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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

6/28/2011 - Fishing trip, part the first

Our friend Jay, on s/v Wind Raven, had invited us along on a fishing trip to nearby Isla Carmen. He had recently returned from doing the same with his friends Bill & Dale and knew where all the good spots were. When we asked what we could bring, he said, "Don't bring anything. I bought all this food and stuff for the last trip and those guys didn't hardly eat anything so I've still got lots of stuff." Well, that makes it pretty easy for us.

We dinghied over to Wind Raven at a little after 9:00 AM on Thursday, June 23. We tied our dinghy off to Jay's mooring ball to save it for our return. Otherwise, anyone who comes in can tie to any empty mooring ball they see and Jay would have to find a different ball when we got back. We loaded our stuff aboard and were underway by 10:00 AM.

The weather was excellent and a bit cooler outside of Puerto Escondido due to the breezes. Pto. Escondido, being almost land-locked, is a great hurricane hole but it also can tend to "protect" us from the cooling breezes blowing outside. We had a little bit of a breeze and hoisted the jib, but it wasn't enough to warrant shutting down the engine, so we motorsailed over to Bahia Marquer on the southwest end of Isla Carmen. Jay said that they had had real good luck catching trigger fish off the rock at the southern end of the bahia.

Once securely anchored (there were only 2 other boats in the bay and we didn't even notice one of them until we were already anchored - that's how much room there is), we launched the dinghy and Jay and I motored out around the corner to try to fish along the rocks just outside the south side of the bay. The plan was to cast our baited lures out and then work them back to the boat while drifting along the edge of the rocks. That was the plan. Now, if the wind is blowing from the north, say, is it too much to ask that it continue blowing from the north for the few minutes that it would take us to drift from the north end of the rocks to the south end? I ask, you, IS THAT TOO FREAKIN' MUCH TO ASK???" Well, the wind had other ideas, It didn't seem to matter what we did or where we stationed ourselves, by the time we cut the engine and started drifting, the wind had always shifted to the exact opposite direction that we wanted. Frustrating as this was, Jay did manage to catch an 18" needlefish which he landed and cut up for bait.

Finally, fed up with fighting the fluky winds, we decided to head back inside the bay and drift along the rocks. This is where we struck gold. In very short order, Jay had landed a very nice size trigger fish.

He downplayed it as "not that big" but it looked pretty freakin' big to me. It was probably about 2 lbs and put up a hell of a fight. Bait up with some more needle fish and cast again and WHAM! he had another nice size trigger fish on.

And what was I doing all this time? Well, I was learning to cast a baitcasting rig.

All of my fishing experience has been with spinning reels, which, in my humble opinion, are MUCH easier to use.

The problem, for me, with baitcasting reels is backlash:

So, I'd cast, get a bunch of backlash and then spend 5 minutes trying to unsnarl it before handing it to Jay who would have it all straightened out in about 15 seconds. Then I'd try again. During one of these periods, when my line was all boogered up on the reel, I actually hooked a trigger fish, and a decent-sized one at that. I did get him reeled in but, of course, by then the backlash was really a mess, having had new line wrapped tightly around it as I reeled the fish in.

After landing 3 trigger fish, we decided we had more than enough for dinner and headed back to Wind Raven. Once there, we filleted our fish and then I spent a half hour on the foredeck practicing casting. I did get a little better but I still think we'll opt for primarily spinning reels on Siempre Sabado. Who needs the grief?

Lulu cooked up trigger fish filets for dinner and we had macaroni salad and coleslaw on the side. Excellent eating. After watching a very funny video of Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show performing in Germany in the early 70's, we turned in with plans for catching dorado the next day.

PS: Like a big dummy I forgot to take my camera along on the trip so these photos are all from the internet. However, Jay had his camera so there will be a few actual pictures from the trip in later episodes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

6/28/2011 - actually 6/21/2011 - a taste of Loreto

OK, I admit it. We've been back from the fishing trip for a couple of days but I just haven't felt like blogging. But, I decided that today, I'd just plan on spending the afternoon writing blogs. So, even though they may show up over the course of the next couple of days, they were all written today, June 28.


We'd been planning on getting in to Loreto pretty soon to see what it was all about.

It's something like 14 miles from Puerto Escondido so it's a bit more than we want to walk. You can get there by taxi. The cost for a taxi is normally around $600 pesos round trip. The driver will escort you around town and wait while you're shopping, etc. If you have no idea where anything is, this is a decent, though spendy, way to go. For about $500 pesos, you can rent a car which is OK although you have to figure the town out yourself. Not sure what the bus costs but you catch it out on Highway 1, a 10-15 minute walk from the marina. There aren't any buses in the morning (except for that part of the morning when it's still dark) but, after noon they seem to come by every hour or so. Then, there's the thumb, which, I'm told, is a reasonable alternative. All this to say that you need to put a little thought into your Loreto trip.

Jay was under the impression that a fellow cruiser with a car was going to give us all a ride in "either Monday or Tuesday" but, when Tuesday arrived with no word, he kind of gave up on that. Well, he went ashore Tuesday morning and, somehow, got to talking with a taxi driver. The guy wanted the standard $600 but Jay told him that he wasn't some rich gringo and there was no way he could afford that. Ultimately, the cost got down to $400 and he called to see if we were up for it. We wre, indeed, so we headed ashore.

Loreto is a very pretty little town. The taxi let us off in the area around the mission and would be back for us at 2:00. We walked around, had some mocha frappes, visited a farmacía, and a couple of grocery stores.

Look at the size of the mortises and tenons in this door:

Now that's my kind of carpentry!

Jay's favorite place to eat in Loreto is Mexico Lindo so we stopped there for lunch. The food was excellent.

The complimentary chips and salsa was more like a mini nacho plate:

Jay had tostados de pollo:

I had chiles rellenos con carne:

And Lulu, not feeling real well, had sopa de tortillas:

But the real draw of this place, besides the excellent food, was this guy:

He's an amazing artist. I'm ashamed to say that I don't remember what he said his name was. All that design you see is actually made up of what must be literally million of seed beads. And he doesn't have a pattern drawn out, he's just winging it as he goes along.

This is all made of beads just glued down. It's incredible. He also covers cow skulls with beads.

It was very inspiring. I can't imagine the patience required.

Anyway, we really liked Loreto and plan to return soon to spend a couple of days exploring.

6/28/2011 - It'snot like I'm not trying

I have 6 blogs ready to post, most with photos. But I'm having crappy luck with my current internet connections. Tomorrow I'm going to sign up with the PortoBello restaurant and see if I have better luck. Bear with me, por favor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

6/22/2011 - a short hiatus

Yodersafloat will be going on hiatus for a couple of days. We're joining our friend Jay for a fishing excursion around the perimeter of Isla Carmen. When we get back I should have some good fish stories to share as well as a little bit about our first taste of Loreto yesterday. In the meantime, here are some photos of where we are again.

The pools where we chill out most afternoons:

The view from the pool. I don't think you can see Siempre Sabado from here but we're anchored sort of right behind the palm tree in the middle of the photo but way out by the hill. The low points on either side of the hill are Las Ventanas:

The pools are located on the second floor but they're to the right of what you can see in this photo:

During mid-day it's so bright it hurts your eyes:

Have a good couple of days and I'll write when we get back. Hope everyone's first full day of summer is going well. Oh, wait, I just remembered that I have a number of southern hemisphere readers. For you, I hope your first full day of winter is going well.

