12/08/2009, Cabo San Lucas,Mexico
We made it into Cabo San Lucas about 2100 violating one of our primary rules of not entering a harbor after dark. We made the decision for two reasons. 1-our hydraulic steering was dying fast and there was no way to maintain a course with no steering equipment. 2- it was late and we were not that far off shore that we couldn't make it in a few hours under motor power.
If you read the last post, you know about our steering problems. We put up the sails and engaged the Hydrovane to make us go and go we did. Clocking good speed through the night and through the day. We eventually took down the sails about 1100 and put out the spinnaker and continued South toward Cabo. With James(Hydrovane) doing the steering, we took all the pressure off our main assembly. The "Rescue Tape" I put on the copper pipe did nothing to stem the flow of the oil. It still dripped all over the place(don't buy any).
About 15 miles short of Cabo, the winds died to less than 4 knots and we decided to start the engine and limp into the harbor and drop the anchor. It was a tense 3 hours with the wheel all but unresponsive for most of the way and lots of pangas(small fishing boats) all over the entrance to the harbor. I'd have to turn it a great many turns on the wheel to baby even a few degrees out of any turning movement. Tracy fired up the radar so we could see everything that was out in front of us. It made coming into the harbor safely possible. We passed the stone arch as we entered the harbor and dropped the hook just off shore about 2100.
This morning, I got lucky and the Honda Generator started again. It has failed to start over the last day or so but managed to take pity on me a came to life. It's now running on the stern putting out precious amps for the battery to absorb.
Now it's time to pull everything out from under the stern bunk and see what the actual problem is with the copper line. Hopefully just a loose connection. But we shall see.
I have internet as of now and will try and post some new photos when time permits.
12/07/2009, 23 17.008N 110 37.981W
OK, here's what been going on for the past 48 hours. Some busy some not.
On Saturday with Puff off the decks for a change, we gave Zephyr a much needed bath. Out with the buckets and brushes and we went at it. With all the blowing dirt as we made it down the coast, she was a mess to say the least. Unfortunately, we lost the boat hook that screws into the brush so it was down on the knees and do it the old fashioned way. The boat hook fell overboard during a tack when it got caught in the sheets for the Genoa as we came about. That sucker sinks fast too. Not a floater. Any how, once done, she looked great, or at least better. We decided to stow Puff as we planned to set off for Cabo on Sunday getting an early start. It's about 175 miles if you go in a straight shot(not what sailors do). We had Lene and Henrik from Dana for drinks and stories and to swap software. As I have said in the past, they are a great couple with lots of stories and experience under their keel. They have sailed all the way from Denmark across the Atlantic and around the Cape off the South end of South America. Not a lot of people do that. Most take the Panama Canal. Up past Chile and over to Hawaii. Then up to Alaska and now down the coast. It's like I said, lots of experience. We made it an early evening as we wanted to set out early in the morning.
We upped the anchor about 0840 and motored out of Bahia Magdelena(the wind was straight at us of course). Once free of the bay, the winds shifted and we upped the sails and took off heading South. Just as we left the mouth of the bay, Dana radioed us that they had just caught a Dorado(also know as Mahi Mahi) as they were following us out also heading for Cabo. We are still waiting to catch a fish we can eat. Shark doesn't count. We had all the canvas up we could. The main, genoa and forestaysail. All pulling nicely in what wind we had. We were doing about 3.5 knots is we were lucky and many times down to 2 knots. No water speed record here. Although on our trip down from Punta Abreojos, the Garmin said we had dine 135 knots!! Yeah right--electronic glitch.
By 1300, we decided to put up the spinnaker and work her for all she was worth. So we rolled in the genoa and lowered the forestaysail and dropped the main and up went the spinnaker--all 1200 square feet of her. With a big WOP, she blew open and we were on our way again and faster too. Of course it helped that the wind picked up some, but we were doing 6+ knots in about a 10 knot breeze. Once we had left the bay, Dana had stayed closer to shore than we did and must have gotten better winds a they blew past us like we were standing still. Once the spinnaker was up, we made up time and caught them over the next 5 hours or so. We saw them on the horizon sailing along. A few minutes later, we saw that they had also launched their spinnaker. Being a ketch(two masted), they had their mizzen sail up as well as their spinnaker and were making good time. About 1800, we decided to drop our sails as the winds was dying as the Sun went down.
