Seizing the Wind

31 December 2017
31 December 2017 | La Paz - Fonatur Marina
14 December 2017 | Isla Espiritu del Santo
23 November 2017 | La Paz
17 November 2017 | La Paz
16 November 2017 | La Paz
06 November 2017 | Cabo San Lucas
24 October 2017 | Bahai Tortuga
24 October 2017 | Bahai Tortuga
24 October 2017 | San Quentin
14 October 2017 | San diego
08 October 2017 | Santa Cruz Island
30 September 2017 | San Simeon
28 September 2017
25 September 2017
25 September 2017 | Brisbane
09 September 2017 | San Francisco
06 September 2017 | San Francisco
03 September 2017 | Off fort Bragg California
02 September 2017 | Nanaimo


31 December 2017
With my plan to head home for Christmas, I booked a 6 week stay for CV at the Fonatur marina. Located about 3 nm up the Las Paz channel it is notoriously difficult to get to (how is that for foreshadowing?). A day's travel gets Glenda back to Cabo Airport for her trip home and sadly back on my own again. That leaves me a week to ready the boat and prepare for "winter". With plenty of provisions, I invited the crew of Sea Rover over before their big voyage to the Galapagos for a farewell dinner. Great people and well prepared for the voyage (once they finish with those nasty last-minute chores).
Saturday, I filled up the tanks with water (only one place to get good water in La Paz), a left the marina bound for Fonatur. The south side of the channel looked okay but quickly determined it was too shallow. Back down the channel and talked with the Sea Rover Crew who said I needed to go east and then north to get to Fonatur. Given the shifting shoal, I move at a snail's pace, but make it to the beginning of the Fonatur channel. Given the difficulty of the channel, I tried to call the marina (12 times that morning) or raise them on the VHF channel 16. No luck. A cruiser was coming out of the channel so I waited for them, and tried them on the radio as well. I decided to give it a go. The channel was fairly well marked with green buoys on the left and red on the right so off I go; except that one of the green markers had shifted in the recent winds and confidently went be tween the two buoys with a soft landing. Stuck of course, no reversing would work.
Arms waving and air horn blasting, I tried to get a local fisherman's attention but he ignored me (or missed all my signals). Finally raised a fellow sailor on the radio and a panga came out to help. By that time, the tide had fallen and no amount of pulling/pushing would move her. I stuck in at about 11:30 and the next higher tide was at 5:00 am. Long night ahead. With the wind still high, I wanted to put out an anchor to keep CV from floating further onto the bank as the tide rose but was told not to by the marina and the port captain that an anchor across the channel would block it to other traffic and was not allowed. Arguments ensued. Must learn how to swear in Spanish! I feared for the boat as without an anchor, the freed floating hull would founder again with the wind pounding it until lost.

Dark came, as did the panga again. We set the anchor across the channel rules be damned and they left me to the night, with a promise to return at high tide. Pondering my fate, I reached down to my philosophy and realized I had a 1st world problem on my hands. I was not in personal danger and if I lost the boat, the insurance would cover it. Not ideal, but it soothed my tortured soul for the moment. "Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff".
I set up alarms for radar and AIS to warn be of approaching boats; hung a strobe light off the anchor line for visibility and started on a 30/15 minute sleep cycle. During the night I strung up a pendulum to monitor my list (25 deg. max) and see when the tide would turn. Also reviewed the tides and felt like I had at least 0.5" gain ahead of me (slim but enough). Finally, I dumped out the 500 l of nice fresh water I had on board which probably gained me another 0.5". High tide was scheduled for 4:40. At 3:00 I started to winch in the anchor to make sure the line was taught as the water rose. At 3:45 she slipped free, and I slowly backed up and hauled in the 200' of line and the anchor. All was well and I met my rescue team on the way back who guided me back in darkness to the guest dock. In daylight I maneuvered into a tight spot for final mooring.

It seemed so anticlimactic at the time but I had arrived at my winter mooring, albeit one day late and with much to do, (see the alternator repair entry) but I was safe and secure.

My heart's compass pointed toward Nanaimo and family as I finished up my chores and headed home for Christmas. I'll be back on-board Jan 23 and will restart the blog then.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
May all your dreams for 2018 come true.