When TV shows go on hiatus, they run re-runs, or, as they're now called, "encore presentations". Maybe, during our brief hiatus you'd like to go back and read some of our old posts. Like, it might be interesting to see what we were doing last year at this time, or the year before that. Matter of fact, I think I'm going to go back and see.

Hasta luego, amigos.

Monday, June 20, 2011

6/20/2011 - Wasting time

Knowing that we're going to be here in Puerto Escondido until after we return from Oregon in early August makes it easy to put off doing stuff we probably should be doing. Like changing the oil in the engine. Like investigating the water pump issue. I really had great intentions of tackling these items yesterday. But, geez, it was Father's Day and Sunday and I didn't really feel like working. So instead, we just kind of hung around the boat and then, later in the afternoon we headed ashore and sat around in the spa. Spa is sort of a misnomer in this case. It's a shallow, round pool with a seat around the perimeter. The water is ambient temperature which is just fine as a hot tub would be most unpleasant down here. There aren't any water jets running or anything either. So basically it's just a round pool to sit in, cool off, shoot the breeze and enjoy a couple of brewskies, which is exactly what we did. After an hour or so of that, we stopped by the showers to rinse off the chlorinated spa water. Feels pretty weird to walk down to the shower in your dripping swimsuit, climb in, rinse off, and then walk back out to the dinghy still dripping wet. Feels sort of weird but it isn't weird at all here. The temperature is conducive and it's a marina where everyone is in swimsuits or shorts.

Headed back out to Siempre Sabado for a little dinner. Guess what we had for dinner. Give up? Chips and guacamole. That's right, just chips and guacamole. We did it because it sounded good and because we could. Granted, later on I finished the leftover cole slaw and pasta salad, but still..

Later we set up the computer in the cockpit and, under the stars, watched an episode of Kung Fu and one of Vampire Diaries. Ah, life is good.

So, today I had great intentions again. I had originally planned to run the engine to warm up the oil so I could change it. But I decided that I really should take a look at the water pump first to make sure the oil seal wasn't blown allowing seawater to enter the engine that way. But, I made a couple trips ashore to fill our drinking water jugs and then we decided we needed to walk to the store at Tripui to get Lulu some club soda (agua mineral con gas). Once we got back to the boat we felt like we wanted to find a good swimming spot. We dinghied over to "las ventanas" (the windows) to see if the sea on the other side would be a good swimming hole. Puerto Escondido is a little bit too landlocked with a few too many cruising boats to make it feel like a good clean swimming hole.

This is one of the "windows". There are 2 of them. They're just manmade rocky beaches that connect the natural hills surrounding Puerto Escondido.

Anyway, once we got out to the Sea side of the beach, we found the bottom to be much too rocky to be able to provide a comfortable swimming experience without our reef shoes, which we had left onboard. So, it being a bit of a ride from the boat to the beach, we decided to go back to the boat, get our reef shoes, and then dinghy out to the harbor entrance to see how the swimming potential was out there.

The harbor entrance is where the 3-humped hill meets the lighter-colored hill on the left side of the photo.

As we rounded the hill and approached the actual entrance, the swells started getting kind of big and close together for our little dinghy. There were even whitecaps outside. So, we decided to just go to the marina and enjoy a few brews at the spa again. After an hour or more of that, we took showers and headed back to Siempre Sabado again. Once we got home we made dinner. Guess what we had. Give up? Chips and guacamole. That's right, we ate junk for dinner 2 nights in a row. Because we can.

For the last hour or so we've been loafing around, dozing off and on and listening to music. I decided that I really should write a blog even though I (obviously) had nothing to write about. In an hour or so when the sun goes down, we'll be watching our shows in the cockpit again. So it goes.

Maybe tomorrow I'll do something constructive, however, we might have an opportunity to catch a ride in to Loreto and, if that happens, no engine work will get done again. I did get a replacement pump and a pump rebuild kit ordered so I haven't been a complete goof-off. Just mostly. But, really, we won't be heading out of here until the middle of July, so what's the big hurry?

BTW, we'd never survive if it weren't for the shade provided by our awning. We even have side curtains now.

I think we're finally acclimated. When we were in Newport, we would never hide from the sun. Even if it was shining uncomfortably right in our eyes, we never said anything bad about it or hid from it. We were afraid that, if we did, the already way-too-rare sun would make itself even scarcer. But, the sunshine is so common down here, and it gets so hot, that we finally have arrived at that place where we actually seek out shade.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have something real to write about. But then again, maybe not.

(disclaimer: whenever you read something about "us" goofing off, substitute the word "me" instead. Lulu would gladly do constructive stuff almost all the time if it weren't for me playing the little devil on her shoulder saying "Ah, don't sweat it, the work will still be there tomorrow. Go on, have some fun. You deserve it.")

Saturday, June 18, 2011

6/19/2010 - report from the engine room

After putting it off as long as I could today, I climbed back down in the engine compartment to do another couple of chores. My first, and easiest job was to upsize a couple of the wires that I had replaced back when we had our exhaust elbow problem. If you remember, we found a mass of wires that had burned and fused together. I replaced them with what I had readily at hand onboard at the time: AWG #12 wire. This was more than adequate for most of the wires but there were three that were originally #10 wire. The repair worked OK but the engine did seem to have to crank a bit harder when starting than it used to and it didn't turn over as fast. So, today, although I still didn't have any #10 wire on hand, I replaced all three wires with pairs of #12. This should be more than adequate for the job. The job went well and was relatively clean work and, amazingly for an engine room job, everything was easily accessible.

The next part of today's job list consisted of trying to find where in the raw water supply the leak was. I knew it was in the engine compartment and I knew it was near the raw water pump. I opened the raw water inlet valve and watched. Nothing. Wait a little longer. Still nothing. Now I'm a great one for hoping for the best but even I knew that a leak like I was seeing before was not likely to fix itself. I wanted to believe it would but I knew it wouldn't. So, the only thing to do was to fire up the engine and see if it surfaced.

I opened the throttle, turned on the key, pushed the glow plug button and then the starter button. She cranked strong and fast. After a couple of false starts caused by a little air in the fuel lines after yesterday's filter change, the Westerbeke "self-priming" feature took over and did its thing. Once the fuel was flowing freely she kept running. No surge and, unlike how it's been lately, she was even able to keep running at idle before the engine had fully warmed up. So, the larger wires and the fuel filter change both seemed to have worked. Score 2 for our side.

Now, about the leak. I shone my flashlight down and could see water running along the floor. Followed it up and what should I find but water gurgling out of my raw water pump. WTF? This is the pump that I rebuilt in La Paz back in mid-February. We've put a few hours on it since then but not nearly enough to warrant a seal failure. This might also be the source of the water in the crankcase oil. The water spewing out of the pump was right above the crankcase dipstick hole. If the dipstick wasn't seated, it could account for both our loss of oil and our gaining of water. Won't really know for sure until I rebuild the pump AGAIN and then flush some fresh oil through the engine a few times to get rid of the contaminants. If we don't see any signs of water in the oil after that, we're home free. If we do... well, we'll just wait and see and hope for the best.

For the time being, I'm leaving everything alone. No, I take that back. I think I'll cover the dipstick area and then run the engine enough to warm the oil up and then drain it and replace it with some new stuff. Then I'll repeat the process at least once or until the crankcase oil looks good again. Yeah, the pump will be leaking during this but that's what bilge pumps are for. Better than leaving salt water in the engine any longer than necessary.

