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We were ready for our beat up the coast of Baja California to San Diego. Going against the prevailing current and waves is called beating into the sea. The name is very descriptive of what you do. You literally beat into each wave, slamming through it. In doing so the bow goes up to get over the wave, and then crashes down into the trough between the waves, waiting for the next beat into the face of the next oncoming wave. Sometimes you crash through the wave, rather than going over the top of it, which causes a jolt and shudder in the boat. The deck is constantly awash, with sea water flowing out of the scuppers and over the rails. Before the deck is cleared of water the next wave pounds on to the teak. We had to keep all the portholes and hatches firmly toggled shut to keep out the water. This makes the inside of the cabin stuffy as air can only come in though the cockpit hatch. We had to run the air conditioner most of the time.
If the waves are small it's not a problem and is simply less comfortable than running before the waves, i.e., going in the same direction as the waves. When the waves start to grow in size, the banging and smashing into the face of the waves becomes more unpleasant. If the waves are breaking, and/or there is a wind against you as well, it is very miserable. We had beat into waves on our lessons with Al, but that was for a short time. This beat up the coast was going to last at least five or six days.
We had some six hundred miles to travel. We couldn't go in a straight line, as we needed to take most waves at an angle. This means tacking up the coast, and doing a zigzag course. So a six hundred mile straight-line distance becomes more like seven hundred miles over the bottom. Assuming fair winds, and reasonable size swells, we could do five knots over the bottom or about five and one half miles per hour. That is about one hundred thirty miles per day. It was therefore going to take us five days if we were very lucky, and maybe as many as seven days if we were not. The biggest factor in determining the amount of time was the speed of the current running against us. The secondary factor was the speed of the wind against us.
The currents in the ocean go in relatively fixed patterns as to their location and direction. They do vary greatly as to speed and force. This time of the year the Japanese current that we would be beating into was usually at one of its lower speeds and force. This is, of course, subject to dramatic change without notice. There are virtually no reports of the force of any current anywhere. The weatherfax gives a wave height analysis once a day, which is better than nothing, but it wasn't much help.
I studied the weather carefully for a couple of weeks looking for a good take-off window. Our engine would be running for the entire trip to give us additional power to crash through the waves. Many people sail against the waves and current without their engines, but then they are lucky to make two or three knots per hour. We did not want to double the length of this passage.
We were concerned about this passage and how we would take it. It was going to be difficult and not very comfortable. I was not worried or frightened, but Barbara and I were apprehensive about just how uncomfortable we were going to be. This was going to be our one and only long beat into the weather, as it is called. Our next trip down to Mexico would be as the first leg of our trip across the Pacific Ocean and into the South Pacific Island groups, so we would not be beating for a long time to come, if ever again.
The wave analysis and weather patterns were not going to get any better than they were, so off we went north. The plan was to stick rather closely to the coast, as the waves would tend to be smaller as the coastline breaks them up. That was the theory at least. The additional factor was that we were going to stop in only two anchorages along the entire west coast of Baja California. Both of these natural harbors are large. If you look at the map you can see there are no roads along most of this entire coastline. There are no headlands, lighthouses, cities, or any landmarks to indicate where you are. The desert comes right down to the ocean with no cliffs, mountains or really anything that stands out. One section of the coastline looks exactly like the next section from the sea. This is one of the most sparsely inhabited places in all of the Americas; even the jungles have more inhabitants than live along this coast.
There are no gas stations, markets, or services of any kind available until Ensenada, which is close to San Diego. The most-asked question we received over the years from landlubbers was, "Where do you pull in at night or where do you sleep at night?" They're thinking about driving across the US and stopping at a motel for the night. We would explain there are no Pacific Ocean Hilton's or Motel 6's. There is no Coast Guard or any help or civilization of any kind. If you are in trouble you are on your own. The two harbors, Magdelana Bay and Turtle Bay, do have a few local fishermen and their wooden pangas, and that's it. They have nothing they can or will sell you, except fish and shellfish. That they are happy to sell you, fresh, cheap, and in abundance.
