Sunday, January 31, 2010

Practice pays off, really no engine...

All our previous practice sailing around with the engine as unused backup really pays off when the engine decides not to work.

Chris and his father Dave flew from LAX to Loreto, Mexico last Friday (1/22). Noah from Scheherazade, still working on repowering his boat in Puerto Esconditio, picked them up from the airport and delivered them to Tao. The next two days were spent organizing, shopping, and in general preparation for cruising. After confirming, by adding nearly all the water from our 7 5-gallon collapsible jugs, that our tanks which the specs say hold 35-gallons each actually hold only 20-gallons, on Monday (1/25) they waved goodbye to Noah and Virgil and sailed off the mooring at about 3pm. The short trip across to Isla Danzante was good sailing with NW winds cranking about 20-25-knots for the straight shot east. Only about 2-miles from the mooring inside Puerto Escondido, it was nice to finally be moving.

That evening around 9pm as Chris was reading, the NW wind finally blew itself out, completely died, and was followed by small south gusts. Honeymoon Cove is very tight side to side with a beautiful sand beach at the shore end. As Tao started drifting closer to the walls, it was time to put the stern anchor out. Chris rowed it out in Eeyore while Dave’s calls echoed off the walls to help him position it. Success! The next morning (1/26) after a nice hike on Isla Danzante with good chats and great views of Isla Carmen and their track to Agua Verde from the peak nearest their cove, they were off again heading south on "no wind" from Don's report, and a southerly component according to Geary.

They made it to Agua Verde that evening, mostly under motor with an hour and a half of sailing wing-on-wing at 3.5-knots. It was one of those beautiful days with perfect amount of sun, perfect board shorts temperature, and just light breezes on the water. The swell from the Norther had really diminished, so the sea barely had any roll too it. Around sunset Rocky was set in the southern lobe of Agua Verde. Given the forecast for SE the next day a layover day was spend exploring the main beach and awaiting the forecast fresh westerlies and northwesterlies.

At oh-dark-hundred (3am) Thursday (1/28), the crew was up and off again heading south for a big 50-mile day. After an hour of motoring Yannie started making a weird hissing noise with every compression of one cylinder. Well, wouldn't you know it but she blew a head gasket. Although she still starts, she won’t stay running at idle and really shouldn’t be run. So, on they sailed into light, very light air, and then finally some wind, making 4-5-knots for a time but against the current. Along the way they saw several whales, lots of birds, lots of sun, clouds and water and they arrived just as dark descended in spot which thankfully had good holding, 7-miles shy of their Evaristo goal, in a tiny hamlet called Nopolo. All day strategy was discussed, and is continually developing. Shawn was wrangled to do internet research and contact diesel mechanics from the states and current ideas range from the do-it-ourselves stop in La Paz to pick up DHL’ed parts to sailing directly across to Mazatlan (where Dave has a flight connection (2/9) and there is a known diesel mechanic) to allow more time for the 170-mile-sans-engine crossing…

Friday morning dawned (1/29) and sails were set for a lovely downwind sail; 10-15-knots and slight 2-ft sea from the NW, drifter and sun with grey clouds over the mountains and a light morning drizzle near Evaristo. Stunningly beautiful. Another tiring day full of good sailing, the hook was set in Bahia Grande on Isla Partida, and the crew enjoyed some solid sleep in the moonlit anchorage. Awaiting e-mails with answers to engine questions, Chris and Dave enjoyed hiking around on Partida in the morning then sailed off of anchor in Bahia Grande and back onto anchor in Bahia San Gabriel at the southern end of Espiritu Santo (1/30).

There was a little trouble with no wind when passing by Candeleros and Isla Ballena but they waited it out basking in the sun and flat calm water just off of Puerto Ballena (the large bay with two islands south of Candeleros). Many powerboats with wakes went by and jet skis even came off of one. It's crazy being so close to La Paz again with a much different feeling than the Loreto/Escondido area. San Gabriel is a gigantic bay with shoaling very far out and gorgeous views back toward La Paz and Ballandra as the sun sets and rays disperse through the clouds. After getting weather from Don, this Sunday (1/31), day-6 of the adventure, will be spent on a hunt for hot springs to soak in on the east side of Espiritu Santo and more discussions about the strategy...

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