Expedition Around North America
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Leg 12 :
San Francisco (United States) - Acapulco (Mexico)
(18 November - 6 December, 2008 )
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Leg 12
San Francisco (USA) - Acapulco (Mexico)
(18 November - 6 December, 2008 )

Decembre 6th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Yacht Club of Acapulco
16°49’N –99°54’W
21h30 local time

The day starts early. We were planning to be at the Yacht Club before nine but powerboats going back and forth between Acapulco and Roqueta Island catch our attention. Before we are able to inquire about the activity, we get our answer on the radio. Hundreds of people are soon jumping into the water and start to swim across the channel. Thus, we change our plans. We stay and watch this event. It’s noon when we finally arrive at the Yacht Club. Marcelo Adano, the director of the Maritime Museum of Acapulco who organized our meetings for the coming week, is here waiting for us. This is the end of the twelfth leg of the expedition after 12,545 nautical miles since Tromsø.


The crew for this segment was :
From left to right : Olivier Pitras (France), Jean Rio (France) Marie Rose Lefevre (France), Anthony Steer (Canada), Giulio Ceresoli (In the arms of his father - France), Laurent Ceresoli (France), Monica Larizza (Italy), Mark Raymond (Canada), Lyle Balmer (Canada), Olafur Schram (Iceland), Vincent Berthet (France)


Crew San Francisco - Acapulco - Vincent Berthet

Crew San Francisco - Acapulco
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
Decembre 5th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Isla Roqueta, Mexique
16°49’N –99°54’W
23h10 local time

Around noon, we sail through a zone with turtles; they are everywhere. Our estimation is one every 120 feet (40 meters) over a distance of 10 nautical miles. During the afternoon, the crew stays protected from the sun under the dodger.
At night, the moon illuminates our universe. We enjoy the relative coolness of the evening. Everything is peaceful. Far away, over the bow, we can see the first lights of Acapulco. When we enter the narrow “Chica Boca” between “Punta Lorenz” and “Punta Coyuca” we hear some music coming from the city. All the hills are lighted with houses and buildings, but “Isla Roqueta” is dark and seems to be deserted and wild. We cast anchor in the west of the Islet “El Morro”, it’s 11 PM. The entrance of the Bay of Acapulco is one mile away, we will enter it tomorrow.


Tern on a turtle  - Vincent Berthet

Tern on a turtle
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
Decembre 4th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Mexican Coasts
17°33’N – 102°02’W
23h00 local time

The wind is very light. We sail as near as we can from the coast to take advantage of the breeze. At night, because of the crab pods and fish nets we have to stay further off-shore. The moon is rising up early enough that we bow enjoy at least half of the night. We see more and more turtles swimming peacefully at the surface.
Acapulco is approaching and our discussions about our next stop over are more frequent now.


Fishermen - Vincent Berthet

Fishermen
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
Decembre 3rd, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Mexican Coasts
18°35’N – 103°53’W
23h15 local time

Though the heat is rising, it’s already 8 AM when we have breakfast. The night was fresh and calm. We spend the morning preparing our departure. Provision, some maintenance and we set sail at 2 PM. This town is definitely a charming one; people are friendly as well! We could stay longer yet have no choice if we are to arrive on time in Acapulco. After “Punta Campos”, we head south-east along the coast.
The fruits and vegetables we bought are very appreciated as our meals were lacking in fresh ingredients. The sky is blue, not a single cloud is visible. The sun sets as a glorious glow on the horizon. After two weeks at sea, the crew naturally comes back to the rhythm of watches. The Acapulco program is complete and promises informative interviews for our next scientific topic.


Manzanillo - Monica Larizza

Manzanillo
Photo Monica Larizza
(Click to enlarge)
Decembre 2nd, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Manzanillo, Mexico
19°03’N – 104°18’W
21h10 local time

The polar team has a hard time dealing with this extreme warm weather. When the sun is high, we’re seeking shelter under the dodger. A single T-shirt is too hot. We’re going on the deck only to manoeuver and adjust sails. The main part of the coast is mountainous but now and then we can see beautiful white beaches. At noon, the first houses appear, then the jetty of the harbor. The little city of Manzanillo will be our host for the night. We take a moorage next to other little boats following the advice of a fisherman looking at us as we were arriving. The team goes on shore to do some food shopping. Acapulco is another 300 miles away.


