01/01/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
OK, I'm back and it's day 609 since we started back at the end of April in 2008. Hard to believe so much time has passed since we moved on board.
Well, here is a wrap up of the last week with Matt(our son)on board. I know you all read about my massive OOPS! in the last post so I'll start there. Karen asked about how he handled it--Calmly. Actually, he tried to calm me down as I was beating myself up for doing something so dumb. With Tracy along, they both were voices if sanity and reason to my accident.
Any how, we finally left Marina Costq Baja for Isla Pardita and a nice bay called Ensenada Grande along its Northwest shoreline. A great anchorage with three separate inlets off the main entrance. We chose the North one (24 34.000N 110 24.440W)as the center one had a nice beach and lots of tourists that got boated in on Pangas(small fishing boats) from La Paz. The South inlet, had about a half dozen boats already at anchor and we had the North one all to ourselves after the only remaining boat left(about a hour after we pulled in). Our GPS put us up on the shore instead of in the water. That's a big reason why you never enter a new harbor at night. The water was a beautiful shade of blue green with a view all the way to the bottom. We launched Puff and Dragon and took off on a tour of the cove and to find the Blue Footed Booby nest in the next cove. Apparently, they only exist at the Galapagos Islands and along this shoreline(so we have been told). We found a nice group in the next bay. Not hard to find, just look for all the rocks covered with bird poo(not rocket science). I'll post some pictures later of what they looked like. Matt steered us along using Dragon(our outboard) like a pro. When we came back to Ensenada Grande, we went ashore at the beach along the South shoreline and poked through the shells and sand for a while. We used our Danard wheels on Puff to help get us ashore. They worked great at keeping the outboard prop from hitting the bottom. Once on shore, we pulled Puff up to make sure she didn't drift away. It was fun poking around seeing what we could find. When we climbed back in and started Dragon, I noticed that there wasn't much cooling water coming out of the engine. I took over and steered us back to the boat keeping a close eye on the coolant spray of water from the engine. Once back at Zephyr, Matt and Tracy went in for some snorkeling while I stayed on board to read and relax. It was great that the diesel engine on Zephyr had performed flawlessly(no water to screw it up) for the trip over. Of course, the winds had been against us all the way up the island. We settled in for a nice night. The moon was approaching full so it not a great night for star gazing. Boy, the Moon can sure be bright!! We had a nice turkey dinner to celebrate Christmas--a few days late, but what the heck.
We planned on returning to Marina Costa Baja Monday afternoon as Matt was to leave on Tuesday afternoon. Monday started out nice but quickly clouded over and actually started to rain just as we left the anchorage and headed home. When the rains came, the winds left so we were forced to motor back to the marina. Sometimes, there is just no way to win. We had hoped to fly the spinnaker for the trip back, but that was not to be. We got back to Marina Costa Baja about 1630 and settled in along with the rain. La Paz only averages 6 inches of rain a year, so we saw something that rarely happens around here. It rained off and on through the night.
First thing Tuesday, I took off for downtown to pick up our rental car so we could get Matt to the airport. I'd booked a car with National and since I did it online, I got the best deal on a rental car since we have been here. The "normal" rent a car goes for upwards of $60.00 a day!!! And that is for a compact or economy car. I got this one for $37.00 a day--not cheap, but a far better price. While in town, I checked on Marina La Paz for their rates--$39.00 a day. I then stopped at Marina Palmira(about two miles South of town). They came in at just $23.00 a day. A whole lot cheaper than the $37.00 we were paying at Costa Baja and it's within walking distance of downtown. After talking to Tracy, we stopped in after dropping Matt off at the airport and booked ourselves in to their marina for a nice 10 day stint. This will give us plenty of time to work on assorted projects on Zephyr. I want to get the water maker installed if I can possibly do it. While we were there, we did our laundry(hey, it's lots cheaper than Marina Costa Baja) and had a nice lunch at one of their restaurants.
