Category Archives: Itinerary

Daily Log: Vanuatu Notes

6-13-2017 18h00 – Leslie. Off to Port Resolution, East Tanna, Vanuatu. Clearing out of Customs early in the morning, Eric was informed that we had to leave Fiji within the hour and that we were not to stop anywhere on the way out. Not stopping is standard protocol.  Leaving in one hour is not. He then asked Eric when we expected to leave. Eric smiled, “Why, within the hour, of course.” No way! Family boats don’t spin on a dime, and most customs agents respect this, typically giving us 24 hours. It took the good part of the morning to prep Kandu before we could leave. Before sailing completely away from Fiji, we needed to stop over at Port Denarau Marina to pick-up a new outboard prop that died on us in Suva. Eric had ordered it the week earlier. Port Denarau Marina is a high-class modern vacation marina, intended especially for super yachts and the like. It even sports a Hard Rock Café. We were in and out within an hour, wishing we had had more time to visit. By 19h00, after a standard tropical sunset, we sailed through the last Fijian pass and into open-ocean, a three day passage.

Trent Rigney walking down the main dock to enter the classy Port Denarau, Viti Levu of Fiji.

6-16-2017 Friday 11:00 am – Leslie. Arrived Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu (originally known as New Hebredes). Our original port of entry was supposed to be Port Vila on Efate, but the winds directed us more south, so we turned toward the first island in the archipelago, Tanna. Through our InReach satellite texting, we asked good friend Ron Bruchet in Victoria, Washington to email the immigration authorities our circumstances and to find out if we could clear on Tanna. Vanuatu customs indicated Port Resolution on the southeastern tip would be the best anchorage even though the customs office was located at Lenakel on the west coast of the island. Upon arrival, arrangements were made immediately for a customs officer to drive the 2 hours one way over rugged dirt roads to clear us in. Wow, what service!6-23-2017, Friday 2 am – Eric. After more customs and immigration business plus getting some laundry done, we left the very expensive, not-so-pleasant Vanuatu capital, Port Vila. We’re sailing from Port Vila, Efate to Ranon Bay, Ambrym, passing several islands in a narrow channel. We were passed by two inter island cargo/ferry boats, fore and aft. Winds light from south due to storm in New Zealand. Helping us sail a bit. Motor sailing too. Nicer ride than any other since French Polynesia.

Ambrym has 2 active volcanoes. They practice magic (black and white), Rom Dance and sand painting. Dr. Alan of the Seven Seas Sailing Association recommends we meet with William Adel to take us to the volcano. Don’t have nearly enough time to explore, as we must leave Vanuatu for Darwin by June 20th to arrive before the ‘Sail Indonesia Rally,’ which starts July 29th. All is well and working about Kandu.

6-23-2017 7h00 – Eric. Arrived Ranon Bay, Ambrym. Descended Kandu to find William Adel. Witnessed Rom Dancing in Fanla Village. No time for a 3-day round trip hike to see the active volcano. Fortunately, we had already witnessed a live volcano on Tanna. Did exchange some new T-shirts and a long solid rope for a carved statue in volcanic rock and local produce.

Eric Rigney looking for William Adel.

6-24-2017 6h00 – Eric. Departed Ranon, Ambrym for Wali, Pentecost. Morning sail. Arrived 8h30 to see extraordinary10h00 presentation of Land Diving by village boys and men. 16h00 Kava Happy Hour to meet Chief of Wali village. Fantastic!

6-25-2017 6h00 – Eric. Left Wali, Pentecost for southern tip of Maewo, Asanvari Bay. Easy day sail. Beautiful and comfortable anchorage with a stunning waterfall to boot! How could cruising get any better?

6-26-2017 5h30 – Eric. Departed Asanvari, Maewo for Luganville, Espirito Santo. Anchored 16h00 in front of The Beachfront Resort in the second channel on the southeastern corner of Espirito Santo next to the main port, Luganville. We were told there had been some recent yacht theft, but decided to risk it in order to be close to the principal city of Luganville. We had many plans: diving the President USS Coolidge WWII wreck, touring WWII sites, swimming the Blue Hols, and of course, provisioning for our upcoming 20 day passage direct to Darwin.

Luganville’s Temporary hold for Japanese POWs during WWII.

