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Monday, December 19, 2011

12/19/2011 - We made it!

We arrived in Mazatlán at 1600. We're not actually IN Mazatlán, rather, we're anchored in the Storm Island Anchorage behind Isla Cardones. It's still Mazatlán, just not inside Mazatlán harbor.

Here are the dry statistics:

Total nautical miles: 253
Total hours underway: 54
Average speed: 4.68 knots
Engine hours: 49.8
Hours spent sailing: 4.2
Hours spent motorsailing: 27.5

Current position: N23°10.93' W106°24.35'

Now for the ugly details:

As I've already written, yesterday started out just fine. Got my new best friend, the Cape Horn windvane working, and even got some pure sailing in for awhile. However, about mid-afternoon, the wind started to pick up a bit. I thought about reefing the main but felt it was still a little premature. I KNOW that you're supposed to reef as soon as you think about it! I KNOW THAT!!! But I didn't and I doubt that I'm the only one guilty of that. Anyway, the wind built a little more and I finally decided to rouse Lulu so we could put a reef in it.

For those not familiar with the terminology, "reefing" is cutting down on the size of the sail so that there's less of it for the wind to act on. It's not incredibly difficult but it does require a number of steps to be followed. The first step, and the most troubling to me is: turn the boat dead into the wind. You reef when the wind gets too strong for the amount of sail you're flying. So, turning into the wind at this point is going to make the apparent wind across the deck really scream. Plus, turning into the wind usually also means turning into the seas. So, now you have the wind screaming at you head on, plus your crashing into head seas with the bow alternately rising way up in the air and then crashing back down into the water. And someone (me) has to be at the front of the mast for the procedure. Add to all this mess, you have to lower the main partway, tie in a reef, and then raise it back up. All while Lulu is trying desperately to keep the boat pointed into the wind. The same wind and seas that try to make the boat turn one way or the other away from the wind. Meanwhile, having neglected to roll up the jib before we tried this, it's flogging itself to death behind me as I face the front of the mast. And then, it gets caught in all the wires and gets backwinded which allows the wind to push us off the "dead into the wind" position. Aye-yi-yi. Meanwhile the wind is screaming through your ears, the boat is alternately climbing to the heavens and then plunging into the abyss, and your mouth is as dry as dust.

Didn't take too long for me to throw in the towel and holler, "Let's just take the damn thing down!" Took even less time for Lulu to agree. So, down came the main. We rolled up the jib, set the engine rpms to 2000 and turned back the way we were going. The downside, besides having to admit defeat, is that we now don't have a steadying sail set. As it turns out, I'm not sure it would have mattered, but still.

The wind didn't turn out to be the worst part. No, the worst part was the sea state. First the swells were only 2-3 feet but they were quite close together and hitting us on the port quarter, making for a very bumpy ride. As the night wore on the seas built to at least 5-6 feet and still too close together. How bumpy and uncomfortable was it? Glad you asked. Imagine you're trying to get dressed and 3 or 4 huge bullies keep shoving you around. You never know which one's going to shove next so you can't really brace for it. And they're merciless. Just because you happen to have your foul weather pants about halfway up and you need both hands to complete the task doesn't mean they'll stop shoving until you're done. No, they just keep shoving you. And it doesn't stop once you're dressed. No, they shove you relentlessly ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME!!! The only thing you can do is plop yourself down on a cushion (they'll shove you mid-plop) and hang on. This at least gives the shoves a little less traction. But the shoves still keep coming. Everything you do is a major chore. And, to top it off, trying to do stuff during the shoving promotes nausea. Are you beginning to see why I said that this part of the trip was no fun?

Lulu, trooper that she is, still managed to heat up food and coffee water, and make sandwiches and generally keep us fed. Mostly she kept me fed as she usually didn't feel good enough to eat anything. And, even though she felt like crap, she still stood all her watches.

And speaking of watches, during last night' watches, one of the bullies' friends joined them and, whenever you least expected it, would throw a bucket of salt water at you.

Yeah, we didn't enjoy the ride starting from about 3 PM yesterday until we stopped at 4 PM today. Oh, this morning when the sun was shining down and the windvane was doing such a good job and I got the staysail flying to steady the boat and add a little speed, then it was almost enjoyable, IF THESE FREAKIN' BULLIES WOULD JUST QUIT IT!!!

So there you have it. May have been our worst passage ever, except for our first day out of Newport, OR. Might have been worse ones, but if there were, we've blocked them. But, we made it. We're in Mazatlán and ready to get started exploring new territory. We may move to a marina for a little while as everything needs to be washed down.

Okay, enough of my whining.


Fixed Carbon said...

Steve: You were tied on when doing that reefing, I assume? Having had similar experiences, I trembled thinking of the two of you out there.

Anonymous said...


There's really no reason to come head to wind to put in a reef. I've put in a reef (or 2nd or 3rd) on Terrapin probably 50-100 times, and have never come head to wind to do it. Our procedure is: 1. Release halyard and pull down luff just past reef point. 2. Hook luff reef eye onto gooseneck hook and take back up halyard. 3. Release vang and ease mainsheet a few feet. 4. Take up reefing line (that's thru reef eye on leech). 5. Set mainsheet and vang. 6. Loosely set reef points across sail (really for neatness only). The whole deal is less than 5 minutes, even when it's really nasty.

If you can't get the sail down in step 1 (or back up in step 2), lubricate the track (ahead of time). If that doesn't work, just ease the sail a bit.


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah 2 more things. 1. Practice a few times as the sequence is real important and difficult to remember when things go to crap. 2. If it's real ugly, you can always heave to and then follow the above steps. I've never done that on Terrapin, but have on other boats.

Steve and Lulu said...

Yeah, I'm always tethered to the boat when I venture away from the cockpit at sea. I'm usually cussing the leash as it wraps around my leg or hangs up on something but I KNOW I'd be cussing louder if I went in the drink and watched the boat sail away without me.

Steve and Lulu said...

Every time I've tried to lower the main when there was any pressure on it, I've been unable to budge it very far. Maybe the track just needs lubricating. Hope that's all it is because, if I don't have to turn into the wind to reef, it would simplify things immensely. We've successfully reefed the main on other occasions but this time was just kind of a clusterf*ck. Thanks for the tip. I'll lube her up and try again.


Fixed Carbon said...

I can't lower my main without heading up. I have lubricated that monkey of a slot many times with no relief. A sailmaker said, "lemme fix it," then laid out a $3500 plan for replacing my slides with newer sexier slides and track. We head up. What the hell, I would have to go forward to reconnect the downhaul anyway after the reef. So,I go forward well tethered with all of the bother of tanglation that Steve describes above. Karin points up, and we do the whole deal. Pointing up isn't the problem, it is going forward to the mast. Now,for a cool 15 grand or more I probably could get an in-boom furler and better slides and not have to go forward. Or for 30 grand I could get in mast furling (which I witness to jam in a tight spot on a Beneteau; none of that for me, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Geez you should have bought a motorboat. What about dropping the main completely and reaching under headsail alone. Windvane would have loved that. Was that an option?

Steve and Lulu said...

You're probably right, Dave, I probably should have bought a motorboat. Yes, in retrospect (the easiest of all the "spects") it probably would have been possible to reach using just the jib. But for various reasons, I didn't. The windvane loved everything, including motorsailing with the staysail.


PS: If you happen to come across a motorboat that has the same stability and room as my 28' sailboat and can cruise along at 4-5 knots using 1/2 gallon of diesel per hour AND costs less than $30,000, PLEASE let me know ASAP!