Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ken's Story

We flew into GYM, Mexico airport ( Guyamas, Sonora, United States of Mexico) for a relaxing two week sailing vacation in San Carlos during the middle of October, 2006. The sun was out and the temperature was a warm 82 deg F. All looked great.

Then came our luggage…Oh My G—my army duffle bag has a white spot on it and has a black plastic bag around it. White paint was everywhere. Of course, I punched the “red light/green light” system…and I got a red light…meaning that all of my bags had to be unpacked. Every one was great…and assisted me in wrapping up one quart of blue white Interlux topside paint (after making sure it was just that). I tossed it in the back of the van…careful not to get paint on anything else, off to Marina Real in San Carlos.

I should’ve known that this was an omen for the next two weeks…but I was here to do a quick bottom paint and get off shore with Candy. This was supposed to be the trip that encouraged her to sail in the Sea of Cortez…perfect weather and light winds.

We had arranged to have the boat hauled out the next day…however, we could not stay on her when she was hauled…so Candy went into San Carlos to get a room at the Best Western (seems we have been there before). When she came back, we went to fire up the Taylor “cooker” (galley stove to you Yanks)…a gush of kerosene came out of the main line. WOW!! This is a new unit…but sure enough the stainless braided line had a hole in it. Probably due to the dry warm climate she was sitting in for 7 months.

Oh yes, did I mention that I moved the Merc outboard out of the cabin and pulled on the starter cord…it was froze. It worked fine when I left. Of course the whole boat was dusty (I leave a hatch open under the hard dingy)…so clean up was also in order.

We went into San Carlos (shuttle ride) for a new stove line and to get the outboard fixed. Of course the Merc dealer (yes, they have one) does not repair these…but there is a guy that will. Nope…no hoses available…but in Guyamas there is a place that will build one.

Just as I am ready to take the Merc to the person that repairs them…a young fellow (Nacho) came and grabbed the motor…yes, he would repair it and he was the fellow that was going to help me paint the bottom of the Noe Mar the next day.

OK, go for the bus and take off for Guyamas. Believe it or not, the hose place was on the main road into town and it was bright yellow…easy to spot. We got off, the fellow’s shop was pristine…and he made up a hydraulic hose to match the old one. OK, so it isn’t as pretty…but I assure you it will last longer than I will. There two things done plus a place to sleep.

That night while sleeping on the Noe Mar, Candy heard “critters” munching on our hull…Toredos???? I hope not…but as I laid my ear to the sole (floor to you land lubbers)…I too heard them crunching away. What have I done…taking the Noe Mar to the warm waters??

The next day, we motored the Noe Mar over to the hydraulic lift and off she went to the yard…and did she need it badly. Well, I had painted her bottom a year ago and I had a diver 6 months ago in La Paz…but she needed new paint and the hull cleaned. Nacho showed up and he started scraping with big flat scrappers….he knew these barnacles and he knew the “snapping shrimp “ (or so they are called…and these critters were the ones making the noise…not chewing on the hull…but rather expanding and growing themselves…what weird looking beasties). He rushed off and bought me a gallon of the most expensive purex (bleach) that I ever bought (but hey, he had to drive to town…etc)…I needed more bottom paint (I know where to buy it now) so his buddy brought over some partial gallons and we blended…scraped and painted the bottom. I found the rudder needing some “under water epoxy”…and I have that on board…so a minor repair to halt any further delaminating. The rudder base is bronze and I have tapered two layers of bonded plywood over it to streamline it and John Simpson (Burnaby, BC) redesigned it’s shape. Oh yes, I do believe this haul out cost around $700 USD (in cash…no Visa or Master Card here)…for all labor, bleaching the hull, the paint and the in and out fees.

That night we had a nice dinner in San Carlos and a great rest at the Best Western Hotel. The next day the Noe Mar went back in…and the Merc came back repaired ($180 USD). OK…in one more day we will sail.

I undid the sail covers, hanked on a working Jib along with the Ginny…I was ready for light winds or heavy winds (afternoons were breezy). We motored out of the Marina and into the bay…ready to go out to sea. I hoisted the main and the working Jib (hate feeling nausea) after hoisting the Mizzen…just then Candy hollered…smoke!!! I ran back and shut the engine down (oops, forgot to tell you the kill cable on the engine froze while we were gone and no one had a new one…so I had to lift the engine cover and turn it off by hand). I took loose the belt off the water maker (where else was smoke coming from?)…fired the engine up again…the temp alarm went off….I shut her down…unscrewed the front of the engine and opened up the impeller pump. Don’t loose one screw into the bilge, I said…and sure enough I quickly lost one. However, the impeller was indeed shot. I installed a new one (yes, I did have one on board)…meanwhile as the boat was rocking, I was getting greener. I got it back together…Candy yelled that she couldn’t steer the boat and we coming up on rocks. I came on deck…rounded the boat around…looked at these rocks that were 100 feet away (as She said)…calculated them to be about 1-2 miles on the Starboard side (but they are scary) and fired up the engine. The temp. Gauge read OK…but there was smoke coming up from down below…damn.