7-1-2017 17h00 – Eric. Weighed anchor from Santo at 14h30. Fuel and water topped up (diesel, gas, propane). Last of provisions acquired.

Two locals helping us provision in Luganville.

Left a day later than planned to see East coast of Santo and to start in a slightly easier way (less windy). Still steady, wind and seas pushing us right along at 6 knots. Clear skies with occasional traveling rain cloud. Rocking a bit but not crazy seas, mostly steady. Estimated 16-20 days to Darwin, Australia. First waypoint is +1250 nautical miles away, lining us up for the Torres Strait. Weather forecast constant SE trade winds, 13-18 knots. Hope we can get away without running downwind much. All excited to get this crossing behind us. Boys helped a lot in getting the boat ready. Makes things easier. Poor sleep the night before leaving. It was a Saturday night and I feared reported thefts, so set-up the motion detector alarm, but it went off twice in the night. False alarms. No intruder was seen onboard. However, there was a cockroach intruder crawling on my naked legs during the night. It was annoying!

7-1-2017, Saturday, 11:30 pm – Leslie. Cleared out yesterday; we left Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu at 2:30 pm. Eric had hoped to depart in the morning, but as always, it took longer to get everything arranged from acquiring diesel, last minute provisioning in town, returning our day rental car, and the cleaning, wiping down, and deflating of the dinghy plus tying it down onto the port foredeck.Our tour of Vanuatu was Eric’s dream come true. Ever since he was a boy, he dreamed of seeing land diving off of log and branch scaffolding, which he had seen on TV. We were quite fortunate to have witnessed it actually. Our June travels brought us to Pentecost Island of Vanuatu on the last Saturday presentation of the year. Only the day before were we anchored at Ranon Bay on Ambrym, the “black magic” island, where our contact William Adel of Ranon Beach Bungalows informed us of the following day’s last diving-of-the-year event. We were completely unaware. What luck to have been in the right place at the right time! Ambrym to Wali Bay on Pentecost was only an hour and ½ sail. We’d sail early the next morning. But on Ambrym, before leaving for Pentecost, we hiked up the hillside for a tour of Fanla Village and a private presentation by men of their sacred Rom pig dance, a bamboo flute performance, and their special sand painting.

We felt honored and privileged to have heard and seen this special ritual that even their own women are not allowed to witness. Afterward, the village carvers displayed their beautiful wares and we bought 2 carved bamboo flutes and a gorgeous wood statuette depicting their Rom mask.

I musn’t neglect to mention that the first stop on our Vanuatu tour began on Tanna, the most southern island in the chain. We enjoyed the beautiful people of Ireupuow Village situated on the east side of the large bay called Port Resolution. Firstly, we were beautifully welcomed by Stanley, the Port Resolution Yacht Club custodian. He hooked us up with the customs officials right away. He helped us exchange money across the island in Lanakel, and made reservations for us to visit volcano Mount Yasur. While walking through their simple village, we passed out toys to the children, explored the village of thatch roof, one bedroom huts/houses, provided skin medicines to an older gentleman with a nasty knife injury, traded rice, corned beef and electrical re-charging of a phone and video camera for limes and bananas with a man in a canoe,BnT played frisbee and volley ball with the local kids (two gifts to them were frisbees), we ate a nice local lunch at Leah’s Restaurant (incidentally Leah spoke no English, only French),

Leslie Rigney and Leah from Leah’s Restaurant, Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

and attended a quarterly talent show school fundraiser of local song and dance accompanied by modern mixers, microphone and speakers à la karaoke. Witnessing the fun spirit of the locals in song and dance was a highlight of activities on Tanna. To top off our quick stay on Tanna, we traveled 4-wheel drive over craggy dirt roads to experience the remarkable active volcano, Mount Yasur. It exploded a minimum of every 2 minutes. We arrived onsite at twilight, and when night set-in, the exploding lava light show was spellbinding, visually hitting our eyes the same time as the shock and sound waves hit our bodies and ears, we were that close. You could actually see the shock waves in the mist.


Sailing West by Eric Rigney

We Kandu with the Rigneyskandu team: Eric Rigney, Captain, Leslie Rigney, Co-Captain, Bryce & Trent Rigney, Crew!