Of course, I have to order a rebuild kit for the raw water pump from the States. Last time I did that it got here fast enough but the duty was something like 25% on an already expensive kit. Since we have no real reason to leave Puerto Escondido until we return from our visit Stateside, I may just order the parts and have them shipped to our daughter Cody's house and then carry them back down here in our luggage. Sure do wonder what caused the seal to fail but, as we are currently motile, I believe I'll wait until I have a kit in hand before I remove the pump to investigate.

So, there you have it. More adventures in paradise.

Lulu's feeling a little better today. Not great, but better. We're going in to Loreto on either Monday or Tuesday so we'll go to a farmacia and get her whatever she needs. We'll go to one of the consulting physicians associated with the farmacia to find out just what that might be. Today she did a sewing project on one of our sunshades and some general boat cleaning. Oh yeah, and made yogurt, too.

Had Jay from s/v Wind Raven (from Newport, OR just like us) over for dinner tonight. It was only right since he provided the triggerfish filets. He also brought over some excellent guacamole. Of course he denied having any idea how to actually make guacamole but you sure couldn't tell that by how it tasted. Cooked the filets on the BBQ using Mexican charcoal which is chunks of charcoal (not briquettes) made from mesquite. Sure did taste good.

Just so you won't feel too sorry for us here with our engine woes, here's another photo of Agua Verde to put things in perspective:

For the record, we're no longer actually at Agua Verde but Puerto Escondido is nothing to sneeze at either. Without leaving the marina complex there is wifi, a convenience store with cold cerveza, a laundromat, showers (the water is cold but it feels really good that way, and it's not actually cold cold, just quite cool), a boatyard, a travelift, a restaurant, a spa pool and a small lap pool. Then, a short walk will take us to another small tienda, a hotel and a restaurant. So we're definitely not suffering.

So, send us your positive engine vibes and we'll soldier on. Seems like that should be "we'll sailor on". Oh well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

6/17/2011 - This and That

First, let me preface this by mentioning that I'm currently enjoying a mellow buzz brought on by 5 Coronas (did I mention that the beer in Mexico is 4.5% alcohol? Except for that pansy "Lite" crap which is only 3.0-3.5.). Anyway, I'm feeling pretty darn good right about now.

(playing right now: Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels)

So I'm sitting here listening to tunes and decided now was a good time to write a blog. Lulu's been feeling a little punk lately so she's up forward taking a nap, although "feeling punk" didn't stop her from doing laundry earlier today.

I managed to get the secondary fuel filters changed today, both the free-standing one and the one on the engine itself. And, amazingly, I managed to do it with minimum of spilled diesel. (Santana just started playing...) I'm hoping that this will cure the surging issue I mentioned earlier. Tomorrow, I plan to up-size the wire between the alternator and the battery's positive buss and also, to see if I can find and eliminate the source of the seawater leak in the engine room.

Today, we went to "town" (actually an RV park/hotel/restaurant/store). Got some fresh vegetables, some chips, eggs, tortillas, etc. We actually caught a ride on the way there from Dennis from the vessel "Prime Time". He just stopped to see if we wanted a ride and, not knowing the way for sure, we did. (Loggins & Messina)

Okay, here's some miscellaneous stuff from the past few weeks:

Trigger fish: We're really getting to like these little guys. We enjoyed them for dinner in San Evaristo courtesy of Dave on s/v Kievit. Then, when we got here, Jay on s/v Wind Raven (from Newport, OR) turned us on to some trigger fish filets. Good stuff. Trigger fish seem to be pretty prevalent around here and I suspect we'll be eating a lot of them. Jay has promised to take us out and show us how to completely decimate their population.

This is what they look like:

However, this photo just tells part of the story. As you can see from this photo of a desiccated trigger fish, they have some amazing teeth:

There's brief story in "The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing" where the author tells about spearing a trigger fish. Seems that, on the way back to the surface he was holding the fish a little too close and he had a "near religious experience" when it grabbed hold of his left nipple with those teeth. Yikes-O-Rama!

And, speaking of fish, here's my fist big fish, a Crevalle Jack caught between San Evaristo and Agua Verde. It provided enough meat for 5 meals. But, we've decided to try not to catch these bigger fish anymore (except maybe for a Dorado) because it's too likely that some of the meat wil get wasted.

I think we actually enjoyed this little sand bass more than the jack:

I forget for sure where this photo was taken, Ensenada Grande, I think. But it just shows the kind of water we've been anchoring in. Lulu proceeded to jump in right after I snapped this. The water temperature has been somewhere around 80-82 degrees. You can just float around until you get tired. You never have to get out because you're too cold. This is what Lulu has been dreaming of since she was a tadpole.

Here's a photo of the village of Agua Verde. The tienda is off to the right beyond the edge of the photo.

The next to the last day we were there,I dinghied ashore with a bag of garbage. I walked up to a young couple who were doing some work on a panga and watching their children swim. I asked if there was a place around somewhere that I could take a bag of garbage. They said (in Español), "Sure. Just throw it in the back of our pick-up and we'll take care of it." "Really?" "Sí." Do you know if anyone wants these aluminum cans? "Sure, just throw them in the back, too." Wow! Thank you very much! And that's pretty much how it is in these little fishing villages on the Baja so far.

This is where we set up our folding stool so that Lulu could give me a haircut on the beach. Siempre Sabado is anchored in the background, on the left side of this photo.

Here's another shot of Agua Verde with Siempre Sabado anchored way in the background.

(Listening to Buck-O-Nine)

OK, enough for now. It's hot and humid here. Seems weird to have humidity in the desert but, so it goes. Been using our fans a lot, especially to sleep at night. Rigged shades for the side decks as well. And, you know what? It's going to get hotter. Wouldn't be so bad except that we're going to Oregon for about 3 weeks in a month or so. Unless they have a really heavy heat wave while we're there, we are going to get completely un-used to the heat and it's going to knock us on our collective ass when we get back in August. Yikes.

(listening to The Bangles sing "Manic Monday")

OK, hast luego....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

6/15/2011 - Where are we?

Well, we're not where we expected to be tonight. I figured we'd either be at Isla Monserrate, Caleta Candaleros Chico or Bahia Candaleros, maybe even at Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante. I certainly didn't expect to be tied to a mooring ball at Puerto Escondido. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Here's what happened:

We got up as normal with every intention to get underway about 10:00 or so. Had breakfast and went about our normal pre-trip duties. While I was checking the engine oil, I noticed that it was down about a pint or a little more. That seemed a little strange since it hasn't really ever used any oil but I did have to add a little before our last trip. Then, when I took the filler cap off the valve cover to add the oil, there was a bit of the grey sludgy stuff that usually indicates water and oil mixing. But, the oil in the crankcase, at least as it showed on the dipstick, showed no signs of saponification. Not much I could do about it at Agua Verde so I decided to take a chance and go for it. I fired the engine up but it took longer to fire than normal. This has been happening ever since I did the rewiring following the meltdown at Timbabiche. Probably have a too-small wire between the starter and the battery. When the engine did fire up, it kept surging: changing RPMs up and down about 200 RPMs. Didn't seem to matter if I was going 1500 RPMs or 3000, it still kept surging (or maybe the term is "hunting"). This also happened the last time I ran the engine (or was it the time before that?) but it quit after I revved it up a couple of times. It quit this time, too, but not until I dropped down to idle speed. And the surge didn't come back after that.

