Kandu departed San Diego’s Southwestern Yacht Club Friday (3/20/2015) at 5:00 a.m. with Uncle Bill and Joe Houska aboard. We bid farewell to U.S. conveniences…most especially our car!
Arrived safely without trouble at Ensenada’s Cruise Port Village, Mexico around 4:30 p.m. We’re enjoying the sites, the color schemes, and especially the food – taking advantage of the great currency exchange due to a strong dollar…about 14.5 pesos per dollar. Friday night after we arrived, we ate at a great fish restaurant off the main drag: Mariscos Bahia Ensenada. The staff was excellent and the ambiance spiced up by Mariachis.
Several times we ate fish tacos at a small stand near the Mercado de la Nueva Viga, the local fish market. Bryce thought it was cool that as we approached the area, we were beckoned into a taco stand where everyone inside agreed that we would taste Ensenada’s best fish tacos there.
The tacos were most definitely tasty, yet just around the corner we discovered probably another 20 taco stands, likely equally as good, butted up against each other adjacent to the fish market. After lunch, we strolled along the fish and fishermen at the fish market. The large selection of fresh fish and seafood is astounding in Puerto Ensenada. Such an incredible display of fresh fish and seafood: all varieties & sizes of fish, clams, oysters, abalone, shrimp, lobsters, etc. We were passing one sectional of fish sporting an enormous fish head (the head of a 400-lbs black seabass). The fisherman beckoned me over to take a picture with him and the trophy head.
His display of fish included large steaks of smoked marlin. When I inquired in broken Spanish how long a red-colored smoked steak might last, he offered us a taste (which was delicious) and explained that unrefrigerated it would last, no problem, 7 days. Refrigerated, it could last up to 2 months. I told him we would be back to purchase some before we left. I also priced out a large Halibut – $10 – the equivalent in Ventura would have been $25. Could be a delicious lunch during our first passage. (So far we haven’t caught any fish while trolling down the coast.)
When we returned to Kandu, Uncle Bill and Joe finished the repair on the anchor locker hinges, which had gotten broken in Long Beach. We are so grateful for their help. Bryce and Trent enjoyed the opportunity to surf with Joe. “Ensenada Beaches” (about a 25 minute walk south from Cruise Port Village) turns out to have had decent swell for surfing and they had an adventure trying to load three rather sizable surfboards into a small Toyota Celica Taxi for the return home! The two smaller boards fit inside while Bryce and Joe supported the longboard just outside the windows. Talk about learning how to solve problems! With the exception of the boys’ surf trek, we’ve been walking everywhere. While they were off enjoying the water, Eric and I took care of laundry and found an open Smart’n Final for fresh vegetable provisions in preparation for our departure down the coast of Baja after finalizing Mexican customs.
While we’ve been here, Trent has taken upon himself the challenge of learning Spanish. He has been studying and trying to remember/make-sense-of general greetings and simple phrases. It’s exciting for me to observe his enthusiasm. He even downloaded a Spanish learning game app to quiz himself on words and phrases. Bryce wonders at the lack of solid rules. It seems to him that Mexican people have more freedoms to do what they want. I explained to him that people here are less litigious, maybe because they don’t have as much to lose, and/or because Mexican bureaucracy (bribery) causes complaints to take much longer…there is definitely a sense of living at your own risk, fewer safety nets…hence the reason why when skateboarding, the boys must still wear their helmets!!! haha
We planned only to stay in Ensenada through the weekend, but on Monday morning, with the anticipation of a strong Northwest wind, Eric checked the weather through the Chubasco radio net and the meteorologist strongly recommended that we wait two days until Wednesday morning to depart. The winds were expected to blow up to 30 knots.
Considering it would be the boys’ first experience with sailing overnight and having night watches, we decided to wait out the heavy breeze for a more-gentle send-off. I imagine once we make French Polynesia after sailing 3 10-15 day passages, 30-knot winds will be acceptable, but today, it’s best to be conservative. In any case, the two extra days have allowed us more time to explore the area, to add a couple more convenience touches to the boat, ie: bungee straps to stabilize bathroom garbage cans, and to refill our water tanks with reverse osmosis (RO) water, using shore-power to run the motors.
It had been three months since Eric first ran the RO unit to convert seawater into fresh. Since then, Bryce has been actively rinsing the membranes with fresh water. Eric figured once he got the system working the first time, it would be ready to go on demand. Unfortunately, while teaching the boys how to work the system, the RO unit failed to work. After spending 2 stressful hours troubleshooting the problem, he discovered that the installed 15-amp circuit breaker for the booster pump (the 12-volt water pump that pulls seawater up to the high pressure RO pump for processing) was too small. Having been a professional technician, Eric is fond of stating that the difference between a user and a technician is that the tech read the manual. Thus, Eric calmly sat down to re-read the set-up installation instructions. He learned that the breaker amperage spec (20A) is rated higher for the system than the spec rating (15A) on the pump. Fortunately, he stocked a lot of spare parts, and was able to change it out that same day—problem solved!
From here, we are headed south toward Turtle Bay, but will stop-off for the boys to surf off Isla Natividad, weather permitting. One weather report forecasts a southern swell for Thursday, so we’ll see. Then we’re off to “Mag Bay” and Puerto Vallarta, before our first big crossing: Galapagos. Here at Cruise Port Village, in the port of Ensenada, is our last chance to benefit from WiFi and hot showers for quite some time…maybe not until Puerto Vallarta. It may also be our last marina slip for several years, meaning we’ll be anchored off shore, taking our dinghy in, with no power connection to shore power. We’re unplugging!