Finally Departing San Diego for Ensenada, Mexico

Finally Departing San Diego for Ensenada, Mexico

It felt like we spent months in San Diego. Actually it was over 2 months.  Though it seems like we were stalling our departure, we had good reasons for the long stay.  During this time, family visited us in San Diego and we traveled to visit family.  Three major winter holidays were spent here: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year’s day.

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Our Christmas decoration on Luminesce.

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Anna’s handmade Christmas gift for Jeff, a cardboard (toilet paper roll cylinder) replica of our boat, Luminesce.

dinghy pumpout

Anna is using a kayak bilge pump to pump out the dinghy after an unusual rain fall in San Diego. 

Along with letting the girls play in our dinghy, Jeff entertains the girls is by creating these illustrations with stories to go a long with it. 


The top says, “Welcome to world famous J Mouse Café. Try our flaming Cheetos and tartin. 

Along with our small holiday celebrations, Jeff was able to finish important projects and acquire critical equipment and spares.  We now have extra solar panels, a wind generator, an auto tiller pilot, a water maker, and auto windlass in a box.  After all these were loaded and mostly installed on the boat, we felt we were ready to depart once the weather was favorable for our departure.

As a part of the preparation for a long passage, most people check their equipment on top of the mast and the rigging. 

Anna up the mast

Anna enjoyed the view from atop.

Looking down on deck

The view of our boat (green sail cover) and neighbor boat, s/v Sirena.

View of the public marina

Bay of San Diego and the Shelter Island Public Dock.

Right before departing San Diego we met quite a few wonderful cruisers. SV Fantasia was owned by Jeff and Anne who were cruising again after several years.  They cruised with their kids when then were in middle school years and really enjoyed their experiences.  Fantasia had many words of wisdom.  They left San Diego about a week before we did and they sent us emails about good marinas, weather and sea conditions on their passage, exchange rates, and even price of diesel.


A picture of s/v Fantasia from our mast.

That favorable weather window showed up on January 10th 2016.

Heading out to the pacific again

On January 10th 2016, we set out into the Pacific after more than 2 months of being in San Diego.

Just after one day out in the open ocean again, Jeff noticed that our trusted Hydrovane was about to come undone.  The bottom section of the bracket where it is bolted to our hull was missing a bolt and the rest were about to follow suit. Although it’s pretty dangerous to be on our stern swim step while we are under way, the bolting needed to be addressed.  With two lanyards tying him to the stern stanchion and Monica steered while handing Jeff the new bolts, washers and crescent wrenches. 

missing pin in our hydrovane rudder 20160116_100438007

Another boat we met was a cruising family with two boys, S/V Carramba, from Olympia, WA.  We hung out a few times and had immediate affinity for their family.  We decided to buddy boat down the US coast into Mexican coast together.


Our buddy boat s/v Carramba is way ahead of us.

Squid aboard

Squid found on our deck after a rough night.  Sudden waves splashed into our cockpit carrying our little friend.

Hoisting the Mexican Flag

Hoisting the Mexican flag in Ensenada, Mexico.

Despite our delay, both Carramba and Luminesce made it to Ensenada within 30 mins of each other.  The recommended marina  in Ensenada according to SV Fantasia was Cruiseport Village Marina.  Due to high winds, there were reports of boats damaging their Sampson posts on their bow and failed docking lines.  Cruiseport Village Marina was reported being more protected from this weather due to their stalwart breakwater. Once we tied up to the dock, we gathered our papers and crew to head into town for Immigration and Customs check in.  The marina had cars and agents ready for us and heralded us through the many step process in checking in.  After about 2 hours, we were checked in and now legally in Mexico.  Carramba crew and we decided to head into town for a real Mexican meal.  We were all too tired and dehydrated to figure out the best place to eat in Ensenada as we drew near the dark dinner hours.  After much walking, checking our map apps on our phones and paper maps,  and passing some bars and other undesired places and looking at our paper maps, we decided to take a chance on Tamrindo Restaurant.  It looked clean and there were some locals already eating so they were all good signs.

The second night, we got recommendations from other cruisers.

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Dinner with Carramba.

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The younger crew members of Carramba and Luminesce.

Tacqueria kitchen 20160112_174748107

Open kitchen of the Taqueria. She uses a 1 1/2” pvc pipe to roll out her tortillas.

View of Ensenada Marina

Leaving Cruise Port Village Marina, Ensenada.

After two nights in Ensenada, we left for Bahia Tortugas to catch the weather window.  Strong winds were predicted soon after.  On our way to our destination, we met some of those strong winds, approximately 20kts.  The boat was lurching and we were rocking side to side.  Having learned to “heave to” from a book and dvd written by the Pardys, loaned to us from s/v Sirena, we hove to and waited about 12 hours as we drifted slowly.  This technique is used when sailors want to wait out a bad weather or to provide rest for the crew.   Thanks to s/v Sirena we were able to wait out the weather better than we would have otherwise. By the time we arrived in Bahia Tortugas, Carramba had been their about 12hours ahead of us.  They told us that they hove to for a little while but decided to keep pressing forward despite the uncomfortable swells.  We  may have taken a more conservative approach to the weather but we were at our destination safely.

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