Hola! – it’s been just over a week now that Beetle and I have been here in Ensenada, and currently the boating community, and most likely the town, are hunkering down as a powerful Low pressure system and associated cold front sweep through today and tonight.
Currently the wind is building from the South, the front is forecast to have winds of 30-35 knots building to 30-40 tonight. The associated sea state is also going up, currently 10-13′ forecast to increase to 16-19′ by Saturday evening. The front trails southwest from the Low that is currently driving into San Francisco and extends all the way out and south to Hawaii – and this means the front is drawing warm moist air from way south and carrying that water the 2,000 miles to us here on the west coast. It’s supposed to be wet wet wet when the rain starts, with a forecast of 1.5″ in Ensenada, a bit more in San Diego.
The week here so far has been very pleasant, got the check-in completed, did a little shopping for fresh foods in the large local markets, bought a bit of beer, and met up with Jeanne (Nereida) as she arrived at the dock two slips over. She knew Peter on Ahaluna, and I was invited to Peter’s boat for after-dinner drinks and general telling of stories. Peter is an interesting character, a retired German/South African/Canadian cinematographer that spent 40 years in the business working primarily in television commercials – loads of stories about that business, and he’s also a HAM radio nut that runs the local morning cruiser’s net. Super nice fellow.
One of the fun things to do is try and visit a particular restaurant I had found the previous time I was here. That particular place is the taqueria next door to Hussong’s Cantina. We’d found it in 2013, and unfortunately every time after the first time we went by – it was closed; never had a chance to get back inside and enjoy the excellent 20 peso Tacos al Pastore that they have. So I went by and guest what – they were open!
It also worked out that Kristen was able to visit and make a long weekend of it here. We went out exploring the local town, and then hired a car for the day and drove out to the wine valley 15 minutes north of Ensenada and met some wonderful folks at the smaller wineries. I spent some talking with Jorge of Cava Maciel – turns out the fellow behind the tasting counter is the owner and he has 5 hectares of grapes at the east end of the valley, plus he purchases grapes from other vineyards and mixes them in interesting ways to make his own wines. As I’m not much of a wine drinker I make a most excellent driver and we tooled around the valley visiting places Kristen thought might be interesting.
For the most part stopping at wineries means standing around on concrete or stone floors sipping small amounts of three to five wine varieties and then, if you like something, purchasing one or two bottles to take with you. By the end of the day you’re tired of standing on hard floors, that’s for sure. However, we discovered, completely by accident, Vina de Frannes – up a wide agricultural equipment dirt road through the vines, navigating around the big mud puddles (it had rained that morning) and ruts, to find a fellow standing with a rope stretched across an entrance to a vineyard. We asked if the vineyard to our right was open and he said no, then he asked if we wanted to go on up to Frannes as it was still open? and we said yes, so he lowered the rope and let us drive on through. And Frannes was a wonderful find, a big open area, lots of seating and tables and sofas, a tasting room where you selected what you’d like to try and they would bring them out to you one at a time, and best of all a full-on kitchen that served dinner. So we sat and enjoyed the sunset while listening to the guitarist playing in the corner, Kristen tested out some good wine, we ordered up some food – all the while overlooking the rolling hills filled with vineyards. We were there for about two hours. Very nice to find a place to relax and enjoy just being in the valley.
Also stopped in at the Baja Brewery micro-brew pub on the way back to town – seems that micro-brews are becoming of interest to the folks that live here. It felt like being in Malibu – it was dark, out on the patio our pints are perched on a surfboard on a trestle set up as a table, with the waves directly below us landing on the rocky shore.
As part of having the car I was able to run over to the Pemex station that has diesel (not the two stations closest to the Cruiseport Marina, instead you have to go four more blocks to find the Pemex that has both gasolina and diesel) the next morning. This was done shortly before I needed to return the rental car, and then Jeanne wanted to fill her diesel jugs as well so Kristen and I and Jeanne hopped in the car and did another run-around for diesel (now I knew which Pemex to go to it was quicker), then drove over to the bus station to get a ticket for Kristen so she could get back to the border and on to the San Diego Airport (Ensenada, for all its size, doesn’t have an airport that can get you to the States, therefore the bus service is heavily utilized for that purpose).
My initial plan was to head south from Ensenada Monday morning (as in earlier this week), and I’d been watching the long range weather forecasts; the North Pacific ocean is filled with Low pressure systems right now and all of those can generate big seas as they steam east from Japan and (usually) make landfall somewhere north of San Francisco, in fact often in Seattle or Vancouver. The weather conditions in Ensenada were bright sun, light air, perfect for a leisurely sail south. However, the forecasts and weather models were calling for a Low to sail in to San Francisco and the associated front was going to be a strong one and would in fact push the High out of the way, arriving with powerful winds and rain just about the time I could get to Bahia Santa Maria 510 miles to the south. Bahia Santa Maria is a terrible place to be in a strong Southerly, which leaves Turtle Bay as a possible stopping point, only I didn’t particularly want to go there and then I found an article about a group of boats (the FUBAR motor yacht fleet) that spent a night chasing back and forth in the dark in Turtle Bay as they dealt with wind switches from South to North as a strong Low passed just north of their position and it wasn’t fun at all, especially the part about avoiding all the loosely laid shrimp and crab pot buoys set in the south end of the bay.
Upshot is the new plan is to leave this coming Monday.
And here comes the front:
It’s going to be wet tonight, I suspect!