On came the motor and off we continued into the night. If you have read any of the past few posts, you will know that we have had problems with the auto pilot. Well ,I had worked on it on Friday with apparently no effect as it would still work for a while and then crash and then work for a while and then crash. So, I had to hand steer Zephyr into the night. Once Tracy cam up for her watch-2300 to 0300, I went below to check it out again since we were out and could check what I fixed to see if I had actually fixed it. I loosened one of the nuts I had tightened and then started inspecting the system from the stern forward. All looked well until I ran my hand under the copper hydraulic lines that run from the steering pump to the rudder arm. It had oil dripping off it. This is BAD!!! It's not supposed to do that!!! We had a leak. I looked farther at it and found that a folding chair that we had stored down in the compartment had fallen down and had rubbed on the pipe. There was a hole somewhere along the line. Not sure where, but it was either the copper tube or where they joined onto a section of rubber hose that goes to the hydraulic arm that controls the steering assembly. It's now almost 2400(yes, that's midnight-living the dream remember?) I'm upside down with my head stuck down into a hot smelly compartment under our berth sweating like a stuck pig(no offense to any pigs out there that are reading this) and tired to boot. I pulled out a roll of "Rescue Tape". This is a product that they sell at boat shows that is supposed to seal "any"leak. It's a roll of silicone tape that when it touches itself, melts and sticks to itself. When stretched, it really makes a strong seal(so they claim). I took off several lengths of it. Since it bonds to it self, one side has a plastic strip so it won't touch when it in a roll. Down I went and I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped. Back up and into the cockpit. I had Tracy turn the wheel from side to side(of course she had to wait till I climbed back under the bunk(living the dream remember?). Back and forth. Still a bit of a leak. More tape. Try it again. Still a bit of a leak. More tape. Now no leak. Ok, lets try it with the auto pilot. Oh crap, it leaks like a sieve!! Dry it off(it's oil remember, good luck with that) and add more tape. Now . at least the leak is down to a minimum. but fine with just the regular steering. We were facing a night of hand steering a big boat with a leaky hydraulic steering assembly. Not the most enjoyable time on a boat and it's now 0030 hours. When I came up on deck to tell Tracy the news, she told me the wind had come up and why not just sail. What a novel way to make a sailboat move!!
Now Tracy and I aren't big on sailing at night if we can avoid it. It stems back to the early 1980's when we had been stupid and almost lost our son by sailing at night on a 15 foot West Wight Potter sailboat on Cochiti Lake in New Mexico, but that is another story that I won't go into right now. So I clipped on my life vest and headed out on deck. At least the moon had finally come up to help us see what we were doing. Tracy brought Zephyr into the wind and up went the main sail. Next, out rolled the genoa sail. We looked at the winds and raised the forestaysail just for that little bit of extra canvas. I went to the stern to engage "James" our Hydrovane steering assembly. He can steer the boat just as well as we can. We were off heading down the West coat of the Baja making over 6 knots in a nice wind. L:et me tell you, I am eating crow and willing to admit it. I had little faith in James the Hydrovane when we bought him. I had been told by another "experienced" sailor that all they were was "boat show hype" and I was better off investing in a backup auto pilot for the amount of motoring that happens out there. Yes, he was right, we do motor a lot out here but when the sails are up and you want to conserve amps, James is the way to go. I am VERY impressed at how he has performed. I'll do my crow eating and gladly admit it.
Well, it's now after 0100 and Tracy took over while I headed below for my two hours of bunk time since I was due back on watch at 0300. Well, I showed up on time(not much sleep) and was promptly sent back below for more sleep as Tracy wasn't tired. While I felt a bit guilty, I could use the bunk time. By the time I returned at 0445, she was now tired and headed below for her rest period while I stayed in the cockpit. Tracy got the best sailing of the night with us hitting over 8.1 knots. I was lucky to hit 6, but that's OK, it's still faster than we could have motored and it was all free(no diesel). So now we have another thing to get fixed while we are in Cabo. At least when we have things brake on Zephyr, we have been lucky enough to be heading into a large city with lots of people that can fix our problems or get us the parts so we can do it. Meanwhile, here we sit, about 60 miles North of Cabo making our way South. Oh, I forgot to tell you, we are officially in the "tropics" as we crossed the Tropic of Cancer this morning at 0633.. Since the Sun was just starting to come up, I was lucky enough to see the line it makes in the water(yeah right).
