(6) Costa Rica to Acapulco– COMPLETE


(6) Costa Rica to Acapulco – Nov 23rd to Dec 3rd

Before I get into leg details, I have an important announcement to make.  I FOUND A SLOTH!!!  A LOT OF SLOTHS!!!  Hanging from trees!  Crawling on the ground!  Eating stuff!  And smiling!

On the layover in San Jose, Dave and I visited the “Toucan Ranch”. (we saw Toucans too)  I have decided that sloths are my friends.  If you have never seen a  sloth in real life, put it on the bucket list.

Pete and Elaina were waiting at the dock on Thursday, and had the boat in tip top shape!!  BIG THANKS PnE!  After the departure paper work cha-cha, the crew did Thanksgiving at the bar.

6am the next day, we departed Golfito.  Golfito is a must do for any sailor, and someday Reliant will be back.  The town is chill, the people are great, plenty of anchoring space in the harbor, and very well sheltered.  No bugs either!

We anchored briefly off Isla de Cano as we departed the Costa Rican coast. Archeologists say the island was used by pre-Mayan Indians for burials and rituals. Didn’t find signs of Indians, but we found an army of ants carrying leaves from 100s of yards away, through a rain forest full of leaves, to a tree surrounded by and filled with…wait for it… LEAVES.  Still haven’t figured that one out.

Also, I MADE MY FIRST HAM RADIO CONTACT!  Was able to reach Gordon West in California with the SSB, 2500 miles away!  To all previous crew I say, the many hours of annoying static paid off!

Coming up the coast from Costa Rica was a breeze.  Very light Papagayo winds, and light north swell all the way to Mexico.  With the exception of the Tehantepec Gulf, and a few dodged rain storms, the weather was smooth.

Later in the trip, I caused a minor emergency by contacting the Coast Guard on SSB.  Apparently they copied vessel name and station ID, but didn’t hear “non-emergency traffic”.   They called us on sat phone(by tying the station ID to the sat phone account) and cancelled the alert to the Nicaraguan Navy.  Overnight a bulk carrier hailed us on VHF to let us know the Coast Guard was looking for us.

Moral of the story is, don’t play with the SSB!  🙂

Somewhere off the cost of El Savador, we caught our first Mahi mahi and landed him… by landing I mean got the fish on deck… without a gaff… or a net…





Without a gaff, he slid right back off the port transom, but we fixed that problem when we got to port in Guatemala as you can see above, and I’ll leave the rest of the story to the video below.

Before reaching Guatemala, we once again experienced the Leg 4 intermittent issue where one engine or the other would max out around 2100 rpms.  The engines otherwise ran fine, and the problem went away after a shutdown and cool off.

For those interested in the “mystery rev limit”, read here at 1MC: https://svreliant.org/2018/01/04/when-a-yanmar-diesel-randomly-rev-limits/  For everyone else, it’s fixed.


Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala was our stop on Monday.  Really cool, but pretty remote! First, it’s the only port on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.  Reliant docked 100 yards from the Guatemalan Navy base(the ONLY Guatemalan Navy base), and one of Dave’s families LPG carriers.(seriously, his family owns some big ships)

Quetzal’s private docks total about 30 small craft, with one decent bar/restaurant. Cold cerveza is obtainable!  Otherwise the entire port is a commercial harbor, with no supply house in sight.  In Guatemala, you have to drive to Guatemala City to get anything.


Day one in port: the crew relaxed while my new Guatemalan buddy Rosendo and I drove up to “ciudad” to pickup new filter assemblies to replace the junk Lagoon installed.  Believe it or not, there is a Parker Industries Distribution Center in Guatemala City.  They had two good old reliable Racor 500fg’s in stock!  Fuel filter problem solved forever.  🙂

Day two: the crew got a hiking trip in at the Volcan Pacya thanks to my friend Evelyn and her Guatemalan cousin.  THANKS EVELYN!  We didn’t see actual lava flowing, but you could still feel the heat from underneath the lava field, and we watched a mini-eruption.  I think it’s reasonable to say the guide who kept Dave from hiking to the top saved Dave’s life!

Continuing on from Guatemala we finally landed the big Mahi mahi, along with a few Black Fin Tuna.  Gaff was critical.  Ballyhoo and tackle resupply also helped.  The first official “fresh fish fest” was had, and we put enough fish in the freezer for the rest of the trip to CA.  Pete did the fillets.  Sushi and Dave’s tuna lettuce wraps were the highlights!

