Sunday, January 26, 2014

Up on the Hard at Marina Seca in Guaymas

We took Good as Gold across the bay to the Marina Seca Guaymas, or the Dirt Yard as it is fondly called. We spent two days up on the hard having two thru-hulls fibreglassed over and two new thru-hulls made, above the waterline.

Fortunately, the staff at Marina Seca were waiting for us to motor across from Fonatur. They were on the radio directing us to their travel lift – more to starboard…ok, stay straight…a little to port… Their channel markers get stolen regularly!

Up she goes

The work went well, although we had to take apart some cabinetry to get at the inside of the hull. These two newly located through hulls are used for emptying the water from the shower drains any water that gets into the bilge.

It was very hot and dusty at the Dirt Yard and after we had thoroughly washed the boat, we were swarmed by mosquitos. We assume that water touching the dirt after a millennia caused a great release of dried insect larvae.

We were also anxious to return to the water as we needed to run our engine or generator as our batteries were very low. There had been no wind, our solar panels are ancient, and our fancy expensive 120 volt inverter-charger kept shutting off because the voltage at the yard fluctuated between 130-139 volts. We need the inverter-charger so we can charge the batteries and use electricity onboard.
We asked to be splashed back into the water early Monday morning. We had made arrangements for the stainless steel guy to meet us at noon across the bay at Fonatur. Unfortunately, we were scheduled to be the third boat to be put into the water. The travel lift arrived at the boat about noon. At this point we were asking (and confirming repeatedly) if the tide was still high enough for our almost 7’ draft. The staff re-assured us, repeatedly, that there would be no problem. The travel lift gently set us down into the mud.
We called the stainless steel guy and re-scheduled. There was still no wind and there was not enough water, certainly not clean water, to run the engine or generator, so we watched the battery monitor lights pulse red.
Once it was confirmed the boat was resting comfortable in mud and was not going to move, the staff then looked at the day’s tide tables. “Yep, low tide. We will come back in a two hours when the tide changes,” they said as they walked away. Malcolm pointed out that if we were stuck 2 hours before the tide changes, we will be stuck 2 hours after the tide changes, and they shouldn’t bother to come back in 5 hours rather than 4. They looked at him quizzically and returned in 4 hours. Although they pulled and pulled, we did not budge. They came back an hour later and with some effort pulled us away from shore enough to float.

We followed their instructions on where the dredged canal is as precisely as possible: “See the white house across the bay, not the white hotel, but the house? Steer directly toward it until it is deep.” We only touched bottom once as we cross the bay back to Fonatur. Luckily the bottom is just mud, so no damage was done.
When we returned to Marina Fonatur, we found that occasionally the electricity there also spiked above 120 volts. Apparently, this is common in Guaymas. Fortunately, Malcolm was able to by-pass the inverter and get the batteries charged.  With all those Canadian boats at Fonatur, it felt a bit like coming home.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Punta Pulpito to Guaymas

We left Punta Pulpito about noon to make the crossing to Guaymas. We motor-sailed (main and solent sails as the genoa was ripped) for about 10 hours, but then sailed the next 8 hours. The wind was great and the seas were flat so we went faster than expected and were on track to arrive at Guaymas several hours before sunrise.  We don’t trust the nautical charts, so during Malcolm’s watch (from midnight to 3 AM) he was adjusting the sails to dump wind and slow us down. Dina did the same during her watch from 3 AM until 6 AM. We still arrived a bit early so Dina hove-to outside the entrance to Guaymas Bay until the sun came up, then we motored into the shallow bay and docked at the government marina, Fonatur Guaymas.

Sea Boa, with Allan and Ali, and Golden Heart, with Lee and Cynthia, both from Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island, greeted us at the dock. Patsy Thompson and Tony Latimer, with their boat, Forbes & Cameron, also from Vancouver Island, were also at Fonatur, but up on the hard. A few days later, Steve and Sibylle on Wanderer I, also from Vancouver, arrived at the marina. It was a Canadian invasion.
Guaymas is a lovely town. The people are very friendly. The streets have sidewalks and trees, the houses have gardens, and there is a sense of pride and caring. The first week we tackled a number of projects and it was much easier and more fun with all the help and advice from our dockmates. Off the boat was fun, too. Cynthia took us to the local weekly farmer’s market, everyone shared their favourite restaurant tips (still upset we never got the papas locas – baked potatoes stuffed with cheese, bacon, onions, and we aren’t sure what else!), and Lee and Cynthia drove us to San Carlos for an afternoon of expresso and ice cream!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sea Cock repairs

The galley sink drains into the ocean through a hole in the hull (a thru-hull).  There is a valve (sea cock) attached to the thru-hull which can be closed to prevent sea water from coming up through the thru-hull. When it's closed, it also prevents the sink from draining (which makes for a good quick test). When the boat is flat (motoring, docked, anchored), the galley sink is higher than the outside water, so there is no problem with sea water coming in.  When we sail on port tack, the galley sink is below the water line and the sea cock must be closed or the sink fills up with sea water and overflows.  Our sea cock was not 100% water tight so water came in when we were sailing on port tack.