We got Matt to the airport and sadly watched him leave. We're going to try and get him back on board in a few months when we can actually do some sailing.
On Wednesday, we finally got the Honda generator fixed. Favian came by and adjusted the oil inlet so it now starts just fine. With all the work he has done on the generator, he only charged us $60.00!! He's the same guy that took care of the water in the diesel tank problem. We took our propane tank out to be filled. We've been using the same tank since Newport, Oregon--and that was back on August 21. That's over 4 months on one tank. Not bad.
Yesterday--Thursday, we returned the rental car, paid our bill at Costa Baja and took off for the 2.7 mile trip to Marina Palmira. We needed to be out of Costa Baja as early as we could as a big "Norther" was due anytime. These babies pack winds in the 30 knot range and we didn't want to be in the La Paz channel in those winds, let alone going into a marina in them. We're now at Marina Palmira (24 10.959N 110 18.192W) safely tied to the marina. About 30 minutes after we pulled in, the winds started to pick up and they blew for the entire rest of the day and far into the night. When we made our reservations, we had filled in all the paper work so checking in was a breeze. We spent the rest of the day getting settled and having a nice lunch of left over turkey on board.
This morning, I finally found the "ear muffs" that clamp to the outside of the outboard and push water up into the water intake vent. I've been searching for them for quite a while. I just didn't dig deep enough. I hooked the "ear muffs" up to the hose and let her rip. A pull of the lanyard on Dragon and she roared to life though she still didn't produce much water out of her coolant port on the side of the engine. I blew through the hose that goes between the pump and the outlet and it appeared to be partially blocked. I jammed a short piece of wire in the hole. Still no good. I pulled off the hose where it exits the pump and lots of water came out of the opening. When I put the hose back on the pump, it started streaming out the pipe the way it is supposed to. Problem solved. I let Dragon run for another 5- 10 minutes to make sure any salt that might be up in her plumbing was gone and shut her down. Something was just blocking the hose outlet.
I stuck my head under the stern bunk to check the hydraulic steering assembly. Still a drop or two on the pipes but not much to worry about. I'll climb back there in a day or two and get it all straightened out.
We hiked into town to play tourist and have some lunch while visiting the Club Cruceros at Marina La Paz. It's more of a hangout for cruisers making their way through La Paz. A nice library and a lending DVD library. We stopped at the local "Thrifty Ice Cream" parlor on the way back to the marina for a nice dessert. All in all, we walked about 6 miles coming and going. A nice bit of exercise.
You sure can tell the locals from the tourists and yachtistas. While Tracy and I are walking around town in shorts and tee shirts with sun hats and sunglasses, the locals are all bundled up in coats, with scarfs and long pants huddling trying to keep warm. I guess they just have thinner blood than we do.
And there you have it. You're all caught up!! Tomorrow, more projects. We think we may know where we will be installing the water maker. Tomorrow we will see if it fits.
12/30/2009, La Paz, Mexico
I know it's been quite a few days since my last update so here goes. It's a long one so get comfortable.
We'll pick up on Thursday, December 24. Early in the morning, a boat was getting ready to leave the marina to take a trip up to one of the islands. The husband busied himself getting water added to his tanks while you could hear his wife talking from down below that they had quite a bit to go. She also called out that she didn't feel that much air coming from the tanks as the water rushed in. The husband checked his fittings and he was putting water where it belonged. Down the "water" intake hose, not the diesel inlet. After a good 30 minutes, they decided to change sides and start putting the water in on the port side. You could see the husband go over to the port side and unscrew the inlet cap. In went the hose and on went the water from the faucet on the dock. You could still hear the wife below telling him that she didn't feel any air coming from the tanks as water poured in. Well, the husband on deck looks over and suddenly water starts coming on deck up through the inlet pipe. That normally means that the tanks are full. The wife is still telling her husband that there is still 5 inches to go till the tanks are full. The husband walks over to the inlet and sees the water coming out. He also see some strange pink bubbles coming out with the water. He has done what every boater fears--He has put his water hose in the diesel tank inlet and filled his diesel tanks with water!!!!!!!!!!!!! You could hear his cries of anguish and pain all over the marina. He yanked out the hose and yells down to his wife telling her what he has done. You can hear her gasp clear up on deck. Everything stops on this guys boat. He takes off for the marina office to tell them what he has done and to make arrangements to get his tanks all pumped out as soon as possible. You can tell by the look of his boat that he is a cruiser and that his tanks are quite large. You can see the dollars signs all over the place because of what he has done. I've heard of other boaters doing the same thing and let me tell you, it is one of the biggest things you fear that you will ever do.
