12/12/2009, Ensada de Los Muertos
After days of waiting(along with 12 other boaters), we made the jump to Ensenada Los Muertos. Now yesterday(Wednesday), had been another day of waiting. We needed the wind to finally drop to under 20 and the wind swells to back down some. They had been rolling down the Sea of Cortez at a rate of a 5 foot wave every 5 seconds or less. That, mixed with the wind is not a fun day on a sailboat. The wind howled through the anchorage and blew and blew and blew. With the DuoGen on the stern, it blew so much, I didn't have to fire up the engine to get the amps replaced in the battery.
Today(Thursday) was the day. The winds were forecast to be only 10 to 15 and maybe 20 as a max depending on who you spoke to or read. The best time to leave was in the early morning. Winds and waves would be at their smallest. We got a radio transmission from a boat called "Pam Demonium" that they had left the anchorage about 2330 hours. They got slammed by waves and winds as they rounded the corner of the small bay we were in(Los Frailes). They thought for a while that they would have to turn back as they had a few days ago during a previous attempt. Instead, they along with the folks on Arena(we first met them in San Diego) took off. Arena was actually the first out and there was no stopping them.
So we got up on deck and made the last preparations for getting underway. Several other boats were up on deck also getting ready. We upped the anchor about 0030(living the dream remember) and headed out under a moonless sky. It was blowing about 15 to 20 when we left the anchorage. More boats followed us out. There had been 13 boats in the anchorage, some for over a week just waiting. Two by two, out we came into the wind and waves. They hadn't let up. In the end, we think 7 of the 13 boats took off today, maybe more. Off we set, with the wind on our port(left) side at a steep(for a boat) angle. We were getting nailed by winds at about 45 degrees, luckily coming from the Northwest. Off we went--slowly but surely. We don't know why, but with winds like those(20+ knots), we should have been easily hitting 6.5 knots. Instead, we were lucky to do 3.5 knots. We put up different sail combinations_- reefed main with the foretaysail.. Full main with the forestaysail and a small amount of the Genoa sail. Nothing got us up to anywhere near 6 knots.
We sailed across parts of the Sea of Cortez about 18 miles out from the Baja and as much as 35 miles from where we started. Not quite in the right direction, but sort of. Once out 36 miles, we looked to turn West to head up to where we actually wanted to go(still on the Baja side). We had hoped to make it back on a nice 90 degree turn but Mother Nature would have nothing of that, so we ended up turning 120 degrees which put us on the wrong heading for where we needed to go. Much too far South. The winds continued coming from the North with matching waves. Once we figured out that there was just no way to make any kind of speed toward our destination, we threw in the towel and started the engine. As it turns out, so did most of the "fleet" from Los Frailes. By the time we were done, we had gone 76 miles to cover the distance of 42 miles to get to De Las Muertos. A long and punishing day for all of us. We're now anchored at 23 59.215N 109 49.720 W. At least that is what the Garmin says. But looking at the map on the Garmin, it shows us on land. So much for accuracy.
One boat blew out his Genoa sail. He arrived just after us with it in tatters. Another had problems with his transmission and limped in later. Another tore the leech(outside edge) edge of his Genoa slogging through the wind and waves. We have problems with the fresh water pump running continually. We didn't catch it till morning so it took a lot of our amps over night. It wasn't running when we arrived and started sometime during the night. It appears to be just some air in the lines as after running the faucets for a while and getting some air out, it appears to be back to normal. The bilge pumps also decided to act up. They won't shut off(both the auto pump and the emergency pump)unless I turn them off at the main breaker box(not a smart idea when on passage). Looks like I'll be back down in the bilge later this morning.
Some that made it in with us last night have already left for the slog into La Paz to try and make it during the flood tide. Some of us are trying to recover before setting off early tomorrow morning. The tide hits its high by 0930 so we have some miles to cover before we put in at an anchorage to wait it out.
12/12/2009, Bahia Los Frailes
We're still "stuck" in Bahia Los Frailes(pronounced Fry-lays) by the big winds. We were in the 30 knot range through the evening and into the night. We had hoped to head North to Ensenada de Los Muertos(Cove of the Dead) if the wind had calmed down, but it did not. So here we sit and wait. There are a lot worse places to be "stuck". We do have to be in La Paz by next Sunday to get ready for our sons arrival.
