The end of one chapter leads to the start of the next.

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About to be surveyed

Entre Nous has been SOLD…………………………..It is with mixed feelings I write this new post. Entre Nous has proven to be a fabulous partner and has taken me to some wonderful locations without missing a beat. We have had solitude, got soaked in tropical storms, buddy boated with some great people and generally taken care of each other. There have been a few scrapes, a couple of mishaps and a fair bit of blood spilt. I guess my blood spilling is only fair as the Perkins spewed a drop of oil now and again. I was often told what a great boat Entre Nous was. I can certainly agree with that as she had my trust and I was always confident in her abilities, especially when the weather turned against us. Good luck to the new owners who intend to cross the Pacific next year. So my sailing days are possibly over………I leave behind a vast community of friends, most I am sure will prove to be lifelong. The cruising community I believe is unique, a group of people not burdoned by every day pressures. From all walks of life and experiences they exude the best of human nature, each and everyone willing to advise, help or just be there if required. People say sailing and boats are the common bond, actually I think it is simpler than that…………its just the willingness to be friendly and to take on new friendships. Today I look back and I still dont’t know some peoples surnames, have no clue what they did for living and yet I spent years in their company. Cruisers are taken at face value, there is no need to ask “what did you do”, it doesn’t matter. So thank you my friends for your time, your trust, your company and for sharing fantastic experiences, we certainly laughed a lot, drank too much, definately ate too much and motored far more than we sailed !!!! For those hardy folks who spent the summer in the northern sea with me…….it was a blast ! Thankfully free of any severe Chubasco’s or Hurricanes. Although Ken on Drifter and I had a strenous time reaching Santa Rosalia. Thank god for street lights I can hear Ken say. After the sale of Entre Nous it was time to plan the trip to the UK and then onward to NZ. As John was staying with his brother in LA, I decided it would be a good idea to drag him along on a road trip to “Vegas”, which we did for a few days. No big wins I’m afraid but Vegas certainly left an impression on us. Actually it left a bigger impression on John, a blister on his right hand…………… I should explain here, John was on crutches and had only managed a walk around the block with his brother Jim prior to our roadtrip. John did the equivilent of a marathon along “The Strip”.

Perhaps when John gets his new leg he may well do an actual marathon.

Appledore Quay

Appledore Quay

Now I am back in Appledore, the fishing village I was brought up in, spending time with my family. Its been a long while since I have seen them. Appledore appears to have shrunk and filled up with parked cars. Maybe its because I was smaller when I walked around the village in my youth !! Not much has really changed, other than the people and some of the landscape. Today Appledore homes are filled with 2nd home owners. In my childhood I could have virtually named the occupants of each and every house. Coastal corrosion has changed the estuary a lot. Areas I played in as a kid are simply no longer there, islands have appeared where the sea has broken through and the entrance to the bar has completely changed.

Appledore Lifeboat House

Appledore Lifeboat House

Appledore is an RNLI lifeboat station, crewed by volunteers. Over the years the lifeboat has been upgraded and now includes an inshore boat in addtion to the traditional offshore boat. Unfortunately as a result of the renovations of the lifeboat house my grandfathers bravery award is no longer on display on the wall of the station, which is a shame. Walking the tiny, once cobbled, streets of Appledore brings back a lot of memories. It was funny seeing the kids of today on Appledore quay “crabbing”. Mostly visitors these days using a crabbing ( fishing ) kit purchased from a local shop. A single line is dropped over the edge of the quay with some bait attached, bits of bacon, limpets or pices of fish. The knack is to bring up the dangling crab the 30 feet to reach the top. Most times the crab or crabs fall off. We used a slightly different method in my day. A whole wire coat hanger attached to a line with fish heads, limpets and anything else we could get ourt hands on attached along the entire length, it weighed about a pound in weight but when brought up it normally had 5-10 crabs dangling from it. No way were the crabs going to let go of a smelly fish heads so we always managed to haul up most of them. Needless to say locals always won the yearly summer crabbing contests.

A good deed turns sour

 

John Spicher of SV Timepiece

John Spicher of SV Timepiece

A cruising friend and slip neighbor John Spicher once again offered help and assistance to a person in need, only this time the outcome of Johns actions have landed him in a trauma centre in San Diego where surgeons are fighting to save his leg. What happened to John will daunt me for the rest of my life,  his will be changed completely

After being on the receiving end of “beyond duty” support from friends and complete strangers 3 years ago when I had a heart attack in Mazatlan. I was once again astounded by the level of love, care and perseverance to overcome massive issues, witnessed over the last three days.

