Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Joy$ of Boat Ownership

We've returned from our road trip visiting our son in San Jose, our daughter in San Francisco and my wife's father in Santa Rosa. It was a short trip, but it was great to get up to the Bay Area and visit with everyone. We had an early Christmas with each of the kids and exchanged gifts. The biggest gift was being able to see each of them and spend some time with them.

Andrew is doing well, as are Chantal and Sean, who have settled into their cozy, new apartment near Golden Gate Park. Kathie's dad seems to be doing about the same; he looks good and is strong and healthy, but has lost most of his speech capabilities. He is able to read familiar words (no surprise that he has no trouble reading and saying 'ice cream', one of his favorites), but is unable to put complete sentences together. In spite of it all, he continues to be gracious and engaging with an easy smile, especially for the ladies!

Upon our return to San Diego, time was running short to finish our Christmas shopping and getting ready for the holidays. We'll be having a rather quiet Christmas at home, having Nicole and Danica over, along with Nicole's beau, Mike. We'll have the kids over for an early Christmas dinner and gift exchange. Due to work schedules, neither Chantal nor Andrew will be able to make it down to San Diego. If Hans recovers from being sick, he plans to go up to the bay area to spend Christmas with Andrew. Chantal and Sean will be going to Sean's parents for the Christmas weekend.

The mechanical work was completed on the boat during our absence. The transmission was repaired, the heat exchanger was boiled out and the mixing elbow for the exhaust system was replaced. The bad news was that it was noted that the propeller shaft is not in full alignment with the engine. Unfortunately, the motor mounts are at their full adjustment. It will be necessary to haul the boat in order to pull the shaft, check to see if it is straight; shim the front engine mounts; fabricate and replace the rear mounts. It looks as if, in addition to the transmission work, we're looking at another hefty charge for these repairs. With Christmas upon us, we'll likely schedule these repairs after the first of the year. We'll also take that opportunity to check the condition of the bottom paint and check out the play in the rudder. The good news is after these items are completed, the boat will be ready for another cruise.

The other news to report, is besides our good friends and Baja aficionados Dennis and Verna, we were visited by Betty and Jim of the sailing vessel Flibertigibbet. We're also expecting a visit from the crew of our sistership, Tumbleweed (another '82 Cal 39 Mrk III), Ted and Alicia, after the first of the year. They'll be heading back down to La Paz, where Tumbleweed has been kept on the hard over the summer at the Singular yard, near Fidepaz.

Here's wishing all of our friends and family a Merry Christmas and happy and healthy New Year! We look forward to seeing you all and making new cruising friends in the years to come.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home in San Diego

Okay, it's been awhile since the last post. We've been back in San Diego since early July 2009, after bashing back from Los Cabos. We spent the last three months living aboard at Half Moon Marina, enjoying the last half of the concert season at Humphreys by the Bay and getting to know many of our marina neighbors.

Besides socializing with our new neighbors at the marina, we also took the opportunity to work on plumbing, renew some of the exterior varnishing, replace the shaft zinc, replace our solar vents, replace our carbon monoxide alarm and take care of the engine electrical problems we had encountered in Cabo San Lucas. We now have three alternators (our refurbished original 85 amp Balmar, our 65 amp automotive alternator installed in Cabo, and a newly installed, refurbished 110 amp alternator). Our original Heart smart voltage regulator was found to be good and was reinstalled, relegating the Bosh automotive regulator, which was installed in Cabo, to the spare parts bin.

Prior to working on our electrical problems we also addressed some pressing sanitation issues. Upon our return to San Diego in July, the head and associated plumbing was investigated to determine the source of the plumbing problems encountered shortly after leaving Bahia Santa Maria. The problem was found to be the result of flushing a paper towel down the head, which subsequently packed up the three-way valve between the head and the overboard discharge side. Fortunately, the path between the head and the holding tank remained clear. The obstruction was removed from the valve, all the 'O'-rings were replaced and the valve was reinstalled. Once our electrical problems were completed, two more days were spent on the black water holding tank to replace and re-route sanitation hoses between the head and overboard discharge and the holding tank and the overboard discharge valve. These modifications were performed to address holding tank odor issues that had plagued us for months.

One last upgrade performed, before leaving for our shore-side residence, was replacing the two solar vents on the forward end of the cabin top. One ventilated the vee-berth area and the other the head compartment. Both had suffered water intrusion to their solar panels and only the vent on the starboard side (ventilating the vee-berth) remained operational and then only during daylight hours. Both were replaced with new solar vents that operate both in daylight and darkness.

Two more major issues remain to be addressed before years end. One is to service the engine and the other is to haul the boat out for inspection. The engine work entails refurbishing the transmission, the heat exchanger and the exhaust elbow, the last two items part of routine service. The transmission had been coming out of gear throughout the cruise, with the problem worsening during the bash back to San Diego. Trouble shooting during the cruise demonstrated that it wasn't a problem with the shift linkage, but rather was internal to the transmission, itself. Hauling the boat would provide an opportunity to inspect the rudder stock for excessive play. We may postpone the haul out until we're ready to depart on another cruise. A cursory inspection by a diver in San Diego indicated that there didn't appear to be too much play in the rudder and the bottom paint appeared to be good. Rather than hauling Citla this year, we'll begin routine bottom cleaning and wait to haul until next year.

Given that we were living aboard for a year and cruising most of that time, it's not an unusually long list of maintenance items to address. Upgrades to systems that would have made cruising more comfortable or convenient would include the following prioritized list: (1) A reliable SSB receiver for weather information; (2) Weather boards for securing fuel cans to the rails; (3) Solar panels; (4) Small axillary generator; (5) Windlass with ~100' chain for the anchor; and, (6) Water maker.

November, 2009 was the one-year mark for having moved out of our Point Loma house onto Citla. We finally began the reverse process of moving back shore-side. Progress was intentionally slow. We began missing life aboard Citla almost immediately. However, living aboard in San Diego wasn't filled with the same wonder and excitement that was felt when visiting new foreign ports. The simplicity of life and closeness of the cruising community remained, but the familiarity of our home port took the edge off any of the mystery or excitement we would have otherwise experienced.

The first week and a half in the house were spent doing a complete cleaning, inside and out. Structurally and horticulturally the house was in good condition; no major damage and the gardeners had done a great job keeping up the yard. The house was clean on a superficial level, but the furniture, area rugs, fireplaces, hardwood floors, patio and barbecue were all left in pretty poor condition and all the walls and switch plates needed cleaning and some doorways and walls needed painting, due to pet scratches.

Windows were cleaned inside and out; all the hardwood floors were cleaned and refurbished; both fireplaces were cleaned; the barbecue was emptied and cleaned; the refrigerator was moved and pet food and dirt was cleaned from under it; the wood cabinets in the kitchen were cleaned and bees-waxed; the dining room table was bees-waxed; the wood paneling in the dining room and family room were cleaned and waxed. Painting was initiated in the master bedroom with more to follow after Thanksgiving.