Alternator Repairs - long winded story about life on a boat

31 December 2017 | La Paz - Fonatur Marina
Previous posts have indicated I was having troubles with the main alternator and the water maker. Well , we are making progress, (I think). The water maker motor was acting somewhat similar to the alternator in that it would run for a while and then slow to a stop when it heated up. After it was cleaned, it worked fine so I imagined the same problem for the alternator. Perhaps the carbon buildup from the brushes creates enough resistance that the field current is quite low; although the voltages are fine.

I took the brush cover off and did a cleanup of the brushes and area and put it back together (with some difficulty!). I couldn’t test it because the frame was damaged enough that I didn’t want to install it for fear of further damage. Eventually, I found someone who tested but without me there. It came back ok and they replaced the bearing and brushes. Problem is, they only ran it for 10 minutes. Which is not long enough to reproduce the problem. So still not sure but I think it is ok.

The holes in the frame had become quite “ovalized” and needed either reinforcing or a bushing. I arranged for a metal work shop to fix the frame. He didn’t have a bushing but felt that filling in the hole with weld and then adding a reinforcement would work so I signed up with him.

As an aside, La Paz is very busy this time of year so I was not able to get moorage at any good facility for very long; I had a reservation at Fonatur for the 6 weeks I was to be home for Christmas and I didn’t want to remove the alternator frame until I was at Fonatur in case I could not get things fixed and thus not use the engine. The alternator frame sits between the engine block and the engine mount pads. I had planned on suspending the motor from the companion way which would disable the motor and make it difficult to get into and out of the cabin, so once I started I was committed and immobilized. I arrived at Fonatur on Sunday one day late and exhausted. (Grounded: see blog about that!) and started on my plan. Cracked each bolt to make sure it would move (no problems); checked with Guy to determine a method of suspending the engine just right so that when I removed the bolts it would not move up nor down. Between us we decided that I could move the arm on the frame so that it was just touching the floor. As I lifted the engine with the block and tackle, I should be able to pass a piece of paper under the frame and the floor once the engine was resting on the suspension and not the bolts. Got that? Well, it worked, I think.

Early Monday morning, I suspended the motor, took out the 8 frame bolts. This proved to be quite difficult as I did not have clear access to the bolts. Sometimes a socket would work but mostly it was a box end wrench 1/8th of a turn at a time. But, the bolts receded slowly and I slid the frame out, tied it to the back of my bike and sped off to Ing. Becerra’s shop. He looked over the frame, declared it fixable, and said come back in 24 hours.

Sure enough, at 11:00 the next morning I arrived at the shop and the frame was ready. He said it was too soft a metal to fill the hole with weld but he welded a ¼” reinforcement on each ear and all seemed well except the bolt wouldn’t fit through. 5 minutes with a ½” drill fixed that. So fixed frame; cleaned and painted and $50 and I was off. As an aside, they all got quite a kick out of my fold up bike. Either they were laughing at the crazy old guy on the bike, or were amused at my “Mexican” methods. The people here are very resourceful, so if you don’t have a car, you use what is at hand (rather than a taxi ), so my use of a bike to transport the frame may have been appreciated. In any case, smiles all around as I tripped off down the highway ready to install the frame. Or so I thought.

As mentioned, the frame sits between the engine block and the pads from the forward motor mounts. The frame is made with ¼” metal so there is EXACTLY ¼” space for the frame. At least there would be if the motor mount pads didn’t move slightly. Unless everything was lined up exactly, it would not fit. 90 minutes of hammering, adjusting, persuading and cursing didn’t work. Decided to take it off again and cleaned all the paint off and added a layer of grease. 30 minutes later, it seemed like I had a start but nothing more. I re-evaluated the situation ( a thing I did many times that afternoon) and tried putting the frame in on an angle and that finally worked.

Excitement reigned as I thought all I had to do now was get the bolts into the holes. Ha! Trying to get one bolt in proved fruitless after an hour. Re-evaluate. It was very difficult to line up the 3 pieces of metal well enough to get a bolt in. I decided to get a bolt in between the motor mount and the frame would so that at least I would not have to worry about that. Managed to get 2 bolts on each side which theoretically would allow me move the frame and mount together to get a 5th bolt into the threads. By 3 in the afternoon, I had one bolt home but the 2nd bolt was very elusive. I was concerned about time as at 9:00 the next morning I was to be on a bus to the airport. The engine could not remain suspended for the 6-week absence and I could not lock up the boat nor expect anyone to enter/exit through the hatch to check on the boat. I looked at abandoning the project and removing the frame; or blocking the engine from beneath. Both would require major alignment work when I returned in January.

