Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Baja HaHa - Day two

We are 30 hours into our trip South and all is well aboard the Shindig.

The weather conditions have been sunny with wind less that 10 for the first 20 hours or so. The spinnaker has been getting a work out!

This afternoon we've enjoyed 15 knots of wind and the boat is up to speed and clicking off the miles.

My shower was interrupted today when we hooked up two yellow fin tuna. I got my shorts on and hustled on deck to help get them aboard. Everyone helped get the boat slowed down so we could get the fish on the boat and filleted.

Fish tacos are on the menu tonight!

There are about 130 boats sailing on the HaHa this year and we are starting to spread out. At the moment I can see 10 of the 130.

Next stop, Turtle bay in ~200 miles.

Rob, Nancy, Dan and Bert

Monday, October 29, 2012

A 3-Hour Tour??

The Baja Ha Ha party planners hosted their annual costume good-bye bbq party this afternoon, one day before we leave to Mexico.  The costumes ranged from pirates, to Angry Birds, with handfuls of pirates, kids, and Santa Clauses thrown in. 

The intrepid Shindig captain and crew gamely dressed as the crew from Gilligan's Island.  We downloaded the theme music to go.  If you remember the tune, we had "Gilligan (Dan), The Skipper, too (Rob).....A Millionaire - (Bert - Mr. Howell).and his wife, the Professor ... and ....Mary Anne (Nancy).   Lots of fun, great laughs and fun with with sailing  friends we've made along the way. 

Here are our pics.

Gilligan, Mr. Howell, Skipper and Mary Anne
and Umberto, mascot pinata
2nd place winners

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Departure Monday

Our crew is here and the boat is ready.   Yesterday we did a practice sail on the bay with Mom, Dad and Dan and we discovered that Shindig can still sail with all this crap onboard.bay with several regattas and tour boats to dodge.   We did a few jybes downwind and sailed back to Shelter Island

I worked out the watch on schedule and thought that would be interesting to some.
We'll have two people on watch at all times and rotate who is standing watch with who on each of the three legs. We will also have dinner together daily at 5pm so that all 4 of us can chat before going off or on watch duty.

For example, for the first leg of the trip, which is likely three days and three nights, Nancy and my dad, Bert, are watch partners.  After dinner, they are off watch until 9pm.  Then on from 9pm - 1am, and back again at 5am for another four hours.  It sounds tough, but it's much better to have two on and two off, so there's another set of eyes and ears on watch.  We'll let you know how things go as we progress down the coast.

We are off!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The Vestas Sailrocket team is back in Africa for the season.  They have modified their foils and are back on the water for early testing. 

I'm cheering for these guys to break the sailing speed record now held by kite surfer Rob Douglas.
(55.65 knots (64 mph) )

Check out this latest video of a 50 knot pass.

Monday, October 22, 2012

7 days to go

We had lots of countdowns getting ready to leave our home and life in the Bay Area and go cruising. Excitement and some healthy apprehension is building as 1 week from today we, and over 140 other boats, are leaving on the Baja Ha Ha from San Diego to Cabo www.baja-haha.com. The planned rally, not a race, is a distance of 750 miles, and includes two stops, Turtle Bay, and Bahia Santa Maria along the way. The stops will allow a bit of rest and fun. We will have two intrepid crew members, Dan and Bert, joining us. On Thursday, Dan joins us from Sausalito B Dock and Chico; Bert Novak, Rob's father, will come on Saturday. From the Galley, here is our main meal list for our 9 or 10 days together. I've done some cooking in advance, so that we can minimize the amount of time spent down below while we're underway. It's more fun to fish anyway.  We hope to replace many of these meals with fresh tuna or other seafood that we've caught.  Buen Provecho!!

  1. Bow Tie Chicken & Peas Pasta with Broccoli Salad
  2. Meat and Spinach Lasagna and Green Salad
  3. Maple Glazed Baked Chicken with Sweet potatoes & Onions with Green Pea Salad
  4. On Land: Vera Cruz Restaurant, Turtle Bay - Mexico
  5. On Land: BBQ on Boat - Chicken & Vegie Kebobs, Rice side 
  6. Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas with Black Beans side
  7. Taco Chile Bowls with Brown Rice and Chips
  8. On Land: BBQ Steaks, Baked Red Potatoes and Green Salad
  9. On Land: Baked or BBQ Pork Chops and Applesauce
  10. Homemade Meatloaf with Stuffing

Pasta Pasta
Favorite Cupcakes from Santa Cruz (off Menu)
Future Sashimi Meal from Shindig Fishing

Saturday, October 20, 2012

It is not a boat project....

