Seymour and Barbara Paul relate this memory.
When nearing retirement age, the Paul's were living near San Francisco. After years of cruising, it was time for a final adventure. They sold their home, boat and soul and invested in an Ocean Alexander trawler, christened it "Sea Barb" and moved aboard. Along with three other couples, we spent a year planning and outfitting for a voyage to Mexico - and maybe beyond. West coast cruising is different than that on the East coast, there are few bays and rivers along the coast - and no intercoastal waterway. Many anchorages are deep and exposed to the open ocean.
San Francisco to Mexico
Four of us sailed under the Golden Gate. A 38' Ocean Alexander trawler, a 50' Marine Trader trawler, a 40' sailboat and ourselves. Each couple had their own itinerary and planned to meet in San Diego. We had scheduled friends as crewmembers, as many legs would be long and felt a 3 person watch was the safest plan. A wonderful trip down the Big Sur coast with stops in the LA area, visiting the Catalina Islands, and overnighters threading our way through all the oil rigs, got the kinks worked out of us and the boat. A month in San Diego allowed for a final outfitting (longer chain, bigger anchor, lotsa fuel).
The 38' trawler departed first, acting as a committee boat for a sail race to south Baja. A few days later we departed with the 50' trawler, they encountered a radar problem and decided to "buddy boat" with us. We stopped in xxxxxx to check in to the country of Mexico. At every port, one has to provide various paperwork to different Mexican agencies and is an adventure in itself. Our sailboat friends traveled at a different pace and left a day later. Most legs were one day daylight trips.
The only reliable method of communication and weather forecasts was SSB Amateur radio. Checking into the various nets was imperative. About half way down the Baja peninsula, we got news that one of the crew on the 38' trawler had died of a heart attack while at anchor. A dear friend.
Several days later we prepared for a 24 hour passage across a large bay to a protected anchorage. The weather was predicted to deteriorate north of us, however it looked ok to the south, so we left. Later that afternoon, the wind picked up - the low pressure had swooped down and became a gale. As the evening and night wore on, we continued to turn into the wind. Although we never felt in danger, the seas became extremely rough - but the two trawlers were built to handle these conditions.
By daylight, after steering a big semicircle, we were back to where we started but 70 miles offshore. The waves had subsided enough that we elected to make a 180 turn and head downwind towards our original destination. The next night at two in the morning we spotted our destination on radar and found the bay full of steel Mexican trawlers waiting for good weather. Using the radar we threaded our way through the fleet to anchor close to the beach. Both boats found their anchor chains tangled in knots from the rough seas. It took each of us a long time to straighten out the mess, set anchor and then collapse in bed.
On Sea Barb seawater had entered the engine compartment and caused electrical problems. Later we found that sediment had been stirred up in the fuel tanks (it was a older boat). Several long passages later we pulled in to Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of Baja and the entrance to the Sea of Cortez. A short layover for repairs and fuel, and we departed for Puerto Vallarta, a 24 hour trip. On Thanksgiving day we entered this beautiful bay surrounded by mountains - and decided to stay for several months before cruising further.
Our companion trawler came in a few days later, fell in love with the area, sold their boat, and bought a villa.
The 38' trawler went on through the Panama Canal, had a mid ocean engine fire, stayed in Aruba a year rebuilding and rewiring. They now cruise between the Bahamas and Canada.
The sailboat sailed west across the Pacific from Mexico, visited the Tahiti's, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, back across the Atlantic, and have just arrived in Florida.
After more cruising in Mexico, Sea Barb was sold and we moved back to the US. We eventually came back to the old family home in the Shenandoah Valley.