S/Y Nereida sails around the world

Solo RTW Sailor Jeanne Socrates' Adventures On, and Off, Nereida

Hot work on the hard
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
24th June 2014 - from Marina Seca, San Carlos, Mexico
I've been busy since my return but it's baking hot here (35C/95F in shade) from 8 a.m. onward - I've been getting up early, to start work while it's cooler - often around 5:30 am!!  By midday, it's difficult to do anything much - above or below deck... (and painting, epoxy work & varnishing is impossible!).   It gets very tiring trying to get work done in the heat of day and I'm drinking loads of water and fruit juices.    Some people have installed  air-conditioning - lucky!  There's a good fan above my main bunk which makes for a reasonable sleep overnight and  I eventually managed to rig some sunshade, making a big difference on deck.   Work is going very slowly, with collar bone problem not having helped (even now, it often still aches) and even the Mexicans slow down in the heat, not surprisingly.   It's so hot that the laptop starts overheating & misbehaving during daytime.   We're in a desert here!
A couple of weeks ago, the steering wheel was  removed to expose the totally rusted/useless/ 'exploded' bearings - had three very knowledgeable and experienced guys helping, with great difficulty, to remove the steering components and take everything apart - bad corrosion helped by mix of aluminium and steel in a poorly-designed system with little or no anti-seizing grease used originally - no wonder steering had been difficult - amazing that I was able to steer at all!     A local good metal worker in the town of Guaymas nearby had to deal with some damage unavoidably caused to some items during removal of the steering system shaft and bearings and I also had to find the local bearng specialist to replace one bearing I didn't have a spare for...
The keel is looking good after a lot of effort by yard workers Sergio and Edgar who have stripped off all the old anti-fouling, faired the lead keel and its join to the GRP stub and then coated everywhere with epoxy.   I sanded some parts myself - including the propellor and shaft, ready for Propspeed to be applied later.   The plan was immediately to apply the  Coppercoat in the early morning, around sunrise....  but the heat, even so early, has put that plan on hold until October.   In the meantime, the epoxy is reacting to the intense sunlight, so I'll have to cover it up during the 3-4 months in dry storage.
I managed to sunburn my back while dealing with the starboard forward lower shroud that had broken loose on my way down the South Pacific towards Cape Horn in December 2012.   All I had to do was undo a connector, loosen the rigging , replace the shroud protector, tension the shroud correctly and secure a few split pins - but I managed to replace the protector upside down - so had to undo and re-do a lot of work - all took a time in the burning midday sun with no shade over me - not good!
The yard workers are presently making a hard top in place of my canvas sprayhood...  Glass fibre is about to be applied, after a long time preparing the 'mould' - mostly in wood, with Formica covering, resulting in my having to perform a 'limbo dance' in order to access the companionway steps to get down below...
The good news is several cruiser friends here being helpful and the Mexicans generally being cheerful and friendly - although timing is not their forte!    There are many other jobs still waiting...   many as a result of my recent ocean voyaging...  Rough seas are tough on a boat!
I gave a well-attended Presentation on my solo sailing recently in 'Tequilas' with a rigged-upcloth for screen and Pitt and Ron supplying essential equipment and generally being very helpful - it was good to enjoy the air conditioning!
Later last week, I decided to take a break from being constantly in the dusty, hot workyard and went over to walk around the marina area after my shower - and enjoyed some live music...  'Los Tres Amigos' grew to 'Los Seis Amigos' when two more guitarists and a harmonica-player joined the group!  I later had a lovely walk back in the light of the full moon....  San Carlos feels very safe.   The evenings after sunset are definitely the best time - a lovely cold shower and a walk in the night air are very welcome.
While waiting for a ride down from Phoenix/Tucson area back to San Carlos, I heard that old boat-friends Karen and Bryan were not far away - so had an unexpected, very enjoyable trip to Clarkdale, with visits to the fabulous red rocky outcrops of Sedona, old Cottonwood, the old Native settlements of the (mis-named) Montezuma Castle  and Tuzigoot and a fascinating high lake caused by upwelling of underground water - a resource for locals from time immemorial...   Photos to follow...

Time to return to "Nereida" via Phoenix - work to be done in San Carlos!
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
On Friday 30th May, I'll be flying from London to Phoenix, en route to San Carlos in Mexico where neither of the two big jobs I'd been promised would be done for me in my absence have even been started.   It's really disappointing that the 'Mexico' lack of reliability and time-keeping has now extended to a yard which until last year had an excellent reputation for good, reliable work..
It's possible that one job has now been started (some simple sanding of the keel!) as a result of an email to the yard last week in which I presumed both jobs were  either complete or nearly so!   As a result, I'm taking back with me a random orbital sander, and organizing delivery of, sandpaper discs and mohair rollers,etc, to use in the imminent Coppercoat application - not difficult to appply properly but surface has to be prepared and coating applied in a precise way.   I'll not be using the yard for that - they've shown themselves to be incapable of following careful instructions  ....    Very disappointing...
I've been so busy while back in London.   The main reason for my return was, of course, my fractured collarbone which I heard should have had surgery early on - but the outcome of my hospital visit, four weeks after my accident, was a decision not to operate since the feeling was that the bones were now aligned parallel, although slightly overlapping, and seemed to be healing OK, whereas to operate at this late stage could not guarantee a better outcome.  The pain has subsided a lot and I'll need to exercise carefully to get back good shoulder function over the coming weeks ...
I'm looking forward to being back on board, even though on the hard ... There's so much work waiting to be done but it won't happen unless I'm there to do it or organize it!
More  news in a week or so...  London has been very rainy for the last week - it'll be nice to get back to sunshine and blue skies...

