Beetle arrives at Morro Bay

Had a good evening last night running up the coast from Santa Barbara, out and around Point Conception and Point Arguello (home to Vandenberg Air Force Base), past Point Sal and San Luis Obispo, around Point Buchon and zoom into Morro Bay and the Big Rock.  It’s now 6PM Monday night and both Lindi and I have got in our naps to make up for last night’s limited sleep.

Morro Bay is a fine place to be, a bit grey and much colder than Santa Barbara – we are no longer in Southern California, and instead get the wind in directly from the Pacific Ocean with no filtering, heating, or mixing over the land.  It’s even downright chilly at the moment!  Time for jackets and wool caps.  Beetle is tied up at the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock, a single pier that runs parallel to the tidal channel, with a Whitby 43 now rafted up outside us.  Based on displacements (we’re nominally 21,500 and they are similarly 25,000) and the large number of fenders both of us have out, Beetle should be just fine, in fact even snug as a bug.

The run up was Santa Barbara was fun, we got going just about sunset and by 10pm were running along in calm conditions past the oil rigs.  For this 105 mile hop I was working with a weather system coming in – it’s unusual for the USCG to put a call out a weather-related Securite call, and they are doing it every four hours or so telling everyone the National Weather Service is calling for widespread and strong gale force winds Tuesday and Wednesday and therefore to get into port before the wind shows up.  Based on the weather forecast we wanted to be off the water no later than late Monday night.  Given the relatively short hop and the narrow weather window I ran the motor up to 2150 RPM and kept it there – we are less efficient at burning fuel but are loping along at 7 knots and have a lot more power for punching into chop and don’t slow down that much on each little bump.

We hit Point Conception about 1AM and turned from the relative flatness of the Santa Barbara Channel into the chop and 12-14 knots wind from straight ahead as we powered up towards Point Arguello.  We ran about 1.5 miles off the coast, it was quite dark, and used the radar and a prior track on the chart plotter to make sure we didn’t get set in towards the rocks on the shore.  And we started to go BONG! off the chop, throwing huge sheets of water sideways as the bow section of the hull belly-flopped onto the chop.  It’s a lot of fun to watch that happen in the half-glow of the red/green bow nav light, up until the first time the mast makes a big bang as well.  I tightened up the backstay and runners (we had the 3rd reef up on the main to act as a steadying sail), and I  went to sleep as Lindi took over the watch.   It was somewhere during her watch that Beetle stuffed a wave, resulting in a lot of water running over the pulpit, down the deck and up over the top of the dodger.  Lindi said the dodger worked great, she was under it and stayed dry, I managed somehow to sleep through all this so I missed it.

3AM we were around Arguello, turned northwards and found the swell to be large at 12-14′ but conveniently well off to port, so we stopped slamming so hard, and then the wind backed off to very light.  It was neat to see Vandenberg AFB in the dark from that close, lots of lights, and later on the moon came up and helped out.  The swell stayed way up for the rest of the run to Morro.  And some idiot sets crab pots out in 400′ of water! – nobody needs 400′ deep crabs, particularly when it calls for three-float trap lines strung about in front of us.  I spent my entire watch in the dark standing behind the dodger playing dodge-em crab pot.  The closest call was having one pot line hook up on the rudder while swerving to avoid the floats, and fortunately the floats did not get caught up in the propeller.

Lindi took over again at 7:30 Monday morning (this morning) and took us up to the entry at Morro Bay, we popped into the channel which only had mild 5-6′ swell despite the very large swell offshore, dropped the main, and motored along the  channel to the Yacht Club.  Tied up, powered up, connected to the club’s WiFi, got a nap in, and now it’s evening ’round these parts.  A very satisfying run up the coast and we did not get caught up in any bad weather.  Turns out Lindi grew up in this area and may be able to visit with some friends during the time we are here waiting for the weather to improve.

Santa Barbara itself was a fun town to visit, dinner on the wharf at the marina, walking around to look at boats,  Kristen and I spent a morning at the Natural History Museum, which I thought was a well-done smaller museum that included minerals in displays that hi-lighted the differences in how rock responds to light wavelengths, plus displays of local insects, mammals, and birds.  At $12 eaches to go, I would highly recommend spending several hours there!  Kristen also wanted to visit the wineries in a section of town coined the ‘Funk Zone’, we stopped at two and she found several bottles of vino she quite liked.