These waters teem with fish of all kinds and sizes, and therefore are full of fishing boats, usually Mexican boats with a few Americans thrown in. The Mexicans observe no rules or regulations whatsoever. They have no running lights at night. They tow long nets with no markers or buoys. Some of these guys are also pirates, as there is no police or law enforcement of any kind here. We wanted to stay out of their way and avoid them.
Whenever we were anywhere near land, shipping lanes, or anywhere where we might see another boat, we stood watch. Standing watch means that someone is always up, on duty, watching the radar, and paying attention. The nav station, or navigation station, on Magellan was comfortable with a large well-padded seat. By using large down-filled sofa cushions you could wedge yourself in and get comfortable, even in rough seas, as your motion then coincided with the motion of the boat. This is no different than having a good seat on a horse; it is comfortable when you go with the motion and not against it.
Standing watch is a subject much talked about among yachties. Many people use the navy system of four hours on and four hours off. For Barbara and me this would mean that we'd alternate every four hours. Interrupting your sleep after four hours is not good, as you never get a good night's sleep. You are constantly in a state of sleep deprivation, which makes you less than sharp. This is dangerous on the ocean, so we nixed it. Another system used by many people is six on and six off. This helps the sleep problem a bit, but it is tough to stay awake and sharp on a watch of six hours. There are people who do two on and two off. You name it and there is a yacht that uses that system.
What Barbara and I did on Magellan was to fit the watch system into our own personal circadian rhythms. Barbara has always liked to go to sleep early. I like to stay up late and read. This worked great for us. She would go to bed in the late afternoon or early evening, sometimes as early as 1600 hours, 4 in the afternoon, and always by 1800 hours, or 6 p.m. It is best to use the universal time system of a 24-hour day to avoid confusion aboard, but more particularly for navigation computations which are all done on a 24-hour clock. This is how most of the world operates, except for the US and a few other exceptions.
We usually had our large meal in the mid-afternoon. We still do to this day, as it feels better to both of us. So we'd have a nice breakfast upon getting up in the morning, and then the big meal in the afternoon. Barbara would go sleep a couple hours after we ate. She would get in eight hours of sleep, and then get up between midnight and two a.m. I was happy to sit at the nav station reading, doing our navigation, checking the charts and adjusting our course when necessary. I would spend hours on the ham radio. I talked to Al every night. I made contact with ham radio operators all over the world; some I spoke with every night. I would get the daily news and a report of what was going on in the world.
I was doing a great deal of drawing and water-color painting during our sailing days and spent many hours working on sketches that I had started while on shore and during our various excursions everywhere. I never went anywhere without a bound sketchbook, pencils and erasers. I drew the locals, the buildings, the architectural details which interested me, and just about everything. It was usually too rough to paint while on watch, and normally I would just draw. Drawing puts me into a state of mind where I lose all track of time. I am rather proud of my drawing skills and the results thereof. Most of the drawings which I liked and worked on for many hours were intended to be oil paintings some day.
Between all of these activities I was very happy and busy for the eight hours while Barbara was sleeping. There were many times I was disappointed she was up and it was my turn to sleep, as I was in the middle of a ham radio contact, or a drawing, or some navigational computation. I went to sleep and then got up between 800 hours, 8 a.m. and 1000 hours, 10 a.m. We were both on watch the rest of the day. Sometimes one of us would take a nap in the early afternoon if we needed it, and then the other one was on watch. We could not sleep or nap at the same time.
While I was sleeping Barbara would read novels, knit, and take care of Magellan. She is fanatical about keeping any place where we live clean, sharp, and polished. On a boat there is always something to polish and clean. We were both content and happy while on watch. We would describe our system to other yachties and they thought we were crazy. One of the great things about sailing is that you do what you want to do and what feels good. You do not have to explain yourselves to others.
