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"StarPlath" 40-60 - Lance and Stephanie Leuthesser


StarPlath – Chapter 8 (last one for this adventure!)
June 25, 2008

Well, we are home at last. Just recently got back to Rosarito – nice to have TV, email, a good grocery (in the US) and regular Internet again, although I wouldn’t trade our adventure for the world. We’re already starting to think about our next trip. We may ship the boat to Vancouver (or get brave and take it ourselves) and head to Alaska next spring with a few short hops up the coast in the meantime.

Leaving Los Cabos

When I last wrote, we were waiting in San Jose del Cabo for a weather window so we could head north. Here’s an osprey who liked our paravane rigging.

At the Puerto Los Cabos marina, we hooked up with Bill and Linda on Wayward Wind (43’ Nordy), Owen and Vicki on Rogue Manor (43’ Nordy), and Lee and Nancy on Buena Vista (sailboat). We waited for the word from Lee and Nancy (they were about 25 miles up the “road” from us) that it was good to go. We made it a single overnighter and anchored at Asuncion. The two 43’ Nordy’s went on to Turtle Bay but we had slowed down in the night to avoid the pounding. Spent the night in Asuncion and then went to Turtle Bay the next day to join the other two Nordy’s. We overheard one of the sailboaters on the VHS refer to us as a “flock” of Nordy’s. Owen and Vicki left that night for Ensenada and Bill and Linda left the next day. We decided to wait for better weather since we “had no particular place to go” as the song says. Turtle Bay is referred to by one of the guides as “coyote ugly” and it really is. Here’s a picture of their main street but don’t feel too sorry for them – note the cell towers in the background.

… but they had a nice church as does every little town.


On to Cedros Island

Lee and Nancy on Buena Vista left Turtle Bay to go to Cedros but reported it was very rough going so we waited two days before we took off with a bunch of sailboats. We left in daylight to avoid kelp and buoys but we managed to snag a buoy and its attached line. It wasn’t fouling our prop but as soon as we got to Cedros, Lance donned mask and fins to see how tangled we were. It took one dive and he managed to get the rope untangled so we were very lucky – that can often be a real mess.

We anchored off Cedros Village along with 3 other sailboats and an ex-sailboat. The sailboats were Phil, Nora with guests Gary and Karen on Shiraz, Phil and Marilyn on Renegade, and Lee and Nancy on Buena Vista. The ex-sailboat, Miracle, was a scary tale as they lost their mast and radar on the crossing to Cedros (it was rough and pounding when they came) – Jonnie and Louis (who was fluent in Spanish and very helpful for all of us) were on this boat which they were now referring to as New Miracle. I have to admit after hearing so many tales of disasters and near disasters at sea, that I feel privileged to call many of these adventurers our friends. They are a hearty bunch! Here’s the proverbial church at Cedros…

We thought we weren’t going to be at Cedros for long so we decided not to take the dinghy down so we asked one of the local pangas to come pick us up and take us into the village along with Lee and Nancy. Wouldn’t you know it? I was the only one to sit in the “gaviotas’ caca” or seagull crap. We went to the local tortilleria and while we there we asked for a wet paper towel. When they looked puzzled I showed them my pants and told them panga – that’s all I had to say and they were laughing a lot. You don’t always have to know the language to communicate.


At Cedros, we “caught” two fish. Actually, much to Fred’s dismay at having supplied us with great fishing gear, we still haven’t caught a fish ourselves. But a panga traded us two fresh fish for 3 bags of American candy (they lost out on the deal we thought). Anyway, Lance got to clean these and after getting blood and guts everywhere, he realized why he doesn’t like to catch fish – it’s not the fishing, it’s the cleaning, especially since we are not equipped with a fish cleaning area other than Tavie’s poop deck (see photo). Since we weren’t making water while at anchor, clean up was more difficult but were these fish worth the effort.


The sailboaters at Cedros were nice to “adopt” us since we did not have a single side band radio which is the best way to communicate among the boaters. They kept us fully informed on how the boats going north were faring which was not good. We realized early on that we would be in Cedros for at least 5 days if not longer. So Phil decided to start the “Cedros Island Yacht Club” and here we are posed with our sign. We had a lot of fun with all our new friends and the port capitan on Cedros was a big help to all of us as well. Lee (a fireman) held a training session for the emergency personnel on the island which was very nice of him. In all, we were glad we got “stuck” there and the yacht club had a farewell dinner the night before we left.