The trip has changed dramatically since leaving Bora-Bora. The larger boat jobs completed in February and March, planned and parts ordered months prior, are behind me. No longer do I shoulder an over-shadowing burden of endless preparatory tasks. So many were completed: haul-out and new bottom paint, re-plumbed some items in the head and galley, revamped electrical system (batteries, solar, monitoring), new standing rigging (hardware, cables and fittings to support the sails and mast), installed an AIS transponder, set up our new dinghy, and more. Kandu feels whole, ready for frequent ocean passages, ready for whatever awaits us.

My captaining tools have improved: additional electronic navigation, weather forecasting, and communication with ports. As a result, after days out at sea, we successfully sailed into two foreign ports at night using tools recommended by a more experienced cruising sailor. My skills have improved as well. The boys are stepping up, particularly Bryce. Getting from point A-to-B, and repairing/maintaining Kandu come easier. Stress levels don’t immediately jump to DEFCON 5 when problems arise: automatic bilge pump counter shows 263 cycles of pumping water out of the boat in 8 hours, starboard side window falls off dodger a second time and shatters, wind vane steering line frays and locks-up the helm toward an accidental jibe in 25 mph winds and 8-foot seas, Custom officers can’t reach us over VHF radio, after changing the oil and replacing all its fuel filters (5) the 44hp diesel engine dies and won’t start, modem fails thus preventing us from emailing via HF and SSB radio. It turns out that stressing over a problem doesn’t resolve it faster. It just ages me. I do the best I can with what I have, “sail the wind I have,” I like to say. With support and assistance from family and friends, I resolve problems and order parts. Our pace, frequent crossings and shorter stays, is possible because our boat is working and with the help of my “team,” problems that arise are typically solved within the available timeframes.

We are seeing places in concentrated fashion, diving in deeply and getting out quickly. We’re seeing cultures new to me and more traditional than French Polynesia. Images from childhood wildlife and adventure television programs come to life, people and culture made real and tangible. This phase of our travel is very rewarding. It’s the trip I envisioned years prior. The two-year stay in French Polynesia was not planned, but proved helpful in terms of ‘finishing’ Kandu and making the boys bilingual. Better still, we deepened existing friendships and established new ones. We also delved deeply into the reviving Marquesan culture. Taking it slow has its rewards. But so does a faster pace. This quickened phase is driving our small family even closer together. We do most everything together, but make efforts to provide the boys “alone” activities ashore.

Our itinerary from this standpoint is:

  • Leave Vanuatu this Saturday for Darwin, sailing 20 days through the Torres Straight.
  • Join the Sail Indonesia Rally and sail through Indonesia over 2.5 months, stopping at 10-12 locations.
  • From there, sail to Singapore, along Malaysia, to Thailand.
  • After Christmas, sail to Sri Lanka and the Maldives before arriving at the Red Sea in late February.
  • From March-September 2018, sail the Med.
  • Make our way to northern South America and Southern Caribbean, and through the Panama Canal.
  • Then home by either coming up the Central American and Mexican coasts, or sailing to Hawaii and then over to North America, arriving in CA the summer of 2019.

When other sailors remark that our pace is too fast, I smile and reply, “Well, then maybe we should just go home and not bother sailing around the world.” It’s not perfect, not even close. But as another sailor noted, “You can’t kiss all the girls.” And with that, I’m happy with what we’ve done, and with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Sure, at this speed, we are not able to experience all that we would want. Still I would argue that the bits and pieces we are able to see provide a greater appreciation for the global vastness of culture and natural wonder that exists on our amazing planet, an experience more satisfying than the inspirational one I received watching it as a child at home on TV. Whether we sail one year eastward back across the Pacific or two years westward around the world, we wind up home either way. So why not sail west and kiss a few more girls? Sounds good to me.

by Eric Rigney

Daily Log: Samoa to Fiji, May 2017

Kandu on the ocean blue, healed over +10 degrees.

Friday, May 26, 2017, 7:00 pm

Left Apia Marina, Samoa at 6:30 am. We were supposed to leave at 22h00 the night before but we were too tired. Motored to west point of Upolu, wind picked-up. SE 20 knot winds. Shut off engine at 12-noon. Starboard dodger window popped out again, but this time it shattered. Installed wooden blank board in its place to keep out the weather until we get replacement in Fiji. Sailing well. Reduced main and genoa, but maintained full staysail. Eric

Saturday, May 27, 2017, 2:00 pm

Winds calming, coming more easterly. Boat slowing from 6.2 knots to 5.2 knots. Eric.

Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:45 pm

Leaving Apia harbor, Samoa was a piece of cake. We had flat waters and no wind for quite awhile, motoring until Upolu Island’s height decreased, then the wind and swell picked-up. Making our way through the island passage, then south of Savai’i, the brunt of the wind and swell hit us. Nausea arrested everyone. Trent and Eric purged several times while Bryce and I held the vomit at bay. None of us ate much. During the night, the wind died down, which was an enormous relief. The boat stopped healing over and calmed from ‘bucking bronco’ to a gentle sway. We added more sail pulling out the genoa immediately increasing our speed. We flew the rest of the day into the night. Our upset stomachs enjoyed vegetable soup and spam. Eric even got some paperwork done. I binged instead on our Outlander video series, season 2. Gee that was great fun! Take me away, to some higher place…..Leslie

Above Video: Air Guitar by Bryce Rigney

Memorial Day, May 29, 2017, 1:00 am

Bryce had taken an extra long nap starting around 4:30 pm, so when he took the first watch, he started counting at 8:00 pm and didn’t wake me until 12 midnight, stating that he still wasn’t tired. Then he stayed and chatted with me for another ½ hour explaining he had been editing some of the pictures I had loaded on his ipad from my computer – ones I thought he might like to post on Facebook or Instagram. He had been very pleased by my choices. He also wanted to share with me his writings about surfing in Raiatea. He had just finished his long recount of his surf camping and read to me the conclusion. He misses his buddies and easy surf life. What I miss is the steadiness of the boat and the familiarity of the surroundings, not to mention the lovely people we befriended, with whom we spent quality time.

We are finally officially experiencing the trade winds – real trade wind weather – where the sailing is comfortable. Sigh of relief! The seas are gentle and the boat is sailing on a beam reach. Today was sunny and trouble-free. If it continues like this, I’ll have to really cook, as we’ll get hungry. I have plenty of fresh vegetables. I just need inspiration and a calm stomach. 2.5 days until we reach Suva, Fiji. Leslie

Tuesday, May 30th, 1:30 am

Crossed the International dateline, longitude 180 degrees. Eric

Above Video: Crossing the International Dateline

Wednesday, June 1, 2017, 8:00 am

Arrived Suva, Fiji in the dark, again. Thanks to the NavX iPhone application from Navionics, we can see quite clearly the hazards. However, waking up this morning, we found ourselves anchored 100 yards away from an 120 foot overturned Chinese industrial fishing boat that we didn’t exactly note during the night. We had seen a pole sticking up marking a hazard….but that didn’t quite explain what was really there in the dark water. Confirmed Eric’s general rule not to enter a foreign port in the dark. Leslie

Note the wreck on the right. Arriving at high tide, we didn’t see it.


GAL Thunderhead
Thunderheads surround and engulf Kandu on way to Galapagos

Since arriving in La Cruz, Bandaras Bay, the push for me has been to get Kandu going and to keep her so. Several unexpected problems of significant proportion required my undivided attention and complete effort: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Delays were compounded by the pressures of the upcoming hurricane season, the French Polynesian visa requirement that we arrive in June, and the disappointment of having to cross so many desirous locations off our list. These demands left little time for visiting Mexico or writing. I went to bed exhausted around 8pm and woke around 5am. The pressure was non-stop. We knew that once we left Mexico, any chance of getting parts would be very difficult, time constraining, and costly. It felt like “now or never.”

Eric on evening watch off Mexican coast aboard Kandu
Eric on evening watch off Mexican coast aboard Kandu

At one point, it looked like the lack of supportive wind would force us to cross Galapagos off our itinerary, a magical place I really didn’t want to miss. Realizing that the wind would not be dangerous, but variable, light, and rain-riddened, we made the decision to suck it up, spend the fuel, and go for it.

Red marks on RADAR heavy rain and Kandu in the midst.
Red marks on RADAR heavy rain and Kandu in the midst.