Sails adjusting   - Vincent Berthet

Sails adjusting
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
Decembre 1st, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Mexican Coasts
19°35’N – 105°21’W
22h50 local time

The polar star is now low on to the horizon. When living in higher latitude, we are used to seeing it by looking up high in the sky. This is quite a change for us. We’re now sailing along the coast and using the thermal breeze during the day as the general wind is very light. This allows us to optimize our route.
At sunset, a booby comes and rests on the end of the boom.


Booby at Sunset  - Vincent Berthet

Booby at Sunset
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 30th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Mexican Coasts
20°45’N – 106°56’W
23h50 local time

We’re alone in the world. No lights around, no traffic at all. Only the celestial vault gives a different perspective to the ocean. Far away from any light pollution, thousands of stars are visible. The swell coming from the Cortez Sea is gentle. We sail smoothly to the South-East.
The day starts as such, a peaceful Sunday. Every one reads, stretches or talks very quietly. During the warmest hours, we gather under the dodger. In such conditions, meals take a special importance. It’s a moment for sharing. Every three hours, the shift of watch gives the tempo aboard the Southern Star on this last day of November.


Booby  - Vincent Berthet

Booby
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 29th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Baja California, Mexico
22°02’N – 109°03’W
22h40 local time

The wind is steady, the temperature is mild at night. At noon, we’re arriving in the vicinity of Cape San Lucas which marks the Southern Spit of Baja California. The fishing line we putted since the morning has no success. After lunch, we protect the dinghy from the sun with a tarp. The sun becomes increasingly harsher as we’re heading South. Part of the crew seeks shelter under the dodger while the others take a sun bath.
A booby flies around the boat several times. We think he could be wounded and search to stop for a while but he disappears as quickly as he appeared. The last mountains of Baja California fade away in the horizon while we start crossing the Gulf of California. Now, we have daily contact with Marcelo Adano, director of the Maritime Museum of Acapulco, who is in charge of organizing our next stopover.


Sunny Afternoon - Vincent Berthet

Sunny Afternoon
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 28th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Baja California, Mexico
23°24’N – 110°52’W
23h55 local time

The night fulfills our wishes and we get a good rest. Yet we do not get rid of the shift rhythm so easily. At 6h30 all hands are on deck. The baie in which we are anchored is dry and wild, the beach of white sand is deserted, the background is completed by hills rising up to 1,200 feet (400 meters). It’s a beautiful landscape. After breakfast, most of us take a swim. The weather forecast is a staedly Northerly wind for the next 48 hours, no hesitation, we set sail as soon as possible. Soon, we are at the entrance of the Magdalena Bay sailing fast and comfortably to our destination.
Couple of pelicans fly over us and stop near by. The day goes by peacefully and beautifully. A group of dozens of dolphins passes by us but without stopping to play. The sun sets at 5 PM. That is early, the reason is that we are yet to adjust our time to the local time. We’ll change it when we reach the other side of the Gulf of California. At 11h30 PM, we cross the tropic. This
entrance into the tropical zone happens 11,771 nautical miles after departure, marking almost 2/3 of the expedition.


Pelicans  - Vincent Berthet

Pelicans
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 27th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Bahia Magdalena, Baja California, Mexico
24°34’N – 112°04’W
22h10 local time

After the rain, the sunshine is glowing. The canopy of stars fades away while the sun rises bright and joyful. A whale blows far away. The coast is 50 nautical miles further east. We have to wait until the Cape San Lazaro to sail along it and enjoy the much eroded coast, deserts and wild chain of low mountains which protects the northern part of the bay. Pelicans fly all over and pay us a visit now and then.
At sunset, fishes jump around, we sail the pass, the tidal current is with us. One hour later we cast anchor east of Mount Isabel and south of Belcher Point. The evening is quiet and peaceful. The sky is illuminated with stars. We can rest as the anchorage is safe.


