Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 27, 2014 - San Jose Del Cabo to Mazatlan

Plans change and certainly our minds.  We had so many people tell us to head across to the mainland and then a bit south for warmer waters and air temperatures during the winter months.  We had a great weather window for us just as we were planning to leave San Jose Del Cabo, so we decided to take this advice and over.  We plan to spend approximately two months on the mainland coast and then head back to Baja and the Sea of Cortez as conditions there warm up after the winter cool down.  Seas on the 28 hour trip were extremely smooth.  Our last four hours we did have winds that built to 15kt and from the north, hitting our port side since we were actually running almost due east.  The stabilizers overheated once again so we now know the first occurrence was not a fluke.  A few similarities in each occurrence are that winds are 15kt or above with wind waves hitting the port side as well as running constantly for 24 hours or more.  The raw water cooling pump stops pumping and appears to be air locked.  Sometime it can be restarted by simply turning power off and back on, other times we have to alter course to be running with the sea before this will get the pump going again.  We need to sort out this problem before we return to Baja, as it is a long crossing, and without stabilizers the ride can be quite uncomfortable.  This leg crossing the Sea of Cortez took us the farthest from shore we have been on our trip so far, since the distance across was approximately 180nm.  At one point the nearest landfall was 90 miles, and were truly out in the middle of the ocean!

We saw a variety of wildlife, and the seas were smooth enough for water skiing.  Steve and I had thought of stopping and jumping in at one point when the water hit 76 degrees, but saw little jellyfish and decided not to.  We had wished for more whales but sightings were only as we were approaching Mazatlan.

Two times during our trip I was able to talk to our friends on the SSB radio.  They have an informal "net" at 9:15AM and 9:00PM on a specific frequency in the 8000KHz range (good for shorter distances).  In previous attempts since Ensenada I have been unable to hear their conversations.  I have been tinkering with the ground plane/counterpoise on the HF radio and apparently it has made a difference.  On this trip to Mazatlan I chatted two different times with Gary on "Sea Rover II".  He was back near San Jose Del Cabo at 9:00PM and we were 1/2 of the way across to Mazatlan.  That's about 90 miles away.  The next morning we were almost to Mazatlan and he was anchored at Los Frailes with a couple of other boats in our group.  We were about 160 miles away and it was a good clear conversation.  I will keep fine tuning our HF/SSB radio which we are relying on for receiving wetherfax images and also to participate in the local cruisers nets where all sorts of information is passed along between the boater's up and down this side of Mexico.  There are also several daily weather broadcasts on SSB and it is really the only way to get decent weather forecasts here when you do not have an internet connection.  The VHF does not have enough range to be of any use once you leave a major port city.

I (Steve) worked on our watermaker for the first few hours of our trip.  It has not been able to run when underway unless the seas were absolutely still.  If there is the slightest wave action air bubbles will pass along the hull and get sucked into the sea water intake, causing the water pump to become air locked,  The real solution is to move the intake lower in the water, but that's impossible on our boat since the keel is occupied with water, waste, and fuel tanks.  The intake is already as low in the water as I could get it.  I've been experimenting with a home-made air water separator for the last several passages.  It will work for while and I can see little air bubbles being purged from the water.  But when a large enough volume of air enters the intake, it stops working.  After moving the pump down to the intake strainer, and re-positioning the air/water separator so most of it is below the waterline, I am happy to report that it is finally working, even in rough water.  It can ingest a large volume of air without air locking the pump.  We were able to run the watermaker for our entire passage, even when  the seas got a bit rough when we neared Mazatlan.  What a relief, as we are finding that most of the marinas here do not have potable water on their docks.   We were able to replenish most of the water we have used since Santa Maria cove.  We can't run the watermaker while in a marina because of the increased pollution levels in this environment.  It will foul the expensive membrane and render the watermaker useless until the membrane is replaced ($300-$400).  Being able to run the watermaker while underway (being powered by the engine's alternator) will ensure that we always have enough water onboard, We can also run it in an anchorage and the solar panels will power it.  I think this system is finally dialed-in which is critical for us if we are going to be exploring remote locations in Mexico.

We are at the El Cid Resort and Marina, where we are enjoying their swimming pools and other amenities.  A bus runs from the front of the resort into Mazatlan which we will be using while we are here.  Our friends Neil and Jessie on "The Red Thread" were here when we arrived yesterday.  After we checked in with the port captain we stopped by their boat to say hi, but they were not onboard.  We went over to one of the pools for the afternoon and when we returned The Red Thread was gone.  They were here in Mazatlan picking up Neil's Mother and then sailing to Isla Isabella (the Galapagos of Mexico), and then to Puerta Vallarta.  After that they are headed south and eventually sailing over to Australia where they are planning to live for at least a few years, so we won't be seeing them again.  We will be staying in touch via email however.

Kathy reading (read two books on this crossing)

Bird hitching a ride on our bow rail.  Smooth seas.

This bird had a tag on one leg.  He was with us for quite a while.

He finally left and flew away.  I wonder where he is going?
It is 75 miles to the nearest land.

Some dolphins passing by.  

These little birds were about 75 miles from land, just floating out here until
we disturbed them.

Sunset looking west, about 12 hours into our trip

another sunset

spotlight off our bow

Underwater blue lights. Dolphins were amazing to watch in these
lights as they swam up to the bow to surf our bow wake,

a dolphin swimming with us

another dolphin off our bow

a walk at sunset in Mazatlan at the marina

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