Now it’s time to pause here in Morro Bay and wait out the weather coming in.  Looks like the next weather window is opening up Thursday evening – we shall see!


An amazing glass wall display at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, displaying insects local to the area.  I’ve not seen a display like this before, it’s a 1/2″ thick sheet of acrylic, with pinned specimens set into the plastic from both sides, so at first it looks like you’re looking at a mirror to see the underside of the specimen until you realize you’re looking through the acrylic to see the underside of a specimen on the opposite side of the display.  Very well done, the note on the case said 4,000 specimens were in the display!


The museum went to great effort to be not just a display of things, but also to bring in relationships between animals and weather and people, so there is a lot to read and a lot to learn as you move through the rooms.  This is a case study of fire resistant chaparral, and also brings in the animals that repopulate and area that has burned out.  It’s a terrific museum!


Inside the bee colony room in the museum, looking up.  There’s a mirror on the top of the hexagonal bee hive cell, so it feels like you’re in the middle of a bee’s honeycomb.  I’m not sure that bees carry iphone cameras and samsung cameras, but those two bees have them.


Nibs, aka Black Cat, did make the journey to Santa Barbara.  He made the journey down in Kristen’s car, and then spent the weekend carefully exploring Beetle to see if anything had changed.  He also slept a great deal, generally speaking directly next to Kristen’s shoulder, if not actually on top of her.  He wasn’t too sure what to make about the seal that hauled out on the dock, and the heron that was bigger than him did not make him want to chase birds – quite the opposite!


It got chilly as the sun set in the Santa Barbara Channel after we departed the marina.   It’s 40 miles to Point Conception and is generally a mild run through relatively flat waters.  There’s a lot of naturally occurring tar in the water, seeping up from the oil bearing floor of the ocean.  There’s enough tar to smell it for miles, and when I was here as a kid we’d find gooey black blobs of it on the rocks – much fun to play with, and darned hard to get the brown stains off your fingers.


Morro Bay has a gigantic rock, which is the first thing you see when rounding point and turning in towards the harbor.  I talked with the USCG via VHF at 4AM to ask if there were any issues with harbor entry closures, as there was a rather large swell running – generated by a Low pressure system way up to the north.  The USCG came back and said no bar closures were anticipated for the next 8 hours, and to check with the harbor patrol when I got within range.


The dock at Morro Bay Yacht club is really quite pleasantly wood, after all the concrete docks in the other places I’ve been stopping at.  Somehow the wood is more pleasant under foot.  Morro is a narrow strip estuary with a large sand bank to the west between the boats and the ocean, and there’s a commercial marina up near the entrance.  When I asked the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol about berthing they said they send sailboats over to the yacht club, which doesn’t require reciprocal privileges – you just tie up and make sure to sign in.  I signed in and have a key to the heads, showers, and laundry facilities, plus we’re welcome to stay here as long as needed – provided we don’t move in permanently!  The boat outside of Beetle is also headed to the Pacific Northwest, they are going to Port Townsend – just north of Seattle.

- rob


At ease in Santa Barbara

Yesterday was a great deal of weather watching, phone conversations with Kristen regarding weather, and running up the coast from Marina del Rey.  As we were passing Point Dume (where the fancy people have their houses) a new weather forecast was put out by NOAA which suggested a narrow weather window north to Morro Bay.  By narrow, I’m talking about +/- 3 hours would make/break the run to Morro Bay.  If you made it you were golden; if you missed, you would be hating life for many hours dealing with 25 knots from the NW gusting 30.  But at least the window was there… we changed course, abandoning the idea of stopping at Santa Cruz Island and instead aimed directly for Santa Barbara, figuring that the next forecast could be picked up about the time Beetle was outside the breakwater and I could decide at that time to a) go for it! or b) punt and step off the trail and into a comfy slip in the harbor at Santa Barbara.

