Long Beach to Ensenada Mexico


After a month or so of preparation we finally headed off.

Cruising Sailing down to Ensenada

Long Beach to Catalina

The engine took on some seaweed just before the LA Light, 15 min from my old slip; I was so busy with last minute preparation and working the route on MaxSea charts, that I spent less time piloting than I should have. Charlie, my French amigo, who has had very little experience, was at the wheel, I neglected to tell him to avoid the seaweed. The engines overheat warning sounded. I was much surprised, not that the old outboard was overheating but that the overheat alarm actually worked! Honestly didn't even know it had one more so that if it did it would work. The backup plan came into action a lot quicker than I expected, but it was most definitely expected. We where near the rocks but the wind and swell wasn't all that bad but to be on the safe side I pulled the dinghy in. The dinghy was being towed about 20 ft behind. I'm very happy with the dinghy, it's a dux inflatable catamaran style dinghy/tender also known as a tunnel hull inflatable. A little oversized at 13' but she is exceptionally stable and fast with 18 hp two stroke engine she can cruise at over 15 MPH. I tied a line to the transom of the dinghy and towed Siam back to the launch ram dock where we managed to clear the seaweed and get running again. The rest of the trip was relaxed and the wind picked up into the evening. We killed the engine and sailed the last leg into two harbors Catalina at five knots feeling very impressed with ourselves. I've been to Catalina before twice to Avalon with an old girlfriend, which was great for a romantic excursion, but Two Harbors is far better. Quiet and away from the crowds it's hard to believe a place like that exists so close to LA.

Cruising Sailing two harbors Catalina Dux dinghy inflatable

Two Harbors Catalina to Mission Bay San Diego

On the first leg I noticed that we used more gas than anticipated. Yes the old girl has a two stroke gas outboard off the transom. Firstly the engine is way too large for the boat 30hp when she'll do hull speed with half that and secondly the boat is not designed to take an engine off the transom. Not sure whose idea it was but it was certainly a bad one. This is the first thing I intended to change once I get to Mexico, at the top of a long list of priorities. Scrambling back and forth from the center cockpit to the engine to keep the rusted old thing going is quite some exercise, not to mention dealing with a bunch of fuel tanks while hanging on to the back and doing the trapeze between the dinghy and the transom in mid flight. I decided the fuel belonged in the dinghy far behind the boat.

A high pressure was reportedly coming when we left long beach, and it seemed to arrive early, I managed to get some sailing done in the wee hours but we had very little wind most the way and the gas was running out fast, too fast, so at about 3am I decided to head in for Mission bay instead of a direct shot to Ensenada. We changed shifts at about 4am I set the autopilot (Mr. Armstrong) and a course for Charlie to follow. Charlie woke me in the morning just outside the entrance to Mission bay a peaceful little bay with a relatively quiet and easy anchorage.

On the way we saw a large group of seals, looks like they were migrating from the main land to Catalina?

Seals migrating catalina long beach sailing cruising

Mission Bay, San Diego to Ensenada Mexico

I took a good afternoon nap at mission bay and we headed off around four for Mexico. Plotted a course to avoid the few obstructions and set the autopilot. No wind again, we had the rusty old outboard humming away at 4 knots, down from five to save gas as the engine seemed ever hungrier. At about 2 am, why does everything seem to happen in the early hours?, I was woken from my nap by the engine going full speed ahead. Popped my head out and saw Charlie frantically steering or trying to figure out which way to steer. Coming off the Starboard bow headed straight for us at an amazing speed was a super yacht. She just missed us but the wake threw us about quite a bit. Siam being a catamaran I had two Champaign glasses on the galley counter all the way, without any issues but they were knocked over in the wake along with a bunch of stuff on the counter. I have no idea where that super yacht was headed in such a hurry we where across the Mexican border in line with Roserito, there's no port that I know of there and she was headed directly toward land. Besides the tankers we saw passing on the horizon, this was the only boat we saw and it seemed intent on mowing us down. This left us a little paranoid, Charlie started to think the tankers where coming to get us too, so he went off to get some rest. The dolphins visited later, the moon was almost full and they could be seen swimming between the bows.

Sailing cruising catamaran

We ran out of fuel at around 8am, this is when I finally discovered what the problem was, cracks in the old fuel lines, no wonder we were going through so much fuel, and I thought my calculations where just out of whack. We kept a few gallons in reserve for the Dinghy/life raft/towing service. Fortunately for us the wind started to pick up and I was able to get her up to between 3 and 4 knots most of the way, under sail. We eventually reached the bay and headed in wing on wing while the wind steadily increased. Coming into Ensenada port, it was blowing, we were tired and I couldn't get the engine started again. I tried taping up the cracks in the fuel lines but nothing seemed to work, so we had to fall back to the dinghy again. I set up to tow Siam but the wind was blowing too much and I couldn't control it, the Dinghy kept crabbing, and we had a chance of blowing into the wall, so eventually I flagged down a sport fishing boat who helped pulled her in.

Viva la Mexico!

Siam is hauled out at Baja Naval to have a new and I mean brand new 9.9 high thrust four stroke motor installed in the center cockpit, where it is designed to go!