A horrible accident takes place and John is severely injured. He has rescued a person from the water who had fallen out of their hard bottomed RIB ( dingy ). Totally out of control the RIB then collides with Johns dingy 4 times and his leg and foot  is severely lacerated by the propeller. Click on the blog below for full details of the incident

http://www.sailblogs.com/member/bigleftturn/

Tom and Jeanne have mentioned and thanked many of the parties involved in assisting John in their blog. However, I felt it was necessary to mention the monumental effort put in by both Tom and Jeanne. John is a very lucky man to have friends like these two. Human nature once again prevails.

Part of the problem we faced was finding John’s family, he was in surgery and the local hospital wanted permission to amputate his lower leg. We had to track down his family, knowing he had a brother and possibly a sister. The internet provided the mechanism, after a couple of hours we had tracked down his brother James who worked for Honda motorcycles in LA. There was a motorcycle magazine article from 2007 where James broke a finger and this started us on the path to find him.  Everyday the internet becomes integral to our lives, on this particular day it proved key to a whole string of events.  Ironically, shortly after tracking James down, thankfully John came out of the initial surgery and would have been able to tell us anyway.

Helping John allowed me to pay back some of the care and kindness  I received in my time of need.

John is a good man and deserves a full and painless recovery. However, I believe pain is going to feature in his life for a while.

Maintenance……knocking down the list, La Vantana

 

Cool Bar in Meurtos

Cool Bar in Meurtos

The maintenance list is getting shorter as I await the final outcome of my autopilot issues, Garmin have confirmed I need to send the ECU unit back to them. I should get  RMA details shortly so I can package up the item and work out how i get it to them so it can be replaced and delivered to Bill and Julie’s place from Voyager between 12th and 22nd of Feb. I probably need to send it back before they leave Mexico to ensure it is received before they come back to Mexico on the 22nd.  In the meantime small projects are getting resolved on a daily basis. There has been an annoying leak, which I was having trouble finding, it was either the hose from the sump pump for the shower or the bilge pump hose. Finally, I found it and it was the bilge pump just before it exits the boat it has a high lift to ensure water does not come back into the boat. The hose had rubbed against a hose clamp and split. The fix was easy……………….a dangerous statement known to upset the sea gods.

The offending hose

The offending hose

However this time it was, cut out the section install a coupler and yaby daby doo, it was fixed.

As I had a locker apart I decided to re position the main fresh water pump which was pretty noisy when in use. It was mounted horizontally and the rubber feet where not doing their job. Again I thought it would be pretty straightforward, screw into a bulkhead and extend one of the feed hoses. Fortunately I had the extra 18 inches of hose and Ken on Drifter had the right size coupler. Off to a good start………………then things started to turn to shit. The next few hours proved to be some of the most frustrating I have had in a long time.

I had lent some small hose clamps to Bill on Voyager and he had replaced them. I did not put them back in the hose clamp container where they should have gone. It took an age hunting them down but I eventually I found them in the navigation table. ( a general dumping ground for stuff ). Then the real issue surfaced. To mount the pump I need to lay in the aft berth , lift up an access cover and get my head and shoulders into the area under the floor. Now known as the hole from hell .  I couldn’t hold the pump in place ( with the damn rubber feet falling out ), get a screw in and see at the same time. The flashlight would move, roll away so I couldn’t see the end of the screw. Or my arm would start to ache and the pump would move. I was at full arm stretch so the aching came on quickly. Lots of swearing, cursing and general cable tie cuts later the thing was in. The end result is a pump which is now much quieter and a truely aching body.P1000989 P1000990

The to do list is getting smaller and looking around the boat it is in the best shape it has been. Mostly it now only cosmetic improvements.

The movement of boats has slowed to a trickle, those who planned to cross to the mainland or do the puddle jump have left. There are a few boats up in the islands to the north, they come and go but in general everything is pretty static. Land based activities tend to fill most peoples diaries, darts on Tuesday and Friday at La Costa, salsa lessons at Stellas on Tuesday and Thursday, live music at a variety of places. Swop meets, dock parties, pot lucks, frequenting of local restaurants and the daily sundowners. This is supplemented by the obligatory visits to Home Depot, Walmart, Bravo market, Mega and the farmers market on saturdays.

Around late March boats return to La Paz and start to get ready to explore the lower and middle sea. A slow sail north, stopping at the islands and then the split, those boats who are headed for San Carlos/ Guaymas to haul their boats for the summer and the adventurous few who step up to the challenge of spending the summer in the northern sea. There is a third group which leave their boats in Escondido and La Paz for the summer.

