Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Disaster Averted

Don's Log: We almost lost the mast at about 8am on Sunday morning the 7th of December. We were about a half mile offshore, motoring between 4-5 knots into a moderate north wind and high seas . We started early, pulling up the anchor at around 4am. We were making relatively good time, but headed straight into a North wind, so we did not have any sail up, a fact that saved us we came to see a few hours later. The sunrise was spectacular and Roger observed, "Red sky in the morning-sailors take warning, red sky at night-sailors delight". The weather seemed favorable at that particular moment so we thought nothing more of "take warning". Life was grand as this was Roger's 65th birthday and we both were appreciative that we were the luckiest two guys in the world, living a dream. I was at the helm, and It got to be around 8 am. I heard a strange sound and then looked up at the mast and saw a mass of cabling and heavy metal plates falling from the sky to come landing with a heavy and sickening thud onto the deck. The 54 foot aluminum mast, which before seemed so solid, was now the picture of fluidity. The lower shrouds (strong steel cables that attach at mid mast to the deck of the boat) , all four of them, had released. There was absolutely nothing good about this situation, except that the mast was seemingly defying the laws of physics and NOT crumpling over or worse. Roger took an instant to figure out what had happened and I gladly surrendered the wheel as I went below to get the inflatable life raft, our wallets and the ditch bag. We watched, white knuckled as the mast would do a hula dance every time we attempted to take the ship closer into the shore, putting her more parallel to the waves induced lateral movement and the mast looked to be goner each time we tried to get closer to shore. Up ahead there was a an anchorage listed on the chart called Punta Pulpito, which translates as the Point Pulpit. As Roger and i watched the mast do it;s thing and imagined and discussed everything that was racing through our minds in this highly adrenalized moment, I joked that if we made it this this anchorage intact the "Pulpit would be a Godsend!". Roger smiled slightly. I can't describe the sense of relief and gratitude experienced as we reached the calm waters of this point. Needless to say it was a very happy birthday present for Roger. He get to keep his boat and we got to make the repair and continue on this most amazing of adventure.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

The Best Part of the Trip so Far!

Roger on Isla San Jose, with the Jolly Roger in his palm, and the peninsula off in the distance.

Don's Log: We arrived in Puerto Escondido a few days ago and have been busy exploring the option of leaving the boat here for the long term. It took us about a week from La Paz to make it here and it's been the best part of the trip in many ways. The mountains on the Baja Peninsula are truly spectacular and awe inspiring. The islands are equally beautiful and are distanced in such a way that you can go for  4-8 hours and then drop anchor at another bit of paradise, ah the bliss of island hopping.  Often you do NOT see any other boats or signs of human activity for long periods but you can see the magnificent peninsula and the islands as you sail. It's as if you have all this vastness to yourself. At points you see another sailboat in the distance and if you pass each other close enough you give a big wave, acknowledging the fact that your both really happy to be here and grateful that such a paradise still exists. Everywhere there are sea birds; egrets, herons, pelicans, frigates and many more. Not only are the skies alive with life, but under the water the diversity of sea life is astounding. 

This place is not the best kept secret in the world as many boaters and others have been coming here in larger and larger numbers since the 60's. However, thanks to the fact that the Baja is part of Mexico and not the United States, it was not been developed to a large extent. This has changed dramatically in the last 10 years as places like Cabo San Lucas and the surrounding area have come to look like Miami Beach. Large scale development is also happening in La Paz but it still maintains much of it's charm. North up the road here from Escondido is a planned community called Loreto Bay. I believe the units are selling for around half a million. It's touted as an "Eco-Village", cars have to park outside of the area where the homes are, with only electric golf carts, bikes and pedestrians allowed. A brilliant idea that I fully support. Yet this is clearly a gated community in that only the very affluent can live here. 

Yes there is trouble in paradise. I'm reading a book right now by Paul Theroux called "Hotel Honolulu". Rain, a 23 year old beauty  has come on a short vacation to stay with her Uncle Buddy in Hawaii. Buddy can't put her up, so he asks Lionberg one of his wealthy and much older friends to do so. At Lionberg's estate a conversation ensues. "Buddy's from the rich side of the family," Rain says. "His side's got everything." Lionberg responds; "Lucky them." "They've got problems, too," Rains says. "Like I say, they've got everything." 