Coastline of Baja California  - Vincent Berthet

Coastline of Baja California
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 26th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Baja California, Mexico
25°40’N – 113°09’W
23h45 local time

Not a star in the sky, the day will be grey. Almost no wind and this low on top of us !! We spend our day as such; we trying our best to optimised our route in these calm conditions.
In the afternoon, the rain comes. We forgot what the rain looked like. The lightening illuminates from time to time the night sky. From shower to shower, we make our route to Magdalena Bay another 90 nautical miles away.


Sunset - Vincent Berthet

Sunset
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 25th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Baja California, Mexico
27°02’N – 114°26’W
22h45 local time

After the passage between Benito and Cedros Islands, South of Vizcaino Bay, we sail along the coast. At dawn, Eugenia Point is visible on the port side. Mountains are yellowish and dry. The landscape is made of hills from 900 to 1,200 feet (300 to 400 meters) and higher mounts around 2,700 feet (900 meters). We see almost no tracks of human activity except for the lighthouses and very scattered small villages.
A young seal plays a while alongside the hull. In the distance a humpback follows his route Southward. We set a whale route connecting up welling points where plankton abounds. Just before the sunset, hundreds of common dolphins cross our path. For a while they are everywhere, in every directions and as far as the eye can see. They jump and swim heading South.


Dolphins along baja California - Vincent Berthet

Dolphins along baja California
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 24th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Baja California, Mexico
28°36’N – 115°36’W
23h50 local time

Two very small lows coming from West South-West are perturbing the flow of the high pressure. Winds are inconsistent: strong inside when off shore but they weaken when approaching the coast. This situation leads us into pockets of true calm conditions. No wind !!
In these calms, cooking takes an important place onboard. Each team is very creative in preparing gourmet meals, a real success !
Just before noon, we fish our first tuna, a Bonita actually, everyone is delighted. When the night falls, we can see the lighthouse of San Benito Islands 25 miles away. The huge Vizcaino Bay spreads in the East. It’s raining. The swell is calm but big enough to flap and bang the sails. After these lows, we should find back a steady flow of North North-West along the coast.


Catching fish - Jean Rio

Catching fish
Photo Jean Rio
(Click to enlarge)
November 23rd, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Baja California, Mexico
30°51’N – 116°31’W
22h15 local time

After a good night sleep, we purchase some food and get ready to leave at 10h00 AM. The sun is already hot. The city is quiet, it’s a real Sunday. Couple of sea lions are relaxing on a dock. We’re heading for the southern entrance of the Bay. The gentle slopes of mountains are void of trees. The rounded golden hills are carved from time to time by deep ravines. We’re slowly sailing along the huge peninsula of “Baja California”, stretching 1160 kilometers from North to South. The heat is such that during the day we set a tarp above the cockpit to protect us from the sun. After sunset, we can identify lighthouses from «Cabo Colnett» and «Isla San Martin». Each little point has its own lighthouse. The sky is full of stars.


Sunset - Vincent Berthet

Sunset
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 22nd, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
Ensenada, Bahia de Todos Santos, Mexico
31°51’N – 116°37’W
23h00 local time

We approach the coast yet it keeps its mystery. Visibility is poor, less than half mile. Everything is calm. The swell gets flater as we are sailing in shallower waters. Finally we have a glimpse of the first houses. The harbor cranes are huge in this misty decor but the Mexican flag, flying high above the whole city, is even bigger; it’s gigantic.
At 10h00 AM, we dock at “Baja Naval”. A cruise ship is close to downtown. The harbor is big. On our way to clear customs, we discover
that the whole city is dedicated to tourism; nothing is authentic here. After a lot of talks, we succeed in making our official entrance into Mexico without having to wait for Monday. We spend the evening on board. Tomorrow we set sail again further south the Baja California Peninsula.