...until every tool is out!

Re-plumbing the water maker for easier servicing and water quality testing

We are tied up in Shelter Island and make a final pass on boat projects before we head South.  There is a lot of activity at the many marine stores here.   We must leave soon so I stop spending money.

  • water maker plumbing modified for easy servicing
  • traveler repaired
  • traveler control lines replaced
  • jib sheets replaced
  • fire and carbon monoxide detector installed
  • deck block backing plate rebedded.
  • alternator belts adjusted
  • ditch bag complete with safety gear
  • bow running lights serviced
  • some floor gaskets replaced
  • Temporary Import Permit for Mexico received

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

San Diego

 We sailed into San Diego Bay from Mission Bay on October 11th.  Greeted with rain and a huge blob of the famous Point Loma kelp, Shindig made her grand entrance.  It had been 26 days since we left Sausalito.

After topping off the fuel tank we made our way to the Chula Vista Marina where we met up with all the Novaks to celebrate my brother Dave's birthday.  The adjacent RV park hosted their land yachts and was super convenient for the birthday celebration.

Baby Brother blows out his birthday candles

Dinghy rides across the bay to Coronado Cays

Ali and Nicky on a dinghy ride to Coronado Cays, where mom and dad used to own a home

Chula Vista Marina

 Nicky and I rescued a water logged sock monkey in the harbor

San Diego is the launching point for the 19th annual Baja Ha Ha cruising rally to Cabo San Lucas.
Every day more and more of the registered 145 boats arrive in town and make final preparations for the trip south.

With two weeks to go, Nancy and I are working off final lists of boat parts, food provisions and other supplies for the 750 mile, and 9 or 10 day voyage.  We will remain in the San Diego Harbor area until departure day, October 29th. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

By the numbers

By Rob

So......., we have sailed (and motored) from San Francisco to San Diego.

Here's the data:

26 days
583 nautical miles
16 ports/anchorages

4 days - longest stay in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Harbor

3 hours - shortest stay at Rippers Cove, Santa Catalina

13.6 fastest recorded SOG (Speed Over Ground) - Monterey to San Simeon leg

110 gallons of fuel
16.6 generator hours
60 engine Hours
10 gallons dinghy fuel
4 spa or beauty appointments

$7.20 - the cost of 1 gallon of fuel in Avalon Harbor (didn't get any!)

3 fish caught - all Bonito

2 lobster tails (compliments of Sea Dream)

190 degrees: voltage regulator shuts down the alternator

3 - other Baja Haha crews were met along the way (Zoë, Autumn Wind, Sweet Cherri)

6 x $1 tacos at the Sandtrap at Avalon

Scariest moment : when the boat we were rafted to in Morro Bay caught fire

Best sailing : from Monterey to San Simeon

Biggest radar target in the fog:  Oil Platform Irene off Point Arguello
Oil Platform Irene

Random Blog Connection - Neighbor from the early 80's read the blog and contacted us in Monterey.  Had a great visit will Allan.

 Most Beautiful Beach - San Miguel Island - Cuyler Harbor

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Car … A Car!!

Thanks to Rob’s brother, Dave, for lending us his car during a work day in San Diego.  We dropped him off at his business meetings, and took off with long lists of errands to run.  West Marine, Downward Marine, Watermaker specialist, Post Office, Bank, Taco Shop, Target, Vons, AT&T Store, Dive Shop.  We were laden with bags of supplies as we got back to our dinghy and motored back to the sailboat.  After putting everything away, Rob went off in the dinghy to visit the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, where he used to teach sailing courses during college.  I made a double batch of nutty cookies to start the provisioning process for our upcoming trip to Mexico.  We shared dinner together aboard Shindig with Dave that night, bbq’ed chicken and sausages, bow-tie pasta with mushrooms and cream sauce, romaine salad and some homemade cookie.  A very pleasant day!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mission Bay

By Rob

An early departure from Avalon Harbor gave us a good chance of making it to Mission Bay by nightfall.
Just as we were leaving an monster Carnival Cruise ship was arriving.  With the masses in our wake and the bow pointing South we enjoyed another dolphin escort.

Dolphins chasing Shindig and playing on the bow wake never gets old.

The 65 mile trip was mostly motorsailing until the afternoon when the 15 knot North-westerlies filled in.  It was a relief to finally turn off the "D-Sail."

There are a lot of Navy exercises going on.  Every 15 minutes or so we would receive a broadcast on the VHF alerting us to their activities.

Something like this.