After the 1994 Peso Crisis  in Mexico things got really bad for the poorest and even the relatively small middle class was decimated. Since this time Mexico city has become very unsafe. The stratification of wealth is very pronounced and those with money have largely retreated to living in gated communities or with other measures to provide for their security. 

Enjoying the incredible beauty of the area from La Paz to Puerto Escondido in relative solitude has been a joy. Roger and I have been talking about our own affluence and ability to take two months to make this trip. We both agree that it comes down to pursuing your dreams. Only you know what your dreams are. Only you can make your dreams come true. This dream of cruising the world on a sailboat is now coming true for Roger and I'm mighty grateful to be part of it. IMHO, it seems the more people make their dreams come true, the less there will be people living in fear.

In Escondido we explored the possibility of leaving the boat here for the long term. Various factors, the most important being cost, are indicating that we are probably going to stick with the original plan and put the boat into storage at Guaymas. Our plan is to head up north, exploring some more islands and coastline for a few more days and then make the run over to Guaymas. In Guaymas we will get the boat sorted out and put her into storage. At least that's the plan for now. 

Captains Log
Don and I have had a marvelous time, and we both must return to the Bay Area, and continue with our normal life, friends ,family and EBNOM, not mention work and making money to continue the trip next year.
see you all soon.
Love from the deck of the Jolly Roger
the Captain.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Paradise on the Baja Peninsula

Roger and Don celebrating their triumphant arrival at Aqua Verde.
Note the sailboats off in the distance to the left of Roger's head.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Eupsychia-Ekotopia-Talion-Jolly Roger and Ice Cream

Enjoying a "moment" at the local ice cream shop in La Paz
From left to right:
Don from the Jolly Roger
David and Heather from Meercat
Jennifer and Eric from Ekotopia
Patsy (back turned) From Talion
Katie (with red pants) helping out on Talion with her friend Cyra taking the picture

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Captains Log

Well here I am left with only one crew member(Don Peck), I guess I must be a pretty hard ass Captain. I thought everyone was having a pretty good time, but one by one they jumped ship, after eating my grub, and drinking my grog,why you would think I shang-hied the lot of them!
The first two that left were hardly sailors at all, Tom and Timothy, something about work and family responsibilities, bla bla bla,. the next on to leave was ( I thought an up and coming sailor) very affable young man, said he had to get off in Santa Barbara, with the excuse that he had four kids needing him to come home and take care of them.
I decided these family guys just do not know how to stick it out on the high sea, no more family guys! So I pick up two single sailors Shawn and Jeff in San Diego, they looked pretty good sailing all the way down the coast of Baja, in a race called the Baja Ha Ha, a very serious endeavor. As soon as the race ends shawn jumps ship in cabo San Lucas, I guess I cannot blame him, a young guy and all those beautifull women ashore, waiting.
But then the biggest shock of all, my first mate Ted, says I got to get off this ship, and were not even in a port Just sailing past a place called "Los Brailles," he announces let me off on a Tonga, he grabs his stuff and heads for shore , saying he's got to meet his Twin sister Katherine.
Well now I am down to two crew and wondern who's next, when my old buddy Jeff Say's I got to go bet on my Horse "Capital Cat" running at Golden Gate Fields, unbelievable!
so now I have just one crew who said h will be with me till Guaymus.It's a tuff life being the captain of the Jolly Roger

La Paz Whirlwind

Click on Picture to Enlarge
Information if you want to support their effort (click to enlarge)

