This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Thursday, April 29, 2010
David and his wife have towed Pachuca to a safer location with their catamaran Puddytat.
I spoke with David on the VHF radio to advise him that I was going ashore to visit the marina office and do some shopping and he said that we should resolve the issue today and that he would move me whenever I was ready. I told him that slack water would be at 3 PM, in two hours, and we agreed on that time.
At the marina office I was told that 3 people had visited the dragging boat, one of whom was the La Paz port captain himself. I asked the lady what they had determined. She didn't know. I asked her how I could contact the port captain. She didn't know. She then suggested that I move my boat. (Hey, what's the problem Gringo? Move your boat.) I explained about my engine not working. Then she suggested that I have someone tow me to a different place. I told her that I was working on it, but that even so, we should think of the future and other boats and resolve the issue of the dragging boat. She said that she agreed.
On the way back to my dinghy I met Bob coming up the ramp. I thought that he was away but he had returned early. I explained the situation with the dragging boat and he offered to help me. He explained that the Mexican way is not to rely on officialdom but to fend for yourself. He and others have moved threatening boats before and I replied that if one did that in Australia they would be in great legal peril if anything went wrong with the boat that was moved. In Mexico it's different. This explains my interaction with the woman at the marina. My solution was to contact the owner of the dragging boat and get him to do something about it. Her obvious and common sense advice to this dumb gringo was to forget about the threatening boat and take care of his own boat. Bienvenido a México, Gringo.
I stopped off at Puddytat on the way back to Pachuca and told David about Bob helping me and that I would call him at 3 PM. We discussed how the tow would be done and agreed roughly where Pachuca would be taken.
At 2.30 PM Bob was on board. I could not hail Puddytat so Bob went over and had a discussion with them. (Bob did not respond to my call because he was on another channel on another call.)
Bob returned and helped me to finish clearing the cockpit and foredeck. I brought out the boat hook, freed the wheel, and made sure that the anchor winch switch was on. Puddycat came close and David's wife (Sorry, I can't recall her name which I heard once two weeks ago.) handed me a line. They took the strain off the chain and we started to bring in the anchor chain. but then everything jammed up because of all of the weed growing on the chain so Bob suggested the great idea: that he feed the chain to the upper level of the anchor well instead of allowing it to go down the hawser pipe to the lower level. This worked well. Soon the anchor was just below the surface of the water and the tow began.
I was towed another 2.2 nm SW, farther into the La Paz channel, and dropped anchor in 5.8 meters of water. Then David's wife shipped their towing line and Puddytat came up to our stern where I took the tow line and Bob wound it around the port jib winch. David then gave a good, strong pull with his boat. I went forward and saw the anchor chain straight and taut. I then checked the chart plotter numbers and Pachuca was not moving an inch. I was safely anchored.
We cast off the stern tow line and Puddytat was away with my profound thanks yelled across the water.
Bob stayed for a while and over a beer I showed him the storm jib that has been offered from a friend in Australia (more on that later). We went over the numbers and Bob thinks that it will be a good sail.
I mused to Bob about how this script of life has been written. At the precise moment when I needed help there he was at the dinghy doc ramp when I thought that he was away sailing. Ten minutes either way and I would have missed him. How fortunate is that? And yes, without his help it would have been a much more difficult effort for me and who knows what traps I would have fallen into.
Anyway, here we are at Pachuca's new home, 24N09.387, 110W19.898.
The first photo is of Puddytat preparing for the rescue.
Next is Bob returning from his visit to Puddytat.
Then there is Pachuca under tow.
And finally there Puddytat returning to her anchorage.
Well, we've had a change in the wind pattern in the last few days and the boat has been getting closer and closer to Pachuca. This morning "Puttytat" in the nearby catamaran hailed me on VHF 22 and expressed alarm at the position of that boat, which is a large ferro cement hulk with no engine or rudder. I told him my story and someone from a boat named "Sunbury" broke in and said that he's been watching that boat drag anchor back and forth for 3 weeks.
They could see that this hulk was only 20 meters up wind of me, and when I told them that I could not move because my engine isn't running the level of concern went up. None of us speak good enough Spanish to describe the problem to the port captain so the person from Sunbury said that he'd call the marina.
I called the marina a few minutes later and the woman said that they had been alerted and a boat would be sent out to have a look. "Does that mean that they will have the boat moved?" I asked. ... Well ... no, they were going to look at it. I'm not sure what "they" are going to look at.
Anyway, Puddytat will be on board monitoring the gap between me and the hulk. He says he thinks that other boats will be able to pull me out in an emergency. But he mentioned the problem of crossed anchor lines which I was aware of - we don't have to collide to have a problem.
I'm done what I can to help myself, because if a crisis happens during the night I will be on my own. I've used line and not chain to fix the bitter end of my anchor chain to the boat so that I can sever the connection with a knife if I have to cut and run from the anchor. I've got a boat fender with 7 meters of line ready to tie on to that anchor chain so that I can retrieve it later. Also, I've partially assembled my 50 lb storm anchor. It is already connected to my spare rode. The plan would be to cut myself adrift then spend the minute or so to fix the stock through the shank and be ready to throw it over the side. This would not be pretty because I would be at the mercy of the interaction of the current and wind.
... Even as I write this I've thought of another possibility. I could attach my spare rode to the existing chain an pay it out as far as I have to in order to separate from the hulk. This would buy me time until the morning.
Welcome to the cruising life, Robert.
This is a photo of the dragging hulk. By the time I took this photo, just after noon, the wind had changed and moderated. The problem is that it seems to get closer every night during the SW winds.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
To help me counter the gently ebbing tide I hung loops of rope on each side of the hull to give me something to hold onto while I worked with the free hand. My tools were a mask with snorkel, a green kitchen abrasive pad, and a paint scraper. The area of interest was only a but 50mm wide, that section just above the antifouling. I would work with the scraper first, removing the small mussels and the bulk of what appeared to be some sort of sea grass that was maybe 25mm long, soft, and fortunately not too firmly attached. After cleaning off a section with the paint scraper I finished it off with the abrasive pad.
My goal for the day was modest: do both sides of the waterline and if things got tough then be satisfied with only one side of the waterline. I finished both sides of the waterline then decided to visit the ladder. Below the waterline it was starting to look like a reef with a thick covering of that fuzzy grass everywhere but on the top sides of the rungs.
I did this job without too much trouble using the abrasive pad then had a go at the propeller and shaft which looked like the beginning of another reef. It is highly unlikely that I would have gotten much drive from that badly fuzzed up propeller. However, there was still too much ebb tide for doing this job because when I came up for air I would be behind the stern and drifting back. I decided to have lunch an a rest. I had been in the water for over an hour but did not feel particularly chilly. The water temperature has risen noticeably since Arnold and I left La Paz for the islands to the north.
While heating the water for the noodle soup I started the chart plotter (Yes, it started OK!) and checked the tide for today. At 3.15 PM it would be slack. I had my lunch and a short snooze theen at 3 PM I climbed back down into the water, this time armed with a stainless steel scourer for kitchen pots. I do not have a long breath, probably due to a lifetime of mild, managable, but nevertheless chronic asthma. A dive to the propeller would give me only 10, maybe 15 seconds over the target, but my recovery was fast. After maybe 30 dives the propeller and shaft were clean.
