Mexico 2022: South to Ensenada Mexico

February 1, 2022

The one thing consistent with Captain Steve is early mornings. The start to this adventure was no different and we were off the dock at 6 am sharp. We cruised out of San Diego Bay past the Navy fleet with the rising sun. The clouds made for nice scenery and some great views.

Out in the open ocean it was a bit choppy with some cross winds. The time quickly came to raise the Mexico courtesy and quarantine flags as we crossed the border into Mexican waters.

We arrived in Ensenada just after 4 PM and was greeted by the very nice and helpful marina staff. After securing lines we were instructed to stay on the boat until the health inspector could come by and make sure we weren’t infectious. We figured it would take a while, but no, the inspector arrived in 15 minutes and after a bunch of paperwork and getting our temperatures taken, we were cleared to leave the boat. The first question on the list they asked was did anyone die on the voyage. I understand wanting to know this but I’m pretty sure we would not be there if someone had died on the way. Just saying.

The marina we stayed at shared the area with the cruise ships, so we were in somewhat of a gated community next to the waterfront tourist restaurants and shops. As we started our walk, we could hear a band playing. It turned out to be an orchestra playing in the nearby park. We stayed and watched them play a few songs. It was interesting to see their uniforms and the crowd gathered around. Not sure how often they do it, but it was nice for a Tuesday night. They also had a ginormous flagpole they I guess they use for special occasions.

After another block we were called over by the shop keepers and one of the guys promised Steve tacos, so we were off to the restaurant next store. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. This was the start to the quest for the best Tacos and Margaritas. I would say they were the best tacos I ever had in Mexico. And so far, only Tacos I’ve had in Mexico. While munching and sipping, a local Mariachi band yelled to us and wanted to know if we wanted them to play a song. And of course, they wanted money to do so. Barbara dug out a few dollars and it was enough for a quick song. After that, it was evident that the city was closing, and we found out that everything in the area closed at 6 pm. Good to know.

We did a bit more walking and determined that the area was gated off from the rest of the town. Apparently, we were in a health quarantine area of town.  The walk only lasted a few more minutes and we were back to the boat to call it an early night.

February 2, 2022

We awoke on the second day and Steve made some wonderful coffee. The expectation was we would go to immigration around 9 given all the information we’d read. However, at 7:55 the dockmaster came down and said we should be in the marina office at 8 to do paperwork. We scrambled to get everything together and rushed up. We spent the next 3.5 hours doing paperwork, busing over to the official offices, and getting cleared. The marina was very helpful and did almost all the work for us. Steve just had to sign a lot of papers and give them his credit card at every window.

With all the paperwork done, we realized that we were ready to continue the quest for Tacos and Margaritas. This time we didn’t head to the tourist district and walked further into town. After a few blocks, we found a nice main street and found a good-looking restaurant. The tacos and margaritas were mighty tasty. A bonus was we had 3 times the food and it was the same price as the night before.

We relaxed for the rest of the day and unfortunately, I had a call I needed to attend to that night so that took up most of the evening. Barbara cooked a wonderful rice and veggie meal and one of Barbara’s son’s friends stopped by to chat and sample the Captain Steve Manhattans.

Mexico 2022: San Diego

January 31, 2022

Hola Amigos! I’ve signed on to do part 3 of the adventures with Captain Steve and Barbara on Coda. I’m calling it the search for Tacos and Margaritas. The insurance companies are dictating the plan as they are saying Coda must be in Costa Rica in June and cannot go thru the Panama Canal until November 1. That will make getting to Florida by Christmas a little tight and Captain Steve will have decisions to make after going thru the canal. I’m trying to convince him that we should do 6 months in the Caribbean after we do the great loop. But we’ll see.

I finished a few last-minute errands and did the final packing to fly down to San Diego. The errands were basically getting my yearly physical. I did so little running in 2021 due to all the boating that main comment by my Doctor was you gained a few pounds and you should fix that. 

After the errands and packing was completed, I loaded up the car and picked up Tonia so she could drive me to the airport. Hopefully she can find a replacement for her job soon so she can start joining on these adventures. The flight down was nice, and I was met at the airport by Captain Steve. He took us over to Uncle Gary’s house for a nice sendoff meal.  I even got to see Captain Steve’s childhood home.

