Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 9, 2013 - La Paz

February 6, 2013

We left La Cruz on Monday afternoon after depositing Clark and Joan on the Tracy Ann.  Tracy and Craig were catching a plane at about the same time so the four of them would share a cab.  Then we headed out to anchor off Punta Mita, the site of a luxury resort in the north side of Banderas Bay.  It was a lovely evening and quite peaceful.  Miraculously, the autopilot, which had been giving us an alarm signal for three weeks, worked beautifully.  In fact it seems to be holding the course better than it ever has.  The may be due to some bolts that Earl found were loose on the rudder and tightened.

We started off early the next morning for a 70+ mile run to Isla Isabella, planning to anchor there and then make the 90 mile run to Mazatlan.  Things slowly started going bad.  First, Earl’s plug in GPS that he uses on his ipad navx stopped working. We can’t figure out why, but even though it lights up, we don’t get a position.  (We have since diagnosed an operator error). The next problem was Furuno instrument monitor turned itself off, for no particular reason.  It has continued this behavior.

Next was the water maker, It is set to turn off if the tds exceeds the WHO level of 500, and that was where it was at.  When we arrived at a rolly anchorage at Isabella, we had dinner and then went through the lengthy processes of using a 2 part cleaner.  That dropped the tds to the 350 range and we were making water.  We went to bed happy, planning for an early departure. 

Neither of us slept much.  It was terribly rolly and periodically we would be startled by the sound of a whale spouting right near the window.  At 1:30 am we decided to get going and Earl went up, made coffee and then started up the instruments.  More problems.  First the water maker is no longer working.  Secondly, we had no radar, an instrument we really depend on when running at night.  After initially deciding to wait till morning, we both decided around 2:30 to haul the anchor and go for Mazatlan since we could run out in the open without the radar, but approaching Mazatlan after dark and blind would be dangerous. 

We now have almost no fresh water.  Although that means I don’t need to do dishes, it is widely inconvenient especially since the dock water in Mazatlan is not potable.  We will need to load it on, gallon by gallon. 

At this point, it does not look like we will be able to make the run to Loreto to pickup Stuart and Teri on the 16th.  When we get an Internet connection I will need to change their plane reservations. 

The good part is that we have had several spectacular whale shows!

Friday, February 8, 13 – Mazatlan

We arrived on Wednesday night feeling very limp and pretty quickly tied up, drank up, ate up and went to bed.  We had enough water to make coffee, but not much more.

After breakfast, Earl went to work on the water maker.  It is not a comfortable job since the water maker is in the lazaret and he is either on his knees or lying prone.  Half way through his work, a 7 gallon bottle of water was delivered which he siphoned into our water tank.  Further work on the water maker resulted in it draining all the water out of the tank, while still not working. 

By this time, I had noticed several boaters with filters attached to dock hoses, indicating that the water was being used for drinking.  I asked one boater, BJ, who is a retired chemistry teacher, and he told me that water was safe but full of chlorine and sediment, so the filters were for removing those.  Our neighbor was kind enough to let use his filters and we now have 120 gallons of water and are feeling rich indeed.

Today, we are awaiting Victor, the Furuno repairman.  Hopefully he can fix our unit, but even if he can’t, I think we will take off Saturday morning early for the 40 hour run to La Paz.  The weather on Monday night is supposed to go bad and we need to be ready to pick up Stuart and Teri in Cabo on Saturday. 

Last week we were on dock 5 that is definitely for transients.  This time we are squeezed in on dock 6 where the long-term residents are to be found.  They are close group and have a ‘safety’ meeting on the dock every evening starting around 4.  We enjoyed joining them.

April 9, 2013 La Paz

I am leaving tomorrow for a trip back East for my 50th high school reunion.  Looking at my senior photo, I wonder if anyone will recognize me now.  Before I go, I promised Earl I would catch up on this blog.

Our stop in Mazatlan was worthwhile.  Victor was wonderful.  He quickly fixed the radar – turned out it had somehow gotten in the ‘demo’ mode, thus displaying a totally fake picture. No wonder it did not look like what we knew we should be seeing.

Victor also fixed the autopilot.  He reprogrammed the black box and it has worked like a champ ever since. 

The water maker problem was due to the failure of the low-pressure switch which we have since replaced.  After heavy use over 6 years, we will probably need to replace the membranes next year.  They don’t last forever and apparently pickling the system is not good for them.  However, replacement – under $500 – is much less expensive than we feared.

We left Mazatlan early in the morning and had one of the nicest days in a long time.  We sat on the front deck and enjoyed the scenery and sun.  Then, when the sun went down, the wind came up.  The next 24 hours were not pleasant!  We bumped our way west and were happy to finally get into La Paz.

Stuart and Teri arrived February 16th in Cabo instead of Loreto as we had originally planned.  We drove down to pick them up and took the opportunity to visit Costco, which is near the airport.  It looks just like Costco at home.  Beautiful American beef!  There was even prime, which we rarely see anymore – and which looks very fatty compared to our usual fare.  They also had wonderful Mexican coffee that is head and shoulders above what we have found in the supermarkets. 

