Sunday, December 1, 2013

Going Home

La Paz: We spent a week in La Paz. We were able to get two more batteries that match the ones we bought in Loreto and they actually delivered them right to the boat at Marina Palmira. We LOVE La Paz.  You can get almost anything you need here. Boat services and supplies are readily available, there are big supermarkets and good produce stands, good dentists and doctors, really nice restaurants, great little inexpensive taco stands, and everything in between. It’s also possible to ride bikes almost anywhere you need to go, or you can walk, and taxis are abundant and inexpensive. We LOVE La Paz. There is a very large boating community here so there are always people we know and someone always can tell you where to find something you need.  We LOVE La Paz. It’s within hours or a day or two away from lots of little islands and good anchorages. There are several large marinas here so it’s a good place to leave your boat while you fly/drive home – which is what we are doing now.
Loomba-Loomba is all buttoned up and we have friends checking the dock lines, etc..

Getting to the Car in San Carlos:
There were a few options:
1.     A cab to Pichilingue, a ferry to Topolobampo, a bus to Guaymas, and a cab to San Carlos. (depending on the ferry/bus schedule this might require a stay in a hotel one night)
2.     A cab to the bus in La Paz, a bus to Santa Rosalia, a ferry to Guaymas and a cab to San Carlos. (this would also require a hotel in Santa Rosalia)
3.     A cab to the La Paz airport, a plane to Guaymas, a cab to San Carlos.

We chose #3, which was about the same cost overall, but involved much less time.
We rode our bikes way out to the Aero Calafia office and bought two tickets for November 30th .

So we caught a cab to the airport at 6:15 am, checked in at 6:45, got on the plane at 7:30 and we took off at 7:40 – 10 minutes early.  We flew right over some of the anchorages we have come to know so well and it was fun to see them from the air. 

Aero Calafia 12 Passenger Prop Plane

Leaving La Paz

Isla San Francisco with San Evaristo and Baja in the Background

Getting close to Guaymas

Going in for a landing

Almost there

We arrived in Guaymas 9:10 (about 20 minutes early), got a ride to San Carlos with one of the other passengers on the plane, got dropped off at the car, took the cover off, re-connected the batteries, got gas, a quick taco for breakfast and we were on the road at 10:45 headed for Tucson.

As I write this we are on the I-10 headed to Long Beach to visit Drew for a couple of nights before heading north to SF to visit Dave (Jim’s brother) and then Eugene to visit Gretchen (Chrissy’s sister) before arriving home.  Of course, if Simon decides to make his arrival early our plans will change.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Baja: Isla Coronados to La Paz

Once again our plans changed. We had the best crossing of the Sea of Cortez that we've ever had. Perfect sailing conditions.  Except for motoring out of the marina and starting the engine to anchor we sailed the entire 22 hour passage. All was great on Loomba-Loomba.

Sunrise during the crossing of the Sea of Cortez from
San Carlos on the mainland to Isla Coronados on Baja
However, when we woke up the next morning anchored at Isla Coronados the house batteries were dead and weren't taking a charge when we ran the engine. With the help of a couple of other cruisers it was determined that the electronic read out for the charging system was not reading correctly and the batteries were toast.  Thank goodness we have a brand new starter battery!
We decided to head into Puerto Escondito, rent a car,  and drive to Loreto to get new batteries.
Heading into Puerto Escondido we couldn't believe how
 green everything was. They had a lot more rain this summer
than they have had for several years. The first year we were
 there it had not rained for three years.
There were only 2 batteries in the whole town that were the correct battery and we needed 4. We bought the two and got by with those, thinking we would get the other two in Mazatlan when we arrived there. 

So we headed to Agua Verde. 

Everything seemed good and we had a great sail.
It was a gorgeous day, some dolphins swam with us, and
we caught two fish (skip jacks which we threw back but it's always 
exciting to have a fish on - edible or not).

