Sailfest and the north towards to Sea of Cortez
04 April 2014
So SailFest has come and gone. We had a wonderful time that week. For me going to see one of the schools they created where the kids are health looking, full of energy, eating great food, and anxious to learn had me sold on participating at SailFest. We entered the two sailing events and the deal is the people pay 300 pesos (about $25) to come on the boat and all that money goes to “Por Los Niños” who is the organization that transforms the fund raising into bricks, mortar, and much more. From what I could gather it seems like “Por Los Niños” is forging relations with other authorities and is having a positive effect on plans to try and help educate even more children. I won´t go on (but I could) but they have built facilities or assisted in facilities for about 6,000 children. The win-win of the situation was that the people we had on our boat were all so nice and we got to meet them and know them a little bit. Both days were a pleasure and the winds were great making for two special days for us. And the people who came got a ride on a cruising boat and could feel good about helping collect funds for education.
We had to leave on the Saturday which is beach day at SailFest but we were off to visit Kate in Washington DC. It was a great ten days and we left the boat in Ixtapa marina. That was the first marina Katie G has seen this season and we weren´t there to enjoy the marina. However, we did get to see many of Kate´s shows which we always enjoy. In addition she was in two special “in show” skating shows which she had been very involved in making along with some of her very talented colleagues on the show. They got to perform them for Mr. and Mrs Feld who own Disney on Ice. It was a very enjoyable experience for everyone. There was a snow storm while we were there but not too bad. Enough that shortly after the first flakes of snow fell a “winter emergency” for taxis was declared and it was $18.50 to start the meter. So, it was a nice walk home from the arena, even for a cold lightweight like me.
We did spend a day on the boat after we got back. Some things are just easier to do at a dock. You can see in the attached photos showing why there are signs out prohibiting entry into the water of the marina which is located in an estuary.
We left the estuary and joined new friends, Pamela and Henry; down at a bay they found where the skin diving is good. We sailed over there and stayed overnight. We went on a great skin diving session. Then back to Zihuatanejo to do the provisioning and deal with a few matters before setting off the next morning, destination Caleta de Campos. The winds over the entire next week were from the NW and we really didn´t have a week (or more) to wait for the winds to change……sailboats and schedules just don´t mix……so we motored. We skipped Caleta de Campos and motored straight through to Las Hadas in Manzanillo Bay. We only sailed about 1 ½ hours and it seemed the current was most often against us.
Since then we have been hopping north to Santiago Bay, Tenacatita, and then at one of the other Tenacatita anchorages. We dove a wreck in Santiago Bay and had the dive gear all out looking for other diving opportunities. We did intend to stop at Ensenada Carrizal to do some scuba diving but the SW wind blowing when we headed out led us to Tenacatita and we got there just in time for the last half of the last Mayor´s raft-ups for the season (At least with the mayor presiding). We had a bit of time on the beach and this morning we went around the corner where the “Aquarium” and we planned to explore that while we waited for the North winds to settle down for our trip further north around Cabo Corrientes. We went on a dive site search but didn´t find one but had a great skin dive in the “Aquarium” and then watched the sun set over the peninsula we are anchored behind.
Our trip north continued and we sailed as much as we could sailing out of Tenacatita and beating our way around Cabo Corrientes in 20+ knots of wind. Unfortunately, by the time we got around Cabo Corrientes the afternoon thermal had died down and we had to motor across Banderas Bay to La Cruz. We got a few projects arranged for next season and also had a bit of fun in the area. Friends, Roz and Albert, came over from Puerto Vallarta and we went for an afternoon sail and then back to their condo for the evening. Time was pressuring us, even though we are trying our best to avoid schedules and we left for Mazatlan in less than ideal conditions which led to some motoring as we went directly from Banderas Bay to Mazatlan. We anchored at Stone Island which was very nice and something we hadn´t done before. After a few days we got a slip in the Isla Marina and have been doing a combination of boat projects and investigating plans for next season´s projects. We are enjoying Mazatlan and it is a bit like old home week after having spent 4+ months here last season. It won´t be too much longer and we will head across the Sea of Cortez to La Paz, again to organize some projects for next season. We are hoping for some SW wind to take us to La Paz and up into the islands on the Baja side of the Sea.
