12/10/2009, Cabo San Lucas,Mexico
We're still in Cabo working on getting the steering fixed. Yesterday, we went in on the dingy to continue searching for the necessary parts we needed. A coupling barrel(that's a nut that is longer than your standard nut folks) nut had broken that holds the end of the copper hydraulic line to the rubber hose that connects to the steering ram that steers Zephyr. Well, it had developed three cracks in it's sides and the pressurized oil that goes through it was coming(in large amounts) through the cracks. Tuesday, no luck, but had a great day going all over town with Walter and Jaime(Walter's nephew) drinking beer and having lots of fun. We saw sights on Cabo few tourists get to see.
Anyhow, yesterday, we went back to the very first place we went to on Tuesday morning, Cabo Yacht Center and talked to Mike Frank(General Manager). He set us straight as to what we needed. A barrel nut(or coupler nut) would be easy to find, the problem was the "flared fitting" that had been used as it was made for a gas line and not an oil line. He didn't have any but know exactly where to get one. OK, off to find Walter and another rent a car. Well, Walter was spending the morning with his youngest daughter(2) and was running late and National Rent a car was not open yet. Another woman came over and offered to help us. She called Alamo Rent a car and made arrangements for us to get a car. She then found the Alamo agent and got us all taken care of. Let me tell you, the people here in Mexico could not be more help full and nice. I can't say enough about how wonderful they have been. Off we went in our rent a car to find Costco, Walmart, and Home Depot. Home Depot was first--they had the compression fitting we needed!!! We bought two for when the other fitting dies. On to Costco. We just can't get out of there for less than $300 if we tried. Lots more provisions for the up coming weeks. Our son is coming to spend Christmas with us so we needed to lay in some extra stuff.
On to Walmart, or as they call it on the maps "Wallmart". We just needed a few more things. OK, back to the marina and try and find a place we can take our dingy so we can load it up with everything we bought. Off to find Walter. A quick look and there was no way we would get everything into our poor little dingy. Walter got us a water taxi and we parked our dingy right beside his business. Off we went in a panga(water taxi or fishing boat)back to Zephyr with a boat load of supplies. We invited Walter on board as well as the panga driver to see our boat and meet the furr people. Off we went back to shore. A friend of Walter's had given him some fresh caught Mahi Mahi and he was going to take it to one of the local restaurants that will cook up anything you catch for $5.00. He was taking us to dinner and even supplying the fish. The least we could do was buy the beers. We headed back to Puff and took off just about sunset for the ride to Zephyr. Now we were ready to fix the steering assembly on Thursday.
This morning, we got up and fired up the engine to charge the batteries. The poor Honda generator has stopped working. We think it is just bad gas. I assembled the oil line and the barrel nut and we cleared the stern bunk so I could get in there and get the job done. On went the hose and the connection was made to the copper oil line. Once that was done, we went to the cockpit and filled the oil reservoir with hydraulic oil. It gets poured into the pump through a tube in the steering column. Once filled, I took off for the stern cabin and the steering assembly. I had Tracy turn the wheel while I "bled" the system of the air in the lines. First the port and then the starboard line. I looked over at the connector and hey, guess what? It was leaking. Crap!!! Not again. I grabbed two of our wrenches and tightened it up. No good. It still leaked. OK, next take out the new fitting and install the old compression fitting. I tightened it down and the stinking thing still leaked. OK, it's time to go for the professionals. I'd done everything I could do. The towel was thrown it.
I'd picked up one of the cards for Cabo Yacht Center and called them on channel 88. I was put in touch with Mike again and he was going to round up a hydraulic specialist and would have him ready when I got to shore in our dingy. Off I went. Martin was waiting for me when I got to Cabo Yachts and off we went back to Zephyr. Martin came on board and went below with me to see the problem. He looked at it. Dried off the oil and took out two wrenches. He loosened the compression fitting till it leaked and then tightened it back up. Tracy spun the wheel and NO OIL!!!! I guess I was just not holding my mouth just right when I did the fitting tightening. Since I was paying for an hour, I wanted to get my monies worth, so I had him bleed the air out of the copper lines. Back into Puff(our dingy) and back to shore. Project all fixed. I thanked Mike and Martin for coming to our aid. If you are ever here in a boat and need some help--give Cabo Yacht Center a try. When I returned to Zephyr, I went back below and inspected the fitting and got out some cloths to inspect it. I found just a bit of oil at one fitting so I tightened it and now we should be fine. I'll be heading under the stern mattress to check it out one last time before we head out in a few days. If there is a problem, I want it fixed tomorrow(Friday) since they will be closed over the weekend.
On the trip back in Puff, I saw Arena, one of our friends from San Diego. They had just pulled in after leaving Mag Bay a few days after us. They made better time with better winds than we had. They dingied over to visit a few hours later. Meanwhile, Tracy and I went for our first swim in Cabo by just jumping off of Zephyr's side. The water is so clear, I could see our anchor on the bottom. While the water wasn't the warmest, it still made for some nice swimming. A few hours later, over came Nigel and Fay off Arena and we talked for quite a while. They were both tired from their trip and took off for their boat a few hours later. A nice dinner of bratwursts and carrots and the day is just about over.
Tracy spent a great deal of time getting everything put away that we had bought or dragged back to Zephyr. She looks nice and tidy and ready to set out. We figure just one more day here to soak up the sun and then we will be off heading around the East side of the Baja Penninsula and into the Sea of Cortez and start heading for La Paz for Christmas.
12/08/2009, still in Cabo
Ok, I'm back. I'll try a different tack. Type this up and do a cut and paste since they only allow me to be logged on for a short period of time.