Time for a walk to clear my head and frustrations. It was amazing how, through out the day, a break or a walk or a snack gave me a new prospective!

Back on board with a new idea. I unbent a paper clip and used it to “feel” inside the hole to see if the hole was lined up, and if not, which way to move the frame/pad combo. Another ½ hour saw the 2nd bolt started. Like the first part, each thread of the bolt took quite a while to slowly inch the bolt home, but it seemed like I had a method that was working. Finally, the last bolt was installed and tightened at 10:30 that night. Tired and very sore (after spending 12 hours upside down and backwards under the engine) I cleaned up, beered up, and went to bed. Hopefully the alignment wasn’t altered and the alternator will never more be haunting my sleepless nights.

And I wish you and yours all a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year wherever your endeavours find you.

The La Paz Islands

14 December 2017 | Isla Espiritu del Santo
Glenda and I cruised for a couple of weeks tour of ?The Islands? north of La Paz. In general, the weather was great; maybe a little too hot for some! We visited Islas San Fransisco, San Jose, Bahais San Gabriel, San Evaristo, Agua Verde and Puerto Los Gatos. Highlights include some excellent snorkeling, hikes with great views, lunch with 6 other yachties at Chez Lupe (basically someone's kitchen converted to an 8 person restaurant but with excellent food). Lots of time for cards, relaxing, reading, and naps. The area has small villages (20 - 100 people) living off the sea with a couple of small schools, stores and poverty. Most have a sponsor from the yachties that either come back every year, or live there for a season and help out. We will bring down some more supplies next time.

Negatives include long hot hikes to no where (San Gabriel) and I managed to wrap the dinghy rope around the prop (San Jose).

Glenda's Arrival

23 November 2017 | La Paz
La Paz harbour is long and narrow with boat eating sand bars abounding. The guide book says ?be careful? so when the chart plotter decided to reboot just as I entered the channel, my heart did a little reboot too. I was first of three boats going in so I did a 360 and became the 3rd boat and just followed the others, blindly. Found my slip at Marina de la Paz and settled. The marina is home to about 200 boats, many are live-aboards at least for the winter season, and there is quite the community of expats here. Club Cruceros is the gathering place and does an excellent job of coffee hour, yoga, cards and many other activities. The place is like a summer camp for adults.

No time for that though; Glenda is coming and there are chores to attend to. Bill (retired Coast Guard water maker technician) helped fix my water maker and got me pointed in the right direction for alternator repairs. John Kloppenburg (fellow Nanaimoite) has been here for two seasons and we got together for a lively catchup. John's boat is securely anchored but not so John. He is trying to find his way down here; like driving a roundabout with too many exits and not enough road map.

Back on the bike swerving through traffic seeking boat parts, groceries, haircut and more. Mostly successfully, and never dangerous; except for the 34 C heat. ?drink plenty of fluids? is the order of the day.

Finding moorage eats up time like a tuna in a squid farm. Short term, I am trying to stay in Marina de la Paz as it is central and not too expensive; but slips are reserved and CV is homeless up to the last minute. Longer term, I need a place for the boat over Christmas and manage a reasonable cheap place out of town and go through the extensive paper work to line that up.

Jacobi and Alfredo are two local hired guns that badger for work. I decide to add a bit to the Mexican economy and they clean the boat ready for Glenda's arrival.

Off for a drive to San Jose borrowing John's car down an excellent highway for 2.5 hours. Google maps apparently doesn't know the way to San Jose (airport) so make that a 3 hour drive, and 30 minutes to find parking. This is the main airport for San Jose and Cabo San Lucas so mostly tourists in buses and little need for parking, apparently. Glenda's delayed flight and hour long customs visit makes up for it and we are happily rejoined and rejoicing. I am quickly reminded of why I love the woman I love.

The San Jose's Tropicana Hotel is our destination but between major construction and Google maps false starts, it takes a while to find but worth it. The hotel and restaurant were built in 1989 by a refugee from Vancouver who is still here and still enjoying it. San Jose has a marvelous art district and Glenda and I spent most of a day wondering into the shops and marvelling at the craftmanship and originality of the artists. Downsizing for our new home prevents us from any major purchases.

Two days of San Jose and we drive back through a wondering coastal highway with some grand vistas and occasional town. Off to the store for provisions, return the car, and prepare for our journey northward. We do spend two nights in La Paz. I am still working on the alternator repair, and Glenda got out to do some sightseeing. It is hot (33 C) and calm so nothing gets down too quickly.