About this time the USCG started a broadcast stating that an EPIRB had been triggered somewhere outside Channel Island Harbor – if anyone sees something please to let them know.  And sure enough, an hour later there’s a Coast Guard orange rescue helicopter buzzing about and then a 25′ big red USCG boat comes up alongside and they ask if I have an EPIRB?  I say YES (have to shout over their engine noise), and they ask for the serial number.  When I read it off to them they were disappointed that it wasn’t the one they were looking for.  Off they sped, looking for other boats that might have an EPIRB that had accidentally triggered.  (later the Coast Guard broadcast that they had in fact found the EPIRB, and everybody on board was safe).

Then later on in the evening, around dark, the latest forecast was released and it still showed a super-narrow window with significant wind coming in, so I punted.  A  quick tie up at the Harbor Patrol dock, stepped up to the office to procure a transient slip (paid up thru Sunday night), and it was off to sleep.

And the steaming light went out again – what’s up with that?  I checked the bulb and it is definitely blown though I can’t see the break in the filament – something to put under the microscope.  Lindi ran me up the mast again this morning and I replaced the bulb (again), then walked up to the West Marine store at the head of the marina and, too cool, they had two more light bulbs of exactly the correct kind, so I bought them to put back in the ship’s stores.

Kristen is hoofing it down the coast in her automobile, she’s due to arrive in a couple of hours and it will be fun to hang out with her in Santa Barbara.  I do not know if Nibs (aka, Black Cat) is in the car with her, or not.  One never knows with cats.

The stop here in Santa Barbara is solely to wait for weather, and it does look there’s a good window opening up Sunday night that will run through Tuesday morning, and that should get us to Morro Bay.  Assuming the forecast holds, current plan is to bail from Santa Barbara 11pm or midnight Sunday night and do the 100 mile run to Morro, to arrive there Monday late afternoon/early evening.   This window has held through two forecasts, PredictWind shows nothing of this whereas the local NWS guys are calling for it as well as the NAM and GFS models.  Hopefully this happens, as we can keep on moving up the coast and watch for the next window.

It’s pretty nice here in Santa Barbara, this time I’m over on the south side of the harbor with the bigger boats, and there are some pretty boats here.  There’s a Sundeer 56 across the dock, a huge Grand Banks trawler the other way, and a bunch of other really well maintained boats.  It’s fun to see the boats when everything is shining and gleaming and they look good.


Bad forecast – there’s a big patch of green and brighter green down in the lower right corner where I want to go.  Would be nice to NOT have green there; in fact, white (0-5 knots breeze) would be ideal!  That’s the GFS model forecast for midnight Saturday evening local time.  You can pick up these model displays from, a super site for quickly viewing world-wide weather model data.


Better weather.  This is for Monday afternoon, lots of white and light blue down in the area of interest between Point Conception and Morro Bay.  Of course this is only a computer model output, so who knows if this will actually happen – but I hope that it does.  The model data changes every 6 hours, therefore I will be checking it over the next several days to see if the model comports with the NWS  Oxnard forecasters – those are real people looking at a lot more data than just a weather model output, and so far they agree with what the model thinks.


Beetle at the interesting marina in Santa Barbara.  In this particular marina you don’t get the extravagance of a dock finger on each side of your boat, but you do get a concrete vertical piling to ram into upon entry to your dock; I guess the pillar provides a stern cleat to wrap the dock line around so at least the fenders don’t squeak again the dock continuously.  Still – if you’re going to go to the effort to put in a dock piling then you might as well go ahead and put in the dock to go with it.


The steaming light is working again.  I do not know why it went out the second time – hopefully it was only a bad bulb.  The little bulbs are expensive at $26/eaches and I would like them last a good long while.  I’ve now checked again with a voltmeter and ohmmeter the continuity and voltage through the wiring from the circuit breaker up to the wires that enter the light fixture, and everything looks perfect.  Hopefully it was only a weak filament that caused the light to go out.


My brother demonstrates how to look good on a boat.  He actually was a male model at one time and it’s important in this pose to NOT have your entire hand in your pocket, that’s why the right hand thumb is exposed on the outside of the pants pocket.  Note the upraised eyeline to camera right, the chin is solid, I think we have a winner here.  It was fun to grill up some burgers and catch up on news with him.