We were waiting for better weather before leaving Puerto Escondido, so Malcolm went into the water and put a wooden plug into the thru-hull to prevent water from coming into the boat, then came back onboard and took apart the sea cock. There was nothing obviously wrong with the mechanism. He cleaned it, re-greased it, and put it back together. Malcolm went swimming again to remove the plug. With the sea cock closed, we filled the galley sink with water and the water leaked out, albeit slower than before.   That's still not good enough, if water leaks out through a closed sea cock, water will leak in when the boat is heeled over.

Next step, try to smooth out the sides of the valve so it closes better.  The next day, w
e asked the local residents on the Puerto Escondido daily morning radio net where we could locate grinding or lapping paste. Various helpful people told us where we could find it in Loreto. Some offered rides into town, and one helpful person even picked it up for us and brought it to the marina. Once it arrived, Malcolm went back into the water, complained again about it being cold, put the wooden plug into the thru-hull, took the sea cock apart and used the paste to smooth out any places where water could be coming in through the valve. Of course there were complaints about it being hard to reach, and awkward, blah, blah, blah. Clean off all the grinding paste, regrease the valve, put it back together (still hard to reach), back in the water (still cold), pull the plug out, close the sea cock and fill the sink with water…….
We went to Mary and Kip’s on Angelos for drinks. When we returned….

It had worked! No water was leaking out of the full sink!

The next day we took off, headed for Guaymas to get the sails repaired as well as some planned jobs, such as replace some lifelines with stainless steel bars, change some other thru-hulls, replace the propane lines to the stove… It was a sunny, warm and windy close-hauled (into the wind) sail towards Punto Pulpito where we anchored for the night and admired the impressive view (that black mark is a huge vein of obsidian)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido is a funny place; its main claim to fame is that from here it is easy to go somewhere else. The town of Loreto is 28 kilometres from Puerto Escondido. There are many boats here, but the majority do not seem to move from their moorings. Needless to say, repair facilities were very meagre and a sail repair person was out of the question. 

There are no docks in Puerto Escondido. There is an outside anchoring area, called "The Waiting Room", that is deep and has private mooring balls, and there is "The Ellipse" anchoring area (which is actually a circle), that is a  bit closer in, better depth, is full of boats on private mooring balls, and can be quite choppy. Both places cost $1.00 per day to anchor (if you can find a spot in amongst the mooring balls). Then there is the “inner harbour”, which is protected, good depth, and has room to anchor, but it costs $20.00 per day to anchor.  There is no hot water, no docks, no electricity, and no Internet access, but you are still supposed to pay the anchoring fees. The government administers the marina, but it does not have a boat to go out into the anchorage to collect the anchoring fees.  
If you do stop at Puerto Escondido, say “Hello” to Kip and Mary Hill on Angelos from Vancouver Island. Kip and Mary know the history of the area and have lots of good information and advice on everything from shops in Loreto to local hikes. If you are lucky, you may be invited to join them for Happy Hour at 4 PM.

The wind was up over 20 knots from the north for a couple of days, so we stayed tied to the mooring ball. There isn’t much to do in Puerto Escondido, other than hitch a ride to Loreto, which we did, and hike into the “Steinbeck Canyon”, which we also did.

If we can fix the leak in the sea cock then we can sail with our smaller head sail, the solent sail, and the main sail. We need to decide where to go to get the sails repaired. Do we continue north and cross the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas on the mainland. Will there be an experienced sail repair person? Or do we back track to La Paz, where we know there are experienced sail repair people? Each is over 100 nautical miles away. In either case, we need to be able to sail on a port tack without water coming into the galley.

We did some asking around and discovered that Lucy, in Guaymas, has 10 years of experience with sail repair. So now both La Paz and Guaymas were viable options to get the sails repaired. Since our original plan had been to leave the boat at the boatyard in Guaymas to get various jobs done while we went inland to explore the Copper Canyon, we decided to keep going north before crossing to Guaymas.
Now, re-energized with a plan, we decided to see about fixing the leaking sea cock.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

No Good, Terrible, Horrible, Awful Day

The sunrise on January 10 created a red sky. Isn’t there a saying, red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky at morning, sailors…..?