I decided to sail into San Carlos, anchor, take the dingy in the next day and get a new screw for the impeller and try to find were the smoke was coming from. I would anchor in the same bay I did last April (it is listed in Cunningham’s book). Bad choice…there is a great place to anchor just inside the entrance to the bay for the San Carlos Marina…but hindsight is always 20/20.

It rocked and rolled all night and the next day the waves were choppier than before. We unloaded the hard dingy…put the Merc on her and went to shore. Buried the Merc under the dingy and walked into town. Got the screws and another impeller…and now back to the boat.

Have you ever gotten a hard dingy over a rough surf??? We didn’t either…damn near ruined my wife (what a sport…I thought the dingy did her in at least twice)…dumped the motor several times…turned it over each time by hand…and then fired her up and shut her down.

Candy suggested we hire a Panga to take us to the Noe Mar…I was frustrated and said no one would do that. Fortunately, she was right and I was wrong…for $130 (Mexican…$13 USD) a panga operator took us to the boat….and then yelled (in espanol) that this was NOT the place to anchor. Boy was he right.

Yes, by this time the chain had drug (I left the GPS on)…but we got aboard.

We sailed back to Marina Real (about 20 miles around the point) and I fired up the smoking motor just as we sailed close to the entrance (yes, I took all the sails down).
Whew! We were home.

The next day, I hired Nacho and a buddy to drive into San Carlos and bring back the dingy/Merc/oars…this they did for $15USD/each. I put the dingy in the water and motored over to the Noe Mar. Yeah! The Merc worked.

I figured I had to find what was going on with the main engine…I pulled the hoses off the heat exchanger (like an internal radiator)…and there were pieces of the impeller…but I wanted to check for more bits and pieces in the heat exchanger. I was just ready to drill a hole in the back of the settee…when Candy (is she always right?? But a great person to have around) said “pull up the flooring under the stairs”. Off course, I thought it was screwed in..but to prove it to her, I started to remove parts of the engine box and the electrical panels. OOPs…I had requested the shipwrights to make everything accessible, and they had. The sole (floor) panels in the entryway…were fit into place like a glove. I got the heat exchanger out and cleaned it…….but WOW! the Vetus water lock was melted. This shut down our sailing. As it turns out, even West Marine doesn’t sell them anymore…so when home I ordered one from Canada.

We cleaned the Noe Mar inside, went to dinner…rowed out to the bay (great fun) walked the deluxe home area (very spendy homes)…bought fish and great food from a local dealer (out of the back of his Nissan truck). Great food, Great cervasa, great company…Candy reorganized the boat and filed everything away.

Next few days I went to use the rebuilt Merc on the hard dingy (we had rowed the Tinker…which is a soft dingy and a life boat)…and as I was coming back to the Noe Mar…it seized up. So much for the repair job.

Off to San Carlos to the Merc dealer (who is also a West Marine dealer)…this time we make arrangements to take it to the San Carlos Marina dry dock where they tore it apart and found a main roller bearing destroyed. It is still there waiting for parts from the USA.

We flew home…question…will Candy ever sail with me again??? I am hoping to fix everything and then see what happens next.

Stay tuned…………Skipper…….Ken Scott

Vacation with Candy

NoeMar's sailing trips
Hi Everyone,

Thought I would give you all an update on our adventure. This is my story and I’m sticking to it!

We headed out as planned on Monday and discovered our engine was overheating. The wind was light so I had trouble controlling the rudder – no speed. Ken was down below trying to figure out what was happening with the engine. We had a fair amount of wave action so were really rocking and rolling. Headed North but barely moving and in my estimation every rock was trying to reach out and get us. The swearing continued as Ken discovered the impeller was smashed and therefore little water was moving through the engine to cool it. He had a new impeller on board and proceeded to change it. With the boat moving all over the place it was difficult and he lost a screw down the bilge. The gasket did not seal well and the engine was not being cooled.

I suggested we head south to San Carlos where we were familiar with the area and could get to a Marine store should we need one. Ken by default agreed because by this time he wasn’t feeling well. At around sunset we reached a spot we anchored in last year. It felt good to get out of the sun. Unfortunately the calm did not last long. At about 2:00 am the surf was rolling, the wind was blowing and we were bounced every which way. I keep waking up fearful we were dragging our anchor. Ken snored through much of the night.

The next morning Ken assessed the situation and decided we needed to launch the dingy and head for the marine store for screws. We were dragging our anchor but in a rather circular motion so we had some time. It was dicey going to shore but we managed until the last wave. Yes, we landed in the water (warm water). Wet we walked to the marine store, stopped and got an ice cream cone (the only food for about 12 hours) and made our way back to the beach. The waves had picked up and were breaking close to shore.