Have a great day. More to come once we get into Cabo sometime late this afternoon or evening.
12/01/2009, Mag Bay-Man of War Cove
We started the day digging into the autopilot to see why we kept getting a rudder warning from time to time as we used it to steer us from place to place over the past few trips. I started in the engine room and checked every wire connection and screw to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be and that all the screws were tight. Yep, all appeared to be fine. Next, onto the rudder connection at the stern under the berth(bed to you land lubbers). Up went the mattress and in I went. Tracy and I wore headphones so we could talk easier between the two of us. I had her turn the wheel from side to side several times to see if anything was loose. If you have been following our previous blog for a long time(svzephyr.blogspot.com), you will remember the problems we have had over the past 20 months with the bolts and nuts that hold the rudder post and make it go from side to side keep coming loose. I had originally installed some stainless steel shims to make sure it held fast. Well, the shims had fallen down inside the bracket that the bolts hold tight loosening the clamp. OK, take the bracket apart and reinstall the shims. While loosing the bracket, I reached under the main arm of the hydraulic piston that steers Zephyr and happened to touch the bolt that holds the arm to the piston. Hey, guess what? It has a loose nut also. So out with the biggest wrench I have and some channel lock pliers and it was quickly tightened down. So now all the wires are checked and the nuts and shims are all in place. I guess we will see if what we have done actually makes a difference once we head out for Cabo in a few days.
OK, work is done. Now lets launch Puff and head for shore for our first South of the border beach combing. We added Dragon(our outboard motor) to make it easier to get to shore and brought along our new Danard Marine wheels to make getting ashore easier and headed out. We stopped at Dana to see our friends along the way in and they invited us to stop by on the way back for drinks.
We headed in toward shore remembering everything we had read and heard about how tough it is to beach a dingy. Not this time. There was just about no surf and we just glided in with the wheels hitting the sandy bottom. Tracy jumped out and I stopped the motor and we dragged Puff ashore and up onto the beach nice and safe and sound in case the tide came in while we were out combing. There was just one other dingy on shore and no sign of anyone. We started hiking over the dunes toward the beach at Santa Maria(about a half mile away) where we had stopped and anchored our first night at Mag Bay. It is supposed to have the best beach for combing. I'm glad we brought our dingy in where we did as the surf at Santa Maria is a lot more than in Mag Bay. That beaching would have been a challenge.
We got to the beach and took a left and headed along the surf line. Lots of shells and lots of plastic and trash. Lots of people have been disposing of trash where they shouldn't. Plastic is NEVER supposed to be thrown overboard. You are suppose to take it ashore and burn it if you can. We found plastic bags and oil cans by the dozens. Some lobster pots and crates as well as lots of dead fish. The sea gulls and pelicans as well as vultures were all gathered in one spot having a feast as the majority of dead fish were all in one spot. We even found several dead puffer fish. With the Sun out, was a beautiful and warm(almost hot) day.
We hiked back across the dunes to Puff and headed out toward Dana for some much needed drinks. It's thirsty work beach combing don't you know. We sat in their cockpit and discussed what has been going on since we parted a week ago. It took them a while to get to Santa Maria when we headed for Turtle Bay and they had to face some swells upon their arrival. They did clue us into the local town at Man of War Cove(Puerto Magdalena) where we had checked in with the Port Captain a few day ago. Apparently, they got nailed by a hurricane earlier in the year and the town we just about wiped off the map as was Puerto San Carlos a bit farther up the bay. Most of the houses were destroyed and the church lost its roof. The government has promised to rebuild ten of the houses but with thirty of them being destroyed, it won't help much. They do have electricity now from 1800 to 2300 each day, but that is the only time they have power. They also have wifi at the same time so they can contact the outside world if they need to. It's a strong signal as we can get it(weakly) where we are anchored. There is no FEMA down here to help these folks. While we talked, Heinrik taught me how to down load GRIB files(weather files showing wind and sea conditions) using our SSB. A big step forward for us as we are out sailing. It's a big advantage being able to see what is coming in the days ahead when you don't have a connection to the internet.