As a way of thanking Monica and Scott for lugging down my replacement autopilot I suggested I take them out for a meal. We decided on Harker Boards, a paddle board rental place which has a restaurant upstairs. I mentioned it to a few people and asked whether they would like to join us. In the end 19 people showed up and we had great beer, 2 for 1 pizza and a great night. Some went in cars, some cycled and us poor folks walked.

Albert

Albert

Thursday involved a day trip to La Vantana and Bahia Meurtos……………….Albert and his friend Dave invited me to join them on a day out ( day off the boat ). We set off in Alberts car and had an enjoyable ride through the countryside/ desert. I don’t get to see the “interior” of places very often, so it made a pleasant change. La Vantana is a kite boarders paradise, known globally for its strong winds. I witnessed these winds 2 years ago in Alex II going up the channel to La Paz, it was the roughest weather I have experienced in the 3 years I have been in Mexico. The village was much bigger than I expected, we stopped and had breakfast and beer at the main kite boarders bar. it was pretty cool, there was an arts and crafts market and the place was full of kite boarders chicks and dudes. Great place and good atmosphere.

We then went off to Meurtos , to another cool and unusual bar. I had been there before , a couple of years ago. The bar has a great train set, a plunge pool, billiard tables and an awesome beach in front of it.

To finish the day we stopped on the way back and bought a small bag of fresh vegetables for 60 pesos ( NZ 6 dollars, UK 3 pounds) which we then split between the three of us

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Good news, bad news and the waiting game

The good news is my autopilot made it on board the flight from the USA to mexico and it is currently in Cabo San Lucas. Homeland Security in the US did remove the bottle of mineral oil ( hydraulic fluid ) and left a note to say they removed it in the package. Scotty and Monica should be here tomorrow afternoon, so Saturday is set aside to re install the autopilot.

The bad news is my temporary residency card is yet to appear, it was supposed to be last week, then this week and now next week. So all plans are on hold until the card turns up. I had intended to leave La Paz in 4 days to make the crossing to Mazatlan and then down to La Cruz. There was a nice weather window. Several boats left this morning and some more are due to cut the dock lines Monday.

Ken on Drifter, whom I spent a great deal of time with during the summer in the northern sea planned to cross to the mainland around the same time as me , however he has yet to finish some projects It is evident from the photo as to the reason why Kens projects are a little delayed.

Where did I park my boat

Where did I park my boat

Actually dock 3 at the marina has a reputation as the party dock, so that may be another reason Ken is a little delayed. Personally I think dock 3 is full of cheap skates and tight arses. Dock three people can spot a bargain at 300 paces. As we know with bargains there is always a drawback. In the case of Joe, Terry and Rod , 70’s fashion still suits them

The cats whiskers or the dogs bollocks, not sure which

The cats whiskers or the dogs bollocks, not sure which

Jimmy must have found a cheaper bargain and did not adopt the team pattern only the color and lack of fashion senseP1000962

The marina has over the years become shallower as it fills with silt, this season the owners decide they are going to dredge the marina and build more docks. This is done Mexican style, with the dredge material going into a settling pond and then the excess water being pumped back into the marina, along with a lot of the sand and mud they took out.P1000964

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I expected this fork lift truck to tip over as it was unevenly loaded but after lurching to one side and nearly tipping forward it made it safely along the breakwater
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La Paz has proved to be a fascinating location, it is easy to see why so many gringos come down from California and the Pacific north west and never leave. It is a happy place, always something going on, especially with the amount of public holidays the Mexicans celebrate. The street food is excellent and this fish taco stall is a regular haunt of cruisers, for 40 pesos you get 2 fish tacos and a coke, in NZ money thats 4 bucks and around 2 British pounds. Fortunately the UK stayed out of the Euro trash common currency.

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2014…………

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Another year ends and new horizons lay ahead. Christmas and New Year were fun, lots of eating drinking and happy smiles. In the end I had turkey 4 times, which was marvelous. In dispersed with eating and putting on weight I continued a number of projects, finishing most. The main couple being varnishing of the exposed teak and relining the headliners.

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The teak cockpit coamings, rub rail and dorade boxes are shiney new with 4 coats of varnish. Cleans up the whole look of the boat. The summer sun was devastating to the varnish and it all really needed doing.

Next was to fix the head linings in the main salon. The previous owner had mounted equipment under the deck and when I repositioned the equipment it left a number of screw holes and areas of poor fitting. I managed to find similar material and just simply ( read 20 hours) take down each panel and glue a new liner on top of the old. Then reposition and reconnect the electrical cables. I also had to paint the stern quarter panels.

The end result freshened up the entire interior which then resulted in me trying to re varnish the saloon table.