At this point, we rented a 16-foot truck and took 5-hours to move all the boxes from our storage into our, now clean, garage. For the next week, we sorted through our boxes and managed to haul a full pick-up truck of donations to the Goodwill. I would estimate this to be between 20 and 25% of the things we had in storage. We've already started our next Goodwill donation box!

We managed to move most of the remaining junk from boxes back into the house. We still have a stack of boxes that belong to our daughter and are being kept to serve as a place holder, in case she wants to move in with us. With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas looming we still seem to have too much to do. We are making headway for some of the varnishing work on the boat. In addition to the hatch wash-boards, we've refinished the teak grate in the head and are working on the companionway ladder. Monday (12/14) Pac West Marine is scheduled to pull out the transmission, heat exchanger and exhaust mixing elbow. Thursday morning, we'll be departing for a road trip to San Jose (to visit Andrew), San Francisco (to visit Chantal and Sean), and Santa Rosa (to visit Kathie's Dad, Vern). It will be a short trip and we plan to return sometime Monday or Tuesday, the following week.

That's all for now. The next post will be a follow-up on the pending boat maintenance.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Bash Back to San Diego

Several days after Bruce’s departure from Cabo San Lucas, the weather patterns for the next several days looked promising beyond Cabo Falso, so we departed the marina at 07:35 on June 20th to begin the bash back to San Diego. It was a clear, warm morning as we left the marina and headed out to the Arches. Rounding the rocks at lands end and making our way to the west, the wind began to increase and the air temperature took a noticeable drop.

An hour and a half out of Cabo San Lucas, the winds were at a steady 30 knots with confused, choppy seas cresting at 5 to 6 feet. Motoring, boat speed was reduced at times to below 3 knots and still the ride was a wet one. After burying the bow in the green water of one of the waves, the Delta anchor came loose from the bow roller. I turned the boat downwind and Pete Vierra hooked on to the jack line and cautiously made his way to the pitching bow in order to subdue the swinging anchor. After assessing the situation for several minutes, he decided the most appropriate course of action would be to remove the renegade anchor from the bow roller and store it in the anchor locker. Amazingly, given the conditions, he was able to get this task done and returned to the cockpit, albeit wetter and colder than when he had departed.

We turned back into the wind and the confused seas to continue our assault on the rounding of Cabo Falso. With winds still blowing a steady thirty knots and the washing machine white water conditions only getting worse, the Danforth anchor began to work its way loose from the bow hanger. Once again, Peter Vierra (or Pete two, Pete dos, or P2) transferred his tether from the cockpit strong point to a jack line and carefully made his way forward until he was prone on the bow and working on the lashings keeping the Danforth secure. Not having turned downwind for this maneuver, there were a couple of instances where he felt his legs go weightless as the bow dropped into the next wave trough. Pete was decidedly wetter upon his return to the cockpit, but the anchor was secure in its lashings.

Within minutes of his return to the cockpit, the carbon monoxide alarm in the cabin sounded and the red indicator light made it clear that the cabin was not suitable for habitation, I made an attempt to reset the alarm, without success and also noted while I was in the cabin that the alternator had stopped charging. At that point, the decision to return to the marina at Cabo San Lucas was an easy one to make. We turned around and headed back. We were tied at our old slip by noon and began making plans for repairs.

To make a long story short, upon our return we contacted Cabo Yacht Works and met Russell, their electrical guru. He tested our house batteries (which turned out to be bad), and replaced our Heart Smart regulator with a Bosche automotive voltage regulator. He also removed our alternator and determined it was bad, but he couldn’t fix it locally and, therefore, secured an automotive replacement (as Victor in La Paz suggested) to serve for the trip up north. Two new wet-cell house batteries and a wet cell starter battery were purchased and installed by P and P2. All the work was completed by the afternoon of June 22nd.

During this brief time, our weather considerations became more complicated. In addition to looking for a suitable weather opening for our trip north, tropical depression Andre made it’s presence off of Acapulco and was predicted to become a tropical cyclone (hurricane) on its way towards Cabo San Lucas. The initial projections showed its predicted path to be no closer than ~120 nm south of the Cape. However, within a day that prediction was modified to show that there was a possibility it could actually hit Cabo in the next several days. While still off southern Mexico with sustained winds of less than 40 knots, the prediction was greater than 50% that it would turn into a cyclone with sustained winds of greater than 70 knots. The decision was made to sit tight in the marina until Andre sorted itself out. By this time, we were ordered to move to another slip closer to the inside of the marina to make room for other boats to be moved closer and away from the harbor entrance. Dock and spring lines were doubled by ourselves and the boats around us in anticipation of a possible hurricane.

By the morning of June 24th, tropical depression Andre had lost its energy and deteriorated approximately 200 nm south of Cabo San Lucas. That same day, the weather was predicted to be relatively benign up until the fourth and fifth of July. Around 2 p.m., we made our way up to the overlook at Hotel Finesterra to see what the sea conditions actually looked like off of Cabo Falso. Off-shore, conditions appeared to be confused, but in closer to the beach the waves appeared to be more manageable. We decided if we were to make it back by early July, we’d have to leave now.

We departed the fuel dock at by 15:35 on June 24th and were on our way to make our second attempted rounding of Cabo Falso. Conditions off the beach did prove to be much better than what we had previously experienced. Winds were steady at 15 knots and the waves were cresting at 3-4 feet. By 19:00 on June 24th, we had made our way around Cabo Falso and were on our way to San Diego. We motor sailed the next 45 hours before making anchorage at Bahia Santa Maria the afternoon of June 26th. The anchorage was windy (18 knots) and cold, with fog swirling into the anchorage in the evening. It was good to be anchored over good holding sand and be able to sleep relatively soundly for the night.

We were up early the following morning and P2 had the anchor secured by 07:45 as the fog was receding from the entrance to Bahia Santa Maria. We were met with long 6 foot swells as we made our way into the open ocean, with the sun making its presence and warming us all. We were still seeing a great number of purple, brown and yellowish-orange jellyfish as we headed north. The wind was moderate, at 12 knots, but directly on the nose and wind waves in the morning were less than 1-foot. We continued to see jellyfish and more Hawksbill sea turtles as we pulled further away from Cabo San Lazaro. The one problem we did encounter was a packed up 'Y' valve in the head a couple of hours out of Bahia Santa Maria. While the head no longer was capable of draining directly overboard, we could still by-pass to the holding tank and dump overboard using the maceration pump when the tank was full. As would be the pattern to come, by 18:00 the winds increased and the seas became sloppy.

For the next two and a half days we followed a near rheum line course between Cabo San Lazaro and Bahia de Tortuga. This course brought us 50nm off-shore before closing with the coast again near Punta Abreojos. By midnight of June 29th, we were passing off Punta Abreojos. Between the headwind and the current, progress around the point was painfully slow. By noon, 12 hours later, we were within 5 nm of the coast line with less than 35 nm to Bahia de Tortuga. At 19:00, with the wind and waves building outside the bay, we were settled on the anchor off the village in Bahia de Tortugas.