It was a wonderful dinner a great start to the trip.

Big Left Turn: Crescent City & The Redwoods

September 30, 2021

A storm picked up off the coast and therefore we’ve planned to spend a few days in Crescent City. That will give us some time to explore. It will also give me time to take a flight up to Seattle for the weekend and attend the Queen City Commodore’s ball.

Our friends Gary and Noelle from Illimite recommended an activity. Renting bikes and going to the Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park.  The company, Redwood Rides, dropped off some bikes around 11 AM and we rode towards the park.

The hill leading into the park was a killer and we ended up walking most of it. Once in the park, the views were gorgeous. The road was narrow and wound thru the trees. We rode in as far as the Boy Scout Tree Trail. That was about 5 miles from the marina.

After a bit of lunch, we decided to hike the trail. The trail said it was 2.8 miles and ended in a waterfall. Hmm, it was actually 3.2 and ended in a trickle that came down a rock. I guess I was spoiled by all the huge waterfalls in Canada and Alaska. Almost to the end of the trail is the actual Boy Scout Tree. The tree is ginormous. The hike was worth it just for the trees and scenery.

Once back from hiking, we remounted the bikes and headed back. The return trip thru the park was not as bad for elevation but still a challenge. On the huge hill down out of the park Steve lost brakes and it took us a bit of time to get back. He has a lot less tread on his shoes.

Overall, a fun day!

Big Left Turn: Breaking & Down to Crescent City

September 29, 2021

We were up bright and early. The weather, and more importantly the wave forecast, was favorable for the time window we needed to get down to Crescent City. Steve and I decided we needed to scope out the bar conditions in person. High tide was at 8 am so we headed out to look at the bar conditions about 7. The conditions were a lot better than the days previous. There were still breaking waves but only about 3-4 foot instead of the previous 6-8 foot. From what the locals had said, it was about the best we could expect. We decided it was a go.

Back on the boat we started up and started to prepare. We were all a little nervous. Breaking waves are not optimal in any situation. About 7:45 we couldn’t take the wait any longer and slowly headed out.

Following the path we were told was best, we navigated out the shallow channel and around the sand bar. There is an area seaward of the sand bar that allows for hovering and watching the waves. We tried to pick a good window and it was time. Barbara was rear watch, and I was up helping Steve navigate around the shallow water and waves. In the middle of the bar, we took a good breaking wave on the bow. Steve had turned into it and it pitched us up pretty good. Everything on the boat was thrown around. Another breaker came in right behind, but it wasn’t as bad as the first but still enough to throw us around, then there was a break, Steve throttled up and we headed out at max speed. We took about 4 more really big waves before safely escaping the bar. Phew…

Barbara informed us that the Pamplemousse bottle had wedged itself between the TV and the other liquor and saved them from escaping. The only damage reported was a couple of wine glasses in the cabinet. Pretty good for movement we had.

The rest of the trip down was relatively calm and we arrived in Crescent City shortly after 2 PM. We met up with Gary and Noelle from S/V Illimite and they said we should join them for dinner. After a nice relaxing afternoon, we headed out to the local restaurant the Chart Room. More shrimp cocktail for me!

Voyage Information:

Curry County to Crescent City
Time: 6 h 46 m ( 07:32 to 14:18 )
Distance: 51.97 nm

Big Left Turn: Gold Beach

September 27, 2021

The weather forecast turned out of favor with us and 11 of the 12 bars on the coast are closed. That is river bars, not alcohol bars. Looks like it will be a few days before the next window allows us to leave.

The first order of business for today was getting Steve an omelet. He’s been wanting one for days. We set off for the Indian Creek Café. It was pouring rain, so I had to buy a poncho at the marina gift shop. When about halfway there, I checked the remaining distance and found out that the café was closed on Monday’s. Bummer!

Luckily it was late enough that the lunch restaurants were open, so I talked Steve and Barbara into going to the pizza place up the street. A short walk later we were at the Crow’s Nest. The locals recommended it and it’s not much to see on the outside. The food was good. The bar reminds me of a lot you’d find in the Midwest and is frequented by locals. While we were there, we found out that 2 inches of rain had fallen overnight, which is the reason we are still in town

After the food digested and the rain let up, it was time to get in a little motion and go out for a run. Caught a couple of rainbows and had some awesome beach scenery to accompany me.