Port of Ensenada in Mexico - Vincent Berthet

Port of Ensenada in Mexico
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 21st, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
North Pacific, Mexican Coasts
32°22’N – 117°33’W
22h30 local time

The deck is damp. Up high, the stars are moving in a perfectly clear sky. We’re not familiar with this level of humidity. It is as if we are entering slowly into a steam room. In the morning, a radio contact from the US Navy ask us to sail north of San Clemente Island and leave the southern part free. Couple of hours later powerful explosions in the distance confirms the shooting exercises.
The crew enjoys taking a sun bath on deck. It’s a relaxing time. We have our lunch in the shade of the cockpit. We use this calm afternoon drying the sail loft. It’s a big job, each sail weight more than 100 kilos and we need a halyard to pull them one by one above deck. Everything is in order before the humidity comes back. By the end of the evening, we’re only 15 nautical miles (28 kilometers) from the Mexican islands “Los Coronados”.


Relaxation in the sun - Vincent Berthet

Relaxation in the sun
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 20th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
North Pacific, Californian Coasts
33°13’N – 119°20’W
23h55 local time

We enjoy a beautiful moon for the second part of the night. The sky is full of stars. This leg is definitely a light sailing gear one for the first time in the expedition. Early in the morning, we’re in front of the Santa Barbara Channel off shore Conception Point heading south of San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands. We can see dolphins swimming quite often around us.
The night is falling down early, 5h30PM, very dark. By the end of the evening, we’re next to San Nicolas Island. The wind falls, we reduce our expectation of an early arrival in Mexico. The Harbor of Punta San Miguel Ensenada, where we will clear customs, is another 165 nautical mille away, just south of the border from San Diego.


Heading to Mexico - Vincent Berthet

Heading to Mexico
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 19th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
North Pacific, Côtes Californiennes
35°07’N – 121°30’W
22h35 local time

We're starting this leg with a calm sea. Only a gentle swell rocks those who sleep. The night is dark. In the morning, the breeze increases, we increase our speed. The coastal mountains are sometimes visible at 20 miles (36 kms). The visibility is not very good, we keep one eye for the cargo ships sailing up and down the coast. Couple of dolphins are playing for a while at the bow.
The team recaps its goals. Four nationalities are represented on board : Canada, Iceland, Italy and France.


Sailing on the Californian coast - Vincent Berthet

Sailing on the Californian coast
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
November 18th, 2008 (time onboard = UTC - 8)
North Pacific, 37°08’N – 122°37’W
22h30 local time

What a week !! We met wonderful people and we had beautiful weather.
Solar, wind, tides, geothermal, sustainable buildings, oil spill cleaning process, to the individual, municipal, state and federal level...California is definitely the leader in the U.S.A in term of solutions to mitigate global warming. The governor Schwarzenegger announced yesterday in Sacramento the augmentation from 20 to 33% of renewable energy. The “Green” business is well and alive in California.
 
8h00 : this morning, the last interview of the week
9h00 : the team finish to sort pictures and footage, burn DVD, call, e-mail, etc. It’s foggy today. The plane is confirmed for aerial shooting, the fireboats too for the escort. Vonne and Thierry will take their plane tomorrow for Paris. Diana is staying in San Francisco and will probably enjoy a bit of a rest after such a busy week.
11h00 : time to leave, warms hughs.
 
The fog is dense, the plane flies very low to catch a glimpse of us, on board; we’re worried for them. Fireboats don’t come, too much fog. The St. Francis Yacht Club, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate bridge are invisible. The radar is on, huge cargo ships blows their horn. We can see the Golden Gate just as we sail under it. The ceiling is very low . Outside, the sea and wind
are calm. The fog disappears, the sky is overcast. After clearing the channel that enters the Bay, we take our course to the South and Mexico.
 
The picture is from yesterday when the weather was clear as it was all week long.


San Francisco - Vincent Berthet

San Francisco
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
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