We were all looking forward to getting a hot shower at one of the hotels in Tortugas, but were informed by the panga taxi to the wharf that the hotel was closed. Undaunted, P, P2 and Kathie made their way up the rickety steel stairs and down the old wharf towards the beach and town. Independently checking on our own, we confirmed the hotel was closed. We wandered through town and back out towards the old cannery along the bay, past the new town square and up the hill to a restaurant we had visited on the way south.

Resturante La Palapa, built in front of the owners private house, commands one of the best views of the bay. It is has open air seating in a covered patio area with an enclosed kitchen to the rear. Carlos and Mercedes are the proud proprietors of this delightful cafe. When we first approached, we were informed by their young grandsons that the restaurant was closed. Several seconds later their grandfather, Carlos, stepped out of the house and told us that they were open for business and invited us in. After taking drink orders, Carlos asked what we would like for dinner. Asking about fish, we were told they had none but would have fresh fish tomorrow. Instead, Carlos asked if we would like chicken, pork or beef. Given the choice, we all opted for chicken. Moments later, Carlos disappeared and we heard his pickup truck start and saw it leave for town.

Thirty minutes and another round of cold cervezas later, Carlos returned and told us he was unable to find chicken in town and asked if beef would be alright for dinner. We all agreed that would be wonderful. Mercedes and one of her daughters began dinner preparations in the kitchen while Carlos joined us for conversation. Within 20 minutes we were all served plates with beef, vegetables, beans, rice and salad along with a selection of salsas and an unending supply of fresh tortillas. Once sated from the delicious home cooking, Carlos and Mercedes rejoined us for after dinner conversation. We found out about their marriage and family and spoke of cruising and they shared stories of the friends they had made among the cruisers visiting Bahia de Tortuga. The sun had set and the hour was getting late. We paid for dinner and were invited back the next day to have fish and take showers at their house.

We made our way back to the wharf, looked up our water taxi driver and made our way out the dock to even more unstable floating docks running along the west side of the wharf where the panga was tied. P2 and Kathie almost ended up in the bay off the rocking and rolling narrow floating docks. Finally, we all made it safely to the panga and then back to Citla to enjoyed a peaceful night at anchor.

The following morning found us refueling before making our way back to town to wander and revisit La Palapa. As offered, Carlos and Mercedes generously offered the shower in their house for us to use when we arrived at the restaurant in the late afternoon. After we were all refreshed from our showers we enjoyed another wonderful home cooked meal of fresh fish along with all the trimmings. Afterward, we spent several more hours sharing with our hosts before excusing ourselves for the evening.

After the late lunch, we made our way to an Internet cafe to check Sailflow weather. It was obvious from the check that the weather would be good for making our way north until the 3rd of July. Both the 3rd and 4th were predicted to have stronger (>25 kts) winds, so took our leave of Tortugas at 22:15 on June 30th.

For the remainder of the night and into the next morning, we had 14-16 knots of wind with 4 to 5 foot seas. By dawns first light, Cedros Island was spotted to the north and for the remainder of the morning we made our way along the protected eastern shore. Breaking out from the northern tip of Cedros four and a half hours later, the seas picked up again between 4 to 5 feet. By midnight the following morning, we had finished crossing Bahia Sebastian Vizcaino and were several miles off of Punta Canoas and following the coastline along a northwesterly course.

By 2 p.m. we were 3.5 nm due south of Sacramento Reef in building wind and seas. We began to have problems with the transmission not staying in gear and were forced to partially unfurl the jib and tack out to sea under a double reefed main and a 110% jib. We tacked back to our north an hour and 45 minutes later and continued on a course of 354 magnetic for another 5.5 nm. This placed us 2.9 nm due west of the reef and south of Isla San Geronimo. We put in another westerly tack and maintained it for an hour and 15 minutes before tacking back to our north. The wind was blowing from ~120 magnetic, between 22 and 26 knots apparent and the seas were cresting at 6 to 7 feet. The skys to the west were dark and held promise of worse weather to come. We were all tired and cold, so the decision was made to make for Punta Baja at the north end of Bahia El Rosario and anchor to wait out the weather and get some needed rest.

We anchored just off of Punta Baja at 01:45 on July 3, 2009. We were tired, cold and wet, but happy to be at anchor and looking forward to getting some needed rest. Kathie made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and we were asleep by 3:00 am. For the next two days we sat at anchor while the wind howled through the rigging. Being in close to the protection of Punta Baja, there were no wind generated waves. We had anchored in 21 feet over good holding sand and had 160 feet of rode out. We took time over the next two days to top off the fuel tank and tighten the shrouds. Due to the surf on the beach, we remained on board and all suffered some mild cabin fever. It was a quiet, subdued 4th of July.

The morning of July 5th was overcast and the wind had moderated over night. We (P2) had raised the anchor by 07:50 and we were on our way for the final push to San Diego. The sun broke out as the day progressed and by 14:00 we were due west of Cabo San Quentin. Our motorsailing speed was reduced during this leg, due to ongoing transmission problems, and our motoring speeds averaged about 4 knots. By 20:00 that night we began sailing again to give the transmission time to cool. Tacking offshore resulted in encountering larger seas and freshening winds. While our boat speed increased into the mid-sixes, our course towards our destination suffered. Before midnight, we began motorsailing towards San Diego once more.

The night was clear and cold. By dawns light, P2, who was on watch, appeared to be on the verge of hypothermia. He gladly gave up the watch and went below for some much needed sleep and to get warm. The day turned into a sunny, pleasant motorsail. By 15:00 we were off Bahia Todos Santos and the city of Ensenada.

We continued north, staying within 3 to 7 nm of the coastline, enjoying the evening lights as they came on in each of the villages and developments along the way. We passed within 1 nm of the south island of Islas Los Coronados and crossed the international border around 01:00 the morning of July 7th. On cue, as we rounded SD entrance buoy #1, we were approached at high speed by an unlit USCG patrol boat and briefly illuminated by their search light. We arrived at the Police Dock on Shelter Island by 03:15 and contacted Customs. A quick call back by the Customs agents informed us that they were about to clear a newly arrived freighter and would be with us in about and hour and a half. Almost 3 hours later, we were greeted by two agents, Rivas and Sampson, and in a matter of about 10 minutes were checked in to the country and on our way to Half-Moon Anchorage and our new slip. The bash was over and we were finally home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Citla Crew from La Paz to Cabo

All good things must come to an end and so, too, our time in the Sea of Cortez. The decision has been made to sail Citla back to San Diego for hurricane season and perform some modifications to make it a more comfortable cruising boat. Given the horror stories of the 750 nm bash to weather up the coast of Baja without real services or support until Ensenada, this decision was made with some trepidation.

The nature of sailing a small boat against the prevailing winds, waves and currents adds to unknown scheduling considerations for us, since we are also neophyte Baja bashers. Adding to the unknowns for us is the fact that it is getting on into the summer season and the beginning of the formation of tropical depressions and cyclones. Given all of these considerations, we'll be watching the weather up the coast and, hopefully, be able to time a favorable weather window for the first part of our bash north.

To help make the trip more manageable, we were hoping to enlist the services of one or two crew to help with the trip home. With the scheduling uncertainties, finding enthusiastic volunteers to join us for the bash won't be easy. Fortunately for us, we do know several people who have some flexibility in their schedules and would be great additions as crew members. Two people who volunteered to join us in our adventure were Bruce Bennett and Peter Vierra.