Well, our time at the Isla Marina has drawn to a close. We have really enjoyed it and as a bonus we now have a working freezer. Margaritas are back on the menu. We need to get to La Paz, take care of a few details, and head up the islands to the north. We plan to get the boat as ready as possible as we go because when we get to Bahia San Carlos Karen is bussing it to Phoenix and flying to San Francisco to our nephew, Rob´s wedding. We are both happy about that. While she is gone I will get the boat hauled to the work area and she will return to help with the final buttoning up of the Katie G for this season. Then back on the bus to Phoenix and we fly home on the 13th of May. I hear the driving range is opening today.
Tenacatita and onto Zihuatanejo
17 February 2014 | Mexico
We left La Cruz and Banderas Bay about 11am on the 21st of January. We motored for a couple of hours to charge the batteries because of ongoing issues with the batteries and charging system (another topic for the ”tech page”) and to top off the water tanks. Then we set sail in the NW wind and had a nice reach out to Cabo Corrientes which is the headland at the south corner of Banderas Bay known for its accelerated winds as you round the corner. We continued on that reach until we were about 20 nm offshore to stay out of the way of the long line fishermen who are often out working the shelf closer in. The winds were picking up and we decided to try out our new reefing system and since night was approaching we put in a second reef while we were at it. We turned south and the wind was now 22 knots gusting 26 and we had a nice comfortable ride all night with a double reefed main and half the genoa out.
As dawn approached the wind faded and we motored for a couple of hours. Then the forecast SW wind filled in to the point we could beat the rest of the way to Tenacatita with two tacks. We were able to sail right into the bay.
Tenacatita is truly a paradise. The water is warm (about 81 degrees when we were there) and clean and there is a beautiful beach. There is lots to do. Swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, an estuary you can explore by dingy and a beach palapa that you can get a cold drink after a game of bocce ball. The highlight of the week is the Mayor´s raft-up on Friday evening before sunset. Tenacatita has a mayor, Robert, from the sailing vessel Harmony and he organizes the raft up. This particular Friday night there was about 20 boats that meet in a quiet corner of the bay and all tie together directed by Robert until we are all in a big circle. Appetizers are brought by each boat and passed around and people bring something to drink as well. Each week there is a question that each boat must answer and this particular week the question was “tell us about your life that brought you to this point”. Robert started and his story was very inspiring as were many of the other stories that followed. It certainly was a great way to come to understand how special all the people were that were sharing the bay with at this time.
Tenacatita is a place where people come and stay for weeks but we had plans to continue south to Zihuatanejo and take in Sail-Fest. We had never been south of Barra de Navidad which is just the next bay south of Tenacatita and we were anxious to go to Manzanillo which many people rave about as a cruising destination which is on the way to Zihuatanejo. For us going to Z-town (as it is affectionately referred to by the cruisers) was a tough decision because the 220 nm trip is known for its light winds and the necessity of motoring which we try our best to avoid. But we really wanted to go and see the place at least once so we set off on Saturday about 1 pm, the day after the mayors raft up because there was a NW wind blowing. We got out and the wind was better than expected, about 16 knots, and with the spinnaker flying we were sailing miles that we wouldn´t have to motor. The wind held up until sunset although it was down to about 12 knots which was as predicted. We expected the wind to continue to diminish and so contrary to our usual overnight sailing plans I decided to continue flying the kite. We continued to click off the miles but not without concern. That stretch of water is close to one of the big international freighter ports and so there is lots of freighter traffic. Generally speaking we get information on all the big ships via an AIS system that gives us data on each ship including name, identifying MMSI number, course, speed and also calculates the CPA (closest point of approach in nm) and TCPA (time to CPA). Of the numerous ships we were passing there were two on collision course (or close to it) with us. We contacted the ships because when flying a spinnaker our manoeuvrability is more difficult and they were kind enough to alter course to allow us to continue without needing to jibe the spinnaker or take it down. We continued until about 10 pm but the wind was rising not settling as expected and when it started hitting 20 knots it was definitely time to douse the chute.
