Monday, July 31, 2023

Sailing Intermezzo Book - Softcover and eBook Editions Now Available

Book Cover Image

I'm pleased to announce that more affordable softcover and eBook editions of my book Sailing Intermezzo - The Voyage are now on sale at my publisher's online bookstore.  The "deluxe" hardcover edition with color photos remains available for purchase there also. Scroll to my previous blog post for a description of and inspiration for the book.

Readers of this blog can apply the following coupon codes to receive discounts off the list prices:

  • BLOG - receive a 20% discount off the $24.99 list price of the softcover print edition
  • FRIENDS to receive a 50% discount off the $95.00 list price of the deluxe edition

The eBook edition is also available at Amazon and other online booksellers.

Please remember that publishing this book is a non-profit enterprise. All royalty proceeds I receive in excess of the cost of producing the book will be donated to charity.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

My Sailing Intermezzo Book Release

 Penngrove, CA

I'm pleased to announce the release of the "deluxe edition" of my long-awaited book, Sailing Intermezzo, The Voyage. This book combines my blog posts and writings from my personal journal to weave together the story of my sailing voyage from San Francisco to New York with a story of my struggles with love. Readers of this blog will be familiar with the sailing story. The love story reveals what I went through personally during the voyage while I was blogging about it.

My mom was the inspiration for this book. She asked me if I could print out the blog so she could have a hardcopy. When I got the blog converted to printable form, I decided to divide it into chapters and write prefaces for each chapter. When I started writing the prefaces, I realized I had more of a story to tell. And so printing out the blog turned into writing a book.

Writing this book was harder than I thought it would be, painful at times. Finishing the book felt satisfying. I feel both excited and apprehensive as I release it to the wild.

The deluxe edition is a hardcover book of over 600 pages with color photos. I self-published this book and, as it is printed on demand, is expensive. However, for a limited time, readers of this blog can receive a 30% discount off the list price by applying the coupon code BLOGDLX.  The deluxe edition can only be purchased at my publisher's (BookBaby) webstore at

I am working on a "standard edition", a softcover without the photos and an e-book, both of which which will be much more affordable. I expect these versions to be finished by the end of June and will announce their release as soon as they are available. They will be available from BookBaby and all the major online retailers.

Publishing this book is a non-profit enterprise. All royalty proceeds I receive in excess of the cost of producing the book will be donated to charity.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Back on Land, Sailing Life on Hold, the Sailing Intermezzo Book

Penngrove, California

Intermezzo all clean and shiny, only to gather dust in the Cabrales yard

Intermezzo is all buttoned up for extended dry storage at the Cabrales Boatyard and I'm back at The Ranch in California.  I'm transitioning into "land life" and anticipating a significant break from sailing. I'm still not sure what will fill in the gap, but happy to be taking it day by day for now.

Getting through my long list of lay up tasks took diligence, but wasn't too hard. The weather was kind, cool with a breeze most of the day, only hot for a few hours in the sun some afternoons. I maintained a good attitude throughout, didn't encounter any surprises or setbacks, and ticked of almost every item on the list, leaving just a few non-critical items to take care of next time I'm at the boat. There is nice community of DIY cruisers working on their boats at Cabrales. I enjoyed getting to know a few and the camaraderie of the community in general. My Airbnb was in a convenient location and reasonably comfortable except for a strong odor of mothballs which permeated my clothes and, very unpleasantly, my sandwich bread. My newish rental car was a bit expensive, but made getting around much quicker and easier than the alternative of walking and taxis. I discovered a few good restaurants and an outstanding taco stand near the boatyard, Tacos El Patron. All in all, it was a pleasant and satisfying week of hard work.

I departed Puerto Peñasco on Saturday (May 27th) dropping off the rental car and then lugging my baggage a kilometer to the Las Nenas depot where I got in a shuttle van for a four hour drive to Phoenix. The van stops on the Mexican side, you walk across the border, and get in another van on the US side. The shuttle terminates at a nondescript strip shopping center of Mexican businesses in west Phoenix that hardly looks any different than where it started. I took an Uber to the airport, caught a two hour flight to San Francisco, got on an airport shuttle bus to Petaluma and took another Uber to The Ranch. It was a 12 hour journey, door-to-door.  The Nenas shuttle from Puerto Peñasco to Phoenix cost $60, roundtrip. My two Uber and Sonoma Airport Express trips cost almost $80, one way!