Quick trip back to London
SHTP06 Belt buckle!
Thursday 15th May 2014

Well, I'm unexpectedly in London (Ealing) after a fast trip from Mexico ..   Thanks to John (of 'Night Song') for a long but interesting ride from San Carlos all the way north to Phoenix, crossing border at Nogales.   Stayed overnight on Tuesday at a friend's house and we went for a long walk early next morning in Paradise Valley - mid-May is a perfect time of year to see the magnificent Saguaro cactus in flower everywhere (see photos, video and info) and many other cacti and other desert plants were also in flower.

After a daytime flight to Chicago on Wednesday, I flew on overnight to LHR.   Airline staff in Phoenix and Chicago were all really helpful and understanding over my luggage and carrying difficulties.   Was also unexpectedly upgraded to very comfortable Club class seat on the busy overnight flight (but hold luggage got left behind in Chicago ... it's expected to arrive a day late, on Friday...!)
Reason for my sudden re-location was being told by surgeon friend in Florida that X-rays of collarbone fracture did not look good, it shouln't be left alone to heal, as I'd been led to believe by Mexican doctor, and it needed urgent surgical intervention if my left shoulder was to function well in the future  (I'm also left-handed).   My GP agreed, on seeing the same X-rays, that it needed looking at by a shoulder specialist - so I've an appt in London on Monday ....   In the meantime, I'm catching up on sleep and will make good use of my time here.

In my absence, the yard should be finishing sanding/preparing the boat everywhere below the waterline, ready for Coppercoat and Propspeed applicatons on my return, and making the GRP hard top / dodger to replace the present canvas sprayhood.   I hope not to be in UK for too long - I've far too much work waiting to be done on "Nereida" in Mexico!!
Last Sunday, I had a lovely 15 ml trip out on the water  -  on 'Georgia', being taken around from San Carlos to Guaymas Marina Seca. I helmed a little and relaxed a lot!!
          m_Relaxed motor-sail on way to Guaymas         m_Rounding headland SW of Guaymas Bay
Lovely sunny day, vivid blue Sea of Cortez, some S swell, some wind .. but motor-sailed most of the way...  
Just avoided an unseen rock on final approach to dock - and caught two buses to return to 'Nereida' in San Carlos soon after sunset - total cost of 17.50 pesos for over one hour's journey!

Last Friday,'Nereida' was moved from dusty 'dirty' hard area, with sandblasting having ended, to the main work area, ready to complete sanding and continue with all the other work waiting to be done....  Has been good to have helpful people around - I've not been allowed to move anything heavy - plenty of offers of help!!
m_Newly-sand-blasted - Marina Seca San Carlos             m_View into Marina Seca, S
The hard at Marina Seca (San Carlos) is dusty and hot during the day now, although nice and cool overnight....  Great view over nearby arid landscape to mountains close by.
Photo below shows the view from the Marin Seca entrance gates towards the 'twin peaks' of San Carlos - known in Spanish as the 'goat's teats'!   Very distinctive shape and highly useful for coming towards San Carlos Bay and harbour from seaward.

m_View from Marina Seca entrance to distinctive 'twin peaks' ofsan Carlos

20th April 2014 - Happy Easter!!
SHTP06 Belt buckle!

I'm on my way back to 'Nereida' after a one-week diversion to New England for an enjoyable time meeting up with 'ham' radio friends made during my circumnavigations.

From 2011 on, I'd frequently chatted to Rick (WA1RKT), in New Hampshire, and on my last way around, from February 2013 onward, I made contact with John (W1QS), Brad (W1RQ), 'Woody' (WW1WW) and Alan (K1ALL), so it was great to meet them face to face!

Rick and Janet took me for a drive around Lake Winnipesaukee (largest lake in their home state of New Hampshire), passing through typical, lovely, wooded New England countryside, with mainly wood-clad homes everywhere.  Unlike England, from where I'd just flown into New York, trees weren't quite showing any new leaves yet and, over my second night with them, the temperature plummeted and overnight snow glistened the next morning.  Photos show Rick's snowy patio, with some of his several aerials, and his 'radio shack' from where he often chatted to me when in the S.Atlantic and S.Pacific Oceans

On Tuesday, we had a highly sociable dinner date.  (Photo shows (L-R): Brad, Alan, Rick and Woody.)


On Wednesday I was taken to Freeport (where I found some useful small items for 'Nereida' at L.L.Bean!) to meet with John and be driven on to his old farmhouse in Maine, where he & Marcia keep several lovely horses - a lot of work!

We had a fascinating, but all-too-short, visit to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath where the ultra-modern lines of the newest U.S.Navy frigate(?), being finished in the Naval Yard close by the Museum, were noted as being very 'weird-looking' and totally 'un-boat-like'!  I heard it was designed to be like the Stealth fighter - almost invisible to radar.