Anyhow, as it happened, we hadn't done all the steps we needed to do before visiting the Port Captain. We had to visit the equivalent of the Harbor Master and pay to be able to drop an anchor in his harbor. Ok, so off we went but first a lunch at Cafe Lolita along the way. A lovely little outside restaurant(even the cooking is done outside). Tracy had the Chili Reyenos and I had a chicken quasadilla(never could spell). A really nice meal way off the roads for tourists. Off for the Harbor Masters office. Oops, sorry, closed for their two, yes, that's right, a TWO HOUR LUNCH people. I counted my blessing when I got 30 minutes way back when. OK, we will come back later.
Off to get a taxi to find the replacement part we needed with the old part in hand(or pocket in this case). A gentleman approached us and asked if we needed a taxi. Now there are two BIG cruise ships parked just outside the marina and the docks are jammed with lily white tourists with their cameras snapping away(did they get dressed in the closet with the lights turned off?). And here we are, not the best dressed and anything but lily white anymore but we needed a taxi. Well, Walter could take care of that. Off he went to find a friend of his that would take us any where we wanted and stay with us for as long as we needed. Just $35.00. That was the best he could do. OK, sure what ever. When he came back, sorry, his friend couldn't make it so he would take us and his nephew, Hemie was going to tag along. Oh, we need to rent a car from National Rent a Car. It would be much easier and he could get it for only $35.00 and then I could pay him whatever I felt his time was worth. Off we went to National(part in my pocket) and out we went in a jeep Wrangler, the four of us. It's now about 1430 and oh, I forgot to tell you, the rent a car was only good till 1730 hours. Yep, for our $35.00, we got to keep the car for a whole 3 hours!!! Nope, it's not for 24 hours, oh no, that's not how they rent cars here in Cabo.
Off we went with Walter driving to a marine supply store. Nope, not there. On to the next(with Walter acting as my interpreter), and the next and the next(with a quick stop for an 8 pack of beer to drink along the way). Each place clued us into another place where we might find it. After at least 10 stops(and a second for another 8 pack of beer) we gave up and returned to the marina area. Now Walter has an friend that is a mechanic that will look at the part tomorrow and is sure he can find a new one. So tomorrow, we will set off again. This time, I'm taking the hose off the hydraulic ram along so people can see how the two fit together and what threads are needed. The problem has been that that barrel nut had different threads on each side. Both ends aren't the same thread. Most places we went had connectors that would fit one end but not the other. Heimie sat in the back with Tracy and they had the best time drinking beer and talking. Heimie is on his way to LaPaz to open a restaurant. He used to live and work in Denver and was even a waiter at The Broker Restaurant(done town Denver) for quite some time. We've eaten there several times. Such a small world out here people. He promised us a meal once we get to LaPaz in a few weeks.
Tracy took off for the Harbor Master's office while I checked the car in. They told her to go to the Marina Office to get checked in. We couldn't find it but did find a Security Man for the docks. He took us right back to the office Tracy had just been to and took us up stairs where we were checked in by the Harbor Master. We don't know why the first person didn't take us to that office but told us to go somewhere else.
We got to Puff just after Sun down and made our way back to Zephyr in the quickly darkening harbor. Once home, we took off Dragon and stowed Puff in her sling along Zephyrs side for the night, safely out of the water.
Tomorrow is another day. We will see what excitement it brings. We're not in Kansas anymore Toto!!!
12/08/2009, Cabo San Lucas,Mexico
I'm sure you read my earlier post from today so I'll start where I left off.
After breakfast-oatmeal, yum, I took a shower to get all the salt and grit that had piled up over the past few days(got to conserve water you know) and started in on the steering assembly. First we had to lift the bed to get it off the panels that cover the compartment that houses all the steering assembly. To do that, I have to crawl under the mattress and push it up and onto the ledge at the stern of the compartment so Tracy can jam support cushions under it to hold it up. Once that is done, we remove the panels that support the mattress and voila, there is the steering assembly. Out comes all the boxes we have stored down there. We have to take advantage of every square inch when you live in such a small area. Down I went into the small space to examine the fitting that started the mess in the first place. I'm posting pictures of things we have seen and places we have been, so look at the photo album along the right side of the blog folks.
Any how, you will see in the pictures two copper lines. One covered in blue and the other just the way it is. The blue one is the one that leaked, but all covered in that "Rescue Tape" crap I told you about(don't buy it folks). Once I cut it off and cleaned the line and connectors, I had tracy turn the wheel up in the cockpit to see where the leak was coming from. If you look at the lower line, you can see a long rectangular barrel nut that connects all the fittings, well that is what leaked!! It had developed 3 cracks along its sides and oil was seeping through the cracks. Sometimes, lots of it. This is a solid piece of brass folks. In all my days, I've never seen a nut crack. Bolts break sure, but a nut crack and in three places, nope but here it was. It wasn't a hose, nor a connection, nope, it was the connector. Nothing we did caused this, it was just a badly manufactured piece of metal. So, out it came and we launched Puff with Dragon and headed for shore to the big marina.
We putt putted in surrounded by lots of big dollar boats and tied up to the dingy dock($3.00 please) and headed for the Post Captain to check in. The law says that when you pull into a post that has a Port Captain, you must check in and check out with him. Don't know why they pick on boaters but they do. I don't think the folks in motor homes have to check in with the police or the mayor when they pull into town. So we track down his office and set off. Sevral block later we found it and they looked at us like we were crazy for checking in. Not many of the boaters do apparently.
Sorry, I've got to post this as I'm about to be logged off. More in a few minutes.
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.