We had a wonderful sail with the full main and genoa (the primary head sail) in 12 knots of breeze for about an hour.  
Then we saw water overflowing from the galley sink. Unfortunately, the starboard sea cock (water intake valve that goes through the hull of the boat) was closed, but still about a cup of water per minute was coming up into the sink. We tacked over to get the galley sink above the water line, bailed the water, and tried tightening the sea cock.  This was all fine for about an hour, until we had to tack back to avoid land and test the quick repair on the sea cock. After about a minute, water again started coming up the sink.....and that is when the genoa ripped.

Now we have two torn sails, which is just as well because we cannot have the boat heeled over or the sink overflows.

We furled the sail, bailed the water out of the sink and mopped it off the floor, and motored another 3 hours to Bahia Agua Verde (water didn’t come in when the boat was flat). We saw a pod of dolphins just outside of Bahia Agua Verde, between the San Marcial reef and the mainland, but even they were subdued.
We anchored in the lovely green waters of Bahia Verde, dried the galley, took the genoa off the roller furling, flaked the sail and packed it up.  As we straightened things up, we discovered the genoa halyard (rope that holds the genoa up) was surprisingly frayed!  Something up at the top of the mast is rubbing.  This will require a trip up the mast, but no one was going to do that today with our current string of problems.
We deserved an ice cold beer at the local restaurant in the village, maybe even a home-cooked fresh fish dinner, but as we neared the village beach we realized the surf was up and we couldn’t land Tubby. Well, Tubby could have surfed over the waves and onto the beach, but leaving would have been a wet and tumbling activity. So we returned to the boat. Bad luck all around.
The next morning we took Tubby to the shore near the boat and hiked around a mountain to the village. We were rewarded with fresh goat cheese and fresh tortillas. We were back at the boat by noon. Malcolm got in the water to check if anything on the outside of the hull was causing the sea cock to leak, but from the outside, all was fine. While we had lunch, Dina tried fishing off the back of the boat. With no success, either fishing or fixing the leaking sea cock, and seeing that it was another calm afternoon perfect for motoring, we raised anchor and headed to Puerto Escondido hoping for maintenance and repair services.  The scenery was spectacular.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

North toward Puerto Escondido and Loreto

We anchored in the gorgeous circular bay of Isla San Francisco with only one other boat.
The other boat, Luckness, with Craig McPheeters from Seattle had been there for a week and had marked the trailhead of a spectacular ridgeline trail that had views of both sides of the island which we explored.

The next afternoon, after our hike, we were toying with the idea of staying another night. Then four other boats arrived, so we hoisted anchor at about 2 PM and motored about 7 nautical miles north to Punta Salinas on Isla San Jose. It's the site of former salt ponds. The remains of buildings, a truck, and a bulldozer are set before the acres and acres of abandoned salts ponds.

The next day we continued north. There was no wind so we motored past Mangle Soto to have a look at the tall Cardon cactus forest. Our guide book stated the forest contained cactus 70’ tall. If there had been, we would have anchored and gone ashore, but we did not see any that were that tall.

We motored past the rock formations at Puerto Los Gatos anchorage and stopped one bay to the north, at San Telmo.

We took Tubby ashore to the sandy beach, followed coyote tracks around the spectacular red rocks, and swam before returning to the boat where we watched the pelicans and the blue-footed boobies drying themselves on the rocks.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

La Paz and Espiritu Santos

After Christmas we went up to La Paz where Dina and Zophia explored the town, finding all the little shops, the best restaurants, the French bakery, and the bagel shop before Zophia boarded a bus to the San Jose del Cabo airport to return to freezing weather in Ontario, Canada, and her university studies.

Good as Gold stayed in La Paz, at the Palmira Marina, for one week. It was enough time to meet lots of others cruisers, eat out quite a bit, explore the farmers’ market, provision at the large grocery store, and find new furling line for the head sail. Our friend, Manny, had noticed the furling line was frayed almost completely. It is still a mystery how this relatively new line could have worn through. We have yet to find anything that could have frayed or cut it.

We had a recommendation for a sail repair person in La Paz, but he was "back home" visiting family for Christmas.  Although the gennaker is torn, it is used for downwind sailing and since we have been planning to continue heading north, up into the wind, we thought we could wait to have it repaired.
After a wonderful New Year’s Eve dinner at The Shack with Rob and Deb from Avant and friends from five other cruising boats, we left La Paz on January 5, 2014. We were not looking forward to saying goodbye to Rob and Deb; we would miss Deb’s coffee and cinnamon rolls! Then Deb cooked a traditional Chinese dinner for us to make us miss Avant even more!
Fortunately, Avant sailed to the Espiritu Santo islands with us.

The wind started to pick up in the evening and continued to blow the next day. So we stayed anchored in the beautiful bay, enjoyed yet another last dinner with Avant.

On January 7 Good as Gold sailed north to Isla San Francisco and Avant went south to Mazatlan. We look forward to seeing Rob and Debra again soon.