- rob



outbound from Del Rey, headed for Santa Cruz Island

It’s a somewhat grey iight-air mid-morning here in Santa Monica Bay, Lindi has returned to the boat from visiting up in San Francisco, and Beetle is underway headed west.

The weather is forecast to build along the coast north of Point Arguello, and while the forecasts have enticing small windows of lighter air right along the shore, those little windows close abruptly during the day. It’s supposed to blow hard mid-week, and it would not be fun to be stuck out in the anchorage at San Luis Obispo if it really does come up at 35 knots from the NW. So the Beetle-boat plan has been modified to ‘move boat to Santa Barbara and wait for weather window’. To that end, step one is shifting over to Santa Barbara from Marina del Rey, and we’re going to do that in two steps mostly because the Santa Barbara Harbor folks have a noon-to-noon transient slip rental policy, and if we show up before noon then we’ll get charged for the entire day even if we arrive at 3AM in the morning. To combat this, we’re going to overnight at Santa Cruz Island – currently 50 miles out – and then head over to Santa Barbara tomorrow morning, to arrive shortly after 12 noon. I’d like to get good value for my slip fee!

The AIS transponder is transponding again. This was accomplished by plunking down another $1150 to buy a complete new Vesper Marine Watchmate Vision from Milltech Marine (based in Washington, they have supplied all the AIS gear I’ve had over the years). The unit swap took all of 15 minutes and it is working correctly. I’m going to send the first unit that has been acting up back to Jeff at Vesper Marine in New Zealand, and hopefully he can sort out what’s not right about it. And I do not know if I will be able to return the new unit, or if I’m going to have a backup fancy transponder; I don’t really want a backup transponder, I want a unit that works correctly. But the important part is that the new unit is working correctly and that’s good.

MDR was a fun stop, the people at Marina del Rey Marina are super nice, there’s a Ralph’s super market right there at the foot of the yacht basin, an easy walk to the store to fetch foods. A West Marine is also there, and they had glue brushes for use on the dinghy center tube repair. The dinghy fix went well, two patches installed and the tube holds pressure like it should.

I was also able to visit with my brother, he was in town from up north in order to get some work done, and it was fun to see his studio. I also borrowed his car and ran over to BioQuip, one of the largest entomology supply shops around and it happens to be right here in LA. Good to see the people there and I picked up a collapsible pocket net to add to the kit.

Yesterday was the run-around in the marina, did the shop, motored over to the fuel dock to fill up the tanks and the (now) four jerry jugs that live in the cockpit just forward of the traveler, and stowed the interior in preparation for departing this morning when Lindi arrived. The AIS unit was delivered by UPS to my brother’s studio, he brought it over to the boat late yesterday afternoon, and all went well.

So we’re off to Smuggler’s Cove at Santa Cruz Island, there’s a light southerly circulation in Santa Monica Bay due to a mild Low pressure off to the southwest, and we’re going nicely along with light wind on the port beam. It’s flat flat flat here, and that makes for a comfortable ride.

Not too much excitement, and that’s a good thing. Perhaps it will be warmer at Santa Barbara?

- rob

In Marina del Rey

Arrived yesterday morning early, to find the sun rising as we approached the breakwater at the marina entrance.  It’s interesting to compare the marina here to the marina at San Jose Del Cabo – both are completely man-made structures, lines with concrete, dug out of the ground, with a wide sandy beach along the bay.  Marina del Rey is gigantic, surrounded by condominiums, and  caters to all sorts of boats.  The marina at San Jose Del Cabo is inside a single big resort and pretty much caters to only really large boats, little development, and is tiny by comparison if one looks at boat slips; my guess is that the entirety of San Jose Del Cabo would fit comfortably into one half of one side of one finger at Marina del Rey.  Upshot is it feels like you’re just one of the normal folk here at del Rey, while at San Jose del Cabo you’re definitely one of the few in a resort.  I prefer it here at del Rey.

I’ve got a slip for a couple of days, my brother is in town and he stopped by yesterday afternoon, I also have the dinghy inflated on the foredeck in preparation for applying patches on the little center tube that goes under the floor board – the tube has a worn spot in the hypalon that is letting air out and it needs a patch.

