03/25/2011, La Cruz Marina again!!
As planned, we went to the Port Captainia here in La Cruz yesterday and checked out of La Cruz. With that done, we headed over to Paradise Village to do the last of our laundry. Once home, we spent the evening cleaning and storing things getting ready to head over to Nuevo Vallarta to get our "Zarpe"(official clearance documents to allow us to leave Mexico and get into Tahiti).
At 0745, we started up our engine and started out of the marina with our two "buddy"boats for the short 6 mile trip to Nuevo Vallarta. About 1.5 miles out, our engine dies!!! It was like tsunami day all over again. It had died as we approached Punta de Mita while we waited out the waves and swells of the tsunami. We'd fixed it while out in the anchorage here and gotten into the marina where I further explored why it may have happened in the first place. Suddenly, here we were right back where we started--dead in the water!!
We deployed out big Genoa sail(after radioing our friends) at the bow and took advantage of what wind we had and limped back to the anchorage all over again. Out two friends continued on to Nuevo Vallarta and got checked out.
Once at the anchorage, I dropped the anchor and prepared to see what the problem was. With in a minute, a dingy took off from one of the other boats at the anchorage and came over and offered us a tow into the marina. He'd heard our call to our friends and came over to assist us. So here way a nice guy with a small 7.5 horse power outboard ready to haul our 50,000 pound boat. Amazingly, he got us up to 3.5 knots as we headed in!!! I was amazed but I guess it helped that we had had the bottom cleaned the day before so there was little drag from the hull.
Since the morning radio net had just started, I made an "emergency" call to everyone listening that we were coming in with a dead engine and could use some help at the dock. Several people called back and assembled at the dock to assist us as we came in.
Once tied up and with much thanks given to our rescuer, I started talking to other folks on the dock outlining the history of the problem. One of those on the dock was a mechanic so I hired him to come on board so we could find out what the problem was. We checked the tanks and most of the hoses and blew air through the lines to make sure they were clear. All appeared just fine though the engine still refused to start. We tried bleeding the air out of the lines with limited success. There appeared to be no fuel in the lines!! The extra electric fuel pump that the last owner had installed in the fuel line to assist in bleeding the lines appeared to have died also. No fuel was getting anywhere. We tried to make fuel move through the lines using the diesel fuel pump that is attached to the engine. No good there either. We came to the conclusion that the fuel pump had died and it needed to be replaced. Being the good cruiser that I am, I had a backup one already on board. Actually, I have two but that's neither here nor there(can't have too many spares you know). So out came the old one and in went the new one. In the process, we found two coolant hoses in the system that had just about fallen apart so off they came also.
Once the new fuel pump was installed, I tired to bleed the air out of the system. You guessed it---NO FUEL!!!! I think the words that best sum up my feelings are "OH CR-P!!!!. What now. Any how, with the fuel still not flowing, I headed into Puerto Vallarta to get new hose for the coolant system. Amazingly, the chandlary actually had it and I got home a bit after 1630. Tracy had left shortly after we had gotten back to the dock to get more kitty food as when we inventoried what we had, it didn't appear to be enough.
We I got back to Zephyr, I found out that one of our "buddys" had broken his wind instrument so he was off to town the thy and get a new one and our friends off GiGi(second buddy boat) were on board talking to Tracy about the checkout process. Lots of papers to sign and have stamped as well as a boat inspection. Not sure why the inspection as they didn't look at our boat when we came in but want to now as we are leaving.
Any way, back to the project(dead engine). Tomorrow, I'll replace the water hose and start in on the diesel lines. I'll replace all of them from the primary filter to the engine. Not sure how old they are but what the heck, I already had the hose on board so it's back to the engine room for more fun and games. At least the lines from the tanks to the first filter are copper so all I have to do is disconnect them and then blow through them to make sure they are clean. The rubber ones that I will be replacing shouldn't be that hard. I will simply become one with my engine. If I can't figure out the problem, there are lots of others here that will lend me a hand or make suggestions on how to get poor Zephyrs engine up and running. I not only want it fixed, I want to know why it died. This way, it shouldn't happen again. I'd hate to be 1,000 miles from here and need the engine to get through some storm and she won't run. We have enough stress already, we don't need more. It's not all sitting around and reading and noshing on chips and salsa as we have a margaritas. Boy don't we wish it was.
So stay tuned. There is more coming. We can't leave till at least Monday as the Port Captain's office is closed till then.
Here's the look of our new teak after just one coat of Boatlife teak oil and sealer was applied. It looks gorgeous!
03/23/2011, Marina La Cruz, Mexico
We're now in the home stretch. I did our taxes this morning and then cleaned out the bilge around lunch time. Both jobs that fall under the yuck area of life. Taxes were not to bad and the bilge had just a bit of water and no oil so that's an improvement.