Then ... why not ... I had a go at cleaning large amount of soot at the port rear of the hull around the exhaust and the counter stern, which was pretty sooty too. I used "Vim", an Australian brand name for a mild abrasive liquid, which worked very well. The low part of the hull required me to be in the water, clinging to a rope and scrubbing the best I could. The upper part and the stern I was able to clean from the Zodiac. Then I went along the rest of the hull in the Zodiac cleaning rust and fender marks as best as I could.
The result was acceptable. Pachuca's hull shows a few battle scars from her sail half way around the world, but it still passes muster as a "normal" hull. (I haven't told Pachuca yet, but she will get her hull professionally painted if she gets me back to Fremantle.)
It was a satisfying day. I was fortunate in that the wind was light and the water was warm.
Tomorrow I'll use the long-handled mop to have a go at wiping the thin coating of slime off the rest of her hull below the water.
I've grumbled about the antifouling that I got in Port Townsend but this is an appropriate time for another grumble. Before I left Australia I was told that the "hard" antifouling was more appropriate for long distance cruising. Rejecting this advice I put on 3 layers of ablative antifouling (i.e. "soft" antifoulding that slowly drifts away taking the wildlife with it) with a fourth coat in the high-stress areas. I reached Port Townsend more than a year later, after spending several weeks in Tahiti and 5 months in Hawaii and never having cleaned the hull and propeller; and after the high pressure wash-down following my haul-out the hull was so clean that the fellow remarked that she could be put straight back in the water.
I spent big dollars for 3 coats of the top grade "hard" antifouling which was reputed to be 80% copper, and some sort of silver paint looking coat on the propeller and shaft. Within weeks I could see a layer of slime growing on my hull, and in these Mexican waters the propeller and shaft act as though they have no antifoulding at all.
Maybe I just haven't adjusted to how "hard" antifouling is supposed to work, but until I learn different I'll go back to my ablative antifouling when I return to Fremantle.
Speaking of Fremantle, the hull will get a lot of attention. I plan to sand the hull below the waterline right back to the gel coat, then give it a coat or two of "high build" before applying the antifouling. I did this with my previous boat Angie and it worked brilliantly. While I am at it I will raise Pachuca's waterline another 25mm (1 inch). Yes, I know that she will ride higher when I have unloaded her at Fremantle, but I want her prepared for another cruise.
I've got a counter clockwise circuit of the Indian Ocean in mind. Set off NW from Fremantle to Cocos Keeling Island, then Chagos, then maybe the Maldives. From there perhaps Seychelles, down to Rogriguez, Mauritius, Reunion, and a downwind ride back to Australia, maybe visiting Amsterdam or St Paul along the way.
But wait a minute! I'm in La Paz enjoying the wonderful climate and culture but with a busted engine and the Central America hurricane zone and the Horn ahead of me.
First things first.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Today I took the 100 meters of sea anchor line to the marina and soaked it in fresh water. After using it in the Southern Ocean I rinsed it in fresh water in Adelaide but could not recall if I had soaked it or merely played a hose on it. The rope felt clammy to the touch so I decided to give it a good soaking and leave in out to dry in the hot and windy La Paz climate. As soon as the nylon rope became saturated it became wonderfully supple, and I hope that it stays that way after it has dried.
This is Tuesday afternoon. Colin said last week that he'd install the head on "Monday or Tuesday". I will bide my time until Friday afternoon and hope for the best.
In the meantime I'll occupy my time as usefully as I can. Tomorrow at slack tide if the wind is calm I'll go into the water and scrape Angie's water line, which has small mussels living on it. The problem is that the boat is so low in the water that the wild life can attach itself just above the antifouling. I'll also dive on the propeller and clean it up. I don't think that I have enough lung capacity to be able to clean the slime on the entire hull but I've got a mop that should give me plenty of reach.
Great! No chart plotter and I am in La Paz where the chances of getting a good and fast repair are slim. The integrated Raymarine system is very efficient both in cost and functionality. However, the flaw is that if you lose the C120 display you lose access to your charts, radar, and AIS display. I knew that I could push on to Costa Rica and probably all of the way to Australia using C-Map which I have in both of my laptops, but I would sorely miss the AIS because sailing single handed I would not be able to constantly watch out for ships. Fortunately I have an independent "third party" Comar AIS so at least I would still be broadcasting my location to ships in the area.
I tried to put the matter out of my mind until morning but I had difficulty getting to sleep because I kept going over and over the issue. I realized that the C120 is probably the most mollycoddled instrument on board. Although it is designed to survive in a cockpit environment this one is firmly fixed on a purpose-build wooden frame that protects it from shocks, water, and even sunlight. A thought ran through my head of taking a bus to San Diego to get the unit repaired.
At about 1 AM I got up and had another go. I tried to jiggle the cables in the back but they were too firmly fixed to move around. I thumped the unit with the soft part of my fist. I repeatedly punched every key. All to no avail.
There are 6 buttons along the bottom of unit. By sheer luck I was holding the first one down while I powered on the breaker. A coundown to "factory settings" started. I let it count down the unit went into factory settings, seemed to die down, then came up looking normal.
This morning I have exercised the unit quite a bit and changed some of the factory settings. The chart plotter seems to be working OK but it will be a few weeks before I'll be relaxed about it - well, as relaxed as any cruising sailor can be about the equipment on his boat.
One reason why I want to avoid a delay in my planned return to Australia in 12 months is that the longer I stay out the higher the probability of something failing along the way. I've got a spare HF and VHF radios, 5 GPS's, and other spares on board, but there is a limit to the amount of spares one can carry.
PS Maybe I was too pessimistic. I've just checked the Raymarine web site and there are dealers both here in La Paz and in Puntarenas in Costa Rica.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I did visit the S&S-like boat mentioned in the video. It turned out to be a Catalina 38, designed by Sparkman and Stevens. For S&S it must have been easy money because the hull shape looks identical to an S&S 34 and and S&S 39.
This morning's project was to become reacquainted with the deployment of my 18-ft diameter "Para Anchor" sea anchor. (See http://www.paraanchors.com.au/ for descriptions of deployment, retrieval, drift rates, etc. I've got the "Bass Strait 18".) As expected I learned that I wasn't quite ready for a fast deplyment in rough conditions because I had to resolve issues of the floats at the head of the parachute.
The first photo shows the core of the system. The red bag in the sunshine contains the parachute, with the canopy on the right and the parachute lines on the left. The system is designed so that you can place the entire bag in the water with the parachute deploying as soon as all of the slack of the line between the boat and the parachute has been taken up. With Pachuca's setup the parachute must be launched when hove to on a starboard tack (i.e. wind coming from the starboard).
To the parachute cords at the left of the red bag is one meter of chain designed to ensure that the parachute rides below the surface of the water during deployment.
The next photo shows the series of floats connected to the chain at the end of the parachute cords. There is a 15 m line of white rope (which floats, as it must do) tied to one of my large fenders. The purpose of this float is to prevent the parachute from dropping to directly below the boat if the wind dies down while the exhausted crew is asleep. Were this to happen there would be serious consequences: (1) the boat cannot lift out a trough of water because the parachute is holding it down, putting it in peril (2) pulling up the deployed parachute from 100 meters below the boat would be a daunting task. (I read of one crew that cut away the parachute rather than retrieve it from below.)