We also had a very interesting tour around the Lyman Morse yard in Thomaston with its very comprehensive facilities.    Stanley Paris's 'Kiwi Spirit' and her construction and equipment details gave us plenty to discuss with our knowledgeable host, Drew Lyman (son of Cabot).

The snow lay around in New England all that week, with temperatures well down.  All too soon, I was on my way back to a very mild New York, with its very helpful bus drivers, from where I flew on to Hermosillo (Mexico) via Phoenix, where I was to be greeted by friends Bill & Michaela, who were to drive me down to San Carlos.

I'd had a busy few weeks back in England, trying to catch up with friends, family and paperwork, in between organising items to bring back for 'Nereida' and attending two Dinners.    One was at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, a short walk from a famous store (!), where I was presented with the Royal Cruising Club's 'Seamanship Medal'
        IMG_4362       IMG_4372

and the other was on board the historic vessel HQS Wellington, (home of the "Honourable Company of Master Mariners") by the Thames Embankment, where I received the Ocean Cruising Club's 'Barton Cup'.   (I also heard that I had been recognised by Guinness World Records as being the oldest woman to sail solo, nonstop, unaided around the world!)



I regret to say that due to an unfortunate accident early on Monday, on my way to see 'Nereida' in dry storage here in San Carlos, I broke my collar-bone.   So I'll be rather restricted in my work efforts for a few weeks, although the yard will be doing some good jobs for me in the meantime - mainly preparing the boat underwater surface ready for applying Coppercoat, applying Propspeed and making a hard top (dodger) over the companionway to replace the present canvas awning.  Fortunately, of the many jobs waiting for me, several are small ones, so I should be able to get those done, once I'm feeling a bit better.   The police and ambulance service here in San Carlos were highly efficient and I was soon being X-rayed & seen by a good doctor.   I'm now being well looked after by kind Bill & Michaela.

More New York photos ... and news from Devon, England!
SHTP06 Belt buckle!
25th March 2014

A typical Devon cream tea - with thick clotted cream, raisin scones and fruity strawberry jam!

A few more photos from my stay in New York at the impressive New York Y.C., where I received the C.C.A.'s Blue Water Medal on 7th March.  Photos (by CCA's Dan Nerney) give a good view of the famous N.Y.Y.C Model Room, its walls covered with half-models of boats dating from around 1840 onward, as well as scale models of the pairs of America's Cup yachts from its beginning to recently.
      2014 CCA Annual  175   2014 CCA Blue Water Medalist
          2014 CCA Annual  300     2014 CCA Annual  308
Here's a link to my CBS interview on 5th March in New York
The next day was beautifully sunny and I enjoyed Central Park, where the snow was rapidly melting....
          DSC_4474      DSC_4486      DSC_4495
followed by a visit to the New York Metropolitan Art Museum to see, among many other interesting items, a performance by some North American Indian dancers and some beautiful bronzes of cowboys and indians in action (photos: Carol Ross):
          DSC_4512      DSC_4574      DSC_4615

The week after my flight to London, I drove down to Devon.   I spent several days with friends, one evening giving a presentation to Salcombe Y.C. and one day enjoying a lovely walk through the countryside in Spring sunshine.    Devon is full of tiny narrow lanes, winding around the hilly countryside between deep banks, and the wild violets and primroses were all fully out, along with occasional cowslips and lots of daffodils. It's full of old buildings and sturdy stone walls & gate-posts, many about five hundred years old:
IMG_4314    IMG_4316    IMG_4327

        IMG_4322            IMG_4323


The walk was to Slapton Ley and started from Stokenham.  It was in an area taken over by US troops in WWII to practise for the Normandy landings - but 749 were killed in a major disaster when German boats caught them one night, virtually unprotected as the troop-carriers were offshore practising.  It took Kevin Small, a local, many years to uncover the truth - along with recovering one of the many Sherman tanks that still lie on the seabed.  It's still not known where the US soldiers' & sailors' bodies were buried - in a field, I was told, somewhere near to Slapton Sands which they used because that coast is similar to the Normandy beaches used for the landings.  All the local families had been evacuated from their homes in the entire area of our walk to make way for the troops - a major upheaval for them, in already difficult times.

View W over Slapton Ley, looking over to Start Point in the distance and the beach (Slapton Sands) on the left.  The tank is beside Slapton  Ley.
              IMG_4336           IMG_4345
                  IMG_4344        IMG_4344a Exercise_Tiger_28Apr1944

From Ensenada to Turtle Bay-Cabo San Lucas-Sea of Cortez -Austin - New York for the Blue Water Medal
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
February - March 2014

The highlight was flying to the impressive New York Y.C.
in Manhattan, to receive the Cruising Club of America's
prestigious Blue Water Medal on 7th March:  
                                                                                                    I stopped off on the way in Austin, Texas, to visit with Brad, NA5BD,
                                                                                                    and his wife Susan, who were lovely, kind hosts, and also Tom,
                                                                                                   N5TW, who had been so extremely helpful to me on my way around.
                                                                                                     To my delight &surprise, Tom proudly presented me with a signed
                                                                                                    "Official Recognition' of my solo nonstop sail, signed by the                          
                                                                                                    Governor of Texas!