I thought it might be a fuel problem and so, decided to switch primary fuel filters. I was operating on a clean one but it seemed like ever since I changed filters last time and switched to this one (remember: I have two filters in parallel) it's been taking a bit longer to start and it certainly didn't surge before that. That's probably bogus, but a guy grasps at straws sometimes. Anyway, I opened the engine compartment door to change filters and, in doing so, found a very hot wire between the battery and the alternator and from there to the starter. Switched filters but it didn't miraculously change anything. It wasn't until I dropped the RPMs way down that the surge stopped.

So, anyway, we got underway alright and proceeded to motor towards our next destination. Did I mention that there hasn't been any wind for the last 4 days at least? On my mind were three items: Where did the oil go? Where did the water under the valve cover come from? and Why is the engine surging? Oh yeah, and why is it so hard to start now?

But that's only 4 things and they all have to do with the single most expensive item on the boat, the diesel engine. Surely there's something else I could worry about. Turns out there was, although it's probably not near as big a deal.

Lately, when we've been motoring along, the bilge pump occasionally comes on and won't shut off. Well, the reason it won't shut off is because it's just sitting loose in the bilge and the float switch gets hung up on the sidewall and won't drop. But why is it coming on? After the last time it got hung up, I decided to take it out of AUTO so as not to drain the battery. Figured I'd just run it in HAND periodically. Well, I did that and a lot more water pumped out than I would have thought likely. A few more hours and I pumped a bunch out again. OK, where the heck is this water coming from? And why?

I checked the under-the-sink thru-hulls. All nice and dry. Checked the dripless seal on the drive shaft. No water there. That just left the thru-hull for the engine cooling water. The engine was running but I shined a flashlight down in the vicinity of the thru-hull and did see some signs of water dripping. Then I looked down in the under-the-engine sump and, sure enough, there was a trickle of water. Wasn't much at all but it was steady. So now I have to figure out WTF is going on there.

All of these things led us to decide to head to Puerto Escondido instead of one of our previous destinations. Why? At PE there's a travelift in case we need to get pulled out of the water, the marina is only 10 miles from Loreto which is a fairly large town, and, if we have to leave the boat to take a bus back to La Paz for parts or anything, at PE we're tied to a mooring ball instead of being on an anchor and it's a great hurricane hole just in case.

The inner harbor is almost landlocked which is what makes it such a good hurricane hole. In the photo, you see the two flat pieces connecting the hills on either side with the one in the middle? These are called "the windows". If you look at the window on the right and start counting boats, we're about where the third boat down is.

PE also has wireless internet, showers, garbage service, a fuel dock, a small restaurant/bar, a mini super (which is what little convenience stores are called down here), a laundromat, etc. We can even join the HPYC (Hidden Port Yacht Club) which will give us access to book and movie exchange as well as let us get mail sent here. I signed us up for a week and we'll see where it goes from there. We'd already decided that we're going to ;eave the boat here when we fly to Oregon next month rather than at Santa Rosalia. It's cheaper here and Sta. Rosalia isn't exactly a great hurricane hole. We definitely want to spend a few days exploring Loreto and there's supposed to be a great burger place down the road (Del Borracho) run by a former biker, or so I've been told. They're also famous for their Sunday brunch.

So, that's where we are and why we are where we are. Wish me luck on my engine stuff and I'll try to get some photos of our previous stops posted in the next few days.

PS: My first move on the engine to eliminate the surging is going to be to change the secondary fuel filters. It's been quite a long time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

6/13/2011 - another fine agua verde day

Today we got ambitious and decided to hike from our beach to the beach adjacent to the "choice" anchorage. We had dinghied there previously but thought it might be fun to walk it and we also felt like our legs could use some exercise. Because of the vertical cliffs between here and there, you can't just walk along the beach. Instead you have to follow the road around the backside of the hills between here and there. Of course this meant we had to walk a couple miles to go about 1/4 mile. It was quite warm today and the road was hot and dusty. We were both quite sweaty but it sure felt good when we'd catch a breeze. There are many roads around here, all dirt, and none marked in any way. So, even though the route was pretty obvious, we set up stone cairns at any junction that even had the slightest chance of ambiguity.

When we got over to the other beach we were awed by the color and clarity of the water. We weren't, however, awed by the smell, at least not in a good way. There's a beach between a couple of big rocks that had a couple piles of drying fish remnants. YEESH! Once we got upwind of the piles, it was fun to explore the tidepools and beaches. We saw desiccated triggerfish corpses as well as the dried up skulls of a couple of small sharks.

Eventually we had our fill of poking around and hiked back to our side of the bay. Stopped in at the tienda to get something cold to drink and see if they had any queso de chevre yet. No goat cheese but we got a couple cans of mango juice and some more refried beans and then returned to the boat.

Spent most of the afternoon loafing. Lulu read and I finished putting together a couple of iTunes playlists to use on the iPod. About 5:00 we loaded the snorkels, etc. in the dinghy and headed over to the beach on the other side of us. We spent an hour or so swimming and snorkeling. The snorkeling was less than spectacular. We saw a few brittle stars, some sergeant major fish and, of course, puffers. Lulu went further than I did and saw a couple skates (or rays) and some scallops. But the main thing is we cooled off which was the real purpose of the dip. Dinghied back to Siempre Sabado and jumped in again to wash our hair followed by a freshwater rinse. The solar shower wasn't quite as hot today but it was still plenty hot. Going to try to remember to put a towel over it tomorrow in the early afternoon.

We had nachos for dinner again tonight. We've adopted Marj's approach to nachos. Instead of piling all the stuff on top of chips which get soggy, she just used the nacho makings as a dip. Works way better for us. Probably not technically nachos anymore but, who cares?

I'm sitting in the cockpit as I write this. I just looked around and noticed it's really dark all of a sudden. Time to tie this up and set up the Mac for watching a couple shows in the cockpit. The current plan is to stay one more day and then head out again on Wednesday morning. Not sure if we'll go to Isla Santa Catalina, Isla Monserrate, or Bahia Candeleros Chico. Guess we'll know when we get there.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

6/12/2011 - a very nice day at anchor

Anchored at Bahia Agua Verde.

We slept in this morning. Well, I got up at about 7:30 which is a little late for me but Lulu managed to stay in bed until after 9;00. After a slow relaxed breakfast, we both got to work. I needed to assemble and launch the dinghy and Lulu had laundry to run through the wringer and then hang on the lifelines to dry.

BTW: If anyone from Silver Crest School is reading this, Lulu asked me to pass on to you that she really LOVES her wringer. Laundry day would be a much larger chore without it. She'd probably perish from terminal carpal tunnel syndrome if she had to wring out all the clothes by hand. So thank you all for a very appropriate and much appreciated going away gift. And I'm sure she wouldn't mind if some of you sent her the occasional e-mail (theyoders@earthlink.net).

Once these chores were done, we fired up the dinghy and went out to get a lay of the bay. The area where most of the boats are anchored is pretty shallow but the water is SO pretty. It's aqua-colored and swimming cool clear. There's another area to the east of us that is even prettier, and is more private. I think we're going to take the dink over there tomorrow to spend the day swimming and maybe snorkeling a bit.

