ON THE DOG WATCH
After surgery and some time recuperating while staying on my son’s boat in Ventura, California, it was way beyond time for me to get up and go to sea. Being harbor-bound was driving me crazy and my son and daughter-in law as well. When the opportunity arose to deliver a 2006 Sea Ray Sundancer 48 from Newport Beach, California, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I immediately put together an estimate for the new owners, Carlos Villanueva Sandoval and his wife Angeles. My good friend and fellow surveyor, Kells Christian, did a pre-purchase survey and assured Carlos the boat was in pretty good condition, with some minor recommendations that needed to be accomplished prior to a voyage to Mexico. Carlos asked me to accompany him on a sea trial and supervise while the boat was hauled out in Newport Harbor Shipyard for the servicing of machinery and completion of Kell’s recommendations, plus a couple of my own.
Like with previous deliveries, it is always comforting to have the benefit of a recent survey report by a competent marine surveyor. That way, I know what I’m getting into and there are no surprises after we get underway. WHAT A LIFE proved to be a well-maintained vessel in better than average condition. I flew my wife, Karen, into Orange County on the 19th of May to help me prepare the boat for the trip. Yard repairs and servicing were completed by May 23, long-time high school & college friend, Ron Wylie, joined us as crew to help with last minute details, while his wife, Crystal, drove Karen around to complete the final provisioning.
By Thursday afternoon, May 24th, we were ready to depart Newport Beach for Mexico. Unfortunately, the weather was not going to be in our favor.
Here is a re-cap of the voyage.
WHAT A LIFE: “Newport Beach, CA, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.”
Hauled out at Newport Harbor Shipyard
Karen working on a provisioning menu
24 May 2012, Newport Beach, CA.
Scheduled to depart earlier in the week, we had been delayed by installation of new equipment (cockpit air-conditioning), repairs (to bow thruster, underwater lights, and hydraulic swim step), and final preparations. We were under the gun to get going as soon as possible because our clients wanted to meet us in Ensenada on Friday to see the boat one last time before it started the journey to Puerto Vallarta. They had to fly back to their home early Monday morning and there were certain documents I needed to have them sign so we could process our paperwork at the Mexican Port Captain’s office. Now, we were going to be further delayed by the weather.
The national weather service broadcasting from Oxnard, California, had been issuing “Gale Warnings” for the outer waters off the coast of Southern California for the past two days. Conditions in the inner waters still seemed to be comfortable with the stronger winds in the northern portion of the Santa Barbara Channel. If we were lucky, we could “put the hammer down,” outrun the weather, and make an overnight voyage to place us in Ensenada by Friday morning. I reasoned if the winds continued to stay out of the northwest we would have the wind and sea behind us…wrong.
We left the dock in Newport Beach at 1945 hours. By 2300 hours the wind had clocked to the south and the seas were building. We tried to seek refuge by putting into Dana Point Harbor. Both anchorages were full with boats reserving space for the Memorial Day weekend and there were no guest slips available for a vessel our size. It was midnight, surf was rolling into the harbor mouth and cascading over the jetty, when we departed the harbor and reversed our course back to Newport Beach. It was going to be a bumpy ride, but at least we would have the wind behind us.
25 May 2012, Newport Beach, CA, to San Diego, CA.
Around 0245 Friday morning, we were tied up to the same Newport Beach dock in front of the Rusty Pelican that we had left earlier Thursday night. The increased winds were creating quite a wind chop and surge in the protected waters of the inner harbor as our mooring lines strained at the cleats.
Should we venture out again?
Checking the weather on the computer
0600 hours, we ate breakfast, moved from the dock to the anchorage basin at the end of Lido Isle, and listened to the weather channel on the VHF radio. Initially, the news was still not good. The inner waters from Point Conception to the Mexican border were under the following Small Craft Advisory through the Memorial Day weekend.
**“WINDS...SOUTHWEST WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 10 TO 20 KNOTS WITH
FREQUENT GUSTS TO 25 KNOTS TONIGHT AND CONTINUE THROUGH SATURDAY
MORNING. THE WINDS WILL THEN SHIFT TO NORTHWEST AND INCREASE
THORUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON. NORTHWEST WINDS 15 TO 25 KNOTS WITH
FREQUENT GUSTS BETWEEN 35 AND 40 KNOTS WILL DEVELOP LATE
SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND CONTINUE INTO SUNDAY EVENING. THE WINDS
WILL BEGIN TO DIMINISH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT.”
But, the winds in our protected anchorage had disappeared. It was dead flat calm. 0800 VHF radio weather observations from Newport Beach to the Mexican border were light and variable. By 0830, I decided to poke our nose out a second time and try to make another run, hoping to get at least as far as San Diego. Winds were SE light and variable throughout the morning hours and building in the afternoon. When I calculated I would be arriving after office hours, I phoned ahead to Harbor Island West Marina. They set me up with an end tie and would leave a gate key and bill in an envelope in the dock box. By 1852, we were tied to the dock, ready to have dinner with Leon & Jane Stewart on their boat in the marina. It is great to have friends!
26 May 2012, San Diego, CA, to Ensenada, BC.
By 0830, Saturday, we were underway from San Diego to Ensenada, arriving at Cruseport Village Marina by 1400hrs. We met with the owners and set up with the marina to process our paperwork when the office of Centro Integral de Servicios (CIS) opens on Monday.