Any way, the marina takes action and get a guy scheduled to come out for Friday. Oh Oh, that's Christmas!!! No one works on Christmas. They decided to put it off till the 26th and just to spend Christmas at the dock--not much choice there and handle the problem on Saturday.
Any how, we spent our Christmas day going to Cabo Pulmo, about 140 miles South of La Paz. We had passed it(stayed trapped by winds right around the corner from it at Bahia Los Frailes) about a week before on our trip up the East coast of the Baja. There had been great snorkeling on the reef. We loaded up the rental car and took off. We stopped along the way for a nice picnic lunch on the beach(pass the beers please--hey, it's Mexico remember). Three hours plus, we arrived and waded into the water. It was cloudy but bright enough to see lots of different fish. Three hours later, we were back at Zephyr. A nice way to spend Christmas--no snow for a change.
It's now Saturday and the workmen show up to get the water out of the poor guys diesel tanks. He's not a happy camper. It get decided that since he put in so much(like 100 gallons), they want to haul him over to the diesel fuel dock to do the pump out. Luckily, he has good access to his tanks so the job won't be so hard. Apparently, many boats have little to no access to their tanks. They sent over a small power boat and pushed his boat out of it's slip and hauled him over to the fuel dock. You could see all the 55 gallon drums lined up on the dock. It was going to be a long day. In talking to the workmen, the idea was to pump out as much of the water as they could. Water will not mix with diesel fuel--it makes a layer under it so any hose that goes to the bottom of the tank will be in water, not in fuel. They bring down the first 55 gallon drum and set it up on a cart with wheels so they can get it back up the ramp after it gets filled. This guy(the workman)shows up with a small pump that attaches to a drill to pump out all the water. First, he borrows the battery drill from the boat owner. Well, that doesn't take long to run down. In they come with extension cords and an electric drill. Zoom, out it goes. They used a sort of clear hose so they could tell exactly what they were pumping. I guess they were lucky the tank was full of US diesel as it's colored pink. Mexican diesel is clear like water. The guy got lucky that his bilge pump didn't turn on since when the tanks got filled, lots of the diesel blew out the top of the tanks access ports and filled his bilge. If the bilge pump had turned on, oh the law suits would have killed him. As it was, he had to go down into his bilge(diesel fuels smell folks) and bail it all out and scrub it down with a special cleaner.
Any way, they ended up emptying only about half of the starboard tank and all of the port side tank. When the water was put in(he started with the water hose in the port tank), it caused the diesel fuel in the port tank to rise(remember, water sinks and diesel floats)and go through a copper tube that connects the two tanks and filled the starboard tank with a mixture of water and diesel. The port tank was almost full of water. To make sure that all the water was out, they hooked up the hose they were using to a special Racor(company name)filter that has a clear glass bowl so they could see of there was any more water in the starboard tank. I guess, after a good 15 minutes of moving the hose around the bottom of the tank, they decided that all the water had been gotten rid of that what fuel was left was nice and clean. Apparently, when all the fuel was pumped out of the port tank there was quite a mess on the bottom of the tank(lots of black stuff from the seals). Out comes the fuel hose from the diesel pumps and nice new diesel fuel flows into his boat. I saw the bill. You don't want to know!
