Monday, June 23, 2014

Season Two Metrics

As the 2nd season of sailboat cruisin' ends, Rob thought it might be interesting to compare some metrics.

        Season ending in      2013   2014
Nautical Miles traveled    3186   1950
Months since SF                9.5       22
Countries Visited                 2        1
Anchorages/Marinas          53       25
Engine Hours                    329     261
Generator Hours               156       66
Diesel Fuel Consumed      684     455 (see fuel costs below)
Gasoline Consumed         ~45     ~40
Gallons of water made    ~450    ~400
Photos taken                  ~9000    4272
Fish caught                      ~20         5
Keepers:                             3          1

Whaleshark encounters      0          5
Exchange rate:      11.29 - 13.25  12.65-13.38

Our cruising route for the 2013-2014 season.  Our South most location was Barra de Navidad on the mainland and Santa Rosalia in the Sea of Cortez to the North.  1950 miles

Some say that cruising is about "fixing boats in exotic locations".   It is true that we are always solving some type of boat problem.  Some big some small,  some we are prepared for and some we are not.
Here is a list of stuff we encountered this season.
  • Popped a fender.  The surge in Paradise Village's marina (Nuevo Vallarta) gave our fenders a work out.  One couldn't take it any more.  
  • Water maker membrane.  We have been experiencing climbing TDS in our water that we make onboard.  TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) is a measure of how pure your water is.  We never experienced a dangerous level but the cleaning solutions that are supposed to help only helped a little bit.  We don't have any records on how old the membranes are so we'll replace them with new ones next season
  • Generator.  Our Onan 6KW generator was spewing black smoke and was not happy with AC loads over 2KW.  After much diagnosis and a trip to the shop to test the injectors, there was nothing obviously wrong.  Curiously the more I ran the generator the healthier it got.  Over the season we ran a total of 66 hours and we can now pull full power off the generator.  I suspect we had a fouled exhaust valve that eventually cleared  with more use.  This problem ended up not being a problem at all but I spent days and days working on it.
  • Engine Battery volt meter - the volt meter is off.  When the alternator is charging at 28.5 volts the meter is reading 32 volts.  Easy swap with a new part when we return next season.
  • Perkins exhaust elbow developed a leak -  This is a common failure on boats.  The mixing elbow is where hot engine exhaust gasses meet cooling salt water in a cast aluminum fitting.  After a while the aluminium corrodes until a leak develops.  This part lasted 17 years and 2800 engine hours. I made a temporary repair with JB Weld and were able to use the engine, at reduced speed for the last 1 1/2 weeks of the trip.  There are many welding resources in La Paz. Update: This exhaust elbow is already fixed and back on the engine.  We'll bring a proper replacement down next season.
  • 24 Volt Alternator "Let all the smoke out" -  When the exhaust elbow failed it sprayed salt water into the engine room and onto the alternator.  In fact it was the smoke detector in the engine room that alerted me to the problem.   The alternator failed continued to charge the batteries after it smoked but also began radiate a huge amount of electro magnetic radiation.  Many electronics onboard were impacted.  Most noticeably was the auto pilot.  When the alternator energized the autopilot changed course erratically.  Swapped with spare
  • Refrigeration raw water circulation pump - died.  Replaced with spare
  • Windlass controls started blowing fuses - after a lot of debug and several 5 amp fuses we tracked down a suspect wire that runs from the control box to the deck switch.  Rewired for fix.
  • Main furler busted - Shindig has "in mast furling".   The bolt that holds the main foil to the top of the mast corroded through and snapped.  This is a unique fitting and the company that made it is no longer in business.  Fortunately there is a guy in Maryland that is very knowledgeable on this system and has replacement parts.  This is a tricky fix as a stainless bolt broke off in an aluminium  extrusion.   I will be shortening the foil by 2 3/4 inches and adding that amount to linkage at the bottom of the foil at the adjustment linkage. (see photo below)
  • Two of three 24V engine blowers failed.   These two failed within hours of each other.
We've had our share of problems and they mostly happened during the second half of our trip in the Sea of Cortez.   These things happen and you deal with them as they come.  The good news is that there are great resources in Mexico to help with things that are over my head. Additionally, since we are seasonal cruisers, we have the ability to bring down replacement parts from the US every season to keep everything running smooth.  

This is the bolt that sheared at the top of the mast.  You can see that the bearing is rusted.

Bolt sheared at the top of the main furler

Old and newly machined toggle to fix the main furler.  The top was shortened by 2.75 inches and the new toggle makes up for that

Mixing up JB weld to patch a hole in the exhaust elbow

Mixing elbow patch and clamped.  This make shift repair lasted until we returned to LaPaz.

Here is the repaired part before re installing it.

Fuel cost:

11/28/2013   LaPaz  $3.88
12/18/2013  LaCruz $3.88
12/18/2013  LaCruz $4.16
1/27/2014  Barra de  Navidad  $3.66

2/24/2014LaCruz $4.43

4/16/2014  LaPaz  $4.29

 Santa Rosalia  $3.82  (from  Pemex)

6/2/2014  LaPaz $4.17

Friday, June 13, 2014

Feliz Cumpleanos Rob - 4 days/nights in Bahia Concepcion

As Rob toils for one more day in the hot Mexican sun to get Shindig ready for summer storage, I wanted to remember the fun we had a few weeks ago up in the Sea of Cortez.