 On my way down the Baja coast from Ensenada, I had stopped in Turtle Bay to meet up with cruiser friends Randy and Joy, on board 'Spirit of Hanalei' ... and Joy went to a big effort to make sure I celebrated St Valentine's Day with them in style:
    We spent an enjoyable two evenings together, along with several other cruisers in the Bay, before I left to sail (or rather motor, most of the way!) S to Cabo San Lucas - where, for a few hours, I had a great, although 'lively', sail around the Cape in the increased wind offshore.   The Baja coastline on the way south was very arid but often quite spectacular, with lots of hills and mountains, whereas the approach to Cabo was low and sandy, with the dramatic rocky outcrops for which it's justly famous, being unmistakeable, even from well out to sea.

I had arranged to stop briefly in San Jose del Cabo, around from Cabo San Lucas, to meet up with another 'ham' friend I'd never seen, despite frequent radio contacts over several years.. Mike, KC0YHM, met up for a lovely evening meal after I discovered he was on my route while chatting on the radio earlier - but, WOW! - San Jose is SO expensive....They wanted to charge me $50 just for stopping on the fuel dock for a short time, let alone going for a meal ...
 It took a lot of persuasion (and a look at my website) not to be charged... and they made quite sure I didn't stop overnight...  So off I sailed  in the lingering rosy dusk, towards La Paz - a good day's sail away, where cruiser friends were at anchor...  It was good to meet up with my good friend Steve on 'Westerly' and also with Robert on 'Del Viento', whose two young daughters are thoroughly enjoying the cruising life.  It got quite 'interesting' coming through the rather narrow, very long channel at night, bordered by very shoal water, towards the marina de La Paz where I stopped well after midnight - luckily spotting the fuel dock which was long and empty - all other slips seemed to be taken...   I had a very good, undisturbed sleep until late morning, followed by a lovely hot shower - one advantage of motoring!  Several people came by to greet me and I spent a very pleasant day at the marina and fuelled up before leaving again overnight - San Carlos was still a good distance away and there was no wind - flat calm, in fact (better that than the possible strong 'Northers' which could have been on our nose up the Sea of Cortez).

As I finally got close to Guaymas and San Carlos, I was met by several boats who came out to greet me - how nice is that?!  Friend Bill on 'Contigo' had put out the word that I was coming in ....   It was early still so, despite very little wind, I turned off the motor and sailed gently for a few hours - it was very pleasant not to be rushing for a change!

'Contigo' and 'Kharmaseas' keeping us company towards San Carlos:

I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely rock formations and rugged scenery... so that's why I've heard so often that the Sea of Cortez is beautiful?
 I entered San Carlos Bay and was soon tied to a dock...  It's a friendly, safe place and it's nice and warm!   Pitt, from 'Kharmaseas' came over and insisted on being really helpful, stowing sails and cleaning the dusty deck....  I was due to haul out, ready for being absent for several weeks, so his help was much appreciated - as were all the friendly people around.

My flight to Austin from Hermosillo was made far easier at the start with a lift all the way to the airport - many thanks to Chuck of 'Laila' ...   A flight change at Phoenix was enjoyable - I met up with Sid, K7SID, and his wife for a chat - we'd 'met' several times on a morning radio Net, on 7.155 MHz, when I often spoke to Gil, N2GG, and others - all very friendly!

Tom & Brad met me at Austin airport - it was great to meet Tom finally, after having been in touch for most of my RTW sail - he'd been so often very helpful, both with my emailing from deep in the S.Pacific and S. Atlantic, around the Horn, and also helping with 'voice' emailing over the radio when my computers had failed me in the final two months.   Brad is a friend of Tom and also a sailor - he'd organised two evening Presentations for me: at Austin Y.C. and the Radio Club - both were very successful and friendly events.
 Austin Y.C....


On Saturday, I got to see around Tom's impressive array - FOUR towers, with all the  ancillary wiring and equipment - I certainly benefitted from it and can't thank him enough for all his friendly time and effort - and expertise!

After the Austin Amateur Radio Club meeting:              I used Brad's rig to take part in a local evening VHF Net one day:


Sunday - back to Austin Y.C. for a big social event - what should have been their opening race of the season on the lake - 40ft lower in level than it should be... They've had to move the docks several times for boats to be able to be in deep enough water!!  I took the opportunity to mention how helpful Tom had been to me. (His rig is set up for instant emergency radio coverage in the region and has also just helped with the communications of a  Medical Mission to Honduras - they go annually to help the people there)  I also tried to draw attention to the SeaBC and its efforts in trying to encourage boaters of all kinds to collect information and statistics on sea bird distribution - something we cruisers are in a particularly good position to do...


To Hutt's on Monday, for a special meal   ......                           ........     and a buffalo attracts my attention!


I enjoyed a visit to the Museum of Texas, the 'Lone Star' state, getting a good idea of its history, .... lots of excellent exhibits:

and then it was time, sadly, to bid my farewells and fly on to New York ....