Don's Log: Tomorrow we set sail up North from La Paz for Guaymas on the mainland to put the boat, "On the Hard"(storage). We will be going along the coastline of Baja, many folks tell us that this section of Baja is some of the most beautiful cruising in the world. There has been so much experience in so little time since arriving in La Paz on November 15th. After docking at the incredibly friendly and wonderful in so many ways,  Marina de La Paz, we rented a car and drove from La Paz  to El Cardonal. There was only three of us on the boat now as we had dropped Ted off near El Cardonal two days earlier. Ted got off before La Paz  so that he could spend some time with his sister who was staying in a community of like minded Americans who had established an Intentional Community along a pristine section of coastline. They had "discovered" this place after looking for almost ten years. After finding land that met their criteria for a community of like minded people,  they  built various homes and integrated themselves into the local community. While there, I got to meet Lynn Dress, John Hensley and Juanita Riddell. These three have been in  community up in Ukiah California in a place called Greenfield.  They all welcomed us with open arms and generously  shared their time and love for this beautiful place. Lynn and Juanita have taken their passion for making a difference  by helping to establish a Non-Profit called Tu-Hogar(Your Home) in El Cardonal. The first thing they did was to ask this small community of perhaps 150 people what they wanted and the answer they got was a health clinic. They broke ground some months ago and already have the septic and the foundations for the walls  ready to be poured. If you click on the two pictures above you can get more information about the project.

Lynn showing  the plans for the community.
Lynn walking the site for the  clinic.
View from the "Big House" out into the Sea of Cortez
Just another day in Paradise!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bombay Explorer-Our Boat is a Very Fine Boat

Dons Log:
Lots more pictures at
Life is a Dream. Hanging out at Marinas, with people that have boats, you can easily tell this by the names of each boat, they all represent a dream of the owner. The Jolly Roger is a very fine boat (sung to CSN&Y tune of-"Our House"). The Jolly Roger is classified as a Sloop, a very simple design, with a shoal (shallow) draft. More info about this fine boat click on the following two links:
The Bombay Explorer 44
Specs of the Bombay Explorer

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

Catamarans-All Sizes: It's the dream that counts

Dons Log: Two Catamarans and Two Dreams....

One is classified as a Micro-Cruiser (Miss Cindy) and was built from scrtach by Tony Bigras. It weights 450 pounds, cost about $10,000 in materials and took 500 man hours to complete. Tony has already sailed it 500 miles. He built it in Canada and then loaded it on top of a stationwagon and drove it down from Canada. He's quite the boat builder and you can check out his journal by clicking on his travel log or you can check out his other boats by clicking here. Tony plans to sail it down to Nicaragua and then transport it overland and put it in at Lake Nicuragua and sail over to the Carribean.

The boat behind Miss Cindy is called Carinthia and it's owners Dietmar and Susan have just purchased the boat to sail around the world. In the last 2-3 years they have been preparing themselves as sailors. Dietmar consults for the company he just sold and Susan still actively works for a college flying all over the world delivering leadership training. Dreamers all round in this world of water.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finding a Difference in Baja

Jeff's Log: Don asked Jeff what he wanted to say and he said "I got nothing to say, other than, to ackowledge Captain Roger Behnken for giving me the opportunity of an incredible adventure. One of the most striking revelations of the Mexican culture is the incredible wealth in their humanity. Always helpful, patient, invariably making eye contact and saying hello. This is not my expereince in the U.S. The neat part is fthe infectious nature of it all, as Gringo's find themselves making eye contact and acknowledging each other, maybe it is just the sailing community, but I don't think so. The constant experience of being offered various things for sale and having a simple "No", be sufficient. Simply put it would be the word "Respectful". Your not harrased in any fashion whatsoever. In fact one time in Cabo we were approached by a man who was touting a local strip club, we declined. but asked the location of a a particlular Italian restaurant, after trying to explain where the place was, he realized that the quickest way was to actually guide us on foot to the restaurant. For that we were happy to give him a tip in full gratitude and his attitude was not one of expecting a tip, but one of gratitude and gracious acceptance with an undertone of genuine friendliness.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Departing For La Paz

To look at pictures (many photos galleries of the entire voyage) of The Adventures of the Jolly Roger, please CLICK HERE or go to:

Don's Log: We set sail for La Paz in the morning. It has been an incredible adventure, complete with all manner of excitement out on the open sea. Today the captain and I swam over by the Arch Rock where the sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Lots of new pictures in various galleries have been uploaded so take a look.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cabo Days

Don's Log: Well, the Baja Ha Ha culminated in the awards ceremony last night. There were over a hundred boats in this years race and we came in third place. I should also probably mention that every boat got AT LEAST third place. Second and first place awards were given for those boats that made a leg or two or even all three legs distance without using their motor.