Part of the cruising lifestyle is saying hello and goodbye.  Friendships form fast, but schedules differ, and each sailboat has its own timeline.  So when you see your friends on the water, you "make hay when the sun shines".

A year ago, Sylvia and Tom on Cinnabar (aka the Big Red boat) had shared the dock in La Paz with us as we sweltered through several weeks of getting the boats ready for their summer storage.  Can you believe we couldn't meet up with them in the Bay Area (our homes are less than a mile away from each other), as well as this entire cruising season?  So through emails and their patience, they delayed their departure from Bahia Concepcion, knowing this might be the only night to visit together.  Also it was an early birthday celebration for Rob.

One night led to another day, another night, and.... four days later we said our Goodbyes.

Snorkeling, SUPing, kitesurfing, swimming and visits with our mutual friend, Jerry, and his friends, who extended his hospitality and wowed us with his piano playing again.  The gals headed to town one day, power shopping with a trip to the laundry mat, coffee/Internet shack and grocery store.  We spent most nights perched high up on the balcony of their friend's cliff-side home, which gave a great look-out onto the bay and some relief from the hot hot sun. Our last night out was at the local's beachside shack with margaritas and live music.  Great fun to have the place rocking and rollin' into the night.   Feliz Compleanos Rob!

Tom and Rob - Balcony with a View
Cinnabar and Shindig in the background

Rob kite-surfing down wind into the anchorage - Impressive!

Shindig, Lanakai, and Cinnabar at Jerry's place

Rob and Jerry
(What happens at the beach Stays at the beach)

Post Kite-surfing dinghy ride back to beach

Last Birthday Bash -  Dinner, Margaritas and Dancing
Ton and mysterious dancer 
The gals and Jerry 

Jerry and his honky-tonk piano playing

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Boys Trip 3.0 - Bahia Salinas to Loreto

In the third and final installment of the boys trip we visited Isla Carmen, Isla Coronado, and Loreto.

While in Bahia Candeleros we learned that the forecast was for a 3 day blow from the north.
In the Sea of Cortez a "Norther" can pack 25 to 35 knot winds.  In San Francisco we regular sail in 25 knots of wind but the sea state here can get very wild.  Big, short period, square waves that accompany the wind will slow forward motion to a crawl and get salt water in your cocktail.

Before the wind got serious we decided to head over to Isla Carmen and meet up with our friends on the catamaran Tisha Baby.  Being in Bahia Salinas on the South side of the island would give us good protection for the forecasted seas.

Bahia Salinas is one of my favorite anchorages.  It is a big bay that hosts an old salt mine and now a big horn sheep hunting lodge.  There is also a large wreck in the middle of the bay that provides great snorkeling.   If you look closely you'll also see that there are tons of Chocalati clams.

Shindighy anchored off the shore near a hulk left over from the mining operation.

The new hunting lodge.   For big $$ you can hunt big game on Isla Carmen.  Check out the promotional video 

The norther arrived!  While we had good protection  from  the seas, the wind funnels into the anchorage. The highest wind speed we saw was 36 knots.  On average it was 22 to 25.
Also recorded a new power output record on the Shindig Solar.  324 watts.  That is a new high and represents 86% of the specification of the panels.  I have not seen numbers since then.  I believe that the high winds were cooling the panels significantly.

Oh, did I mention clams?!

Pam and Richard hosted JD and me onboard Tisha Baby.

JD and I getting ready to dig into an incredible feast.

Boat dog Cloe is awesome.  She is always close by for a pet.

The wreck in the middle of the anchorage is an incredible snorkel spot.

JD and I attempted to spear some fish.  We were outsmarted by the wise reef dwellers

Clean up, Clean up.

Old equipment slowly returning to the earth

An office with a view.

Many of the original building built in the 1930's are crumbling.

These are two small locomotives used to haul salt from the ponds

Every salt mine needs a church

After the winds subsided we headed north to Isla Coronado.  This is a favorite place for many cruisers. It has north and south anchorages, a picturesque cove, hiking, snorkeling/diving and is only 8 miles from Loreto.

Out in the dinghy looking for  places to snorkel

Found a good spot!


Where the sandy trail ends and becomes a boulder dash uphill.

The view from the top of Isla Coronado.  This is the North anchorage, a favorite place for locals and cruisers alike.

Made it to the top!

Dolphin escorts never gets old
Whale sharks can be elusive in the sea but for some reason we've encountered several this year.  It goes against every instinct to get into the water with a creature that is 20 feet long.  They are curious about you but are mostly interested in eating.  They suck up salt water and filter out plankton.  If you find a good cloudy patch of plankton usually the whale shark will turn around and keep passing you, back and forth.

JD approaching a whale shark.
Video of the whale shark.

Loreto was our last stop on the boys trip.  JD flew out three weeks after arriving in La Paz.  What a great trip for both of us.

A nice sized whale shark statue in the Loreto harbor

The "Mother of all California missions" - founded 1697

Trees forming a canopy above historical walking area in Loreto