Whenever we were in a situation of danger or heavy traffic, we would both be awake and on watch. We had a hard and firm rule on this issue. If there is anything going on which may be a problem, we wake up the person who is sleeping. There is no anger involved whatsoever as this is a requirement of safety and survival. You must be prepared to miss some sleep when sailing on the seas, and be content that you will nap and catch up. The port stops always gave us lots of time to sleep, nap, and take it easy. Many of them seemed to be used just for getting in lots of snooze time. After months of being in a place such as Cabo where we both got plenty of sleep, we almost looked forward to being on our toes and ready to give up sleep when need be.
Within twenty minutes after pulling up our anchor, we were out of the harbor of Cabo and on the open ocean. Going against the waves, swells, and the wind, we felt the banging, beating, and crashing into the weather at once. The noise was loud and intense. It was uncomfortable and nauseating. We were both very seasick and vomiting within an hour. Any sailor who denies he throws up and denies getting seasick is lying about his time and experience at sea. Everyone gets sick at some time.
Most of the time the sickness will ease after hours or days. Sometimes, though, you can be sick for many days. There are all kinds of remedies and folklore about what to do. Eat dry crackers. Wear a seasickness patch. Drink lots of water. Don't drink lots of water. The list goes on and on. Over the years we have tried them all and nothing is a panacea. The patches work sometimes, and sometimes not. I have no clue why.
We were both as seasick as we had ever been. The motion of the boat was terrible. It was going in all six directions all at once: up, down, left, right, forward and backwards. Each wave we hit shook the entire boat. It had been five or six hours since we had left Cabo and we were getting sicker. We couldn't eat or drink. We traded places between the nav station and the sofa. We were able to get into positions so that we were not being thrown around, but that was about the only consolation. When we changed places we had to crawl along the floor holding on to keep from sliding around.
Being only a few miles from the shore didn't seem to be doing us any good so I headed out another ten miles to sea. It was even worse than close in, so we headed back closer to shore. It was dark now and this seemed to have no effect on the motion. The wind and waves remained the same. We were now having the dry heaves, as there was nothing left to throw up. There was no thought of eating or drinking anything.
Our first stop was going to be Magdelana Bay. This is known to yachties as Mag Bay. It is a very large natural bay with a safe entry and no dangerous rocks. We would get to Mag Bay in about three days at the speed we were now making over the bottom of about four knots or four and one half miles per hour. Once inside the bay we would be in calm water and feeling better. But that was three whole days away; three more days of this was going to be very tough.
These was nothing we could do except keep an eye on the radar and our position. I charted our exact location on the charts every hour or two just for something to do. It was too difficult to read a book or draw. When not on watch we both slept, which was now about two hours on and two hours off.
The next morning was just as terrible as the previous day had been. Our condition had improved a little, but not much. We still felt sick, but the dry heaves had ended. The next twenty-four hours passed about the same as the previous day. And then the next day with more of the same. Our position to get into Mag Bay was very good as we should arrive mid-morning, which would make for a good safe entry into the bay.
It was at this point that Barbara pointed out that we had not had anything to eat or drink for over three days. We were going to die of dehydration if we didn't drink right now. We both started sipping on water. We still could not think about eating anything, but we did force ourselves to drink. We felt better with some fluids in our systems.
The next morning we were still not feeling well, but a little better. We should enter Mag Bay in a few hours, and we couldn't wait for calm water. Finally we could see the outline for the entrance to the bay on the radar. It showed up clearly at less than ten miles away. We really had nothing to do to prepare to enter and anchor as everything was firmly stowed. The time seemed to slow as our anticipation grew of getting anchored. And then finally we were there. We pulled into a very large featureless lagoon. The water was fairly deep at the entrance, and in the middle, and then sloped up to beaches all around.
