Sunset on the Baja
The Adventures of the Wasatch
When you reach the horizon, you're near  your journey's end
Ships Log
Boat Work
Before the Sailing
Ships Log
Page 03
While we were in San Diego, one afternoon Peter and I were sitting in the cockpit talking, and the
topic of his recent surgery came up.  Not too long before we had departed from Marina Del Rey, Peter
had gone to his doctor and had several skin lesions removed.  I had known about this and had
thought the matter had been taken care of.  He had said that they had turned out to be skin cancer,
but that didn’t really raise any alarms for me, because most skin cancers are relatively harmless, even
the malignant ones.  However, being a doctor myself, as we were sitting in the cockpit, I inquired if
they had determined what kind of cancers they were.  When he said that they were melanomas, I was a
bit shocked.  Although most skin cancers were usually harmless, melanomas were serious.  I asked if
his doctor had recommended taking wider incisions.  Peter said that his doctor had, but Peter had
been planning to go on this trip and knew that I was depending on him to help out, so he had decided
to postpone the wide excisions until he got back from the trip.   It was clear to me that Peter needed
to immediately go back and have the wider excisions.  Although Peter at first was resistant to the idea,
I gradually persuaded him how serious the situation was and his life was more important than helping
out on the trip.  So he called his wife, and his wife called the doctor, who said he could do the surgery
as soon as Peter got back.  As for Mary and me, Peter had been a big help psychologically just getting
us started.  The Kelly Peterson was a good, solid, smooth sailing boat and almost sails herself.  In fact,
most of the time, there’s hardly enough for one person to do sailing her, let along two.  A couple of
times I got the impression that Peter was getting a little frustrated, not having enough to do, and
doing things his own way as he was used to single handing his boat.  Although it had taken us two
days to get to San Diego, his wife drove down in a couple of hours and picked him up. I wish Peter had
been able to do the rest of the trip with us.  He had been a good friend in Marina Del Rey, and who
knows when, if ever, we’d see each other again.


As Mary and I headed out of San Diego Harbor, we were now down to two crew on the Wasatch.  
However, we had picked up another sailing companion.  We had become friends with Phil on
Manasea.  As we were headed in the same direction, Phil was single handing for the first time in
awhile, and Mary and I were still just starting out, we decided to stay in radio contact with each other.  
The passage to Ensenada was a long day.  Phil suggested that to shorten the long day a little bit that
we sail over to
South Coronado Island and spend the night and then get an early start from there the next day for
Ensenada.  It sounded like a good plan to me so we followed him over and spent a quiet evening
anchored at the open roadstead on South Coronado Island.


We weighed anchor at 6:00 AM, about an hour before daylight.  Fortunately the rocna came up and
over the bow roller smoothly and without a problem.  Then we motored out and around a large blue
fishing boat that marked the eastern edge of the large aqua farm which was surrounded by lighted
buoys, and had a pleasant and uneventful motor sail to Ensenada with wind off the starboard quarter
at 6 to 8 knots.  At this point in our cruising experience, the main determination of whether a passage
would be a challenge or a cake walk was weather.  And the weather was proving to be much like a
typical sailing day to Catalina, moderate to mild.  Indeed the entire past summer in Marina del Rey had
been very mild without almost any storms or any rain, and it was looking like this long term weather
pattern was going to continue.  We ended up getting to Ensendada before Phil and intended to follow
his suggestion of going on into the Harbor and getting a slip at Baja Naval.  Once in the harbor it was a
little unclear to me where Baja Naval was and I called them on channel 16 on the VHF.  Their
instructions were a little unclear, but they said they would send someone out to direct us in.  As I
looked out to see their man, there were several Mexicans waving at us so I decided just to pick the
easiest slip to get into which was straight ahead and a straight shot in.  As we entered the slip I
stopped the boat about half way in, and had Mary throw the bow line to one of the boys, while I threw
the stern line to another one.  At that point another cruiser came down, introduced himself and began
to talk.  I was momentarily distracted talking to him, but then realized that the boat was still moving
forward a bit, was almost ready to crash into the pier ahead being pushed by the wind from behind,
and the boat boys had not cleated of the lines but were just standing there holding them.  So a bit
flustered, I threw the gear into reverse and gave a quick but significant burst of throttle to stop the
boat again, then jumped off grabbed the stern line, secured it, and had the other boy secure the bow
line.  The gentleman I was talking to seemed a bit amused and said that these boat boys didn’t know
what they were doing.  The boat boys weren’t offended at all, because they didn’t speak any English.  
He also said that he had had his boat at this dock for several months, but he would not recommend it
because there was poor security.  He had gotten his boat broken into and some things stolen.  He now
had his boat dry docked.  Pretty sure that this dock was not Baja Naval, I got back on the VHF and
reestablished communication with them.  Now having the boat secured and talking to them on the
handheld radio, I could get a better feel for where I was, and where Baja Naval was, and could see the
boat boy at Naval waving to me.  So we thanked everybody for their help at that slip, retrieved our
lines, backed out and headed for Baja Naval.  Although up a side channel, the slip at Baja Naval was
also pretty straight forward getting into as the finger piers were at a 45 degree angle to the channel.  
However, I could see that it was going to be far trickier getting out when it came time to leave.  Later
Phil arrived in his trimaran.  The only place they had room for him was the slip clear in next to the
shore.  I was impressed with the way Phil maneuvered his boat around and backed into the slip.  Of all
the boat knowledge and skills that I have acquired over the years, I would have to say I am probably
most deficient in maneuvering the Wasatch in tight confined areas.  Everytime I pull into a new Marina
or boat slip I get a lot of anxiety about making it in without letting the boat get out of control.  The Kelly
Peterson with its extensive amount of prop walk is particularly difficult to maneuver, and I really have
never taken enough time and had enough practice to become proficient at it.
As we were walking down the pier to the office we notice the Beatrix, another Kelly Peterson owned
by Jeff Standler who we had met in Two Harbors on Catalina a year or so ago.  He had been heading
south on a cruise to Australia the previous year and then had some equipment trouble, had spent
some time in San Diego and then had sailed on down to Ensenada and working on his boat.  Although
he was back visiting his relatives at the time it was good running across a familiar boat there in
Phil soon lined up someone to bring fuel to his boat and  at $2.36 per gallon, I signed up along with
him to top off my tanks.  Then we went out for dinner that evening at a local restaurant and had a
delicious fish dinner for a very modest price.  Ensenada had a definitely Mexican feel to it, but it was
unlike many of the towns and cities farther down the coast, which often had more of a tourist
character to them.  It would take some getting use to trying to communicate when most everyone
around spoke very little English.