We beached the dinghy and went ashore in search of the tienda and the restaurant. Agua Verde has a little more of a community feel than San Evaristo had. We passed the school and lots of little houses. There were goats grazing all over. Most had no tethers of any kind. The village is criss-crossed with dirt roads that seem to have no real rhyme or reason. They certainly don't run at right angles to each other. We saw a building that might have been the tienda. It was orange on the bottom with a purple boot stripe and then white from there on up. There was a sign out front that, among a bunch of other words, said "tienda communidad". It was open so we went on in. The main room was pretty empty. There were some boxes of produce against one wall. We got some avocados and tomatoes. The senora who was running the place then directed us to a top-loading refrigerator where she had some more vegetables (we got a couple chayotes a Mexican summer squash very similar to zucchini, and a bottle of water), some cheese (but no goat cheese), hot dogs, etc. Then she directed us through another door into the back room which is where all the non-perishables were. We bought some refried beans and corn. While she was adding up the bill, she took the lid off a pot that had some empenadas frijoles in it. We bought a couple. Loaded up we headed down the road. We decided to have the empenadas as a walking snack. WOW! La Senora must have seen us coming. These things were SO stale! And it didn't help that the pastry was sweet and tasted like a raised donut. We had a bite or two each and decided we could do without the rest.

Back at the boat, I got to work on making some playlists for our iPod. What a chore! I must have worked on it for 2 hours and I'm only up to the artists whose names start with "J". Decided to wait and work on it some more tomorrow.

By about 5:00 we were both pretty hot so we decided to jump in the water to cool off and maybe wash our hair while we were at it. I took my mask, snorkel and a scraper and scraped some barnacles off the hull as long as I was in the water anyway. After we got back aboard we hoisted the solar shower to rinse off with fresh water. I went first and HOLY CRAP! That water was HOT! Actually had to add some "cold" water from our tank to keep it from scalding us.

We ate a plate of nachos in the cockpit for dinner. Pretty soon we'll bring the computer out in the cockpit so we can watch a couple of shows under the stars. We did that for the first time last night and it was really nice. It was hot down below but out in the cockpit we caught the occasional breeze. I suspect we'll do more show-watching in the cockpit rather than down below from now until summer's over. It's really a very pleasant way to spend an evening.

That's about it for today.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

6/11/2011 - Los Gatos to Agua Verde

What a perfect evening! It's 7:00 PM and I'm sitting in the cockpit with just a swimming suit on. The air is soft and balmy. Before the sun went down it was a wee bit warm but we solved that by jumping in the 80 degree water, and this time we took shampoo with us. Don't seem to be any bee issues and I suspect that's because there's a small fishing community here. Some of the families also raise dairy goats and, what with the watering troughs, etc., I would guess the bees don't have to look too hard to find a drink of fresh water like they did in the uninhabited Puerto Los Gatos. Anyway, we just finished dinner and I'm sitting here listening to a music mix that's included the Bonedaddies, Jimmy Buffett, Keith Sykes, Sheryl Crow, Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley, Loggins & Messina, Steel Pulse, Leon Russell, Toots and the Maytals, and Nicolette Larson so far. Life is good.

We left Los Gatos about 1030. The bees were hovering outside the screened companionway daring us to open it. But, by the time we left, they were gone. Maybe it was too hot for them by then. Looking at the GRIB files (wind speed and direction information downloaded to our SSB radio), it was pretty evident that we wouldn't be sailing today. Since the trip was only 18 nautical miles, we opted to leave the cockpit shade up. I wouldn't normally do that since we'd have to take it down before we could use the mainsail but yesterday it was SO HOT in the cockpit that we decided to risk it. The shade was really welcome on the trip. Guess we'll have to figure out some way to make a shade cover that we can use while sailing. Probably going to have to move that damn mainsheet traveler after all.

Arrived at Agua Verde and anchored in 16-20 feet of very clear water on 100' of chain. Anchor was secure at 1430. We're anchored in the center part of the bahia. There are 3 sailboats anchored up in the "choice" spot. That's the only place that has even minimal protection from north winds but, once again, the GRIB files didn't show any significant north winds for the next 72 hours. We're anchored all by ourselves near the beach.

This is a fishing and goating village. There are a bunch of open palapas along the beach and lots of pangas anchored right along the beach with a few pulled up on dry land. There are also some goat pens although we'll have to go ashore to see those. Agua Verde is famous, at least among cruisers, for its fresh goat cheese. There's supposed to be a little tienda and maybe even a restaurant ashore. We'll put the dinghy together and go exploring tomorrow. The plan right now is to stay here at least a couple of days. and, with us, "a couple of days" can easily turn into a week. We'll see.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

6/10/2011 - San Evaristo to Puerto Los Gatos

We got up relatively early today to head to Puerto Los Gatos, 28 nautical miles away. Had breakfast, secured the boat, checked the vital fluids and were underway at about 0910. It was a beautiful morning with just a little bit of a breeze out of the north. We were headed NW-ish and probably could have sailed but, as the wind was light, it would have been slow and besides, we needed to run the engine to charge the batteries and make water.

About the time we straightened out our course after leaving the bahia, I decided to let out our trolling handline, the one on the yo-yo reel that was given to us by a circumnavigator named Davey while we were still in Newport. I've dragged it behind the boat before but never got so much as a nibble, at least that I knew of. Of course, since the line is umpteen-hundred pound test (looks a lot like weedeater cord), it'd take a pretty good hit to notice. This time I drug a Rapala lure that is supposed to represent a baby dorado, think. It was given to me as a 60th birthday present by Chuck on s/v Jacaranda. I don't think the lure was in the water for 10 minutes before I heard something. I turned and looked and the surgical tubing that is used as a shock absorber on the line was stretched taut. Then, the ages old, rotten tubing parted but fortunately there's a line running inside it. I gave a tentative pull on the line and there was definitely something heavy at the other end. I slowed the boat and hollered to Lulu to bring my some gloves as I started to pull the line in. She asked if I wanted the net and I said that maybe the gaff hook would be better so she got that too.

Whatever it was wasn't putting up much of a fight but maybe getting drug along through the water at 4 knots takes the fight out of you. Finally got the fish near the boat. Couldn't quite make out what it was as it was still under water. At first I thought it was a shark, then a dorado, then a yellowfin tuna. When I finally got it right alongside the boat it was obvious it was none of these. Probably some sort of jack. Time enough to look it up once he'd been boated. Drug him along a little longer to thoroughly tire him out and then, when the time seemed right, I gaffed him. Tough skin! I got him right behind the gill and it seemed to be a solid connection. Drug him aboard and laid him out on the side deck.

This was a pretty darn big fish. It was close to 30" long and had to weigh 30-35 lbs. While I was sending him to his great reward, Lulu looked him up in our fish book and determined that he was a Crevalle Jack, and a pretty large example of one, too. Although the book says that its edibility is "fair" and that some folks object to the taste of the larger jacks, we decided to try it anyway. I cut off 2 huge slabs of meat and then tossed the carcass overboard. Now the fun began.

Big fish make a big mess. I managed to keep most of it to the side deck but still... However, I eventually got all the blood washed overboard and things back to normal. Decided that, with that much fish aboard it was time to hang up the handline for awhile.