It was a a quiet run across from San Diego in the dark, except for trying the stay out of the way of Warship 22.  The warships like to put out securite calls on the VHF when they are going to do something strange, such as dive operations, high speed runs, continuous turns, that sort of thing – so as to not surprise people and to ask for folks to stay out of the way.  Warship 22 put out a call for flight operations and provided a position that happened to be directly in our path but three hours ahead of us.  I did not want to get in their way, I call them back and they suggested that if I passed east of them that would be good.  However, by the time I got there they were off doing donuts in the water as high speed continuous turns to port, then ran off into the distance, then came back, then announced they were commencing man overboard drills.  I gave up going east of them as they kept moving east… so it was many hours to get past them!  Turns out that is a huge ship at 684′, and I could look up warship 22 and find out it is the USS San Diego ‘amphibious transport dock ship’ – they were nice on the radio but wouldn’t stay put.  Would also be handy if they would turn on the AIS transmission as that would make it much easier to plot them on the chart and then I’d know where they were and then I could maneuver to stay out of their way.

Given the US Navy isn’t running an AIS transponder, I turned on the radar when it got dark.  I’m quite certain they knew exactly where I was (they probably could also track sea gulls with their radar if they wanted to), but I’d like to know where they are as well.  And then suddenly two spots would zoom across the screen – my radar was picking up the low-flying helicopters that are flying about the place.  That was different – not often I’m tracking helicopters by radar… though it is difficult to find the spots under one realizes you have to look UP to find them.

Plan is to be here in Marina del Rey until Thursday morning, and then head out to Santa Barbara and wait  for a weather window to scoot up the coast to San Franciscso.  From there it is three more hops to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, using Humboldt Bay, Port of Newport, and Neah Bay as stopping points before the final run in to Orcas Island. For each hop I’d like to have a 48 hour weather window and we can power up the coast in slightly less time than that.  I’ve not been north of San Francisco before, so everything up in that area will all be new stuff!


The entrance to Marina del Rey as the sun is about to poke up is a nice thing to find after a long night’s run from San Diego.  The water has been glassy all evening – since passing Catalina Island, in fact – and we made excellent time here and managed to show up early.  The marina did not open until 8:30AM, and I elected to head in and tie up to one of the end ties that would be available – and that turned out to be the end tie where Beetle was able to stay for the next couple of days.


The center tube in the dinghy is what holds the floor boards up and the fabric bottom of the dinghy down.  The metal boards can chafe on the top of the center tube, and now has rubbed a small thin spot in the tube – it will hold air for a while, then deflates slowly.  A couple of oval patches on the tube should have it all back perfect again – to be done today!

- rob



Catalina Island ahead to port, Long Beach ahead to starboard

It’s 9pm Sunday night and Beetle is half way across the Gulf of Santa Catalina between San Diego and Palos Verdes. We departed the SD police dock around 11AM, went over to get fuel at Pearson’s Fuel Dock (took on 40 gallons), and discovered that our friend Tourbillon is docked right near by – fun to see the boat all in its slip. And there are a lot of gorgeous boats in San Diego, and big ones at that. The 12 meter Stars and Stripes was there, complete with towering black mast.

Outside Point Loma we turned north and the military traffic turned on, jet fighters swooping by, big helicopters buzzing around in pairs, and I talked with Warship 22 when they said they were commencing flight operations and it turned out the position they provided was directly in my path, only it would be 3 hours before I got there. They asked me to pass east of them, and then they spent hours charging around the place – which makes it really difficult to predict what they will do when they start doing fairly high speed continuous port turns… I gave up trying to pass them and let them pass me, which they did a short while ago.

Catalina Island is up ahead off to port, the place that Iolanthe will be at come June or so, as Nick has his mooring there at the north end of the island. We will be passing the super busy port of Long Beach tonight, and they usually have lots of shipping traffic running about. I replaced the steaming light bulb this morning and now we’re street legal as regards motoring in the dark, and the AIS transponder is working tonight – a good thing given the traffic about.