Bruce is an old friend, who I first met as the general contractor to an addition to a house in Mission Hills 28 years ago. While he doesn't have any sailing experience, his enthusiasm and mechanical expertise lends itself well to this type of trip. Unfortunately, due to business and family priorities he would only be able to join us for the leg from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas.

Peter Vierra is our nephew who has been around boats since he could walk, but has limited sailing experience. He spent a great deal of time on his grandfathers (my father) powerboat growing up, learning boat handling skills. Besides being physically fit and strong, he has an engaging personality with a great sense of humor. A perfect set of qualifications for any crew members to have! We are fortunate to be able to have him join us for the entire bash home.

June 12th, Bruce, Peter, Kathie and myself departed Marina de La Paz to begin our trip to Cabo San Lucas. The first leg took us to Playa Bonanza, on the east side of Isla Espiritu Santo. We set anchor towards the north end of the 2-mile long beach and Pete and Bruce swam ashore and spent the remainder of the afternoon beachcombing and snoozing under a stunted tree along the shoreline.

The following morning we weighed anchor and headed south across the San Lorenzo Channel intending to make our way to Ensenada Los Muertos. Thirty minutes out in the channel, it was observed that the alternator was not charging. Rather than continuing on southward, the decision was made to sail back to Marina de La Paz for repairs.

We were fortunate to be able to have the alternator repaired the same day of our return to La Paz and were on our way south again the following morning. We left the Marina early and were out of the harbor channel by 9 a.m. and on our way to Ensenada Los Muertos. By 6:20 p.m. we were anchoring at Los Muertos. After securing the boat, Pete and Bruce rowed into the cantina to check out the scene and ended up having dinner and closing the place before returning to Citla.

The sun rose on a glorious morning in the anchorage at Los Muertos and by 9:50 a.m., the anchor was raised and we were on our way to the next stop at Los Frailes. Los Frailes is a south facing anchorage just around the point from Cabo Pulmo, the largest coral reef along the west coast. It has provided us great protection in the past from the Sea of Cortez infamous 'Northers', but now we were exposed to winds from the southeast. The anchorage has a deep sea canyon almost to its shore, requiring anchoring in suitable depth water close to the beach. In the prevailing notherlies of winter this is not a problem or a concern, however, with the southeasterlies the beach becomes a lee shore with breaking waves.

We anchored within a couple of hundred yards of the beach and let out enough scope to feel comfortable given the conditions. The anchorage is over good holding sand and after a couple of hours evaluating our position, we felt confident about our anchor. That still did not prevent me from checking several times during the night for any change in position. The first 24 hours on at any anchorage finds me constantly checking our relative position to insure we are not dragging. After the first 24 hours, I generally feel more confident and only bother to check once or twice during subsequent nights.

We got an early start the following morning, with Bruce taking his first try at raising the anchor. After struggling mightily, Bruce managed to get the anchor on board with only one skinned knuckle and almost managing to lose the pin securing the chain lock overboard. The good news is that it did not dampen his enthusiasm or his confidence. The remainder of the day was spent motor sailing to Cabo.

We didn't use the autopilot much on the legs between La Paz and Cabo, but chose to hand steer for most of the time. Steering the boat takes some experience and practice to keep on a straight course. The most common error is to oversteer and have to make constant corrections to compensate in the opposite direction. The result is that the boat travels further than necessary to cover a course between point 'A' and 'B' (which in a slow moving sailboat can add significant time) and can be detected by observing the snaking course of the wake left behind. It was decided that Bruce was the hands down winner of the 'snake-wake' award.

Making long distance passages, one of the critical crew considerations is to be well rested between shifts. We found that this was an area where Bruce excelled! When not occupied with crew duties, Bruce could drop off at a minutes notice, day or night, and be soundly resting and saving his energy for his next crew stint. One additional side benefit we found, was that the presence of pesky flies and bees was greatly reduced when Bruce was off-shift. We believe this was due to the posture he took while at rest. He demonstrated the uncanny ability to draw insects in during his inhale without disturbing his rest or allowing for their escape during his cacophonous exhale. This was an amazing ability that wouldn't have been believed had not the rest of the crew observed and documented it.

Rounding the east cape, the wind and waves built, compared to the lake-like conditions we had enjoyed in the Sea of Cortez. We arrived at our slip in Marina Cabo San Lucas at 3:25 p.m. on June 16th. Bruce rented a car and allowed for easy provisioning of Citla at the local Costco. For the next several days Bruce and P-dos or P2 (our nephew) explored Cabo San Lucas while Kathie and I took care of immigration and Port Captain paperwork to clear Citla and it's crew into and out of Cabo. Time was passing and Bruce had to make his way back to San Diego and the real world of priorities and responsibilities. His departure left a noticeable hole in the crew morale that didn't fully compensate for the added room we had aboard.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Indecision and Preparations

The first week back we rented a car to help facilitate ordering and gathering what we’d need to take care of the boat and also to take some side trips here in Baja California Sur. We did take a one-day road trip, which included a visit to the cactus preserve just north of El Triunfo, and then south to Los Barriles. The cactus preserve was deserted when we arrived and we took the self guided tour through the dense tropical growth. After about an hour of walking through the paths at the preserve, we returned to the car and resumed our journey south.

The day was overcast, due to the pineapple express, so when we did finally arrive back out to the Gulf at Los Barriles, instead of the welcoming turquoise blue, the water reflected the steel gray of the overcast sky. The town of Los Barriles was a bit of a disappointment. The central portion of town was new and lacked soul. Along the beaches, houses occupied space all the way to the beach. Narrow streets separated blocks of houses that ran up to the beach, leaving little or no room for parking. Sports fishing boats were moored off the open road stead and easy access to the beaches were limited to the rows of houses fronting the sand.

We left Los Barriles northward and followed a paved road that paralleled the beach north of town. The paved road north continued until it became a dirt road at El Cardonal. Rather trying to continue on the dirt track and continue on to Bahia de los Muertos, Juan de los Planes and then onto San Antonio, we turned around and headed back to Los Barriles, Mexico 1 and then back to La Paz.

For the past two-months, Kathie and I have gone through numerous scenarios on how we might best spend the summer months. Now that it is May, with hurricane season approaching, we're still equivocating on what our best course of action should be. On the one hand, with the kids and Kathie's Dad in California, making the bash back would allow for easier logistics for traveling and visiting. On the other, we have only scratched the surface of places to see in the Sea of Cortez and it would be great to spend at least one more season exploring. The biggest deterrent for our return is the dreaded bash back. Should we keep the boat in the water or on the hard? Should we rent a casita and stick out the hotter summer months in La Paz? Should we head up further into the Gulf and tolerate the heat to wait out hurricane season? Should we store the boat on the hard and return to California and do a 4-5 month road trip? So many options and so much indecision!

