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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Antoine on the beach
12/03/2009, Ixtapa

Antoine strolls on the beach at Ixtapa with his trusty wooden gun. He takes it everywhere. Smiling Mexicans raise their hands in mock surrender.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Mexican pastries
12/02/2009

Pascale buys some delicious looking Mexican pastries for the boys at a bakery in Zihuatanejo.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Zihuatanejo
Bruce
12/02/2009, Zihuatanejo

We took the bus to the neighboring town of Zihuatanejo today. I can see why it's called the "cruiser's paradise". The anchorage is along a sandy beach with gentle surf, which is lined with dozens of nice, inexpensive restaurants. The town of Zihuatanejo is charming, reminding me a little of La Paz with its real authentic, non-touristy Mexican flavor.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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More Boat Projects in Ixtapa
Bruce
12/01/2009, Ixtapa

We arrived at Ixtapa yesterday finally about 4:30 PM. On our approach to Ixtapa we found that the refrigeration was not working. I tracked this down to a low battery voltage condition, and eventually traced the problem to a defective voltage regulator which was preventing the engine from charging the batteries. I managed to be in touch with technical support at Balmar (which makes the regulator and alternator) via Single Sideband Radio. That would have been bad enough, but as we pulled into our slip at the marina in Ixtapa, the engine oil pressure alarm came on. I shut the motor down and checked the crankcase oil -- it was 2 quarts low, but not low enough to trigger a low oil pressure alarm.

So today I had a diesel mechanic come out. We decided the oil pressure switch was highly suspect. The boat doesn't have oil pressure or water temperature gauges, just idiot lights. So we decided to install proper gauges for these two items and in so doing determine where the problem was.

Sure enough, the oil pressure gauge is now in and it tells us we have normal oil pressure. And we have a real temperature gauge.

Meanwhile I asked around and found another boater with a spare voltage regulator. I installed that one and our charging system is back up and working. And so, likewise, our refrigeration has returned back to normal.

Ah, such is the cruising life!

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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12/01/2009 | Jolea
Happy to hear you made it safely!
Arrival in Ixtapa
Bruce
11/30/2009

We arrived this afternoon at the marina in Ixtapa. We saw lots of dolphins, who love to play by the bow of the boat, and the odd sea turtle and shark. Some of the boats and ships were peculiar, including one that looked like a square rigger.

It was a long sail and we had our share of technical difficulties. First of all, as Pascale mentioned, we had the overtemperature alarm go off last night around 830 PM. Pascale and Bob awoke me to look at the situation. We shut off the engine and I got out the laser temperature scanner and checked the temperature of the engine block. 174 degrees F seemed quite within the normal range. We checked that there was seawater coolant flowing (check) and that there was sufficient crankcase oil (check). After letting the engine cool a bit I topped off the engine coolant (adding about a half liter) and started the engine at 2000 RPM instead of the usual 2700 RPM. The engine ran all night after that without a problem. As the day went on, I tried increasing the RPM to 2500, then back to 2220, finding that the alarm would chirp at us, indicating it was at the edge. I read up on the specs for the engine temperature alarm -- it's supposed to go off at 100C (212F). We were nowhere near that. I think the culprit is a miscalibrated temperature alarm switch. Something to check out at the next opportunity.

Then there was the refrigeration that stopped working. Its diagnostic light complained of insufficient voltage. I found the battery bank was barely at 12 volts. It turns out the alternator wasn't charging. I communicated with Balcor via SSB radio email and found out that the culprit is likely a defective voltage regulator. Another project, albeit a minor one.

We did an all night sail (actually, since the winds were very light, we motorsailed most of the time). I got up at 5 a.m. to take over. We arrived in Ixtapa around 4:30 PM.

Boy, is it HOT here! Right now it's 10:15 PM and it's about 88 degrees outside. We are coaxing our air conditioning unit to get the inside temperature to a reasonable 80 degrees.

The photo is of Antoine with his model M-16 that we made. The hills of Ixtapa are in the background, as this was taken as we made our arrival.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Passage to Ixtapa
Pascale
11/30/2009, 17 40.0'N:101 37.0'W

It's 7:15 a.m., there is only 4 to 5 knots of wind from the South. We are motor-sailing. I did my watch from 9 to 11 PM last night. Francois came up to do his watch, but I couldn't sleep, so I stayed with him. Let me back up a bit, when I was up in the cockpit with Bob at around 8:30 PM, the engine alarm beeped, so we turned the engine off. Bruce looked at the engine, checking the oil and topping off the coolant. The engine has been running fine since then. Now, the refrigerator is not getting enough voltage. Bruce is trying to figure it out. I didn't sleep much last night, and neither did Bob and Francois. We let the captain sleep. Now, Bruce is on watch since 5 a.m. I came up at 7 a.m. to keep a watch so Bruce could look at the fridge. Dolphins are visiting us. Antoine is up and so happy to see them. They are always a good omen!

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Pascale's report
Pascale
11/29/2009, Pacific Ocean between Las Hadas and Ixtapa

We left Las Hadas, Manzanillo, this morning around 10:30 a.m. Now, we're going south to Ixtapa. We should get there tomorrow around 1 PM. The winds are very light, so we are motor-sailing. The winds are from the South West and we're going South East so we're close hauled with the main & jib up. It's wonderful to be at sea again after being at the Marina at Barra de Navidad for months. Not to say that we didn't enjoy ourselves, but land life doesn't feel the same. We will return to Barra de Navidad some day, but we don't know when. We have a fishing line out. Hopefully, we'll catch something. Each one of us is getting into a sealife routine. Bob, our friend from Mazatlan, is with us for the trip to Zihuatanejo. Bruce made lunch for everybody. He's a wonderful captain. Francois is in his cabin playing on his computer and Antoine is having fun with his M-16, that his Papa made out of wood in Barra de Navidad. It looks really cool!

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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Leaving Las Hadas
Bruce
11/29/2009

We went shopping yesterday in Manzanillo, provisioning for our upcoming trip. Two shopping carts of food amazingly disappeared on our boat as we stowed it in the fridge, freezer, pantry, and various cubby holes. We enjoyed a nice dinner last night at the Marina Grill, an open air restaurant in the marina. The food was delicious.

Here's a photo of Calou tied up at the dock at Las Hadas. There's a very strong surge in this marina, so bad that we chewed completely through a 3/4 inch docking line in only a few hours. After that we put chafe protection on the lines, and by morning the chafe protection we had added was worn all the way through. If we ever return to Las Hadas I think we'll just stay at anchor.

We departed from Las Hadas this morning, making our way south to the port of Ixtapa. This will be a 177 mile sail.

Mexico Sailing Trip 2008-2011
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