"Security, Security, Security, This is war ship 79 at appropriate location 32 degrees, 39  minutes North by 117 degrees 25 minutes West.  We are conducting live ammunition test.  All vessels are required to stay 15 miles from our position, break."

"This is war ship 79 standing by on channel 12, 13 and 16"

When we first heard this message we were 6 miles from the ship but they were going so fast out to sea than in no time we were out of the 15 mile security zone.

Once in the jetty that separates Mission Beach with Ocean Beach we located a perfect spot to anchor in Mariners Basin.  Vessels in transit are allowed to say for free for 72 hours.  This anchorage was the calmest of the trip.  We slept well after a long day on the water.  

Shindig in Mariners Basin.  I forgot that SD had so many palm trees.

Grooming the beach at South Mission Beach
Back in college I taught sailing at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center and I enjoyed swinging by the facility.  I even ran into Glen, the director that was running the place when I was there 23 years ago.   The place has not changed much at all.  They have a good formula and I have fond memories as a "professor of sailing"

MBAC at Santa Clara Point

Friday, October 12, 2012


Shindig in Avalon Harbor with Casino in background

Just around the corner from our fishing coves, we arrived in Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island.  The harbor patrol escorted us to a mooring ball, about three boats away from the iconic Casino building, designed in the early 1900’s by the Wrigley executive who owned the island at that time, and wanted a gathering place and dance hall for his guests.  The Jazz Trax festival was underway, and we were treated to live “smooth jazz” during the afternoon.  Sun was shining, boats gleaming, ferries and helicopters were zipping in and out of the harbor.  We quickly got our dinghy ready and zipped into shore to blend in with the happy tourists enjoying a beautiful day.

We spent two days and two nights on the Island.  I’d describe Avalon as a bit of Key West, with some  upcountry Maui town thrown in, and a pinch of New Orleans.  Rob and I hiked around the streets, marveled at the beach rental prices, and just enjoyed the picturesque harbor and people watching.  One night we invited new sailing friends over for happy hour on our boat, and enjoyed comparing stories and experiences. Found the locals taco shop further away from the main streets, (Thanks Scottie!)  and enjoyed $1 tacos with some other new Baja Ha Ha friends.

The 2nd day Rob finally got me into my snorkel and mask, and we snorkeled in a protected dive spot right beside the Casino.  There were lots of fish hiding in the kelp beds, and the clarity was superb.  The water depth went to about 75 feet quickly, but with his shorty wetsuit and the salt water to keep me buoyant, I floated on the top without any effort.  The bright orange colored Garibaldi, the California state fish,  remains my favorite.  I look forward to even warmer waters and more fish as we make our way south to Mexico. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fishing Tales

From Nancy

We’ve seen lots of sports fishermen at the Channel Islands and have been envious of the fishing tales of success, especially from neighboring friends who catch mackerel (bonito), halibut by just dropping lines off their boats.  Others have casually talked about going for lobsters at night, as the season just opened.  We are optimistic and have been acquiring some more fishing tools for the job.  However, our success has been ramping more slowly.  Rob caught our first small bonito by trolling a line as we left Santa Cruz Island and headed for Santa Catalina Island.  A few days later, things improved.  We had left Twin Harbors and stopped at Ripper’s Cove, where there are massive power boats and a few sailboats sharing the cove.  All were fishing, some even from their dinghys and SUPs.  Rob pulled up one larger mackerel, and as we got ready to leave, two more on a shared line.  We were ecstatic!  We headed for the night to a very pretty cove closer to Avalon called Buttonshell, with a private beach with campers kayaking and having fun.  Coincidentally we were assigned a mooring ball right next to a big fishing boat named Sea Dream.  The three men were busy cleaning fish off the back of the boat, and immediately generously offered us a calico bass.   Boy were we happy!

My plans for Surf and Turf that night, turned into Surf and Surf.   We chatted with them for a while, learning of their fishing experiences ins son was a grad from UCSB in Marine Biology and said that we will have similar fishing climates in Mexico.  We gave them some wine and treats as a thank you, and brought the fish back to the boat.  Rob and I enjoying both fish steamed in foil on the BBQ with garlic, lemon and spices, accompanied with pasilla peppers stuffed with brown rice, two cheeses, mushrooms and onions, and a red lentil curry on the side.  

Everything tastes better in the fresh air
One Fish, Two Fish

The next morning, they gifted us with two lobster tails, bounty from their night lobster fishing.  I surprised them with some warm banana, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  

Steak and Lobster

We are starting to "live off the sea", which includes generous gifts from fishing friends.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Arrrggh.....There be pirates in these waters!