From this primary float is another white rope of 25 meters tied to the small red float. The role of this float is to facilitate retrieval of the parachute. I will explain this by describing what Arnold and I experienced when we retrieved the parachute after gale winds in Spencer Gulf, South Australia. Pachuca had hung well all night off the parachute, giving us a chance to get some rest and minimizing the loss of ground to 1-2 knots. We woke up in the morning to find gray clouds and winds down to maybe 15 knots. When we were ready we started the engine and headed for the parachute while Arnold steered the boat and I was on the bow shipping the 100 meters of 20mm (about 3/4 inch) nylon rope. We reached the red float that was being pushed down wind from the parachute. I shipped this float with the boat hook and pulled in the line which had the effect of pulling on the apex of the parachute canopy to the point where I was pulling the parachute by the canopy with most of the water drained from it (i.e. I "tripped" the parachute.) I then pulled the parachute on board, retrieved the rest of the line, and off we went.
The third and fourth photos show the connection of the "underside" end of the rope in the bag to the red deployment line. The red line is fixed to the toe rail with plastic ties. The other end is attached by a chain to the bow roller.
So the deployment sequence is as follows:
1. Heave to on starboard tack
2. Fetch one of Pachuca's large fenders
3. Place the parachute and rope bags on the starboard cockpit seat
4. Connect all of the lines, e.g. the floats and the main rope to the parachute canopy and red deployment line on the gunwale
At this point the boat is drifting more or less sideways to port.
5. Put out the trip line float and then the main float into the water and wait until the boat has drifted far enough to stretch their lines
6. Open up the parachute bag, drag a bit of it out of the bag, then lovingly place it in the water
After a time the boat would have drifted far enough to stretch the 100 of main line. This will cause the parachute to open and when it does it will feel like being on a real anchor. The force of the pull will break the plastic ties that hold the red line to the toe rail and before I know it Pachuca will be hanging from the parachute off the bow roller.
Then comes the best step:
7. Go down below, get into dry clothes, have a few stiff drinks, and go to bed.
Bob came by today. I told him that I had had no joy in telephoning Danny regarding the storm jib and he suggested that I tried hailing him on VHF 22 which he monitors whenever he can. I did this and got through to him. He does have something that may be suitable but he needs to measure it and asked me to call him on VHF 22 tomorrow after the end of the usual 8AM session.
No word from Colin. I told Bob that I'd wait until the end of the week at which time I would propose that he hand over the head to me and I'd have a go at installing it (after purchasing a torque wrench). Bob advised me that there is still time, it won't take Colin long to do the job once he's ready, and not to panic.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Yesterday afternoon the wind moderated enough to tempt me into going ashore. I returned with more provisions for the cruise and some perishables for more immediate consumption.
Instead of coming back with beef for dinner - which I love to eat but leaves me feeling bloated and terrible the next day - I was a "good boy" and purchased a half kilo of fish fillets ("medio kilo, por favor") along with broccoli and carrots. In order to keep the fish and vegetables cool I felt duty bound to purchase a set of 8 cans of cold Pacifico beer. I had a disgustingly healthy meal of rice with onion, carrots and broccoli with fish fried in a minimum amount of olive oil. For desert I had raisins.
This morning I catalogued and stowed the latest lot of supplies and concluded that Pachuca is essentially victualed and ready for sea. I am holding off reloading my gas cylinder until the last minute, and will soon have an empty container for oil-mixed outboard motor fuel which will be a good time for visiting the gas station to top up my mixed and unmixed outboard motor gasoline reserves. Other than that it is a matter of procuring last-minute perishables such as fruit, vegetables, and meat that I will keep refrigerated for the first few days of sailing. I would use some of the meat for the pressure cooker for the preparation of three good meals.
I used the singular but actually I will try to have both of my gas cylinders recharged: the big USA one that I got in Hawaii and the smaller Australian one that the US firms would not recharge. Recharging the Aussie cylinder would be a big win because it would give me a switch-over capability that I do not have now.
Earlier this morning there was practically no wind so I got cracking with more sail work. I dug out the storm trysail from the locker and hoisted it in a slow, methodical step-by-step fashion. As I mentioned yesterday my current situation seems very conducive to clear observation and thinking about about boating matters. I began by digging out two old jib sheets to use with the trysail but when I opened the bag I saw that tied to the clew were two beautiful sheets that I had set up earlier. A line to hold down the tack was also already in place. Out of the exercise came a step-by-step procedure for hoisting the storm trysail. The procedure includes important items that dumb me had not considered before. For example, where you take the sheets is very important because it is imperative that equal strain be put on the leech and the foot of the sail. The answer: take the sheets to the spinnaker blocks at the stern corners of the boat, then forward to the spinnaker winches. (Side effect: the spinnaker winches are normally used for the running backstays, which will be required for a storm trysail - storm jib combination. Fortunately I've got jam cleats to take the load of these running backstays and installed cleats on the coaming where I can tie them off.) Also, I noted that I should place the boat on a starboard tack before hoitsing the trysail because its track is on the port side of the mast. And I think that I have figured out how to deal with the slides getting stuck at that slightly off center join of the two sections of the trysail track. Instead of going up the mast to free the slides I grab the sail with one hand, the halyard with the other, then run the sail up and down until the slide clears the join.
The sail has its own track so that it can be raised independently of the mainsail. So I have two choices: (1) Leave the mainsail on the boom, zipped up tightly in its cover (2) remove the mainsail altogether. Removing the mainsail has advantages: (1) reduces unwanted windage (2) it is much easier to raise and lower the storm trysail if the mainsail is not on the boom (3) I would be able to hoist the trysail a full 900 mm (3 ft) lower, which would correspondingly lower the center of effort.
However, for a 24-hour high wind event it would not be worth the time and effort to remove the mainsail. After all, that's why a separate track was installed. However, if I knew that there was a survival storm on the way I would remove the mainsail (and spray dodger and possible even the jib) .
I took the opportunity to measure the storm trysail. Luff: 4.61m (15' 2"), Leech 5.81m (19' 1"), Foot 2.91m (9' 6.5"), yielding an area of 6.7 sq meters (72 sq ft).
After this effort the wind was still calm so I hoisted the mainsail in order to determine where to cut the two new reefing lines, which were much too long. I have concluded that 70% of my mainsail hoisting problems are associated with the fact that the halyard is directed to the cockpit. I found that "jumping" the halyard at the mast was extremely easy. In fact, I used my hands to jump the halyard until the mainsail was within 1 meter off the top. It is possible that one day I will put a winch on the mast and completely raise the mainsail at the mast. In the meantime, unless the weather is really foul, I'll try jumping the halyard at the mast, cleating off when near the top, then going to the cockpit at taking up the slack at the winch. I'll then uncleat at the mast and use the winch to raise the sail the last few feet.
The first photo shows the view of the storm trysail from the steering station. The boom is centered and (will be) lashed.
The second photo shows the gap that could be eliminated by removing the mainsail altogether. (The foot looks lose because I missed putting into the track the lowest slide at the tack.)
The lower photo attempts to show trysail and mainsail on separate tracks.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I told Colin that I was starting to get anxious because I had hoped to be on my way to Costa Rica by the end of this month (only 7 days away) to avoid the hurricane season down the coast. Without going into details Colin got very defensive with descriptions of a supplier letting him down, the huge number of people making demands on him, etc. I told him that I heard what he was saying and to try to not stress himself too much or his health would suffer. "I mean it" I told him. He replied that he was having a bad day and I was the one copping it. I finished with "Fine. After you have inquired about the head please let me know if there will be a delay so that I know what is going on." He finished along the lines of 'We'll have you going on Monday or Tuesday'.