Conditions are fairly light, winds at 5-8 knots and slightly bumpy seas and no real swell to speak of. I can see the lights of Dana Point off the beam, and the next interesting thing will be to decide how to cross the shipping lanes. You’re supposed to cross them at right angles to minimize time in the lane itself; if there’s much traffic then we will do that, if there’s no traffic then we will simply continue on with our course that will take us diagonally across the lanes.

There’s a high marine layer overcast with the moon above that which makes visibility pretty good out here, and there are no shipping nav lights on the horizon.

Tomorrow we should be arriving in Marina del Rey, another 100+ miles knocked off on the way north.

- rob

In San Diego – cleared Customs and everything

US Customs visited Beetle at the Customs dock – a section of the San Diego Police Dock that is painted yellow (quarantine) – and it was a trivial clearing in to the country.  To get the fellows to the dock requires tying up the boat and reading the sign that says, “Go to the top of the dock and use the public pay phone to call Customs – *82″ or very close to that.  When you actually walk up the gangway there in fact is no public pay phone; there’s no phone at all.  Nada.  Zip.  Missing – removed.  There is a brand new shiny kiosk containing a computer and a metal keyboard that allows one to reserve a slip with the SD Harbor Police, along with a note taped to the kiosk that says, “To call US Customs dial … ” and the phone number.  This is difficult to find, as you’re not looking for it, and even more difficult to read once you figure it out.   And cell phone coverage is terrible right there at the kiosk, plus if you don’t have your own phone than guess what?  There’s no way to call Customs; good thing I had a cell phone that still had service.  If I had a TelCel Mexico phone then I would have been sitting at the dock until 8:30AM the next morning waiting for Customs to open…

But the guys came down in the dark, checked us in, took a while to get the passport numbers across to them over the phone (they check passports and boat information before leaving their office at the San Diego Airport), we’re not allowed to bring in the eggs, apples, and our lone mandarin orange.  We kinda knew this would happen, so we ate of lot of eggs and apples and oranges on the way up the coast.

Saturday was a runaround locally to get the telephone service reset to USA (no more Viva Mexico plan), get the AT&T cellular modem service turned back on, and a visit to West Marine to pick up some fuel filters (they had four I  could purchase, another boat had set aside 16 filters in will call – I know they are headed to Mexico!), two 5 gallon jerry jugs (after not being able to find them anywhere in La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, and La Cruz – it was pretty funny to walk into a single store in San Diego and there’s an entire wall of jerry jugs of red and yellow in all different shapes and sizes!), and some walking cane rubber tips that are used on the swim ladder.  The rubber deteriorates pretty fast in the sun, and the tips on the ladder were pretty dead after 5 months in the sun.

And Kristen telephoned to let me know that friends John and Dawn were here in San Diego attending a conference, I rang up John and they popped by last night and we went out for a fun dinner and told stories.  We went over to Old Town in San Diego and had Mexico food; not quite the same as the taco cart on the street, but it was nice food.

Today is Sunday, and Beetle is pushing on up the coast towards Marina del Rey, about 100 miles up the coast.  It’s too far to make in a day hop, so we’re leaving in the afternoon and will make an intentionally slow crossing, and possibly get in some fishing on the way there.  A big part of the game now is waiting for a good weather window to hop up the coast from Santa Barbara to San Francisco.  Currently the weather is not going to be good in time for us to make it to SF, so instead we’re relaxing in So Cal and are looking at making the hop in 5-7 days.


The commercial fishing pier at San Carlos, Mag Bay – it’s blowing hard at 25 knots across the water, the boats are lashed in several deep on all sides of the big concrete pier.  The odd boat out is Tourbillon, the big private yacht rafted up to the outside of the outside fish boat – I expect they had a ton of fenders out to keep the fiberglass off the rusty metal hull of the boat next door.  I was impressed they even brought the boat in alongside – they must have really needed fuel.  The fuel hoses on the pier are enormously long, and the hose is strung out across the boats to get to whomever needs the diesel.



By comparison, my small jerry jugs are a piece of cake to move across the boats.  I dinghied in and tied out upside of these boats, and the fellows cutting the pot bait helped to transfer the jugs up to the pier.  The fellow on the left knew English, much to the amazement of his friends.



