Monday, November 7, 2011

Home Again

One of the things I like about living in San Francisco is that it's a nice place to come home to.  It lifts you up when you're feeling down about coming back from a great vacation.  Not this time.  I get off the plane from Cabo in my flips and shorts, and it's dark, cold, and raining at SFO—WTF.

photo by Greg Towers
What's next for Drei?  Drei is spending the winter in the Sea of Cortez (lucky boat!), likely visited by friends and family a few times before being towed back home to Ventura.  The best part about folding trimarans is that they'll go upwind at 60kts—on a trailer.

Here is what they look like folded.  This is sistership Sally Lightfoot (Paul's former boat) getting ready for transport.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spinnaker Surprise

Today we took Patsy and the Talion crew for a daysail in Bahia San Lucas before the awards ceremony tonight.

Somewhere en route between Bahia Santa Maria and Cabo, we decided to plan a little surprise to thank Patsy Verhoeven for repairing our spinnaker. Armed with a roll of yellow duct tape and too much time on our hands, we spread the spinnaker out in the cabin and taped "Thanks Patsy!" across the middle in block letters.

With Patsy and the Talion crew aboard, we launched the spinnaker and sprung the surprise.

That's Patsy at the helm beneath the Baja Ha-Ha flag.

This photo and the next were taken by Greg Towers on Sojourn.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life is Good

Gary in his bud hat as we button up the boat after crossing the finish line of the last leg.

This is me relaxing during the final approach to Cabo after crossing the finish line.  Having tan feet is indicative of a salubrious lifestyle.

This might be the new home screen on my phone.

Arriving in Cabo

Finito! at 4:30p. Now to anchor in Cabo, then on to some kind of drinks with ice (since we've been out for days now).

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Maybe stormy is an exaggeration, but it was a bad combination of strong wind, confused seas, and not being able to see anything except the lights on the boat. It might have been fun in the daylight, but it was unnerving having the boat pitched around without being able to see anything around us. As the waves roll under the boat, they can turn it substantially. Not being able to anticipate them means that steering corrections always happen too late; and not being able to see anything in the sky or on the horizon means that the compass is your only measure of how far and how fast the boat is being spun. When you're already sailing as much downwind as possible to stay under control, there is not much room for course deviation. Turn too much toward the wind and the boat gets tippy and speeds up too much; turning past dead downwind will cause an accidental jibe.

Each time we hit 15 knots, we reduced sail: the spinnaker was replaced by the smaller reaching jib, then no headsail at all. After a few nervous hours under main alone, things calmed down and we were back to our normal sail plan.  It was the 1% of the trip when it's not so cool to have the highest sail-area-to-displacement ratio in the fleet.

Now approaching Cabo, with 30 miles to go.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Late Start

Now trying to enlist help from the locals to recover the sunken outboard. Self-rescue attempts so far have been hampered by a number of factors, including help from the locals. The fallback plan is to abandon the motor and continue.

After several hours of trying, we abandoned the sunken motor.  Hopefully we can find a replacement in Cabo.

Diving for Outboards

Returning to the boat from our last night ashore in Bahia Santa Maria, we were about to pull the dinghy up on deck to get ready for the 7am start. The dinghy is too heavy to lift onto the boat with the outboard attached, so the first step in this process is to disconnect the gas tank and the motor and lift those aboard first. Getting the motor aboard, once detached from the dinghy, involves about two precarious steps to turn around and lift the motor onto the deck while standing on the slippery floor of an 8-foot inflatable dinghy. In one of those instants where bad goes quickly to worse, Paul slipped and set the motor down quickly on the side of the dink to regain his balance. With the heavy part of the motor being more over the side than on it, it slipped over, taking Paul with it. After a few seconds of anxious deliberation, Paul wisely chose to let go of the quickly-sinking forty-pound chunk of metal and return to the surface. The motor, now not attached to anything, sits at the bottom of the bay 15-20 feet below us.

It is absolutely invisible in the dark, so there is no point in trying to recover it tonight. We decided to try in the morning, even though it will mean missing the 7am start.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beach Party

photo by Kathy Kane
The beach party in BSM is one of the high points of the Ha-Ha social calendar, with cold beer (a luxury for us), neck beards, and sea stories.

BSM by Day

We arrived late last night and used the time at anchor to catch up on sleep. Bahia Santa Maria is a nice place to wake up. The sun was up well before us, so we wiped down the boat and hung out our increasingly-foul foul-weather gear to dry before putting it away for the rest of the trip. The last leg to Cabo will be warm enough that we won't need it. Hopefully.