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To say this was a failure was an understatement. In the end I gave the table to “ Chava”  a local Mexican worker and he did a proper job on the table top.

Much time was spent over the Xmas period out and about with Julie and Bill, fortunately Bill had the use of a car, better description would be “wreck”. Fondly known as the “potato” due to it’s brown color and the origin, Idaho……………..the state famous for growing potato’s.  The potato had a character of it’s own and some really weird and strange noises  were omitted from the engine compartment when starting up. Despite both Bill and my efforts to improve the ignition and tick over situation we could not cure the standing start irregularities.

P1000944To get the thing moving you had to time the engines revs, jam it into gear and lurch forward in the hope the revs were high enough to keep the thing going but not too high to cause the thing to stall.  It normally took 2-3 attempts to get moving, which is interesting when you stop at traffic lights or the “4 Altos” which are every other block or so.  However it was better than walking or cycling.

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Julie and Bill took off today and are out for 6 weeks, although Julie did say they may come back on the 16th so Bill can help to install my replacement autopilot which is due to arrive with Scott and Monica on the 15th. Actually the last sentence should read I will help Bill install my autopilot. I am very good at passing Bill the right tool and cleaning up !!!  Many thanks once again Bill.  I promise the next time we play cards I will let you win and Julie says she will throw down all the cards you need. Bill shed many tears in 2013 due to a few small mistakes in his card playing………………2014 has to be better ( it couldn’t be worse )P1000955

 

P1000956I keep meaning to cycle around La Paz with my camera and take a few non tourist shots, maybe my next blog will be based on the back streets of La Paz which I have gotten to know very well.  Here’s one of the local supermarket, known as the cow store by the cruisers.

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My 3 year residency permit should be ready soon, the immigration office informed me it would take two weeks before they shut down for Xmas. I have engaged the services of an agent this time , a lovely lady called Olivia. Last time I did the whole thing myself but it took too many visits to immigration to get it done. So far I have only been once to have finger prints taken. I will also go for the medical cover this time, as a resident I can get Mexican private medical insurance for less than US$200 a year.  My medication would be covered and as this costs me US$100 a month, it is well worth signing up for the local cover as the medication is then provided for free

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La Paz ……the joys of being tied to a dock

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We had a reunion for the boats who spent the summer in the Northern Sea of Cortez last night. Quite a number of  the crews and boats left this morning for the mainland, with many    taking part the the Pacific puddle jump, its probably the last time I will see most of the people, which is sad, as many became good friends.  During the evening I spent time with Alan, the owner of Sara M, a 58 foot wooden schooner which Alan built himself, it has no engine and no autopilot and Alan sails single handed !!!.

Alan and I had spent time together in Bahia Los Angeles, both taking a similar time and route back to La Paz. We both admitted we were tired from the journey back, the mental stress with the weather , anchorages and generally being single handed. We both felt it was time for a rest and to have a full nights sleep. I thought it was just my own relief when I docked into slip 310 at Marina Palmira, however it appears Alan is also looking forward to his time tied to a berth. We are moving him into a side tie slip on Saturday. It will take a few dingy’s and a number of helpers to get him into a very tight slip.

It looks likely I will be here until mid January. The autopilot has been shipped back to the states and the warranty replacement is not due until early in the New Year. I have also started the process of renewing my temporary residents visa. This time I applied for 3 years to save the hassle of renewing every year.

As a result of all this, I have decided to use the time to undertake some cosmetic projects ( and the odd mechanical) with the boat. Stripping and varnishing being the main theme. For anyone who has not dealt with varnish before, it is a very time consuming exercise, applying 6-8 coats and sanding between coats. However the end result is generally worth it.

The bike has also been fixed, it took most of the afternoon. I went over to Voyager and Bill got his tools out. Eventually, after a nearly successful fix, we had to go look for a new pedal. Tracking down somewhere took a couple of attempts but we actually drove past a bicycle shop. For 150 pesos, about 12 US$, I got myself a new set of pedals. No more wonky pedal and the grating of the old bearing has gone. We did have to jury rig the pedal to the pedal arm using a pair of set screws and epoxy resin.

Turned the boat around in the slip today to face into a big northerly which is due to arrive on Monday.  Much easier to socialise with the non pointy end towards the dock.

P1000938 This week saw me indulge in some retail therapy, my sandals had just about worn out, there were more hole than sole. A new pair was required, so off to Walmart for my first purchase of either clothing or footwear for over a year. For the princely sum of US$20 I got myself a new pair of sandals and a sweatshirt, as it is getting colder in the evenings. I must admit the last time I did a laundry day I did notice that all my clothes were. pretty shabby, worn out, sun bleached and frayed at the edges. I could quite easily be mistaken for a tramp.  Sold my Kayak and stainless steel mounting brackets to Trisha on Interrabang, I did not use it very much during the summer so decided to create some deck space and get rid of it.

