Dec 2020 Isla Guadelupe-San Benito Oeste (150 nm)

12/28/20 While the winds have died for our transit back to the mainland, the seas are still a bit confused. We stay in the wind/wave shadow of Isla Guadelupe for the first hour of the sail. The relative calm allowed us to set sails and put out fishing lines for the overnight transit.

Steve checking sails with Guadelupe Islands behind.

Once in open ocean again, the wind and waves settle and we enjoy flying the asymmetric spinnaker through the night. We arrive and anchor at San Benito Oeste in the early afternoon. We share an early dinner with AO then settle in for the evening.

Full moon rise over AO

We watched a YouTube video from a cruising couple that showed an interesting hike on San Benito Oeste ( We also went ashore and if you watch the video, the cactus spines are as bad as they say-wear pants and hiking boots, or at least NOT flip flops. The Benitos Islands (N, S and Central) are also on the protected National Parks list, meaning you need the parks passport to visit.

Time to go exploring!

We came ashore at a small village where only researchers were present. They were studying a local, endangered bird, I did not get the name, but they build their nests underground. The trail initially is a raised platform over the nests. The researchers have built fake nests in order to have cameras on the birds.

Church at the landing/research village
Inside the church

Once you leave the raised trail, you really have to watch your step. In addition to the cactus and underground bird nests, there are elephant seals on the back side of the island.

Each hole is a nest.
Large dust covered Elephant Seal laying across the path.
I went to pick up the bottle but another elephant seal laying in the shade…

Our intended destination is the lighthouse on the island. We find out that there are two, the first on the highest point and another decommissioned on the point.

Back bay with seals and pups
New pups are why you don’t go ashore and scare the adults. The pups are not fast enough to get out of the way and can be crushed.
2 Seawinds anchored in the bay
Lots of cactus
The abandoned light house
Port hole view as you climb the inside spiral of the light house
2nd view
3rd view
4th view
View from the top
The two boats

We had lunch at the top of the island. The crows gave amazing displays of flight on the updrafts.

Crows looking for some handouts…

We had a leisurely walk back to the boat then once again settled in for the night.

Going West…(Dec 2019)

ALWAYS is sitting in Brunswick, GA as hurricane season finishes on the east coast of the US. Since life events have brought us to the west coast, we’ve decided to bring ALWAYS west also.

We could make time available to sail through the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, then north up Central America and the Mexican coast…but we know we’d be tempted to delay because there are so many wonderful places that deserve a more in-depth exploration. We weigh the expense in outfitting food stocks, checking in/out of countries, crossing through the Canal, wear and tear on the boat and time versus the expense of putting ALWAYS on a container ship and they come out nearly equal. Due to time constraints, mainly in getting the boat to an accessible location for warranty repairs, we opt to ship ALWAYS.

Brunswick, GA

We contract with Seven Seas Yacht Transport. Our shipping date was delayed multiple times making it difficult to plan travel from the west coast to GA with sufficient time to move the boat to Port Everglades, a two day transit. The date moved from early November (hurricane season complete-insurance coverage available for the transit) to the second week of Dec. With an assigned ship and date, we arrive in GA, do a mini-outfit of food, get a quick night’s sleep and leave early the next morning.

The GOLDEN RAY trapped in the sands by the strong tides in St Simeon Sound.

We usually use Navionics on an iPad to back up our B&G displays. Through extensive comparison during our time in the Bahamas, we’ve come to trust the charts pretty well. We continue to verify position with lights and buoys, but the Navionics allowed for a full dark, uneventful departure from Brunswick Landing Marina so we arrived at the Atlantic Ocean inlet as dawn approached.


The most eventful occurrence was the verbal intimidation provided by my wonderful husband. As we had properly prepared for hurricane season, every sail had been removed from topsides. Part of his argument FOR shipping the boat was that it couldn’t be better prepared for getting lifted onto a cargo ship. The screecher and jib were bagged and on the bunk in the guest stateroom while the main was a bagged footrest in the salon. The battens were rolled into the lazy jack canvas and stretched nearly the full length of the starboard hull (making work in the galley an interesting ballet of foot placement). Then we hit the ocean, the breeze filled and he began advocating for the sails.

An easy, comfortable transit (even without sails…)

First, he was suggesting just the screecher. “We would go so much faster…”, then as the wind rose to above screecher limits, “the main would balance the motion of the boat and we’d be a lot more comfortable”. Don’t get me wrong; I love to sail, but our timeline was pretty tight and hadn’t included washing the salt off the sails again and drying them (in muggy FL) prior to wrapping, removing, rebagging and storing them for the two week journey around to Ensenada, Mexico. We ended up motoring all the way despite the mutinous looks sent my way.

Moon set
I love the early watch and seeing sunrise.

