Monday, June 21, 2010

San Carlos Vortex (May 31 – Summer Solstice-ish)

It's nowhere as strong as the La Paz vortex, but we are still here. Tao dropped the hook in Bahia San Carlos on the final day of May and it has been project leading to project and more projects since then. Anchored in the entrance to the Bahia, starting when Shawn and Griz got there on Sunday the 6th, the SE swell rolled in and made life a bit bumpy in the middle of the night when the winds disappeared and Tao turned side to the swell. So, in the morning on Wednesday the 9th, we weighed anchor and motored inside of the mooring field and dropped our anchor in perfect little space protected by land between the marina entrance channel and moorings. Now in calmer waters, with extra hands and paws, the projects continued with extra fervor.


Yannie: So, what caused the engine failure leaving Mazatlan for the passage north? Well, it goes all the way back to when Chris replaced the head gasket. After Total Yacht Works finally determined the head was not warped Chris requested they put all the hardware back on and return it and he did the head gasket replacement himself. Although Chris has learned a ton about our diesel engine this season, he did not then know that as a standard diesel mechanics do not torque everything down until the block is in the engine. To make a long story short and so you don’t have to suffer through the play-by-play like we did, with the help of Omar, and excellent diesel mechanic based in Guaymas, we ruled out a broken fuel lift pump, found that the aft cylinder was not firing properly and finally determined that the nuts that hold the rocker arm assembly down were never appropriately torqued. After 67.1 hours of use, the aft rocker arm assembly loosened so much that the aft valve was no longer allowing air in or exhaust out.

We used a telescoping extendable 3-pound magnet (Christmas present from Shawn’s Dad) swept through the drain plug bolt and on the first sweep picked up all the missing parts! A second sweep found only one small speck of metal that was likely remains of the old failed head gasket. We are very lucky! A couple of oil changes, retorquing, readjusting the valves, replacing the rods and an unnecessary (but prudent) additional purchase of rebuilt fuel injectors with new tips (just to get the originals serviced and have a backup set) and Yannie was back up and running better than ever. So well, in fact that she wouldn’t shut off. Literally, we had to cut the fuel supply to stop the engine. After some minor trouble shooting, putting our original fuel injectors (readjusted, cleaned, and still 90% of original state) back in, it turns out that the newly acquired injectors also needed readjustment as one of the valves was getting stuck slightly open due of residue from old test that was not diesel. The newly acquired new tipped set is now installed again and Yannie is running in tip top shape.

Seahor: Our 2-hp Seahorse has been worked pretty hard this season. Chris has been maintaining her, but does frequently threaten to find a 9.9-hp to replace her. Having made it back to San Carlos, she’s received some extra TLC. Chris cleaned her spark plug and contacts, replaced the spark plug cable, and replaced her broken plastic handle with smooth wooden dowel. She is still awaiting new gear lube and complains when we pour poorly mixed gas into her, but has been performing so well, that she had no problem yesterday towing our neighbors from Iwa across the bay when their dinghy broke down.


Sails: We decided to have Tony Morelli add the insignia material that we haven’t yet sewed on ourselves, to our working jib (100%) to protect it from pulpit chafe. We look forward to using it! We also collected appropriate measurements for headsails and are on the hunt for a #1 genoa (135 – 150%).

Chainplates: The final beat into San Carlos on his journey north reminded Chris where all of our leaks are and that it was way past time to rebed our chainplates. We made this project bigger by deciding to fully pull our chainplates out and do a thorough inspection of all of our chainplates, deck holes, and hardware. Overall things looked okay, but we did find more projects. 30 years of leaking in our through-deck chainplates had led to a good deal of corrosion on the aluminum backing plates for all four lowers and also on the main weld for our uppers aluminum brackets (also called the chainplate’s “knees”). We pulled all of the hardware off, cleaned the salt and corrosion and asked Luis Hernandez (who does amazing stainless steel work), to fabricate new stainless backing plates and re-weld our aluminum “knees”. While he was at it, we also had him create an extended-handled-hand crank for our motor in the possibility that our electric start doesn’t work (otherwise our sink was in the way). Now our through-deck chainplates are no longer an unknown black box to us, instead they are inspected, reinforced, and nicely rebed with Sikaflex.


Computer work: Most importantly, our offshore Winlink communication systems were brought back up to speed downloading programs to and connecting our Fijitsu with the HAM radio to replace the old shipboard computer that gave up a couple months ago. Additionally, we have updated the backlog of blog entries with pictures that have been awaiting posting.

Kitty climber: Chris removed the carpet on the mast several months back and now that Grizzly is back aboard, she needs her scratching post. As carpet is in short supply around here and Chris has been envisioning something more “knot-ical”, we have decided to Moku Hitch 40-inches of mast, starting and ending it with Turk’s Heads, using 3/8 inch natural fiber twine. A fun group project that managed to take an entire day to complete, we are excited with the outcome. Hopefully Griz likes it, we’ll let you know…

Boat clean/reorganization/zincs changed: In addition to normal boat maintenance and bottom cleaning, zincs were changed (nearly gone after 6 months), all natural teak was oiled, and below decks was reorganized and deep cleaned. Unfortunately, it is already ready for another round of this never-ending task.

Provisioning: Another never-ending task, we have refilled both of our two 2.5-gallon propane tanks (still had fuel and hadn’t been filled since November 2009), filled our water tanks with 45-gallons of fresh water, and have made several trips to Guaymas to restock food stores. We've also refilled this air tank after using it for several hours to search for a stainless steel part lost overboard... Unfortunately with very poor underwater visibility, the part was not recovered. Oh well, you can't say we didn't try! Still on the list we need to fill our diesel tank and freshwater rinse Tao.

And if that wasn’t enough to fill up the past 3-weeks, we have even spent time doing things outside of the boat projects. Since we have Pepe here, we extended our MX car insurance, recharged her AC (AutoZone employees come out to your car and do it here for only the cost of the R134, less than $5 USD!) and have found a place to store her safely when we do head back into the Sea. We have also been keeping in close touch with Stateside family going through difficult and exciting times themselves.

Amidst all of this we have made some new friends, Randy and Jenny aboard Mystic/Dulcinea, having good eats, tea time, movie/popcorn, and even hiking over the hill to Martini Cove and the oasis of Nacapule Canyon. Getting out of our projects and talking and sharing with them has helped keep us sane during this unplanned work. In addition, we’ve been getting to know other boats in the anchorage that are working on projects (Iwa), or just passing through (Sea Monster, Harmony). We’ve also been listening into the HAM/SSB nets to get weather and trying to make contact with Team Young as everyone’s cruise tracks have drastically diverged. Since we’ve been working so hard, we’ve even been giving ourselves the luxury of daily freshwater showers at the marina after each day of long hot boat work is stopped. Although originally chomping at the bit to get on out of here to sail in the northern sea, we’ve instead chosen to stop the rushing and have been enjoying every moment together here as much as possible. We are doing all of this work to get sailing and do look forward to getting back under sail sometime this week.

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