The pier is tall, big, and strong – just the thing for fish boats.  And a surprising amount of activity is compressed into this small area on a Saturday.  I was half expecting things to be shut down as it is a commercial operation and it is a weekend, but nope – trucks running around, people driving in supplies, skippers and crew working on their boats.


The cockpit of Betty Jane, the Hans Christian 43, was a great place to have an impromptu drinks and finger foods gathering back at Man O War cove, following the fuel run the day before.  That’s Jim in back with the blue T-shirt, he’s a professional delivery skipper, and is on Mark’s boat (nearby with yellow shirt).  I met them at the fish pier in San Carlos and told them that Man O War cove was much more pleasant than sitting up at San Carlos, so they upped anchor and followed Beetle back down the channel.  Next sunset they hosted the gathering.  Ryan on the right is the one with the bad transmission on Bonita, and Wendy on Willow has the better radio of the bunch even though she was on the smallest boat.


Tourbillon departing Turtle Bay, just as we are getting ready to go in for fuel.  With the AIS I could keep track of whom we were moving with, and this boat liked to move during the day and then anchor out for the night; as a result Beetle kept catching up with them as we would run all night.  Tourbillon has a Ferrari-red tender of some sort stuck up high, and that color was amazingly visible out on the water.  To describe the boat over the radio, all one had to do was mention the Ferrari in back and it was instantly obvious which boat was being referenced.


The fuel dock at Turtle Bay is a bit iffy at best, but it sure is more convenient than doing a med-style anchor to bring the stern into the pier.  The three dock sections are anchored in place, and are aimed more or less at the incoming swell (nominal at 2′), and this reduces sideways pressure on the anchoring system.  One does have to be careful as the swell surges the entire structure and your boat towards the dilapidated pier, and you gotta hope the anchor lines don’t break.  Also don’t fall in the gaps between the docks, that would be bad.


These are the guys towing the ‘little’ boat, running at 9-10 knots up the coast.  That little boat is 42′ long, and the scale doesn’t really leap out until you realize just how huge the big boat is.  These guys had a professional weather router working with them for their trip north and were friendly and shared the information over the radio to us.


On board Beetle one needs to transfer fuel in to the main tanks on occasion.  I have two yellow jerry jugs for diesel and use a siphon to move the fuel; trying to do a straight pour into a funnel doesn’t work well as there’s too much movement to hold the tank steady, and a full jug weighs 40 pounds and it’s hard to hold that much weight stable long enough to get a pour to work.  The siphon solves all that, just insert hose, squeeze the black bulb to start the flow, and use the jib car bungee cord to hold the tank in place.  In 5 minutes the diesel is transferred, no muss, no fuss, no spillage.


The Mexico courtesy flag has been flying continuously for five months, and it’s beginning to show a little tattering on the rear edge – this flag probably no longer receives the La Paz Port Captain seal of approval.  I lowered it shortly after crossing the maritime border out of Mexico, and it is saved below as part of the trip.


The police docks / public docks at San Diego, it’s overcast this morning, lots of boats all about, and very pleasant.


It’s also fun to be back in a country where you can read the signs.

- rob


Approaching San Diego and the international maritime border

It’s 4:40 in the afternoon, and we’re coming alongside the Coronado Islands, with the Tijuana bull ring (it’s marked on the chart) up ahead to starboard to more or less demarcate the border. It’s been a good run last night and today, and there’s been tons of VHF traffic as all the warships talk to each other. One boat has three small boats with dive teams in the water doing anti-mine work, another is doing continuous turns to calibrate compasses (did nmot specify direction of turns, so no dancing with that ship), another boat is doing life firing exercises up ahead (stay 10 miles clear), and there will shortly be live flare exercises west of San Clemente Island.

I talked with Kristen, she’s at the Oakland Boat Show and having a lot of fun running into sailing buddies – seems that everyone is there, including Candace (whom I saw in La Cruz when they were visiting their Swan), Dan (his Wyliecat 30 is on display there), Garrett, the whole gang.

Current plan is to do the check-in to the US, get some fuel filters at West Marine in San Diego on Saturday, then Sunday move the boat up to Marina del Rey and wait for a weather window up to San Francisco.

Beetle is chugging along, the bull ring is 9.16 miles off in the distance!

- rob