The Tehantepec Gulf was next, and it is seriously no joke.  It was a moderate Tehantepec week, and I cut us in too deep off shore before we got slammed by the winds.  Blowing like crazy, the seas built up fast, and we got banged up before I tucked us back under the lee of the shore line. From there on around, we passed 100 miles of pristine white sand beach in flat water, while the winds blew 30 kts overhead.

Another return destination for Reliant.

Reliant made Acapulco, Mexico on Saturday.  I would judge Acapulco as one of the finest natural harbors to be found.  It is surrounded by high hills on all sides, and has few shoals or obstructions.  You enter through a large bay from the south, and turn west bound to tuck inside the hills.  Night life is non-stop, but docks and anchorage on the southern side of the harbor are quiet.

My overall impression of Acapulco as a crusing destination was that it’s ok. They say that the drug war scared off most tourists.  To us, it seemed safe for a big town.  Like Cancun, it’s more about the big tourist resorts than anything else.  Works for some people.  We spent our last day exploring the shoreline by dingy, and had a nice meal in town.

Ships report is good.  The four 55 Gallon drums worked well, and only minor issues with cabin LED fixtures and other wear items.  New props holding(replaced the starboard zinc with proper hardware and re-tightened before Golfito departure).  Same issues with lighting struck equipment, but working around it all.  The dude abides…

Reliant is safely end tied at Santa Lucia Marina, Acapulco.




(7) Acapulco to Cabo – COMPLETE


(7) Acapulco to Cabo! –  Dec27th – Jan3rd

Reliant made it to Baja!  We knocked out another 800+ nm, and are finally on the same coast line as California!

Wednesday after Christmas, we arrived in Acapulco to a messy boat.  The end tie that we thought was such a cool rockstar parking spot turned out to be a bird poop magnet.  In all the places we’ve left the boat over the summer, I’ve not yet returned to the deck conditions we discovered in Acapulco.  It was like the Pearl Harbor of guano attacks!

I spared you pictures, but suffice it to say we spent a lot of time cleaning underway.

Departure from Acapulco was mostly uneventful.  We encountered un poquito problemo with the ship’s agent over paperwork, and there was a small frustration with some canvas work that turned out modestly rougher than I’d anticipated. Hard to imagine me actually not happy with work quality on the boat, right?

According to Nathan, the negotiations were somewhat…’heated’ I believe was the word he used.

The upside is we finally have a working full enclosure for the fly bridge. It’s a must have for heading up the coast this winter, and it turned out we got it just in the nick of time.  The average night time temp dropped near 30 degrees from the coast at Acapulco to the mouth of the Sea of Cortez.

Seabirds, and crocodiles, and whales… oh my!  

I’ve selected three pics to illuminate our encounters with wildlife on this leg.  The first being Pablo Pajaro(no relation to Pablo Dinkins).  He made numerous carrier landings on the bow, and rode not one, but two days perched atop the forepeak as we traveled up the Mexican mainland coast.

The second was one of the Crocs we saw on the river expedition in Tenacatita.  Liam took point and I ran the skiff.  There was some controversy over whether these were actually Caymens vs. Crocs, but my sources called them Crocodiles, so the captain ruled Crocs.

The third speaks for itself, all though we aren’t sure if they were grays or humpback.(videos in the Leg photo album at bottom)

Trip up the coast from Acapulco was sweet.  No significant weather.  No wind, but flat seas made it fine motoring.

We stopped in Tenacatita for the river trip mentioned above, which is a five mile river that runs up from the beach and ends at a large lagoon.  Neat change of pace for anyone transiting the coast line down near Mazatlan, and the anchorage is great.

Further up the coast we stopped in Bahia de Chamela.  Chamela get’s the must stop award for leg 7.  For some reason, the anchorage was completely empty, except for a few Mexican pangas and a nice Canadian couple in a 40′ sloop.  Great beaches with really cool local bars on the beach.  Groceries near by, and plenty of cold cerveza.  If you are heading down the coast and looking for a relaxing place with just the right mix of activity and quite, try Chamela.

We bypassed Z-Town(Zihuatanejo) and Puerto Vallarta to get some of the crew to Cabo in time for flights.(the big R will be back down someday so no problemo)  We departed Chamela direct for the tip of Baja and spent New Year’s underway.

When you’re in a deep peaceful sleep, with the comforting drone of a marine diesel inboard in proper calibration drowning all worries away from the outside world, and you are suddenly jolted awake by the sharp loud crashing clanking sound like that of a sail drive transmission that has suddenly exploded and is allowing thousands of gallons per minute to flood the compartment that is directly behind the bulkhead of your captain’s berth, try not to have a heart attack as you leap out of bed to save the ship… it’s just Liam banging on a frying pan to ring in the new year…

Oustide of that, New Year’s was a blast on the Reliant.  Really!!

