Log #61w San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico

January 13, 2017 in Log Series 60-69, Logs by Series, Series 61, The Logs



Log #61w San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico

La Paz, BCS Mexico

Jan. 10, 2017


Hi Folks,


This log finally gets us into Mexico, and is the last of the log series Logs #61 BC to Mexico.

Map 5

It talks about San Diego and an interesting time I spent on a USN aircraft carrier, the USS Midway.

Log #61v USS Midway

We have finally got our car registration straightened out, and will be able to drive it and our trailer back to Ontario in late March insured. Incidentally, the insurance for Veleda and our Yukon just covers other boats or vehicles, but does not cover damage or loss to the car or Veleda. And to add to my insurance woes, I am no longer covered by my Ontario health insurance until I get back and re-establish three months residency. I hope I don’t get sick or have an accident before then.

After I send this out from La Paz, we will be off north up the Baja, and out of WiFi range for about ten days until our next port. We are enjoying warm weather. Cost of living in Mexico is far less than Canada or the US. We enjoy Mexican food, but are going back on the Atkins diet to lose about ten pounds each. I will let you know how well we are following it. Because of the health insurance, I want to stay as healthy as possible especially for the next six months. So no sky diving, bungee jumping, and maybe no scuba diving (snorkelling should be OK), or other risky activities for a while. I still want to do a tandem sky dive at some time.

I hope you enjoy the log. Iam setting up a number of slide presentations for various clubs and organizations such as the Shellbacks, and the Port Credit Boat Show. If you know of any service clubs, yacht clubs or organizations that would like a presentation of our cruising lifestyle, let me know. I have organized a few presentations under the title of Living the Dream Parts 1 to 8 as follows:

Living the Dream Part 1 – From the Great Lakes to Northern Europe, Rivers of France to the Med and Black Sea including the Russian Black Sea Fleet review in Crimea

Living the Dream Part 2 – Caribbean Cruising, Cuba to Grenada

Living the Dream Part 3 – The Eastern Seaboard from Newfoundland to the Yucatan

Living the Dream Part 4 – West Coast Cruising – San Juan, and Gulf Islands to Desolation Sound and the Broughtons

Living the Dream Part 5 – Northern BC waters including Haida Gwaii, Jervis Inlet, and Fjordland

Living the dream Part 6 – Fjords and glaciers of Alaska

Living the Dream Part 7 — Down the US west coast, Cape Flattery to San Diego

Living the Dream Part 8 – The Baja and the Sea of Cortez in Mexico

The last few I have not yet put together, unless there is an interest in them. I enjoy giving the travelogues and encouraging people to go for their dreams, especially in retirement.

I hope you enjoy this log.

All the best,



Log #61w San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico

La Paz, Mexico

Jan. 7, 2017

We left Oceanside, CA at 0800 Nov. 12 for the 31 mile passage to Mission Bay, a suburb of San Diego. A pod of six dolphins came to play around the boat for several minutes as we motor sailed in light breezes from the west. Most of our passage down the west coast was with following or quartering winds, making the trip quite comfortable. We knew in advance that the predominant wind pattern was from the north or northwest, and that there tends to be a south flowing current off shore.

This is the reason that pounding north up the west coast is a heavy slog. Boats going from the Panama Canal to Vancouver will often go out to Hawaii, a course which can be sailed, and then from Hawaii to Vancouver, another sailable passage.However that option more than doubles the distance directly from Panama to Vancouver. That is why when we elected to come to the Pacific northwest we shipped Veleda from Corpus Christi, Texas to Bellingham, Washington. It only cost a little over $8000, unfortunately in US currency which as Canadians we have to add another 25%. We also wanted to ship within the US, as shipping a boat across borders can be fraught with bureacratic tangles.

The thought had occurred that we could ship Veleda from a Mexican port on the Pacific coast such as Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco to the Gulf of Mexico or the Yucatan in order to sail the Caribbean. However we are looking forward to sailing the Pacific coast of Central America, then going through the Panama Canal to get into the Caribbean, possibly as early as next year. We’ll see.

We had a comfortable motor sail into Mariners Basin of Mission Bay to anchor off the sandy beaches in 14 feet of water (32° 45.676′ N, 117° 14.831′ W). Mission Bay is a large bay, made up of several basins with a number of marinas and a considerable amount of on-water traffic from tour boats, yachts and sailboats, to jet skiis, kayakers, and surf board paddlers. Mariners Basin is the first bay to port inside Mission Bay. It is a large sandy beach-ringed resort and park area. We could anchor there free of charge for three days, after which we would have to register and possibly pay a nominal anchorage charge for up to 21 days. The area is well maintained, and the beaches combed each morning or after low tides. We saw one sailboat that had not calculated the depths and was heeled over at a 45 degree angle for a few hours until the tide rose adequately to get it off.