The past few weeks in La Paz have been spent trying to stay cool, while attempting to do the maintenance and safety upgrades should we make the bash back to San Diego. By 10:30 in the morning, it’s getting warm enough that working outside becomes very uncomfortable. By noon physical work of any kind, especially outside, is out of the question for us.

Fixing the boarding ladder and stern swim step was the first safety item completed after Joel had removed and repaired the raw water pump (see previous blog entry). We also ordered a second removable boarding ladder from San Diego Marine, via the marine supply on Abasolo (Agencia Arjona de La Paz). A week later, we picked up the ladder and fitted it to the boat. That involved taking apart the back splash above the cabinets in the galley to gain access to the under deck for the ladder mounting hardware. Over the course of two days, Kathie and I managed to do the dismantle, install the required hardware and put the woodwork back together in the galley. We now have two self-rescue methods for getting back aboard, in addition to the rescue collar and bosun’s chair.

We also purchased four more 5-gallon yellow diesel cans. Since most of the trip north up the outside of Baja will be into contrary seas and wind, extra fuel capacity is essential. Our satellite fuel capacity is now at 40-gallons, in addition to the 40-gallons in the fuel tank for 80 gallons, total. Diesel can be purchased in San Carlos in Bahia Magdalena, but it is a long trip to and from the Pacific to get there and back. The usual fuel stop for boats heading north or south is Bahia Tortugus, just south of the southern boundary of Scammon's Lagoon, famous for Malaremo beach that reaches west out into the Pacific at this point. From there, fuel can also be obtained northwest, across the channel, at Cedros Island. From there, the next reliable fuel stop is in Ensenada.

The inflatable has been in the water since the slow leak was repaired by Rock Hard Dingy Repair (Jo and Billy on Yellow Star). Today we hauled it out of the water and continue to be amazed at the luxurious growth that decorates the bottom only after two and half weeks in the water. There are countless cone barnacles and other attached hydroids covering the entire whetted surface of the bottom. With a Teflon spatula, the boat brush and pressure water rinse, the bottom is cleaned after about an hours effort. The dingy was then hauled onto the cabin top to dry and be stored in an animal free environment.

When Joel replaced the impeller in our raw water pump, he also checked the outlet hose to the heat exchanger and the heat exchanger, itself, for stray pieces of rubber impeller parts. A check of the raw water discharge into the exhaust mixing 'J' was done for good measure. To do a thorough and complete job, I planned to take the rubber exhaust hose off between the mixing 'J' and the water lift muffler.

The mixing 'J' is where the raw water from the heat exchanger is mixed with the hot exhaust gases from the engine. The discharged seawater acts to cool the exhaust gases before they enter the rubber hoses that make up the exhaust system and eliminate potential fire hazards. The velocity of the exhaust gases serve to propel the seawater through the exhaust system and out of the exhaust pipe in the stern of the boat. Two things can interfere with the function of the mixing 'J' by blocking the water galleries that provide the cooling of the 'J' before being mixed with the exhaust gases: Pieces of debris (e.g., old impeller parts) and salt build-up. If the water flow is disrupted in the mixing chamber, this can cause a reduced water flow, greater exhaust back pressure and potential hot spots, which are a fire safety concern.

Removing ~2-inch I.D., steel reinforced, rubber exhaust hose from the exhaust system is generally a pain to do and can result in destroying the hose. The section of hose to be removed is 20" long and has a gentle curve in it. With the aid of a long, slim screw-driver, some liquid dish detergent and a great deal of determination, I was able to remove the old wet-exhaust hose and check the condition of the mixing 'J'. It didn't appear too badly obstructed, save for one piece of impeller that fell out, so I replaced the hose with a new section and double hose-clamped both ends before trying it out for leaks by running the engine. All looks good, so far.

There have also been little repairs and improvements to tend to, as well. The spring holding the cabin roof hatch open had begun to lose its rigidity and sometimes slammed close without warning. I found a spring replacement at Agencia Seamar, across the street from Marina de La Paz, and replaced the old spring opening with the new. We're now confident that we've seen the last of unexpected closures of this hatch, at least for several years.

Listening to the La Paz cruisers net this morning, we were reminded of another potential for problems. One of the boats in the fleet was looking for a replacement fuel pump for a three cylinder Yanmar diesel. Lopez Marine, on Cinco de Febrero, indicated that he had an 12-volt electric pump that could be used in its place. The caller didn't want the electric pump, but rather, the a replacement to the original mechanical lift pump. However, the exchange prompted our memory of leaving Mazatlan, several months ago, and not knowing if our lift pump was functioning. One of the solutions Rafael, at Total Yacht Works, offered was hooking a back-up electric pump in-line and by passing the mechanical pump, if indeed, it was not functioning. We decided that having an electric back up pump wouldn't be such a bad idea for our bash back north. Neither Kathie nor myself could envision doing a long slog to weather under motor, while someone was below hand pumping the outboard fuel pump bulb to provide fuel flow to the engine should the mechanical pump fail. We went by Lopez Marine and pick up a 12-volt fuel pump to serve as a back-up!

While we were engaged in small improvement projects, we installed a couple of spring loaded brass cabinet door latches to some of the cabinets that didn't stay latched while sailing. This was a very minor issue, but adds enormously to the calm and neatness in the cabin not having doors swinging open and having their contents scatter across the cabin, while the boat is heeled and pitching.

Enrique cleaned the bottom at one-dollar a foot (~$400MN) and determined that the zinc was still good. He seemed a bit more enthusiastic when using the metal scraper when cleaning the bottom and indicated we needed bottom paint. I tried to explain to him that the bottom paint was of the ablative variety and was meant to come off, I'm not sure he understood what the difference was. I guess we'll be hauling the boat in San Diego for another bottom paint job when we return.

In the short period we've been at the dock it is amazing how quickly the bottom begins to be fouled with barnacles. The growth seems to be heaviest along the water line with the shady side of the boat having more slime growing, in addition to the barnacles. If we were to keep our boat in these warm waters, we'd seriously have to consider another variety of bottom paint to keep the growth at bay. Berkovich Boat yard, near Costa Baja Marina, apparently has some additives that he blends into the bottom paint before applying it that reported works much better than any of the bottom paints on their own. I'm sure it would not be EPA approved, since it work so well.

An attempt has been made to change the oil after 2 months (. This time of year in La Paz, with the day time temperatures rising so early, that means getting an early start. After the Bill and Pepe show and the La Paz morning cruisers net, it's already close to 9 a.m. We've finished our first cup of coffee and then it's breakfast. By the time I get started, it's nearly 10 a.m. and the mercury is well on the rise. Fortunately, with the built in 12-volt electric pump, draining the oil takes a matter of minutes, without much mess or fuss. Removing the oil filter from the cabin (removing the companion way stairs) facilitates this task and it can usually be done with a minimum of mess. Since I got a late start, I decided to put off changing the fuel filters and the oil in the transmission until tomorrow morning.

Changing the 350 mls. of oil in the transmission involves using a tube to literally pipette out the oil about 10 mls. at a time. One of these days I'll have to invest in a mini-pump to draw this from the transmission more efficiently. Well, one of these days rolled around and I went to Agencia Seamar and purchased a small plastic pump designed to fill the lower unit of an outboard engine with lubricant. Removing the check valve and inserting the pump end into the transmission allowed for the transfer of the oil in about 5 minutes. Much better than pipetting it out 10 milliliters at a time!