I finally got our navigation(Nobeltec)software up and running after the tech support people through up their hands in frustration at the way the computer(or software more like it) was behaving. There was no way to unload a permit I'd bought from them for the South Pacific region of charts and the first tech support guy I'd talked to had invalidated the permit so that even though I'd bought it and installed it legally, there was no way for it to run and there was no way to get it out of the computer so I could reinstall a new unlock permit. They'd never run into that problem before. In the end, I uninstalled the program and all it's charts and reinstalled it with the same unlock permits I'd used earlier and it worked out fine. Now we have our Garmin as well as our Nobeltec up and running plus all the paper charts to cover the area we expect to be seeing over the next few years.
We had a refrigeration specialist come out and check our system(appointment at 1700, arrived at 1820) since we thought our freezer and frig should be getting cooler. The freezer is down to 23 degrees and the frig is at 40. Not bad, but they have been colder. I pretty much stay out of the freezer anymore. I used to go in daily to get ice cubes but as long as drinks stay in the frig, a cool one is ok. It doesn't have to be cold. I also got a haircut this afternoon. It's got to last me for a while. Tracy got hers cut a few days ago.
So far, since we got here to Bandaras Bay, we've done the following. At least what the memory can remember.
Take apart and rebuild the roller furling system.
Strip all the varnish off the teak side of the hull and then coat with two coats of teak oil and sealer(from Boatlife). Does more than just oil, it actually seals up the teak so it looks better longer.
Have the rigging retuned. It's been almost two years and 8,000 miles since we had it replaced.
Replaced the raw water pump on the engine and had the old one rebuilt as a spare.
Take apart the hydraulic steering and have new hoses made. Then bleed the system of air.
Take off all the anchor chain and wash and add on an additional 90 feet of chain.
Clean and wax the entire hull and top sides.
Take apart and relube the windlass.
Install 34 mast steps on the mast.
Change the oil in the engine.
Replace the diesel filters(set of three). The primary twice and bleed the system of air. The engine won't work if you don't bleed the air out of the fuel lines.
Changed the "pencil" zinc in the engine. Old one was worn out.
Replaced the "Joker" valve in the stern head. This required taking the entire toilet out of the boat.
Take apart and rebuilt the Aqua Drive unit between the transmission and the propeller shaft. The old one had come apart(at 0300) on our trip south from San Carlos back in early December.
Paint unsides of new hatch lids on the stern. Had them made in San Carlos.
Check fluid levels and refill batteries--twice since we got here.
Re wire lamp in stern cabin.
Plumb the forward head to the fresh water tanks instead of using sea water when we flush. Should make it smell better. Sea water stinks in a head.
Change oil in Honda generator.
Change oil and transmission oil in Mercury out board motor.
Change zinc on propeller.
Cleaned out and inventoried everything under the stern berth. Boy do we have a lot of stuff buried down there.
Sewed a patch on the Genoa sail. Had a small hole in it.
Finished installation of Spectra water maker.
Replace pads under engine that catch oil from the engine.
Water proof the dodger.
Washed and lubed every block on the boat.
Washed every piece of clothing and bedding on board--some twice.
Several trips to Puerto Vallarta to Sam's, Walmart and Costco for more supplies and provisions for the next four months. Foods not cheap here but it's lots more expensive out there.
That's all the memory comes up with off the top of my head. There's lots more little jobs but they are too numerous to list. As you can see, we've been VERY busy since we got here. It's far from lounging around and sitting back and reading books(unless they are manuals).
Tomorrow, back to Puerto Vallarta(a 45 minute bus ride) to see the local chandlary so see if my diesel filters have come in as well as buying new hose for the stern head. Old ones are beginning to smell.
For our next journey, everything has to be checked and made sure it is in perfect order. And even then, we know things will fail. It's what a boat does.
With luck and the Weather Gods, we will be off this Saturday, or Sunday, or maybe Monday at the latest.
The picture is of our teak with all the old varnish stripped off. What a difference it has made.
03/17/2011, La Cruz Marina, La Cruz Mexico
I know that we have been remiss in not posting to our blog ever since we got into the Banderas Bay area(Nuevo Vallarta) and for that I apologize. Ever since we pulled in here, we have been knee deep in getting project done. It's been the same no matter where we go. Once we pull into any city, we tear poor Zephyr apart. Unlike a house, we expect things to go wrong. This way, we are not surprised when they do. The sooner a boat owner understand that and comes to grips with it, the better life will be. It's not so much if something goes wrong, it when something goes wrong. When the engine died at Punta de Mita last week, was I surprised? Nope, I've come to expect it and simply try and find out what the problem is and get it fixed. That's just what we did and a couple of days later, the engine was up and running just fine. Even though it is running, I'm planning on removing the primary diesel filter tomorrow to check it out. Can't be to careful.
Any way, I know that most of you out there would rather hear about the places we have gone that the thing we have seen and done. Well, for the last 10 weeks, it has been pretty much work on Zephyr. THe list is long and involved but necessary as we will be heading Southwest across the Pacific in about 10 days and we need to know that all systems are set to perform at their best.
