S1E6: Shake Down Cruise from San Diego to Newport

Before we take off for our Shake down cruise….

Time to head off for our shake down cruise on our 2000 Leopard 38 catamaran. But first….

Hatch Replacement

There were a couple little projects to take care of before taking off for our shakedown. The first was a hatch replacement. This starboard hull hatch had been cracked before we bought Bonzai, but wasn’t on the super high priority list even though it leaked. I had basically just covered the crack with some silicone as a stop gap measure. Then the handle broke off, which meant the hatch couldn’t be locked closed, so this project went up to the top of the priority list!

After watching how-to videos on replacing the glass, I realized we’d need something resembling a workshop and some power tools to just replace the glass. A brand new hatch on the other hand, while more expensive at $200, could be replaced with only a metal putty knife, a screwdriver and some adhesive silicone (4200 to be specific). Removing the old silicone wasn’t fun, but it was do-able and the whole thing took maybe an hour to complete.

Sugar Scoop Flooding

Basically, what’s going on here is that one of the previous owners had the sugar scoops extended 2 feet. The purpose of the extensions is to decrease the catamaran ‘hobby horse’ effect, as well as to make boarding from a dock or the water easier. Hobby horsing is the front to back rocking motion that you see on catamarans (as opposed to the side to side heeling on a monohull). The extensions work well for that purpose, however, the workmanship on our extensions turned out to be very poor.  The underside of the extensions is fiberglass, and was very well done…it’s impossible to even tell the extension isn’t original. However, the tops are 1″ marine grade plywood covered with a thin layer of textured coating. This coating, turns out, is not waterproof.

The bottom step on the sugar scoop is almost always awash when we’re underway if we have any speed at all, so water seeps through the coating and the wood to eventually fill the entire hollow chamber of the extension. To further complicate the problem, there is no access to that hollow chamber.

So, our first step was to use a hole saw to cut a 4″ access hole. From there, we can use a manual bilge pump to keep the extension chamber pumped out after sailing. We installed a little deck hatch, again using 4200, to close the hole.

Sugar scoop deck hatch
Sugar scoop deck hatch

We still need to fiberglass the top of the extension before this project can be marked off the ‘to do’ list, and we plan to have that done later while we are in Mexico.

NOW We’re Off To Newport Beach!

Leg 1: San Diego to Oceanside

We set off from San Diego Harbor at about 10:00 am with only 2-4 knots of wind on the nose. So, we motored until about 12:30 when we picked up 7 kn of wind at a -40* apparent wind angle. Nice! We set the main and jib for a close reach and sailed along at about 6 knots.  We had originally planned to overnight in Dana Point, but after so much motoring, we changed our destination to Oceanside, arriving at 6:30 pm.  For some reason, most people bypass Oceanside, and this was our first stop there. We called on the VHF as we arrived and were directed to the Dolphin Dock. Oceanside is a small marina that is very easy to navigate and the Dolphin Dock is a very long, very empty dock with shore power, but no water. Oceanside also has a fuel dock, though we didn’t need fuel. The best part was the $30 overnight docking fee. Can’t beat that!

Leg 2: Oceanside to Newport Beach

Well, as far as sailing goes, this wasn’t spectacular, but then again, we were sailing north, so it could have been worse. We left Oceanside at 9:15 am motoring along against 3 knots of wind…all day. But the fishing gods were in our favor as we caught three skipjack tuna in a row! We only kept two, and had one for dinner. Some people like skipjack, others hate it. Skipjack tuna has a very strong tuna flavor and we liked it.

Janet catches tuna
We caught THREE tuna!

We arrived in Newport Beach around 3:30 pm where our good friends Trish and John Billings were waiting for us at the anchorage near the American Legion Yacht Club. We rafted up with them and poured some early sundowners and began catching up!

John Billings
Capt. John Billings of S/V Mariah
Trish Billings
Admiral Trish Billings of S/V Mariah

Trish and John have been cruising for some 10 years and are a wealth of knowledge and experience. We had crewed for them in 2016 for the Baja HaHa on their 40′ Morgan, so it was great catching up!

Newport Beach is a fun beach town in typical Southern California style. It’s a HUGE harbor with numerous anchorages and moorings fields. Beautiful homes line the shore and you can spend days just looking at the incredible yachts in the private slips. Newport has many, many restaurants within walking distance of the multiple dinghy docks. If you prefer something further away, Uber is quick and easy. Don and I have spent a lot of time in Newport Beach over the years, so the four of us preferred to ‘eat in’ on Bonzai.  Trish got to experience cooking on a cat, which she seemed to like…a lot…though they are very much in love with Mariah and not likely to come to the dark side from their monohull!

The next morning we did a little Newport Harbor tour on Bonzai and met some future friends that were also preparing for the Baja HaHa. We closed out our time in Newport Beach with a ceremony where S/V Mariah retired her poor, worn out, and patched up 2016 Baja HaHa flag and we hoisted our fresh, new 2017 Baja HaHa flag.

Return to San Diego

We optimistically read the PredictWind forecast calling for 5-10 knot winds for our return; but, alas, we only got 6 knots at best. So we motorsailed back to Mission Bay for the next 10-1/2 hours. Our first anchorage choice swung us over to the shallows and 3-1/2 ft of water, which is right under our keel, so we re-anchored near the mooring balls and turned in for the night.

Next up: We pick up our crew (oh, just you wait ’til you meet THEM!), finalize our preparations and cross the Baja HaHa start line enroute to Mexico at last!



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