As soon as we entered the bay, the motion of the boat calmed and we felt better almost at once. We had good information from the pilot books and charts as where to anchor. This is well marked on the charts, as this is the spawning and breeding place of the Pacific Gray Whale. We spotted a couple of whales as soon as we entered the bay. We were late in the season for the large number of whales, but there were always a few males and juveniles that hung around. Because of the whales, the naturalists and ecologists do not want any boats in Mag Bay, and those very few sailboats that do come in must anchor in two designated places so as not to disturb the whales. Absolutely no fishing boats or commercial boats of any kind are allowed inside the bay. There is a trailer on shore and a patrol boat run by the Mexican Nature Reserve, and that's it. This is a barren and empty place without more than an occasional tree and cactus.
We located the anchorage and dropped our hook. We were very relieved that the motion had stopped. We both fell asleep and were out for a long time. When we got up early in the evening we were very hungry and had a nice meal and then went to bed again. No one needed to be on watch this night.
The next day we were visited by the nature reserve police who wanted to make sure we were not going to kill a whale. Do we look like a whaling ship? They weren't sure. A short while later we had a visit from the only other yacht in Mag Bay, an SSCA member. We had a nice lunch and discussed cruising, ports, and other yachtie stuff. The next morning they were gone. We relaxed and watched the whales from a distance.
The wind had now almost gone away entirely and the seas seemed to be calmer, so we departed and headed for Turtle Bay. It took us a day to motor sail to Turtle Bay. The seas had calmed substantially and were now large swells instead of waves. We were still beating into the swells, but due to their smoother shape we were just going up the faces and then down the backsides and into the troughs. The banging of the last leg into Mag Bay had gone away, but a slow roller-coaster type up and down motion was still very evident. It was not very nice, but much better than it had been the few days before.
Turtle Bay is another large natural bay, but this time with a small fishing village. Here the sea life is turtles, hence the name of the bay. The large sea turtles lay their eggs in the broad flat beaches. We were warned not to swim if we saw turtles nearby as they are not friendly and will bite you with their large beak-like mouths. The adults weigh a couple of hundred pounds, swim fast, and are mean and aggressive. We never ventured more than a few feet from the boarding ladder while in the water.
Being in the warm water lost its appeal because you had to constantly keep one eye out for the turtles. Swimming in fear is no fun. There are many places in the world where turtles are a serious problem and considered pests. In the Indian Ocean at Reunion Island and at the Seychelles they have concrete barriers you can jump behind at the beach to protect yourself from the turtles when they regularly come out of the water to attack. They warn you at the hotels not to fall asleep lying on the beach as you will be turtle food.
The airline that sells you a ticket to one of these places doesn't view it as their job to tell you the facts about where you're going. The travel agent who is collecting a commission on the hotel room and arrangements is also not going to tell you about the biting turtles. The travel industry is selling dreams, and they are not going to give you any facts to sully the dream. We fortunately had the advice and counsel of the SSCA and other yachting magazines who do tell the truth and give fair warnings.
Turtle Bay and Mag Bay looked almost exactly alike, except for Turtle Bay's adobe brick buildings which stood in a small cluster. It wasn't much of a village. The people, however, were friendly and seemed happy and nice. We bought the ubiquitous beer and lots of shellfish and fresh fish.
We weren't very happy in Turtle Bay. The protected nature of the bay made the water warm, so going into the water to cool off really didn't work even when there were no turtle threats. The turtles made snorkeling out of the question. The place itself was hot and dusty with not much to look at. By the second day we found ourselves inside the cabin, running the air conditioner and watching movies. After two days, we decided to leave, so we went to Ensenada to check out of Mexico and head for San Diego. The seas remained fairly calm, but with the big long smooth swells. We weren't seasick, but we didn't feel good either. The motion felt similar to driving over an endless number of big speed bumps. You drive up and then down, across a short distance and then up again and down again, over and over. Just non-stop speed bumps for several days. We forced ourselves to eat and drink a little regularly, but didn't have a real meal.