Describing our introduction to Santa Catalina Island as a sharp contrast to the quiet secluded harbors at Santa Cruz Island is an understatement.  We happened to arrive at the beginning of the Annual Buccaneer Days, which meants hundreds of boats mostly from the greater Los Angeles area, with fully costumed crews in pirate costumes, rum drinks and decorations.    Dozens of dinghys zipped in and out of the three coves to convene at the Twin Harbors little town.  Wow!

There is random cannon fire in the cove that is answered with a loud  "AARRGH". 

An unfortunate Pirate
Rob and I had given away our pirate costumes prior to departure.  Then we remembered our flag collection, and found some pirate themed flags to fly on the halyards so we could fit in, a little.

There are hundreds of hiking paths across the island and we went off on a day hike from Twin Harbors, across the isthmus to Catalina Harbor and then straight up a dusty road for 1.5 mile.  There were no switchbacks nor shade.  It was a brutal introduction to the southern CA sun, but once we made it to the top, we enjoyed another couple of hours of meandering up on the coastline, with incredible views.  

The Harbor Patrol staff at Twin Harbors were super accommodating and friendly.  What a job to keep all these boaters safe and happy.  We were also very appreciative of the free Internet that Rob tapped into.   Thank you USC (Marine Science Center)!

Shindig is down there somewhere.....

View from Hike of Cherry Cove, where Shindig was moored

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Metal on deck

By Rob

The morning after the Bertram fire in Morro Bay I found this hunk of metal on the deck.
It looked important and broken.

I scratched my head and looked aloft,  "Is this part of Shindig's rig?"
I feared that it could be part of the main halyard swivel that I've had issue with in the past.  The swivel is a unique piece, long out of production that could be big issue to source.

Nancy hauled me up the mast and the swivel is in good shape as are all the other fittings on the mast.

There is still a mystery to be solved.
Perhaps in the rush to untie from the burning boat something broke loose on the Bertram and landed on our deck.

I don't like these puzzles.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Santa Cruz Island

By Rob

I pried Nancy's firm grip from the dock in Santa Barbara and we made our way out of the harbor and returned to Santa Cruz Island.

In the morning of our departure I purchased a fishing license and deployed lines for the 22 miles sail out to the islands.

I only caught kelp.

Once we had the hook down, Nancy and I took the dingy out the the famous Painted Caves.  These caves go back some 600 feet and have wonderful colors at the tideline and the ceiling of the cave.  When we visited the swell was running and made it unsafe to get too far back but these photos give you an idea.  I had visited the caves 10 years ago and it was just as spooky as before!

Entrance to Painted Cave
Inside looking out

Navigating in the dark

Our next stop was Lady's harbor.   It is only big enough for one or two boats.  You need to anchor bow and stern so you don't bump the cliffs..   Our stern anchor was not setting well so I put it on the beach and jammed it in while Nancy winched on the tension. Once we were confident that we were well set in the narrow anchorage, we enjoyed a wonderful evening rolling gently in the swell.

Anchor Down!

Exploring a beach cave at Cuevo Valdez Anchorage

Beach time

Shindig at Cuevo Valdez

Arch Rock Exploration

Our last stop before leaving Santa Cruz Island was Little Scorpion Anchorage.  This is a wonderful spot on the East end of the Island that has several caves to explore.

We met up with new friends that we first met in Santa Cruz (the town) two weeks before.  Enjoyed a fun happy hour aboard their beautiful sloop.

They were "boat bound" as a young sea lion had climbed aboard their dinghy.  The poor guy was not healthy and we believe he beached himself in the boat to die.  As crazy as that sounds, this time of year it is common in the Channel Islands for sea lions to do this.  The dinghy part is unique..... usually they find a place on shore or in a cave.

Next stop.... Santa Catalina Island.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Galley and Cooking

from Nancy

The galley is one area of the boat where I am currently Commander. (caveat – this changes when we have guests or crew) Cooking and eating healthily is a daily pleasure of mine. Also it's been fun figuring out how to put together a somewhat organized system in a very small galley. I'm enjoying creating interesting meals while Rob and I are on the sailboat. (or "on the hook", to be more specific. Which means there is likely not a Trader Joes, grocery store, restaurant nor pizza delivery nearby).
Even though we did not provision extensively, we have too much food on board. I have a lot of homemade frozen dishes, such as chile chicken enchiladas, soups, mushroom & chicken pastas, that are waiting for their debut night. At each port, I've replenished perishables such as lettuces, onions, peppers, mushrooms and fresh berries and fruit. We are not purists; there are cans aboard with favorite soups, beans, chopped clams and other favorites that we may not be able to find in Mexico. I need to be able to make my homemade clam dip whenever there is a Shindig! In addition to the general storage area in the galley, there are two plastic lidded storage boxes for the Pantry and the Snack foods.

