01/08/2010, Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida
Well, we left La Paz Sunday morning about 1030 and headed North toward the islands looking for a place to spend the night. We worked our way up the West coast of Isla Espiritu Santo checking out the coves as we went. We'd thought of stopping at Bahia San Garbriel on the South edge of th island but thought it a bit to vulnerable to the North winds. Yeh, I know. North winds again and we can't sail North in North winds so we were forced to motor all the way. So on we went until we finally stopped at Ensenada El Cardonal on the Southwest side of Isla Partida(just North of Espiritu Santo) for the night. We were boat number three in the anchorage. There's lots of room for more, but now that it is past Christmas and the holidays, there are fewer boats out here. Many have already made the jump across the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan where it is warmer. We dropped anchor(24 32.973N 110 23.207W) about 1530 and settled in for a quiet yet blustery night at least until the Sun went down. The wind died just after sundown. We laid out under the stars and wiled away(I snoozed every now and then) the evening. It was a moonless evening and the stars were out in their magnificence.
Today dawned calm and bright and we upped anchor and set off for Ensenada Grande. That's the same place we spent the night with Matt during his stay over Christmas. We wanted to be there early as we wanted to continue to Los Islotes, a small island a few miles North of Ensenada Grande. We launched Puff with Dragon and headed out. We took our masks, snorkels, and fins (plus a VHF radio incase of an emergency) and off we went. Now Los Islotes is a relatively bland place except for one thing. There is a huge colony of sea lions that live there and they swim with everyone that comes by. You can take an excursion boat from La Paz over and spend an hour of so swimming with them. We did it on our own, splashing through 3 foot wave in a small 9 foot dingy with a 8 horse outboard. Hey, life needs some excitement every now and then. When we arrived, there were already three other boats there with a couple of dozen folks in the water having fun. We put on our fins and masks and jumped in. The dingy was already surrounded by sea lions playing in the water.
We dove and the sea lions dove with us and played right along side of us. One came right up to my mask and we were face to face and I do mean face to face. He opened his mouth and showed me his teeth and tried to nibble at my mask hoping (I guess) that it was food for him. He came at me several times, each time looking me straight in the eyes. After a while, he took off for someone else to play with. There were fish by the thousands swimming in the rocks. Tour boats visit this island every day so the fish are used to having humans around and showed no fear of us. Tracy was at times totally surrounded by schools of different types of fish. It was an incredible time in the water.
After a hour or so, we climbed back in Puff and headed back to Zephyr. Once tied up, we had a pleasant lunch in the cockpit. Surprisingly, another boat had dropped his anchor just off our starboard side. Now here is this HUGE bay with three different coves that you can anchor in and they chooses to pull in right beside us, about fifty yards away(that's close in anchoring terms folks). Oh well.
Once finished with lunch, we jumped back in Puff and headed for the beach at the head of our little cove. We stopped Dragon about 50 feet off shore as it was shallow enough that the prop was about to hit the sandy bottom and pulled Puff into shore and up onto the beach. We walked and talked and had a great time on the beach exploring and finding new shells and coral to add to our small collection. Being on a boat limits you as to how much you can keep. There is only so much room. About 40 minutes later, the folks from the other boat came ashore and joined us. Nice folks that have sailed all over the Pacific. Based out of San Francisco and off on another voyage.
After a while, we decided to head back to Zephyr. I climbed aboard and we slowly made out way out to deeper water. Lo and behold, Dragon refused to start. Out came the oars and we slowly rowed back. About half way there, the blade on one of the oars came off and slowly floated off behind Puff. I made a mad grab for it and unfortunately, Tracy got shoved into Dragon(our Mercury outboard motor) bruising her ribs where she hit it. I did manage to save the oar blade though. So now Tracy is in a good bit of pain and having hurt my ribs a while back, I know she will be feeling a bit tender there for the next few weeks. Those little stinkers take a good bit of time to heal once they get bumped. We made it safely back to Zephyr and after some tinkering, Dragon sprang to life. I took him out for a short run to make sure he was running fine and then returned to Zephyr. Off came Dragon and up came Puff and both were stowed on deck ready for their next big adventure.
There is a large front heading for the Sea of Cortez that is due here Thursday with winds in the 30 knot range so we are off tomorrow for Punta San Evaristo, a protected bay about 28 miles North of Ensenada Grande. We will probably be hold up there for a few days as the storm passes and then head back down the coast for Isla San Fransicso with it's mangrove trees and coves. We'll let you know how the storm goes in a day or so. We want to make sure were are in a well protected place a day or so before the storm arrives. "Better safe than sorry" works for the two of us.