Changing the fuel filters is more straight forward. There are two fuel filters; the first is a 2 micron Racor prefilter and the second is the Yanmar screw on fuel. Changing the Racor involves unscrewing the cap to the canister using the T-bar handle, while keeping the cap itself from spinning. If the cap is allowed to spin while tightening or loosening, there is the chance of tearing the lid gasket which will cause an air leak in the fuel system (see our experience leaving Mazatlan for La Paz). The screw on fuel filter is also easy to change. The trick is to transfer the desiel from the old filter to the new before screwing it back in place. This minimized entrapped air and ensures the engine will start without having to prime the filter and injectors.

One on-going, often overlooked, critical tasks is re-provisioning and restocking the boat. This becomes more challenging as the crew number increases, as it will on the trip back north. We decided to rent a car for the week to help with the shopping, moving sails back to the boat and picking up crew at the airport. The morning we picked the car up we did a preliminary provisioning at CCC. The purchases were mostly of non-perishable items and a few purchases to bring to the Seisun's to do some advance meal preparation and freezing. A majority of the produce and fruit will be purchased closer to our departure date (tentatively on 6/12).

We unloaded all of the food from the rental into a dock cart and then into the boat. Kathie sorted the refrigerated items to store and collected the cooking spices and grocery items to be brought over to the Seisun's for cooking and freezing. We then drove over to Casa Margaritas and unloaded our cooking supplies. While Kathie swept and dusted the floors inside, prior to cooking, I swept and watered outside. It's only been a week since we were last over to Casa Margaritas and it's surprising how much leaf litter and dust accumulates in such a short period of time. One of their neighbors, Tomas, jokes that we're taking a vacation from our vacation when we visit Casa Margaritas. There is a great deal of truth to that! It's always cathartic to do a little gardening, watering and house work to make us feel more connected to life on land and our friends back home. We rationalize by thinking that we're helping out by doing some light chores around Casa Margaritas, but in reality we enjoy the opportunity to do something different.

Kathie spent the next hour and a half preparing a cooking several menu items, putting them into Tupperware containers and into the freezer. The house was much cooler than the boat, particularly when cooking in such warm temperatures. With the ceiling fans operating, the temperatures remained relatively comfortable during cooking. The outside air temperature was hitting the century mark. We later foud the chocolate chips left in the boat for the day had turned into a solid lump of chocolate; so much for making chocolate chip cookies with them! We hope the Seisun's didn't mind that we used their stove and freezer. We'll have to make amends to them upon our return to San Diego.

One of the most difficult preparations for the return trip to San Diego doesn't involve work on the boat, but rather trying to work out the logistics of getting people to La Paz that are interested in helping take the boat back. There are at least two enthusiastic, capable guys that can take the time to make the bash north with us. One is my nephew, Peter Vierra, and the other is an old San Diego friend and former contractor (Mission Hills remodel), Bruce Bennett. Given the compressed time frame, due to our indecision of what we were going to do for summer, and with hurricane season approaching we've managed to add to the problem of making arrangements. Bruce has some business commitments he has to tie up before he can leave for La Paz and Peter has to expedite his passport application. We've requested and received an extension to our stay here at the marina, but would like to be leaving La Paz between June 10 and 12 to make our way towards Cabo San Lucas, weather permitting.

We are hoping both Peter and Bruce will be able to make their way to La Paz a few days before our departure so we can share a couple of days exploring the city with them before we have to leave. The unfortunate part is, due to putting off a firm decision about our summer plans, when the departure date arrives we will be departing with the crew that can make it here at that time. We're sorry we didn't think about inviting more people to join us during the cruise, but at the time our schedule was so fluid it would have been difficult to plan for a rendezvous. We enjoyed our time with the Seisuns and would have like to have other friends along for the cruise that would have enjoyed the adventure and Mexico. Maybe next season!

Good news and bad news. The good news is both Peter and Bruce were able to make it to La Paz for the sail back to San Diego. Unfortunately, due to business and personal commitments, Bruce will only be able to be with us until Cabo San Lucas. It would have been fun having them both for the trip north, but understand how difficult it is to carve out an indeterminate piece of time for this type of venture. So we're planning on leaving Friday, June 12th for Cabo with the four of us. Currently, we're watching the weather on the outside of Baja to San Diego, in addition to keeping an eye on a tropical disturbance 1000 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas. As of Thursday night before departure, there is a greater than 50% chance this disturbance could become a tropical cyclone, so we're keeping a close weather eye on its development. We're in no hurry, so we have the luxury of waiting for good weather to make our break going north. More on the journey in our next blog.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Loreto to La Paz: Adventures and Mishaps

Having taken the rental car to Loreto and just missing our friends, Dennis and Verena, on their way to the bus station, Kathie and I spent time strolling around town. We browsed the tourists shops that were open, had a late lunch and then went to a super mercado to stock up before taking the rental back to Puerto Escondido.

We got back to Puerto Escondido in the early afternoon and ferried our provisions in our inflatable to our mooring about a half a mile from the dingy dock. As had been the case for the two days we had been on the mooring, the afternoon winds were blowing creating a small wind chop all the way to Citla. As we gain experience going from our inflatable to the boat, we are gaining more proficiency, though, perhaps no more grace making our ingress and egress to and from the two boats. The groceries were unloaded efficiently and Kathie proceeded to stow them in their various nooks and cubbyholes. We rode back to the dock and turned in the rental car.

Due to the wind, we spent the next few days in Puerto Escondido on the mooring ball. During that time, we managed to do a load of laundry, make use of the shower facilities, check our e-mail and have one modest meal at the upstairs cafe of Puerto Bello. We managed a couple of trips to the store out at Tripui and treated ourselves to lunch one afternoon, at the restaurant at the hotel in Tripui. After several days, the afternoon and night time winds began to moderate, so on the 20th, we cast off from our mooring, topped off our fuel (67-liters) and fresh water tanks and left Puerto Escondido for Isla Carmen.

Three and a half hours of glorious weather and nice breezes brought us into the anchorage on Isla Carmen of Bahia Balandra. We anchored in about 25-feet of water over sand. The bay forms a large 'C' shape, tucked behind two points of land which form the entrance. The lights from the town of Loreto can be seen at night, through the entrance to the bay. They shine from across the 9.5 mile channel that separates Isla Carmen from the mainland of Baja. There are also spectacular sunsets over the Sierra Gigante that provide the western backdrop to Loreto.

For the next five days we enjoyed the anchorage, sharing it with a half dozen other cruisers spread throughout this large bay. We rowed over to the island for a short walk in the heat before giving up the idea of hiking to the other side of the island. Swimming from the boat was refreshing, but became a safety concern when I stepped off the ladder and pulled both the ladder and the aft two planks off the swim step. Fortunately, I managed to grab the entire assembly before it sunk out of my diving range. I managed to pass the recovered piece to Kathie, on the boat, but then had the problem of how to get back on the boat myself. The inflatable was tethered behind the boat and it became evident, while the larger 18" tubes on the Achilles help with buoyancy and dryness, the added diameter doesn't make getting into the dink any easier. With fins on, I managed to gain enough lift to pull myself over the gunnel of the inflatable and from the inflatable back into Citla, using the remaining two planks on the stern swim step.