I always feel sad when I leave Intermezzo on the hard. I feel nostalgic for the recent passages and anchorages, the cozy feeling of my compact home afloat. I feel like I'm abandoning the boat to the elements to gather dust, to get stale from not being used. Though I'm looking forward to land life, I also know that I will soon miss life at sea. In the past, I have often felt anxious during the transition. This time, I'm feeling far more comfortable, perhaps because I'm planning to spend more time on land, forgoing a season of sailing, with sense of commitment to this plan.

The first order of business now that I'm back ashore is to get the "deluxe" edition of my Sailing Intermezzo book printed and published. The publisher expects to ship me the first 25 copies this week. This edition is a hardcover with color photos and, because it is a small volume, print-on-demand book, will be expensive. I'm publishing this version for family, friends, my local library and for serious discerning collectors of fine literature, not to mention my own vanity. This edition will only be available for purchase on my publisher's website.

I am also working on the "standard" edition of the book, a softcover with no photos that will be affordable for everyone else who's interested in reading my story. Same high-quality literary content, just no pictures. I will also publish an e-book version of this edition, even more affordable.  Both the softcover and e-book will be available for purchase on all the major online book stores (e.g. Amazon), as well as the publisher's website.

I'll post more about the book and its availability as progress is made. I also have several other topics that I'd like to cover in upcoming posts. So, the Sailing Intermezzo blog continues...

Friday, May 19, 2023

Hauled Out and Laying Up

Puerto Peñasco, Sonora

The Puerto Peñasco shrimp fishing fleet

Intermezzo was hauled out yesterday and I began tackling my lay up To-Do list today. I had some reservations about storing and working on the boat in the Cabrales boatyard, but I'm feeling more comfortable about the place.

We weighed anchor in San Felipe around 5:30pm on Tuesday (May 16th), the sun soon setting behind us. We sailed on a close reach with southeast winds most of the night. Then, around 2am, the wind went crazy, blowing from the northeast at 20 knots, then from the southeast at 8, then from the northeast again at 15. It was not fun adjusting course and sail trim every 15 minutes at that time of night. Eventually the wind settled to blow lightly from the southeast and we motor sailed the rest of the way to Puerto Peñasco, dodging a couple of fishing boats for a couple of hours before sunrise.

Sunrise approach Puerto Peñasco

As we approached the entrance to the Puerto Peñasco harbor, I sent text messages to a couple of the marinas there, asking if they had space for us. I was pleased and relieved when Frederico's Marina replied affirmatively. However, when I arrived, there was another catamaran at the end tie dock. Frederico's told me they would be leaving soon and to temporarily dock at the abandoned marina next door.

The temporary dock was disgusting, completely covered and stinking with pelican guano, scattered with smelly, dead, dried fish. It was truly the most horrible dock I have ever encountered. It stank, my dock lines got covered with the guano and my fondness for pelicans took a steep temporary nosedive. Fortunately, we only had to endure the horror for twenty minutes. Unfortunately, when we were docked at Frederico's, the wind blew the horrible smell from the horrible dock right at us.
I spent the rest of Wednesday catching up on sleep after the overnight passage and getting the boat ready to be hauled out the next morning.

My old friends from Phoenix, Wayne and Heidi, arrived yesterday morning to help handle lines for the haul out. I had made friends with Mark, whose boat Chaos was scheduled to be hauled out right after us, and he offered to serve as a third line handler. We waited for the tide to rise and the Travelift to be ready for us and, around 11:30am, proceeded into the haul out slip.

The haul out slip at the Cabrales yard is scary looking, constructed of very rough stone walls, medieval-like. One false move and one could do some serious fiberglass damage. Fortunately, the wind was calm, I handled the boat well, my crew performed flawlessly, and the Cabrales crew did likewise.