01/07/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
And so it continues. The installation of watermaker is now in it's second day and going somewhat smoothly. I had to back out some of the wiring I did as it suddenly dawned on me that I have several hoses to run along with the wires(duh). So I pulled some of the wires out a few bulkheads until I had easier access to the area I was going to need to make more(and larger) holes in. Out came the saw and drills along with big bits and in I went. Several hours later, I had nice access holes drilled and sawed in panels so I could make the hose runs. Some of the areas were a bit tight, but I got them in. Of course, this was the time that Tracy came forward to see what I was doing and to lend a hand(hold back a hose for me) and made the comment "Why didn't you run the hose through here?" As is usual, she was right. If I had done what she suggested in the first place, I could have been done a good hour sooner. Oh well.
So once the holes were cut and drilled, we made the final electrical connections. I'd bought 35 feet of wire. I'd planned on buying 30 feet as it was less than a 23(measured with a tape measure)from electrical panel to where the installation was going to be. At the last moment, I decided to go with 35 just in case. I got lucky as when I was done with the wiring, I had less than 2 feet left!! I guess even a blind squirrel will find a nut occasionally. I added two pictures of the installation so far to the gallery. No hoses attached yet but you can see how we are doing. It's great that the unit is a modular construction so the parts can be installed in different places if need be.
I ran the electrical to a second switch so that I will have better control of the power during servicing(which is done regularly). I didn't want to have to go to the circuit panel and then forward to the watermaker. It will make the job much easier(I hope).
Installing the main pump became a chore as I bought bolts that were too short. It takes 6 to get the job done. I'd guessed at the thickness of the bulkhead(known as a wall to you landlubbers) and come up short. Two inch bolts didn't make it. So off to the Marina Store for more. Next size up--2.5 inch bolts. They worked on three of the holes but not the lower set of three as the bulkhead was thicker(extra wood paneling on the cabin side). Back to the Marina Store for 3 inch bolts and return the 2.5s. This time, I got lucky and in they went. We used large "fender" washers to distribute the load and cinched down the nuts and it was in. This pump weights quite a bit so we had to make sure everything was done perfect. Next the main pump with the charcoal filter and then the final filter on the unit. Everything was now installed--at least mechanically.
All we have left to do is run the hoses and make those connections. I figure to be at the main marine hardware store at least twice today picking up more bits and pieces.
01/06/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
Tracy's Two Cents...
It has been a very long time since I've done any input, so I figured that while Bill is busy putting in the watermaker that I would stay out of his way and put down some of my experiences and observations. So here goes...
Being in Mexico has certainly made people watching an interesting sport. I really didn't think that there would be such a large cultural difference between our two countries. You can spot a "tourist" a mile away because they are wearing shorts and a tee shirt or a sleeveless pullover. Well, in MX, that is a huge no no". The Mexican women all wear dresses or long pants and a loose blouse. Knees and upper arms are not to be seen.
There are Ladies Bars that women are allowed to come into alone. The men are very macho here and are very open about how their hormones are pulsing through their bodies, but it was pointed out to me by a Mexican friend that it is all in fun. I guess they haven't ever been on the "getting" end of that. Hmmm.
The Mexican's apparently don't eat peanut butter, good crackers, pickles or anything really sweet. Their cookies and ice cream aren't sweet, the desserts like flan or Creme Brule aren't sweet. I just wonder if their sugar isn't as sweet at US sugar.
The driver's here think that they will live forever, no matter what. Stop signs are a joke. No one stops, at best they sort of hesitate then gun it to get through. Most of the cars here are all bashed up, but we have yet to see a fender bender in an intersection.
There aren't any storm drains, if it rains the streets are a mess until the water all drains into the bay. The curbs are about a foot tall in places making them small cliffs to short legged folk like me. The sidewalks in the nontourist parts of town are a mosaic of broken concrete and tile. Some are real ankle breakers, so I really have to watch were I put my feet.
The people are happy. That was a really shock to me. Even the dirt poor people have a easy smile and seem genuinely happy. They all seem eager to please and love it when you try to speak their language. Even if you slaughter the pronunciation and give them a laugh, most start pantomiming whatever they think the answer is. Sometimes it gets to be really hysterical for all concerned, but in general it hasn't been a problem.