San Jose del Cabo to La paz

17 November 2017 | La Paz
I am now in a different weather pattern so winds are lighter and not so friendly. However, I did manage to single hand sail about half the way to San Jose Del Cabo and moored for 3 nights at the very large marina, with very large boats. Carpe Ventus looked alien amongst the shiny new megayachts. Arrival was just before dark and I was greeted by security unaware of my reservation. Once that was settled, I asked if there is a Dia del Muertes “celebration” in town. Between broken English, Spanish and google maps, he shows me it is about 4 miles to the town center where indeed there would be music, food and dancing. . Break out the bike and off I go; in the dark; with no light; on everything from dirt bike paths to highways. And to add difficulty, many roads are being worked on and detours abound. Well, ok, I did put my headlamp on strobe and turn it backwards to warn those behind, and carried my flashlight for tricky parts. Fortunately, the moon’s luminescence guided me downtown.

It was worth the trip though. About 1000 locals and several hundred gringos were packed into the historic area around the main cathedral. A stage allowed for continuous singing and dancing, and many decorative altars were set up. I think they were competitive in there showing. Beautiful costumes and a horse rounded out the affair. Many of the stores were open, and the art galleries boasted some of the finest Mexican art I have seen to date.

The festival revolves around honouring/remembering people who have died and many homes set up the 7-level altar with pictures of their loved ones, a cross, and arch, cut paper, candles, water, flowers, skeletons, food, bread, and sometimes alcohol to help remember the dead, entertain and feed them, and to remind all that life is short. (according to a hand out I got). At the town centre, it seemed more like celebrities that were being honored including a few musicians, and even one for Hugh Hefner. They do have a sense of humour for sure. All very colourful and respectful; I’m glad I made the trek to town. A stop on the say home for a beer and excellent Chiles Rellanos rounded out the day.

Another bike trip to town the next day for supplies, cash, and the like. You have to love a place that has a book store at the top of the hill with a sign so large it can’t be missed. They have their priorities right, but sadly, it was closed. Two nights here were not enough to see all that San Jose had to offer, and I think it has been my favourite town to date. I know I will return here with Glenda later, so it is off to the next whistle stop.

On to Bahai los Frailes (the monks) which has a rock that does eerily resemble three monks cloistered together. Getting there was not ½ the fun as it was a long day of mostly motoring (my least favourite). Along the way, I did hook a decent tuna. I was down below and didn’t notice and it run all the line out on the reel (400yds). It was a long reel in, and I don’t think the fish even noticed until it was 100 yds away and then the fight began. I got it all the way to the boat where it nicely wrapped itself around the wind vane (self steering) and took off. More spaghetti for dinner!

Los Frailes is the jump off point to Mazatlán and there were several boats there waiting for weather. I hooked up with Ken and his two nephews on Punta Rai. We had briefly seen each other about 3 times since San Francisco and finally got a chance to say more than hi. I took the 3 of them in the dingy to the reef around the corner and we got some good snorkeling in. A pleasant day for sure. A second day for maintenance and it was on to Bahai Los Muertos.

Which is a pleasant anchorage; no swell; sandy bottom with water so clear, the anchor smiles back at me 20’ down. Spent a couple of days here fussing with repairs; but had several swims a day; lunch at the Beach Club and met up with Steve; a long-time cruiser whose engine died 7 years ago and he never replaced it. He claims to have learned patience! Later, I realized I had encountered a legend as many people jumped to action to get him into La Paz after his 3 day journey (took me 7 hours motoring). Everyone knew Steve!

One highlight of the bay was a delightful swim after sweating in the engine area. Under the boat were so many fish, the ocean bottom was obscured. I attempted to hand feed them and old fish skin and rice were their favourites. Dazzling. Watching the swarm move in a fluid rhythm was fascinating. At dusk, dozens of mantra rays started leaping out of the water, doing back flips and twists. No idea why, just a wonder to gawk at.

But, move along I must, so a motor sail to La Paz completed this part of the journey.

New photos

16 November 2017 | La Paz
Finally got to post the photos for San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. Some mentioned they didn't know there was photos so:
See the top of this page, pick the "gallery" tab. choose "Mexico 2017" then whatever folder you are interested in.
Thanks and more to come.
Vessel Name: Carpe Ventus
Carpe Ventus's Photos - Main
Main album with sub folders below
7 Sub-Albums
Created 19 September 2017
contains photos organized by week
12 Sub-Albums
Created 1 July 2016