Not to mention we had lost the foreguy connection to the pole holding the chute out. So down came the chute and we continued until about 4am under main alone doing quite well when the wind died and the motoring began. We motored until the later afternoon trying to sail once with not much luck. We arrived and a nice bay and resort town called Calata de Campos and dropped the hook for the night. We were now about 70 nm from Z-town.
We arose early and were underway in the dark by 5:45 and it was again a mill pond out on the sea. As the day wore on a SW wind developed and we were treated to a beam reach sail into our destination for the last 20 nm. We arrived into beautiful Zihuatanejo Bay at sundown and dropped the hook off Playa Principal. We were met by a welcoming committee travelling by dingy at cocktail hour from boat to boat encouraging us to join in Sail Fest. The Sail Fest is part of a large fund raising effort which has been occurring annually for years to raise funds to aid in educating many of the poorest children in the area and it has become a great success both financially and in terms of a great time for the participants. We have checked in with the Port Captain and are about to find out what it is all about. First impressions of the town are good. The weather is fine but hot and humid.
A month in La Cruz
17 February 2014 | Banderas Bay near Puerto Vallarta
We spent a month, well slightly more than a month in La Cruz anchorage. In summary, it was great as usual but in a different way. Firstly, we dealt with the issue that brought us to La Cruz…….the sails. We met with Tony Morrelli and he did great repairs and tune ups on both our main sail and genoa. Again I won’t go into detail (if I can figure out how I may start a “tech page” on the blog if there is interest) but we thought he did a great job, had great ideas on how to make the sails work better. One thing led to another and we are now sporting a new stack pack for the main which is a simpler way of storing the main and has other advantages like easier reefing and the main sail is now loose footed which is something I thought I wanted for some time. So that was a big success and at the same time I did some modifications on the rig to tighten up the forestay and then of course there is always other things to be repaired while at anchor.
The weather was quite unusual for an extended period…..rain, thunder, lightening, and the associated rolly seas at anchor. There is a daily net where cruisers communicate about many subjects and those that are more permanent in the area keep records on annual rainfall. In their 12 plus years of records there had never been measurable rainfall in December and through the period I mentioned there were multiple inches of rainfall recorded and the water was flowing down the streets of La Cruz in the downpours. Eventually that passed and we were back to the sunny tropical paradise we are used to enjoying.
Socially we had a great time in amongst the boat projects. We were invited to a real Christmas dinner, turkey and all at some of our land based friends. Don and Sonny were instrumental in getting that together and we thank them for a great time. We had a quiet New Years on the boat taking in the fireworks all around Banderas Bay. The Mexicans just love fireworks and they go off on many occasions but New Years is especially active. Our favorite band is back together and great as ever even though the young guitar player has now gone off to music school. The new guitar player is definitely up to the task and although I know nothing about music I know he is great. The only problem is that they only play in the adjacent town, Buceries, and so going to see them regularly isn’t as easy as before. I am still waiting to get a complete fill of their music because they get better and better as the night goes on so you need to stay to the bitter end to see their best. I am still craving more Pacific Rock….maybe we will get that on the way north. We have a new top ten band in Mexico by the name of Luna Rumba. They are three musicians, a fiddler (and guitar player), a percussionist (with more toys than I have had hot suppers) and a guitar vocalist. They play some kind of Latin fusion type music that is, well…..amazing. And then there was a great trip up into a nearby mountainous jungle area to some hot pools with Don and Eddie. At least 20 individual pools each made of rock and cement and each with its own water control valve so you can adjust the temperature. And because of the jungle coverage it is pleasantly cool up there. We stopped at a little town about five or so miles before getting to the hot pools and got some cold beer and returned the empties on the way home and stopped for a feed of shrimp at the same time.