We got back to Zephyr about 1600 and settled in for a quiet night. We both took cold showers(living the dream remember) and had a quick dinner. Later in the evening, we hoisted Dragon and Puff back on board for safe keeping. During the night, the wind shifted again to back from the East but our anchor held fast(yeah!).
Today, read more manuals on the SSB and another trip to shore for more combing.
12/01/2009, Mag Bay-Man of War Cove
We upped the anchor this morning to make our way over to Man of War Cove. The night had been strange with the tide versus wind happening all over again at 0400. I was up and checking our anchorage as the wind started coming in the stern port lights. Wind is not supposed to come into your stern cabin that way because it means your boat is anchored backwards from what is normal. The bow always goes into the wind. At 0400, the tidal currents rushing to get out of Mag Bay pulled our stern around again as it had done the previous afternoon. An hour later and we were all back to normal with the bow into the wind.
We headed off for Man of War Cove just 5 miles Northwest of where we were anchored. A short trip right? We decided to do it under sail even though the winds were coming at us from the Northwest. We figured if we headed Northeast for about 5 miles and then tacked back toward Man of War Cove, we would come out just about right and have some fun sailing for a change with a nice day sail. Off we went in 10 knot winds doing nicely with the Genoa rolled out and the main up. We hit a nice 4 to 5 knots, even over 6 when the winds picked up. About 6 miles out, we tacked and headed back(again up wind)toward Man of War Cove. Unfortunately, the wind either shifted or Mother Nature was out playing another joke on us. A normal tack is when you put the bow of the boat through the eye of the wind and set the sails at 90 degrees from the course you had been taking. Well, not this tack. Oh no, we had to turn at least 120 degrees to get wind to fill our sails to make us go. This meant that no matter what we did, we were not going to make it under sail to the new anchorage. We would end up about two miles South of the cove. So we were sailing 11 miles to cover a distance of 3 of the 5 miles we needed to get into the new anchorage. So after having sailed the 11 miles, we took in the sails and started the motor and headed in the last 2 miles to the anchorage. We sailed so far to go such a short distance.
As we entered the cove, we saw Dana, our friends that we had last seen on our way South from Ensenada. They had continued on to Mag Bay while we had stopped at several anchorages along the coast and now we were back together again. They have been at anchorage here since we parted. It 's great to see them again.
After we anchored, we had to wait for the "Port Captain" to come out and inspect our boat. When you sail into a harbor with a town, many times they have a "Port Captain" that is paid by the government to come out and "inspect" in coming boats for all their papers. Do people in motor homes have to report to the mayor of the towns they visit or is it just people on boats that have to visit town officials? Seem strange to me. As we waited, Dana upped their anchor and took off across the cove to another anchorage. There is supposed to be a bout of Santa Ana winds due here over the next day or so(at least that is what the weather gurus say).
Once the "Port Captain" Gregorio came by and we were all checked in, we brought up our anchor and headed for the new anchorage. Dana has traveled the world for years so I tend to believe what they say. We're now anchored for a second time today at 24 39.779N 112 07.565W and will be here for a couple of days. The autopilot has started to act up. Some times it works and sometimes I get a screen that says the rudder isn't heading in the right direction. So tomorrow I'll be in the engine room checking all the wires and their connections as well as all the hoses to make sure everything is alright. If it continues, we will have to have an "expert" come out and look at it once we get to LaPaz. As big as that town is, I would think that there would be a person, even another cruiser that knows all about Simrad/Robertson autopilots.
So we are at anchor awaiting what Mother Nature brings and will be putting the dingy in the water tomorrow to do some beach combing (once the auto pilot gets inspected). All work and no play makes Bill a dull boy.
Until tomorrow--have a great day everyone.
