Our Ever-Changing Backyard--Sailing with Scoots

23 June 2019 | En route to Savusavu, Fiji, from N. Minerva Reef
20 June 2019 | North Minerva Reef
17 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
14 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
13 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
12 June 2019 | Marsden Cove Marina, Ruakaka, NZ
06 May 2019 | Paradise Taveuni Resort
04 March 2019 | Koro Island
05 December 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
01 December 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
30 November 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
29 November 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
28 November 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
26 November 2018 | Port Denarau Marina, near Nadi, Fiji
18 November 2018 | Makogai Island, Fiji
27 October 2018 | Rukuruku, Fiji
22 October 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ

Pescaderos, pelicans, and plumbing at Sweet Pea Cove

23 July 2015 | Sweet Pea Cove, Isla San Marcos
Vandy
We did, in fact, like being in Sweet Pea Cove. It was a sweet place, a beautiful place, a very sheltered anchorage. We never rolled or pitched at all there. It was quite a relief, after all the motion we'd experienced in the Punta Chivato anchorage.

Fish are very abundant in the cove, which proved popular with humans and other animals: every morning, pangas would arrive and we would watch the pescaderos cast their nets; all day long, pelicans and boobies would continually auger into the water, beak-first, from great heights, hoping to snag a meal; in the water, we occasionally saw really big fish - tunas and such - prowling for the smaller fish, which often resulted in explosions of fish leaping from the water in a mass exodus, hoping to escape the toothy jaws. We never got tired of watching the daytime activities going on around us. On shore, cicadas sang their monotonic melody all day long.



Sweet Pea Sunset

At night, millions of bioluminescent critters sparkled in the water, and occasionally flared up as fish swam among them. One night, curious to see what might be swimming in the 'hood, we shone a flashlight into the water off the swim step. At first, tiny little creatures, no bigger than specks, came by. Then, fish about a half-inch long came into view, some orange and some blue, hundreds of them. Soon, a large school of silver fish, about a foot long, came by to check out the scene. A complete aquatic food chain revealed in a beam of light!

I also saw a couple of black-and-white striped sea snakes, each about eighteen inches long, swimming along at the surface. I don't know a whole lot about sea snakes, but I do know that their venom is extremely potent. Night swimming for the crew of SCOOTS in Sweet Pea Cove? I don't think so!

At this point, Eric thought it would be cool to immerse the waterproof flashlight into the water. Squatting on the swim step, he held the light in the water, illuminating a cylinder about ten feet in diameter and maybe fifteen feet deep. For a minute or so, we could see lots of fish swimming around. Then, he saw a cloud of orange ink, with something shooting very quickly toward the surface. The next second, something hit him squarely in the chest, surprising the crap (possibly literally) out of Eric. The projectile fell on the deck in a small puddle of blue-black ink. It was a squid, about four inches long, who was most likely as surprised at this turn of events as Eric was (as evidenced by the ink excretion). I stood in the cockpit, laughing my butt off, because, well, that's just what I do. Eric slid the squid - who was unharmed but probably somewhat traumatized, as he was - back into the water and hosed the squid ink off his chest and the swim step.

We stayed in Sweet Pea Cove for about four days. Almost every day, giant clouds blossomed over Baja, about six miles to the west of us, sometimes culminating in booming thunderstorms that flashed lightning and poured rain in wide gray curtains. Almost every night, lightning lit up the sky to the east of us, in the direction of the Mexican mainland, where enormous storm cells were letting loose, sometimes creeping out over the Sea toward Baja. Though sometimes they seemed that they would come our way, none of these atmospheric events ever affected us, passing either to the east or the west of us, leaving blue skies or stars overhead.



Looming thunderstorm

One night, as we were figuring out how to spend the evening - should we play Mexican Train, read books, listen to an audiobook?- we got our answer when Eric called from the head (bathroom), "Uh oh." I could tell right away, the explanation wasn't going to be something I wanted to hear...

I was right: the flush handle had broken, somewhere inside the workings of the toilet. When you have only one toilet on board, and it breaks, you fix it right away. So, our evening's entertainment would be doing an emergency toilet repair. Oh joy. Eric removed the toilet from its pedestal in the head, carried it into the cockpit, turned it over, and set it down on the floor of the cockpit. Let the festivities begin!



This is supposed to be one piece.

We considered doing a complete rebuild of the toilet, since it was already upside down and vulnerable, and we'd have to find all the spare parts anyway, but as it was 7:30 pm, neither of us cherished the thought of beginning that much work at that time of night. So we opted to just fix the broken part.

For the next two hours, Eric and I worked on the toilet - finding new and spare parts, reading the repair instructions from a PDF on the computer (Eric had the foresight to find and download that, when we were still living in the land of easy Internet), sopping up (mostly) seawater that had drained from the pipes and inner sanctum of the toilet, futzing around with getting the old parts out and the new parts in. It was a toilet repair extravaganza.

When we were done and the toilet was back in its place of honor, we celebrated by taking showers and then sitting in the dark cockpit with cold drinks, watching the stars above and the bioluminescence below. Life - and our toilet - was good again.

The next morning, we were given another opportunity to do a complete rebuild of the toilet, which we opted to take this time, when we thought it was flushing the "used" water back through the bowl. Ew. (We determined later that it was actually just flushing out the grunge that we'd scraped off the inside last night.) Once again, Eric took out the toilet and set it up in the cockpit so we could minister to it.

One of the parts we replaced was a leather cup that sits at the top of the cylinder that moves all the water through the toilet. In the repair manual PDF it says that this part needs to be "repaired by a trained professional technician." Not having a trained professional toilet technician handy, Eric had to work with what he had. What he had was a blow torch. And he knew how to use it. Though when he'd asked me to get him a canister of propane, I was immediately suspicious and made him explain what he was going to use it for, before complying. The nut holding the leather cup was stuck and a combination of penetration oil, banging and, finally, heat removed it. I think the judicious application of sailor words might have helped, too. That leather cup then came right off, and the new one went right on. Eric was very proud of that piece of engineering ingenuity.

Three hours, lots of silicone grease, and many new parts later, Eric tightened the last bolt holding the toilet on its pedestal. It's been working like a champ ever since. Life is full of these small happinesses.

After four days in Sweet Pea Cove, the weather was right for us to move along to our next stop. Sadly, because of the winds and unexpected boat repairs, we hadn't had a chance to explore the shore or shallows. Maybe another time.... On Sunday, July 18, we pulled up SCOOTS' anchor and motored north about ten miles to the marina at Santa Rosalia, where we are as I write this.


Comments
Vessel Name: SCOOTS
Vessel Make/Model: Able Apogee 50
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed to Mexico with the 2014 Baja Haha and had fun exploring Mexico until April 2016, when we turned SCOOTS west and headed to the South Pacific. As of late Nov. 2016, SCOOTS and her crew are exploring New Zealand.
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