.....where I met with Scott Rapaport who interviewed me about my Blue Water Medal award for CBS News (here he is editing the interview - I'm standing in the CBS  Newsroom where a lot of the news items are prepared.


Friend Rich, N2EYK, gave me a 'grand tour' of the CBS studios - the engineering side is all being constantly upgraded and they do a lot of their own development work - something I hadn't realised.   And everything is totally backed up so that should one item fail, another immediately is already on line, ready to take over seamlessly.  He showed me the four dedicated NFL studios - American football is pretty important to viewers!!


Friday 7th March was a great evening, preceded by another CCA dinner on Thursday - both very friendly events, culminating in my receiving the Blue Water Medal - see picture above, taken the next morning.

The facade of the New York Y.C. is imposing:                                and contrasts with this lovely spire, topping a modern building seen from W44th St:
                          DSC_4468                                                                                DSC_4470

I had the one day of sunshine and above-freezing temperatures on Saturday, to enjoy a lovely walk and lunch with friends in Central Park (i loved the 'Alice in Wonderland' bronze group the kids were all clambering over!) and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum.    We caught some American Indian dancing, just by a lucky chance, before heading off for a nice Italian meal.  Later, I ambled around Times Square and Broadway, very close to the New York Y.C. where I was staying, and popped into O'Donoghue's Irish Bar for some Guinness and lively Irish music before a late return to pack, ready for a flight to Heathrow early Sunday morning. (More photos in my next report)


I'm now in London, catching up on paperwork and writing - trying to beat sailing magazine deadlines - and hoping to see family and friends in between ....busy!   On 3rd April, I'll be receiving the Royal Cruising Club's Seamanship Medal and on 12th April I'm to receive the Ocean Cruising Club's Barton Cup - both major awards.... but both will be very friendly events, I'm sure.

Photos from last year - leaving San Francisco in bright sunshine in November, to head under the Golden Gate Bridge towards Santa Cruz -
where the pelicans, sealions and assorted seabirds were going mad, feeding on a vast shoal of tiny fish in and around the harbour entrance - aerators had been brought in to the harbour waters to try to avoid the fish dying from lack of oxygen, they were so numerous.



.........then we headed on S, past the typically dry, hilly California coast...


eventually past Pt. Arguello and Pt. Conception, towards San Diego.   There, several 'ham' friends came to visit 'Nereida' & a few of us went on to visit the carrier USS Midway - in particular, its  radio room.   The tour was arranged by Mark, AF6TC, with the help of Hal, KI2HAL, who kindly guided us around, ending with the enormous flight deck with its many planes and helicopters on display:

 Hal gave us a tour of all the radio equipment, a lot of it of historical interest and I had a chance to make a brief transmission using the Midway radio - the ship's Special Event call sign was NI6IW when it operated from the USS Midway Museum Radio Room on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day December 7....
The switching was impressive - Susan, Mark and I couldn't get over how just many switches there were here!! Eric, WA7LNH, was pretty impressed as well!             

Arrival in San Carlos, from Ensenada via San Jose del Cabo and La Paz
Aug 04
23rd February 2014   A long-overdue report...

Arrival back in Ensenada from UK, via San Diego, was late in January - and Navico's local Mexican experts immediately came to help sort out my VHF radio problems - very much appreciated!   Ensenada was warm in daytime but got very cold at night but Cruiseport marina was  notable for its warm, friendly community .   Leaving was delayed - an electrical fire on board was luckily averted when the starboard navlight was found to have shorted and burnt out, with wiring overheating as a result - a certain fire hazard if left.   More rewiring problems were dealt with and we finally got away, with lots of newly-made friends to say a regretful "Goodbye" to, on Wed 12th February - with Joey and Pete coming out in a dinghy to video my departure.

I decided to pause in Bahia de Tortugas where Randy and Joy were anchored and rafted up to 'Spirit of Hanalei'.   We had a great Valentine's party with two nearby boats and another enjoyable get-together the next evening with a new arrival - most of us knew each other from San Diego and/or Ensenada - typical of cruising!  The dusty village was explored - mostly subsisting on fishing and visiting cruisers, with only a few tourists visiting by land.  I needed to find the local Telcel shop - its large towers were easily visible inland from the fuel dock, where  a dinghy landing was made among large numbers of seabirds and their 'guano'...

The wind was often too light to sail, so the motor was turned on for most of the passage south, but occasionally the wind would get up nicely and I had a particularly good downwind sail one night, heading on S down past the thoroughly arid, desert scenery of the Baja California peninsula - with its often dramatic peaks and eroded sand-coloured hillsides.  I kept a look out for whales - but only saw dolphins, always a pleasure when they keep the boat company, leaping around.  Randy and Joy later went to San Ignacio Whale Reserve, not far S of Turtle Bay, and recounted being surrounded by large numbers of greys - an amazing experience, they said.

