Tight Quarters, (Mostly) Smooth Ride
After a long wait for fuel at Ensenada’s El Coral Marina, Brown-Eyed Girl departed on her first overnight passage on Nov. 9. Crew members kept watch with two hours on and four hours off for each man. Their log notes, “Bright moon, smooth water, no wind.”
One man slept in the queen berth, another in the V-berth. The third, Bruntsch, slept on deck.
Brown-Eyed Girl’s accommodations are Spartan, with a small fridge and a camp stove in the galley and a marine head. The shower, Lucore comments with a grin, is on the swim step.
As with any offshore cruise, there were a few glitches. When they arrived at Cedros Island, the crew noticed that their oil pan was leaking around the gasket (the pan had been recently replaced). They tightened all the bolts, thankful for the service space provided by a single engine — and then discovered that the main bilge pump wasn’t working. Nor was the 700-watt inverter, so the freezer worked only when they ran the generator.
“These kinds of things remind you that the boat lives in an environment that’s trying to destroy it,” Hunt notes with a laugh.
Lucore nods, adding, “To do something like the FUBAR, you really need a knowledge of boat systems. And lots of spare parts.”
When Brown-Eyed Girl left the Cedros anchorage, her crew fished their way down the island’s east side, trolling up a calico bass for supper. The log notes, “Arrived in Turtle Bay. Still air and water. Sky looks dark to north.”
Weather blew in overnight, rocking the anchorage with rain and wind. The crew cleaned the boat, ate chili and enjoyed a beer or two on Nov. 12. One of the local panga fishermen advised them that they were in for a bigger blow, so they secured the anchor.
The log notes that the next night was rough: “40-knot wind, several inches of rain and strong cross swell. Gary got wet, and not much sleep.”
Despite running over a lobster pot at Turtle Bay and taking time off to disentangle the prop, their post-storm departure proved to be on an idyllic cruising day. The eight-foot seas, following off the starboard quarter, didn’t put a damper on the fishing; the crew caught several bonito and a small California yellowtail and then cruised into calm Ascension Bay at sunset.
Brown-Eyed Girl had a couple of peaceful days, catching dorado (mahimahi) for garlic-butter fish sandwiches and spending a serene morning at a prime fishing area they call “the 23 spot.”
In calm seas, the crew took an hour and a half to transfer fuel from the auxiliary tank to the main tank, and then they cruised on to Man of War Cove at Puerto Magdalena to spend the night. When they departed the next morning at 8, they fixed the inverter. As the log observed: “The freezer now works on the inverter. (But) the Honda generator doesn’t run now.” Fortunately, Bruntsch was able to fix that too.
Even more fortunately, they made their repairs prior to nightfall.
Dark, Stormy Night
Piloting after dark, as the seas kicked up, put the three old salts to the test. It was, Lucore says, a difficult night. The log records 20-plus-knot winds with a heaving west-northwest swell.
“Those were the worst conditions I’ve had,” Lucore comments. “We had six- to seven-foot seas and couldn’t rely on the autopilot, so we had to hand-steer all night. Two guys were up all the time. The guy off would try to sleep, but you’d be surfing, and then the bow would get buried, and wham.
At one point, the boat lost all electrical power. While Hunt held course with a compass, Bruntsch put his headlamp on, headed into the engine compartment and tackled the problem. It turned out to be a blown fuse, which he fixed in roughly 30 minutes. The gremlin? A 12-volt coffeepot.