April 21, 2005

Bahia los Muertos

We've been anchored in Bahia los Muertos since Sunday. Having some fun, but mainly diagnosing and fixing boat stuff.

We're going to head out tomorrow and head over to Caleta Partida on Isla Partida, in the Islands North of La Paz. It's about 55 miles from here. Should take us 7 or 8 hours to make the trip.

This is a lovely anchorage with clear water, though it's only 72 degrees F. We have been snorkeling, but mainly to check the anchor and clean the bottom of the boat.

When we got here, we noticed the large palapa on the beach along with a whole fleet of over 40 pangas. The pangas are used for fishing and we've seen only a dozen or so gone at a time. As this bay is just over 30 road miles from La Paz, the pangas are used mainly for day trip fishing expeditions for folks coming over from La Paz.

The palapa, it turns out, is the "Bay of Dreams" branch of the Giggling Marlin, a famous/infamous bar in Cabo San Lucas. We did eat there, but the food was mediocre and the prices were high for Mexico. It is a modern facility, however, with showers, a laundry, etc. To get to it, you need to land your dingy on the beach - something we've gotten a lot of experience doing.

What's funny is that when we asked the staff at the Palapa whose dreams and why the place is called the Bay of Dreams (figuring it was due to the fact that that's a better marketing name than "Bay of the Dead" (Bahia los Muertos), he said it was the dreams of the developer ;-}

At the other end of this little bay, is a resort that appears very modern and well lit at night. But if anyone is staying there, we haven't seen them... It appears very empty.

Lots are for sale here and there appears to be some construction (a bulldozer has been cutting a road on the nearby hill for the last few days), so it looks like this place is due for more development.

We're here with the 2 boats that we came across the Sea of Cortez with, Capella and Cherokee Eagle and another sailboat that arrived last night: Bahia Daydreams with Keith and Jeanette on board.

The first two nights were a bit exciting as katabatic winds arose from the South West at 3 AM the first night and 4:30 AM the second night we were here. Katabatic winds occur near mountains when the day has been calm - the higher elevation air in the mountains cools and becomes heavier than the hot air over the water - the air then comes pouring down the mountain and across the water. These are also called "down slope winds". They blew 25 knots sustained with gusts past 30 knots, but died totally at sun up. The last two nights these winds did not recur.

2 days ago Fortuitous arrived towing Semonship - friends of ours since the Baja Haha. Semonship's engine quit on the way over from Mazatlán. As they were buddy boating with Fortuitous, when the wind died and they couldn't make way sailing, they got a tow.

We all helped Semonship set their anchor. When Semonship got into position, they dropped their tow line and then their anchor. Mary and I were in our dingy and jointly with Craig and Roger in Cherokee Eagle's dingy we helped Semonship back down and begin to get their anchor set. Mary and I then took a long line from Semonship's stern over to Fortuitous's stern and they used their big engine to set Semonship's anchor firmly before casting off and going to anchor themselves. We took great care to anchor them properly in case the katabatic winds reoccurred. Much to everyone's delight, they didn't.

After a fruitless day, yesterday, trying to fix their engine, they left this morning - again being towed by Fortuitous towards La Paz and a diesel mechanic.

Ok, in case you can't make it through the following story, just wanted to let you know that when we were in the water - It was crystal clear with lot's of fish… Especially cute puffer fish that look and act like little fat puppy dogs. One night we grilled some steaks, we discarded some little fat chunks overboard. The fish went nuts! It was great to watch. Also, when we were cleaning the bottom, the fish would come up and gulp down the barnacles. Very entertaining.

Now begins some of the gory details of the cruising life…

When we got here last Sunday, I fired up the generator and then the fridge (We have a holding plate system in the fridge that needs to be run around once a day to chill down the plates). Within a few minutes, the fridge quit due to a lack of cooling water. On Raptor Dance, the Engine, Genset, Fridge and A/C all share the same through hull and raw water filter.

So it was diagnosis time. First I cleaned the raw water filter. There was some stuff in it (grass, sediment, a few barnacles). So I was suspicious that that cause the problem, so I got out our "Blast-it-Out" kit (from http://www.blastitout.com) and hooked it up to our deck wash down pump with our hose. I then back flushed the system from the engine raw water hose (the easiest to access). To reset the breaker for the refer, we had to take out the starboard propane locker and crawl through the transom to get to the reset button on the fridge compressor (not the best location for access!). Firing everything up, the fridge compressor ran and didn't reset (hooray!), but the water flow was pathetic. That was Sunday.

On Monday we caught up on our sleep (we were up from 3 to 7 doing an anchor watch with the winds), then went to the palapa for Lunch. Monday night, though, I tried running the A/C when we had our friends over playing dominoes (Mexican Train, Mary won) and it complained that it didn't have enough cooling water... Oh, boy, more work for Tuesday.

On Tuesday I back flushed the refer and A/C from their output through hulls back to the raw water unit and that seemed to help. I could run the refer fine (after one more crawl through the transom to hit that darned reset button).

On Wednesday, the fridge breaker tripped again. We then took most of the raw water system apart. After trying, unsuccessfully to get the big honkin 1 1/2 inch hose off either the through hull or the raw water filter, we resorted to running a probe from the filter down to the through hull. It seemed pretty clear. We then removed and disassembled the raw water manifold, it was clean. Next, we used the Blast-it-Out to back flush from the manifold hose through the raw water filter and out the through hull.

When we did this back flush, I held the Blast-it-Out and Mary worked the through hull. I would let the pressure build in the system and then Mary would open the through hull to let the water out. The objective here was to provide more force going through the system. I was a little tardy at first giving Mary the signal to open the through hull and got a face full of seawater as the water pressure blew back in my face… Just call me old face full!

Once we cleaned up the water that sprayed around the boat, I opened the raw water filter and found a cute little 1 inch long mussel that had grown up in our raw water system (as an embryo, it must have passed through our raw water filter before anchoring itself somewhere in the hose or manifold. Since most of the plumbing from the manifold on is 3/4 inch, this was probably the source of our troubles.

Then we reassembled and reinstalled the raw water manifold and put the strainer basket back in the raw water filter.

Just to be sure, I put on my tanks and dove on the through hull to clean it out from the outside and make sure the probe could work it's way in from the outside. And just to be sure I back flushed the refer and A/C output through hulls one more time.

One more journey through the transom to hit the reset button and low and behold everything was working with very good water flow from all the systems!!! Hurray!!!!

Today, everything fired up like a charm ;-}

There is a little water in the bilge though, it looks like the water heater may be leaking…. Ah the joys of cruising!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary
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