We also attended the last of the famous Linda Joy garden parties. She is a good friend who has lived in La Cruz for years, maybe thirteen or so and lives on a lot that she has turned into an amazing outdoor garden paradise……perfect for huge parties which traditionally she has held annually. LJ is leaving La Cruz to go on the road for 8 months or so and the garden is going the way of the dinosaur and she decided to have one last party….and it was a great one. Well I am sure there is more on the social side but you get the idea, lots of things to do and enjoy.
We even went sailing one day in the bay with LJ and Sylvia to try out the new sail modifications and rig changes and it was a beautiful afternoon in the typical SW thermal winds. There are a few places we would still really like to explore in Banderas Bay so we have that on the “To Do” list. It is great and quite predictable weather (usually) in the bay and great for sailing and whale watching so some of you should come down and join us next time we are in the bay.
One of the other things we did was attend a number, maybe 8 or 9, seminars related to various cruising subjects of interest. Because Banderas Bay is a common jumping off spot for travels to the South Pacific there are a fabulous set of seminars organized on topics of interest those getting ready to make the 3000 nm passage to French Polynesia. We had to travel to Nuevo Vallarta for most of them so that involves two buses each way and takes up the best part of the day. Time well spent and inspiring to meet some of the other cruisers with similar interests.
Our intention was to leave on the next full moon, 16th of January if the winds were right but we didn’t quite make it. We did set sail on the 21st of January with forecast NW winds to carry us south, destination Tenacatita……another paradise both in physical location and the cruiser community found there.
Beginning of the 2013-14 Season
17 February 2014 | San Carlos, Mexico
It is now late January and I am just getting around to writing some notes about our travels this cruising season. Someday I hope to go back and chronicle, in a brief way, our adventures on the Katie G leading up our arrival in Mexico but for now let me put down what I can recall from the first part of this season.
We arrived at the boat on about the 7th of November 2013 which was stored in the Sonoran desert over the summer. We had flown to Phoenix, AZ and then taken the midnight Executivo bus to Guaymus. With four bags, each 50 pounds, mostly boat parts, we were so glad to be met by friends, Theo and Marion. The boat was transferred to the work area where we started the process of undoing the many storage tasks done the previous spring. I won´t go into the details but in general the boat fared better being left on the hard especially since we left it for only 5 months rather than 9 months the previous season. We have concluded that boats like ours are meant to be lived on and used, not stored! While we got the boat ready we were lucky enough to stay at those friends, Theo and Marion, who are also cruisers but just bought their new home in San Carlos. We rode our bikes daily to the yard but didn’t need to stay on board in all the chaos associated with getting everything out and into position for sailing. Thanks so much Theo and Marion for the hospitality (and the regular Sunday afternoon parties they put on for the cruisers in the area). We made the trip down the road to the marina on the 21st of
November and were splashed into Bahia San Carlos to continuing to work on preparing the boat while at anchor. I guess we left the yard at the right time because a couple of days later federal officials showed up at ten marinas including ours, and started inspecting paperwork and impounding boats, about 380 boats in total. That fiasco is still affecting cruisers at this time.
The winter “northers” started to blow and the water and air temperatures were cooling so we set off to cross the Sea of Cortez to the Baja on the 2nd of December at 3 in the afternoon. Seas were initially confused where they reflect off the land and the wind was brisk but in the right direction. We had a fast crossing spending most of the night trying to slow the boat down so as to arrive on the Baja after daybreak. It was however a cold crossing and any longing I had for the fabulous sailing in the Pacific NW at home was quickly dissipated. As forecast, the winds switched from NW to SW when we were just off Bahia Conception and we motored into the bay to a little cove called El Burro Cove.