Mision BayThe beaches in Mariners Basin looking towards the entrance.

I dinghied up beneath the first bridge to find even more marinas for mostly power yachts, as the first bridge does not have enough height for even Veleda’s 45 foot mast to go through. We enjoyed the basin for three nights before motoring 16 miles down to San Diego Bay.

San Diego, right on the border with Mexico, is the major west coast US Navy base, similar to what Norfolk is on the east coast. We knew the layout of San Diego Bay, as we were here last spring on a Holland America Line cruise ship that took us from Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal and up to Victoria. We took a harbour cruise at that time to familiarize ourselves with the harbour. We were here a few years ago with our trailer at an expensive RV park on a paved dock south of town. At that time we toured the marine museum and a submarine and a tall ship on display.


San Diego is a navy town, home to four nuclear aircraft carriers, dozens of surface ships, and a submarine base, as well as the major fleet air arm base for the West Coast. While there we saw Welcome Home signs for the various ships that had returned from their deployments.

The bay is protected by Coronado Island which is the main navy, air and marine establishment. Other than the aircraft carriers at the island, other surface ships are moored below the bridge on the mainland side of the bay.


Log #61w Map 2  We weren’t sure where we would anchor, but called the South Western Yacht Club to see if they had space for reciprocal yachts. Yes, they did and we were welcomed alongside free of charge for several nights at their club in the Shelter Island Yacht Basin located to port as we entered. Shelter Island is linked to the mainland by a drive that separates the Yacht Basin on one side and the America’s Cup Harbor on the other side. This was the venue for the America’s Cup held here several years ago. We enjoyed the hospitality of the SWYC including WiFi, water and power on the dock, showers, and a DVD lending library. It was within walking distance of a large grocery store, and several high end chandleries for the thousands of large yachts in the basin and in the America’s Cup Harbor.

As the SWYC was hosting a regatta a few days later we had to vacate the visitor’s dock, but found a free anchorage bay in La Playa Basin, a few hundred metres down the Shelter Island Yacht Basin, right in front of the San Diego Yacht Club (32° 42.966′ N, 117° 13.851′ W). On our way down we stopped at the fuel dock for diesel and propane. The SDYC did not have room at their vistors dock, but gave us a special visitors pass to allow us to use the club’s facilities while out at anchor. This is the San DiegoYacht Club from which Dennis Connor won back the America’s Cup after Australia took it a number of years ago. Again we enjoyed showers, WiFi, and their lending library while at anchor, plus SDYC is closer to bus transportation and in walking distance to many chandleries, grocery stores and other businesses.

Problems with the outboard motor

Our 15hp Johnson outboard gave me problems for the first time. Once when I left the fuel dock, I got half way back to Veleda and the engine died. I started it again and it would then shortly die. I rowed back to the fuel dock hoping for a mechanic or some one who knew old two stroke outboards who could take a look at it for me. No such luck. I checked with several boat yards and there were no outboard mechanics available, and no one volunteered to come over to take a look at it.

After wandering around for an hour or two, one service called me back, and said I could bring it into the shop, across town. No can do. So I returned to the dinghy ready to row back to Veleda, but tried it a few more times … same result, it would start up then die. However, I found that after starting it with the choke out, then pushing it in and giving it a fast throttle, it would operate for a minute or two in gear. Aha! So I jerked up the basin with the engine dying, then full throttle until it died again, then choke out restart, choke in full throttle. By the time I approached Veleda it would stay at full throttle for several minutes, and when it tended to die, I could pull out the choke to reactivate it, then push the choke in and give it more gas. This pattern persisted for a few days, but has now spontaneously corrected itself and it is operating quite well, always starting on the second pull. Back in B.C., if I had a problem like that, a local would volunteer and clean the carburetor to fix it, but not down here in the big city.

Visit to the aircraft carrier the USS Midway

Log #61v USS Midway

Judy has walked enough warships with me that I did this one on my own. The USS Midway was the first supercarrier built and commissioned in 1945 at the end of WW II. For another decade, it was the largest warship in the world, too large to use the Panama Canal. Its pilots shot down the first MIG and the last MIG in the Viet Nam conflict, and led the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, rescuing 3,073 refugees in two days, including a dramatic story of allowing an escaping South Vietnamese officer with his family to land a Cessna on its deck. The ship was also the flagship in the Persian Gulf in Operation Desert Storm.