The medieval haul out slip at low tide

Approaching the haul out slip at high tide

Wayne The Line Handler

We rode, suspended from the Travelift, across a road to the north storage yard and then were lowered onto blocking and jack stands. When I was satisfied that Intermezzo was properly supported and secure, Wayne, Heidi and I went out to lunch at a nearby restaurant and spent a few hours catching up on the past couple of decades. It was a very enjoyable visit.

Returning to the boat, I took stock of the surroundings. I had been concerned that the storage yard was dirty and that Intermezzo would be sitting on sand. The yard is actually surfaced with compacted gravel, much more to my liking. My spirits are also buoyed by interactions with the Cabreles, father and son, Salvador II and Salvador III, and the helpful, friendly community of cruisers at the yard.

The boatyard was founded in the 1940's by Salvador I, building steel shrimp fishing boats. The market for these boats steadily declined over the years and Salvador III has led the transition to focusing on serving the pleasure boat market. He's friendly, an excellent communicator and very helpful. Salvador II is moving along with the change, a friendly gentleman who keeps watch over what's going on and is an expert Travelift operator. The Cabrales yard encourages DIY work by boat owners and helps by providing equipment, facilities and supporting a WhatsApp chat group where boat owners can help each other out. I have suddenly changed from solitary singlehander to social butterfly in the boatyard.

I went out to dinner with newly made friends yesterday evening and slept last night on Intermezzo, my last night aboard. I rose fairly early this morning, picked up my rental car, bought some engine oil, and then set to work on  preparing the engines for storage, changing the oil and oil filters, changing the primary and secondary fuel filters and flushing the raw water cooling system with fresh water. This evening I checked into my Airbnb, my lodgings for the next week.

Tomorrow mechanical work continues as  I tackle the dinghy outboard, portable generator and anchor windlass.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The Journey and Life At Sea Drawing to An End

San Felipe, Baja California

We're leaving San Felipe this evening for Puerto Peñasco, the last leg of the journey from Puerto Escondido, another overnight passage so as to arrive on a rising tide tomorrow morning. It's pretty much a straight shot across the top of the Sea of Cortez, around 14 hours. The weather is good, the winds when they are blowing, from the South-Southeast.

San Felipe has been a lonely anchorage for me. I haven't been motivated to go into town, choosing to do chores and projects on the boat while at anchor instead. I've been feeling a bit anxious over hauling out in an unfamiliar place, a bit down that my pleasant life at sea is drawing to an end, probably for an extended period.

I was worried about finding a place to dock in Puerto Peñasco before hauling out. I called Sal at the Cabrales Boatyard and asked him about dockage. He told me that the marinas are small, pretty full, don't take reservations, and typically don't answer the phone. Not encouraging. I asked him for advice and he told me there is always somewhere to dock, to just look around for an empty space and take it. Not the way I like to roll, but if that's how it is, that's what I'm doing.

I pushed our haul out date to Thursday to minimize the time spent squatting on a questionable dock. We'll arrive on Wednesday morning, (hopefully) find a place to dock and I'll spend tomorrow preparing the boat to be hauled out.

We haul out on Thursday at high tide. I need a line handler to help me get into the travelifit slip. I was going to enlist one of the boatyard people. However, as luck would have it, my old friend Wayne from my days in Phoenix contacted me and has offered to help.  Wayne follows my blog and happens to be visiting Puerto Peñasco (aka Rocky Point by Arizonans). I haven't seen him for, I'd say, over 20 years. I'm very grateful for his offer to help and am looking forward to catching up on life with him.