That is where the fellow, Geary, has been broadcasting daily weather forecasts for cruisers via SSB (single side band) radio. He has lived there for 18 years. We enjoyed a couple of days there at anchor but quickly realised that we wanted more heat.
Our plan had been to hop down the chain of beautiful islands and anchorages in the Sea but plans changed due to the cool weather and so we hopped on the back end of one of those Northers and sailed downwind, mostly wing on wing, and arrived at Bahia San Gabriel on Espiritu Santo which is an island in a National Park. That took 2 days to get there and the following day we had a nice beam reach sail into La Paz which is a great city for cruisers just north of the tip of the Baja and Cabo San Lucas. That was our first time in La Paz and we enjoyed getting to know the city (and the marine chandleries of course) when the northerly winds died down enough so that we could get ashore (staying reasonably dry) from the bay where we were anchored. We had cruising friends, Ian and Diane from Vancouver Island, who were in town and showed us the best places to spend money on boat parts which we really enjoyed.
Well we enjoyed La Paz but still too cold for us and so we hopped on the back side of the next Norther when the seas weren’t too lumpy and we had a great sail for three days. We initially had the GPS chart plotter dialed up for Barra de Navidad with intentions of attending the cruisers Christmas dinner (we later heard there were 80 in attendance) and to see a good friend from Canmore, Dana, who was in Mexico for the first time. Well, after 2 days running wing on wing we were up to the bow to make a sail change and realized that the genoa was in need of repair. Initially, we were thinking of hand stitching a repair but when we saw the extent of the wear we decided to bag that sail and head for La Cruz in Banderas Bay (the bay where Puerto Vallarta is located). We had already been in contact with the sail maker regarding repairs to our main sail. We raised the stay sail and altered course to La Cruz then about 90 nautical miles away. Next we dug the working jib out of the forward cabin (commonly referred to as the garage) and hung that as well. We had a beautiful sail on a beam reach riding over the sizeable but mellow swells coming down from the north from all the northerly winds. The norther was blow out and the winds were light but it was an amazingly beautiful ride into Banderas Bay. I didn’t mention it before but those three days were the peaking of the full moon which is our favorite time to do night passages. So we got the hook down in the bay off La Cruz (400 nautical miles (nm) later) at 7am on the morning of the 19th of December. Plans had changed and it would be Christmas in La Cruz. No hardship there! We love that town as evidenced by the fact we had been stuck in the “La Cruz vortex” for 3months a couple of cruising seasons ago. And we had found some of that warmth we were looking for.
12 June 2013 | Sea of Cortez
Well, it is about time I wrote something on our blog because the season is drawing to a close. Not exactly sure why I haven’t been inspired to write to our new blog until now. Probably, because the season didn’t turn out anything close to what we imagined. A graphic demonstration of that saying that “sailing plans are set in the sand at low tide”. I am not going to comment here on the way our time was spend this winter cruising season because I think Karen has already written about some of that and I don’t have access to the blog now because we are underway. I plan to talk about our sailing this past week.
Currently we are about 51 nm from San Carlos where we intend to put the boat up for the summer. The sun has just set, beautiful as always down here. We arrived on the 9th of January and have yet to see rain. Mostly blue sunny skies with some clouds carried in from down near the equator or some clouds of vertical development with the day time heating. Today was no exception. The winds are very light today and we are travelling along very slowly and yet our ETA is about 1 pm tomorrow. Of course we could turn on our new Yanmar diesel engine that we spent the best part of 3 months getting installed but it is so pleasant out here and in some ways we are avoiding coming to the end of our sailing that just began a week ago.
