Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Puerto San Bartoleme (Turtle Bay), 20 Mar 08

Note: {26 March} Apologies for the delay with this one. We had a bit of problems communicating home to get this chapter up on the blog. More tomorrow!

We have arrived in Turtle Bay safely but later than expected. The weather is nice and clear with hot daily temperatures as long as you are in the sun. The wind is still quite cool and it gets downright cold as the sun sets.

Saturday night before we left, Fran did some damage to herself when the main door latch slammed down on her finger. This brought Mike and Dove into action and after bandages and herbal drops Fran settled down to a night of throbbing pain from her, most likely, broken appendage.

After paying all the final bills, last minute shopping, returning the car and last minute good byes to the new friends we had made in San Diego it was time to get ready to leave.

We left San Diego at 2200 on Sunday the 16th of March. It was a clear windless night, as predicted, so spirits were high as we left the boatyard. As we cruised up the channel we devoured some chunks of dark chocolate covered caramel that Mike and Dove had acquired earlier that day to celebrate our departure. When we got to open water we were met by some 4-6 ft quartering swells, the remains of the weekend storm that had given us high winds, thunder, lightning and hail. Needless to say it was a rough
ride south and the rich chocolate caramels did not sit well. Unable to sail due to the light winds and high seas we were forced to power our way south.

While some of us were down with "Queasy Stomachs" Fran stepped up to the plate and stood her watch till 0400 with Dove keeping watch from her sleeping bag on deck.

We arrived at the Ensenada Baja Naval marina at 0935 the following morning where we checked in with the authorities. The check-in procedure was much easier than expected. Because of the volume of yachties that come here they have streamlined their services and have everything under one roof, including a bank teller position. Official government offices in Mexico cannot accept payments so normally you are sent to the nearest bank to complete monetary transactions. Just our luck, it was one of the
many Mexican holidays and we had to pay double for one of the items. It took about an hour to complete everything and we were back aboard to try and arrange fuel. (¼ the price in the US). We were told that the guy who normally delivers the fuel (by barrel) wasn't working today and that we should go to the Marina Coral, one mile up the coast where we could fuel at a modern alongside facility. Lesson learned about prior homework! We had to wait until late afternoon to leave due to tide and wind conditions
but we managed to move in late afternoon, fuel up and leave just before sunset.

As we were leaving J-G noticed that the windvane was hanging precariously by its upper bracket. That took about an hour to repair. Thank-God for spare parts! David N: if you read this, send me an e-mail and I'll give you the details. It looks like it could be a common issue with the Autohelm.

We left in much the same conditions as we had earlier but we also had some wind developing so we had our first sail under genoa for an hour until the breeze died off. We continued under power throughout the night towards our next stop, Turtle Bay, a good 2-day run.

Just after noon the next day a hellish racket developed from the engine, accompanied by smoke and the smell of burning rubber. Oh shit, what now? After shutting down a quick inspection revealed a seized idler pulley, the pulley that controls the tension to the belt driving the waterpump. Time for our second sail! Thanks to Mike's help we were able to free the pulley with some of the penetrating oils we had brought with us from Canada, however, without any idea how long it would last next time we
used it we decided to save the engine until it was absolutely necessary.

Just before sunset Dove noticed action on the fishing rod Mike had put out earlier. She brought in a nice 5 lb tuna. Since then we have had some nigiri, sushi, sashimi and great seared tuna, thanks to Mike's extraordinary culinary skills.

We continued under genoa, main and mizzen but with the wind almost dead astern we had to sail off our intended track losing precious time in the process. We continued like this for the next 2 days amending our plan as we slipped back. Our delay meant that we would arrive off Turtle Bay in the late evening with the prospect of entering after dark. Without the engine to recharge the batteries we had to conserve energy and hence the autopilot was turned off. With the quartering sea steering was very
tiring but everyone performed great, even the two landlubbers. Dove benefited, no doubt, from her short time in Robertson II and Pacific Swift 17 years ago.

By 1800 the wind began to die off and the chop we had experienced since we left San Diego disappeared. We ran up the engine but after an hour it engine overheated. This time we found that the pulley had actually fallen off its shaft. After fashioning a setscrew from a spare bolt we tried again but that didn't last more than 15 minutes. Our next repair was more thorough. We disassembled the bearing and found that it was badly worn but still useable, however, it was very loose and no longer pressed
into the pulley itself. This time we repacked it with grease and fashioned a large washer out of one of Fran's nylon spatulas to hold it in place and reassembled it with a prayer or two. This time it held fine and looks like it may last until Cabo unless we can get a new bearing here.

Just after midnight on the 20th we entered Turtle Bay under a full moon, light airs and calm seas. The setup was much like a naval "Special Sea Dutymen" exercise with lookouts, radar and GPS navigation set up and Fran steering from a position where she couldn't see anything. We anchored just off the town dock in 24 ft of water in the company of 2 other cruisers. Before turning in we had a few shots of tequila to celebrate a safe arrival.

We haven't seen too much wildlife so far but just as we entered Ensenada Dove saw a school of dolphins close alongside. There was also a grey whale, the following day, that Fran had to alter for. Hopefully there will be more but the El Nina is altering conditions all along the Pacific coast.

At sunset today we had a small ceremony on the bow where we had a gulp of 2-buck chuck, expressed our wishes for Gosling's future and then broke the rest of the bottle on the anchor fairlead. Only good luck from now on…….

The plan is to remain here over the weekend. Dove and Mike will leave us here for Cabo on Sunday and we will depart early next week for Magdalena Bay. We have some exploring to do here first.

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