Seabird is back in the USA for the first time in almost three years!! We departed Puerto Vallarta on February 2nd and it was hard to leave our friends Mike and Sara as well as the beautiful weather in PV but it was time to move on. It was a calm, moonlit, two night passage to La Paz, Mexico which is on the Baja and the Sea of Cortez. We elected to stay at CostaBaja Marina because an old friend, Gabriel, runs the marina and we knew he would provide the same service we received from him years ago when he was at Cruiseport in Ensenada. We were not disappointed as he arranged Valentine’s roses for Steven to give to me that were really special. The marina is about 5 miles from town but there is a free shuttle that runs to town several times a day. Carnival was in town and main streets were closed to allow for vendors of just about everything you can think of and at least 24 bandstands that played music until dawn. We were very happy to return to our resort like marina away from town each night…….we are getting old!! We did run into a very special boat from our past. Ursa Major is a Malahide Trawler that was built in Ireland by a fellow that was at Mystic River Marina when Steven and I were kids on our parents’ boats. We both remember the day it pulled into the marina because a grey trawler was unique and strange to see in those days and here we are 40 years later with a grey trawler. The boat is chartered up in Alaska and we enjoyed sharing stories with the Captain and Crew. We hope to see them in Alaska this summer. We enjoyed our stay in La Paz and wish we had time to explore the Sea of Cortez.
Cabo San Lucas was to be our next stop but we got a weather window and our desire to get to the USA resulted in a non stop run from La Paz to Ensenada. This was the longest passage we have done with just the two of us. It was 5 nights at sea and the weather was pretty good most of the way. We were able to get some sleep and fall into a nice rhythm that you do not get on the one or two night trips. We arrived in Ensenada rested and ready to revisit some favorite spots for margaritas and fish tacos from 5 years earlier. Cruiseport and Ensenada did not have the same appeal now that we have been to so many wonderful ports is Mexico. It was time to fuel up with $2.37/gallon fuel for the last time and check out of Mexico.
San Diego was our first US port and we did not know what to expect from immigration and customs. We have heard stories about customs taking all your beef and vegetables and at times boarding with dogs and guns while they go through every inch of the boat. We had used most of the fresh vegetables and would take our chances with the meat etc.
Seabird arrived at the customs dock and Steven went to the phone and announced our arrival and was told to wait on the boat for a call. Ten minutes later they called and asked for our registration number and passport numbers and the said “that’s it- welcome back to the USA.” We could not believe it and the next morning called to make sure we were checked in with both customs and immigration. They said we were fine and never came aboard or asked for our Zarpe. Friends we had met in PV arranged for us to stay at the Kona Kai Marina in Shelter Harbor and it is a wonderful facility. We rented a car for three weeks and did our best to support the local economy. I have a cousin that lives in San Diego and he and his wife were just wonderful. We spent many enjoyable evenings sampling the fine restaurants in the area. We were also able to visit my father in the Desert and in Newport Beach. I am sorry we did not have more time but maybe after Alaska. We took advantage of all the services available in San Diego. The list is long but we have a new Tecma head, new canvases, changed back to USA Direct TV, 7 new heat strips for the air handlers, deck cabinets re-laminated, some carpentry work, engine maintenance, sub zero maintenance and a major repair of the main engine dry stack that had split open in the area of the upper deck. All this was done in 3 weeks and in Central America you were lucky if you got a call back with in 3 weeks!! We do plan to have major work done next fall and our experience with San Diego and specifically Knight and Carver puts them as a front runner but we will also look at yards in the Pacific North West.
We left San Diego for Dana Point on March 20th and by chance that was the date exactly 5 years ago that we made the deal to purchase our boat from Dana Point. We celebrated that anniversary with Steve Miller of Nordhavn and his wife Sophie. Steve was our salesman and has remained a good friend. We also had a visit from my sister in law Stacey who was in California on business and we were able catch up for a few days before we departed for Monterey. Steven and I are both having a hard time adjusting to the cold weather after 3 years in the tropics. Shorts and flip flops just don’t cut it in 40 degree weather so we will have to do some shopping.
Our plan was to go two nights into Monterey which meant getting through the LA Shipping Lanes and then around the dreaded Point Conception. We were fine on both accounts as the seas were calm and we cruised with dolphins, seals and whales along the coast but the winds started to build as we went around Conception and a few hours later we were in gale force winds with HUGE seas that just picked us up and tossed us around for hours on end. We scrambled to find the cruising guide and a safe place to pull in for the night and luckily we were not too far from the beautiful Port of San Luis. Once we regrouped and had some rest we decided to make a short trip to San Simeon to anchor below the Hearst Castle. It was a little rolly but not a problem compared to the seas outside the bay. We slept until 2AM and pulled the anchor and made our way to Monterey. One serious problem we had was a sulfur odor that we attributed to the bilges and the rough seas. We bleached all the bilges and the odor got stronger and we discovered that our starter battery was bubbling sulfuric acid into our stateroom. We disconnected the battery and used the parallel switch to start the generator and the wing engine but this was a scary situation that we need to address while we are in Monterey.
It does feel good to be back in the USA. We have had and will have many great adventures in other Countries but there is no place like HOME…………