The next day we walked over to the port captains office and officially cleared in.  It was a lengthy
process of going from one counter to another and then back around again, not knowing exactly what
was going on but just following finger pointing.  All the while other Mexicans and people that seemed
to know what they were doing would come in and go right to the front of the line, get some papers and
then go to the front of the next line.  The final formality was to press a button.  If you got a green light,
you could leave.  If you got a red light, you needed to take a customs official back to your boat to
search it.  Fortunately we got a green light.  Although Phil got a red light, he said the customs official
really didn’t search very much or stay very long.  Mary and I were enjoying Ensenada, being in a
foreign port everything was new and different and were thinking about spending a couple of more
days, although the surge in the Marina was worse than any other place I’ve seen and was tearing up
my new dock lines.  Phil was on a limited buget and didn’t want to pay any more slip fees than he had
to so he said he was leaving later that day.  After talking it over with Mary, we decided to head out with
Phil, partly to have company on the way south and partly to save the dock lines.  Backing out of the
slip turned out to be not as bad as I had thought, because as we backed to the east the wind kept the
bow down to the west and helped counteract some of the prop walk effect in reverse.  We soon
cleared the break water, hoisted the sails, and had a nice beam reach in about 15 to 18 knots of wind
to clear the point of Ensenada Bay.  As we rounded the point, I eased the sails out, added a preventer
to the main boom and altered course to 185 degrees to give us an apparent wind of 120 on the
starboard quarter.  The wind began to ease as the sun went down, and although we had almost caught
up with Phil, he began to pull away in the lighter wind conditions.  We had to head up a little bit to
keep more wind in the sails, as the roll of the boat from the Pacific swells was knocking the wind out
of the sails.  I rigged the wisker pole and put the genoa out to starboard, so that we could head back
down on a more direct course south, but the roll of the boat had a different movement that was
making Mary seasick, so I brought the genoa back over to port and headed back up to a broad reach.  
The best angle seem to be to keep the wind about l20 degrees to 130 degrees apparent as this kept
good wind in the genoa and less roll of the boat.  
After a pleasant Lasagna and French bread dinner, I turned on the engine, double reefed the main,
and furled some of the genoa in, so Mary could just concentrate on the Radar and watching for other
boats.  Mary and I decided she would take watch from 9:00 to 1:00 AM and I would take watch from 1:00
AM to 5:00AM.  


When I came back on watch at 1:00 AM. We were doing 6 knots at 2000 RPMs and an apparent wind of
11 knots.  I unfurled the genoa which increased our speed to 7.5 knots, although within an hour the
wind began to weaken until by 4;30 the boat speed was down to 6 with an apparent wind of 7.  By the
time 5:00 AM came around I was ready for some sleep.  We had been thinking of stopping at San Quitin
Island, but as we got there, things were going pretty smoothly and decided to sail on.
Leaving the Land Behind
Rounding the cape out of Ensenada
Heading south again
Tall Ship heading for San Diego
KP44 on a broad reach to Ensenada