Named after the Battle of Midway, it displaces 69,000 tons, is 1000 feet (305 Metres) long and had a crew of 4500 men. It was decommissioned in 1992, and opened as the USS Midway Museum in San Diego in 2004, staffed by knowledgeable volunteers, many of them veterans who served on her or other carriers.

Of course I had to tour it from the depths of the engine room (there are four of them, one for each shaft) to the hangar and flight decks and the heights of the bridge.

 Log #61w Flight deck with E-2 Hawkeye View from aft of the bridge with a Seahawk radar survellence aircraft, and a fighter aircraft on the catapult, ready for launch. There was a good talk about the launch procedures and the catapult system still used on the nuclear carriers.

From the port aft elevator looking forward I could see three nuclear aircraft carriers across the bay on Coronado Island, one of which was to shortly depart for sea.

Log #61v Three nuclear aircraft Carriers from Midway - Copy

From the bridge I could see this nuclear carrier being eased into the channel ready to proceed to sea.

Log #61v Off to sea. - Copy - Copy

 Below is a Nuclear carrier getting provisioned for a sea deployment. The USN has only nuclear carriers now, but I think some smaller helicopter and amphibian carriers are conventionally powered. The USN has only nuclear submarines. That is why Canada’s few conventional submarines are so important to the USN and NATO for training exercises, as conventional powered subs are quieter than nuclear boats.

  LOg #61v USN Nuclear aircraft Carrier - Copy

 Log #61w Landing lights mock up 

This is a mock-up of the landing system used to guide aircraft to land on a pitching deck of a carrier, often referred to as following the “Meatball”. The central column of lights indicate the glide path of the approaching aircraft, the middle one is best. The side lights indicate port or starboard of the centre line.

This is the actual mechanism located outboard on the port quarter. Log #61w Landing lights

In the park around the Midway are statues and plaques commemorating famous admirals and battles. There are two that commemorate the lowly sailor, which to me are memorable.

This first one is a large statue from an iconic picture that appeared in Life magazine at the end of WW II of a sailor kissing a nurse in celebration of the end of the war.

Log #61v War's over

This next statue a life size one, for me is a moving moment of a sailor returning to his family.

  Log #61w Daddy's home

I call it “Daddy’s home”.

 I spent a summer as a Canadian officer cadet in 1959 on an exchange program with the USN on board the Essex Class carrier the USS Wasp. It too had a crew of 4500, but was not as large as the Midway. It was like living in a floating city. It was the largest ship I had been on, especially after my training on 300 foot frigates with a crew of about 250. I enjoyed the day spent at the USS Midway.

Another Murphy’s Law

On Nov. 23rd after a week in the San Diego area we were getting ready for our final departure from the US into Mexico. We wanted to weigh anchor late afternoon to go up for a pump out of our holding tank, so we could leave that night with an empty tank. Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head again, not as bad as the log jammed in the prop before leaving Esquimalt, but bad enough. When Judy was raising the anchor over the bow roller, the swivel shackle holding it to the chain broke, and the anchor dropped into the murky water. We lost our main anchor!

We were drifting and had to get under way to avoid other boats. We motored up to the pump out, then returned to anchor in La Playa Basin using our secondary 45 pound CQR anchor. We dropped the dinghy into the water and motored to the San Diego Yacht Club to walk over to a Marine Exchange where fortunately they had a 45 pound Claw, identical to the one we just lost, and for under $200.00. Not as expensive as I thought it would be. We took it back to the dinghy using our dolly, hooked it onto our anchor chain, but this time we did not use a swivel shackle. We were also fortunate as it was 16:30 (4:30 pm) on a Saturday afternoon. Had we been a half hour later the chandlery would have been closed and we would have to leave without our main anchor, or wait two days to get a new one.

We were set. We left that night, hoisting our double reefed mainsail, at 1920 (7:20 PM) for a 68 mile overnight passage to Ensenada, Mexico. Map 5 

It was uneventful, motor sailing most of the way in moderate force four and five winds to arrive at Cruise Port Village Marina in Ensenada by 0924. The marina was fairly expensive at $65.00 a night, but less expensive than the other local marina, Marina Coral at $90.00 a night.

More about our entry into Mexico and travels down the Baja California into the Sea of Cortes in my next log. I will be starting a new log folder for Mexico called Logs #62 Mexico. Incidentally, I have written over 500 logs of our travels for the past 18 1/2 years, most of them on my website at www.veledaiv.ca.