Without a functioning swim ladder, staying on the boat became more critical. Our swimming excursions, from that point forward, required use of the dingy to the beach and then swimming from the beach. This enabled ease of entry into the inflatable and subsequently entry into our mother ship.

This experience taught us the importance of having some simple redundancy to our boarding system besides the safety sling or our bousun's chair. Our resolve was to install a secondary boarding ladder that could be removed when not in use and one that could also improve entry from the boat into the inflatable, without having to negotiate between the back stay and the rear entry gate. The need for better entry into the inflatable from the water was also put onto our list of safety issues to be addressed.

Beach snorkeling along the south entrance to Bahia Balandra at Isla Carmen, was as much as we could have hoped for. In addition to the ubiquitous Sargent-Majors and slow moving spotted puffer fish, we saw Rainbow Wrasses, King Angel fish, a large Morray eel swimming between rocky lairs and numerous schooling fish that we didn't know the identity. The water was clear and in the mid to upper 70's. It didn't take long for the sun to begin to be felt on our backs. We didn't push our exposure and made our way back to Citla before we turned pink.

During one of our beach excursions we managed to put a hole in our inflatable floor and lost all the air before being able to row back to Citla. We got out the repair kit that came with the dingy only to find the tube of glue that came with the kit had been completely used and put back into the kit prior to our purchase. The generosity and helpfulness of the cruising community came through for us. The Island Packet Otter, with Randy and Gayle aboard, had anchored in the bay that day. We had met them earlier in La Paz and had shared some drinks at Ciao's and then had wine aboard Citla and listened to the live music at The Dock Cafe in Marina de La Paz. Randy came by in his dingy to say hello and upon learning of our dilemma, offered to bring his two part glue along with methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). Within the day I had removed the deflated floor from the dingy, cleaned the area with sandpaper and MEK and then attached a double patch to the hole. The floor was reinstalled, inflated and it held air! That night, we had a wonderful barbecued dorado dinner on Otter and had the opportunity to sample some of Randy's home brew. A boat repair, dinner and home brew, what a treat!

After five days at Bahia Balandra we hoisted anchor with Otter and began the short trip back to Puerto Escondido. It was a glassy motor all the way back with the surface of the water being disturbed by an occasional bait ball and, the ever present, leaping rays. We also saw several smaller (4-8' across) manta rays swimming at the surface. Our fishing skill in the gulf remained untarnished, we trailed a lure, but without any luck.

We picked up a mooring ball in Puerto Escondido just past 1:30 in the afternoon. After taking care of the boat we motored to the dingy dock and took the opportunity to do a light provisioning at the store in Tripui. We also picked up another 20-liters of drinking water at the store at the Singular marina before motoring back to Citla. The following morning we left the mooring, topped off our fuel and water tanks and made the short trip across the channel to Isla Danzante and anchored in the center bight of Honeymoon Cove.

We spent the next two days at Honeymoon Cove. We rowed over to the northern cove and did some beach combing and swimming and Kathie also took a short hike along the rocky cliffs to view Citla anchored in the neighboring cove. We rowed back to Citla and spent the remainder of the afternoon talking with some folks who had rowed their inflatable and two kayaks over from their sailboat about a mile down the coast. We shared some cold beers for their trip back to their boat, before we discovered we were dragging. We pulled the anchor up and reset in about 45 feet of water. We held for the night and the following morning we began our return towards La Paz.

Rather than leaving towards the south and negotiating the shallows between Los Candeleros, we instead opted to round the northern end of Isla Danzante and pass between it and Isla Carmen to the east. The wind was non-existent and we motored. We arrived and anchored in the south cove of Agua Verde just past 1 p.m. We were happy to our anchoring neighbor to our south was the catamaran, Just A Minute, with Patrick, Laura, Jack and crazy Rudy, the golden lab, on board. We had been dock neighbors in Marina El Cid while we were in Mazatlan.

Having again been skunked fishing, we bought three lobsters from a local pangero and had lobster for dinner. It was the first 'elegant' dinner on board since the Seisun's had departed Citla at Loreto. We toasted Dennis and Verena as we began our feast. That evening we spent in the cockpit watching 11 year old Jack, on Just A Minute, swing around the mast, over the trampoline and to the other side of their boat on a homemade trapeze bar hung from a halyard. We watched the sun set behind the Sierra Giganta, before retiring to the cabin to do a bit of reading before a glass of wine and bed.

The following morning, all our anchor mates had departed (likely headed towards Puerto Escondido and Loreto Fest), the local fisherman had finished collecting their morning bait and we had the cove to ourselves. We took the opportunity to motor around the perimeter of the cove, chasing the schooling bait and watching the seagulls and pelicans sunning themselves on a tidal shelf before rounding Pyramid Rock to check out the village at Agua Verde. It took us about 20 minutes, after landing on the beach, to do a fairly complete circuit of the town. We stopped by the local tienda and picked up a couple of cold drinks and a few odds and ends. On our way to Citla, we were hailed by a couple on the ketch Apolima from Vancover, Canada. We spent about an hour chatting with them while having lemon aid before continuing on to our boat. We had a neighbor in the cove upon our return. We spent the remainder of the afternoon reading and enjoying the fresh air in the cockpit before evening wine, spirits and dinner.

Following a tip given to us by Patrick on Just A Minute, we sailed from Agua Verde south to the anchorage at Punta Prieta (Punta San Telmo, just north of Bahia Los Gatos). Save for a pangero and his two young sons who visited us in the early afternoon, we had the anchorage to ourselves. We launched the dingy and rowed ashore with our snorkeling gear. After doing some preliminary beach combing and admiring the geologic formations along the cliffs we went in for a swim. Again, once into the rocks, it was like swimming in an aquarium. Unlike the rocks at Bahia Balandra on Isla Carmen, there was an abundance of seaweed along the near shore rocks. As we swam into deeper water, we began seeing more sea urchins and as their numbers increased, the vegetation became less and less abundant until there were areas where the urchins had grazed the rocks bare. We headed back towards the beach and then out to the boat. I went over the side to clear the 90 lb test line from one of our drag lines from around the propeller shaft. We had forgotten to take the meat line in when we arrived at Punta San Telmo and had backed over the gear when we backed down on the anchor. With a sharp knife it took only minutes to clear the line from the shaft, but then another 20 minutes to struggle into the inflatable and then into the boat. We were about to the point of having Kathie row to shore with me following so I could get into the boat on the beach and then go back out to board Citla! Live and learn.