12/01/2009, Mag Bay-Belcher Pint
We made the short hop from Santa Maria to Belcher Point in Mag Bay. Off early this morning so we could have the day to relax once we arrived. Not much wind but tried to sail. Failed. Put the sails down and motored again. For those of you out there, we actually do very little actual sailing. Either there isn't any wind, or it is always and I do mean always from where we want to go and a sailboat doesn't sail ito the wind.
As we rounded the point of the bay and headed in, we got slapped by out coming current. We had arrived just as all the water in the bay was trying to get out the very inlet we were entering. Our timing could not have been worse. Traveling in Alaska and BC had prepared us for this so it was no big deal, it was just unexpected. No "cruising guide" had told us to expect it. We motored in and dropped the anchor at Belcher Point 24 34.789N 112 04.045W about lunch time and settled in.
Shortly after lunch, I had my first swim since we boarded Zephyr back in April of 2008. None of the waters we have been in have been anywhere warm enough to make me go in the water. Diving to replace the zinc in San Diego doesn't count. I was forced to do it because we lost our zinc off the prop again. This time, it was by choice. The water was still only about 73 degrees, but after the initial shock, it was fine. I had on my mask and fins so I could inspect the zinc again(nice and tight screws and the finger nail polish on the screw area was still holding out). I pulled myself down the anchor chain as far as I could go. We had anchored in 19 feet of water and I had let out 100 feet of chain but while I could see the bottom and where the chain had dug in, I couldn't see the actual anchor. Once the inspection was done, I climbed back on board and rinsed he saltwater off. I wasn't about to go below covered in salt water. That's a big nono. It never dries and it really can mess up the wood floors.
Later in the afternoon, we receive an invite from another boat to come over for dinner. No idea who they are, but they had caught a Mahi Mahi and could eat it all so they put out a blanket radio call to come to dinner. You just don't turn down Mahi Mahi so the Puff(the dingy) was put in the water and Dragon(out board engine) was added as it was still blowing about 15 knots and we were ready t head out at 1700.
About 1630, we felt Zephyr change her position. Suddenly, our stern was into the wind the bow was not. That's wrong!! The tide had turned and was coming back into the bay and had caused Zephyrs bow to swing toward the incoming water instead of the wind. We'd only experience this once before and that was way back to when we were anchored just before we hit Prince Rupert, BC. We looked at the other two boats in the bay and they were riding better, so we upped the anchor and motored over to be closer to them. Well, they started getting affected by the same tide we had and they started to swing also. So there we were, Stern to the wind and waves and bow facing the wrong way. We just had to wait it out. Two hours later, we swung back to where we wanted to be and are now fine. Some time during the night, it will probably happen again. By the time this was over, we begged off dinner an stayed aboard in case anything else should happen.
Oh, I forgot to tell you that we caught our first fish yesterday as we were headed South from Punta Abreojos. We'd put a line over the stern and trolled with what is called a "cedar plug". About an hour or two later, we looked over the stern and there was a fish being draged behind us. Actually, it was a shark!! Oh goody, our first fish is a big stinking shark!!! Those thing have sharp teeth an can bite back and he (or she) didn't look to happy with us. I pulled i the line and Tracy got the gaff hook to pull him in. Lucky for us(and for him) we was only a small shark(but still a shark none the less) and I could get him out of the water and onto the deck with out the use of the gaff hook. Tray took my picture as I wrestled him down and got the hook out of his mouth. There was no way I was going to kill a poor little small shark. Their meat is tough to eat anyway. He was about 30 inches long and maybe 5 to 8 pounds. So once the hook was out--no I didn't reach in with my fingers--(you think I'm crazy)it just fell out of the hole it had made, I pick the poor thing up and tossed him back in the water. Meanwhile, all the other boats at anchor were talking about the dorados and yellow fin tunas they had caught and were cooking up for dinner. Oh well, there will come another day when we will catch something we want to eat. Of course, we have no idea what to do with it when we catch it(what ever it may be) but we will learn(pity the poor fish that is first to get caught by us).
So here we sit, rocking in the waves waiting for the winds to calm down so we will settle. Tomorrow is another day--and we will be moving to get away from this madness.