Once the tanks were filled, the mechanic gave the go ahead to start the engine and vroom, she spring to life with out a single cough. Since it was now late in the afternoon, they took off to enjoy a nice sunset cruise and make sure all the water was out of the tanks. The marina was listening on channel 16 in case they needed help. Apparently, all went fine as they made it back to their slip about 40 minutes later, none the worse(other than their wallet)for wear. The workman only charged the guy $180 bucks for working 6 hours on his boat. Add that to the fuel bill(still not going to tell you) and well, he actually got off cheap by US standards(and he has nice clean tanks).
So all of you out there, take heed, crap like this happens out here. Hey, I know cause I was the careless guy that put the hose in the wrong inlet. Yeah, that's right--it was me!! I thought long and hard about wether to admit what I had done(hey, it's embarrassing OK)but I've been doing this blog for a long time and those of you out there need to know what can happen if you rush about a job and don't pay attention to what you are doing. I consider myself a relatively careful guy, so if it can happen to me, it can happen to any of you out there. Remember, slow down--don't rush like I did to try and get out as quick as you can. It just isn't worth it!!
Anyone out there want to admit the stupidest thing they have ever done on their boat? Just put it in the comments section. No one will even know who you are. Come on, admit it!! I dare you!! It will feel good to get it off your chest.
Well, that's it for tonight. It's now well after midnight and I've got to get some sleep. I'll read this to Tracy in the morning when she gets up.
12/24/2009, Marina Costa Baja, La Paz Mexico
Matt arrived right on schedule on Tuesday and is getting settled in just fine. We rented a car so we could pick him up and run a few errands--more food of course.
We've sat on the beach every night watching the Sun go down and pass the time having a beer or two. It's nice to finally get to relax a bit.
We will be off for the islands(Isla Espiritu Santo) on Thursday morning for a few days so have patience. I'll try and continue the post as much as I can.
The mechanic came by and worked on the Honda Generator. It appears that the exhaust system was blocked by "stuff" and had to be cleaned out. He returned yesterday and reinstalled it and she started right up. I noticed that the pull string needed replacing and did that yesterday afternoon. Once done, I pulled on the string and again she started right up. I stopped it and tried to restart it--sorry--no go. It did backfire when I pulled the string so that's not a good thing. The mechanic is stopping by this morning to make sure it is still alright. I guess he will have to work on it some more once we get back here on the 28th.
It's been crazy around La Paz as everyone gets ready for Christmas. The shopping center was alive with people shopping and the grocery store was a sea of people trying to get what ever they need for Christmas dinner. I sure don't miss the chaos that comes with being around that many people. We are all looking forward to getting out to the islands for a few days.
For all of you in Denver, it's nice to see that you are going to have a white Christmas, but I sure don't miss the snow. Tracy may have loved it, but I can live with out it.
Any how, I post more using the SSB radio once we are away from the marina. If I can, I'll add some pictures before we set out. If not, as soon as we get back.
To all of you--please have a safe and merry Christmas.
Tracy, Bill & Matthew.
12/21/2009, Marina Costa Baja, La Paz, Mexico
While I worked outside yesterday washing poor Zephyr, Tracy spent the morning defrosting the freezer. It had managed to get a good crop of ice on its cold plate and it needed to go as it was causing the compressor to run and run and run. Plus, it wasn't getting the frig section as cold as it needed to be. Out came the hair dryers and the sponges and scrapers and in she went. An hour plus later, the poor thing is now looking and running much better. It's better to do this at a marina where you have lots of AC power so it won't drain your batteries as it tries to cool itself all over again. It's a small space, but takes a good bit to time and energy to do the job.
Meanwhile, I grabbed the hose and sprayer and closed all the hatches and ports and went at it with lots of water. Poor Zephyr was encrusted in salt everywhere you looked or touched. Little crystals everywhere. From the bow--roller furling and anchor rollers to the stern--DuoGen & Hydrovane, she got sprayed and washed. All the canvas and woodwork got a good dousing. Once that was done, I had to go back with MacLube(Like a dry WD 40) and lube all the hardware and blocks all over the deck and believe me there are lots of them.