I spent a lot of my teenage years around the water in Santa Cruz. My dad and I would take our canoe out through the surf. You had to be fast, get your rear end in the boat and paddle like crazy to keep the waves from breaking over the top of you. I remember a day a few of us got together and decided to launch a rubber raft the same way. After being drug through the sand, overturned and pounded about four times we made it out. I never did find my tennis shoes and was sure half of the sand on the beach was in my bathing suit.

So here Ken and I are with a very heavy old dingy trying to get back to our boat. We have oars, a small outboard, bigger rear ends than we use to have and less muscle. This insanity lasted through 5 or 6 tries. Twice the boat capsized and I landed under it. The last time I suggested Ken get in the boat and I push him out. It looked like it was working and I turned away to walk out of the surf and then turned to see Ken and the boat coming back at me. I was done! My suggestion was we go back to the marina and get a ride to the boat. Ken was hesitant – Ken is stubborn – Ken was mad.

We talked to the ice cream man and he found a fellow to give us a ride out to the boat. Ken kept thinking of ways we could go back with our raft and get the dingy. My eyes and mind glazed over.

About twenty minutes passed as the man did some maintenance to his outboard and then we headed out. As we got the closer to our boat the man got more excited. He motioned a lot and said a bunch of words – none of which we understood – except playa. Fear is a universal language – we needed to get out of where we were quickly! Our anchor was dragging and it was not a good anchorage under current conditions.

Ken took the impeller out put a new gasket in and tightened it all together. Still not getting any water flow through the exhaust and we needed to move. We took up the anchor and 100ft of chain. Started the engine to get out and began sailing back to our dock. Again the wind was behind us and not strong. The waves were rolling and we weren’t making any time without our mainsail. Ken put the mainsail up and I tried to stay out of the sun. By sunset we made it back to the entrance of Marina Real. Turned on the engine and Ken nicely docked the boat.

When the engine overheated it melted a hose and fitting – have to order it – takes two week
s. No more sailing.

I’ve been reading, doing laundry, a little judoka and healing all the bruises on my right side. Feel like I’ve been run over by a wooden dingy.


The beauty of the Sea of Cortez

As Candy made it to the top of a housing developement above Marina Real in San Carlos...she took this picture of the view looking out over the Sea of Cortez. I, for one, wish I were 20 years younger when I started this venture...this is a great place to spend many years sailing around. Stunningly beautiful. Glad I have gotten this far. Posted by Picasa

Vetus Waterlock

For those that are familiar with marine will notice that the exhaust pipe goes to the bildge...seems the vetus water lock, which is made of plastic, melted, as did part of the exhaust hose. Lesson #1...replace your water impeller every year if using your engine at all...or every 1.5 years if it sits at the dock. Seriously, and if used a ton (naughty, naughty for sail boats) then replace it every 6 months. Of course being of Scottish blood...I didn't. Now I carry 3 of them on board and have dated the time it was replaced.

Oh yes, the Vetus had to come from Canada and I have made a new replacement emergency system in case of any future problems.

Seems, I am not the only one to melt these Reese Palley's book "Call of the Ancient Mariner" (he was going to name it something about Old Farts Sailing...but the pubisher said NO). By the way, that book is a good read for us "Old Farts"...not sure I agree with everything he says...but hey, he has sailed more than I have. Might mention, for the other Ancient Ones out there...when sailing any your GRIB files (from 2 sources if possible) and take on a crew that is at least 20 years younger than you and has some experience. I, for one, will not take my wife (even though she is 10 years younger than I) as the only crew member (she says, never on the high seas :-) but rather have at least one person that has some experience and is 40 or under in age. Well, if one has a ton of experience...then that may be different. I have been lucky with all of my crew...they have been easy to live with and most of them were vegetarians or fish and only one smoked and he (my nephew) was very carefull only to smoke on watch , or never, when sailing the Noe Mar. Posted by Picasa

Marina Real, San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Candy walked up the hill from the marina...yes the Noe Mar is one of those white sticks :-)

We have found the moorage and setting beautiful and very nice. There is a free shuttle into town during the day...but in the evening you must take a taxi back.

Not far in back of the marina is a RV place and a nice resturant/hotel. Posted by Picasa

Marina Real, San Carlos

Since the Noe Mar is stuck in the harbor (waiting for parts), Candy is relaxing and working on Sudoku. Not sure this is I am drinking crevasa and vino...OK, so I washed all the dishes also. Posted by Picasa

Candy making it shipshape

That evening, after melting our vetus exhaust...and being anchored off San Carlos, Candy prepares the Noe Mar for the evening. Posted by Picasa

Anchored off San Carlos, Mx

The blur is due to the small but consistent wave action. That night we really were tossed around due to large swells. Beautiful anchorage but not a safe one. Posted by Picasa

Noe Mar hauled

Just finished removing a ton of barnacles off her hull and repainted/new zincs/ready to put back in. This is the San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico yard. Had lots of help from the local workers. Posted by Picasa