The following morning we reluctantly pulled up the anchor and continued heading south under main and motor. The wind was light and we were considering trying to make Bahia San Francisco on Isla San Francisco for our next anchorage. We sailed close to Bahia Los Gatos and also made a turn into shore to see Casa Grande at Timbabiche. As we approached Punta Nopolo, the wind picked up in the San Jose Channel and we began to sail. During a lull, I started the engine to discover we weren't getting raw water (seawater) through the cooling system and immediately shut the engine down. I checked the seawater strainer, allowed the boat to slow to allow any potential plastic bag covering the inlet grate to drop off and tried the engine once more; still no water flow. I killed the engine with in seconds of the second try. It now was obvious we needed to check and replace the raw water pump impeller. I felt confident, since I had brought three replacement kits with me that we'd be up and running within an hour. My mistake.

The raw water pump is located low on the port side of the engine, just forward of the starting motor and solenoid. The only access is through an 8"x12" cutout on starbord side of the quarter berth. Given the pumps location, low on the engine, below the alternator and heat exchanger the only way to reach the bolts holding the face plate of the impeller in place was with my left hand, reaching backwards and not having any room to see what I was doing (in the photo, my left finger, which is obscured by the raw water inlet and outlet hoses, is pointing to the raw water pump). All but one of the face plate bolts came out after about an hours struggle under sail. The last bolt was recalcitrant from the point of loosening all the way out. Once the face plate was off, I figured the rest would be easy. Again, live and learn!

With the pump head so close to the starter motor, there was no way to access the old impeller with any kind of pliers to remove it from the housing. It took a full 2-days to finally remove the old impeller. The tool of choice turned out to be a large fishing hook that was used to catch the rubber surrounding the bronze hub of the impeller and pulling on it. Even that took nearly six hours of work before the old impeller was coaxed off the impeller shaft and out of the pump housing. Now we were home free! Guess again!

Inserting the new impeller was pretty straight forward. Holding the new 'O'-ring in place was a bit more of a trick. After about three hours it looked as if we were finally there (of course for the last 36 hours we had been sailing and drifting down the San Jose channel, around Isla San Francisco, almost out to Isla Partida, nearly to the channel into La Paz harbor and then for the next 24 hours sailing a triangular pattern to keep us in the vicinity of La Paz while we continued to work on the pump). Down to the last bolt holding the face plate in place and we discovered why it had been so difficult to remove. The threads were bunged up and the bolt would not start. Not having a tap, I tried using a stainless steel bolt of the same size to chase the threads. I could not get it to start in the threaded hole either.

Close to exhaustion and frustrated to the limit, we decided to sail into Bahia Falsa, just west of Pinchilingue and anchor for the night to get some relatively uninterrupted rest. By sunset, we had set the anchor and settled in. Back winding the main apparently did not do an adequate job of setting the anchor. About an hour later we had drifted back far enough to touch the sandy bottom in the shallows. We immediately raised the main sail and I began pulling up the anchor while Kathie tacked the boat further out into the bay, where we reset the anchor in about 35 feet of water over sand. This time the anchor held and we spent a reasonable quiet night (save for the traffic from the ferry at Pinchilingue) on anchor.

The following morning, once the breeze filled in, with Kathie at the helm and me pulling the anchor, we sailed off our anchor and made our way into the bay and towards the channel entrance to La Paz. Sailing was good all the way to the first quarter of the channel. When we were off the new water park, the wind died and all we could rely on was the incoming tide. For the next 45 minutes we concentrated on keeping the boat headed into the channel and off of the shoal to our starboard and away from the beach and the rocks to our port. During that time we probably traveled about a half a mile due to the incoming tide before the wind picked up again and we were able to sail. We had made previous arrangements with the marina to meet us at the narrow entrance and provide a tow into our slip. By the time we got to the entrance to the marina, the tidal flow was at full flood and moving about 3-4 knots. Expecting the marina to use two tow boats, we were surprised to see only one to meet us.

We did a hard round up to weather around an anchored sailboat, did a quick tack followed by rolling in the genoa, dropping the main and passing a tow line to the work boat powered by a 60 hp outboard. Given the tidal rate and our momentum, now in reverse, it took the tow boat a good 100 feet before it could stop our backwards movement and begin making progress towards the marina entrance. Given the strength of the tidal flow and the fact that only one tow boat was used, the maneuvering was hairy, but between the tow boat and four other dock workers at the slip they managed to back Citla into the proper slip without colliding with any of the other boats.

We took the rest of the afternoon to cover the sails, run the halyards forward to keep them from slapping in the wind and unwind. The following morning, after an uninterrupted nights sleep, I took one more stab at fixing the pump. I had borrowed a fellow cruisers tap and die set to see if it could be used to chase the threads on the bad hole. I discover that it was a blind hole, that was shallow enough that the tapered tap wouldn't catch and realized the solution lay in removing the pump in its entirety. I was out of patience and was uncertain that I could manage to remove the pump, given the location and lack of working space. We opted to have Joel, one of the marina mechanics take a look at it to see if he could fix it.

Four hours later, after removing the alternator, jacking up the engine and removing the forward port engine mount, Joel was just barely able to remove the raw water pump. He took it up to the shop and a short time later, fully assembled, he reinstalled it, along with the motor mount and alternator. After cleaning old impeller debris from the outlet hoses and heat exchanger, we fired off the engine and after a bit of worry determined the new raw water pump was, indeed, moving salt water through the heat exchanger.

The remainder of the week was spent ordering a gunnel mounted boarding ladder to be used as a back up to the one on the swim step; through bolting the two swim step planks that came loose on the stern swim step when the self tapping screws were pulled out when I strained it with my weight (note the washer backed screw head bolts under the swim step on the aft two swim step planks); and having Rock Hard Dingy Repair finally repair the slow leak on the starboard tube and check a few of the other factory seems that were parting on our Achilles inflatable.

When it seemed we were making progress and things were looking up, we got word that Kathie's father, Vern, had suffered an episode of bracycardia and was admitted to the hospital in Santa Rosa. With a dearth of reliable information coming from Santa Rosa, we waited to hear from Chantal before making further plans. After hearing from Chantal, Kathie made the earliest connections she could to Santa Rosa. She spent nearly a week visiting with her father and talking to some of the people involved in his health care and well being. Having confidence in the owners and staff at the residential care facility he returned to after his hospitalization, Kathie returned to La Paz, via San Diego and Tijuana. While her father's health is unlikely to improve, he is being treated as an adult with compassion, patience and dignity at the care facility in Kenwood.

Between connecting flights from Santa Rosa to San Diego and then on to Tijuana, Nicole picked up a few items at Downwind Marine and handed them off to Kathie to bring with her to La Paz. We now have a supply of two part Hypalon adhesive for inflatable repair, along with a folding aluminum ladder for boarding the inflatable. We are very fortunate to have kids that are caring, giving and responsible to help us when needed. We're proud that each of them has turned out to be such responsible, self-sufficient and empathetic adults.

While the weather in La Paz has been heating up, we continue to prepare the boat for the return trip to San Diego. We picked up the gunnel mount boarding ladder and still need to install it. We also purchased four more diesel cans, bringing our total extra fuel capacity to 40 gallons. Once we identify a good weather window and hopefully have an extra crew or two to help with the bash back, we'll be off from La Paz on our way back to San Diego. That will be the subject of the next installment.