We have no complaints about our season at least not now. I must admit that when I realized there would only be a bit of sailing (with the cooperation of mother nature) at best and for the most part we were leaving Mazatlan with the main goal being getting to San Carlos (about 500 nm or 1000 km) in time to put the boat away and catch a bus to Phoenix where we have a flight back to Calgary on the 19th of June. Sailing and fixed time schedules are usually a bad match but in this case it seems to be working out better than could be expected.
We departed Mazatlan on the morning of the 23th of May and the forecast was for light SW winds which was what we got. Although the wind never blew greater than 10 knots (a little less than 20 km/hour) and most often about 6 knots, we managed to sail 65% of the time which was great, better than expected because we weren’t able to wait for the perfect weather timing. It was more of a situation where you take what you get if was at all reasonable. As a bonus it was the day before and the day of the full moon, my favorite time of the month to do a passage involving night travel. It was warm and spectacular. So nice to be out on deck and have the shadow of the moon with you and to have no need to use the deck lights to find your way around. The light from the moon is a beautiful white light in my view. We had watched a few full moons come and go while on the hard, each time hoping we would be finished and sailing away from the boat yard under a full moon but it was not to be…..until now. The perfect timing of it all, the moon, the wind, and out clean bottomed Katie G ready to go made it made it an extra special passage.
Because we had spend nearly four months in Mazatlan we decided to just head for the islands in the Sea of Cortez on the Baja side rather than head to La Paz which would be a common destination when heading north into the Sea with plans to land on the Baja side. We aimed for Isla de San Francisco which is somewhat north of La Paz and is has a beautiful quiet aquamarine bay with a white sand beach. We arrived on the morning of the 25th which was my birthday and that was a great birthday present! Even though we were on a time schedule we stopped for a day and enjoyed the bay. We went snorkeling and it was excellent. The reef is quite new in relative terms and the coral was somewhat scant but coming along with a nice variety of fan and brain coral. The coral looked healthy and not in danger. There was a surprising variety of fish and Karen got a chance to see her favorite two kinds of tropical fish.
On the 27th of May we headed to a favorite spot of other cruisers, Aqua Verde. Although we only got to sail about 40% of the way we did get some nice close reach sailing in on another lovely day. We didn’t stay there long (the schedule loomed) but enjoyed a beautiful sunset and enjoyed the night views of the bay and some magnificent silhouette views from the cockpit on that warm evening. On the morning of the 28th we left a bit early because there was another south wind and we got the spinnaker out for a while on a short run to Puerto Escondido. It was interesting to go in there with the intention of getting some fuel before we re-crossed the Sea to the mainland side again as we are currently doing. Puerto Escondido is a naturally well protected harbour. It is almost 100% encircled with geographic features and the hills to the south and west make for a natural hurricane hole. We had thought of this as an option for a place to leave out boat last summer but decided on leaving it in Mazatlan. They have a sub-optimal fuel situation there but at 2:30 pm they said the fuel would arrive in an hour. I waited there until they closed at 5 pm and no sign of the fuel truck from Loretto. We decided to stay over because it was late in the day and they said for sure it would be there in the morning. Karen and I both went to the fuel dock numerous times the next day, always the same story….they will be here in an hour. At about 2pm we decided to leave without the fuel. We didn’t really need it but with the new engine and not sure of fuel consumption as well as other work we had done on the fuel tanks we thought having some extra would be a good idea. It further inspired us to try sailing as much as possible and we headed for Isla Coranados and managed to sail all the way there and sailed right onto the anchor. We even got a good run of wing on wing sailing which is when you are running pretty much straight down the wind with the main sail out on one side and the jib poled out on the other. Time for another swim after arriving but it was later in the day because of the late start from Puerto Escondido.