Arrival to San Jose de los Cabos was ideal.  The marina is expensive, but probably worth the price.  Brand new beautiful docks, neat restaurants and facilities at the top of the gang way.  Our local hangout has already become el Marinero Barracho!(the Drunken Sailor)  I can’t think of a more fitting palapa style Mexican bar to greet the crew of Reliant.  The fish and chips are even decent, but what is it with Mexico and vinegar?  A sailor don’t eat anything without malt vinegar! They act like they’ve never heard of it down there. Weird.

Anyone who wants to head down for a weekend, give me a call!

Cultural Addendum:  Nathan and I spent the day in Ciudad Mexico, where we explored the mysteries of the church of Rome in the largest cathedral in North America, Metro Cathedral of the Assumption, toured the remains of the Aztec temples of Tenochtitlan(the dudes the Spanish took Mexico City from), and spent a cultured afternoon at the Museo Nacional de Arte. Never fear, we are still Americans, we like American food, and we speak American, which makes google translate all the more important in a foreign country.

Reliant is currently on the east side main channel docks at Puerto Los Cabos Marina, Mexico

Leg 7 Complete.



(8) The Baja Bash! – COMPLETE


(8) The Baja Bash! – COMPLETE

Reliant has reached Ensenada, the drop point for boats shipped from Florida to California. Distance from the border is 48 nautical miles.  I call that mission accomplished!

To begin, I’d like to remind everyone how arduous the so called delivery experts said a northbound passage on the Baja coast would be in the spring time.  I’ve included the following picture to demonstrate the ordeal(note the ferocity of the seas in the background)…

…and that’s an emergency flotation device in Tim’s hand, not a bottle of Pacifico…

To every delivery captain that says NO to northbound baja deliveries after January, TRY CHECKING THE WEATHER dude, it helps!

Did we get lucky?  Maybe, but out of a 10 day window in March, there were enough easy days to piece together an uneventful motor north.(it’s all about the Lows, watch for them coming in off the open Pacific to break up the NW flow)

Cabo San Lucas

Starting early Sunday, we checked the famous Cabo arch, then made a 30 hour run direct to Magdalena Bay.

We anchored in Santa Maria Bay, on the northwest side of Magdalena, an easy in and out.  Unless you are fuel critical, Maria is a better rest stop than Mag.

There we made a great trade with local fisherman: Spam and Oreos for Lobster! Monday night, Reliant hosted Lobster dinner for the only other boat in the bay, a southbounder out of San Francisco.

Tuesday morning we continued north, tucking close to shore inside of Punta Abreojos. (cruiser note: there’s a light counter current if you get near shore, especially before Abreojos, good northbound push for a slow boat)  We passed several groups of Gray Whales traveling northbound near San Ignacio.  We also made VHF contact with boats southbound on the San Diego to PV race.

Wednesday we reached Bahia Asuncion, and spent all day ashore so Hannah could say she’d been to “real” Mexico.  Dinner was at Loncheria Mary, a three table establishment which was pretty “real” Mexican and the only open joint in town. Highly recommended!

Having plenty of fuel on board made stopping in Turtle Bay unnecessary, and with good weather potential developing for a north bound sail over the weekend, we decided to make for the San Benitos on Thursday morning.

The Islas San Benito are a group of three volcanic rock islands, barren and uninhabited, except for a small fishing camp on the middle island.  They

Elephant Seals, San Benitos

give shelter from prevailing NW weather, and are a great jump off point for the last part of the passage north. (cruiser note: try this instead of Cedros unless you need fuel, better point of sail to Ensenada)

The weak low pressure center promising a reverse in wind direction by Saturday, stalled about 200 miles off shore.  If it had moved further in as predicted, we would have enjoyed a 10 knot breeze south to north on Sunday.

San Benitos – Anchorage

Realizing there would be no good sailing, we shoved off on the final leg for Ensenada on Saturday afternoon.

Arriving Ensenada Sunday, we spent one very crowded night at the Hotel Coral Marina. The crew used Margaritas to distract me from the noisy power transformer next to our slip.  I mean really, it’s the 21st century, do power transformers need to make that much noise??!!

I strongly recommend against Coral.  It’s not a terrible marina, but the docks and facilities aren’t nice enough to make up for not being able to walk to town. Plus it costs more.