I'll stay on the boat Thursday night and then on Friday, pick up a rental car, check into an Airbnb and begin laying up the boat for long term dry storage.  There is a lot of work today, work that I've done many times before in different places, often in sweltering weather. Here's the list:
  • Clean/wax interior fiberglass
  • Clean/treat vinyl
  • Polish wood
  • Mildew prevention treatment, cabins
  • Bag cushions, bedding, clothes etc.
  • Clean fans
  • Cull lockers
  • DampRid lockers
  • Drain dinghy hull
  • Secure dinghy on davits
  • Clean and cover dinghy
  • Service outboard
  • Shut off engine/house batteries
  • Backup plotter data/settings
  • Remove chart chips
  • Remove IridiumGo!/Garmin Inreach/PLB
  • Change engine oil
  • Flush/replace engine coolant
  • Wipe down engines
  • Change fuel filters (primary/secondary)
  • Fill fuel tanks/treat fuel
  • Flush engine raw water system
  • Change sail drive lubricant
  • Clean stove
  • Defrost/clean fridge/freezer
  • Turn off propane
  • Clean BBQ
  • Remove food
  • Remove trash
  • Lubricate hatch seals
  • Affix hatch and window covers
  • Clean and dry bilges
  • Wash and wax cabintop
  • Polish stainless steel
  • Cover forward windows
  • Wash and wax hulls
  • Replace engine hatch seals
  • Secure portholes and hatches
  • Clean, dry, stow kayaks and paddle board
  • Remove portable batteries
  • Pack clothes/personal items
  • Bring log books
  • Remove/stow lifebuoy/lifesling
  • Cover electric winch switches
  • Pickle watermaker, clean strainer
  • Flush holding tanks
  • Flush heads/relieve joker valves
  • Clean shower sump
  • Empty water tanks
  • Change portable generator oil, run dry, drain carb
  • Clean and grease windlass
  • Exercise and lubricate bottle screws
  • Remove bowsprit/furler
  • Remove/store sails
It will take me about a week to get through this list.  Next Saturday, I'll take a shuttle van across the border and to Phoenix, where I'll board a plane to head back to The Ranch.

My longer term plan is to keep Intermezzo in the Cabrales yard during the next sailing season and do a significant refit of the boat. After 10 years and many miles of sailing, there are several major projects that need to get done to keep the boat running well and looking good. Plus many, many small projects that I just haven't got around to doing while sailing. I figure on taking month long "working vacations" to Puerto Peñasco over the next 18 months. I'm not sure what I'll during the rest of my intermezzo from sailing, but I'm sure something will grab my interest. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Bahía Willard, Overnight Passage, Next to Last Stop

San Felipe, Baja California

Intermezzo anchored in San Felipe harbor

We departed beautiful Puerto Refugio Friday morning (May 12th) and had a pleasant but uneventful 9-hour trip to Bahía Willard. Bahía Willard is a nicely protected anchorage, but I was not impressed upon arrival. The landscape looked arid and bland, the little settlements on the north and south shores looked scrappy. It was quite the letdown.

On Saturday I ventured in the dinghy to the settlement of Papa Fernandez to see if I could get some lunch. The settlement has a restaurant, a boat ramp, campsites and a collection of very modest vacation homes built on rented lots. It also has an interesting history, the following copied from the website

The tiny settlement know as Papa Fernández takes its name from its centenarian founder Gorgonio (Papa) Fernández who first established a fish camp there in the 1950's. Later he moved there with his family (from Loreto in a rowboat), and has provided a welcome stop-over for Baja adventurers traveling the rugged dirt track which leads south along the Sea of Cortez from San Felipe to Calamajue Canyon and beyond. Papa passed away on February 20, 2001 at the age of 104 years. 

Early Spanish explorers recognized that the well-protected bay formed by Isla San Luis Gonzaga and the Punta Willard peninsula was a unique natural resource. The bay was first noted in written history in a report to the King of Spain by Fernando P. Consag, a Jesuit Missionary from Mission San Igancio who, with 6 soldiers and a few Indians in 1746, explored the Baja peninsula coast from the south up to the Colorado River Delta. As large ships were very scarce, this was done with four sail canoes.

The original Spanish-dug well still supplies water to the Papa Fernández settlement. Remains of the Jesuit storehouse that was used by Spanish ships to supply Mission Santa Maria near Cataviña can be found nearby.