We sailed off the anchor the next morning, the 30th and headed for San Juanico. We got a good variety of sailing in that day and by the time we arrived it was blowing about 25 knots. We first went into the south anchorage but as we were approaching the anchorage we got a call from fellow travellers saying they had gone around to a small bay just north of San Juanico called La Ramada. They said there was room for us and so we turned around and headed there which didn’t take long as a result of the brisk winds. By the time we arrived our preferred anchor spot had been taken so we anchored out a bit and initially it was windy and rolly. As a result we never went ashore but put in on the growing list of places to explore next fall when we return and travel down the Sea in hopefully a more relaxed manner. We intend to sail in the Sea until the winter northerlies blow us out of the Sea….but we both know how plans and reality are sometimes a poor match.
The next morning, the 31st of May, we had a change of plans. We had intended to sail north to Bahia Conception or Santa Rosilia before crossing the Sea to San Carlos but it seemed the SW winds had blown out on the day before and the forecast was for light winds followed by NW winds. There was a westerly blowing in the bay and so we decided to hop on it and head straight for San Carlos. As we left the bay there was a school of rays circling the bow. As for wildlife, we didn’t see that much but were lucky enough to see quite a number of sea turtles, dolphins, and a few whales. We even saw a seabird hitching a ride on the back of one turtle but missed the chance to get that photo. No looming career with National Geographic as a photographer as yet. The birds are numerous with large flocks of pelicans travelling in groups much as our geese do back home. We even were entertained by four blackish sea birds (?? type) who decided our bow pulpit would be a great way to travel north and their antics vying for a preferred spot were just that….entertaining. Karen eventually shooed them away not wanting them to decide our radar support would be a good place to next which is what happened last year in our absence. They were quite bold and Karen almost had to push the last one off the pulpit. Winds were light and we took the opportunity to try and re-calibrate the auto pilot (which worked) and the wind instrument (which didn’t……add it to the project list). By 3pm there was a light SW wind which we sailed on until it switched to the NW. I wrote the first part of this after sundown last night and now am finishing it as we approach San Carlos, now 6 nm straight ahead. Over night we had no big winds but did have the boat moving at a speed over the ground of 5 and a half knots for a few hours. The wind came and went but we continued to sail practicing that great skill of patience which is well taught by sailing……if you don’t immediately reach for the engine starter switch as soon as the wind fades.
So now it is 10 am, we are travelling at a nice 3.5 knots (short pause to do a little sail trim), the sun is out, and it is time to start preparing to anchor in Martini Cove, our intended stop while we explore the environs of San Carlos by dingy. There will be lots of work to prepare the boat to leave for 5 months. It will be somewhat different this year because we are leaving the boat on the hard rather than in the water. However, we have one year of experience as to what was useful, what wasn’t and what we totally missed last year being neophytes to the cruising life style. I will close now by saying I hope that all of you who have a chance to read this are well and happy. Hopefully I will be inspired to write some historical details regarding how we got to this point which has been a great adventure and as we always say this is an adventure, not a holiday. Take care.
As a late note we ended up sailing into Bahia San Carlos rather than Martini Cove and we really like our anchorage here. It is a beautiful view in every direction and we are looking forward to getting the Katie G ready for summer with the gentle south breezes blowing to keep us a bit cooler. At this time of year the day time temperature is about 95 degrees so the breeze is always welcome…..except when you are trying to wash and fold sails or climb the mast to remove and protect instruments and other equipment.
I hope this note finds you all happy and well.
An Unexpected Month in Mazatlan
05 March 2013 | Mazatlan, Mexico
Well, the voyage to San Blas was eventful. We sailed as per the last blog, leaving Marina Mazatlan on the 1st and hoisting the sails in light winds when we cleared the harbor mouth. . We lost our wind after 25 hours, south of Isla Isabella and fired up the engine. At this point we were about 2 hours from San Blas and not that far from La Cruz ( P.V.) Shortly after, I went below and noticed a strange smell, looked in the engine room, did not see anything, went up and informed the Captain. Chuck went below to check things out. In that time, he started to see smoke seeping into the engine room , went into the aft cabin, pulled the floorboard hatch into the area where you adjust the packing gland. He yelled up to put the engine in neutral and shut her down, which I did. I went below and started opening all the hatches to let out the smoke-billowing from the burning packing from the packing gland and the cutlass bearing. The propshaft was red hot and it took us awhile to get the propshaft cooled with sea water. Luckily, there is nothing flammable in this area except the packing which is a finite and small amount.