The remainder of the trip was very uneventful. Lulu worked on a modification to the hatch screens so that she could add a layer of no-see-um proof screen when necessary. I mostly read and watched the scenery go by. We arrived at Puerto Los Gatos at 1600. Managed to bring the batteries back up to 82% (85% is our normal goal) and make 42 gallons of drinking water. The first place we anchored ended up being in the Great Los Gatos Garbage Gyre. We were right in the middle of a big raft of seaweed with dead fish and such floating in it. Decided that would be a sucky place to try to take a dip so we moved to a new spot. This was pretty easy as there was only one other boat here and it was anchored at the other end of the bay.

Once we re-anchored, we started noticing a few bees. We quickly put the screens in place, made sure there was NO fresh water on deck, and started swatting, hoping to kill the scout(s). Then, being as it was sweltering and we were both WAY hot, we decided to take a dip to cool off. The water was very comfortable and not even a little bit of a shock, temperature-wise. After 20 minutes or so, we climbed back aboard, thoroughly cooled down.

Although I don't really mind if salt water dries on my skin, it makes Lulu itch. That meant a freshwater rinse-off was in order and that meant: BEES! I stood by with the flyswatter while she rushed through her shower. Then she dashed below and I sluiced the deck down with salt water to get rid of any trace of fresh. The bees came anyway. Not a huge number but enough to keep me busy swatting. Eventually they must have gotten the idea that there was no available fresh water here as their visits began to wind down. Of course, this may have also had something to do with the fact it was nearing sunset. We were both really glad that we had put the effort in to get the screens done before we got here.

For dinner, I fired up the charcoal grill and baked a couple spuds, grilled some carrots and peppers and then cooked both the jack and some triggerfish filets that Dave (Kievit) had given us. The reason I cooked so much fish was because we wanted to try the jack to see if we wanted to keep the rest. The meat is bright red and looks for all the world like beef. Once it's cooked, it turns brown and still looks like beef. Maybe this is what people object to. I'm not sure as we liked it just fine. Lulu seasoned it with our no-fail fish condiment: garlic salt and lemon pepper. She had cut the 2 slabs in to 3 pieces each and I cooked just one. It was still huge. Looked like a small roast. Cooked it skin-side down over the coals for about 1/2 hour. Should have gone a few more minutes but most of it was done. We tried it and decided it tasted just like fish. So, it looks like we have fish for dinner for at least the next 3 days. The skin and the not-quite-done portions went overboard and the local sergeant majors, puffers, and needle fish were quite happy about it.

We're not sure we want to fish for big fish like this anymore, though. Guess it depends on how lucky I am landing smaller pan-size fish at anchor. We don't want to waste fish and this much is almost too much for just the two of us. And they do make a big mess. However, better big fish than no fish so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Tomorrow we'll get up at a more leisurely hour and wend our way 18 nautical miles to Agua Verde, new territory for us.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

6/9/2011 - Last day @ San Evaristo

Yesterday afternoon:

"Kievit, Kievit, Siempre Sabado."
"Kievit here."
"Let's go to channel 17"
"Okay, what the heck are you doing back here?"
"Well, we have some stories to tell. Want to hear them?"

Our friends Dave, Marj and Claire on Kievit left yesterday to go across the San Jose Channel to spend some time at Bahia Amortajada on Isla San Jose. But late yesterday afternoon we saw a sailboat entering the anchorage at San Evaristo. When they got close enough, we realized that it was Kievit. Turns out they were driven out of Bahia Amortajada by the scourge of summertime travelers in the Sea of Cortez: BEES!

We've read about this and heard about it but so far haven't experienced it. Apparently, honeybees get pretty darn thirsty down here, it being a desert and all. When a new cruising boat enters an uninhabited bahia, a couple of scout bees head out to check things out. If they find any fresh water (a wet washcloth, a little puddle in the sink, whatever) they head back ashore and tell all their friends, Next thing you know, the cruising boat is inundated by hundreds of bees looking for a drink of fresh water. The trick is to either kill the scout or not leave any traces of fresh water anywhere.

The crew of Kievit dropped anchor in Bahia Amortajada and headed off in the dinghy to check out the adjacent lagoon. It being very hot, they left the boat open so it could air out and not get too stuffy. When they returned they found hundreds of bees in the cabin. There were a couple of cups with a little bit of fresh water in them in the sink and the bees were piled in so deep that the bottom ones had drowned. They shooed them as much as they could, fired up the engine and got the hell outa Dodge. San Evaristo was the logical place to return to.

This worked out well for us because it inspired Lulu to finish the companionway bug screen. This was the only opening left that wasn't screened and now it will be. Besides that, Dave came over and got me and we took his dinghy out to do a little fishing.

We found a sweet spot that we drifted over a few times. Every drift, Dave would tag at least one good-size trigger fish. I had a few on the line but lost them all. The only pole I had suitable for what we were doing was my little ultra-light trout pole. Unfortunately, it was strung with 4 lb. test monofilament that must be at least 30 years old. First hit, the fish just snapped the line, taking my hook, lure, weight, everything. Next time, I lightened the drag a lot. Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn't really set the hook as it would probably just snap the line again. So, I had to hope the fish hooked themselves. They didn't. I managed to play a few of them but ultimately they all were able to spit the hook out before I got them near the boat. Dave caught 5 nice trigger fish before we were both too damn hot to continue. Back aboard Kievit, Dave gave me some smaller hooks and heftier line so next time I just have to blame myself rather than my equipment if the fish get away. He gave us the filets from 3 of the 5 fish as well. Later in the afternoon, Marj made a big batch of nachos. This turned out to be enough for lunner so we'll wait until tomorrow to cook the fish.

It was quite hot today. Everybody ultimately ended up in the water to cool down. BTW, the water temperature has come up enough that getting in the water is no longer even a little bit of a shock.

This evening, we folded and stowed the dinghy and generally got the big stuff ready for departure. The plan is to leave tomorrow morning, relatively early. We need to charge the batteries and run the watermaker so the totally windless morning will work out just fine. Next stop: Bahia Los Gatos.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

6/8/2011 - Jobs

Our Frigoboat keel-cooled refrigerator has a plate bolted to the outside of the hull that acts as the heat exchanger. Same thing as the fan and radiator set-up on your home fridge but, instead of dissipating the heat removed from the refrigerator into the surrounding air, our heat is dissipated into the surrounding water. Anyway, the plate is made of bronze, I believe. "Sintered" bronze to be more descriptive. In order that electrolysis doesn't dissolve this plate into nothingness it's protected by 2 sacrificial zinc anodes. Last time these zincs were examined was back in the boatyard in Newport, OR. It was time to take a look. Past time actually. Of course, this is an underwater job so it falls to Lulu.

So, yesterday morning was the day. Dave from s/v Kievit offered to loan us his hookah, which is a 12VDC compressor attached to a really long hose and regulator. You basically use it like an aqua-lung except that all you have to carry is the hose. The "lung" remains on deck. I ran a piece of line around and under the boat so Lulu would have something to grab to help hold herself down and Dave also loaned her a 10 lb. weightbelt. With these and armed with an allen wrench, down she went. Sure enough, the zincs were completely gone but she said that the plate still looked OK. So, she installed a new set of zincs nice and tight and that was that. Today she's suffering from a few barnacle cuts but don't worry, she's treating them with Neosporin. She managed to do this job without dropping anything to the bottom. And that includes when she had to hold a zinc with its machine screw in one hand and the allen wrench in the other. Good job, Looie!