Captain Roger Behnken and First Mate Ted Csezak showing off our third place medal.

Lots of kids did the Ha Ha this year, the the youngest being 2 1/2 years old.
One of the kids one the prize for doing an imitation of her grandfather snoring, in the loudest snoring contest.

These three young men had very little open water sailing experience and made the entire trip without using their motor.

Roger and Jeff repairing the running lights that got destroyed by the jenneker on the bow sprit.

A fortune in boats, the Jolly Roger stands out eh!

Captain Hamisch of the Team New Zeland America's Cup boat and Don Peck pose for this pic.

Looking into the harbor.

Don was here in the early 80's and most of what you see in terms of building and such simply did not exist.

Cabo has become a very busy place with lots of traffic.

One of the Ha Ha events was for couples to recreate the scene in "From Here To Eternity".
David and Diana of Gai do an admirable job.
Heather and David at Squid Row.
What need be said?

We Made It!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We Made It to Cabo!

Ted's Log: To my beautiful wife, Sugar Plum, I Love You! The boat has been ziplocked and many places have been mugged.
Jeff's Log: You know the expression, "Shit Happens", on a boat, you can count on it, more later.

Don's Log: We have arrived in Cabo and have been staying at a very upscale Marina Cabo San Lucas Marina. It's going on a month that we have been out to sea and it has been a grand adventure. Tonight is the awards cermeony, and for sure everyone who made it will get at least a third place prize. The Baja Ha Ha is not so much a race as an excuse for 180 boats to form a community and travel from San Diego down the Baja togehter. it reminds me of Burningman somewhat, an intentional community that comes together once a year, comprised of a bunch of folks who like adventure and might be called "Freaks" by some. Definitely count me in as a freak in this regard. The world of sailing is so elemental. Reality is the vast ocean with it's currents, waves that determine ones course. The Sun, moon and stars are present in ways that you just don't get as a land person. Everything matters on a sailing boat, all the systems from navigation to sails are important becaue if one goes down or is impaired it impacts you, sometimes in ways that are quite unpleasant. Take for instance the septic system. What happens when a toilet gets clogged and and a plunger or snake won't do the trick? Somebody, namely yours truly, gets to take on the task of being a plumber and boy what a stinking job that was! Anyways I will write more later on that particular episode.

I have Visited Cabo since the 80's and it has now become like Miami Beach-Vegas. Totally built up, expensive, a place to party for those with dough. The captain will put up his entry before we depart for La Paz in the next few days, but here are a few pics that he picked out from San Diego and after departure.
The Captain preparing a meal fof the crew and Jeff at the healm (we don't need no stinking auto pilot)
Your's truly raising the flag as we exit San Diego and Sean with his U. Marine Corp brother who came and visited us while we were at the S.D Yacht Club
Sean in the Bosuns chair fixing the uneven spreaders
Guacomole anyone?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Jolly Roger Arrives at the Bahia de Tortuga

Don Log-For those not aware we are competing in a boat race called the Baja Ha Ha.
We arrived last night around 8pm into the Bahia de Tortuga, completing leg one, being pushed by our dingy. Amazing how much push a little 4 storke outboard can generate, getting us up to around 4 knots. Our adventure with the dingy started at around 3 in the afternoon Yesterday when we noticed the engine temprature had risen from 160 to 180 and that we had had oil in the water. We arrived last night around 8pm into the Bahia de Tortuga being pushed by our dingy. Amazing how much push a little 4 strok outboard can generate, getting us up to around 4 knots.

