Bridgie's Babble - March 02, 2007

March 02, 2007

We had planned to sail from Ensenada to Turtle Bay. The trip was going to be just under 300 nm and would have taken about 55
hours. John and I had agonized over the decision to go or stay and wait for a better weather window. The forecast indicated that we
may be up to a challenge, given our lack of actual experience. However, in chatting with a couple we'd met who'd been cruising for
the last 14 years, they convinced us to go. "heck, it's a downhill run with a great breeze! You couldn't ask for better conditions!". Ah,
we bit the bait and cast off the lines at noon the next day, Feb. 22. The first 12 hours were uneventful. Winds were coming from the
west at 8-12 knots. It was mostly cloudy and cool, in the low 50's. Then the first squall hit while I was off watch and  down below in
the cabin. No problem. An hour later, when I was on watch, I didn't pay much attention when I saw the second squall coming from
behind on the radar. And then it happened! Within 15 seconds, the mild breeze we had been experiencing turned UGLY, and
delivered 20+ knots of wind immediately. We were way over-canvased (sails up), the auto pilot (self steering helper) could not
handle the load and Bridgie now had a boat that was OUT OF CONTROL! I hollered for John to wake up and give some
assistance to my now terrified state of mind! The seas were confused and building, with swells in excess of 8', coming from all
directions. It's 2 AM and very dark. Visibility isn't good. Rain is falling and you already know about the wind. John takes over the
helm and we plot a course to Bahia San Quintin. It's obvious that the storm isn't going to settle down any time soon. The weather
continued to worsen (read all about it on the main page) and we arrived at San Quintin at 9 AM the following morning, a 120 nm trip
from Ensenada. We set the anchor, checked our heart rates and settled in for a well deserved nap. Gosh, were we tired!

Sadly, Mr. Gnome received a serious injury while on the journey. He suffered 2 broken legs and a cracked hip. He'll be out of
commission until we can get him to intensive care. See photo below for more detail.

The winds and big seas continued for 9 days. We rode out those days at anchor in winds that ranged from 25 to 30 knots all day
and night. (see video on photo page..yes, that was taken at anchor!) Life inside the Sailsoon cabin could be compared to being in a
washing machine. When standing, we swayed left, right, forward and back constantly. We learned to keep our knees slightly bent
and absorb the shock while standing to  work at the GPS or while cooking, etc. In our bunk at night it felt like we were in a blender.
John lost about 10 lbs just from the unplanned exercise!

We didn't leave the boat the entire time, nor did any fishermen visit with offers of fresh fish. I guess it was too nasty for them. The
time was spent wisely, though. We both were able to become more familiar with the electronics on board, as well as study the paper
charts and learn more of the symbols.  But my favorite "sport" was trying to read the clouds, identify what they meant and I came up
with just one matter what color, shape or dimension, it just meant more wind...more and more and more.... The dirt
blowing off the land covered the boat with a 1/4" film of sticky stuff, presumably from the inactive volcanoes.

We did have the good fortune of meeting 2 other cruising boats while at San Quintin. When we arrived, Sweetie, with Tony and
Shannon aboard, had  tucked in a few days earlier. They decided to brave the weather and left a few days later. A few hours after
they left, Estrella, with Adam and Kristina aboard, came in. Although in both instances their boats were 3 miles from ours, we still
had a visual on them and it was nice to chat and get support on the VHF. Both boats intend to head south, so it will be nice to have
such fine people to look forward to visiting in those tropical dream places.

Am I having fun? Ah, the jury is still out on that...stay tuned........
The clouds just meant more wind, something I was quickly getting tired of. Notice that there is even a rainbow..
Mr. Gnome took a bad fall in
seriously dangerous seas. He's
expected to survive.
Next Bridgie's Babble Mar. 12, 2007