Ended the night with a nice Captain Steve Manhattan. Yummy!

September 28, 2021

The weather was a bit better today but still not acceptable for leaving and going across the Rogue River bar. We had a bunch of company on the dock.

The mission to get Steve an omelet was still on, and the Indian Creek Café was open, so we walked over along the river. Steve was successful and we had a great breakfast. The trail along the river was also nice and had some great views. The town has an old tug/fishing boat that was in service for many years and is now a shipwreck. Kinda weird.

After lunch, it was time to do laundry and get another run in. The next destination is 52 miles away. The weather report says tomorrow may be the day. We’ll see.

Big Left Turn: Bumpy Ride and Ducking into Gold Beach

We stressed over the weather map for a day and a half and made the call that we had a small window to get to Crescent City. That is if we left early and got around Cape Blanco before the heavy weather set in. The engine was fired up at 5 am and we were off. I’d put up a picture but it would be just a completely black image.

The Coos Bay bar was nice and calm, and we were hopeful. That id not last long as the waves started picking up. the problem with today versus the last few was the wind is out of the south and therefore we are going against the wind waves. If it was out of the north, the trip would have been smooth.

The model said after Cape Blanco the wind would calm down and be manageable at least until we could get to Crescent City. As we approached the Cape, it didn’t let up and the updated model showed a change for the worse. We had a decision. 3 hours forward or 5 hours back. We opted for the forward even though the back trip would be smooth. The decision took us to Gold Beach, Oregon. It’s on the Rogue River and unfortunately has a bar that isn’t monitored after Labor Day. The good part is the approach was to the north and thus it was mostly with the waves. Once we turned to go in the ride smoothed out as expected.

The bar was not optimal as it had visibly breaking waves between the jetties. As we came in Steve sped up to stay between the waves. It was a bit tense but we made it thru. The river has bunch of shoaling and shallow spots and luckily, we were coming in at high tide. The local charter captain that was on the dock and helped us was surprised we made it thru without going aground. Guess we got lucky. He said he’d show us the best path to navigate out tomorrow. You can see the nice sand bar across the bar in the satellite image below.

After a nap, we headed up check out the Port Hole Cafe. The dinner was delicious and it’s a pretty nice place. In the same parking lot is Jerry’s Rouge River Museum and Gift Shop that has a lot of history and pictures of how the area developed.

And you can see that the marina is a popular place in the offseason.

Voyage Information:

Coos Bay to Gold Beach
Time: 9 h 25 m ( 04:55 to 14:20 )
Distance: 71.65 nm

Big Left Turn: Down to Coos Bay

September 24-25, 2021

The next leg of the trip was from Astoria to Coos Bay. A 20+ hour scheduled journey. Our second overnight test.

We made good time throughout the night, mostly due to Steve deciding to burn a bit more fuel to raise the bow and smooth out the ride. Therefore, we got to the Coos Bay Bar around 7:30 am. A few hours before slack tide. The good news was the bar conditions were very good with only 1-3 foot ebb chop and no restrictions. The cruise in was uneventful and other the all the fishing boats zooming out was a pleasant ride.

After settling in I took a jog around the area and ended up at the Coos Bay Harbor Entrance Viewpoint. Close to the view point was a little trail that went down to the shore. I followed the trail and was happy to find a cave that went through to a second beach. I traversed over and took a few pictures. It was a nice little side trip and fun to climb around.

The crew headed out for dinner. There were 3 choices within walking distance and basically within the parking lot of the marina complex. We opted for the Portside Charleston. The restaurant reminded me of places I used to go with my Grandparents back in the day. The staff was friendly and the food was delicious. I’m getting spoiled with all the Oregon shirmp!

Voyage Information:

Astoria to Coos Bay
Time: 22 h 55 m ( 09:00 to 07:56 )
Distance: 193.44 nm

Big Left Turn: Astoria, Oregon – GOONIES!

September 23, 2021

Today was declared a rest day sine we were all tired after the 21-hour adventure yesterday.

After my 11 hours of rest, I was up and at em around 7 so I got out and did a jog along the shoreline to downtown Astoria. It’s a nice area and has a trail that goes forever. I only did 2 miles down so that is my reference. On the way back, I scoped out the Goonies Jail and Mr. Walsh’s work from the Goonies movie so I could take Steve and Barbara by later.

