Tuesday, November 13, 2007

FUBAR: Poking around Ensenada

Date: November 8, 2007
Time: 22:00 (Pacific Standard Time)
North 31 51.65, West 116 36.48
Cruise Port Marina, Ensenada
Course: To town for lunch and then back to the marina for dinner
Speed: A leisurely walk

Port Log: To everyone’s amazement, especially FUBAR Chairman Bruce Kessler, around 20 boats managed to fill up at the fuel dock on the same day they arrived. The last boat left the fuel dock in the gray twilight as night fell. By then, the guys doing the fueling had it down to a precision choreography, as skippers were directed to tie up, then move up to fueling position when it was their turn, top off their tanks, then pull away—kudos to the PAE guys, fueling crew from the marina and FUBAR coordinator Bruce Kessler, who oversaw the whole operation and kept it from becoming a real " FUBAR " . Bruce’s patience and knowledge, gives everyone, especially the novices among us the confidence to make this trek. An accomplished circumnavigator in his own boat, Zopilote, retired auto racer and successful Hollywood director, he reminds me of an old-time wagon-train boss: stern and cajoling when he needs to be, but invariably patient, calm and willing to go the distance to get something done. I never hear him say, “no” to anyone (although I’m sure he must have to from time to time). Instead, he always gives positive advice and works unceasingly to try and find a way to accommodate people’s requests and needs. I’ve taken to calling him “Papa Bruce” behind his back.

Having completed fueling on Wednesday, we were free to spend all of Thursday enjoying the city of Ensenada. The city has grown and thrived on tourism. Every day one or two big cruise ships arrive and disgorge hordes of passengers. There is new construction everywhere. Cruise Port Marina, where we tied up, is just a short walk from the central shopping district. Most of the crew of Pacific Escort—Jim Leishman, Jim’s wife Sue, his two brothers Jay and Jeff and the boys (hardly boys) Eric and James, went off and played nine holes of golf. Felizardo PĂ©rez from Proturismo de Ensenada helped plan activities for the fleet, including a vineyard tour (judging from the misty weather, they must grow some excellent wines, and I was told that they distribute throughout Mexico) and Captain Pat Rains, the fleet’s cultural advisor, also conducted a shopping tour. Having spent years cruising up and down the west coast delivering boats, few people know Mexico so intimately as her.

Thursday also gave the FUBAR fleet’s skippers a chance to fix any problems that might have cropped up on the shakedown run from San Diego—the odd chafed hose or loose battery hold-down clamp. An informal survey among several of them at the fleet dinner indicated no major problems and more importantly, a growing confidence in their abilities. One boat that is of particular interest, the Skipjack 30, Brown Eyed Girl, is the smallest boat in the fleet; however, the experience of her crew is vast.
Skipper, Larry Lu Core and his two-man crew are all retired fire fighters and paramedics from the San Diego area. They are avid fishermen, with retirement homes in Baja on the Sea of Cortez and they have made this run before. They are looking forward to fishing the banks off of Magdalena Bay. For the 282-mile run from Ensenada to Turtle Bay, they have topped off Brown Eyed Girl’s 225-gallon tanks. They also carry another 30 gallons on deck. Fleet surgeon Dr. Jerry Kornfeld has also pressed them into service as back up medical help, in case he needs it, but for now, all is well.

After dinner, we return to Pacific Escort, where Jim, Jeff, Eric and James gather in the cockpit and reminisce over a brew. Turns out Jeff had an alternate career as a world-class surfer (somehow a surfer’s intimacy with the water seems an appropriate background for a yacht designer), Jim bicycled competitively and is an avid off-road motorcyclist, James was a competitive swimmer and Eric has participated in the Baja as pit crew. Appropriately, the race teams participating in this year’s race have begun arriving in town just as we are leaving (the bars of Ensenada will no doubt be busy this week). As for the members of our little fleet, they have a long run ahead of them, with an early start in the morning, so most of the skippers and their crew have turned in early. I do the same, leaving before the traditional Leishman arm wrestling competition begins.

--James Kirby, aboard Pacific Escort in Ensenada

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