So rather than boor you with "we fixed this" or "we fixed that today", we have just simply not written the blog posts. Reading about fixing stuff gets real booring and that's not what our blog is supposed to be about. Now in about 10 days, we should be heading out for our next great adventure and then we will be posting blogs just about every day with what has happened, even if it's only how far we went that day, what the weather we had was, what our course was and where we are(Lat & Long). At least you will know what we are up to and that all is well. The trip is expected to take about 25 days so there will be lots of togetherness for quite sometime not that there isn't already, but there is no place to just stop and pull over to get off the boat.
So stay tuned, there's lots to come. One of our biggest hurdles was overcome yesterday with the successful completion of the installation and testing of our new water maker(Spectra 200T). I only had to rip it out of the boat three times and have one of the factory reps/servicemen come by and fix it(yes, I know, it's brand new but even new things sometimes don't work right.
THis weekend will be our taxes. We may not be in the US, but they still want a piece of us. That's probably the last really BIG hurdle that needs taking care of.
So, cast off day approaches.
03/15/2011, La Cruz Marina, La Cruz Mexico
We made it through the tsunami just fine though the Port Captain for Banderas Bay closed all the harbors and marinas and wouldn't let any boats in or out. Boy, I sure want to be trapped in a nice small cove when a big wall of water comes a knocking. Not a smart decision. After lots of talking and radio calls, he finally relented and allowed those of us in La Cruz to get out but we had to drop anchor just outside the marina entrance. You can guess how well that went down. Everyone took off. We headed out and just kept on going till we had well over 600 feet of water under our hull. I'd come down with the La Cruz Crud the previous night(Tracy had had it a few days before) so while I rested below, Tracy took us as far out as she could. The wave was due about 1400 and passed under our keel just fine. Several more passed just after the first. The wall of water slammed into La Cruz and lifted all the docks about 8 feet tearing off the first two fingers of the docks inside the harbor. From what we have learned, there were no boats damaged by it here. The surge just kept on coming for hours afterwards. Up and down like a never ending high then low tide over and over again. The waters swirled for several days at the marina entrance. Some times you have to ignore what the government tells you to save your own skin.
We motored over to a nice beach(Punta de Mita) about 8 miles west of La Cruz and dropped the anchor. It was just about 1550 in the afternoon. As the anchor went down, the engine just up and died. We went below and could find no problems. Plenty of fuel in the tanks. We bled the fuel lines as air in them will stop a diesel engine. Still no clue. So back up we went on deck and with a good wind from the west, we put up the spinnaker and took off for La Cruz. We rolled into the anchorage(marina still closed) and re dropped the anchor. With all the marinas closed, there were close to 100 boats in the anchorage. With no engine, we were at the far edge of the field of boats.
Got up Saturday and dingied into the marina to see the damage and returned to Zephyr to relax and recover a bit. Got up Sunday and started in on the engine. Re bled the system and the engine started right up. I don't understand what the problem was but I'm going to take off the primary fuel filter and check it again. I'd replace the all the filters while we were in Paradise Village several weeks ago so there should be no problems there but better safe than sorry.
Sorry we have been so lax on our posts but the internet down here(at the marina) is about as fast a a 56k dial up modem--if you can even get a signal. Even with our super wifi antenna, we may get a good signal but still not be able to get on line. We're at one of the local restaurants up the hill using their wifi signal. Heck, there are some days we don't even have water in the marina but the people sure are nice and there are lots of cruisers in the slips so everyone helps everyone else.
The photo I attached is what is left after the tsunami came through. They already had cleared out the smashed docks. Now there are just the pilings left.
02/24/2011, Puerto Vallarta
Yesterday was a really busy one for us. We started by replacing the yaw arm on the Duogen wind/water generator. It required a lot of unscrewing screws over the dark murky depths here at the marina. Bill passed his dexterity test with that task and we now have a perfectly straight yaw arm. Yeah!!!
Immediately after finishing the Duogen task we started on the forestay/roller furling problem...remember on Christmas Day we discovered that the feed extrusion had ripped nearly all the way around. The correct parts arrived on the truck from "Far Fetched" had brought down from Tucson. Hooray, they were the correct parts so we dove in to fix the problem. One hang up though, we have Hayn Hi Mod fittings so we had to remove the fitting on the end of the forestay to get the old parts off and install the new. Well, an hour later after blow torching the goo out of the fitting and using a wrench as a hammer we did get the Hi Mod fitting off. Unfortunately, using the wrench buggered the threads of the fitting. No one in PV carries Hayn fitting to replace it, so plan B was to get the local yacht service to retap it for us, which he did and returned it to us first thing in the morning. We made quick work of getting the new parts onto the forestay and replacing the Hi Mod fitting and reattaching the forestay to the deck of the boat. Two down...
After lunch Bill attached the new 90' of chain to the existing length and had it washed and put back into the anchor locker.
At 3:00 p.m. we met Paul and Karen from Gigi at the Yacht Club and had two speakers at the PPJ seminar.
Needless to say, we both slept really well last night!