Colin reads his emails. If by Monday evening I have not heard from him I will send him an email message explaining (1) the dangers of my crossing the Central America hurricane belt after the middle of May and (2) the flight that Brenda has booked for Costa Rica where she is due to land on 11 June. Getting my message across will be all that I can do lest I risk an alienating row.
I was finishing an accurate sketch of my inner sail triangle and staysail to determine how to modify it to yield 80 sq ft on a reef when Bob came by. He loaned me yet another excellent book, Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia by Stephen and Linda Dashew which has wonderful descriptions accompanied by great photos of ground tackle (e.g. anchors, chains, fairleads) and sails, including a specific section of staysails.
I'm beginning to think that this engine problem delay in La Paz may have been meant to be. I have been learning so much about Pachuca, both from mooching around on my own at my own pace with no schedule to meet, soaking in the information from the books that Bob has loaned to me, and interacting with Bob. I told Bob in an email that when he's around my boating IQ improves by 50%,
Bob came with great news. "Danny" who has the sail business "Pacific Thread" thinks that he may have a storm jib suitable for Pachuca. I am to telephone Danny after the 1-3 PM siesta time about it.
At 1.30 PM the wind is blowing at 10-15 kt which means that my "pack horse" trip to CCC is cancelled. I did manage to make a quick run to the marina this morning while it was calm to exchange my 3 DVD movies for fresh ones. For once I did not have to take my water containers. Both of my tanks are full, which gives me a 3-month supply if I include the spare containers.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Bob came by for a "quick" visit and was soon tied up and on board helping me out with my staysail issue.
I told him of the quotation of $10 per sq ft for a new storm jib and he seemed very contemptuous. I then raised a possibility that he had thought about himself and was about to suggest to me: put reefing points in my existing staysail. The staysail is in good condition and well made, with triple stitching all over the place. It seems to us that I could save a lot of money (and storage space in the boat) by being able to reef the staysail to a storm jib size of about 80 sq ft. I'm even wondering if it would be possible to use the same tack but put the reef clew high up the leech to yield a high cut sail which I think has been called a Yankee. This high cut would help protect the sail from boarding seas.
Neither of us knows enough about sails to be sure of anything. However, I will draw an accurate plan of the staysail and approach a sail maker in Cost Rica about putting in reef points in the sail. I think that the fabric is strong enough to take the loadings of high (e.g. 60 kt) winds.
I then showed Bob a worry that I have about the deployment of my "last ditch" parachute sea anchor in a survival storm. The parachute will hang off a chain around my bow roller. This is wonderful because it eliminates all possibility of chafing. However, according to Heavy Weather Sailing the loadings from a sea anchor in a survival storm can be phenomenal - entire anchor windlasses have been ripped off. Well if my bow roller gets pulled off the entire base to which my headstay is shackled will go with it, and the mast will fall backwards. Losing a mast is bad enough , given that the solar panels, wind charger, GPS, HF, and AIS antennas will go with it; but losing it in a storm could be catastrophic with me frantically trying to cut away the wreckage with a hacksaw without being taken overboard by a wave before the boat gets holed.
Bob agreed that my worry is well founded. For cruising in "non-threatening" waters I'll probably stick to the current setup for a quick deployment of the parachute in an emergency. However, for the waters around Drake Passage (i.e. The Horn) and the Southern Ocean past South Africa I'll connect the parachute to my regular 3/8" anchor chain which I will cleat the chain off at the big samson post that I installed in Fremantle. This won't be a problem because the anchors would have all been stowed aft.
After Bob left I felt bold enough to raise the mainsail and try my new reefing system. There was some wind of 5-7 knots but it was from dead ahead, rather from the side as happens so frequently in this current-prone anchorage. After using the new reefing lines to set the sail at the proper height up the mast for the no 1 and no 2 reefs and marking the lines at the cockpit I tried reefing with them and it seemed to work splendidly. I would pay out the mainsail halyard and pull on the reefing line until I saw the mark. I would then cleat off the reefing line and tighten the halyard and that was the front of the sail taken care of. I'll try all of this in gentle conditions when I am underway to Costa Rica but at this point I am confident that the system will work well.
The first photo shows the red line that will be connected at the other end to the parachute is connected at this end to the now roller with a chain. The 100 meters of line to the parachute is shackled to the red line at the cockpit. The bag containing the parachute is then thrown in from the cockpit. When the parachute opens up and bites into the water it will break the plastic ties holding the red line to the starboard gunwale and soon the boat will facing the sea anchor bow-on and connected to it by that chafe-proof chain around the bow roller. I propose to replace that loop of chain around the roller by the regular anchor chain cleated off at the samson post.
The next photo is a side view of the second luff reefing line in action, where the blue speckled rope is holding down the sail via a bowline knot around the reefing ring. The third photo is looking down to the deck, showing how the line passes around a block at the base of the mast and to the cockpit.
The engine starting bank of two large "maintenance free" Delkor batteries providing a total of 260 amp hours is isolated and currently at a very satisfactory 12.6 volts. The 55 a/h gel battery for the anchor windlass is at an even better 12.7 volts.
The "house" bank of 4 mat gel batteries providing 920 a/h is the one in use that must be watched.
Not long after the refrigerator was repaired Arnold and I came to the realization that running it 24x7 would pose too big a drain on the bank. The Danfoss unit draws 5.5 amps and seemed to be running most of the time in this hot climate. I'm afraid that the refrigerator will have to be reserved for "special" occasions, such as when we motor out of a port with a load of fresh meat and other perishables. We would run the engine for 2 hours every few days to try to keep the "house" bank at an acceptable voltage (which must be 12.0 V or better).
Here at anchor in La Paz the combination of solar panels and wind charger have pretty well satisfied all of my other electrical needs, principally the running of computers and the VHF radio. Fortunately La Paz is generally very sunny and to give an example at the time of this writing, 11 AM with little wind, there is a net positive charge of 3.4 amps with this computer plugged into the system.
The anchor light and the string of 6 small lights in the head are on continuously. However, they are all LED's and would draw a total of perhaps 300 milli amps. The chart plotter draws 1.1 amps with the radar scanner off, and the gas sniffer draws another 1.1 amps. That does not sound like much but it adds up to over 50 amp hours over a 24-hour period. One morning I noted with some alarm that the "house" bank was down to 12.0 V, so I began the practice of turning the chart plotter on only during periods of high winds in order to get the protection of the anchor alarm. Similarly, I turn on the gas sniffer only when I require to use the gas stove. This is quite safe because as soon as I turn off the gas sniffer the solenoid valve automatically shuts, cutting the gas supply to the cabin. When I turn the sniffer on again it takes a few seconds to monitor the sensors at the base of the galley area and in the lazarette where the gas cylinders are stored, then if it detects no hydrocarbons I will hear the "clack" of the solenoid valve being opened.
This adds up to being able to live indefinitely, electrically speaking, in a remote place that is sunny, as long as I do not run the refrigerator, or run it a couple of hours a day (for a cold afternoon beer) when the solar and wind charging are very good.
The wind charger, incidentally, is a very big help. Even in moderate winds of 10-15 knots it contributes an average of 0.5-1.0 amps. As the wind increases the power delivery improves dramatically. I have seen it deliver 17 amps in a gale, though it would have to regularly shut itself down due to overheating. In 20-25 kt winds I can depend on it to deliver 4 or 5 amps day and night.