Yesterday we were treated to a sight of manta rays jumping out of the water and doing belly flops back down. There were four to five at a time flying and splashing down. It appeared that they were herding a bigger school of fish of some sort around the bay. It went on for a good 20 minutes. It all started just after we returned from snorkeling around the reef close to shore near our bow. We saw an amazing assortment of all types of fish with colors so bright. Tracy saw a moray eel as it came out from the rocks below her. She quickly backed away from him. They have sharp teeth. As we swam along, I saw something shiny on the bottom(about 25 feet down) and headed down to get it. I found a nice fishing lure to add to our collection. The last time I saw something shiny on the bottom, it turned out to be a gold ring while we were sailing in the Virgin Islands a few years ago.
Earlier in the morning, I took Puff and Dragon and made trips to some of the other boats to see where they were headed and see if they were going to La Paz as to where they would be staying. Most appeared to be going to the Marina La Paz versus any of the others. I figure(once we get there)we will anchor and check at each marina to see what each has to offer. While we don't expect to be in a marina for an entire month, it never hurts to shop around.
Our friends on Arena showed up about 1430 after a good sail up the coast from Cabo. They got lucky and had wind from a direction that allowed them to sail where we had to motor North from the South cape. It was good to see them again. We stopped in to chat and meet the company(their kids)they had picked up while in Cabo. Having been here a few days, we clued them into the reef for snorkeling.
So, here we sit, dingy on board and stowed, all ready to go with a forecast for winds in the high 20's to mid 30's waiting for the calm to arrive.
12/12/2009, Bahia Los Frailes
We started today listening to Don Anderson's weather forecast on the SSB Amigo Net that broadcasts about 0700. His forecast is for big winds--20 to 25 knots building to 35 by tomorrow afternoon and all from the North, just the direction we need to go. I think we may be here for a few days.
We started cleaning up different area of the boat today and started with the sump under the shower stall and the filter all that water goes through before being pumped overboard. Can you say GROSS! We straightened out different area to just make Zephyr look a bit tighter as we go through the waves.
About noon, two folks(Dennis and Pam from Pamdemonium)came by to tell us they were putting together a pot luck party on shore about 1530 and would be calling around to see what everyone was bringing about 1400. Sound like fun and sure beats cleaning. Puff was quickly launched and Dragon added to get us to shore. We put on the wheels to make it easier to get up on the beach and decided to bake some ginger cookies. When the call went out at 1400, we were the only boat to suggest any kind of desert so that worked out fine.
About 1530, all the dingys around the bay--10 of us--headed for shore. In we came and up onto the sand. Our third beaching with no problems. Each time we get better. A quick walk down the shore meeting people from all over the world. A nice couple from Australia just heading down the coast from Vancouver Island. Another man just returning from Tahiti. Others from Marina del Rey and the list goes on. A wide group of people all brought together by being sailors. A fun evening of swapping stories and getting to know each other better. We'd met some before and some are now new friends. This is something that just doesn't happen back at home. Heck, if someone stopped by and ran the door bell, you probably wouldn't even answer the door. A few days ago, Dave from Idaho asked me if it was difficult meeting people out here. Heck no, it's easy!! We all have pretty much the same thing in common with different stories to tell.
About Sun down, the party broke up and we all headed back toward our dingys. We turned ours around(still on wheels) and took her back down to the surf line. The tide had come in and we were right at the surf line as it was. We push Puff out into the water and I started the engine(in neutral of course) and jumped in once we were far enough out as Tracy steadied Puff. I got her out a bit farther and suddenly, it became quite apparent that there was no way for Tracy to get on board. She was hanging on to the ropes along the side and getting dragged along as we slowly putt putted out. With no way to get on board, there wasn't much to do but keep going with her laughing most of the way out. It looked strange but with the Sun down, no one could see her. Before we left Los Angeles, I had purchased a boat ladder for just such a situation, but I'd never installed them. Care to guess what will be installed tomorrow morning? Anyway, we got back with no problems and rinsed off the salt water while on deck(we have one of those solar shower gizmos). We don't want to ever ring salt water below deck as it doesn't dry and makes the cabin floor very slippery.
It's now just after 1900 and we have settled in for a quiet night. The winds(forecast to be at 25 knots right now) had died to next to nothing. The stars are out and with no moon, it's gorgeous. Now we will see what tomorrow brings.