We arrived on time, offloaded trash, buttoned everything up and headed alongside our assigned ship. We really appreciated the time spent by the crew to ensure that all the straps underneath were appropriately placed. We were also allowed to go onboard the ship after ALWAYS was placed on deck to re-tension halyards and stays that were eased out of the way of the crane. Seven Seas provided a launch ride back to shore, we changed clothes and caught our flights back to CA that same day.

Loading onboard in Port Everglades, FL

Transit time from Port Everglades to Ensenada, Mexico was estimated to be 2 weeks. We plan for a Dec. 20th arrival but delays happen and our ship carrying ALWAYS arrives on Dec 26th. Because of the holiday and because we need to do the Mexican import paperwork, we travel to San Diego on the 23rd, catch a shuttle to Ensenada’s Coral Hotel and Marina early on the 24th, complete our paperwork and wait, mostly patiently and mostly in the hotel bar with new friends, for the ship’s arrival and offload.

Lots of rain flood Tijuana

We are a later offload, again are allowed onboard to ease halyards and stays for the crane, and finally ALWAYS touches the Pacific Ocean. We spend a night in the marina because the harbor master closed the harbor due to high winds and sea state. We leave early the next morning for the 10 hour drive to San Diego. More mutinous looks and mutters from the skipper occur as we drive north under a bare mast.

I feel Seven Seas Yacht Transport did a really good job bringing our boat around. The boat was clean (either a pressure wash by the crew before we arrived or a good rain on the way into Ensenada) and was carefully handled. The crane did tap and damage the Windex at the top of the mast but a replacement was reimbursed eventually. We were initially flexible on the transit date but finally had to be persistent about being scheduled because we had arranged for the warranty work to begin January 2020. In hindsight, we were so fortunate to get the boat delivered when we did.

Safe travels, J & S

Dec 2020 Ensenada-Isla Guadelupe (200 nm)


Merry Christmas to us!!! We are underway!

We have all our papers in order to depart from Ensenada; the boat is stocked as best we can and we drop lines at 5:00 am. I stow lines and fenders, make a quick breakfast, then we are clear of the bay and into the open ocean.

We have the best sail to date-full main and screecher flying across the ocean. Just before dark, we discussed if we should reef the main but the sailing was so good and typically the wind lessens as the sun goes down that we decided to leave the main fully up. Just goes to the old saying that you should reef when you first think about it. We were not overpowered but the ride would have been more comfortable with a reef in.

Arriving to Isla Guadelupe

The night before we depart, we discuss the weather and felt that winds favored a southerly start to the journey with a turn to the west as evening fell. Our friends, Doug and Tamara, on S/V AO, another Seawind 1260, left with us but sailed west then south. We arrived into the protection of Isla Guadelupe around 9:00 am on the 26th. They arrived a few hours after us and had a wilder ride. Steve has gotten really good at reading the Predict Wind trends and has avoided the biggest wind events. If he is off, it’s usually that the predicted winds did not materialize and we motor.

The Mexican Navy came alongside shortly after AO anchors and told us we were not allowed and needed to leave. AO had a fluent Spanish speaker onboard and after asking if we could stay until the wind diminished, we were ok’d to stay for 2 more days..but don’t go in the water! They said the sharks were biting the boats but we think they really just wanted us to not go ashore or bother the endangered seals on the island.

We made lobster tacos for an early dinner with AO.

A “puff” of Seawinds in their natural habitat

The Guadelupe Islands are well worth the effort required to get there. Even without being able to go ashore, the fishermen in the area are friendly and gladly trade their lobsters for anything. I wish we had planned better to bring more things they needed. And I wish my Spanish was better. I’m working on that now!

A cool geologically feature showing a harder rock intrusion protruding while the softer surrounding rock erodes faster.

The island has a volcanic history. We would love to be able to hike to the caldera some day. Just along the shore, volcanic rock is visible like a cap over the sedimentary rock that makes up most of the island.

A “Where’s Waldo” shot of the endangered Guadelupe Island fur seal.

The island is also home to the endangered Guadelupe Island Fur Seal. They are beautiful and curious watching us from their rock perches as we drift by in our dinghy. Their coats nearly perfectly match the rocks, wet fur matches wet rocks but dries to match the dry rocks around them. We did do a brief excursion in our dinghy despite the Navy’s warning and despite the fact that this island is well known for Great White sharks. No sharks and the Navy did not come back to arrest us and we definitely did not go ashore.

S/V AO at Guadelupe Island, Mexico

We are very aware of the possibility of transmitting Covid to the locals. We initially tried very hard to maintain distance and show care for them by wearing our masks. They really didn’t seem concerned. They wanted to trade for beer, but we didn’t have any. When we offered oranges from the ranch, they graciously but probably reluctantly accepted. They peeled and ate them as they cruised away. Those ranch oranges were so good, even in December, that a boat that missed the first go around, came back with 2 lobsters for some more. We kept contact to a minimum though and enjoyed the incredible nights with no light pollution.