Finally got the news from Scott and Monica that my autopilot had been delivered to their home. Garmin replaced the whole unit under warranty. Thy are returning to their yacht Scott Free on December 31st and will bring my stuff down with them. I can then think about crossing to the mainland in January.

P1000930 We had a good dock party this week, ultimately ending on Entre Nous, Scott brought his guitar and “croaked out” a few oldies, he has definitely improved.

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Quater berth rebuild and collision

At some point in the past water has come through the stern deck cleat into the port side quarter berth. It appears this happened some time ago and the cleat has been bedded down again. However, the water did rot away the 3mm ply liner on the inside of the hull.

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I decided to remove the teaks slats and replace the liner, basically rebuild the quarter berth. First job was to remove the 19 teak slats and number them so they go back in the right order. Some attempt in the past to cover up the rot resulted in most of the teaks slats having paint overspill, which needed to be sanded off………..meaning take all day sat on the dock with a small electric sander, fortunately it was not a sunny day so didn’t get burnt to a crispy chicken in the process. I did have plenty of comments……”looks like a big job”, “you’ll have fun cutting the angles on the replacement ply” ……and so forth.

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Found some 3mm ply at home depot and got them to cut the 8×4 foot sheets into three pieces so they would bend and fit into Greg’s truck.  Spent the next day climbing on and off the boat with various bits of ply trying to fit the horizontal curve and the vertical curve of the aft of the boat……Yes it was fun and yes my back hurt but in the end I managed to get a reasonably result. I had calculated the horizontal joins in the ply to coincide with the teak slats which are about 2 inches in width. If my calculations are correct these slats should cover up the gaps …………….well that was the plan. I test my theory and the 6th slat prove my theory wrong.  Plan B…..cover the gaps with tape as the whole liner is going to be painted white. Plan be works, phew.

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John from TimePiece needs a hand replacing his engine mounts, well getting the engine back on the new mounts. Of course nothing lines up so we spend a few hours huffing and puffing trying to move a 600lb engine around in a small confined space. Eventually we get the plates, the mounts and the nuts and bolts lined up and the engine drops into place, of course we have to retrieve dropped bolts from the oil filled bilge with a magnet on a piece of string. By this time the paint is dry an its time for a second coat on the ply, things are starting to look feasible for a good end result.

Next day it’s off to Lopez marine for a small tin of varnish, Greg offers a ride and we stop at Marina De La Paz for coffee and a chat with a few cruisers. Soon it is time to get Adventura off the dock at Palmira and take it up to the Palmar yard where Greg is going to have it’s bottom painted. The yard isn’t ready for us so we anchor off, then move to a slip as they are not answering the radio. They want Greg to back into the hoist area, its blowing 13 knots and his boat backs down like drunken Scotsman. I suggest it’s not worth the risk and to wait until tomorrow morning when theres no wind. The Mexicans say it will be OK and we finally agree to get Adventura into a side tie and then reverse the boat around and into the cradle area with a few helpers and lots of dock lines.  Getting into the side tie is no mean feat and success depends on the timely deployment of dock lines from the boat to the helpers on the docks. The wind is blowing up our ass and there is a gap of about 45 feet before a concrete wall, Greg’s boat is 38 feet. Lines are thrown as we commit to the approach and we are hauled to standstill.

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Back to Entre Nous and I quickly check my sanding of the teak slats, umm not as good as I thought. Next day I am back on the dock again with the sander to get the bits I missed.A coat of varnish, wait for it to dry and then refit all the slats. Hope I remembered to number them all.

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There is a slight delay in completing the project, the first of the 150 boats in this years Baha Ha Ha arrives in marina Palmira after their trip down from San Diego. A lovely Hylas 46 , as he proceeds into the raceway, he underestimates the wind and is going too fast, collides with my Monitor self steering gear and also does the same to a boat 3 slips further down. Fortunately Scott and I are on the boat, see the whole thing and are just stunned. We give the guy a Jeremy Clarkson “Loser” sign and inspect the damage, fortunately the self steering was hit by a fender which exploded. The damage looks to be a sheared collision bolt and not much else. 2-3 hours later we have the thing rebuild and nearly working properly , will finish off tomorrow after some more head scratching.