The kids were ready for a vacation and we were certainly ready for a nice visit with them.  For 10 days we cruised, up to Loreto and back.  Although the weather going north was not great, the seas were generally fine for running but usually too windy to fish, although Teri did catch a dorado.  
Whenever we were anchored near a nice beach, the kids would go ashore and do yoga.  We had a good view of Stuart standing on his head while Teri balanced in extraordinary positions. 

We dodged bad weather coming south from Puerto Escondido.  We left in mid afternoon when the winds had dropped a bit and ran to Aqua Verde.  The next morning, we ran to Isla San Francisco, arriving just shortly before the big north winds that had been predicted struck.  It was a wild night.  Gusts up to 50, but we were snug as could be.  At 2 am, we were woken by our vhf radio.  A boat was drifting in the anchorage and since we had our dingy down and a motor, Earl and Stuart went off to provide assistance.  They found the people on the boat were already awake and struggling to bring in their anchor by hand.  No fun for them, but we were able to go back to bed feeling noble.

We spent the last couple of days of their trip in La Paz.  They played a round of golf at the Costa Baja course and enjoyed it.  There was wind, which added a degree of difficulty.  Stuart, Teri and I also visited Ibara, my favorite pottery, and Teri ordered some bowls that I have picked up and will ship off to her when I am back in the US.

We spent the next week doing odd jobs around the boat and looking at Steve Job’s new yacht, Venus, which was tied up in the marina.  It cost $120 million and appropriately is very futuristic looking.  Stuart pointed out the top has the same profile as the ipad.  It took all the fuel that was available before leaving. 

A week after their departure, our friends Judy and John from La Conner arrived.   Unfortunately, John was sick with some crud that has plagued the La Conner community all winter.  He wisely went to bed for a couple of days.  Our good friend John Nielsen brought him antibiotics.  That, tons of fresh orange juice and rest did the trick and he was back on his feet within a couple of days.  While he was ill, Judy and I did some touring around La Paz.  She loved the pottery place!

The weather had finally decided to behave.  We had a lovely cruise north to Puerto Escondido, and finally saw some sea life.  The water was warmer, although we were not tempted to swim, and the porpoises, mobulas, and whales put in an appearance.

We have found many more kayakers this year than ever before.  There are organized trips and more and more beaches that used to be deserted are now covered with tents and people.  Sad for us, but no doubt good for the locals.  We were particularly distressed that Los Gatos had been invaded.  The beautiful red rocks were covered by people and wet suits. 

Having John on board was wonderful.  In fact, once he was feeling well, we were challenged to find odd jobs to occupy him.  He is a fixer!  The first thing he did for which I will always be grateful was to fix the guest room latch.  It had never closed easily.  As a result everyone always slammed, something that drove Earl nuts and generated lots of complaints.  Now, it closes like a dream!  Then he fixed the barrel bolt on the trash compactor and another on the bridge.  He then mended the blender.  His next task was to fix the slide that we had installed on the salon table that was supposed to allow us to move the table in an out.  It was warped and not working well.  John studied the situation and suggested a solution that involved sanding down the glide.  He did, and it worked.  We love our table.  We were just running out of tasks, when the generator stopped working.  John and Earl spent most of a day trying to diagnose the problem.  Finally a phone call confirmed their suspicions that it was an electrical problem.  They bypassed the faulty reset switch and we were back in business.  John should have lots of time his hands now that he has finished remodel his house.  Any one with odd jobs in La Conner should give him a call.

Less you think that John was the only one working, you should know that Judy was busy cleaning my boat and dishes!   They had never been so clean. 


When we arrived at Puerto Escondido, Judy and John got in contact with their friend Rosemary.  She has a beautiful house in Loreto!  Before Judy and John left, we took a trip up to the mission San Javier.  We had tried several years before to visit this mission, but we turned back when the pavement ended and there were still 15 miles to go over a road that was more boulders than gravel.  This time we found to our delight that the whole road was paved.  Indeed the last half of the road was much better going than the first half which is mostly a climb into the mountains.  It was a beautiful trip and the mission was quite charming.  It is about 300 years old and in excellent condition. 

The generator was still not doing what Earl wanted.  The gauges were indicating that the engine was warmer and the oil pressure was not as it should be, so we headed right back to La Paz instead of going north to San Juanico.  That trip will need wait until next fall.  Once we were in La Paz, Emilio and two of his assistants came and spent 2 hours on the boat, methodically checking every bit of the wiring for the generator.  Finally they found that the wiring harness for temperature and oil pressure data was not making contact as it should.  Once diagnosed it was a quick fix, but it was not something that could have been by one or even two people.  Total bill for 6 hours of good electrical work was $100.

The 'Pavilion', which I had opposed, has turned out to be wonderful.  It took some tweaking to get the canvas just right, but now we love it.  It has made launching the dingy much quicker and easier, and provides more shade and unobstructed views from the boat deck.  Earl did well!