Considering a sailing adventure to Mexico? Just look at how engrossed that guy is in the book! Grab a copy of the Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico, and you too can find yourself sitting on a Mexican dock with an oversized (but very attractive) hat.

Unauthorized Guide to Sailing in Mexico

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Entries in charters (3)

Monday
Sep052011

worked on my first six-pac fishing charter yesterday

Yesterday was my first time out on a local San Diego six-pack charter, The Long Run. For the unitiated, there are basically two types of boats with paying passengers onboard (this includes sport fishers, whale watchers, charter sailing trips, harbor tours, water taxis, etc):

- Inspected Vessel. This type of boats have a Certificate of Inspection onboard in which the US Coast Guard goes through the boat literally with a ruler and determines how many passengers can be onboard. Based on the naval architecture, deck space, and bunks, a day limit and overnight limit will be established. 

- Uninspected Vessel. This is the typical boat that most private owners will buy. Unless you have the USCG issuing you a Certificate of Inspection every year, you are (naturally) uninspected. As such you will be restricted to six paying passengers. Whether it's a 300' mega yacht or an 26' sailboat, six passengers will be your maximum load. Hence the "six-pac", "six-pack", or "six-pax" designation that gets applied.

Bonnethead Shovelhead SharkBeyond the smaller passenger load, the other big difference was our route. On the Pronto we head offshore as a rule. Fuel up, get passengers, hit up the bait barge, clear the point, and usually motor throughout the night making 8 knots to the outer banks, arriving roughly ~50 miles offshore by first light down in Mexico. 

On The Long Run we already had fuel (despite going out the night before as well) and spent the day in the bay, raking in probably 25+ fish. Everyone got something, several legal sized bass, and even a ~35lb bonnethead shark (or shovelnose, as they're called out here). 

We left the dock around 6:00am, and were back around 2:30pm. All around it was a great trip. Clients had fun, I got a chance to work on a different vessel with its own handling characteristics, and the weather was just about perfect. Really couldn't ask for better conditions. 

There's the business end of this boat that I still need to figure out (how often it's running, what my schedule would be, how much it pays, etc) so it's up in the air a bit as to whether this will be a regular thing for me. But for what I got out of it I'm happy, and it was great meeting a nice group of clients and deckhand (Mike) who really had his act together.

Monday
Aug082011

captain of the pronto

Friday night I took some clients out on a local sport fisher, the Pronto. It was a pretty interesting experience, being the first time I've operated that vessel and the first time I've worked as the captain of a sport fisher.

I'm not really a motivated fisherman, but I do a lot of scuba diving so I have a bit of insight into what types of sea beds hold what types of critters. For my first time out we got 20-30 fish, some of decent size, which was better than some commercial boats out that day and worse than some others.

We left Friday night after fueling up and grabbing some bait from the bait barge, and anchored maybe half a mile off the middle of the southern Coranado Island. Got started bright and early putting around the islands and in near the coast of Mexico, picking up rock fish and trying to get our clients to have the most amount of fish they could get. This year is marginally better than last which isn't saying much since last year was horrible.

The vessel itself is a single screw two stroke diesel that *will not* back to starboard, ever, at all, no matter what you do. We had to put our trash cans out to bump off of another sport fisher on the way in. It wasn't pretty, but it worked and no egos/paint/wood/fiberglass was damaged.

Maritime law stipulates that (for most sport fishing vessels) two licensed captains need to be onboard, so the other guy I got a chance to work with was a captain by the name of Joel Miller

Amongst other things, Joel spent five years of his life cruising around on his 50' Kettenburg with his family, coming back to the states about three years ago. Great guy, and very nice to have onboard.

I finished up the weekend with a scuba trip down at La Jolla Cove on Sunday night. Very much an aquatic weekend. 

Saturday
Jul232011

spent some time on a Gemini 105 catamaran this week

Thursday and Friday of this week was my first time working for West Coast Sailing, being a captain for some folks from out of town who chartered a Gemini 105 catamaran. 

Cutting right to the meat of it, the handling of such a light displacement vessel was both convenient and slightly alarming, having spent most of my time on heavier displacement vessels (both sail and power). 

With wind on the beam, after our bow cleared the dock by 5-10' the wind immediately grabbed the bow and started sending her skittering sideways. In fact, the wind's very pronounced impact on the Gemini, and the near complete lack of inertia are second place for handling tips I could offer. 

The first tip though is related to the vessel's single outdrive. Armed with a Westerbeke diesel that barely sips any fuel at all, the outdrive essentially negates propwalk (for better and for worse). In close quarters maneuvering, a helmsman is left with a propulsion system that best resembles a dinghy/outboard combination, a lightweight dinghy in regards to displacement (or lack thereof), and a highfreeboard low draft vessel as far as tracking is concerned. 

Once you get used to the lack of inertia and learn that your typical maneuvering tricks will not work well in the single-outdrive-on-a-catamaran setup, you can learn some valuable tips:

1) She wants water going past the rudders. If you stop moving her (either in forward or reverse), the wind will take her. This was evident even with <10 knots blowing.

2) Don't count on propwalk. When you apply rudder, the outdrive moves as well. Backing to starboard may theoretically be harder than backing to port on a Gemini (or any outdrive), but in practice they operate nearly the same.

3) With the light inertia and small displacement, she will *almost* stop on a dime. If you're moving 1-2 knots, full reverse will probably stop your forward progress within a couple of seconds. The propulsion response is very quick, especially in reverse. 

4) Going bow in with a catamaran seems easier than backing down, but your visibility is pretty terrible up front, as where when backing down you can more accurately see the distance to objects and speed.

I might get a couple more updates out there in the future related to sailing the vessel and ship's functions, but these were the most pronounced things I learned. As is typical, the biggest challenges for most boat owners happen in the very beginning and end of a trip when leaving and picking up your mooring lines.