So much for safe marina’s……………..I wonder if this is going to set the tone for this years Ha ha’s

Escondido to La Paz……..returning home

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Day One Escondido to Aqua Verde 21 miles

I leave Escondido at 7.30am, cruise by Voyager and say goodbye. I clear the entrance and pass Sara M and Alan gives me a call on the VHF. We aim to meet up in La Paz. I am motoring as there is no wind. I set the autopilot and see about taking the covers off the sails. Get the main up as there appears to be a small offshore breeze. I take the helm off autopilot to come up into the wind and nothing happens, it is still in “auto”. I can’t turn the wheel manually. Have had this problem before and go down below to disconnect the main hydraulic drive and the control head. Re power them and expect to be able to go to standby and have control of the steering. It is still locked in autopilot even with no power to the pilot. Shit…………I can control the boat with the autopilot but cant use the wheel. The remote won’t pair with the control unit so I have to use the my unit below to make adjustments. I check my position and decide not to do anymore until I am through an area of rock pinnacles. Once this is achieved I try every possible combination of powering up but the autopilot wont disengage. I can’t use the wheel for steering. I decide to carry on to my destination Aqua Verde under autopilot. When I get close I remove the hydraulic arm from the steering quadrant and get back manual control of the steering. I drop anchor in Aqua Verde and spend the next 2-3 hours trying to fix the problem. Nothing I can do, it must be an electronic / computer issue. At least I can still use the pilot for the main part of tomorrows journey which is a 10 -12 hour jump to Isla San Francisco. Was going to stay here a another day but I think I will head straight back to La Paz and get hold of Garmin support and see what they say the cause could be. I go into the beach and meet the RV’s who are camping there.

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Day Two. Aqua Verde to Isla San Francisco 52 miles

Up anchor just before sun up as there is a 3/4 moon and I can see my way out of the anchorage. It’s going to be a long day, a good 10 hours, split 5 hours down the coast and then 5 hours in the Canal De San Jose. The first part of the journey is lumpy seas with a northern swell and not enough wind to fill the headsail. I try a combination of set up and find the most comfortable is a double reefed main ( to reduce the sea saw effect of the swell ) and a full headsail which works on and off but as the wind drops the headsail flops around so I pull it in and motor sail. There are times when the wind is good enough to resurrect the driving power of the headsail but it is a morning of mixed sailing/ motor sailing and at times simply motoring.  I reach the entrance of the Canal de San Jose  it looks pretty benign but can whip up a fast ride if the wind comes up. I decide to shake out the main and sail with main only as the wind is behind me. I still have to use the engine to keep up 5 knots, which I need to do to ensure I get to my destination before dark. The headsail comes out, goes back in for an hour or so and then the wind starts to pick up, whitecaps soon appear but I am going down wind so an scooting along doing 5 knots, the seas build and as I get further into the canal the funnel effect intensifies the wind, I see a couple of boats ahead of me duck out and make for Punta San Evaristo, they soon disappear. I decide to press on for Isla San Francisco. I am now keeping up 6.5 knots and the wind instrument is showing anywhere from 7 knots to 18 knots behind me, if you add my speed it is really blowing 13.5 to 24.5 but mainly in the 20 knot region. I am flying with main only.  The boat is pretty stable, the dingy is surfing with the swell and waves and I soon knock off the last 15 miles. Now I have to slow down and get main down, fortunately as I pop out of the exit of the canal everything dies down to a sensible 12-15 knots. I round up drop the main, physically take the control arm of the autopilot off the steering quadrant so I can manually steer and make my way into the anchorage. there are half a dozen boats already there but there is plenty of room. Its nice and calm , still blowing 12 knots. I find a spot in 20 feet and dump the anchor. Tidy up the boat then sit on deck and sink a well earned beer.  The journey back to La Paz has had some teeth in it unlike the benign trip north.