Moored at Cruseport Village Marina, within walking distance to down town, Ensenada
27 May 2013, Lay Day in Ensenada, BC
Sunday, was a lay day. We used it to clean up the boat, fill the freshwater tank with purified water, do some laundry, and get some last minute supplies at WallMart and Home Depot. By evening we were ready for a hearty Mexican meal at a good restaurant in town within easy walking distance from the marina.
28 to 29 May 2012, Ensenada, BC, to Turtle Bay, BC.
Monday morning, with the help of the Marina staff, we processed our crew-list paperwork and obtained a Temporary Import Permit for the boat. (See May Newsletter.) By 1300hrs we were ready to move to the fuel dock at Coral Marina. We had to wait for fuel to be delivered to the Marina. Then we had to wait for the foam to lay down in the marina’s tank before diesel could be pumped into our tanks. By 1700hours, we were ready to depart. As predicted, the winds had dropped to 5-10 knots out of the west. The seas had begun to lay down as well. By 2300 Tuesday night, we had the anchor down in Turtle Bay.
Anchored in Turtle Bay
Back to the boat after visiting friends.
30 May to 1 June 2012, Turtle Bay to Bahia Magdalena
At 0630 Wednesday morning, we re-anchored closer to the old cannery pier. I called Gordo’s family and ordered fuel brought to the boat, approximately 310 gallons. (Our average fuel burn from Ensenada to T.B. was less than a gallon per mile, combined engines and generator, not bad!) I also ordered purified water brought to the boat. By noon we had changed fuel filters, cleaned up the boat and ourselves, checked the weather forecast, and were ready to go ashore to see our friends, Russ and Isabel and their daughter Faith. Karen talked Isabel into driving her around to do some minor re-provisioning and we were back at the boat and ready to head out by 1500. Turtle Bay to Cabo San Lucas is 430 nautical miles and we don’t carry enough fuel, so we will have to stop in Bahia Magdalena and arrange for diesel to be brought to us by panga from San Carlos.
Not wanting to traverse Mag Bay in the dark, (I worry about running into floating abandoned fishing gear) I anchored in Bahia Santa Maria around 0200, Friday morning, so we could get four hours rest before we continued on. By 0900 we were anchored in Man O’ War Cove, and made arrangements for fuel delivery.
Making arrangements with a pangadero to bring us fuel down from San Carlos
1 to 2 June 2012, Mag Bay to Cabo San Lucas
Fueled up, by 1800 we had the anchor up and were underway for an overnight run to Cabo. Winds were 10knots out of the west for most of the time with 2-4 ft seas, not bad, and they started dropping in the early morning hours, Saturday… down to L&V at Cabo Falso. By 1245 we had the hook down in the outer anchorage. I discovered a minor oil leak in a hose connection to the port transmission. Ron and I cleaned it up, tightened the fitting as much as we dared, and ran the engine to make sure the leak would be manageable for the remander of the voyage. We used the rest of the afternoon to take on fuel and water, change fuel filters, and check the weather report. The forecast for the next day was south-westerly wind less than 20, dropping to less than 10 out of the west in the early afternoon and going light and variable through the night and then flat dead calm the rest of the way to Banderas Bay. We would have time for a nice dinner, get some rest and leave early the next morning. I love hanging on the hook in the anchorage at Cabo and rarely take a slip in the marina. The anchorage is much quieter.
Anchored in the bay in front of Cabo San Lucas
3 to 4 June 2012, Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta
The perfect conditions forecast for the final leg of this voyage would make the 300 mile open ocean crossing very enjoyable. I think we were all anxious to take advantage of our good fortune, couldn’t sleep, and decided to leave at 0200, Sunday morning. Even thought we checked it every hour, the oil leak proved to be minimal. We were tied to a slip in Marina Paradise Village by 1020 Monday morning. In spite of the rough weather conditions at the beginning, it turned out to be a rather uneventful delivery. Karen and I got to enjoy the company of a a long-time friend, tell stories from our high school days growing up in the same community, and listen to 50’s and 60’s music the entire trip on Sirius Satellite radio.
Ron at the helm on the home stretch
Arriving at Nuevo Vallarta
Checking in with the Harbor Master
Moored in Paradise Village Marina
The voyage route was approximately 1,125 nautical miles, and it took us approximately nine days actual voyage time after one false start and a stop over in Ensenada. Our average speed was nine knots, in order to save fuel. I have to admit I’ve never really been a SeaRay fan, I’ve always thought of them as a “Tupperware boat.” This delivery changed my mind. The boat is very well thought out, good functional detailing, and everything worked like it was suppose to… from the electronics to the machinery. I hope to deliver more of them in the future.
Map of Trip
ID1 = 44
- March - Rediscovering The Once Forgotten Middle
- May - Bringing The Boat Back From Mexico
- July - New Regulations for Private Vessels Moving From Port To Port in Mexico
- August - Six Yacht Deliveries
- October - 26 October to 3 November 2005, M/Y HERCULES, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Ventura, California
- September - October - Sailing and Writing
- August - 29 July to 5 August 2008, M/Y ORIANA, Mazatlan, Mexico, to San Diego, California
- January - April - three very different yacht deliveries.
- October - Climbing the Hill: “Rounding the Cape.” and Climbing the Hill: “Up to Mag Bay, then on to San Diego.”
- September - SEFERINA: “Astoria, OR, to Port McNeill, BC.”
- December - BELLALOU: “Tortola to Florida.”
- May - ENSENADA, THE EASIEST PLACE TO CHECK INTO MEXICO
- May-June - WHAT A LIFE: “Newport Beach, CA, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.”