Before we left, we kept listening to the weather from Jay and from the sailboaters and to the few boats that were adventuring out. One sailboat going north decided to go on in spite of the reports and they were heading into 17’ seas and were only making 1 to 1.5 knots. Their hatch was leaking when the waves broke over the boat and it took them 2 days to go 80 miles. Another boat going south told us their instruments were showing ground speed at 19.2 knots going down these steep waves. I would not have survived on either of these boats – I would have had a heart attack.

So we headed north… here’s Tavie plotting the course.


And here’s she’s barking orders for the captain to maintain course and speed…


Animal rescue at sea

We waited 8 days at Cedros when the weather started breaking up (lows and highs and all that stuff). We all left together although the sailboats were faster than us. It was a little rough the first night but smoothed out the second day and night. The second night around midnight we put Tavie on the poop deck and lo and behold, we had a bird on the deck. He looked like a dove with webbed feet and seemed really exhausted. He had been trying to take off but couldn’t make it out of our deep transom – we had no idea how long he had been out there but I knew he wouldn’t make it if we just tossed him off. I grabbed a basket and lined it with towels and put a towel over the top so he had a very quiet little nest (the basket had holes in the side). I put him in the shower and hoped he would make it to Ensenada where I planned to release him. Well, he made it and when we took the towel off the basket on the beach, he took off so fast we hardly saw him leave. I guess I’ll be doing sea bird rescues forever – at least this was a happy ending!


Chula Vista – Our new boat home

We stopped in Ensenada to release the bird and to get fuel. We spent the day at one of the marinas and then took off for San Diego. Cleared customs quickly - they took my eggs and half a lemon. It’s a good thing we hadn’t gotten there sooner and I had more lemons – I might have fought him over them. Lemons are almost impossible to find in Mexico and I bought a bag of them at the CostCo in Puerto Vallarta and it was $13!!!!! What a precious commodity…

Now we’re headed down to the south end of San Diego Bay. We had the entrance to the Chula Vista Marina in sight when we had to have our final snafu… we ran aground!!! It’s very tricky at that end of the bay and we missed one of the channel markers. We were going so slow that at first I didn’t even realize we weren’t moving. I was about to get hysterical when Lance said “do NOT get hysterical!” So we needed to know when high tide was – unfortunately it was 5 hours away. I was really getting hysterical at this point because for the entire previous 24 hours all I could think of was getting off the boat and eating at a restaurant. I thought if I had to fix another meal I would go ballistic. So Lance kept nudging us and finally after about 15 minutes he got us free and we made it to the marina and LUNCH!!!! When I told James (our Nordy rep) that we ran aground, he laughed and asked if that was the first time. I guess it’s not unusual but it’s a helpless feeling. It was kind of funny in hind site to have this happen in the last ½ mile of our trip!!!

Thanks to all

Well, this is the end of this adventure. I want to thank everyone for their encouraging words and prayers along the way. For specific thank you’s, I want to first thank Walt, my guardian angel, for making this trip even possible for me – you see, I was choking at a dinner party and he performed the Heimlich on me – so he really did save my life so that I could go on this adventure. I want to thank Elizabeth Carbojal, our Rosarito agent, who makes our life so much easier with Mexican paperwork and stored our mail – she even offered to pay one of my bills while I was gone – what a dear and capable person she is. I also want to thank Miles, Susie and Vaughn – they took us to the boat, Miles paid one of my bills that I had forgotten to pay and Susie and Vaughn picked me up in San Diego and took me to Rosarito so I could get the car. I want to thank Jon and Donna for helping us get a sat phone – that phone was one of our most precious possessions on the boat because we could always be in touch no matter how far out at sea we were. Thanks to Ted and Mary for lending us money when our ATM wasn’t working. Thanks to all our Cedros Yacht Club friends for guiding us north and for teaching us “weather patience” which is really needed for the “Baja Bash.” And we couldn’t have done this trip without Jay and Libby (my brother and his wife)… Jay was there whenever we needed weather info and Libby was handling paperwork for us and keeping my mother informed on our whereabouts. It was comforting to know they could help whenever we needed it. Many thanks to James and the Nordhavn family. James was always there to help us with any technical issues and willing to send help if we needed it. Fortunately, our few small problems were resolved early on. I have come to the conclusion after this trip that Nordhavn is the boat to have for any sea adventure – Lance already knew that when we decided to buy a boat. We felt safe and we were beyond comfortable. I kept referring to us as the Four Seasons hotel – we ate like kings (most boats don’t have a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer stocked to the brim with goodies), we had clean clothes (washer and dryer on board), we took daily showers (thanks to the water maker and not having to store things in the shower like many boats), we never worried about getting fuel from some panga, we had the wing engine in case our main engine went out, a clean engine room to make Lance’s chores there very easy, etc. It seems that most boaters recognize a Nordhavn and comment on what a wonderful boat it is and we most heartily agree! Keep up the good work guys… and here are Lance’s statistics from the trip.