After we got in last night First Mate Ted brought the famous drinking mug to shore and we suprised the locals and fellow Ha Ha er's with its size and hilstory (more later about the mug later). We celebrated being on land after being out at sea for 4 days. Every problem is an opportunity. This is to say that all of these problems have been taken in stride by the crew of the Jolly Roger. We stopped the outboard at one point and feasted on B-Bque chicken prepared for us by Jeff Kitchen. Ted has the ship organized to a high degree and Sean complements the Captain with some real sailing chops. We all toasted and each gave a heartfelt appreciation for what an incredible advnture this trip has turned out to be.

Dolphins guided us into the bay and now we are preparing to push off agian in the morning for the next leg. We will most likely not be using the diesel engine so we are stocking up on gas for the outboard. There are favorable winds projected, so it looks like good sailing down to our next and final stop before reaching the culmination in Cabo.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dolphins-Human Inteligence

Click here to see the an amazing video of the Jolly Roger enveloped by a pod of 100's of Dolphins 13 miles off Catalina island. It's been said that the dolphins and whales circle the planet, providing us humans an example to WAKE UP, to become CIVILIZED. Bearing witness to the majesty of these creatures off our bow, and all around us for an hour, was a powerful experience.. The video footage is rough, but conveys a bit of this amazing sight. These pictures and video were taken Thursday morning , around 8am, in about 2700 feet of of calm water.

The water was incredibly clear and the dolphins would dive down 20-40 feet and still remain pefectly visible. After about 30 minutes, a large group of young dolphins followed up the rear. We would watch in awe as some would leap out of the water with their noses going straight up, their bodies fully out of the water, tail fill skimming the water, showing off.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Greg's Recap

What an amazing week I had. (click for pics)

The trip began at the Berkeley Yacht Club on Monday, October 13. Our start was a bit anticlimactic. We were scheduled to depart at 4:30 AM with the low tide, but someone figured out that we had it backwards – we should have left at high tide. Oh well. The batteries were dead, anyway. I had my first beer at 5:30 AM, a record low for me. We replaced the batteries and got underway by 10:30.

About an hour out of Berkeley, we unanimously voted to halt the cruise, restock the beer locker, and continue. We made a quick stop in San Francisco, and then we finally motored under the Golden Gate Bridge, out into the open sea, at 12:30 PM.

For eight days I ate, drank, and sailed amid a world unlike anything I had ever experienced. We had adventures: Don and I, both novices, sailing the boat back to Monterey after the engine quit; sailing for 50 hours straight; racing through the night in 30-knot winds, covered in sea-spray; landing the dinghy at Santa Rosa Island. But the best part of the trip was the fellowship of my fellow sailors.

Ted, Roger, and Don, my thoughts will be with you all the way down to the HaHa and beyond. Please keep up the blog.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Captains Log

Captains log 10/22/08
After a week of sailing down the California coast from Berkeley to Santa Barbara, on the “Jolly Roger”and having had many adventures along the way, we depart for Long Beach with continjency plans of Marina Del Ray, Depending on weather and wind.
We say a fond farewell to Greg Carbine, who was a joy to sail with, but after a long absence from his family he must return home.
There are so many friends who helped out during our departure from Berkeley, I will mention a few now and catch up later, Stephanie for her organizational skills and very special treatment of the Captian1, will Scott for the many shopping trips for the food we have ate with great gusto. My nephew Karl for his internet supporting always willing to jump in and help. Many guys who spent a day or more just working on the boat, Rich Symmons, Mark Peterson, Will Scott, Nick, Timothy B., tom Taylor somehow tucked himself into the battery compartment and changed for heavy marine batteries. Shawn Hanna for the wonderful Lady (Ariel) painted on the stern with the name Jolly Roger, then working to the wee hours to install a new music system, I Pod compatible. Tom Gerstil, for the books on Baja.