We were waiting for the service man to show up to work on the Honda Generator, but figuring it being Sunday, he wouldn't show up. So we took off for lunch at the restaurant at the hotel. Chicken Nachos and three chicken burritos plus a few Pacifica Lite beers and we were set. We found out today that that is when he had come to Zephyr to fix the generator. We're not leaving today till he comes. Back to Zephyr after lunch for more projects--dismantle the windlass--looked great-- and more cleaning. The fun never stops.
About sundown, we took off for the local bar/restaurant to watch the sun go down. I'll post some pictures of the place tomorrow or Wednesday. We took a tour of the hotel--nice place. I would bet the occupancy rate isn't greater than 10 percent as we have seen very few people on the beach or in the restaurants. It's a shame as it is a gorgeous resort. Prices aren't bad, I guess the name isn't out there yet about them.
Back to Zephyr to barbecue some brats for dinner and then over to the hot tube along the beach for a nice soak and a nice shower at the hotel. NOW, we are living the dream!!!
Today started with me going up the mast to fix the wind gauge at the top. It had come loose sometime on the trip up from Los Muertos. We hooked up our climber and used the battery drill (Milwaukee 90 degree drill with a bit that fits the winches) that we use to adjust the sheets on the sails to pull me up using the Main Halyard(rope that pulls the mainsail to the top of the mast). Up I went, slick as a whistle. It was my first time up. Tracy had made it to the second set of spreaders and Matt(our son) had made it to the top, but this was my first time. Looking out or up and I was fine. The first time I looked down, it was a bit much. I was 65 feet above the water held up by one small 1/2" line sitting on a small wood plank. I really need to go up more often so I get used to it. Once up there it wasn't too bad. As it turns out, there are three screws that hold the bracket in place. One screw had fallen out and was gone. One was still in the bracket(lucky us) and the third was still screwed in. I took the one that hadn't fallen out yet and lowered it to Tracy(in a bucket) and she took off for the local marine hardware store(right up the dock). About 10 minutes later, she's back with extra screws and lock washers which was good as I dropped one of the washers. She sent them back up in the bucket with a bottle of "Locktite", and in they went nice and slick as you please. Tracy turned on the gauge and she works just fine. Thank goodness that one of the small wind cups that rotates hadn't broken as the company(Data Marine) has ceased to exist several years ago. Finding a replacement would have been difficult at best I think. Down I came, job done!! The knees were a bit shaky when I got back down, but hey what do you expect? It's sort of scary up there.
We now advised Direct TV to cancel our service as we can't get a signal down here. We could up in Alaska, but not down here. We would need a much bigger dish and it was taking up a lot of space on the stern. The dish went into the marina trash this morning. Now the stern looks much cleaner. It may have looked a bit strange sitting on the stern, but having that little bit of communication with the outside world when ever we hit a marina or VERY calm anchorage made a big difference in the past 20 months since we moved on board in Newport, Oregon. With over 8 months on the hard in Port Townsend, it saved our sanity(sort of). One less bill each month.
So that's the way the day has passed so far. It's nice and warm and we wait for the serviceman to show up. Tracy took our laundry up to the laundry service. You can do it yourself or they have women there that will do it for a few extra pesos. We splurged and are letting them do it. We haven't done laundry in close to a month and were just about out of everything. It will be done(and folded) by 1600. I'll let you know how much it costs--it isn't cheap as you would think down here( a beer is over $2.50). Tonight--another sunset to go and appreciate(with a beer of course).
To Colin and Jackie in the UK, welcome to the family. Our earlier posts can be read at "svzephyr.blogspot. com"(no www required). It's our journey(good and bad) getting to where we are now with all the trials and tribulations that went along with it. I do tend to rant a bit though. Enjoy!!