It's never good to be sailing to a deadline as I was, needing to reach San Carlos fairly quickly, to catch a flight out to New York via Austin, Texas, soon.  I passed Bahia Magdalena where I'd had the amazing experience in 2004 of leaving my overnight anchorage at sunrise, to be surrounded by  whales near and far - even diving under the boat as I passed close to them unavoidably.  This time I passed the entrance overnight and didn't stop, making instead for Cabo San Lucas - whose increased winds gave a vigorous, lively, thoroughly enjoyable sail , albeit in rough waters until rounding into its lee, where the wind slowly dropped away almost completely.   A local 'panga' with two tourists, clearly on a 'whale-watching' outing, came speeding up to me to ask if I'd seen any whales.  I was keeping well offshore but saw a cluster of pangas at one point closer inshore - a whale there, possibly?

Cabo San Lucas is renowned for its sport fishing but is very expensive so I didn't stop, instead making for San Jose del Cabo a short distance further N, on the inside of the Baja peninsula, where I was hoping to meet up with a 'ham ' radio contact I'd spoken to at times since 2007 from the S. Atlantic.  With difficulty, I persuaded the Marina office there NOT to charge me for stopping 2-3 hours while Mike, KC0YHM, and I went for a pleasant meal and chat in the old town.  $50 for a stop of even just10 minutes seemed rather excessive to my mind!

So I took off at 10pm, without my hoped-for short sleep beforehand, to sail on up the coast towards La Paz - actually a total motoring exercise in 2-4kt of wind... There was beautiful sunset on each of the two hot days it took to get there and lovely starry nights.  Again, I was only stopping in the hope of meeting up with cruiser friends - and managed two of three...   Robert of 'Del Viento', whose family I'd first met in Victoria, B.C., came by the fuel dock next morning in Marina de La Paz, where I had been fortunate to find a lovely long, empty space on arrival there in the dark the previous night.

I'd hoped to raft up to another friend's boat that evening, in peaceful Bahia Balandra, a short distance from La Paz town with its long entrance channel bordered by extensive shoals.  But the wind and sea had got up that afternoon and the small bay was open to the swell, so it was too rolly safely to raft up, as I'd hoped to.   I then found I had a problem removing the bowsprit and releasing the anchor-pin, although I later persevered with that, and finally succeeded in freeing the anchor ready for possible use in case I couldn't find an empty dock to tie to.   Steve, of 'Westerly', who I knew from my 2006 Single-Handed Transpac Race from San Francisco to Kauai, has cruised Mexico regularly since then but is hoping to explore more of the Sea of Cortez, as I do, once repairs and other works on "Nereida' are completed - in June, hopefully.  It was good to catch up over a meal before I left late in the afternoon to head N towards San Carlos,  with several islands passed on the way meaning only short naps were possible so as to keep a frequent watch.    Another windless passage, with hot sun in the daytime - but better than bashing into a 'Norther' which could have been a distinct possibility.

In La Paz it was nice to meet up with a lot of friendly cruisers and I had a lovely arrival in San Carlos where a small group of boats, headed by Bill and Micheila on  came out to welcome me in - it still feels rather odd when people I've never met before come up to shake my hand and greet me!   Having made good time, it was very good to cut the motor and sail very gently towards the dramatic rocky headlands on either side of the entrance to San Carlos Bay where the marina lies tucked away - it's quite a well-known hurricane hole.

I made a lot of radio contacts each morning and evening while on passage - often with people I've now met face to face!   I'll be hauling the boat soon, here in San Carlos, before heading to Austin for presentations to the Yacht Club on Friday and the Radio Club on Saturday.  I'm looking forward to visiting Austin - it's well-known for its music and Brad, NA5BD, and Tom, N5TW, (who helped me a lot with radio communications while I was circumnavigating) will be hosting me.  The following Tuesday, I fly into New York to stay at the N.Y.Y.C., ready for the Cruising Club of America's Awards Dinner on Friday 7th March - when I'll be receiving their 'Blue Water Medal'.

From New York, I'll be flying to London, to take part in an ITV Show - that should be fun!  And in April I'll be receiving the OCC's Barton Cup..... and at some point I'll be receiving the Royal Cruising Club's 'Seamanship Medal' So there's lots happening just now .... and lots of people being met up with...

Work on 'Nereida' that I'd expected to have finished by now is being put 'on hold' until my return.   Typically, friends Robert and Rose, whose boat 'Tillicum' has been totally stripped and refurbished here over the last year , are still busy - each project seems to turns into another unexpected one and they're running several months beyond their expected finish date.

(Photos to be posted soon....)

Ensenada and London
Aug 04
London, 9th January 2014

  London Boat Show Jan2014 - JS + Princess Anne (Click here for video)                                 Ben Ainslie Boat Show 8Jan2014  

Arrived in rainy, windy London on New Year's Eve and it's been nice to catch up with family and friends since then, as well as being able to visit the London Boat Show this week.   I've been privileged to meet with Princess Anne, Ben Ainslie (see photo above). Mike Golding, Geoff Holt, ...  and have had help with boat-related queries/items from several people - thanks to Andy of Andark Diving, Pauline of Henri Lloyd, Stuart and Karen of Commodore Sailing, Amber of Aquafax (Lewmar), among others.   The UK Boat Shows are always good places to discuss and get boat problems positively resolved!

Very many grateful thanks are due to Keith (in Newcastle) of British Airways - for kindly coming back to me with a change of flight, saving an expensive day-long bus trip down (and back up) the entire Baja peninsula to catch a flight to London from Cabo SL (San Diego is so much closer to Ensenada) - becoming a direct flight between San Diego and LHR, rather than having to change at LAX.