I dragged the dinghy up onto a rocky beach and walked a few hundred yards to the Papa Fernandez restaurant. When I got there, it was closed and deserted. I sat down on a picnic bench, hungry and a bit disappointed. One of the boat ramp men asked me if I wanted anything. I replied that I would like to have lunch. He told me to wait a moment and walked to a nearby house. A friendly woman emerged from the house, opened the restaurant and cooked me a very nice meal of an enchilada, a chile relleno and a taco, plus a side of papas fritas. I washed it all down with a cold bottle of water (there was no beer). My impression of the place went up a bit. Would have been more if they had beer.

The tidal ranges in the northern Sea of Cortez are large. The difference between high and low tide in Bahía Willard on Saturday was 11 feet. I left the dinghy on the beach with the stern at the edge of the water during a falling tide. When I returned in an hour after eating lunch, the stern was 10 feet from the water's edge.

The stony beach at the Papa Fernandez settlement

The sail from Bahía Willard to San Felipe is just under 80nm, a 15-hour trip, so I decided I would depart the in the evening and sail through the night so that I would arrive in San Felipe in daylight. I spent the rest of Saturday repairing a big ding in the corner of port swim step.  It was tricky to replicate the original gelcoat profile. I slathered the gelcoat on thick and then spent a considerable time sanding it to conform to contours of the adjacent surfaces. I still need to put a final coat on, but it looks much better than I expected. When I'm finished, you won't notice the repair unless you look for it.

Sunset at the start of the overnight trip to San Felipe

We weighed anchor at 5:30pm and sailed into the sunset. There was no moon, but with no light pollution, the stars dimly lit the coast and sea and Mars shown brightly to the west, reflecting as a beam of light on the surface of the water. Later, I said hello to a crescent moon as it rose in the southeast.

We sailed in light-to-moderate winds most of the way to San Felipe. The sea was deserted except for one fishing boat that passed us several miles away going south. No chatter on the radio. No vessels showing up on the AIS. Nothing on the radar.

There were lots of birds, though. Gulls, pelicans and boobies either sitting in the water or flying low in the darkness. Some would circle around the boat, looking curious. One booby flew alongside me for a couple of minutes, only a few feet away, looking at me, right at eye level. S/he looked friendly and I appreciated the company.

We entered the breakwater-protected harbor of San Felipe at 10am while the wind was howling at 22 knots. I was concerned about finding the right place to anchor to accommodate the 15-foot tidal range and had to move skillfully and quickly to set the anchor where I wanted it in such conditions. We anchored at roughly high tide and I've watched the water recede, exposing sand bars and sunken boats, the rock breakwaters and pilings seeming to grow in height through the day.

I walked over the Port Captain's office, assuming it would be closed on Sunday. When I got there, there were two men working on a car. I asked them if I needed to officially check in and they didn't seem to know. They called the Port Captain who walked over from his house next door and, with quite a bit of fumbling around, instructed one of the guys on the check-in procedure. I don't think boats check in here very often. I'm one of only a few foreign vessels in the harbor and the only boat anchored out.

This is the next to last stop on my trip to Puerto Peñasco. Tomorrow I'll try to work out the logistics to prepare for hauling out. I originally intended to head to Puerto Peñasco on Tuesday and spend a week or so getting the boat ready,  but there seems to be very little dock space there. If I can't find a suitable berth, I'll have to stay here to do the prep work and then sail to Puerto Peñasco the day before my scheduled haul out. Either way, I'm going to try and move the haul out date forward and expedite the whole process.



Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Northern Sea of Cortez

Puerto Refugio, Baja California

Google Earth image of Puerto Refugio and the north end of  Isla Angel de la Guarda

In yesterday's post, I forgot to mention that Port Refugio is a new place in the Sea of Cortez for me, I've never been here before and this is the furthest north I've sailed. We are now most definitely in the northern Sea of Cortez, by several measures.

There are two states on the Baja California peninsula, Baja California and Baja California Sur (South). The border between them is roughly halfway along the peninsula right along the line of latitude 28.0 degrees N. The state of Baja California runs north to the US border, Baja California Sur runs south to Los Cabos at the tip of the peninsula. We crossed state border during the passage from Santa Rosalía to Bahía San Francisquito.