The sail to the Galapagos was uncomfortable and discouraging. Sailing in confused seas (again), motor sailing often, having to dodge thunderstorms and squalls day and night, all as we passed under the latitude of the sun and its intense tropical heat (sea temp 89oF), against the southeast trades and current, placed in jeopardy the whole idea of sailing around the world. Rain forced us to close all hatches and portlights, cutting off ventilation. Were it not for the portable 12-volt fans throughout the boat, we would have drowned in our own sweat. I often sleep in the cockpit so Bryce and Trent have easy access to me should they have any question. The last 4 days were the worst, as we tacked back and forth against ever-changing winds, through wet thunderheads, rocking in all directions, while discovering that our alternator charging system (the engine powers the alternator that makes electricity to charge the ship’s batteries) had failed for some unknown reason.

Land Ho! After 17 days, Isla Isabela
Land Ho! After 17 days, rain clouds shroud Isla Isabela at sunrise just below the equator.

Arriving in Puerto Villamil at the southern tip of Isla Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos islands, 17 days after leaving Mexico, we focus on meeting the complex entry requirements. Were it not for the help of our agent, JC DeSoto, we’d not have done so well. Entry permitted, and although many more standard issues beckon, I apply intense focus on resolving the alternator problem. It takes 8 days, more than half of our intended stay. In between the other boat maintenance requirement and preparing for the next, and longest crossing, I visit Galapagos with the family, taking several half-day excursions, land and sea.

Time constraints of the Galapagos and of French Polynesia require we leave now. Instead of sailing to Gambier, a less comfortable sail, we’ve opted for sailing directly to the Marquesas, a more favorable direction with regard to wind and sea. I can’t very much afford another uncomfortable crossing if I want to keep morale up for a 25-day crossing. In Gambier, we’d have to leave after a week or two. In the Marquesas, we can stay a month or longer, providing the rest and stability we all crave. Off to the Marquesas we go.

Marina Iguana Yoga
Marina Iguana yoga position

The intensity of effort to prepare Kandu for the Galapagos and beyond, combined with the power issue that developed along the way, prevented me from blogging. Although I have many stories to share, I’m going to have to wait until we settle into the Marquesas before I can publish. Appreciating that such breaks from regular posting are the death of a blog-site, I hope you’ll bear with us and reap the reward once we are able to share once again on a more regular basis. In the meantime, for those on Facebook and/or Twitter, we have been posting regularly to these sites via our satellite texting device, Delorme inReach SE, which provides not only the text, but a link back to our current position.  The same device provides the tracking and map location of Kandu, a link to which is provided on this site’s front page.  So if you’re needing your RigneyKandu fix, look for us on Facebook at or me up on Facebook (Eric Rigney) or on Twitter@RigneysKandu until we can get back to delivering more in-depth writing.

Thanks for sticking with us!!!

Eric Rigney

Ventura to Mexico Recap

This is a recap I submitted to the Ventura Yacht Club’s, that they published in their newsletter, “The Forecast,” in its “Members on the Move” section. Leslie thought I should post it for all to read:

The Rigneys aboard their Tanaya 42, Kandu, made a soft start of their planned circumnavigation, taking full advantage of reciprocity to finish last minute items aboard Kandu.  They wonder if YELP should include reviews on the various yacht club showering facilities?  The clubs have been very accommodating, some more regulated than others.  Clubs visited in order of appearance: Del Rey, California, Alamitos Bay, Dana Point, Oceanside (Eric gave OYC his VYC presentation), Southwestern, San Diego, Silver Gate, Chula Vista, Coronado Cays, Navy (They honored reciprocity as well.  The Rigneys just needed a sponsor, which the Navy club provided), back to Silver Gate and Southwestern.  The new showering facilities at Silver Gate take first prize.