12/12/2009, Bahia Los Frailes
Well, we're getting closer to La Paz. We upped the anchor at 0500 for the 46 miles trip to Los Frailes. One of the few anchorages along the coast from Cab San Lucas to La Paz. The wind forecast was for them to be out of the Northeast at 10 to 15 knots. We found them at closer to 20 so up went the main with one reef and the forestaysail was put up and we rolled out just a bit of the Genoa. James, the Hydrovane took over and off we went. The little bit of the genoa was just to much so we rolled it back in. We were still making 6+ knots and in the direction we wanted to go. A while later, the winds died somewhat so we raised the main the entire way and rolled out the Genoa again and on we went. About noon, the winds died so in or down came the sails and the motor was started. As we rounded the South end of the Baja, the winds came back with a vengence. Up to 25 knots and then up to 35 knots and straight at us out of the North. We were getting plowed with winds far in excess of what had been forecast. The swells came at us at 8 to 10 feet and close together so we were flying up in the air and slamming into the troughs between the waves with water splashing down the deck and crashing onto the dodger. Without it, we would have been soaked. On we pushed making 2 to 3 knots. We finally pulled into Bahia Los Frailes about 1430 and dropped anchor amongst 10 other boats. Some we recognize from Cabo. They had left several days ago and apparently got stuck here due to the big winds. The DuoGen is having a field day whipping out the amps for the batteries.
So in we come to experience the beauty of the area? Heck no, I take off for below decks to change the oil. Having run the engine for a few hours, it was nice and hot and ready to be pumped out and replaced. While I was at it, I changed the oil in the injector pump since it was just about time for it's replacement. By 1700, I was done just as the Sun was about to set. Cruising is working on your boat in different locations We won't discuss Port Townsend or Seattle. Los Angles was the transmission and installing the SSB radio. San Diego was rounding up provisions and getting scuba diving equipment and having it serviced. Ensenada, Mexico--wait in line to check into Mexico. Cabo San Lucas--fix the hydraulic steering(still leaks a few drops every now and then. I'm going to replace the entire fitting assembly once we get to La Paz). But hey, the auto pilot worked just fine so there was really nothing wrong with it, just the hydraulic steering.
Oh, if you are planning to come cruising down South to Mexico and like saltine crackers--bring all you can stuff into your boat as a box of 4 tubes of them run close to $7.00!! Crackers are one of the things we eat while on passage so we need them on board. I paid over $20 for three boxes at the store. Costco doesn't carry them. Mexico crackers are nothing like crackers in the US. For the most part, they are quite tasteless.
Anyhow, the oil is now changed and depending on the weather forecast(if you can believe them) we may be off tomorrow. If it is still honking out there, we may have to wait a day so we don't get too beaten up. I'll let you know where we end up tomorrow. Have a great weekend.
12/11/2009, Cabo San Lucas,Mexico
We took off in Puff for Cabo to hit the bank and get more dollars changed into Pesos. You only can do this till noon. The banks won't change dollars after that. I don't understand either. I don't make the rules down here.''
We stopped in to see Walter and his little girl Elsie. We took her some paper and pencils so she can draw and learn to write. A great little girl with a great Dad. Off to get some gasoline for Dragon and the Honda Generator. The Honda still doesn't work even after we drained all the old fuel out and put in new. Tomorrow, if I can find it, I'll put in a new spark plug and give it another go.
After lunch, we took off to Cabo one last time. We forgot to take in the trash and I wanted to see if I could find a rod to stick in "James" the Hydrovane so he could be used as an emergency rudder should the need arise again(God forbid). Sorry, the hardware store doesn't carry rods, or dowels or a piece of 1.5" pipe either. Maybe in La Paz.
Off to the Arch to see what has made Cabo such a tourist mecca. It's quite impressive and we beached Puff farther down the coast on a deserted beach. "Lover's Beach"(even after the cruise ship left) was still packed with people. We got Puff to shore even with no wheels to help us. Now getting back off shore was a bit of a challenge but we did it with few mishaps. OK, a little water splashed into Puff, OK, a lot of water, but we stayed afloat just fine(it's an inflatable anyway).
Back to Zephyr for a nice quiet dinner--well, not so quiet as we now have to run the diesel engine to make the amps to recharge the battery banks since the Honda won't run, but that's ok. We get the Honda figured out soon.
We spent the evening getting everything stowed again as we are off for Bahia Los Frailes anchorage tomorrow. Our stay, longer than we would have liked but really enjoyed is drawing to a close. While it has been fun, we are ready to move on to a more quiet anchorage. Music is flowing across the bay as I type this and it has every night we have been here far into the night. Tomorrow, all will be quiet for a change.
I posted more photos to the Cabo Gallery so take a look when you get a chance. For those of you just finding my blog, you can check out our earlier posts at svzephyr.blogspot.com. There is a link along the right side of the blog. You will find there the first 500+ posts of our travels and all the work we have done getting ready for our adventures. OH, I tend to rant a bit just to warn you.
More is still coming so stay tuned.
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.