Mexico Trip Facts and Figures

  • Departed Ensenada, Mexico on February 24, 2008, returned to Chula Vista, California on June 9, 2008 (106 days)
  • Turnaround point: Zihuatanejo, Mexico
  • Total distance: 2910 nautical miles
  • Total hours: 529 (main engine), 362 (generator)
  • Total fuel consumed: 1110 gal (only fuel stop enroute was Barra Navidad)
  • Average speed: 5.50 knots
  • Overall mileage: 2.62 nm/gal (including generator)
  • Number of days underway (6 hrs. or more): 34
  • Longest run: 310 nm (Ensenada to Turtle Bay)

On days not underway, roughly half were spent at anchor and half were spent in marinas. At anchor, the generator was needed about 5 hours per day to charge batteries, or much longer when the air conditioner was in use.

Given that we were in a warm climate and ran the generator quite a bit, the overall fuel efficiency of StarPlath was remarkable. But we ran at very easy long-range speeds of 1300 – 1400 rpm on the “downhill” southbound trip, still making 6.5 – 7.0 knots most of the time. However, on the “uphill” return trip we ran 1600 – 1700 rpm and struggled to make 5.0 knots much of the time. Plus, we had to slow down on occasion to reduce pounding (creature comfort – no problem for the boat). But even when the seas were relatively smooth, the uphill leg was slower owing to the adverse currents. When you are traveling in a boat that averages about 6 knots, a current of 1 or 2 knots is very significant – it would be a very important consideration on a long voyage such as a transoceanic crossing.

Many thanks to my wonderful Captain and of course to Tavie, the Admiral

Finally, I have want to thank Tavie and Lance for being so fun! Tavie’s such a good little sport and brought us much pleasure along the way. But my real thanks go to Lance for being the best captain in the world. He can fix anything, he’s calm even in a “storm” (the “storm” was usually me freaking out), and he makes me feel safe. There have been a few times when he questioned whether we knew enough or had enough experience for this boat – there have even been times when he said “we need to sell the boat” – especially after he ran into Cindy and Paul’s boat (40’ Nordy called Lionheart of Devon) in the Ensenada marina and ripped their paravane holder off their boat. But he has gained his confidence back after this trip so we’re ready for our future adventures – soon I hope!

Is life going to be hum-drum until our next trip?

Probably not. We’re enjoying having the boat in the States for our frequent shopping trips. Lance gets to hang on the boat while I shop – works out great. We’re enjoying non- Mexican food restaurants although we miss the huaginango (red snapper) although we have found a restaurant in Chula Vista that serves it so we will be trying it soon. Lance will be busy cleaning the boat (polishing stainless, waxing the outside, etc.). I on the other hand have met my biggest challenge of the year – more than our Mexico trip. I have decided to enter the Hoffman Challenge, probably the world’s most famous quilt contest. The curator is Kelly who wrote after reading of our adventures that she wanted to be like us when she grows up. Well, I’m trying to be an excellent quilter like Kelly when I grow young! I entered this contest with the very first quilt I ever made and as I was putting the last stitch in, Lance told me my design was poor. This time I made him help with the design so he can’t complain but keep in mind he was an engineer originally… which means that I’m doing something that has lots of engineering feats that I must accomplish with fabric. So as I said I’m really being challenged now that we’re back. And of course, I’m going to Texas to see Mom, Mary, Jay, Libby and Inez which is challenging since it’s July in Texas… heat, bugs, grass burrs, etc.

Final Word from Tavie

Well, there were even more tales to tell but Tavie sums up what happened to some of our tales… PS – Thanks to Marlene (our ex-neighbor) for this photo and its embellishments.

May everyone enjoy smooth sailing throughout their lives and have fun along the way!!!
StarPlath Crew – Lance, Stephanie & Tavie


StarPlath Adventures
June 03, 2008

Well, a quick update to let everyone know we are safe but waiting for the winds to die. We´re hearing horror stories of boats trying to go north in this gale... so we have ¨moved¨ to Cedros Island along with 4 sailboats. One of the sailboaters started the Cedros Yacht Club of which we are a charter member!!!! On Friday we´re supposed to see a major drop in the wind and we will head straight for Ensenada. It will take 2 days and then we´ll get fuel and then head for Chula Vista, where we´re going to leave the boat for a while.

At this very moment we just reached the end of our 100th day on this adventure... will write when we get to Chula Vista.

Safe journeys to all,
Stephanie, Lance and Tavie

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