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Day Three – 42 Miles

I get up early and enjoy a cup of coffee in flat calm conditions, rather than stay I decide to have a restful motor to Caleta Partida and set off in complete flat and calms seas, no wind.  I zip along at 5.8 knots and soon knock off the 21 miles, its a beautiful day so I continue towards La Paz with the intention of stopping further south along the island of Espiritu Santo. Once I reach Ensenada la Gallina I realise I am not that from La Paz and decide  to cross the San Lorenzo channel with the aim of stopping overnight in Bahia Falsa. Its still calm and flat when I get there and I think “sod it, I’ll just go straight to the marina”. No sooner had this decision been made and the wind picks up, no issue. I get to the entrance of the marked channel, pick out the first marker buoy and then follow a series of narrow channel bouys 2 miles up to Marina Palmira. I notice the engine temp has shot up, its getting pretty warm, it normally runs around the 180 mark, its now up to 200. I knock some of the revs off and drop the speed back , this makes no noticeable difference. I had previously hung fenders and got my dock lines set up so I swung the fenders over the side . I called Tom on Eagle to say I was coming in and he organised some line handlers. I manually disengaged the autopilot, now I was committed to hand steering  the remaining distance. I dropped the revs right back near the entrance so i could do a final check on the fenders and hung the lines ready on the rails so people could grab then when I approached the slip. There was another boat behind me, close up going into the same marina. I see the reception committee and make a turn into the slip channel, the allocated slip is for a 36 footer and I am 42 with another 3 foot overhang. Its going to be tight. I get in without hitting the dock or the other boat in the next slip !!!  Everyone grabs lines, I turn off the engine and fetch beers for everyone. One of my neighbours is John on “Timepiece” who helped me move Entre Nous from Marina La Paz to Palmira last year. It’s been another long day……….but I am pleased to be back. Guess I have to add the overheating problem to my list of to do’s . I call John on Coral Rose and Alex and Sue on Mai Tai Roa to let them know I am in and docked safely.

7 months after I left I am back…………………….. 212 days on anchor.

Marina Palmira

Puerto Escondido

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I will be leaving Escondido in the next 2-3 days and as this is the last chance to access the internet I thought I would do a quick update to the blog. Compared to my northbound arrival in Escondido, the place has morphed into a green valley from the summer rains. It looks like a completely different place altogether.

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My route to La Paz should not take more than a week, I will stay at a few places, Aqua Verde and Isla San Francisco. There is a 50 mile jump between these two locations but once I get to Isla San Francisco I am virtually within spitting distance of La Paz ( 27 miles). I have been cleaning the boat and putting stuff away that won’t be used again till next summer, checked the propeller and was going to clean the bottom but found too many jellyfish lurking about. The stainless has been given a good polish and the rain from tropical storm Octave has cleared the summer dust off the rigging. I also decided to move two pieces of equipment the previous owner had installed in the cockpit, they were getting in the way so took the plunge, with the assistance of Bill from Voyager ( well actually he did most of the work ) and moved the radar display further back inside the dodger and also the forward looking sonar, which is now alongside my Wind/Speed/Depth displays. It left big holes in the deck which we have now filled.

Before the move

Before the move

 

 

 

 

 

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I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the decking. Its about an inch thick, two good layers of fibre glass and end grain core. The whole move makes the cockpit look more open and access to the winch and rope clutches are vastly improved. All I need to do next is to sand down the filler and try and match the paint as closely as possible. The leftover fibre glass resin was used to fill a few holes down below.

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So back to La Paz it is. Lots to do there………..some projects, renew my Mexican residency, this time I will get three years. The hull will need a good cut and polish and I need to clean out the fresh water tanks, the water went a bit brown after being shaken up by the seas on the way back south. I will need to drain and clean the tanks through the inspection plates. Got to also find a new flag……..my expensive flag got pretty battered in the last year. I thought going for a real good quality one it would last longer than 12 months but its in tatters.

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Summer is coming to a close and after three attempts I finally managed to spend a full summer in the Sea of Cortez……….would I do it again? Yes without any reservations at all. I would add 100 AMPs of battery power as the current draw are significantly increased, plus the solar panels become less efficient as they get hotter. Maybe a couple more fans, some for cockpit. I must admit I am looking forward to some cold weather. The yearly HaHa from San Diego is about to leave, this year there are 170 boats coming south, amongst them will be many new friends. Thats the beauty of cruising this part of the world……..a constant supply of new people.P1000898

Tropical Storm Octave

two_epacOnce again I find myself awaiting the arrival of bad weather, this time it’s tropical storm Octave and Priscilla, both of which are off the Baha peninsula and heading this way. I have taken refuge in Puerto Escondido, a virtually landlocked harbor with mooring buoys and anchorage areas. The first concern is whether Octave will turn into a Hurricane as it looks likely it will hit land close by. Fortunately it stays as a Tropical Storm, only winds up to 55knots, about 70  miles an hour. Unfortunately it’s predicted track is directly at us and this doesn’t change as it gets closer to shore. I have 175 feet of chain out and am anchored in 25 feet of water on a sandy bottom so I should be OK.

144803WThe leading edge arrives around 10.00am and it starts to rain, the winds are in the 10-15 range. Then it rains some more and some more. The skies are completely overcast but there is no fetch. The water remains calm. As the day progresses the rain increases and the winds built, by lunchtime its blowing 15-18 and the rain is coming down in buckets. Everything appears to be holding, no one is dragging and people are getting settled in for the duration. Bill and Julie on Voyager are anchored near by and invite me over for a game of Baha rummy as long as I don’t mind getting wet on the trip over. I don my waterproof Musto’s, put my computer in a waterproof bag as I want to copy the remaining series of WEEDS and just as I am about to step into the dingy, the rain fall changes, it is now raining swimming pools. I get completely soaked on the short 250 feet journey.