When I returned from running, Gary from Illimite was over for coffee and we chatted about the upcoming week. Gary departed and we waved to him and Noelle as they left the marina. They reported the bar was way better this morning, which was expected since they hit it as slack current and beginning of flood tide.

Around 10 we decided to hit the town and check it out. I first took them over to the Goonies sites so we could get the necessary pictures.

After that, we headed thru town with the intentions of having breakfast. Steve was determined to have an omelet and we never found a place, so we ended up just going to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The museum was pretty cool. However, I would say it was 75% dedicated to telling us how stupid we were for attempting to cross the Columbia River Bar. The first display was that 2000+ boats have been lost there and its nicknamed the Graveyard of the Pacific. They had cool videos of the pilots and bar roughness. They have a lightship that you can go aboard and that was fun touring. Worth a stop if you are in town.

Around noon, we headed over to the Bowpicker Fish and Chips joint up the street from the museum. It’s a food boat, not to be confused with a food truck. They use Albacore tuna, and it is delicious.

With the learning portion of the day complete, we headed to the grocery store for provisioning. We were getting low on milk and the mochas are just not the same without it. After getting back to the boat, Steve made me defrost his refrigerator and fill the water tanks. Gotta earn my keep somehow.

Big Left Turn: Making the Turn & the Columbia River Bar

September 21-22, 2021

The next stop we planned was Astoria, OR, via the Columbia River Bar. The guidance says if you want a smooth transition you need to transit at slack current or at least a flood tide. This is so you avoid the situation they call ebb chop, which can even lead to breaking waves. We projected the trip to take 18+ hours and slack was around 9 AM so we decided we would depart Neah Bay at 1 PM to give us enough time.

Since I had a bit of time while we were at anchor, I decided I’d fly the drone a bit and got a few good shots.

After departing Neah Bay, the wave chop picked up and we were a bit concerned with the ride since it was for 18 hours. However, once we made the left turn and got a bit offshore the ride smoothed out and overall it was good ride.

It was interesting when the sun began to set and then we hit darkness. I’ve talked to a bunch of boaters that do crossing and long trips. Some say they just put on the alarms and sleep. Others have watches. But there is a feeling of nothing you can do. We can’t see traps or logs so looking out the window is not that productive. Looking at the radar and AIS was very helpful but we only passed two boats all night. We had a great moon rising. There was no way to get that on camera given the lighting and motion.

We had planned to be at the Columbia River Bar around 9:30 AM. However, we made great time and got there a couple hours early. Starting about 6 AM the Coast Guard started communicating reports and that the bar had a 20 foot and below restriction. Steve asked if he should call in and get guidance and I figured they would just give the same report. Which is exactly what they did, but added your vessel is not restricted as this time. Basically it’s your call captain. A charter captain hailed us after the call, and gave us guidance on how to approach, which gave us a little more confidence.

Crossing the bar was a good experience. The waves were 4-6 foot with some 8-10 footers thrown in. Steve was so puckered up that he wouldn’t let me take pictures. Therefore, we have limited footage.

Once successfully across the bar, we cruised in another hour to Astoria. We were all beat given the long trip and not sleeping much so it was nap time.

In the late afternoon, after our naps, we headed up to the Bridgewater Bistro for a meal. As we sat down, we got a call from Gary on Illimite asking what we were up to. Him and Noelle waked up to the restaurant and we had an amazing meal with great company.

Voyage Information:

Neah Bay to Astoria
Time: 21 h 56 m ( 12:29 to 10:25 )
Distance: 160.99 nm

Big Left Turn: Port Hadlock to Neah Bay

September 20, 2021

Steve had us up bright and early today as it was the first of the long days to come. The Strait of Juan de Fuca was calm, and we did not have much wind, so was a very nice ride over. So much better than my last crossing.

When we arrived at Neah Bay we found, as expected, that the docks were closed to transient boats and therefore we anchored out with the others in the bay. It’s a nice large bay with a great breakwater and lots of space. Very accommodating!

Voyage Information:

Port Hadlock to Neah Bay
Time: 11 h 18 m ( 06:33 to 17:52 )
Distance: 84.83 nm