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.