Archive for March, 2013

Back in La Paz

El Cid Mazatlan to La Paz
We spent 4 enjoyable days in the marina at El Cid, using their facilities, & their free shuttle to their other resorts, which were further down town & within walking distance of many places we wanted to go. The days were nice, but too cold for me to get in the pool, although there were lots of other people using the pools, I think they were from cold areas & our weather was warm to them. I guess Caesar & I are becoming wimps. We were waiting for a weather window to depart, only needing fuel & ice to get under way. We had already provisioned & it looked like Saturday we could leave. After getting the weather report Saturday morning we readied the boat & headed to the fuel dock. We quickly became 2nd class citizens when a Mexican boat got to fuel while we set & waited. He was taking on gasoline for a large power boat, but in any case we needed to get ice. Finally we moved forward into position, then more waiting, in retrospect I wish now it had been an hour longer as it would turn out. We finally got our fuel & headed out to sea, needing to cross the bar again, but this time the tide was coming in along with the waves. They were large, but nothing like we had experienced coming in. I guess the best times might be early morning or evening to avoid the larger waves. This was now 1330, we headed across, set out heading for a point north of Ceralvo Island 200+ miles away. We were dead into the swells again, & they had more time separation so although we working into the current we had no problem to maintain 6 knots. We would be underway all day & 2 nights before arrival. We fished without success this time, & incident free which is a good way to be. They say sailing is 95% boredom & 5% sheer terror, I’ll take the 95, we got the 5% before we got there. In any case late the next afternoon, I went below to change fuel tanks & took one look at the filters knew we had a problem(Houston). I came back up & told the crew that we would probably not make it without the engine quitting at some point. Inasmuch as we had daylight still & relatively calm seas we decided to stop & drain filters, replace if necessary. I shut down the engine & we got to work. After draining off the first pint of fuel(more like rusty muck) we realized real quick this was a bigger job than we had imagined. We emptied a container of water so we would have someplace to store the crud, we couldn’t dump it overboard. We ended up draining about 4 gallons out of the 2 racor filters & some out of one of the secondary engine filters before we were getting clear diesel. Evidently they had just filled their tanks at the El Cid marina & stirred up all the crud in the storage tanks. One of the crew mentioned they saw the truck leaving as we arrived. (that was why I wish we had to wait another hour) We bled the fuel lines now & fired up the engine. All seemed well, so we got underway again. I had a sandwich, a glass of wine & headed to sleep, as my shift was coming up in a few hours & it was now dark. I hadn’t been down 20 minutes when suddenly there was dead silence. I bounded out of my cabin wondering what had happened. Mike was on the helm & the engine just suddenly died without even a sputter. Below we went again to find the problem, didn’t take us long to figure we had a loose connection somewhere & sucked some air into the fuel pump causing the shut down. We started checking, & sure enough we found a loose fuel line. Tighten it, rebled, & restart, this time without incident. Under way again into the night. Total time lost between the 2 issues was about 2 hours, but we had been making good time anyhow & we didn’t want to arrive in darkness. We wended our way between the island & a reef 4 miles offshore, & then headed for the Lorenzo channel. It is very narrow & all the in or outbound ships including freighters, tankers & huge ferry boats pass through here, it would have been nice to cross in daylight but not to be. We were nearly through, I went down for some needed rest, leaving Mike & Ginger on watch. About 15 minutes later they got to experience the 5% sheer terror when the huge ferryboat from the mainland caught us. Evidently it passed so quick & so close, they were both terrorized. I was up about 30 minutes later as I knew we were coming to the long entry way into La Paz & we were a little earlier than I had wanted to be. Slowed the boat to around 2 knots, waiting for the sunrise. Soon it came up & we were able to wend our way in. We did & found ourselves dealing with a huge oil tanker moving around his anchor trying to get into a position to unload his cargo. This now is right at the entryway into the channel, we slowly moved around him & the fishing boats, now on their way out for the day(this being early Monday morning). Once we were in the channel it was a matter of staying between the markers & heading to the marina. We arrived & got into a slip. The marina was full, but they managed to park us in front of one of the Marina’s large (2 story 100 ft+ party boat)it’s bow right at my starboard side doorway. We had spent about 45 hours at sea since leaving Mazatlan, good to be back on terra firma.
Now we start to get back into La Paz speed & repair boat issues that have been postponed. Ginger spends a day, then loads her bicycle & heads north. Mike spends a couple of days, then I drive him to the airport to head to San Diego (after pulling the battery out of my truck & recharging it), it was dead after sitting for over 4 months, I should have disconnected it, too many electronics.
This morning Caesar & I were watching some friends launch their sailboat(They were here & bought in July as well), when Caesar following me caught his leash at a corner on the dock, & thought he would take a jump to catch me. You guessed it, he didn’t make it & in he went. This time he was scrambling before he hit the water & managed to only get his butt & hind legs wet before his leash caught him, & he blames me again, but he is quick to forgive & happy to be out. It doesn’t stop him from jumping aboard from the slip onto our boat, his confidence is very high there.
Will keep you posted, have a nice day.