We were now anxious to be back in the United States for a little civilization. We wanted to see a movie and go to a restaurant that had something other than fish. We wanted to shop at a real supermarket with choices. We didn't even turn off our engine at the harbormaster's dock. I went in and dealt with the formalities: Check in to Ensenada, check out of Ensenada, check out of Mexico. We had to turn in our visas and all the documents they had issued to us. I complied and we were history.
Leaving Ensenada, the ocean had become a little rough again, but not nearly as bad as it had been when we departed Cabo San Lucas. We got seasick again, but it wasn't nearly as terrible as the trip had been from Cabo to Mag Bay. Also, this was less than a one-day sail. We didn't worry about what time we would arrive in San Diego, because San Diego is a major port that is well marked, well lighted, and with a big entrance that is safe and well buoyed. Each buoy has a light, horn, and is numbered, so you know exactly where you are. We had sailed into San Diego several times, knew exactly where we were going, and were not concerned if we arrived during the night.
We got to the outer harbor at 2 a.m. Barbara steered while I watched the radar and shouted out course changes. I would tell her buoy six starboard at 100 yards. Roger she would shout back. Roger is the nautical term which means, I heard you, OK, and agreed, all in one word. For emphasis you say roger, roger - I strongly agree and acknowledge. This is used on board, and for radio communications. We continued into the harbor noting the lit markers. The radar alarm was off as there were too many targets and the land. I was watching closely however.
The harbor takes a large left-hand bend towards the inner harbor. We motored down the center of the channel for safety and ease. As we came around the corner an island appeared in the middle of the channel where there should not be an island. I looked carefully at the highly detailed chart of the harbor which I was using to guide us and did not see the island that was on my radar.
How could they have put an island in the middle of the channel so quickly since the last time we were here? I yelled to Barbara to alter our course dramatically to avoid the island. There was no panic or danger, just confusion and lack of comprehension of what was going on. I knew exactly where I was and what should be on my radar screen. This island shouldn't be there.
I went up on deck to take a look. There was something ahead of us in the darkness and it had no lights of any kind. I told Barbara to steer even further away from whatever it was. As we got within a couple of hundred yards from the object we could see it was several hundred feet high as well as wide and large. When we were 100 yards away we could see it was an aircraft carrier at anchor in the middle of the channel. We then saw that there were two aircraft carriers side by side. We actually sailed under the huge overhanging deck as we passed by. This was one of those times we felt very small and insignificant.
We learned a lesson from this experience. Where does the 800-pound gorilla sit? Wherever it pleases. The navy does not need to follow the rules of the road, or any rules it does not want to follow. We mentioned what happened the next morning to fellow yachties at the San Diego Yacht Club. One of them who was ex-navy told us that US men of war at sea do not stop to pick up anyone in distress. If you are in a lifeboat and call them on a radio they do not answer, as they will not divulge their position for your sake. They will steam right by you. Only the US and Russian navies have this rule of no good neighborly help. All other navies will save you. The Coast Guard will save you within the 100 miles of American waters around the US, or a little farther depending on their fuel limits, but not when they are out to sea for drug interdiction. The rules vary if commercial fishermen are involved, or yacht racers, but for us ordinary mortals it's US waters for one hundred miles.
We spent some time in San Diego and then moved on up the coast to Marina Del Rey, with a short stop in Newport Beach, which we didn't care for. When we pulled into the guest docks at Marina Del Rey, we began to wash down and clean up the boat. Within 10 minutes, two police boats with their sirens on pulled in behind the steel ketch next to us to block it from leaving. Two police cars pulled up next to the dock and police were everywhere with guns drawn.
I put down my mop to watch. Quickly the police removed the four men from the inside of the boat in the slip next to us, and started a serious search. They were taking everything out of the boat and going through it on the deck and on the dock. This went on for hours. The four men were put on the foredeck in handcuffs and sat there during the entire search. When the police were done, they released the men and departed, leaving stuff all over the dock and the deck in a great mess. The men then started to clean up and put everything away. We talked to them and asked what that was all about. They told us they had been in Columbia after sailing around South America and decided to come straight to LA without stopping anywhere, as they had had enough of the Spanish style and countries, and just wanted to get back to the USA.