A big hug and kiss to our twin sisters Barbara Rudell, and Katherine Czesak for a wonderful Bon Voyage, and those fancy hats , one of them has been sacrificed to the sea gods, as our gift to them, sorry sisters.
Captain Roger

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Adventure on the High Sea's

It's Thursday at 6pm and the 4 msn crew of the Jolly Roger is safe and sound and still in Monterey. We set sail yesterday around 3:30 in the afternoon, headed for one of the Channel Islands. We got about 2 hours out to sea, riding some pretty big waves, motoring and using the jib, when the engine died. We couldn't get it running, so turned around and sailed back to port. The wind and tide was carrying us in and we prepared the dingy to help us navigate, the adapter to pump it up had gone missing. We then, very quickly prepared to drop the anchor, but then managed to juryrig a device to pump up the digny and got it into the water, mounted the engine and got it fired up just isn the nick of time to grab a mooring buoy as we moved inexorably to shore. There was alots of adrenaline and sweat in this exercise and after we got the boat secured, we really experienced a heightened sense of what it is to be alive. Both Greg and Don are guys with little sailing experience, so they are going through a crash course in the ways of the sea.

The next morning we used the dingy to power the boat into the marina for a dockside birth to work on the engine. As we motored past a guy on a catamaran asked what the problem was? and Roger told him in passing. After we got birthed, John (pictured below) with Roger showed up in his dingy and fixed the engine. Our boat has a Perkins diesel and John used to be a Perkins mechanic among many other things in a very interesting life.

We took John and his wife Kathy out for breakfast and have become fast friends. Here is Kathy at the restaurant. She is from Alaska and is headed through the Panama Canal and off to Europe on the Catamaran with John.
The dingy motored went out after trying to clear the fuel line out bit outside the marina. As soon as the motor died and it was clear that it was not starting up this kayaker came to the rescue. We both laughed about the fact that I left the oars back on the boat. Dana towed the dingy back to the boat. Dana said it's good that were having all these things happen now and not out down the road, so to speak. Ahmen the that brother. The captain give a shot out to Tom Taylor for his help in installing the new batteries back in berkeley. All for noW.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Half Moon Bay to Monterey

We docked last night in Half Moon Bay, arriving around 6:30. The weather was beautiful, but not much in the way of wind, so we motored at about 7 knots all the way. Tom Taylor's wife Deborah and daughter Yelena met us for dinner and a great time was had by all. Passing under the Golden Gate in a sail boat is pretty awesome.

Don says, "I'm the King of the World and Don't Jump"

Roger and Tom cruising!

Arrival in Half Moon Bay

Yelena wins the heart of the Captain

We had tri-tip and salad, Yum!

We docked last night in Half Moon Bay, arriving around 6:30. The weather was beautiful, but not much in the way of wind, so we motored at about 7 knots all the way. Tom Taylor's wife Deborah and daughter Yelena met us for dinner and a great time was had by all. Passing under the Golden Gate in a sail boat is pretty awesome. We whales today and agina motored the distance. Being out on the open sea is NICE!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Off to Sea!

Jay met up with us at the Marina to take our photos as we went out to sea. Here are the photos he took from 5 locations as we left the Bay, the Marina harbor, the fishing pier just to the east of the Golden Gate Bridge, a lookout spot above Baker Beach, the east side of Land’s End just at the Legion of Honor, and finally the west side of Land’s End just above the Cliff House.:

Jolly Roger-Under the Golden Gate

We left the dock from Berekely at 10:07 after replacing the entire battery bank (4 batteries).
The batteries were 4 years old and no matter how much we charged they just would n0t turn over the diesel engine.
Motored over to the Marina harbor (Marina Safeway) where we are docked and getting some more gas and other supplies such as grog and water. Will be departing in about 5 mintutes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Jolly Roger Sets Sail to Mexico

The plan is for the The Jolly Roger to set sail at low tide on Monday (10/12/08) at around 4:30 in the morning. The makeup of the crew for the first leg is  Captain Roger with  First Mate Ted (friend of 40 plus years), and his nephew Greg along with Tom Taylor, Timothy Buchannan and Don Peck. It's a full boat with 6 crew members. 

Sean (in black cap) paints the picture of Ariel the Mermaid   from Shakespeare's The Tempest on the transom. First Mate Ted  is bending over and Captain Roger looks out from his boat. To look at more pictures of this journey please click here.