We sat awhile as there was no wind and decided that we would set sail for Mazatlan as the best mechanic to our knowledge was back were we had just come from. The availability of parts is poor in San Blas and as well, if we were not able to use the engine at all, entering San Blas harbor would be impossible without a tow.
We spent the next 24 hours trying to sail north against the prevailing light wind. The scariest part was trying to avoid crossing into a fishing fleet just north of Isla Isabella during the night when they do their fishing. With no wind and no engine, we decided to heave to. In the morning when the wind picked up a tiny bit and light came, we decided to do some tests on the engine and see if we could safely start the engine, cool the propshaft enough to safely run at low speed to get back to Mazatlan. To make a long story short, taking temperatures of the propshaft at different locations on the propshaft as we increased the RPM, we were able to determine that we could safely motor back.
We got back into port Feb.5. Since that time, we have done a lot of investigation into what is our best solution. We have decided to take the opportunity to repower the Katie G. Although our current Pathfinder Engine is running like a dream, it is obsolete. We have a lot of parts but it is 27 years old, and as we plan to sail further afield over the next years, we have decided to spring for the new engine. So, Chuck researched the engines that would be suitable and are available for our boat and we have decided on a Yanmar 75 Turbo. How he arrived at that conclusion could be the topic of book but I won’t go there in this blog. We had information from other Kelly Peterson’s who have repowered and Chuck did a lot of research/comparisons and plotted curves on RPM, fuel consumption, horsepower etc. Anyway, we are happy with our decision. We got hauled last Mon. Feb.25 and are now on the hard in the yard. The bottom has been painted ( one coat to go). We were going to do this in San Blas where you can do your own work but as we are hauled anyway, it makes sense to have it done at the same time( no brainer). It will be about 2 weeks more before our new engine gets here, installed and the rest of the checks on the propshaft etc done. We expect to do our 50 hours of required motoring by going to La Cruz. Then we will have to be back here for the 50 hour check up with Bob. Coolest thing is that Bob is from Wabamum, near Edmonton! He is the Master Marine Surveyor and mechanic and owns Total Yacht Works.
So, in terms of life in Mazatlan, it is a great place to have to be to get work done. We enjoyed Mardi Gras, third largest in the world( 3rd to Rio and New Orleans). We enjoyed the fire works on the Sat. and the amazing parade on the Sun. The event was very family oriented, with lots of generations watching the events together. There were few displays of “excess” which contrasts so obviously with the festivals of the northern cultures.
I went on a tour of a few villages with our friends, Phoebe and reg Wilson and their daughter Alia. It was a great day and we saw a few of the ways the local people do their trades- making brick, tiles, bread, furniture. It is very hands on and fabulous workmanship.
We have been taking the opportunity to work on the various projects that seem to rear their heads. I am currently refinishing the folding cockpit table. Chuck is installing speakers and will remove the waterpuppy once again ( Sump motor-3rd time) and get a new one ordered.
Today, we are going to a Salvation Army home that is for abandoned kids. We have seen these children perform cultural dances a few times and they are wonderful. So today is an open house complete with dinner. There are lots of cruiser activities to participate in. We have met some wonderful people and our friends from Three Sheets who have just put on their 50 hours will be heading off to Costa Rica where they plan to summer their boat for Hurricane season before heading through the Panama next season.
It becomes apparent that life will dictate a path and how you deal with it becomes the adventure. I count my blessings each day and appreciate the learning experience and the gifts that come with this turn in the works.
We are healthy, and happy. Hope you are the same.