I've just received the quotation for a new storm jib: $10 per sq ft and delivery at the end of the first week of may. I'll decline it on both counts. I'm not willing to pay $1000 for a 100 sq ft of sail, and I told the man to quote only if he could deliver by the end of April. I'll try to find something during my long stay in Costa Rica.
Yesterday I took a few photos during my trip ashore for a haircut. Within my limited range of walking distance I have not seen a lot of particularly photogenic scenes of La Paz other than its beautiful waterfront. This is not to say that the city isn't clean, pleasant and orderly (other than the atrocious side walks); but to me it all seems practical and prosaic.
Anyway, here are two photos of the marina. The first photo is of the approach to the dinghy dock with the well-know The Dock cafe in the background. The other photo is of the site of the Club Cruceros (Cruiser's Club), the well organized social center for the expat cruisers. Inside is the best book exchange that I have seen so far, and a library of hundreds of movies on DVD.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I used the wind load calculator at http://www.sailingusa.info/cal_wind_load.htm and got the following basic numbers, where the sail area is in square feet and the loadings are in pounds:
Sail Area, 30 Kt, 45 Kt, 60Kt
142, 550, 1239, 2203
100, 388, 872, 1551
80, 310, 698, 1241
It appears that the load on a sail is proportional to the square of the wind speed. What this means is that if you double the wind speed you quadruple the loading on the sail, as is shown in the case of my staysail where the loading in 30 knots of wind is 550 lb and at 60 kt wind is 2203 lb. But for any given wind speed the loading of the sail is directly proportional to the sail area. (For example, if you halve the sail area you halve the loading.)
I didn't worry about the absolute numbers themselves but rather the relationships between the numbers.
I found that my staysail of 142 square feet was extremely comfortable at 30 knots and was at the edge of overpowering the boat at 45 knots. At 60 knots the sail would have been untenable. It looks like a 100 sq ft sail will take me to about 50 knots. In a "survival" storm it looks like the 80 sq ft sail would be the way to go.
Yes, it would be nice to have a roller furler staysail but I don't have one. (I'll probably install one back at Fremantle.)
I've issued two requests over the Club Cruceros net for a second hand storm jib of 100 sq ft with no response. However, I have had a response from a sail maker who can make me one. I replied that if he can supply a new sail by the end of this month to please send me a quotation.
Still on sails, I rearranged my lines to accommodate the two lines that should enable me to reef the mainsail from the cockpit. I am waiting for a calm day so that I can raise the mainsail and tie the two lines on the respective luff reefing rings and then see how the system works.
We got a sobering warning about rigging from the VHF 22 Club Cruceros net this morning. A boat that departed from La Paz for the South Pacific lost an aft shroud and then a forward shroud. Then one of the chain plates broke off. This boat had recently been on the hard stand here in La Paz and the rigging had looked OK. But looks can be deceiving. The recommendation was to not go over the horizon with rigging that is more than 10 years old. After my experiences I don't think that I'd go over the horizon with rigging more than 5 years old.
I spoke with Colin the mechanic this morning. He had not received a call that the head is ready. To avoid my pestering him with phone calls I asked him to send me an email as soon as he has the heads so that we can arrange the installation. He thought that the email was a good idea, but I'll probably still phone him at 8.30 AM every day.
Yesterday afternoon I did my third "pack horse" trip to CCC for supplies. I'm getting pretty good at estimating how much I can carry. This time I had the heavy stuff in my back pack and the lighter things in two green shopping bags that I brought from Australia. I arrived at The Dock cafe and had two cold Coronas with lemon (Even pack horses must be watered.), but I didn't have a meal because I came back with a beautiful sirloin steak, potatoes, broccoli, and onions to cook on the boat. I have found beef to be one of the bargains of Mexico. I brought back a nice piece of sirloin that barely fit in the large frying pan that cost the equivalent of $3 USD.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The only thing that I can figure out is that he must have seen something that he didn't like when he was picking up the reworked head and asked for the seat to be replaced.
At this point "hickup" is a good description because I don't see it causing a significant delay if any.
Back to yesterday, I fitted the starboard netting in about an hour less that the port side had taken. During the work Bob paid another visit and we continued bouncing ideas off each other. We talked about the staysail problem and he said that it should be a "storm jib" of about 100 square feet. [5% of the (I measurement squared)] This morning I looked at the measurements of my staysail and computed an area of 312 square feet. No wonder I was overpowered in 45 knot winds! My staysail is marked "No 3" so we figure that it was Pachuca's number 3 sail before a roller furler was fitted. In Gavin Abbott's handover notes of over 10 years ago he noted that that staysail worked beautifully with "30 knots over the deck". I believe him and now realize that 30 knots does not mean 45 knots. So now I am very, very interested in procuring a proper staysail that I can carry in gales and use to heave to from gales up to storms. If I get enough advance warning of an advancing storm to make preparations I reckon that the storm trysail with the storm jib hanked on the inner forestay would be a great heave-to sail plan, with hanging from the 18-ft parachute off the bow the last resort.
But the help hasn't been all one way. Bob thought about my remark that I have an unfortunate tendency to accept things as they are and applied it to his boat, looking at his jib halyard setup with fresh eyes and coming up with some improvements that pleased him very much. He then said that he still had one problem of transferring the tensioned halyard from the winch to a cleat in order free up the winch and I suggested using another rope attached with a rolling hitch ahead of the winch, which is the technique that he had suggested that I use for removing tight crossovers on my winches. That was the solution and he told me that it was a case of the student teaching the master.
At 4.30 I was finished with the netting job and was hot, tired, sweaty, and hungry. It was time to reward myself. I went ashore and had my first real shower and shave in about 5 days. I hadn't even had a cockpit bath for 2 days. There is nothing like boating to make one appreciate the simple things of life. I then went to the Dock cafe and had a cold Corona beer then ordered a second beer and my first restaurant meal since Arnold departed: a Combinacion Mexicana.
My project for today is to set up lines to reef the luff (front edge) of the mainsail from the cockpit. This was an idea given to me by Nancy Earley in Port Townsend. Bob showed me how I could do it by tying off unused spinnaker down haul and halyard lines and utilizing their paths to take a line from each reefing ring on the sail, through a turning block at the base of the mast, through the line organizer and through the clutch cleat next to the companionway. That way I don't have to estimate how much of the main halyard to let out, then run to the mast and put the ring on the goose neck. I've had instances where I didn't let out enough halyard and had to return to the cockpit to let out more, or let out too much and the ring came loose before I could tighten the halyard. All of this back and forth motion to the mast has its own risks and dangers and should be minimized. According to Nancy, I should be able to mark each of the two new luff reefing lines so that I know when to jam cleat off the line before I tighten up the halyard again. No guesswork and no leaving the cockpit.
I may not be able to complete that job because I am not game to raise the mainsail in the strengthening wind. In fact we are expecting 20-knot winds in the next few days which will curtail my activities both on the boat and ashore, since a ride to the shore in 20-knot winds is quite wet.
One of the reasons for going ashore so early was to check out some movie DVD's from the Club Cruceros. I got three movies of the usual thriller/adventure/escapism genre.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I telephoned Colin this morning and he said that he planned to pick up the head today. He mentioned several jobs that he had to do and to call him tomorrow and he'd try to install the head in the afternoon. He sounded harried and a bit defensive.
I told him 'Look Colin, you are a one man band in big demand. I've got some time so do my job when you can.' He sounded relieved and told me that Thursday would be a better day for him, so we agreed that I would call him on Thursday, the day after tomorrow. He thanked me for being so understanding.