Ensenada brought the first international leg, and the boys responded well.  VYC members Bill Kohut and Joe Houska joined them for the border crossing. Eleven-year-old Trent was and remains bent on learning Spanish.  Bryce was mostly interested in skateboarding the streets and port of Ensenada, drinking Mexican Coke and drinking coconuts. Between Ventura and Puerto Vallarta, some problems arose aboard Kandu.  Debris from a dissolved inspection plate gasket blocked their fuel supply. The control unit of their windvane malfunctioned.  Hydraulic fluid leaked from the ram of their autopilot.  And the inside rigging of their extendable spinnaker pole gave way.  But nothing “mission critical” occurred that redundancy couldn’t circumvent.  The first overnight sails with watch schedules went well.  Thirteen-year-old Bryce has difficulty waking for the 10 p.m. to midnight watch, but is otherwise fine.  The confused seas, remnants of Hurricane Pam, didn’t make for comfortable initial crossings.  After two nights, Isla Cedros was their first landfall.  Then a surf stop at Isla Natividad on their way to Turtle Bay. Passage to Bahia Maria meant another two night sailing in confused seas.  Leslie questions going all the way to Easter Island, but will wait to see how the sail to the Galapagos goes this month.  They missed the Grey Whales in Mag Bay by a week (darn wind generator controller and fuel blockage!).  The four day passage to La Cruz, just outside Puerto Vallarta, provided two days of favorable seas and wind, which calmed to a day and half of low rpm motoring (tachometer quit, so they go by ear until Bill Kohut arrives with a new sender unit in a few days).  Bill Kohut is flying to meet them in Puerto Vallarta, bringing many requested parts and supplies.  Kandu is thoroughly shaken down and ready for her long upcoming passages: Galapagos, Easter Island (maybe), and French Polynesia.  Don’t forget to follow them on the website and subscribe to their blog feed at  It includes a map link that will track in real-time their passages.

Post script:  Easter Island and Pitcairn are off the list for now, due to time constraints surrounding our visa with French Polynesia. Maybe we’ll visit them on our return, after transiting the Panama Canal.  Today, April 30, after many false starts, we plan to leave the Puerto Vallarta area for the Galapagos.  It will take 15 days or more, before we arrive in Isla Isabela.

Itinerary Update: 2015.4.10

Two days ago, we arrived in La Cruz, Mexico, not far from Puerto Vallarta.  At first we anchored, but the next day, we rented a slip to make Internet easier.  We have a lot of work to do that requires emailing and Internet research.  Turning around Cabo San Lucas, we definitively hit a more tropical clime, T-shirts and shorts on watch.  Since Ensenada, we’ve had two 2-night passages and one 4-night passage, stopping at three cove/bays.  Some issues were shaken out of Kandu and we’re addressing them as timely and cost-effectively as we can.  The hottest issue for us now is a leaking hydraulic ram used by the autopilot to steer the boat.  Although it was recently rebuilt by the manufacturer, we need to replace it, an expensive and arduous task.   My uncle, Bill, is really helping tremendously in this effort, postponing his joining us until he has a replacement in hand.  It’s proving difficult to find an appropriate replacement, the right size for the available space.  Consequently we think we’ll be “stuck” in Mexico for a couple of weeks, before we can head off to the Galapagos.

Leslie as we come into Cedros Island after two nights at sea.
Leslie as we come into Cedros Island after two nights at sea.
Turtle Bay Sunrise
Turtle Bay Sunrise

Traveling into Mexican Waters

Kandu at Ensenada's Cruise Port Village with cruise ship dock before her.
Kandu at Ensenada’s Cruise Port Village with cruise ship dock before her.
Kandu moored at Ensenada's Cruise Port Village
Kandu moored at Ensenada’s Cruise Port Village

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!

Silver Gate YC amenity, evening Jacuzzi in front of Kandu lit by her spreader lights.
Silver Gate YC amenity, evening Jacuzzi in front of Kandu lit by her spreader lights.

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.

Celebratory dinner of delicious Ensenada seafood
Celebratory dinner of delicious Ensenada seafood

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.

Bryce prefers the sweeter Mexican Coke
Bryce prefers the sweeter Mexican Coke

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.

Catching a halibut, the sea bass took the prize and became the bigger prize!
Catching a halibut, the sea bass took the prize and became the bigger prize!

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.)

Ensenada Church while strolling on errands.
Ensenada Church while strolling on errands.

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.

Trent and Joe leave the dock for inland adventures
Trent and Joe leave the dock for inland adventures

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

Joe outside ECPV
Joe outside ECPV

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.

High winds give Kandu's crew a couple extra days in Ensenada
High winds give Kandu’s crew a couple extra days in Ensenada
Put the lime in the coconut and eat it all up!
Put the lime in the coconut and eat it all up!

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.

Last of the hot showers for awhile
Last of the hot showers for awhile

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!

Baja chart with surf spot notations
Baja chart with surf spot notations

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!