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The card games goes well until around 4.00pm when the wind is now blowing 18-24, it is time to get back to Entre Nous.  I ask Bill to keep an eye on me until I get back to my boat as my dingy has a tendency to try and take off in winds around the 20 knot mark. It thinks it’s a sea plane.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe says, “no point cuz I ain’t coming out to rescue you in this weather is anything goes wrong”. I don the Musto’s and say goodbye, fire up the outboard and start back. The wind is coming off my forward port quarter so I move to that side of the dingy to keep the edge from lifting, all is going well and I am halfway home and the engine dies. I quickly try and restart to no avail, checking the internal petrol tank I see it is very low on gasoline. I grab the petrol can and fill the tank as quickly as I can no bothered about the petrol spilled during the refilling. I try and start the engine but it becomes apparent no petrol isn’t the only issue. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShit………….OK plan B…………………..make for the Nordhavn to my stern and grab their anchor line, then work back to their stern and secure a line, this will allow me to work on the outboard in the middle of a tropical storm. Great plan and what a great situation to be in.  I think see Bill on Voyager in his shorts and tee shirt, jumping in his dingy and racing over to me………..What a hero I toss him a line and he tows me back to Entre Nous, a quick thanks and he’s away, soaking wet.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next morning I tell him, there was nothing wrong with the engine, I faked it to get him wet. His response was, thats OK…….I got back to my boat and my wet teeshirt absolutely did it with Julie, her hero had returned.  Funny I always thought wet tee shirts were supposed to be on the woman.

As I was soaking wet I decided to prepare the boat for the worst, tied down sail covers, raised the dingy and pulled the drain plug to stop it filling with rainwater. Previously I had fitted the enclosed cockpit covers but had to attend to some areas which leaked. Dogged down all the hatches, checked the snubber and anchor, checked the depth and the other boats positions. Decided on a route if I dragged anchor and needed to re anchor somewhere else. Checked my ditch bag. By now it is starting to get dark and the rain is getting really heavy, the noise of the wind and rain makes everything sound worse than it was. Gusts are now reaching 25 and the boat is being buffeted around, as is everyone else. I spent the next hour checking the depths on the various swing arcs of the boat and making a note of them. This will help me if I think I am dragging the anchor later. Its now completely black outside, except for the jetty lights and the anchor lights of the nearby boats. Mike from Tortu gives updates on the VHF every few hours. Around 9.00pm I think we are at the peak of the storm, its blowing 22-28, with some people reporting gusts of 32.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEveryone  is holding, no one has moved except for a trawler called Odyssey, they dragged much earlier on and re anchored before dark. The latest report suggests the winds may drop back as the storm front passes over us. Not sure when thats going to be but a glimmer of light. I try and watch a film but with every big gust I am up in the cockpit going through the same routine, have I moved, has anyone else moved, have the swing depths changed. Satisfied it is back down below to continue the film. After another few hours, it appears the winds may be abating, slowly but surely they drop, the gusts shatter the illusion things are getting calmer but over the next hour the winds settle in around 20 knots. It’s time to get some sleep. I crash out still in my shorts and tee shirt and awaken the next morning to sunshine and dead flat seas.  The storm went over the top of us and was now heading towards the mainland. After coffee and a general tidy I put the boat back into it’s normal set up, boom  out to keep shadows off the solar panels, dingy in the water and hatches open.

Despite raising the dingy and pulling the plug I still have to bail out gallons of water. In the 24 hour period we had 7 inches of rain.

Time to find out why the outboard let me down.  It still won’t start and something is not right. I check all the normal stuff then decide to drain the carb as it may be flooded. I notice the mixture as it drains out does not spread like petrol should on the water. There appears to be water in it. Obviously some of the torrential downfall has gotten into the tank. I check the filler and find it is cracked around the tank, damn, rainwater would have flooded in. I empty the tank, blow out all the hoses, give everything a spray with engine start, pull the spark plug and give the cylinder a spray. Put it back together as Bill turns up and give the engine a pull………..nothing, try again…….nothing, one more time and I get a splutter, pop and a bang. A bit of choke and she fires up.  I reckon the petrol tank half filled with water whilst I was playing cards, no way was it going to restart last night.

This what Escondido looks like on a normal day………………….

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