The non-stop run from Colombia made them a suspected target as drug runners. Hence the search. The police broke stuff, made a mess, left, and that was that. No apologies about the mistake. These guys wanted to sue someone. I advised them to clean up and forget it as they were fighting against a concrete wall and would lose. Chalk it up to experience and go on with your life. No one died or was injured. Keep your money and don't give it to the lawyers, as you will not win. Your profile matched what they were looking for, and it will be deemed a reasonable police action with probable cause.
We were going into the South Pacific on our next cruise, not to return to California on Magellan. Once you go west across the Pacific Ocean, you cannot go back east without even worse problems than we had beating up the coast from Mexico and back to California. When you leave North America for the South Pacific, you are committed to going all the way around the world to get back to America. We intended to go to the islands of the South Pacific. That had been our major goal when we bought our boat.
This meant that we had to buy the charts, read the books, and prepare to be in that part of the world. Many techniques of sailing were different there, as were the problems we would face. We had to be even more prepared than we had been for Mexico.
We would go back to Mexico for the next season. Then we'd cross the Pacific Ocean to the several island groups and the tens of thousands of islands of the South Pacific. We felt that we could do the ocean passage. We had gone offshore of Mexico and done fine. This time we would leave from California and not pull into land until we got to Cabo San Lucas. This would give us a passage of ten days or more, and this time we'd be farther from the land. It would be another test of our passage-making abilities, but we didn't view it that way at the time, we just wanted to go that way. We felt that we had reason to be comfortable with our abilities and those of Magellan. If you are over confidant, you will get into trouble, and we knew that. The trick is to strike a balance between realistic confidence in yourself, and common-sense caution so that you don't attempt something beyond the capabilities of yourself and your boat.
Our departure would be from California in mid-November. We would spend three or four months in Mexico and then cross the Pacific. On this next trip to Mexico we would go to the mainland, and not just to Baja California. We would go south as far as Acapulco. As you go south in Mexico you also go east, making the crossing even longer. So we might not go as far as Acapulco, and might go just to Puerto Vallarta. That we would play by ear when we were there.
We were going to be in very third world places for a couple of years. Even French Polynesia, which has some civilization, is very third world. We wanted to immerse ourselves in American culture and amenities for the next four months before our departure. We would go to all the movies being shown. We would replenish our stock of VCR movies, music cassettes, and reading materials.
We wanted to use up all of the supplies and canned goods we had put onboard and buy all new things for the crossing. We knew what we could, and more importantly couldn't, buy in Mexico, and would prepare accordingly. Provisioning was going to involve far less guesswork than our previous efforts. We were far more aware and expert about living on board, and we now knew many tricks of the trade.
We knew what to put in the refrigerator and freezer, and what not to put there. Loading the freezer was an art, which we learned from other yachties and our own experience. The most deadly thing in a freezer on a ship is air space. It is tough to get it cold, and takes too much energy to keep cold. The freezer had to be packed tightly in layers that didn't need to be removed until the items were to be used. Every speck of space was filled with food. Tiny crevices would be filled with ice. Get rid of the air space. When you use stuff up, it is replaced with water to freeze into ice cubes, which you will use in the heat of the tropics.
The same thing applied to the refrigerator. You do not want to let hot air into the box any more than absolutely necessary. Therefore you put things in layers and in such a way that you can reach in and get what you want without rearranging and searching through the food. This also meant learning what foods do not need refrigeration. The list is longer than you would think.