I've been faulted for being too ... er ... undemanding of contractors, and I have at times paid the price. One March I came to an agreement about quite a bit of canvas work for my boat. 'When do you need it?' she asked. 'There's plenty of time. I've got until Christmas.' 'You shouldn't have said that' she replied, and it took close to 12 months for her to finish the job. Another contractor who kept putting me off actually told me that he wanted me to hound and pester him.
But nagging and pestering and queue jumping and lying about when when I need something is against my nature because we are all supposed to be dealing as adults.
I planned to leave La Paz before the end of April, which is still 10 days ahead. I don't think that it will come to that but if by the middle of next week nothing has happened with the engine I'll have to start putting on the pressure citing the Central America hurricane zone that I must get through be preferably mid May but definitely the end of May.
In the meantime I have kept busy. I spent a full 8 hours yesterday in the hot sun replacing the netting on the port side. Removing the old netting took longer than I expected. I had a look down after I removed the net and it was scary, even though I have sailed this boat half way around the world. The foredeck is narrow, extremely curved, and the rails are low, only 2 ft high. In a rough sea way it would be very easy to either slip under a rail or fly over the top. The netting improves my chances because in rough conditions I work low - crawling and kneeling - and in the event of an incident would rely on the netting to hold me in long enough for me to grab something. And I don't know how many tools, hats, etc have been saved by that netting.
I am using proper nylon netting and dacron cord which I purchased at West Marine in San Diego in a rare exhibition of foresight.
Before putting on the new netting I tightened the rails with new cord, using spectra for the top one. Most of the time involved fitting the netting and threading the cord. Fitting isn't easy. If you simply thread the top of the netting nice and tight the bottom of the net will reach only half way to the deck. So one has to work with an interaction between the stretch of the upper and lower edges and the vertical stretch. Then there is the threading of meters of cord in and out of the loops. At the end of the day I had a net that maybe was not as neat as it could have been but was taught and strong.
It looks like today will be another day of low wind so I will replace the starboard net. I will wear long sleeves and put on plenty of sunblock as I did yesterday, and will also wear a hat.
The photos are of the old starboard netting where tears can be seen, and the new port netting.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Noel and Jacky on Pyewacket departed at 8 AM this morning as they had planned.
I went by their boat yesterday (Sunday) afternoon on the way to a shopping expedition at CCC and they told me that they would circle Pachuca at about 8 AM today to say goodbye. I told them that I would have my camera ready.
On their first pass Noel asked if they could leave some garbage with me and of course I replied OK because I know what a pain garbage can be on a boat. I waited amidships for the throw but Noel was not getting close enough. "Get closer. Take out my rail." I yelled, a reference when his anchor caught my rail at the San Francisco police dock. He replied something like 'That's why I don't want to get too close'. The boat passed about 5 meters off my gunwale and Jackie had the white garbage bag but was hesitating. "Throw the bag" I yelled. She was past me and I yelled "Throw it. Throw the bag."
Jacky let fly and holy smokes can that lady throw. The bag came flying through the air and I took it high in the chest and got thrown back a foot or two. If I had not caught it I think that it would have passed right over the deck to the water on the other side. She looked shocked at the ferocity of her throw and I yelled "That will be the last memory you'll have of me."
We exchanged our best wishes and off they went, motoring down the long La Paz channel bound for Acapulco.
The photos are of Pyewacket doing her circle of farewell, with Jacky hamming it up in the middle photo, and Noel at the helm. She is a big boat - around 53 ft from memory - and during my visit the other night I remember looking around the spacious interior and thinking "Shit, this isn't a boat, it's a place!"
I had told them yesterday that even though I expected to leave several days after them I might get to Acapulco before them. Although they will have the advantage of motoring when the seas are calm, they planned to coast hop their way to Acapulco whereas I plan to sail "directly" there in one long loop.
I'd better explain Acapulco. At this point I plan to forego Matlazan and head for Acapulco for my formal clearance from Mexico. I don't think that this will save me a lot of sea miles because what I gain from bypassing Matlazan I'll largely lose by making a big loop out of Acapulco to clear Tehuantepec by at least 200 miles. However, Acapulco has the advantage of breaking up my long passage to Costa Rica (about 1900 nm direct distance) into two almost equal legs. But what sealed it for me was my realization that I'll have to travel over 900 miles to clear the Mexican coast and it is better to make my formal exit as far down that coast as possible in case for some reason I am forced to make another landfall in Mexico, which would be easier done if I do not have to make another formal entry to the country.
Regarding my departure from La Paz, there will be at least one more day of delay. I telephoned Colin this morning as asked and apparently I had misunderstood him. Today (Monday) he is going to pick up the head, but he cannot install it until possibly tomorrow afternoon because he has to finish another job. Colin is a one man band with previous commitments and I have already documented the speed with which he has attended to my problem. I told him that I'm not trying to rush him and to do what he has to do. He asked me to telephone him tomorrow morning at 8 AM. I asked him to bring the old head when he visits the boat so that I can photograph the crack for the blog.
... Speaking of telephoning, my colleague from Murdoch University, Neil Huck, read my plight of not being able to telephone Colin's mobile telephone from Pachuca with Skype and did some research. The prefix that I must use is 52-1-.... Skype was putting in the Mexican country code of 52, but was not putting in the 1 which apparently is required to indicate that it is a foreign call. Anyway, thanks to that help from the other side of the world and years after my retirement the problem has been solved. (Thanks Neil!)
This isn't the first time that I have received good help and advice through my tell-all blog (which Brenda calls my "blabberblog".)
Saturday, April 17, 2010
After my usual leisurely morning routine of listening to BBC news on the short wave radio over coffee and toast at 7 AM, followed by an entertaining hour of chatter on VHF 21, then another 30 minutes of more formal discussion of the day's activities on VHF 22, followed by reading the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC News, ABC (Australia) news, and CNN news on the internet, I emerged from the cabin at about 10 AM to plan the installation of a padeye or eyebolt on the foredeck for the staysail.
It did not take long to realize that there were two problems with the plan: (1) a new fitting would interfere with the use of the forward sampson post bollard and (2) just as the fitting for the inner forestay is held down by a cable under the foredeck to prevent the deck from being lifted by the load on the forestay, the proposed eyebolt would also have to be held down.
Not long after that Bob came by to say hello and soon he was on board discussing the problem. He agreed that a new fitting could not be put on without a wire strop underneath to hold it down.
We began to throw various ideas around and eventually came to a solution that I described as "simple and elegant".
The top photo shows what we did, which was to remove the pin holding down the turnbuckle and replacing it with a galvanized shackle that fit perfectly. The result was a suitable attachment point for the staysail tack. We treated the threads of the shackle with loctite and I will probably mouse the pin with stainless steel wire.
The middle photo shows the problem of a new thru-deck fitting interfering with the functioning of the samson post cleat - the gap is too narrow for another fitting.
The bottom photos shows another use of this shackle: an attachment point for various halyards that I want to remove from the mast to prevent that clang clang clang of ropes slapping against the mast.