The US National Weather Service divides the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) into three zones, northern, central, and southern. The dividing line between the central and southern zones is also at about latitude 28N on the Baja side of the sea. The weather here is more closely affected by what's happening in the Great Basin of the US than the south. The winds are stronger in the winter, though I'm not seeing a big difference between north and south this time of year.

Puerto Refugio is at latitude 29.3 degrees N, almost 80nm north of this dividing line.  It was the northern limit of John Steinbeck's voyage in 1941 on the Western Flyer which he chronicled in his book Log from the Sea of Cortez.

Voyage of the Western Flyer from Steinbeck's Log from the Sea of Cortez

As the Western Flyer sailed north from Loreto, Steinbeck writes about the difference in the fauna of the southern and northern sea and the interesting puzzle it presented at the time to biologists:

Little fragments of seemingly unrelated information will sometimes accumulate in a process of speculation until a tenable hypothesis emerges. We had come on a riddle in our reading about the Gulf and now we were able to see this riddle in terms of the animals. There is an observable geographic differential in the fauna of the Gulf of California. The Cape San Lucas-La Paz area is strongly Panamic. Many warm-water mollusks and crustaceans are not known to occur in numbers north of La Paz, and some not even north of Cape San Lucas. But the region north of Santa Rosalia, and even of Puerto Escondido, is known to be inhabited by many colder-water animals, including Pachygrapsus crassipes, the commonest California shore crab, which ranges north as far as Oregon. These animals are apparently trapped in a blind alley with no members of their kind to the south of them.

The problem is: “How did they get there?” In 1895 Cooper advanced an explanation. He remarks, referring to the northern part of the Gulf: “It appears that the species found there are more largely of the temperate fauna, many of them being identical with those of the same latitude on the west [outer] coast of the Peninsula. This seems to indicate that the dividing ridge, now three thousand feet or more in altitude, was crossed by one or more channels within geologically recent times.”

Having reviewed the literature, we can confirm the significance of the Cedros Island complex as a present critical horizon (as Carpenter did eighty years ago) where the north and south fauna to some extent intermingle. Apparently this is the very condition that obtained at Magdalena Bay or southward when the lower Quaternary beds were being laid down. The present Magdalena Plain, extending to La Paz on the Gulf side, was at that time submerged. Then it was cold enough to permit a commingling of cold-water and warm-water species at that point. The hypothesis is tenable that when the isotherms retreated northward, the cold-water forms were no longer able to inhabit southern Lower California shores, which included the then Gulf entrance. In these increasingly warm waters they would have perished or would have been pushed northward, both along the outside coast, where they could retreat indefinitely, and into the Gulf. In the latter case the migrating waves of competing animals from the south, which were invading the Gulf and spilling upward, would have pocketed the northern species in the upper reaches, where they have remained to this day. These animals, hemmed in by tropical waters and fortunate competitors, have maintained themselves for thousands of years, though in the struggle they have been modified toward pauperization.

So, the Baja peninsula was once crossed by channels, roughly at the same latitude as the state border and this allowed the Pacific and Sea of Cortez fauna to mix. When the channels disappeared, a segregation of species occured. My own observations leave me with no doubt that the ecologies of the northern and southern Sea of Cortez are quite different. The water is colder here, there shores more rocky, the topography, above and below the water, more severe. It is less tropical here, more temperate. I'm sure a marine biologist would observe big differences in the marine life underwater.

From a human perspective, the northern sea is more remote, less people, less boats. There is less of a vacation feel to the place. All the other sailors I've spoken to (and there haven't been many) are also heading to Puerto Peñasco with purpose, to haul out for hurricane season. Apart from the occasional small recreational fishing boat from nearby Bahía Los Angeles, the only other boats have been a few small rough steel commercial fishing boats. 

From this point on, I will be traveling waters and stopping in anchorages new to me (and uncharted by the Western Flyer). Tomorrow morning, we leave for Bahía Willard.