Never put eggs in the refrigerator, even on land. It destroys their texture and flavor. So long as an egg has no cracks it will last for many weeks out of the refrigerator. If you coat the egg with Vaseline it will last five or six weeks unrefrigerated. This is surprising to most people, but that is how most of the world deals with eggs. A French chef would never use an egg from a refrigerator; the French are horrified that Americans treat eggs this way. An omelet has a totally different and wonderful flavor and feel when made with eggs that have never been cold. The cold damages the egg and changes its flavor.
Using five- or six-week old eggs scares many people, rightfully so as you can get quite ill from eating a bad egg. There is a simple test to use. You put the egg into water, neither hot nor cold, room temperature. If the egg stays at the bottom of the bowl it is fine and you can eat it. If it floats to the top you throw it away. If it comes off the bottom, but does not come to the top and sort of hangs in the middle, you can eat it if you want it badly enough, but it is best to get rid of it. It depends on your level of desperation.
Tomatoes, too, should never be refrigerated. They also lose their taste and the cold ruins their texture. Lemons, oranges, apples, and in fact most vegetables should not be refrigerated. On a sailboat you have very limited space in the refrigerator, so it's not smart to put anything in which can be kept out.
Most condiments need not be cold. Mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup, can be kept out. The trick is not to contaminate them with anything else. The spoon or knife must be clean and dry when put into the mayonnaise. If it has even the smallest drop of tuna on the utensil that goes into the mayonnaise then it will spoil. If not, it will last months left out. The same is true for most condiments, so we used squeeze bottles that stay uncontaminated. We bought the smallest size mayonnaise (and many of them) so we'd use one up quickly and then open a new one.
We bought fruit and veggies that were not ripe and let them ripen at room temperature. When the refrigerator has room then we would put in a melon to chill it for taste and also to take up some of the airspace.
On a long passage you put the fruits and vegetables in a net bag, which is hung from the ceiling. Most things will keep amazingly well for a long time. Lettuce, however, is a problem. There is no great solution. It should be well washed, slightly wet with cold water, wrapped in clean paper towels, and then put it into a plastic bag. It stays crisp for a long time even unrefrigerated. It lasts even longer if you have room in the refrigerator, but it must be kept away from the cold plates, which destroy it quickly.
We learned by experimentation that certain dry cereals last forever, like corn flakes, and others, like rice crispies, do not stay crisp for too long, even in a Tupperware container. We were Tupperware champions. We had dozens of every size and shape so that we could use our storage space to the best advantage. Flour, dry beans, rice, yeast, and anything else that should be kept dry went into Tupperware. Tea bags get moldy and unusable quickly if not in Tupperware.
We tried a number of brands and types of containers that seal, and kept coming back to Tupperware. It works the best, and most yachties agree. Ziploc baggies also work for a short period of time and for certain items like toilet paper that do not fit well into Tupperware. You cannot believe what passes for toilet paper in the third world. What is available to be purchased is just terrible and may be unsafe. They use recycled everything. You are amazed what you find imbedded in the toilet paper. In most tropical and third world places they don't use paper at all. They use what is handy, leaves.
When you run out of Kleenex, and just can't purchase any, you start to think that Kleenex is a very important thing. You miss it and wish you had some. That does very little good. Wishing you had something does not make it appear. What does is planning, planning and more planning. And that translates to having enough on board so that you won't run out of whatever it is that you need.
There was a guy in the South Pacific who needed solution to clean his contact lenses and ran out. He was sure he had enough, but he didn't. He had serious problems when he used the local stuff they sell as lens cleaner.
Bars of soap don't work well as they get soggy and gooey within days of taking them out of the Tupperware. We used Joy liquid dishwasher soap for just about everything. It is a fabulous shampoo and makes you feel incredibly clean even when you take a bath in the ocean. It was multi-purpose, and we used this one soap for almost everything. It comes in a squeeze bottle so it doesn't spill easily. Cutting down on the number of items in the inventory makes life easier. Kleenex for example can also be used for toilet paper and paper towels.
