New Solar Panels

Power management on a cruising sailboat is a pretty important and sometimes frustrating topic. Since purchasing Juniper we’ve done what we can to reduce our energy usage (e.g. replaced all cabin lighting with LED, etc), but our primary issue has been generating enough power to replenish our batteries each night. We have a wind generator that is fantastic when there’s > 15 knots of wind. The problem is that there’s very little wind here in Baja and Pacific Mexico.

That takes us to solar which should be great since we do have tons and tons of sunlight. Juniper came with two well-used 80 watt solar panels, and that’s not nearly enough. At anchor, we usually have to run the engine at least an hour each day to make enough power.

With Viv flying back to the states for a month earlier this year and Sam being sick, we knew we’d be in La Cruz for a while.  We decided it would be a good time to upgrade our solar. Ordering the panels out of Querétaro City, refurbishing the wiring, and getting the solar panel mounts made and installed took a lot longer than we wanted it to, but we’re really happy with the outcome. We now have a total of 300 watts of solar, which still isn’t enough to support our electricity needs should really help.

Sail to San Evaristo and Ensenada El Cardonal

After having an amazing time in San Marte, it was time to move on and sail towards San Evaristo. We had a fantastic sail, sailing wing-on-wing most of the way there.

Scott pointing at the telltales.

Approaching San Evaristo

Sunset in San Evaristo

San Evaristo at sunrise

We only spent a day in San Evaristo as the town seemed to be completely empty. Both the restaurant and the tienda were closed. We woke up early and headed to Ensenada El Cardonal in Isla Partida.

Ensenada El Cardonal is a gigantic anchorage, one that seems to go on forever. We arrived to find one other boat there but they left early the next morning. We found ourselves in the position of being the only boat around and we breathed a sigh and soaked it in. We took the dinghy and explored and tried to snorkel, but were unable to anchor anywhere around the reef as it was too deep. Then when we got back we swam around the boat and lazed around. We saw a dorado chase a fish, leaping out of the water several times. Then watched as a sea turtle swam by our boat. We enjoyed our last bottle of wine and relaxed in this beautiful place. In the evening, we were privileged to watch the moon rise between the two hills that separate the west side of Isla Partida from the east.

Ensenada El Cardonal

Moonrise in Ensenada El Cardonal

Next stop, La Paz where we’ll fix our refrigeration!

One year ago: Finally moving – Half Moon Bay

Season 1 Photo Wrap-Up

These photos were taken during our first season cruising from San Francisco to Baja, September 2015 to September 2016.

Finally moving – Half Moon Bay

We spent the past two weeks staying at Marina Village Yacht Harbor in Alameda to finish up the last of our boat tasks: headsail repair, life raft service, getting a new dinghy, etc. The list of things to do never ends and at some point you just have to go.

We were at this point by early November but decided to hold out for better weather, especially since our first leg was meant to double as a shake-down cruise.
Leaving San FranciscoAfter patiently waiting for nice weather we finally checked out of Alameda and made our final passing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on the morning of November 18. The forecast called for 5-15 knot winds and 6-8 foot swell. We motor-sailed all the way to the R2 SF shipping channel buoy so we’d avoid having to go over the SF bar.

The forecast held up pretty much except for a brief period of 20+ knot winds as we rounded R2 and headed south. We also ran into the marine layer and stuck with it most of the way to Half Moon Bay. We had about half a mile of visibility which gave us the excuse to play with our radar, looking for buoys that were on the chart, etc. The swell was right on our bow until we passed R2, then it was on our starboard beam for another two hours before we passed Colorado Reef and changed to a SE course. About that time the fog lifted and we had a really nice sail into the harbor with the swell on our stern.

Viviane got a little seasick, but nothing close to what Sam (our cat) experienced. He started throwing up as soon as we left our slip in Alameda and was having a horrible time all trip. The v-berth up in the bow is the most uncomfortable place to be on a boat underway yet that was Sam’s go-to spot. He didn’t want to leave for any reason, including bathroom breaks, so let’s just say we had to take all of our bedding down to the harbor laundry room as soon as we got in.

We had intended on anchoring in the outer harbor. After surveying for a good spot Viviane went up to the bow to drop the anchor. The windlass didn’t work which isn’t a good thing. We haven’t used the anchor for a while but this was still a surprising discovery. While we motored around buying time to call into the harbor for a slip and set up the fender and dock lines the wind started to build. By the time we went into the inner harbor to get to our slip it was blowing a solid 15 knots with gusts over 20 right on our port side. This made getting into our slip very difficult. Fortunately we were able to get in with minimal boat rash on our third attempt.

We expected to stay just one or maybe two nights in Half Moon Bay. It turned into four as we worked on our anchoring gear, cleaned up after Sam’s explosion, ran on a few errands, and met up with friends who live in the area. It’s a beautiful area and I wish we had more time to really enjoy it, but sometimes tasks just need to be done.

There’s some bad weather expected in a few days so we decided to get up at 5am for an early departure to Santa Cruz, about 7 hours away.