In stores, the clerks feel we Norterners are really rude as we come in and ask where something is or "I need such and such". For them, there are pleasantries and courtesies to go through before "business" begins. We have to learn to slow down and not be in such a hurry. After all, this is the land of "Manana".
Restaurants...were a tad frustrating until we learned that you have to ask for the check, it doesn't come automatically. They feel it is rude to give you a bill unless you ask, they don't want you to feel that you aren't welcome. Waiter attentiveness is unsurpassed here in La Paz. One couldn't ask for any better and if they are going to be slow they apologize and tell you that service is going to be slow, so if you want to leave, you can. You wouldn't find that in the U.S., huh?
For those following in our footsteps later on, just know that Mexico is no longer a cheap place to live. About two years ago, the President of Mexico changed their economic structure to be based on the U.S.'s and the prices definitely reflect that. Burgers are 6 to 10 dollars. Marinas are anywhere from $1.50 USD to $3.00 USD per foot per day, usually with electric metered. Gasoline is $2.70/gal, diesel is around $2.60 up per gallon. Beer is still a bargain at 65 cents a can if you get it at a "beer store", but at a restaurant, coffee is about $3.50 a cup, soft drinks and beer are about $2 to $3 a can.
I love the scenery here. Growing up in New Mexico, I'm quite used to moonscapes. I'm often saying to Bill, "Oh, this feels like Elephant Butte or this really looks like Santa Fe.
I think learning a bit of conversational Spanish would definitely help out here, but so far I wouldn't trade a minute of our time here.
Oh, the #1 Christmas gift in La Paz for people of all ages was a set of inline roller skates, the Malacon is filled with kids, young adults and the parents trying their luck. it makes my ankles hurt just looking at them.
01/06/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
I know it has been quite a few days since our last post, but for the most part, all we have been doing is planning and trying to figure out how to best install the Spectra watermaker we bought in San Diego.
There are lots of parts and hoses and we had to figure out the best place to install it. While the factory says that you could install it in the engine room, they don't recommend it as it gets hot in the there(duh) and could cause the unit to malfunction. Plus they really don't want the filters in there as they would degrade over time because of the heat. We finally decided to put the unit in the forward head on the starboard side in a "wet locker"(a closet used to store foul weather gear). It's close to a through hull fitting and while it is a ways from the electrical panel, it would simply mean running bigger gauge wires to it.
I spoke to another cruiser that has the same unit on his boat and we went down to take a look at his installation. He has even been through several classes at Spectra so I figured he knows what he is talking about. He was in a marina on the opposite side of town so it we went out there on the day we rented a car. While taxis are available, it you have lots of errands to run, it's best to just rent a car. It was a big help seeing his installation.
We've been into town just about every day trying out new restaurants and seeing the sights as well as buying screws, nuts, bolts and lots of 6 gauge wire for the installation. I hiked all over town getting the stuff we needed. Tracy thought I had gotten lost for as long as I was gone. The marina runs a shuttle into town three times a day but it is primarily a one way shuttle-hike back.
Yesterday, I started the installation running the wire from the circuit panel though lots of bulkheads and panels to the forward locker. I'm glad we have two different types of drills and big bits to make the holes I needed for the wire. I ended up using a regular drill as well as the 90 degree drill we use on our winches to adjust the sails. I'd have been hard pressed to make the run for the wires without them. Any how, while it took me the better part of the day to get the wires in, they are all installed and checked for the proper voltage.
Today, I will be installing the hardware for the watermaker and running hoses all over the place. I will be using the forward through hull that normally supplied water to the forward head for flushing for the salt water feed. I'm going to change the flush water over to fresh from the tanks once we get it all installed. I have to run another hose to another through hull to get rid of the water that doesn't get made into fresh water. It's called "brine". That though hull has to be above the water line so you can tell the machine is running and getting rid of the excess water. There's more hoses involved with more connections but if I told you about all of them, you'd be reading for quite a while and asleep before you got the the end list of connections.
Any how, that's about it for what has been going on. I'll fill you in on what we have seen around town and our experiences once I get the water maker in. We expect to be out of here next Sunday so I'm running out of time. Of course we could stay longer if we need too but we are chomping at the bit to get out sailing again and see more of Mexico.
I've added a few more pictures.
I've posted several more albums for your enjoyment. Have fun.
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.