Bryce and Trent unplug Kandu
Bryce and Trent unplug Kandu

 Leslie Rigney

First Surf Lesson With Jeff Belzer

Jeff Belzer points out wave formations
Jeff Belzer points out wave formations

The first real surf lesson I had was a private lesson with my brother Trent at Ventura Point. The instructor’s name was Jeff Belzer, a very cool and nice guy. He is also very well known in Ventura because he has won a lot of surf competitions and he is owner of a surf school and conducts surf camps: Makos Surf Lessons. To start off the lesson, we watched the waves and evaluated the surf, looking for the best wave break as well as determining the best spot for surf that day. It took five minutes to decide where the waves looked best. The waves were okay there, but we decided to change our spot to a bit better location and parked in front of our chosen surf spot. After getting our wet suits on, we grabbed our boards and walked down to the beach and started our warm-ups. We stretched and did jumping jacks then, headed into the water by ourselves without Jeff so he could evaluate our skills from the beach.

Surfer's Point, Ventura, CA
Surfer’s Point, Ventura, CA

As Trent and I paddled into the water, the waves crashed into us since, at the time, we didn’t know how to duck dive; it was very hard to paddle out. When I pulled into my first wave, I attempted to stand up, but tumbled headfirst back into the ocean. Trent on the other hand successfully stood on his board. Being the older brother, I was embarrassed that my little brother bested me. But within a minute I successfully caught a wave. After about 15 minutes of surfing, Jeff signaled us back to shore to give us a lecture on how to improve our surfing. A couple things he suggested included to go down the line when surfing, pop up quickly onto the board, and above all, always keep your balance.

We headed back out, but this time Jeff joined us in the water and Trent and I both caught some great waves. After 45 minutes of instruction in the water using our sushi boards, we got to try out some spectacular epoxy short boards that Jeff had brought along. I loved using these shorter boards! Part of the lesson was to have Jeff help us figure out what kind of boards we should upgrade to.

Bryce surfs with dolphin
Bryce surfs with dolphin

When our sea time was up with Jeff, we met on shore and he gave us ideas of what the next step up for boards should be. Jeff suggested I get a wide 6ft 4” Roberts’s board, and make it wide. For my brother, he said the same but his board could be wide or skinny. Everyone liked the idea of epoxy boards since epoxy is stronger. Our boards living atop our boat Kandu, would likely fare better than fiberglass boards.

Thanking Jeff for all his time and great advice, I felt excited about how much I had learned. He gave us both great suggestions and pointers. I will always remember the advice that Jeff Belzer from Ventura Makos gave me.

Bryce with his Robert's 6'4" epoxy board at Surfer's Point, Ventura, CA
Bryce with his Robert’s 6’4″ epoxy board at Surfer’s Point, Ventura, CA

Following our lesson with Jeff, we bought 6ft 4” boards and surfed with them frequently to put our new information to the test. We loved the feeling of the new boards! But for us it wasn’t enough. Trent and I decided to buy new smaller boards with our own money. Again at Roberts’ work surf shop, we found two beautiful surfboards. Trent bought a 5ft 7” fiberglass board that had a flaming paint job on it. I bought a 5ft 6” fiberglass board, which was just plain white: a blank canvas to paint a red and blue lightening bolt. We brought them both home and a few days later we were floating on clouds in the ocean.

Trent on Rapoza Fire
Trent on Rapoza Fire
Bryce's Design Represents His Country and His Board Maker
Bryce’s Design Represents His Country and His Board Maker

The End!!!

Bryce Rigney

Itinerary Update: 2015.03.18

After 21 days in lovely San Diego Bay and having imbibed various green beverages in celebration of last night’s St. Patrick’s Day*, Kandu and crew are prepared to leave San Diego for Ensenada Friday at 5 a.m.  While in Ensenada, we’ll plan our sailing and surfing for the coast of Baja and over to Puerto Vallarta before heading out to the Galapagos.  Friday will mark our first international port of call, an important milestone following years of preparation. Hope to have the inReach device working to post our positions for you.  Follow as well RigneysKandu on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  We’ll do our best to keep you posted.  Wish us luck!

*Trent and I took advantage of our last day of having a car and drove into town last night to enjoy some hot wings at Kansas City Barbaque, a restaurant used in the filming of Top Gun.

San Diego Skyline at Dusk
San Diego Skyline at Dusk

Eric Rigney