Tuesday, January 22, 2013


We sailed in to Mazatlan on Sunday after a 6-day passage from La Cruz, just in time to watch the 49ers beat the Falcons for the NFC title and their first trip to the Super Bowl since 1994.  I got to see the Giants take the World Series in a little restaurant in Barra and am now looking forward to watching the Super Bowl here in Mazatlan -- a city with no shortage of sports bars and gringo hangouts.  And, now I hear that the Warriors are actually winning games and becoming a powerhouse in the West.  What an odd and amazing season for Bay Area sports.  Of course it all happens after I sell the big screen TV and sail to Mexico.  WTF?

All that aside, we're excited to finally see Mazatlan.  We had planned to stop here on our way north to the Sea of Cortez last spring but, as you know, that didn't happen.  And, if it weren't for the ongoing engine issues we would not be here now.  The primary reason to sail north from La Cruz for 4 days against the prevailing winds was to get the engine checked out by a reputable mechanic -- that was really the driving force behind this decision.  A decision made all the more difficult after spending a week catching up with our friends in La Cruz.  So, as they all prepared to sail south down the coast we, regrettably, said our goodbyes and pointed our bow north.

We didn't get very far that first day.  Strong northerly winds blowing down the Sea forced us to spend two nights anchored at Punta de Mita, waiting out the weather with a dozen or so other boats.  We punched our way around the point early Wednesday morning for a day sail to Jaltemba, which is a big rock with a sandy little anchorage on the lee side.  Pangas and fishing boats prevented us from tucking in as close as we'd liked and, as a result, spent a very rolly night on the boat as the swell wrapped around the rock.

The next morning, after whacking a few pelicans with a oar to get them off the boat, we set sail for San Blas/Matanchen Bay.  Matanchen Bay has been getting a lot of bad press lately due to an increasing number of dinghy thefts, causing most of the cruising fleet to stay in the San Blas marina or avoid the area altogether.  We sailed in around 2 PM and were the only boat in the large bay.  By late afternoon we were joined by two other boats and had a peaceful night in the calm water with our outboard locked, chained and cabled to the stern pulpit.

We got another early start on Friday morning as we motor-sailed north for the overnight passage to Mazatlan.  I estimated a 30-hour passage and expected to be motor-sailing the entire way in to the projected 10 to 12-knot north-westerlies.  So, it came as a nice surprise when we shut down the engine in the afternoon and rolled out the jib.  We managed to sail close hauled in 10 to 15-knot wind and relatively flat water, making good progress north through most of the night as a parade of humpback whales made their way south.  We sailed for more than a third of the way and by Saturday morning weaved our way past the long lines floating for miles on the surface and dropped the hook at the Stone Island anchorage near the old harbor.

We were the only sailboat in the anchorage that night and would later learn that the port captain temporarily closed the anchorage for cruising boats due to, again, an increasing number of dinghy thefts.  Apparently, the last one occurred at knife point, however, I'm not sure how accurate that report is or what the circumstances were at the time.  After more than a year in Mexico we have yet to experience a single negative encounter with the Mexican people.  And, although there is a well-known problem with dinghy thieves in a few particular anchorages, violent crime is extremely rare in the coastal towns and harbors.  With this in mind we had little reservations using the anchorages as we sailed north, but made sure everything was locked up tight.

On Sunday morning, after an uneventful night at Stone Island, we motor-sailed the final 12 miles north to Marina El Cid.  We motored in to the narrow channel at noon, timing the slack tide perfectly and were met on the dock by our good friends Reg and Phoebe from Three Sheets.  Ironically, we spent many months with Three Sheets back in Barra dealing with engine breakdowns and lamenting our unfortunate choice in mechanics only to find ourselves in Mazatlan nine months later dealing with the same engine problems.  The difference this time is we have a competent mechanic to work with.

Bob from Total Yacht Works came out to the boat yesterday to check out the engine.  We are dealing with a couple issues at the moment.  The first problem is that we can't run the engine over 2400 RPM without overheating and the second problem is that it's burning a quart of oil every 12 or so hours of run time.  Problem #1 is most likely caused by a prop that is too big, over-pitched, or both.  Problem #2 is most likely caused by new rings that have not seated because of Problem #1.  The good news is we have an adjustable pitch Max-prop on the boat.  The bad news is that you need to pull the boat out of the water to adjust it...doh!  So, the first plan of action is to haul the boat and re-pitch the prop to see if we can drive the engine at a higher RPM and get the rings to seat.  If that fails, we'll be looking at another rebuild.  I'm hoping to haul the boat sometime within the next week and will probably spend a couple days painting the bottom while it's out of the water.  Then it's back out the channel to drive around in big circles putting more hours on the engine -- déjà vu all over again.  That should keep me busy until the game starts.
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Anonymous said...

wow I can't believe the engine problems, come back to Marshall street for the summer.
Robert your neighbor