After this minor triumph we raised the mainsail so that we could investigate why the thing is so hard to get up and down. We sprayed silicone on the slides and that seemed to help but eventually we ran into resistance. However, alert Bob kept showing dopey Robert various snags. The reefing lines held the sail back several times until we freed them completely by hand. Then he noticed that the vang was holding the boom down. These were traps that I've fallen into before and I would have spotted. But he showed me one problem area that I had not thought of. The outhaul was stretching the foot of the sail very tightly which was resulting in pressure on the slides via the sail and battens. I loosened the outhaul and saw the tension in the lower part of the sail immediately disappear. As I had noted before when sailing with Arnold, raising the mainsail was much easier with Bob pulling on the the halyard at the mast. There seems to be a lot of resistance from redirecting the halyard from the base of the mast to the cockpit. This is in spite of my having spent a small fortune on putting a top of the line block to service that halyard at the base of the mast. I thought after Bob left that it might be a good idea for me to lift the boom a foot or two with the topping left because in those last few feet before reaching the top I've probably been lifing up the boom.
Dropping the mainsail was another matter. Bob is accustomed to seeing the mainsail drop as soon as the halyard is released. With Pachuca it is another story. Because the current was pulling the hull at an angle to the wind the pressure of the lazy jacks on the sail was causing a lot of friction. We eventually dropped the lazy jack altogether. We still had a difficult time pulling down on the sail together with all our might.
In the end Bob was not too concerned with the raising of the sail. He though that if I eliminated the impediments of tight reef lines, boom vang, and outhaul the system is acceptable. I tend to agree - as long as the boat is going dead to wind.
However, he thinks that there is definitely a problem in dropping the sail, to the point where I should bring in a sailmaker to check, among other things, the tight straps between the sail and slides. I haven't worried as much about dropping the sail because I have always managed to drop it without too much drama. The difficulty this morning, in my opinion, is that because of the current the wind was putting pressure on the sail even though the boom was out. The sail drops much better when heading dead to wind and the sail is fluttering.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I asked him about the injector and he said that the nozzle and spray pattern had been OK. However, he took it apart, cleaned it, and made some minor adjustments with the pressures. He is not inclined to check the other injector and I am not inclined to push the issue. Besides, there has been no evidence of injector or any other problem with that cylinder.
I am to telephone him 8-8.30 AM on Monday because he thinks that he can install the head on that day.
Earlier in the day the wind was calm so I motored over to Adios, a Columbia 35, to see if Bob felt like coming over and discussing the setup of my staysail. I'm glad that I visited his boat because it gave me the chance to motor over the sand bar that separates this side of the bay from the Magote anchorage. It is unlikely that the need would arise but if I were staying long term I now feel familiar enough with that side to take Pachuca there. The Magote anchorage offers the advantage of less current and calmer water. However, it has the disadvantage of being farther from the Marina. Bob had told Arnold and myself that the holding on this side was not very good because of the mud bottom. However, yesterday he told me that when he said that he hadn't been aware of how close to the bar we are, and that the holding ground under Pachuca is good with a sand bottom.
Anyway, Bob jumped in the Zodiac and we came back to Pachuca. We raised the staysail with sheets and discussed how I could overcome the problem of heaving to. When going hard to weather the sheets pass through a narrow gap between two shrouds. But heaving to requires the back winding of the sail which results in the sheet bending around the inner shroud and chafing. Bob's suggestion is to redirect the lazy sheet (i.e. the rope on the windward side that isn't doing any work) to pass inside all three shrouds, tack the boat, making the lazy sheet the working sheet, and after winching that sheet tight tack back leaving the sail back winded with the sheet passing directly from the block to the sail without wrapping bending around a shroud. This leaves the boat hove to on the same side that it had been sailing. If I need to heave to on the other side then two tacks will be required.
He didn't like the improvised way of fixing the tack of the sail to the base of the inner forestay that I had inherited from the previous owners. He suggested fixing a dedicated eye bolt on the deck for the staysail. This made sense and I plan to do it soon. I told Bob that one of my faults is that I tend to accept things the way they are. I should have thought of this myself long ago but on the other hand I have to wonder how this cutter rigged boat could have been sailed for over 20 years without a proper fitting for the staysail tack.
Incidentally, my first question had been whether the staysail (marked "no. 3") was too big, which would explain why I was forced to lower it in 45 kt winds off the Oregon coast. Bob said that it is the right size but in high winds he sails with the staysail only and no mainsail, whereas that night I was beating with the staysail and the mainsail double reefed. So when the wind hits 45 knots I'll have two choices: heave to with the double reefed main and backed staysail (which Brenda and I agree gave us the best hove to angle ever) or drop the mainsail and go with just the staysail.
We discussed my safety jack lines and he agreed that there was no practical way of moving the jacklines to the center of the foredeck to ensure that I could not actually go over the rail. I showed him that if I did go over the rail I would be dragged along with my sternum at water level. This would give me a shot at grabbing the gunwale and climbing back on. I plan to do a static test of this while at anchor. However, under real conditions I would have the rushing water working against me but sheer terror working for me.
Tonight I read a good suggestion from Jak Mang in Port Townsend to run a trailing line set up in such a way that pulling on it would disengage the Monitor wind steering. This would cause the boat to round up and stop. Then while writing this blog I realized that a trailing line would do me no good if I am being dragged through the water amidships. That led to the idea of Monitor windvane trip lines draped along the length of the boat off both toe rails. That way if I fell over the side I would have a pretty good chance of grabbing the trip line and stopping the boat.
This is all off-the-top-of-the-head stuff and I'll have to do a lot more thinking about it. Any suggestions are most welcome.
At 6 PM I visited Noel and Jacky on Pyewacket for drinks in the cockpit. They had been given a quotation of $120 for the clearance rat check. Someone would actually come on board and look for rats. It is unbelievable. Why would they look for rats when you are leaving? I wonder how many rats they have found on departing yachts in the last 10 years. Anyway, instead of going to Mazatlan 200 miles to the ESE they plan to make their clearance from Acapulco, about 600 miles to the south. Jacky showed me the statement in Charlie's Charts that Acapulco is "one of the world's finest natural harbors." She showed me the chart on C-Map and I must admit that entering the harbor and dropping a hook would be a piece of cake, with plenty of room and great protection.
I must admit also that I considered clearing from Acapulco myself, but I figure that the sea miles saved by avoiding Mazatlan would be lost in taking that big loop hundreds of miles out to sea from Acapulco to avoid the Tehuantepec wind tunnel.
The wind picked up so we went below and I joined them for dinner and a movie. I enjoyed my time with them very much and was sad to hear that they might leave on Sunday. But you never know. After all, we met in San Francisco when they saw my Aussie flag and here we are anchored next to each other in La Paz.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Bob gave me some good tips and advice regarding Pachuca. He said that I'm the first sailor that has told him that he avoids using the staysail (i.e. small sail on the inner forestay) because most sailors love it. He has agreed to visit on a quiet day of no wind so that we can hoist up the staysail and talk about it. One reason why he relies on his staysail in heavy weather must be that to my surprise he cannot run his headsail partially rolled in because it gets baggy and loses its shape: it's either completely rolled out or completely rolled in.
He showed me how to use bulldog clamps to patch up a broken shroud. Shrouds invariably break near the deck at the swage so you must put a loop at that broken end using a bulldog clamp then tighten the shroud by passing a rope from that loop round a snatch block and back to a winch. It looked so obvious and sensible to me but nevertheless took someone to show me.
I told him how I had to drop my lazy jacks (vertical pieces of cord running down both sides of the boom to keep the sail over the boom and not spilling over the cabin when the sail is dropped) and get them out of the way before raising the mainsail (because the backs of the battens get caught on the cords). He got me to see things the other way around: instead of leaving the lazy jacks up all of the time except when I am raising the mainsail, leave them down all of the time and raise them only when dropping the sail and until it is zipped up in its cover.
