we're done with Puerto Escondido. We bought whatever miserable provisions we could: stale bread, paper towels, and Red Bull. We spent two days prepping the boat for passage making mode and away we went.

Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez. Single reefed main, heading south.

I was pretty happy with my planning on this one. Diesel usage in the Sea of Cortez is normally a huge joke. The joke is you motor around all day and then get blown out of an anchorage at night. But on passageweather.com I saw a pretty good window of steady N-NE winds in the 10-20 knot range and combined with Charlotte wanting to put some miles between us and Puerto Escondido we punched it.

In the end, we managed the whole affair in two rather straight forward days. Twenty four hours, sailing through the night, then dropped into Isla Partida for some rest the second night. Woke up this morning, motored down to La Paz, and clinked our margarita glasses together to a safe and speedy passage. The total diesel consumption was somewhere around 4 gallons: a joke in these parts.

Moonrise over the Sierra de la Giganta.

Ever since single handing the Pacific side of Baja I've grown to favor the longer and more offshore routes. Granted, "offshore" is a relative term in a Sea that's barely two hundred miles across in some places. But in the middle of the Sea you get steadier winds, less refracted waves, and less of the current-induced choppiness that can be common in places such as the San Jose Channel. 

I've done and will continue to do night time gybes between islands in the dark, hoping that your plotting skills are dead accurate otherwise a rocky cliff is in your future. But if I can avoid that by going around something, even if it adds a few miles, count me in. Two hours spent with white knuckles in the middle of the night versus three hours relaxed listening to some MP3's of This American Life while sipping tea: which would you pick?

Cora with the Hydrovane in the background.We managed to knock out just over 100 nautical miles (of a ~130 nm run) without running the engine which is a miracle on the Sea of Cortez. Even better, we hauled ass. This was really my first time putting the Hydrovane through it's paces and I've got to tell you: I'm impressed. If there was enough wind to sail, the Hydrovane could steer. Even better it doesn't use a single electron of electricity and is built like a tank. Note to self: trying to pull into a marina with the rudder down is like walking around your friend's apartment holding a 20' long pole. The reduction in steerage response is dramatic in close quarter maneuvering so typical in a marina. We had a cross wind and cross current (opposing each other), but still, I'll be popping that sucker off before we take up another slip.

Our plan is to sit tight here, wait out Hurricane Raymond who hopefully doesn't come up this way, and haul butt down the 4-5 day passage to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. 

Tuesday
Aug062013

the hydrovane nears completion

Our Walker Bay dinghy has been converted into Eric's Filthy Work Barge, strapped to Rebel Heart's stern. It's a work platform, trash bin, safety catch for dropped tools, and because it's a hard dinghy I can use the gunwales for sawing and other manly things. 

One of the items I picked up on our recent smuggling run from San Diego is a Hydrovane. You see dear landlubber, no one actually steers the boat for long distances. Even just cruising around the bay I'll tap someone on the shoulder and say, "You look like you can steer the boat, go for it." 

But for long trips, and especially really long trips, you need to have a piece of gear that can handle steering the boat. Right now we have our little X5 wheel pilot which has faithfully steered Rebel Heart for a maybe three or four thousand miles. But it uses electricity, steers towards a compass heading, and isn't really designed for tens of thousands of miles.

The Hydrovane, however, is designed for conditions like that. It steers an angle on the wind (not a compass heading), uses no electricity, is built like a brick shit house, and acts as a secondary rudder. That last point is somewhat relevant because my own observations are that losing steerage is a primary factor in people abandoning boats. 

The install has been a major pain in the ass. I've gotten to be a fairly handy guy but this job required a lot of chops, especially because of the contours of our hull. With a flat transom and decent access, this is a one (long) day job. For me, it took about five days, three of which had me in full on ass busting mode.

More ass busting tomorrow, but I think (and hope) that the majority of pain is behind me.