Today I had two jobs, one fun and one not. First the un-fun one:

We've had some minor mechanical problems with our Airhead composter lately. There's a little lever handle that opens the trap door to allow poo into the compost bucket. Several times, the handle has come off. It's held on to the actuator rod by a set screw that is very tough to turn. The last time it came off, the setscrew head was all boogered up and I decided to replace the lever with a small pair of vise-grips. But that wasn't the unpleasant job. When the trap door is opened, a spring holds it open and, when it's closed, the same spring holds it closed. Awhile ago, we heard a SNAP! After that, the trap door wouldn't stay open. I had to pull the bowl off the compost bucket and try to reattach the spring. It's a lot harder than it sounds and took me the better part of an hour. Well, about a week ago, it happened again. So, my unpleasant job today was to open the toilet up again and reattach the spring again. Of course, the light in the head is fine for reading the Bathroom Reader while sitting on the pot but it's dismal for doing any kind of close-up work. And then, there's that open compost bucket staring at me the whole time just waiting for me to drop something into it. As it happens, I did drop the cotter pin that holds the spring, but not into the compost bucket. No, I dropped it right down the sink drain! So, now I had to close the thru-hull, disconnect the drain hose and hope the pin was still there. Fortunately, it was, I'm sure you realize that to take the drain apart required me to empty about half of the stuff that's stored under the sink. And, of course, it's 90 degrees and I'm sweating like a pig throughout this ordeal. To top it off, the parts on the trap door lever are getting worn and I have no confidence that this fix is going to hold. In fairness, I e-mailed Geoff Trott at AirHead and he's sending me some new parts gratis since there have been some design improvements since my unit was built. I just hope the repairs hold until we get the parts, otherwise we have to hold the door lever open while taking care of business. And, since that's normally my page-turning hand....

Now for my pleasant job: I had to spend several hours today fishing to try to provide some protein for the table. I lucked out almost immediately and caught a little sand bass of some sort. Not very big but plenty for one person. Now I just had to catch one more to make dinner complete. Well, I caught 2 triggerfish that were too small to keep, although triggerfish is actually what I was going for. And I caught way too many puffer fish. Either that or I caught the same one over and over again. These guys are a wee bit too poisonous to eat. They are also tough!. They can chew right through nylon fishing line and one actually turned a treble hook into a double hook in which only one of the remaining hooks was usable. The other was bent into a circle. I'll post a photo when we're back in internet land. Anyway, try as I might I could not land a second keeper fish for dinner. Guess I'll just have to try harder tomorrow. We did eat the bass and it was delicious.

I suspect we'll spend one more full day here and then head north on Thursday.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

6/5/2011 - Ensenada Grande to San Evaristo

Last night could not have been more different from the night before. It was totally still. Hot and muggy and absolutely no breeze.

Got up fairly early today and had a cup of coffee in the cockpit. Saw a big sea turtle swim by close enough to hear him breathe. Lots of small manta rays jumping out of the water and doing belly flops back in. After an unhurried breakfast, we upped anchor and departed Ensenada Grande about 0915. Put the mainsail up right away but there was really no breeze to speak of when we left. Probably about halfway into our 28 mile trip, the wind started to pick up. Unfurled the jib and the staysail and trimmed them for a broad reach. In the past, when I've talked about "motorsailing" it's really meant "motoring with a sail up". The sail in question is the main and it's primary duty in those situations was to steady the boat, not to drive it. Today we did true motorsailing. That is, we were motoring along at about 4.5 knots with the motor turning about 2200 RPMs. After hoisting all sails and trimming them we were going 6 knots which is pretty close to the maximum possible theoretical speed (hull speed) of this boat. Although we had enough wind to just sail, we wouldn't have been making any 6 knots so we decided to leave the motor running and get some benefit from all our modes of propulsion.

Had a great motorsail for a couple of hours and then the wind started to die. And then it picked back up but from dead ahead. First we furled the headsails but, after awhile the seas started to get rough and the main wasn't doing us any good so we struck it as well. Most of the trip was very smooth and placid but the last hour and a half was anything but. Started getting swells with whitecaps directly out of the north down the San Jose Channel. Not as bad as our first crossing from Isla San Francisco to San Evaristo but still pretty wet. Lulu took care of securing the forward bunk so it wouldn't get wet if we had any leaks like last time and I hand-steered as these were the exact same conditions that kept the autopilot from doing a good job last time.

Finally got into the bay at San Evaristo and were securely anchored at 1530. And I mean SECURELY anchored. Thought the chain was going to pull the windlass right off the foredeck when the anchor set. Better that than yesterday when I never really felt like the anchor dug in. Turned out there was a good reason for that. When I raised the anchor this morning, there was a big old rock sitting right on top of the "plow". Finally fell off when I tipped the anchor to stow it.

We've decided to spend a couple days here. I need to fix the gas leak on the Nissan outboard and we just feel like kicking back for a day or two. Supposedly there are going to be big swells out of the north tomorrow but that prediction may have been off by a day as that's what we got today. However, also supposed to be some 20 knot winds out of the north coming in the next day or two. San Evaristo seems like a good place to wait those out.

Had dinner and played cards with Dave, Marj and Claire on s/v Kievit this evening.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

6/4/2011 - Balandra to Ensenada Grande

It blew like stink last night. Yeah, I know that doesn't make sense but, nevertheless, that's a common term heard among sailors. I assume it was a coromuel since it was out of the SW-ish. All I know for sure is that the wind came up about sundown and continued to blow like crazy all night long. One time I got up and took my handheld meter out and read a steady 15-17 knots with occasional gusts to 23 knots. Fortunately, there was no room for seas to build up so it wasn't particularly uncomfortable. We got up at our regular rising time, had a leisurely breakfast and, by 10:00 were on our way to Ensenada Grande. Of course, by then there was absolutely NO wind. Just before we reached EG we got a little bit of wind but by then we were there so today was another of our many motor boat rides.

It was an uneventful trip. When we got to EG there was only one other boat but, by dark there were about 8 boats anchored. We were sitting in the cockpit when we heard "Siempre Sabado, Siempre Sabado, this is Kievit" on the VHF. I'm not sure who was more surprised, us to hear our name called or them to get a response. They were a few miles north of EG watching whales and dolphins and planned to spend the night here at EG. After they anchored, Lulu got her swim in by swimming over to say "Hello". They invited us to dinner (sushi) and we weren't about to turn them down.

Since we're just here overnight, we opted to not launch the PortaBote but instead to just blow up the Sevylor "Fiji" 2-man kayak. What a mistake. What a piece of crap. I don't think we saved any time at all. Besides that, while we were paddling over to Kievit, we could not make the thing go straight. Any little gust of wind (we thought) would start us turning one direction and it was almost impossible to correct the turn. But, once we did get going the other way, more often than not we would just keep going. Traveling in a straight line was apparently not what these boats were designed to do.

We had a very pleasant evening on Kievit eating sushi, watching the turtles swimming around, watching the manta rays jump out of the water, playing "Oh Hell" (a card game), and just visiting. When it came time to paddle back home I was encouraged as there was absolutely not a breath of wind to screw us up. However, as it turns out, the Sevylor doesn't need wind to screw us up. It's more than capable of doing that all on its own. We actually turned a full 360 degree circle on the way back because I couldn't correct the turn. Very embarrassing - so glad it was dark. Anyway, we'll be unloading this hunk of junk at the first opportunity and looking for something else to use as a back-up dinghy. In the meantime, we'll just launch the PortaBote.

