FUBAR to Mag Bay

Log of Furthur

The arrival of my good friend, John Wooldridge editor in chief of Passagemaker Magazine, indicated that FUBAR was about to begin. We all attended a grand kick- off party at the San Diego Yacht Club where festive Mexican dancers performed and a rousing Mexican band played the music we would hear so much of in the following weeks. The next day was spent in last minute preparations and loading of provisions—yikes where is all this stuff going to fit? We all hit the bunks early in anticipation of the predawn departure. I got a text from Leanne at-in the next room—at 0345. Up to the pilot house I went to get the last minute weather forecast and get ready to shove off.

As I fired up the Cummins Diesel, I heard a strange sound in the exhaust, it seemed to be nothing and I chalked it up to jitters—a mistake I would pay for later. We joined the mass exoduses as the many of the fleet hit the ship canal at the same time. Our steadfast companion, Big Chill, fell in behind us in their traditional place.

The sun rise over San Diego was spectacular as we headed for the Mexican boarder. We passed to the east of the Coronado Islands now we knew we were really in Mexico. I left the helm and did my first engine check were I discovered water out board of the starboard engine stringer. I first tasted the water to determine its source-salt water but it was also warm. This triggered a fast inspection of the exhaust system in the commissary. Sure enough water was gushing out of the muffler drain. I first thought I had simply turned the drain handle when I was forcing boxes into the small space. A mad dash removal of previously mentioned boxes reveled that I had actually busted the valve off and I was looking at a one inch hole. Quick response from my crew and I had a cedar plug in my hand and a mallet. The hole plugged, the clean up began. The only casualty was the control box on the freezer compressor which I would get replaced in Ensenada. A lesson learned what I heard was the engine starting into a drained muffler. As the muffler filled the noise quickly subsided and the boat was “making water” so I did not investigate further, a mistake I will not repeat.

We broke out the fishing poles and hooked two fish, one yellow tail tuna and one Bonito, the fishing had began! With following seas and sunny weather we pushed on the Ensenada, a trip of 65 miles. We arrived early afternoon got our slip assignment from the efficient Hotel Coral Marina staff. The preparations that the FUBAR crew had done made customs very easy. We hoisted the Mexican flag.

That night we were treated to the first of many great Mexican meals served by the hotel staff. We lounged by the pool the next day waiting for our 1600 departure. Great debate on what time to leave had gone on around the fleet. We elected for 1600 making for a day break passage through Canal De Dewey. The gals again prepared a splendid fresh Tuna dinner at sea and we settled into our first over night leg. An uneventful star filled night followed. We checked in with the fleet at the designated 0600 roll call time. As the fleet was so spread out, the roll call was not complete but we did communicate with the boats in our immediate range including Pax Nautica and Big Chill. The Pax Nautica crew was doing their first over night leg ever and I was glad to hear they had an enjoyable and confidence building night.

The next day brought warm Mexican sun, building Northwest wind and increasing seas. Steve started hooking fish about the time the seas had built to ten feet. I stood awash on the swim step trying to gaff a very large Yellow Tail he had fought for half an hour. Sadly the conditions were just too tough and eventually the fish popped off the hook. The seas subsided as darkness fell and we went into dine on a great dinner, (fresh Tuna again?) and our night watch schedule. I changed the watch schedule so I would take the 0300-0600 watch which put us inside of Cedros Island and in the Canal De Dewey. We had heard so much about this narrow channel and how it must be transited in day light that we were all amazed at how much it was a non event. This perpetrated a discussion on the beach about how relative to region boating experience can be. For those of us used to the tight passages of British Columbia this pass was benign.

I took the opportunity of a following sea and wind to try one of my new sails. I had purchases two head sails off of a Cal 20 to fly in hopes of picking up some additional speed on the long crossing of the Pacific. The one shown here is a cruising spinnaker, it added the hoped for half a knot. I also have a spinnaker and will try it later. I added two more back stays with quick release pins for additional support for the sails.

Surrounded by stark brown hills and flat top plateaus, Turtle Bay has been described as “coyote ugly” and breath takingly beautiful—it is both. As the fourth boat in we had a great selection of anchorage places, one picked and the anchor set, the fun began. Sun bathing, picture taking and some well earned naps took up the afternoon until the shore side event started. The pangas started arriving and we all piled in for the surf landing. The wonderful folks ( and I think all of the population) of Turtle Bay provided a great Mexican dinner and again the festive music of the native culture.

It was great to hear the tales of the now seasoned long passage makers. The confidence level was rising every mile of the trip. Great credit has to be given to Bruce Kessler who originated the concept of a fleet of mixed experienced boaters doing this trip. I am sure there are many boats here who would never undertake such a voyage had it not been for FUBAR. All seemed already eager for more adventures and we had just begun.

The panga ride out was a gas, loading in the surf and finding the boats in the dark proved both entertaining and thrilling. Once aboard we had ice cream and a short video then off to bed for a long uninterrupted tropical sleep. We awoke to another brilliantly sunny day— sorry folks I will someday realize that all the days will be sunny but coming from Seattle this is not natural. This being a lay day we spent it exploring and doing chores. I set up the “the Beverly Hill Boaters” close line. Pat Rains has set up a dinghy poker run that should be grand fun.


Great debate ensues the departure time of Turtle Bay. I decide that more time at the location negates getting up early and we hoist anchor at 02:45 and clear the entrance reef at 0300. A few miles out I set the way point, 202 miles, push the nav button and settle for a long ride. The sun had no sooner rose when Steve had two lines in the water. We were entering the great fishing grounds, the water temperature climbed to mid 70’s indicating better fishing. We do hit a few small fish, keep one passable dorado until the last hours of the day. The quiet was interrupted by the werrrrr of the real spewing out line, I grab the pole and it is almost pulled out of my hand. This is what we had come for! The Marlin runs out 350 yards of line as I slowly tighten the drag heart pumping. Then off in the distance she breaks water and takes two huge jumps. Best guess is more than five feet long. Panic sets in as I see that I am just about out of line so reluctantly I tighten the drag more. The fish breaks the line and my brief but exhilarating stent as a Marlin fisherman is over. An examination of the gear shows that the fitting on the lure put on by the manufacturer came undone- we vow never to rely on that type of knot again.

As darkness falls we see the first glimpse of Selene herself as the new moon forms a crescent. The fleet is much more bunched up this night than before but with AIS and radar it is comfortable. A small cruise ship reeks some havoc with the tail end of the fleet causing much chatter on the radio. Again sun up -poles in as we head to Santa Maria Bay.

We pull into Santa Maria Bay and drop the hook. Again the pangaros came to pick us up and this time the surf landing was even more spectacular. We climb up to the small buildings that will house the fiesta. This is our event, it is sponsored by Selene Ocean Trawlers. Leanne puts up a banner and we give out Selene gifts to the best “good Samaritan” boats. Another dash through the surf and back to the boat we go.

The next leg is very short; we drop the fishing lines in and head south to the famed Mag Bay. As we enter the wide opening a whale spouts off our starboard bow. I am suddenly ceased by emotion as Mag Bay was the sight of some of the worst whale killing in human history. I tell the crew that for a devote whale hugger this is like a Jew visiting Auschwitz. It is both remorseful and encouraging as the human race for the most part has evolved to the point that it knows killing whales is evil.

The village of Puerto San Carlos was hit hard by the recent hurricane but the resilience of the people here shown as the village was back in order in not time—we all speculated that the rebuilding did not rely on FEMA. We are amazed that a very primitive village with 350 people has WiFi, as was evident by the flock of open laptops spread out on plywood tables