Once you run out of fresh food you must fall back on frozen food. Once the frozen food is gone, you switch to canned goods, pasta, rice and beans. I got very good at cooking with only those ingredients. We had a standard tuna noodle casserole with canned peas, and/or corn that required nothing fresh at all. We made an all-canned salad that was delicious, with kidney beans, garbanzo beans, corn, white beans, green string beans, beets, and then the last couple of ingredients we would vary, to break up the monotony. We also changed the flavors with different spices and dressings.
Baking is also good because you can use things that last forever. The problem is that baking in the tropics heats up the boat in an already hot environment. We ran the air conditioner while I baked. Spices last a very long time, so we had a wide variety in quantity. I then could vary the tastes of the baked goods, casseroles and salads. You get very creative with limited supplies, which honed my cooking skills. I had taken many cooking lessons over the years, including a six-week course at the Cordon Blue in Paris, and was not a stranger to the kitchen, which my waistline will attest to. I love to cook. Barbara hates to cook, never has, and won't, so there were no arguments about cooking. It was my galley. The galley is the kitchen on any boat. I arranged everything as I wished. The galley was in a corner. The sink on the left, the gimbaled stove straight ahead of me, and the under-the-counter refrigerator with top hatch along with the side door on my right.
I had a cooking belt with hooks and snaps and clipped myself in so that I wouldn't move while the boat was under way. It was the smallest and best kitchen to use that I ever had. Everything was within reach: condiments, olive oil, pots, pans, and utensils. I did have to get things out of storage such as pasta before I started to cook, but that was part of planning a menu. A gimbaled stove is one that moves by itself to keep the stovetop level in all conditions. The boat moves, but the stovetop stays level. Put a pot of boiling water on the stove in rough weather and it does just fine. You must hook in the pot so it doesn't slide around, but the water level stays level and no water slops out.
We worked on provisioning, stowing items for long-term use, and organizing in the months that we were in southern California. We sailed to all of the Channel Islands many times, and up and down the coast. We visited most of our favorite harbors and haunts. We ate at all of our favorite restaurants.
This time around, obtaining the permits for Mexico was easier because we knew the ropes. We purchased the charts for the mainland of Mexico and the South Pacific. We put most of the piles of charts under the mattress of our bunk, and they raised the mattress four inches higher. We had professional mechanics on board to double-check everything before we departed. Al Huso came on board to check the sailing gear and had us replace many items.
The sea is rough on gear and it wears out from the constant pressure and chafing. A few lines had to be replaced and we added many more spares of all kinds. Magellan was sitting deeper in the water from the additional weight of the supplies and the spares.
We were ready and left for Mexico, heading out to sea for the non-stop passage to Cabo San Lucas. After the first day we were far enough out to sea that there was no more coastal traffic of any kind. We avoided the shipping lanes, which are noted on the charts, so as not to deal with tankers and container ships.
Container ships are dangerous to be near for two reasons. They go fast and don't keep a proper watch, so you must watch out for them. Second, containers fall off the ship from time to time. When one of these containers falls into the ocean, it floats just below the surface of the ocean. Radar can't pick up this target. If you hit one, you are likely to sink. After some time, the container will sink to the bottom, but it takes a while. And since they fall off in the shipping lanes, it is very dangerous to be in those lanes as you might hit one of the mostly-submerged containers. By the time you see the container under the surface, it's too late. If you are on a collision course with it, you have to hope you don't hit a corner that will put a big hole in your hull. There have been many international agreements to force shipping companies to put a ten-dollar valve on the containers that will allow in sea water and sink them quickly if they do fall into the sea, but the shippers refuse to spend the money. Ten dollars, after all, is ten dollars. We did all the research we could on this issue and found that there was simply nothing we could do about this danger.
By the second day on the ocean we were alone. Not one radar alarm went off the entire day. This was truly the happiest we ever were on Magellan. Alone on the ocean, in nice weather, and with good sailing. We were going downwind and with the tide and current. In these conditions we didn't have to touch the sails more than once or twice a day.