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Underway Again
After spending about 10 days in PV in a slip at the old marina, it was time to get moving again. The slip was a little pricey for what you got, (or didn’t). No key to the showers, no key to the docks, electricity borrowed from another dock, marina getting run down a little bit. The only saving grace was that it was down town, & had good access to shopping etc. In order to go back I needed to find crew for the long run to Mazatlan. I had been checking the VHF net in the mornings with no avail. In any case I would head to La Cruz which was a short distance away, & see if I could find someone there. Just as I was about to leave I got a call, there was a young gal, 27 a Berkeley graduate that wanted to ride her bicycle from La Paz to California . That would work for me. I was already at the port captain’s office checking out when I got her call. We met at the boat & agreed that it would work, even if we couldn’t find one other crew member. We provisioned & then steamed to La Cruz. In the meantime I got a call from Mike who with his wife had crewed for me on the run down from Mazatlan, he would fly in & also go all the way to La Paz. With crew arranged & no working refrigeration we took a slip in La Cruz to await Mike’s arrival & ready the boat.
On taking Caesar out for his daily constitutional, I realize that he has been invaded with worms. He takes heart worm medicine monthly, and that kills 3 of five species of worms, but not the two other. I collect a sample & find a local vet. She is very knowledgeable & Caesar quickly trusts her. She confirms what I had researched on the internet & gives him a pill with a 4 more day supply to administer. She also wants to see him again in 3 days, on Saturday morning. He takes his pills, & we return on Saturday, she checks, he is doing fine she also says he must have follow up treatment in 2 weeks, then again in 2 more weeks. She supplies the additional medication, & we go on our merry way. The total cost including the 2 visits, medication s etc. came to a total of 250 pesos, converted that is about $20-$23, a fraction of what we would pay in some other countries.
On Sunday night in La Cruz we go out for happy hour to a local watering hole, the game on TV is Wales vs. Italy football. Little player protection & a rough game, much tougher than the NFL, & quicker. While there someone ordered the fish & chips special. About 10 minutes later he was served it by the waiter who said it was Mexican style fish & chips, he had brought out a large potato & a gold fish swimming in a bowl. Everybody had a big laugh, & eventually his traditional f&c arrived.
The next morning, Sunday the 24th we got underway before sunrise, around 0630. It was dark steaming out of the marina, but the channel was well marked & I wasn’t concerned about running aground or other issues. We wanted to get an early start as the plan was to anchor that night at Isla Isabel, & didn’t want to anchor there in the dark if we could avoid it. It is a rocky anchorage & we wanted to get in as close to shore as we could, inasmuch as my outboard prop was still messed up. (I had been using a borrowed one in Barra, until it sold the last day). We averaged almost 7 knots, & arrived in daylight , able to get the anchor out & holding. We used a trip line & an anchor marker so should we have problems we would have a better chance of retrieving the anchor or recovering it should we need to abandon it. The trip line was to pull it out backwards should it become lodged among the rocks. In the morning Mike dove the anchor & discovered we were securely lodged backward in the rocks. In any case it was solid & we may leave in the afternoon. We readied ourselves to go ashore, leaving Caesar capably in charge of the boat. We unloaded the kayak, loaded any wanted gear, water etc., & I pedaled it ashore, the other 2 swimming, (I had repaired the pedals, vice on board). The shore of this island is inhabited only by a fishing camp, (all very primitive) & a temporary research station for island life. The rest of the occupants are boobies(blue footed, brown, & yellow footed)& frigate birds. All were nesting, & in stages of raising their young or hatching eggs. They were also in their breeding cycle & the male frigates blow out their red chests to attract mates. The island was also populated by large iguanas (3 foot long variety) that match colors to their surroundings. Caesar would have gone crazy here, it was easy to see why no mascotes (pets) were allowed. He was somewhat annoyed about it anyhow. We walked inland to the shore of an inland lake where the volcano had been, we also snorkeled the anchorage to see the underwater wildlife. Lots of colorful fish. In any case we knew we were cutting into a short term weather window, & it wouldn’t give us another opening for close to a week. We hadn’t stocked provisions for that long & weren’t excited about running back to La Cruz so at 1600 we hauled the anchor without incident, (thanks to the trip line) & steamed out around the west side of the island. We knew the seas would be the worst there & wanted to know what we were getting into sooner than later. The swells were in the 6’ plus variety and about 6-8 seconds apart. It wouldn’t be comfortable but we could manage & we were dead into it. Our speeds over ground dropped to less than 3 knots at times but we kept moving forward, all night until the next day. Eventually the seas flattened a little as we got closer to Mazatlan, the concern now was crossing the bar into the bay. It is very narrow & with ebbing tides from a huge marina we were preparing for a rough uncomfortable ride in. The seas would be stacking up against one another. We weren’t disappointed, I headed in and as soon as I realized we had huge seas, I opened throttle to make the turn in, the prop & rudder did not seem to be responding, we were being lifted & tossed by the huge seas. The rocks were way too close, but then it all came together, now to avoid the dredger in the narrow channel, we were aimed straight at it, but now the tide was in our favor, & we managed to make the turn without incident. The water taxi had come out to watch us arrive, guess they thought there might be some excitement, but we arrived safely. We had been instructed to proceed to the fuel dock before our reserved slip, so we did. I met the dock manager there & he wanted to discuss the slip we had been assigned. It was at the end of a narrow channel with little turning room & a narrow slip beside another boat. He felt that without a bow thruster & only one engine it might be difficult to navigate to. I agreed(especially if he had concerns & with the adverse current) he said he had an end tie behind a big cat that would work, & took me to show it. He advised me with the present current how to get in without hitting the other boat (like the last person had) & I opted for his advice. It was simply to go past & then let the current bring us back in, only applying power for direction control. I followed his advise & parked right as it should be done. Love it when a plan comes together, glad he knew what he was talking about. So we were in Mazatlan at El Cid marina. Will continue to La Paz in the next issue shortly.

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