We are determined to consume our way through most of this in the next 3 weeks so we can start over with our crew for the Baja Ha Ha rally. With the next 3-5 days out at the Channel Islands, we should be making a dent in our supplies.

Here's our menu yesterday. You can see we are not holding back. We've been having seafood nearly every day since departure, and have started craving red meat.

Breakfast: fresh strawberries, bananas, blueberries with greek yogurt sprinkled with flax seed and warm homemade banana bread
Lunch: "fumi" salad – Chinese chicken cabbage salad, lentil soup on top of brown rice
Snacks: ½ ham and cheese sandwich, homemade cookies (peanut butter or banana chocolate chip) – both recipes from Miraval spa
Happy Hour: mixed nuts, sliced smoked gouda cheese, sliced apples with cinnamon salt
Dinner: Flank steak with rub, mixed green salad with fresh croutons, tempura shrimp with dipping sauce, baked beans
Dessert: Nutter Butter peanut cookies and one Scharffen Berger Chocolate
Beverages: Crystal Light, Coors Light (guess who?), Lime and Pomegranate juice, Babcock Chardonnay and Smoking Loon Pinot Noir

Monday, October 1, 2012

Seamanship 101 - Securing the Dinghy

Affix the dingy painter to a solid object  8^)

Santa Barbara

From Nancy

We’re finishing up a beautiful 4 day stay in the SB Harbor. We rented a car so we could get around more. Friday night we enjoyed the coastal drive down to Ventura, where we joined sailor friends for dinner and overnight at the beach house. I had lots of things to do in town, with errands to restock the sailboat, favorite stores to visit. Saturday afternoon we hosted an "Open Shindig" in the harbor and in town friends joined us for drinks and snacks. 

Cockpit Party on Shindig

Family Photo from Spring 2012 in Santa Barbara - Miss you Bryan!
View looking North at Ledbetter Beach from the Mesa
Santa Barbara is the closest to my hometown, after moving here when I was 17, graduating from UC Santa Barbara and working here before moving to the San Francisco Bay area. We’ve been visiting SB once or twice a year, eating our way through town, re-connecting with friends that were lucky enough to make a life here While restaurants and shops have changed, the experience is always memorable. Here’s a list of some of our favorite restaurants or things to do. Gotta go as we have one more half day left before we sail back to Santa Cruz Island!

1.Brophy Brothers – Best location, overlooking the harbor. Consistently great seafood. Go early to get a table outside. The noise level is very loud, but the fresh shellfish, chowder & salad combo and people watching is excellent. Worth the wait any time of day.

2.Soujourner- vegetarian café with daily specials, fresh juices, local wine by the glass. Old favorites remain on menu – vegetarian tostadas and lasagna. Rob’s choice: fish tacos, Nancy: Beet, carrot and celery juice and chicken curry salad.

3.La Superica –Opens at 11am, closed on Wed. A taqueria  shack that attracts locales and LA Zagat following crowd.  Stand up ordering of smaller plates, sit in plastic outdoor chairs under a tented roof. We know the menu by the numbers, and always get #16, which is a delicious caloric combo of grilled pasilla peppers, onions, special cheese and corn tortillas. Last night we shared a table with a sailing instructor from Marina Del Rey attending his 55th high school reunion. 

4.Cabrillo Street – From Ledbetter beach to East Beach. There is so much to see and enjoy along this long palm tree and hotel lined boulevard which includes bike and walking paths by the expansive beach. The Sunday morning art shows are a fun excuse to get down there, breakfast at the East Beach café near the volleyball courts is good. Side tours on Stearns Wharf or across to the Urban Wine trail where over a half dozen local wineries congregate, can be dangerous. 

5.Walk State Street – Highway 101 used to go right across State Street, which meant you had to cross the highway to get to the shopping. Now there is an underpass for cars, bike and pedestrians, which starts at the entrance to Stearns Wharf and the dolphin fountain, and goes up State Street. Get your walking sandals, pocketbook and camera, and stroll up the 15-20 blocks for some serious shopping. Great cafes along the way to rest and people watch.

We were in the shadow of Tamsen, a 174ft Perini Navi Mega Yacht.
The two masts were visible from miles away as we approached SB Harbor.