Boat chores done and laundry hung, we took the dinghy back into the tidal canals in the mangroves. It was an interesting trip, wending our way through a leafy maze that looked more like the bayou than the Baja desert. Fish were everywhere in the canals, which attracted seabirds and local commercial fishermen who maintain rustic fishing camps along the shore. Richard called them "little boxes".
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of cinder block
And they all are full of fishermen
Here beside Magdalena Bay
The backcountry trip was followed by a surf session in the Bay's shallow tidal break with Dave and Kathy from Lightspeed. We took them up on their offer to visit later in the afternoon and were glad we did. They have been traveling by boat for the last six years and plan to do a circumnavigation via the southern capes next. We were all impressed with their outfitting of the boat and their ingenuity in dealing with the usual downsides of living aboard. Sprouting seeds, for example, is a nice way to provide fresh, healthy food aboard while breaking up the monotony of canned and dried provisions.  They keep a blog of their travels, including some nice photos from this trip to Baja:

Arrived at Bahia Santa Maria

Finished leg two at 11:26p on 10/30.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


That's my pirate name.

Up the Mast

While we were hoisting the spinnaker somewhere between Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria, the shackle for the masthead halyard came open. The sail came down on Gary's head and the halyard went up—right to the top of the mast. There are three other headsail halyards, but this is the one we've been using the most. We can't use the maxi-reacher without it. Flying the spinnaker from the next-highest halyard is dodgy in these ocean swells. We've already dipped it in the water too many times; the last resulting in a big tear along the foot (thanks again Patsy for repairing that).

With over a hundred miles to go until BSM, going up the mast after it was looking like the best option. It's tricky to do underway, but the seas were small and the motion of the boat wasn't too bad. Gary, being a former fireman, made a sling out of two life jackets and strapped himself in. We raised the spinnaker from the next-highest halyard, dropped the mainsail, and Paul drove with the spinnaker alone while I winched Gary up using the main halyard.

Now we're back underway, big sails flying from the masthead.

Stowaway Squid

Some time last night, we picked up about six squid on the trampolines. The sailing wasn't wild enough to ship that much water through the nets, so our best guess is that they jumped onto the boat (Drei's leeward net is only a few inches off the water and frequently gets doused, so they wouldn't have to launch themselves very high to get aboard).

Today, we continue the pleasant spinnaker run to Bahia Santa Maria, probably arriving just after midnight. Luckily it's a big entrance to a forgiving anchorage, so coming in after dark won't be too stressful.

Bahia Santa Maria barely qualifies as a village—there are no services, just a handful of seasonally-occupied fishing shacks. There is a broad shallow bay that exposes acres of flat sand beach when the tide goes out, and the long wave break it creates makes for some great surfing—and some spectacular dinghy crashes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Postman's Holiday

What do we do with a day off from sailing?  More sailing.

Today we took a postman's holiday and went for a pleasant daysail around the bay with pickup crew Merileigh, on loan from Convivia.

The beach party had a new event this year—the boat pull. One of the big cruising cats got stuck on the beach and everyone got involved in the rescue attempt. Paul has some great video of that on the way.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Surfing in Turtle Bay

Paul demonstrates how the stand-up paddleboard is just the thing for making the most of the gentle break here.

A Little Love from Latitude 38

We made 'Lectronic Latitude with our Three Buds costumes. Here we are (at the end of the article) heading out to the start in San Diego.

Two Buds?

Gary found some water in the after berth (the jokingly salty name for the aft cabin) and went in to clean things up and hang the wet stuff out to dry. Paul and I were going about our business in the meantime, reorganizing supplies, coiling every available line into Flemish rolls, etc., when we noticed that Gary had been down there an awfully long time. Turns out he wasn't there. He wasn't anywhere inside and the dinghy and stand-up paddleboard were still on the boat. It only took about one anxious minute before we found him. Slung down low in the forward nets, you can nap there and be pretty much invisible from the aft part of the boat.

Cruising Mode

Drei at anchor, looking like the ultimate cruiser with the surfboard, beachwear, and BBQ.

This was the day when Paul and I rolled every available line into Flemish coils in a fit of obsessive-compulsiveness.  The boat looked like a rug shop.

Taking the Long Road

We weren't the first boat into the anchorage, but we probably get the prize for most distance sailed. DREI, like most multihulls and sport boats, can go downwind faster by jibing back and forth, sailing about 30-45 degrees off from straight downwind. That's the theory anyway, though I'm not sure it improved our downwind speed through the swells and chop. Still, who could complain about sailing more distance than necessary when the weather is great, the boat is skimming along at 11-16 kts, and still arriving early enough to get a prime spot in the anchorage and plenty of R&R time?