Cruiseport has much nicer concrete docks, 50 amp service on all, plenty of room in the ways and double wides, and is right across the street from the nicest part of centro.  You pick up soot from commercial and cruise ships, but it’s no dirtier than Marina Del Rey, and just as quiet as Coral.  The intel I received on these places was incorrect.  Do Cruiseport, you won’t be sorry. (cruiser note: CP is dirty, and your rigging will be coated with a gritty stuff if you stay more than a month, but if you won’t be there long it’s not a factor)

Back to the trip, we spent Sunday and Monday enjoying Ensenada and Tuesday departed for Estado Unidos by bus, foot, and rental car.

The crew requested I detail why we had to cross the border on foot instead of flying back with pilot buddies.

We had a plan for evac by Cessna with the help of Dave Karlsberg and Eric Roth(thanks for trying guys), because there is no commercial service in Ensenada. We just forgot to tell President Trump.

Mr. Trump decided to inspect his future wall the day we were planning to fly out. Since the secret service shuts down the National Airspace surrounding any VIP movement, because Cessna Skyhawks are so dangerous(do I sound bitter?), we had to hitch a ride to the bus station, bus ride from Ensenada to the border, walk across the border, Uber to Budget Rental, and drive back to LA.

I’ve been waiting for a tweet apology, but no shout out. Guess he isn’t plugged into the adventures of Reliant.  You’re Fired!

Getting back to the crew, it is amazing to hand your credit card to a guy at the Budget Rental counter, and in 5 minutes drive off in a brand new car full of gas for destination wherever.  Only in America.  Also, kind of nice when the guy at the border crossing says welcome home.  Still the best place to be.

I guess that’s as good a way as any to end the blog.  I’ve missed a detail or two, but I’ve covered the highlights.

Reliant is now resting at Cruiseport, Ensenada, Echo 3.  Weekend trips are approved.  All former crew, you know where the key is.

Final Leg and grand trip complete!

Reliant actual, out.

(9) The Voyage Home – COMPLETE


(9) The Voyage Home – Ensenada to Marina del Rey, CA – COMPLETE

Hard to qualify the trip from Ensenada to MDR an actual Leg, since it’s almost like a weekend cruise to Catalina, but just didn’t feel right not taking the blog readers all the way to the home port.


We split the trip up with an overnight in Cat Harbor in Catalina. Time up to Cat from Ensenada was about 14 hours of calm motoring. Uneventful except for the crossing into US waters around 5am.

We departed Ensenada a little after midnight on Sunday and proceeded direct to Catalina.

It was pretty cool getting to walk up to the bar at Harbor Reef and tell the guy I had just landed from Florida via the canal with my crew. I left out the 5 months of stops in between, but I still felt like a rock star.

After all the years of sailing out to Catalina and dreaming about really going some place, getting to brag a little at that old bar was sort of a bucket list thing. Hope I didn’t lay it on too thick.

Who am I kidding, Jim always lays it on too thick…

Monday morning we departed Cat, rounded the west end, and made for MDR. 3 hours total, and about half the average time of Sierra Wind. Certainly a game changer for weekend trips to the island.

Karlsberg rolled out in his Swan to meet us in Santa Monica Bay. Thanks Dave!

We dropped the main, I turned the bows down the main channel, rounding the south jetty like I’ve done a thousand times before. I was a lot higher on top of Reliant than I ever was on old Sierra Wind, so maybe it felt a little different, but mostly it was familiar.

The day before in Catalina it occurred to me that entering Cat Harbor was the very first place since the moment I started the engines where I had even seen, nevertheless navigated, a place I knew while piloting Reliant. I barely knew to turn right or left when we pushed off the first dock in Ft. Lauderdale.

Going into Cat after a good trip up from Mexico was so exciting and noisy, I didn’t have a chance to ponder that feeling deeply, but entering the main channel of MDR was more quite. Anti-climactic maybe.

There were no banners or flags waving. No one really knew who we were, or cared. We passed the Coast Guard cutter, ran down battleship row, and found the open end tie at DRYC. Just another boat.

Nick jumped off and worked out our lines, we made them fast, I shut down the engines…and that was it.


Not sure what I expected, but I think something. You plan for provisions, weather, routes, crews, spare parts, emergencies, but not for the trip ending. It just ended.

Still, Nick and Aimee and I had a blast, and a good share of Buffalo Milk! I guess I should be grateful I got to do it, and glad I got the boat here in one piece.

Pics will be uploaded soon.

Welcome to your new home Reliant! She’ll be on one of the end ties at DRYC. Come find us.