South Side of Bahia Agua Verde
Lots of green and lots of wildflowers

Looking out to the entrance into Agua Verde
from a ledge along the south shore
 We had a great stay in Agua Verde - swimming, snorkeling, beachcombing and doing a few boat projects. We watched our electrical usage and ran the engine a couple of times and everything seemed good. When we headed south again and after about an hour of motoring the read out was telling us that the batteries were not fully charged, but the engine and solar panels had quit charging them.

We decided to head all the way to San Evaristo and hang out there 
(a very well protected anchorage) until we could sort out the problem.

San Evaristo

While we were there Jim checked the alternator and found one connection that was a bit loose. He cleaned it all up, put it all back together and everything seemed fine. So we stayed there a couple of days waiting for a weather window to head across the Sea to Mazatlan. When the time was right we left  Evaristo heading southeast to go between Isla San Jose and Isla San Francisco, but after about an hour the read out was doing the same thing again: saying the batteries were not full, but they were no longer taking a charge. We were very leary of a 50 hour crossing with no running lights, radar, AIS, or GPS so we decided to stop at Isla San Francisco and use our sailmail to try to secure a slip in La Paz.

The south end of Isla San Jose
We are now in La Paz and we think the charging problem was simply that the new batteries have a lower capacity than our old batteries so the setting on the read out was wrong and it was telling us the batteries were not full when they really were and therefore the solar controller and the regulator were diverting the charge (just like they should). We won't know for sure until we get the two additional batteries (hopefully tomorrow) and test the whole system, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.

So today we purchased our tickets to FLY across the Sea of Cortez on November 30th (La Paz to Guaymas) to pick up our car and drive home. Simon is due on December 13th and we want to be there in plenty of time so we don't miss his arrival!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Heading to Baja

It's been a hectic two weeks. Six days were spent driving up to Palm Springs, and back and forth twice to San Pedro/LA, back to Palm Springs and then back to San Carlos. We'll be glad not to be in the car for awhile, although the Mexico part of the trip is always more interesting than the U.S. part.
There's always stuff for sale along the road:

It's chile season.....

And there are shrines where people have died in accidents:

The border crossing wasn't bad for a Saturday and the border patrol guy we got knew what a life raft was so we didn't have a problem getting through without opening it. (Thank Goodness)

There was a gorgeous sunset in Tucson that night:

The next day (Monday) we got to Palm Springs in time for a dip in the pool. In the morning we were heading to the freeway to San Pedro and our power steering pump went out and was spewing power steering fluid all over. We called AAA and a tow truck was there in half an hour, we were at the auto repair shop with a diagnosis, an estimate, a promise it would be done the next day, and a rental car delivered within an  hour and we were back on the road to San Pedro with the life raft.

The life raft technician, Fernando, was great. He opened it up while we were there and showed us how it inflates, every thing that is in it,  and what he actually would do to re-certify it. He was in the middle of doing 42 twenty-five man rafts for the Navy, but he took the time to get ours done so we could pick it up in two days (it needs to sit inflated overnight so they're sure there are no leaks).
The twenty-five man life rafts.
Fernando unpacking.

Some of the contents - there's even a fishing line.

Our life raft looks pretty small next to those big 25 man models.

Life rafts waiting to be re-packed.
We had dinner with Drew that night and then drove back to Palm Springs. The next day (Tuesday) we did some shopping for necessary items like cheese, chocolate and a few boat items, had some pool time, and did laundry (there's a washer/dryer in the condo unit).
Wednesday we did another round trip to San Pedro to pick up the life raft.
Thursday morning we were back on the road to Tucson and then San Carlos.
We had all the required paperwork for the liferaft, so legally we had nothing to declare. We went through the "nothing to declare" line at the border and luckily got a green light (not red) so we breezed right through and were back on Loomba-Loomba by late afternoon on Friday Nov. 1.
When we got back the machine shop had the outboard ready and Danny the mechanic put it back together and it's running again. The new dinghy fits in the davits with a few minor adjustments. The sails are on (after a trip up the mast).
Here are some shots of Marina Real and Loomba-Loomba from the spreaders:

We're still going through lockers - purging and making room for the stuff we brought down (while we still have the car to put things in). We have to go up the mast one more time to put the running backs and radar reflector up, Jim has a little engine maintenance to do, the wind vane steering needs to be hooked up and the surveyor needs to finish.
Loomba-Loomba is clean and looking good!
We're planning on heading across to Baja Saturday (a 14-24 hour passage depending on weather and wind), spending a couple of weeks cruising south, and then crossing over again to Mazatlan on the mainland. We're leaving Loomba-Loomba in Mazatlan while we go home for our first grandchild's birth and for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ready to Splash..................

Well, we are splashing tomorrow!

After a quick trip down to Mexico with a packed car and a dinghy on the roof we checked into the condo that we rented in San Carlos last year only to find that they had no wifi anymore and the price had almost doubled. After three days of being told that the tech guy would come at 4:30 we packed up at 5:00 on day three and found a new place: Los Jitos Hotel.  I don’t know how many rooms there are, but it is BIG. Our room has a kitchen, AC, hot water, wifi and room cleaning with fresh linens every day. It’s also only five minutes from the boat yard where we go every day from 8 to 5 to work on Loomba-Loomba. All for $175/week US$!

We haven’t tried to find out its history yet, but it appears that it must have been pretty fancy in its day and is now suffering from deferred maintenance.  There is now a Best Western and a big, fancy hotel down by Marina San Carlos – both newer than Los Jitos.  The first couple of nights we were the only guests and THEN the weekend came……………….apparently there were four weddings in San Carlos Saturday night.  People started arriving about 4am Saturday morning. Loud music, horns honking, and major partying. When we got back from the boat yard everyone was all gussied up and heading out to their weddings. We had a nice quiet night until about 4am again when they all brought the parties back to the hotel. When we got back from the boat yard Sunday evening we were alone again. Here are some pictures of Los Jitos after the wedding goers were gone.
Moonrise view from our balcony

Our room at Los Jitos

The central Plaza of the Hotel Los Jitos

One of the many hallways - deserted.

Another deserted hallway.

Loomba-Loomba is in good shape, but there is ALWAYS something that delays the best of plans. The first thing was that the cutlass bearing was a bit loose so we opted to replace it now. The guy who is doing our survey for our insurance was going up to Tucson so we called Fisheries Supply in Seattle and ordered one to be shipped to him in Tucson. He picked it up and delivered it to us a few days later in the boat yard. 
The second delay is the outboard. It had some issues last year. We took it to Danny the mechanic last spring to get it diagnosed. It needed an electronic part (expensive and unavailable here) so we brought one back with us. He put it in, changed the impeller and tried to get a screw out to lube the lower end – he couldn’t get the screw out so we have to take it to the machine shop in Guaymas (they did a bunch of stainless work for us last year) to get the screw drilled out and a new hole drilled. We are taking it to Guaymas Friday when we go to the government bank that has to issue the paperwork to get our re-packed life raft and re-galvanized chain back into Mexico without having to pay duty. Like I've said before – nothing is simple or quick here. We are counting on it being ready when we get back from Palm Springs – we shall see.

The third delay is our life raft, which needs to be repacked (insurance requirement). The closest certified place is in San Pedro, CA. So Saturday we are heading up to stay in Palm Springs for a few days to take the life raft in for re-packing and (maybe) the chain to be re-galvanized. Of course while we’re there we’re going to have to hit Costco and Trader Joes – at least for some good cheese and good chocolate!
Jim and Arturo having a discussion about the shaft and prop.

The Marina Real work yard is much smaller and cleaner
than the yard in Guaymas where we were last year.
So Loomba-Loomba has new bottom paint, a new cutlass bearing, a sparkling clean shaft and re-greased max-prop, new zincs and the “out of the water” part of the survey has been done.  She’s ready to splash and SO ARE WE