12/20/2009, Marina Costa Baja, La Paz, Mexico
OK, I posted some more pictures in the gallery of Los Frailes and Ensenada de Los Muertos bays.
12/19/2009, La Paz, Mexico
We'll we finally made it to La Paz!!! It took us four months and three days to do it, but we are now at Marina Costa Baja (24 13.006N 110 17.966W) just North of La Paz all tied in.
We launched the dingy while we were in Los Muertos and headed in to the local restaurant for a nice lunch. It had been the Giggling Marlin Restaurant(quite famous along the coast) but was now under a different name. The Marlin had sold out and left. Once back at Zephyr, we stowed Puff on deck and got everything ready for setting off for La Paz. I looked into the problems we had with the bilge pump running continually and found that an old bottle of wine had slid from somewhere forward in the bilge and pushed a hose up so that it held the switch up making the pump run all the time. Now the switch is fixed and I got a nice bottle of red wine out of the job. It's been there so long that there is no label on it so I guess we will have a mystery wine some night with dinner.
We left Los Muertos last night at 2200 after the wind had calmed down some. Two other boats had already left and radioed back that they were making good progress up the channel. Now the reason we had to leave at such a late hour was not just the wind, but also the tide. It was still a flood tide till 0855 this morning so we wanted to take advantage of it to help us ride it in instead of fighting it the next day. Plus, it's a trip of 54 miles and that takes a while at about 5 knots.
Off we went at a good clip with the winds pushing us along for a while and once we rounded the corner and headed up the channel between Isla Cerralvo and Baja, the wind hit us in the face all over again. No where near as bad as it had been the previous day, but it slowed us down for a while. With the incoming tide, we were still making good time so we slowed Zephyr down to just over 4 knots so that we would make it to Canal San Lorenzo which separates the Baja from Isla Spiritu Santo. There, the tide can run up to 3 knots through a sort of narrow channel with reefs and shoals on both sides so you try to hit it at a flood tide if at all possible. Well, as I said, our tide reversed at 0855 and we had to be through there by then or pay the piper with a current hitting us smack on the nose.
Luck was with us and we got there just about 0700(having slowed down a good bit). We coasted through the channel just fine and made our way toward La Paz. I radioed ahead and tried to get a slip at Marina de La Paz but they only had one left and it was on an outside finger of a pier and would be quite rolly. We opted to try for Marina Costa Baja about 4 miles North of La Paz, right at the main entrance to the channel that finally leads to La Paz. La Paz a VERY well protected anchorage but suffers from tidal flow where your boat will be facing one way for several hours and then will reverse as the tide changes. It's called the La Paz Waltz. If you are at anchor, you better be anchored well or you will drag as your boat changes direction over and over. Never a good thing when there are so many boats around as there are in La Paz.
Tomorrow, I get to go up the mast as we found that the wind instrument at the top has broken loose and is flopping around. Luckily, it hasn't broken any of the wind cups. So up I go to find out what has happened.
Meanwhile, we have settled in by taking a short walk around the marina/resort. It is quite a place with lots of things to do and see. After a short nap to try and catch up on the sleep we lost last night, we took the 1620 shuttle(the marina runs a shuttle to town every hour) into town and walked the streets and had a great dinner at one of the local restaurants. I tried a steak, Mexican style. It ended up being steak fajitas. Who knew that is what Mexican style meant. We walked down to Marina de La Paz, where we had intended to stay. It is right in the middle of town and noisy as all get out. Lots of boats coming and going and exposed to all sorts of wind that we don't have up at Marina Costa Baja. We're glad we chose to stay where we are. It's a bit of a trip to town but that's all right.
So over the next few days, we have several tasks to get done before we set off again. One of the first tomorrow is to wash Zephyr down and get all the salt off her hull and deck as well as all the equipment on deck. It can clog every block if left to time.
I'll be posting more pictures over the next day or so of the slog up from Cabo San Lucas. Stay tuned for more