And more grateful thanks for the helpfulness and honesty of the ABC bus company of Ensenada/Tijuana and also heartfelt thanks to boaters Spike, Victor, George etc, in Cruiseport marina (Ensenada) who spent quite some time retrieving my missing suitcase & computer bag (thought I'd never see either again!) - the result of a difficult Mexico/USA border-crossing and misunderstanding on my part after catching a bus to Tijuana from Ensenada ..... "All's well that ends well!!"  The only problem is not having either my suitcase or my computer with me in the UK now (they're both back on 'Nereida') - so I've been unable to respond to a lot of emails I'd hoped to deal with while here.

I had a warm welcome from many cruisers in Ensenada on my arrival there from San Diego in December and Enrique and Jonathan in the Cruiseport marina office have been really helpful, both with my initial clearing in to Mexico and since then.   Having never been on a motor-bike before, it was an enjoyable experience to be driven as a pillion-passenger from Ensenada to Del Mar, just north of San Diego, for a short but enjoyable visit to a welcoming Polish family for their 'Wigilia' celebration on Christmas Eve.

The 'Yachtsman of the Year' award today went to Bob Shepton  for his recent trips through the NW passage with crew - often disadvantaged young people ... I'd been shortlisted along with Mike Golding.
Bob Shepton & Jeanne Socrates 2
The Trinity House venue across from the Tower of London was full of interesting history of the pilots, lighthouses, lightships and lights all around the UK (and at Europa Point, Gibraltar!) for which they are responsible and the Luncheon was an enjoyable event.   While there, I was pleasantly surprised to be told by the Commodore of the Royal Cruising Club of an unexpected award - their prestigious 'Seamanship Medal' - that they wanted to award me in March - but in view of my being in NY at that time, hopefully it can be presented later this year when I'm back in the UK - maybe September.   It was also announced at the O.C.C. Dinner (on Friday 10th Jan) that I'm to be awarded the Barton Cup in April - another high honour!

I've been rather put out to think that I'll be missing the 'Golden Oldies' awards event in February at Simpson's in the Strand, with Terry Wogan hosting what sounds like a fun-filled evening of laughs - they wanted to give me the 'There's Still Snap Left in the Celery' award !!!

I'm looking forward to my return to San Diego and on to Mexico with several useful boat items, ready for sailing around to San Carlos, in the Sea of Cortez, where I'll be busy sorting the boat out over the following few weeks (apart from my visit to New York at the beginning of March).

About ready to leave San Diego for Ensenada, Mexico
Aug 04
Difficult to believe I've been in San Diego for  so long.  I've been busy with boat 'projects' but have also enjoyed meeting and chatting to people, as well as giving three Presentations -  at the CCA's November Dinner at Newport Harbor Y.C., at South Western Y.C. where I am now for a few days until I leave for Mexico and also at San Diego Y.C. where I delayed leaving in order to be able to give a Presentation on 11th December and where I was berthed until Sunday afternoon.  As I was moving over to my new berth at SWYC around sunset, many brightly-lit boats, some with enormous inflatable Santa Claus's on board, were leaving for the Port of San Diego's Annual Parade of Lights.   I've had a warm welcome from several Club members here at SWYC - known as the 'friendly Y.C.' - and that's certainly been my impression!

On the Friday that Eric, WA7LNH, flew down from Seattle (bringing a blast of Arctic air with him), Mark, AF6TC, organized a visit to the 'Midway' and its radio room in particular, where our guide, Hal (KI2HAL, ex-radio-room operator), told us all about it.  Midway is an impressively large aircraft carrier, with a big variety of planes on show on its topmost deck, completed just in time to miss action in WWII!   We all had breakfast together, along with Mark's wife Susan (KJ6DIT) and a couple more 'hams' who came that had never met face-to-face with any of us before, but with whom I'd made contact on my way around earlier this year - Bruce (W6HTC) and Ron (N6XT).

Saturday 30th November saw a trip to Tijuana to visit the Baja Radio Club - a warm welcome from its members who greeted me and showed me over the clubhouse and 'shack' after a lovely typical brunch.   An enjoyable day but it took four hours to get back over the border!!

Last Thursday, early, I had a phonecall from UK - could I be present on 9th January in London?  - I've been shortlisted for the 'Yachtsman of the Year Award', along with Mike Golding and Bob Shepton...   Unbelievable news....  Especially taken with the 'Blue Water Medal' I'm being flown into New York to receive next March.

Tonight, I'm preparing to 'sail' (probably motoring!) to Ensenada - just 60miles away, so 10-12 hrs.   Paid a last visit (on my fold-up bike along the lovely foreshore footpath) to friendly Downwind Marine to buy items I've been needing - furling lines and new genoa & staysail sheets along with a few other things...  Sea of Cortez Guide included.   Cleared Customs yesterday, just N of the cruise ship terminal - a delightful experience - one of the nicest ever US Customs officials - thank you, Jeremy!!

From Pt Arguello to San Diego
Aug 04
Wednesday 27th November - Happy Thanksgiving (on Thursday) to my US friends!