Today the DREI crew would like to thank Patsy Verhoeven on Talion for offering to fix the spinnaker we tore on the way here. That's some amazing and commendable generosity.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Arriving at Turtle Bay

Finished the first leg at 10:56a. Now it's time to rest, clean up, and relax in Turtle Bay. That, and see if the dinghy motor still works (fingers crossed).

Dinghy Douche

Closing in on our first stop, Turtle Bay, after two nights at sea. No casualties except maybe the dinghy motor. It was stowed in the bottom of the dinghy, which was lashed upright on the netting between the main hull and the ama, and we swamped it by shipping a wave through the net.


Paul at the helm at daybreak.
The wind improved considerably on Tuesday, allowing us to make up some time on those who motored continuously right from the start. It held strong through the night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sailing through the Night

People who haven't sailed offshore often ask how we sleep. Now you know ;)

This is Gary, sleeping in his foul-weather gear off-watch, ready to go on short notice.

A Slow Start

The first day out was very calm. We sailed for a while, but later started up the engine, which we continued to run most of the night. So discouraging to burn up all this downwind distance motoring.

Monday, October 24, 2011

¡Listo, Vamanos!

And we're off—doing a pleasant 6-7 kts and just crossed the border about an hour ago. The TV news station KUSI in San Diego did a short piece on the Ha-Ha as the boats were leaving the harbor:

Next stop is the fishing village of Bahia Tortugas. Until then, we'll be spend what will likely be our only cold night underway, sailing through the wine-dark sea. Further south, the weather gets warmer and the sun and white sand make the water look turquoise.

Wenching vs. Winching

Pirates and wenches were popular choices at the costume party. There were plenty of winches too since the party was hosted by West Marine.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Three Buds

Off to the pre-start costume party (we're going as three buds), then doing some final preparations before tomorrow's start.
The Ha-Ha start draws quite a crowd of spectators in the harbor--we made the local TV news in Dan Diego in 2009.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


DREI, sitting pretty in San Diego. We're doing most of our provisioning today, checking over the sail inventory and deck hardware, then loading up the boat with groceries and fuel (just in case).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Picking a Winner

I booked a Southwest flight to San Diego and, as usual, forgot to check in early to get a spot in the early boarding group. One advantage to being in the C group, if you can deal with getting stuck in the middle seat, is that you get to choose your seat mates.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's the Deal with Dacron?

No doubt this incident from the 2009 Ha-Ha influenced Paul and Gary's decision to switch out the carbon racing mainsail for the Dacron one:
Carbon sails hold their shape really well, but Dacron is much harder to stick your hand through. None of us wants to see that happen again.

Crew Shirts

You'll be seeing a lot more of these over the next two weeks--our fearsome-looking crew shirts, just arrived from the printer.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting All Dressed Up for Departure

Yesterday we took the racing main off the boat, and bent on the Mexi-Main. Holy cow, it looks like its been sailed on for a total of about two hours!!

Gary and DREI leave Ventura on Wednesday for the delivery to San Diego. With him will be his two sons, Chris and Pat. Weather looks perfect, and there should be breeze all week.

Wont be long before the Rally crew (Gary, Paul and Jared) are donning costumes for the kickoff party on 10/23.

Friday, September 30, 2011

October is Here. Time to Prepare!

Most boats in the Ha-Ha are on their way to an extended - and usually open ended - cruising voyage in Mexico and beyond. For more than a few this rally is the beginning of a planned circumnavigation of the globe. Needless to say, the level of preparation among the fleet is staggering.

Trimaran S/V Drei is a bit more laid back. Here are a few reasons why: First, this is not our first rodeo. Among the three of us are many decades of sailing and racing all kinds of boats. Jared and I have Pacific crossings and a previous Ha-Ha on our resumes.

Second, Drei is not a complex boat. She can command your attention when the breeze is up, but from a systems and maintenance perspective Drei is very wash and wear. There are a couple of things to do, such as replace the net lashings and move the masthead running backs aft. A half-day of work and Drei is up to sailing to Cabo.

A third reason involves the crew again... Let's just say that there's no ama drama on this trimaran. Gary and Jared are great guys to go to sea with. So here's to

3 weeks left before
3 buds head out on
3 hulls for
2 weeks, making
2 stops and arriving in
1 place in
1 piece

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Drei in Tahoe Earlier This Year

Cruising with the carbon racing sails, entering Emerald Bay.  This photo was taken in Tahoe just before our winning performance in the Trans-Tahoe race.