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.
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.
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.