San Diego has been mainly sunny during the daytime, getting very warm at times, in the midday sun,but the temperature plummets as the sun sets and it's been nice to have  been able to warm the boat up quickly with my heater.

Eventually had a lovely sail, after motoring away from Santa Cruz on 11th November, with wind having increased on 12th Nov, as we neared Point Arguello and then the nearby Point Conception - getting quite strong rounding Arguello.   But it swung and soon died once we were in the lee of Conception around sunset, with the bright lights of the several oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel directly in our path as we stayed just outside the shipping lanes on our way to Marina del Rey, with the Channel Islands in clear view not far away to the west.

The entrance to Marina del Rey (which is an area S of Santa Monica and Hollywood, full of marinas) is protected by a large breakwater which was lined with lots of pelicans and smelled strongly of decaying fish and kelp as we entered.    I stopped at California Y.C., just before 4pm PST on 13th Nov, for one night before moving over to the friendly Del Rey Y.C. where I was able to speak (at very short notice!) about my sailing to a meeting of the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs after they'd finished their evening's business.
 My computer was completely playing up next day, and the wi-fi was not very good, so I spent a very frustrating time, achieving very little, but in a relaxing, comfortable, spacious lounge area, with plenty of fresh coffee available. I was made to feel very welcome by Jo Goodman (who, when I gave him my boat card as we chatted, replied with a card simply stating: 'GOD' - telephone 'unlisted'!), who later introduced me to Bruce Kessler - well-known for his racing. film-making and more recently his sailing and power-boating.   Hollywood's closeness was apparent , with most people I met seeming to be connected in some way.
It was great to catch up with my Japanese classical guitarist friend Goh Kurasawa, who I first met in Zihuatanejo at their Guitarfest in 2005, and the next evening with a 'ham'/cruiser friend I'd not seen for a long time - Scott, N6ABC used to be the CalYC Winlink sysop before he got away cruising in 'Beach House'.
On my final morning at Del Rey Y.C., before motoring in yet another flat calm  to Newport Beach, I was welcomed by Jo, Bruce and friends to their usual Saturday morning joint breakfast - fresh coffee accompanied a gift to me of a large beigle smothered in cream cheese and smoked salmon - totally decadent but delicious!!

Newport Beach was all that I had feared it might be -basically a 'concrete jungle' beside lots of quite shallow water, with a near-desert, slightly hilly landscape backing it, albeit relieved by some lovely flowering succulents in a few places -not my favourite place so far, and not helped by an inexplicably unfriendly reception by the General Manager of Balboa Y.C, (where I'd previously offered to talk about my sailing) - in stark contrast to several of  his staff and members I met up with, who were very friendly and pleasant.    (I should explain that I had understood that they granted the 3 nights of free berthing often given by Clubs to visiting boats. especially if foreign, and so I'd hoped it might be possible for the single night I was unexpectedly informed of to be extended to a second night - a request which was turned down in a quite unnecessarily rude manner, along with the comment that lots of people had done what I'd done..!)
 Fortunately, I'd been able to meet up not only with some new boat friends but was delighted to meet with Tom, WA6TLL, brought by daughter Judy to visit on Saturday evening.  At nearly 90 yrs of age, he's still very active on the Pacific Seafarers Net and often helps cruisers with phone 'patches', via ham radio, to their families.    Sunday brought more 'ham' visitors - John, N6MJC, turned up unexpectedly, as I finished breakfast, having heard I'd come into Newport Beach, and then Gil, N2GG, with his family, also came along and took me off to spend a pleasant day with them, including a trip to look at his 'mobile shack' where we picked a few nearly-ripe grapefruit - this is California!

Early on Monday 12th November, ... off again, motoring in almost no useful wind - to the small Oceanside Y.C. - very helpful and happy to see us and the other boat that came in later.    It felt far more pleasant than Newport Beach, with greenery around and a pair of fish eagles spotted high up as I walked around the marina.   I could have stayed on but had a date in San Diego on Tuesday where I was expected at the San Diego Y.C.'s Cruise Fleet Dinner - arrived at just in time after yet another day of little wind, having needed to fuel up before finding my berth.   It was good to see friend Ed (first met in Dec 2004) and wife Percia and was warmly greeted by several other Club members at the Dinner.

Since then, I've met more friends here in San Diego- in particular, it was really good to meet up with Robert, WA6AMK, and Mark, AF6TC, having talked to them so much on HF all the way back, since 16th February, when S of the Indian Ocean, on the way from Africa to Australia.   Robert has been particularly helpful since our first meeting, taking me around in his car to get things done and sometimes diverting a bit to show me some of the sights around.

Time seems to be flying by with lots still to do... but I'm looking forward to chatting to the Junior sailors on Friday when they get back off the water and I'm giving a Presentation here at the San Diego Y.C. on 11th December.   It was ' Wednesday coffee and doughnuts' at Downwind Marine this morning - a chance to meet up with others headed down to Mexico around the same time and chew over mutual problems.   I went into the nearby loft to check on my sails - two genoas and the mainsail in for 'tweaking' - and yesterday I discovered the outboard engine needed a new cover gasket.... That's in addition to the engine needing a look at, along with the dinghy...

You are viewing synereida