Ensenada,whales, dolphins and the fog... / 30 January 2012
Kia Orana tatou!
Our sail from Shelter Island Marina in San Diego, our Vaka's home away from home for the last 5 months or so, to our first port of call in Mexico was a nice smooth one. We were all scheduled to leave the marina at 1pm but as usual with a fleet of pacific islanders we actually departed at 4.15pm...good to know our unique pacific punctuality had not been affected yet by our short stay in the U.S.! The sails was a great introduction for all our new voyagers aboard Marumaru Atua as well as a good refresher for the rest of us. Not too cold with slight winds and broad rolling swells of about 1.5 - 2m. It was a strange swirling wind that kept changing direction from our port quarter to our starboard quarter and right behind us at times. We were alternating between 1 - 5 knots depending on which direction it was blowing from. It was still quite chilly but the constant change of direction kept us on our toes with the Oe steering and also having to change our sail tack accordingly. Everyone performed well though and got all the cobwebs out, and the new crew members followed orders well and started to pick up on things already! Happy with the progress! One of our new crew members on my watch also earned himself a nickname on this sail. Peia Patai Jr seems to have the uncanny ability to attract wind out of nowhere whenever it's his turn on the Oe (hence the 1 knot up to 5 knots description above). Anyway my watch were tossing around names starting with: wind master, then blow master, then blow boy which we liked (and is kind of his backup nickname), then it evolved into blow fish since we're out at sea....and of course that turned into Totara. So blow-boy or Totara it is from now on :)
We entered the Marina at Ensenada just after 2pm and moored ourselves in slot G30. I think we were all a little surprised at how it looked as we were all expecting something very mexican but instead it looked almost the same as the marina in SD that we had just departed...very flashy with superyachts and americans everywhere. The only difference this afternoon was the customs and inspection people who came aboard were indeed mexican! After we were properly tied up and Captain Peia (along with all the other captains) went along to the Port office to clear us, Jamaal Pakoti and myself promptly did a little exploring and were the first to discover the toilet and bathroom facilities...with the hot showers!! Yessss!! A welcome feature for all of us still trying to acclimatise to the colder temperatures. That evening after a nice dinner of Chicken Chop Suey created by Jamaal(with some guidance from our resident chef advisor Margaret), we were all given about 3 hours free time to explore Ensenadan from 6pm to our 9pm curfew. Watch Captaiin Sergio was on duty and kindly let the rest of his watch out to join us. We promptly set off in a 'small group' of about 30 islanders. We had been warned to be careful on the streets and to take ID's when re-entering the marina...but with our group of strong pacific voyagers strolling down the sidewalks I daresay we felt pretty safe anyway ;)
We found the main street and made our way down the port side (lol) right to the end, taking in the sights and sounds. A couple of things that stood out as a surprise for those in our group less-travelled were the beggars we encountered as well as the very pushy street vendors trying to follow us and guide us into their shops where they would offer just about anything and everything! Little did they know they were trying to sell to the wrong crowd! Pou ta tatou moni! Lol!
At the end of the street we came across a cantina that my dad told me was an iconic feature of Ensenada...Hussongs.....in fact it was one of the only bars that was here about 30 years ago when he visited...it is likened to our Banana Court back in Rarotonga...the iconic bar that you must visit when in that place. We promptly waltzed in for a couple of cervezas, a tequila shot and a photo...meitaki maata Hussongs! We then made our way back to the vaka slowly...pulling into a couple more bars to get a variety perspective of the town...we had a funny encounter at one bar with an old man walking around with a box that emits an electric charge controlled by a dial that increases or decreases the charge. We paid the man 5 dollars and then grasped the handles of the machine and then joined hands in a circle of about 10 of us. He then turns up the charge and the game is to try and hold on without breaking the hand links for as long as possible! We had some fun with that papa! Another
bar along the way back liked Ninja (Koronui) so much that they took some photos with him in their house-sombrero, then they thought he looked so good so they let him have it! It now resides below decks on Marumaru Atua :)
It was an uneventful next day in Ensenada....with alot of waiting around. Numa and I took most of our crew through an excercise routine to pass the time. Numa first with some great full body stretches to warmup then I took everyone through 3 sets of squats, pushups and situps. Some sore bodies afterwards but appreciated by all and everyone keen to keep up with it on a daily basis while out on the water also :) We'll try it!
We finally departed early evening about 6pm in a tight group. The multitude of sea lions hanging out on the rocks around the bay were in full voice to see us off...or maybe they were replying to the rousing haka that the crew of Hine Moana performed as we left the marina. Either way it was a pleasant departure out of Ensenada bay for the 6 vakas of Te Mana o te Moana.
It was a cold first night of sailing for us and a thick fog rolled in at about 8pm which reduced visibility to between 60 - 100m and it stayed with us until the next day. It was an eerie feeling for those of us sailing through fog for the first time. Sounds were muffled and it is hard to tell what direction it's coming from....there is an extra bite to the cold and condensation from the fog soon had us and the vaka covered in moisture....we posted watch sentries in the bow on each side to keep a lookout for new contacts or floating debris...but theirs was a difficult job as the glow from our navigation lights (red to port, green to starboard) reflected off the mist and made it even harder to penetrate the glare. At about 10pm we had a whale come up very close to our Vaka to say Ola....but the crew on watch could only hear our giant visitor as he breached and blew out air, but couldn't see him...hopefully he comes back to visit again when it's clear :)
Friday morning and we are making great pace at about 8 knots...however the fog finally lifted just before midday and the wind began to die with it....a hearty pot of moa tiopu-raiti for lunch compliments of Margaret and James' watch. Meitaki guys! An uneventful sail for the rest of the day as the wind never really came back so we are currently just puffing along in little flurries of about 1-2 knots about 27 miles off the coast of mexico (just of Punta), trying to cut in a bit closer to shore with the little puffs we're dealing with.
We did see an amazing sight of about 150 dolphins swimming and jumping in a long line...our best theory is that they are hunting and are using this formation to herd fish together....a very cool event for the day! Just finished our 12 to 3pm watch so off now to see who has energy for another exercise session...buns of steel here we come! Lol :P
Alexander Teariki Olah