sailing homepage : trip reports : 2: baja-haha : day6: next start

Nov 4, day 6: Start of next leg, enroute from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria, medium winds

We were up early and prepared for our second start. This leg, from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria, is only 223 nautical miles, almost half the distance we covered in the first part of the Haha! We hauled up our Bruce anchor, which had hooked so well it took some effort to break it loose, and motored out towards the starting line.

Leaving Turtle Bay


Race is on!

Amid a warm fog and haze, we started the second leg of the Baja-haha race at 8AM. Again we nailed the start; we timed our speed just right, and we were very close to the line when the 'gun' sounded (well, someone said "GO!" over the VHF). Many boats were being more conservative, or maybe they drank too much the night before and had slept in, and we had the pleasure of being in the thick of it with lots of much faster boats!

Again we were left behind for lack of a big light-wind sail. Neither our 150% genoa, which we started with, or our relatively small asymmetric cruising spinnaker are competitive. Will would have traded his left nut for a big asym. Who cares if it can't point, if the pole and sheet need constant attention, and if it's annoying to douse - this is a race!

We raised our flasher in front of the genoa, originally with the intent of wrapping up the genoa after it was launched, but we found that if we kept the wind on a reach (rather than a run) we could keep both full of air! If only we had a picture. Eventually it became too much trouble to keep them both drawing air, but for half an hour we had a pseudo cutter rig!

Bye bye, faster boats


Briana trims the spinny sheet

As the day progressed, Will and Sean decided that they would like to learn how to fish. Hey, we might as well start sometime! The two pulled out the gear Sean had bought in San Diego, and after some head scratching, pulled out the "Cruiser's Guide to Fishing" that Sara had bought. Nice job, Sara! It's an awesome book. Especially for weenies who have never fished before.

We rigged up some "meat hooks" off the stern of the boat. We used pre-made lures, with swivels built on the end of the shock leader, followed by a few hundred feet of 100# monofilament. The monofilament connects to a carabiner, which clips onto a shock-absorber - in our case, made from bungee cord - tied to a stern cleat. This arrangement was recommended in the book as the one requiring the least amount of effort. Sounds good to us!

Will chews on a squid lure


Sean puts together a shock absorber

It was a great day; the wind gradually moved around until we were on a run again. Light to medium wind from behind? Lets pick the least efficient point of sail - the dead run - and switch to wing and wing! Woohoo! Maybe wing and wing is the worst thing to do while sailing, but we love it. With the preventer set and Otto working away, it's super easy and we can relax.

Sara womans the helm


Look, it works!

Sean tried his hand at kettle corn - popcorn with butter, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon, first made for us by Mike - and we spent the afternoon reading and lounging around.

Popcorn from Will's perspective


Popcorn from Sean's perspective

The sunset was beautiful, and another boat on the far horizon made for a fantastic photo. The wind was now officially light, but the sails were full and we were super comfortable. We flew the spinnaker for a while, but dropped it before the sun went down in case the wind picked up; it's a lot easier to roll up a headsail than drop a spinny!

Briana chills by the pool


Look close for the sailboat

Just after the sun set we suddenly lost our wind. One moment everything was fine, the next the sails were flapping and we were parked. Will went forward to try to tame the flapping main by adjusting the extra boom vang we use as a preventer, while Sean took the helm and was hand-steering. We were working to get the sails full again when the wind shifted 180 degrees and picked WAY up! Really, honestly, a full 180-degree shift!

Maybe it was lucky we were mucking with the sails, maybe we did the right thing by putting away the spinny, who knows. While there was some confusion - Will thought Sean was turning the boat around when the shift first happened, when he was doing the right thing and saving us from a broach - we were able to quickly adapt. We adjusted the sails, kept on our course, weren't caught off guard when the wind went crazy, and a few minutes after the shift we were really ripping along!

For the next two hours, we heard stories over the VHF of boats surprised by the wind change; people had ripped their sails, broken booms, and otherwise mangled their boats. It was a little funny because someone who obviously had turned the VHF off would suddenly come over the channel: "HOLY SHIT! What happened with the wind?!" We were thankful that there had not been a similar mishap on Wanderlust.

During the evening, Sara couldn't help but mention that tomorrow was her birthday. Will was playing very hard to get, and was doing his best to try to lower her standards. No kidding, it was tough when Sara was pouting, and even tougher when she started laying on the tears, but Will remained strong and took his licks without ruining the surprise.

As we settled in for the night, with Sara and Will on the first watch, the wind continued to build. For the first few hours there were very few wind waves, due to the sudden increase in wind the waves hadn't had a chance to build, and Sara and Will had a blast running downwind at over 7 knots.

Wanderlust's theoretical hull speed is 7.58 knots, meaning we would be VERY hard pressed to sail faster than that without the help of a following wave. We were reaching our hull speed easily, and as the swells and the wind waves began to converge a few hours later, Wanderlust started moving faster with the added surf effect. We were clocking in at more than 8 knots!

The waves at this point were between 6 and 8 feet, with a few fun rides down the face of some 12 footers. Whoo Hoo!!! Finally, there was some real wind and challenging sailing! It was a blast, and as Sara and Will finished their shift they were both exhausted and exhilarated.