He told me that he had done some checking and Costa Rica does require a Zarpe, meaning that I must get proper clearance before leaving Mexico. I fretted that I had heard on Pyewacket the day before that the clearance procedure from La Paz - and only La Paz - requires a "health inspection" which is really a visit to the boat to make sure that there are no rats, at a cost of $150 USD. Bob provided me with the solution: sail directly east across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan on the mainland. He says that it is an easy sail, an easy entry, and an easy anchor drop. And better yet, the Capitania is within easy walking distance from where I go ashore.
So at this point that is what I plan to do. I'll probably revisit Bahia Los Muertos and Bahia Los Frailes because Arnold and I enjoyed them so much, then sail across to Mazatlan and spend a couple of days there before clearing out. The sailing distance from the Baja Peninsula to Mazatlan will be about 200 miles, which will mean spending at least one night at sea. From Mazatlan it is a very clear run out to the open sea.
In the afternoon I went ashore and visited a shop new to me, "Arjona", and purchased four 3/8" bulldog clamps. Then I walked over to Lopez Marine and purchased two other items that Bob had recommended: a roll of wide sail repair tape and a can of spray on silicone which I did not know existed but which should be a good lubricant for my mast track to make hoisting the mainsail easier. The sail repair tape is interesting. He said that he once ripped his jib from luff to leach in rainy weather. He reckons he dropped the sail, laid it flat on the deck, and put the sail repair tape onto the wet sail on both sides, that it worked beautifully and got him to wherever he was going.
I then walked another mile to CCC and returned loaded like a pack mule with non perishable provisions for the boat. I also brought more immediate things like onions, bananas, oranges, and a cooked half chicken.
Back at the boat I had late afternoon dinner in the cockpit of rice with vegetable and warm chicken. It was a pretty good meal in a wonderful setting.
However, I received no email from Colin regarding the work being done on the engine head. While ashore I telephoned his number twice but got only his answering machine. The plan is for him to email me when the head is ready, so I must assume that he is still waiting.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
In the mean time I got more excellent analysis and advice on my engine problem from two highly experienced and accomplished people in Australia. My problem is that the advice I have gotten from four different people with impeccable credentials is not totally consistent and sometimes contradictory. I am passing everything to Colin here who I must let make the decisions but I must admit that I do not expect to have a lot of confidence in the engine when it is fixed. That won't be Colin's fault because he is doing the best that he can with what he's got. I will certainly request that he checks out both injectors and new nozzles installed. However, I did tell him that I do not expect miracles from him and if in his opinion the result will be risky then I am ready to talk about a new engine.
I called Colin using a phone card that I purchased at The Dock cafe and it is such a short ride to the marina and the public phone is so easy to use that I'll forego the expense of purchasing a mobile telephone. Colin is very good with email and he can send me a message when he wants me to call.
I then went to Telcel and paid 500 pesos for another month of internet service, which kicks in on April 17. The convenience and utility of having internet on the boat makes it a bargain in my eyes.
At 6 PM I visited Noel and Jacky at Pyewacket for a few drinks and nibblies. David and his wife from the nearby catamaran were also there. It was fun talking about the places that we've been to and some of our sailing experiences. Like Arnold and myself, David's wife expressed disappointment with the Sea of Cortez and are ready to go. They've been around for a while, because I know that they spent all of last summer in La Paz and did not enjoy the heat. She and David enjoyed Puerto Escondido (near Loreto) but otherwise were disappointed with the anchorages and snorkeling. They plan to head south in about two weeks and it is likely that I will see them in Costa Rica.
Noel and Jacky plan to leave within a few days for Ecuador but will stop at Cocos Island after I told them about it and they did some research on it.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Anyway, it was a thorough bottom (12 rolls of toilet paper) to top (1 bottle of shampoo) inventory. I was forced to throw away several kilos of flour (that we had purchased in Tahiti), one pack of spaghetti and a large carton of rolled oats because they had been contaminated by water. Fortunately I had enough zip lock bags to implement my new policy of protecting everything vulnerable in plastic.
Tomorrow I will formulate my shopping list. I expect the leg to Costa Rica to take about 30 days so I'll provision for 45 days of normal living and another 30 days of survival rations.
An uncertainty is my departure date. Tomorrow may be a big day for me because I will be speaking with Colin about the work done on the SABB diesel head. I will not provision the boat until I am confident that the engine will be repaired.
I will also visit Telcel about purchasing another 30 days for my internet service, which expires on the 17th. I will then have an opportunity to purchase a cheap pre-paid mobile telephone which I have been told costs only about 500 pesos. But this purchase will be contingent on what Colin tells me in the morning. If this diesel drama is to continue (e.g. installing a new engine) then I will need a mobile telephone to communicate with Colin and others; but if it looks like the SABB will be repaired and I'll be out of here in a week or 10 days there won't be any point purchasing one.
I rewarded myself for the hours of drudgery by giving myself a bath. I started by putting a set of clean under clothes, a bar of soap, and shampoo in the cockpit. The towel was already draped over the wheel from the last time. I then made sure that I had 4 liters of fresh water, a plastic bucket, and a plastic pot (for pouring water over myself) on hand.
Then it was time to go over the side. I had been running around all day in just tee shirt and underpants due to the heat so I was ready to go: down the ladder wearing what I had on. The idea was to use the salt water to clean my underclothes as well as myself. The water was at a very comfortable temperature for me, but the current was rather strong: swimming normal strokes toward the bow just managed to keep me level with the ladder, so I was very careful to not allow myself to drift beyond the stern. After several minutes of swimming and rub-a-dubbing my hair and skin in the salt water I climbed back on the boat and sat down at the steering station where shampooing my hair and washing myself with soap and fresh water was quite pleasant given that I had allowed the water to warm up in the sun. Privacy was no problem and besides, who is going to take an interest in a 66 year old man giving himself a cockpit bath? (But you never can tell, I guess.)
After rinsing and drying off I put on my underclothes then wrung out the clothes that I had worn in the water. The idea was to get as much of the salt out as possible. I then rinsed them in maybe a half liter of water and hung them up to dry.
This is all pleasant in the Mexican sub tropical climate of sun, blue skies, dry air, warm air and water; but I try to not take it for granted because I think that in my future will be cold, damp, dark weather where nothing can be cleaned and dried for maybe weeks.
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- Pachuca is Safe
- Dragging Boat
- Hull Cleaning Day
- Sea Ancchor Line
- Chart Plotter Scare
- Video of San Evaristo
- Parachute Sea Anchor
- Video Approaching San Evaristo
- Video Isla San Francisco
- More Sail Work
- Still Waiting
- More Sail Work
- Electrical Power
- Photos from La Paz (3)
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- Quotation and Photos
- Sails, Rigging, and Diesel
- Diesel Hickup
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- Pyewacket On The Way
- Quiet Day of Pottering
- Good News on Engine
- Clearance from Mazatlan
- Still Waiting
- Inventory Day
- Lone Sailor Again
- Oil Day
- Water Pump and Other Engine Work
- Engine Checks and Dragging Boat
- Head Handover
- Engine Update
- Visits, R12, and Engine Report
- Engine Work
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- School Photo for Chris
- Photos of Isla San Francisco
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- Radar In Close Quarters
- Back At La Paz
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