Today's trip was all of 16 nautical miles and took us about 3.5 hours. Tomorrow's trip, to San Evaristo, will be about 28 miles and will probably take 6-7 hours, depending on wind availability. As long as we leave by 10:00 again, we should be good.

And that's it for today. It's very still outside. Warm and humid too. Very different from last night.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

6/3/2011 - La Paz to Balandra

We departed La Paz today right on time: 1240. The ebbing tide helped carry us out. It took us awhile to get everything ready to go. Amazing how unprepared your boat can become in only a couple weeks. But we got it all taken care of. Lulu took charge of getting things stowed and secured down below and I took care of the topsides. We both worked together to fold and stow the dinghy.

As per usual, there was pretty much no wind once we actually started moving. But that's okay as the batteries needed some charging anyway. Originally we planned to go to Ensenada Grande but, after looking at the logbook to see how long it took us to get to LP from EG we realized that we wouldn't get there until 1930 or so. We decided to skip it and just go to the first stop along the way: Bahia Falsa.

We needed to calibrate the flux gate compass in our new autopilot. This allows the a/p to compensate for any large metal items or magnets that happen to be near the compass. What we do is push a couple of buttons on the a/p and then slowly motor in a circle 1.25 times. The first time, at the end, the long beep told us that the calibration failed. We tried again: another failure. One more time: failed. I don't think there are any particularly large pieces of metal and certainly no magnets near the a/p so I don't know why it's failing. However, I treated it like it had passed the test and guess what? It worked just fine. I think it just needed someone to believe in it. We must have looked pretty strange as we turned about 7 full circles out in the bay before we were through.

By 1400 we were ready to pull in to Bahia Falsa but that just seemed too early so we opted instead to go to Puerto Balandra where we'd never anchored before. We got to Balandra right on time, about 1630. By 1640 we were securely anchored in 19' of water on 120' of chain in a sand bottom with water so clear we could see the anchor chain laying on the bottom. After we got things secured, Lulu jumped in the water for her cooling-down swim. I stayed aboard and cranked up the Bob Marley and finished the porthole screens. This is another one of those picture-perfect anchorages.

We'll just be here overnight and then we're off to Ensenada Grande, or I suppose, if it looks like we're going to get there too early, Isla San Francisco. But, since we have no plans to get up early tomorrow, I suspect we'll just go to EG. We're going to kind of rush through these first few anchorages so we can get to some new territory. Then we'll slow down.

It's blowing like crazy right now and has been since early evening (it's 2230 now). But we're securely anchored and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of rolly seas to accompany the wind, so we're good. There is some cell coverage here but it's kind of off-and-on so I decided to send this via the radio waves.

We are so glad to be back out again. We love La Paz but we really missed the cruising lifestyle we'd gotten used to before we had to return for repairs. Things are just slower and simpler. And we get to wear fewer clothes. Bet you're glad we can't send pictures now, huh?

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

6/2/2011 - Leaving tomorrow

If nothing goes wrong, we should be heading out with the ebbing tide sometime after 12:30 tomorrow afternoon. Got all the repairs made and the victuals bought and stowed. Laundry's done and we both took real showers today. Tomorrow morning we'll get up whenever and then we have to stow the dinghy and outboard, secure the crap on deck, check the engine's vital fluids, stow the Honda generator, rig the windvane and secure stuff belowdecks. Then, as soon as the tide shifts at about 12:38 PM, we are outa here. Really looking forward to getting back to the cruising life.

Dave and Marj (and granddaughter, Claire) brought us our repair parts on Monday and I got everything installed on Tuesday.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about when I refer to the "mixing elbow" that crapped out, a brief explanation:

Not all diesel engines on boats are set up this way but most of the ones on sailboats are. The sea water we're floating in is used to cool the engine, either directly or indirectly. If cooled directly, the seawater just runs through the engine; cool water in, hot water out = cool engine. If indirectly (or "freshwater") cooled, the sea water runs through a heat exchanger, like your car's radiator, where it cools the fresh water or, more likely, antifreeze before being discharged. Okay, so far?

Okay. Using a standard automotive-type exhaust pipe solution wouldn't work too well on a sailboat. The exhaust, and therefore the exhaust pipe, get blazingly hot. As it passed through the deck or hull on it's way off the boat, the pipe would have to be carefully insulated to keep it from setting the boat on fire. Also, on a sailboat especially, where the heck would you run a hot exhaust pipe so that it wouldn't be a hazard?

So, now we have a hot exhaust pipe and a bunch of spent cooling water. Hmmm.... what to do, what to do? Well some brilliant marine engineer came up with the bright idea of mixing the spent cooling water with the hot exhaust to cool the exhaust and thus, cool the exhaust pipe. And, amazingly enough, this idea actually works. It works so well that we are able to use heavy rubber hose as an exhaust pipe. This makes engine installation in some of the unbelievably cramped engine areas much easier than it would be if we had to use rigid pipe.

So, there's the concept. Where the spent cooling water meets the hot exhaust is called the mixing elbow. These things are very prone to failure (the one on our old boat failed, too) due to the corrosive mixture of hot salt water and hot, sulfurous exhaust smoke. The elbows are heavily built but, let's face it, with that kind of brew to deal with, failure is only a matter of time. And, sure enough, that's what forced us back to La Paz a couple weeks ago.

As I blogged about before, here's a photo of my makeshift repair which stood us in good stead:

The elbow is the big thing on the right-hand side of the photo, the thing that the rubber hose is attached to. The elbow is fine. It's just that the flange that allows it to be clamped to the heat exchanger rotted off and I had to find a new way to connect them. Under the rubber jacket that was formed when the Rescue Tape self-amalgamated, is a collection of tin cans and hose clamps:

In the above photo, you can see how the Rescue Tape became a solid rubber jacket. The inner layer was the black tape that I used first. The red layer was added later and probably wasn't necessary but made me feel better. The tape was really easy to remove as it didn't stick to anything but itself. Just ran a blade along it and it burst open like the skin on a precision-cooked hot dog. It also came off in one piece.

Hooking the new elbow up was a job a few minutes and here it is all clamped up properly:

Dave & Marj also brought down our new Simrad TP-32 tillerpilot (autopilot). It's almost exactly the same size as the Autohelm 800 it's replacing. Almost. I did have to move the mounting plate to the opposite side of the boat to make it fit right. And wire in the new plug-in, but that was it.

We did a big provisioning (grocery shopping) trip yesterday. Wednesday is a really good day to go grocery shopping here as that's the day they get a bunch of fresh produce and they have really good prices on it on Wednesday. How does $0.12/lb. for cabbage, $0.16/lb. for cucumbers, $0.31/lb. for mangos, $0.13/lb for limones, or $0.04/bundle for spinach sound? After Lulu gets this bounty back to the boat she washes it all and then has to find somewhere to let it dry. In this case she used our bed:

Those little red things are potatoes. We also got some regular sized spuds. Potatoes cost more here, mostly because they're sold individually since spuds aren't a huge part of the diet. But the spuds they sell are really nice and keep extremely well.

So, we're all set to go. Running the generator tonight to bring the batteries up and running the watermaker at the same time. For the next week or so, we'll be out of internet range so blogs will be posted via Sailmail, hence, no pictures. Once we get to Puerto Escondido, we'll put some photos up. Go the to the "Find us" blog of a few days ago to get the links so you can follow our progress. I'll update our position every day, if I can.

And, with that, hasta luego.