Well, we’re not where we expected to be tonight. I figured we’d either be at Isla Monserrate, Caleta Candaleros Chico or Bahia Candaleros, maybe even at Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante. I certainly didn’t expect to be tied to a mooring ball at Puerto Escondido. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Here’s what happened:
We got up as normal with every intention to get underway about 10:00 or so. Had breakfast and went about our normal pre-trip duties. While I was checking the engine oil, I noticed that it was down about a pint or a little more. That seemed a little strange since it hasn’t really ever used any oil but I did have to add a little before our last trip. Then, when I took the filler cap off the valve cover to add the oil, there was a bit of the grey sludgy stuff that usually indicates water and oil mixing. But, the oil in the crankcase, at least as it showed on the dipstick, showed no signs of saponification. Not much I could do about it at Agua Verde so I decided to take a chance and go for it. I fired the engine up but it took longer to fire than normal. This has been happening ever since I did the rewiring following the meltdown at Timbabiche. Probably have a too-small wire between the starter and the battery. When the engine did fire up, it kept surging: changing RPMs up and down about 200 RPMs. Didn’t seem to matter if I was going 1500 RPMs or 3000, it still kept surging (or maybe the term is “hunting”). This also happened the last time I ran the engine (or was it the time before that?) but it quit after I revved it up a couple of times. It quit this time, too, but not until I dropped down to idle speed. And the surge didn’t come back after that.
I thought it might be a fuel problem and so, decided to switch primary fuel filters. I was operating on a clean one but it seemed like ever since I changed filters last time and switched to this one (remember: I have two filters in parallel) it’s been taking a bit longer to start and it certainly didn’t surge before that. That’s probably bogus, but a guy grasps at straws sometimes. Anyway, I opened the engine compartment door to change filters and, in doing so, found a very hot wire between the battery and the alternator and from there to the starter. Switched filters but it didn’t miraculously change anything. It wasn’t until I dropped the RPMs way down that the surge stopped.
So, anyway, we got underway alright and proceeded to motor towards our next destination. Did I mention that there hasn’t been any wind for the last 4 days at least? On my mind were three items: Where did the oil go? Where did the water under the valve cover come from? and Why is the engine surging? Oh yeah, and why is it so hard to start now?
But that’s only 4 things and they all have to do with the single most expensive item on the boat, the diesel engine. Surely there’s something else I could worry about. Turns out there was, although it’s probably not near as big a deal.
Lately, when we’ve been motoring along, the bilge pump occasionally comes on and won’t shut off. Well, the reason it won’t shut off is because it’s just sitting loose in the bilge and the float switch gets hung up on the sidewall and won’t drop. But why is it coming on? After the last time it got hung up, I decided to take it out of AUTO so as not to drain the battery. Figured I’d just run it in HAND periodically. Well, I did that and a lot more water pumped out than I would have thought likely. A few more hours and I pumped a bunch out again. OK, where the heck is this water coming from? And why?
I checked the under-the-sink thru-hulls. All nice and dry. Checked the dripless seal on the drive shaft. No water there. That just left the thru-hull for the engine cooling water. The engine was running but I shined a flashlight down in the vicinity of the thru-hull and did see some signs of water dripping. Then I looked down in the under-the-engine sump and, sure enough, there was a trickle of water. Wasn’t much at all but it was steady. So now I have to figure out WTF is going on there.
All of these things led us to decide to head to Puerto Escondido instead of one of our previous destinations. Why? At PE there’s a travelift in case we need to get pulled out of the water, the marina is only 10 miles from Loreto which is a fairly large town, and, if we have to leave the boat to take a bus back to La Paz for parts or anything, at PE we’re tied to a mooring ball instead of being on an anchor and it’s a great hurricane hole just in case.
The inner harbor is almost landlocked which is what makes it such a good hurricane hole. In the photo, you see the two flat pieces connecting the hills on either side with the one in the middle? These are called “the windows”. If you look at the window on the right and start counting boats, we’re about where the third boat down is.
PE also has wireless internet, showers, garbage service, a fuel dock, a small restaurant/bar, a mini super (which is what little convenience stores are called down here), a laundromat, etc. We can even join the HPYC (Hidden Port Yacht Club) which will give us access to book and movie exchange as well as let us get mail sent here. I signed us up for a week and we’ll see where it goes from there. We’d already decided that we’re going to ;eave the boat here when we fly to Oregon next month rather than at Santa Rosalia. It’s cheaper here and Sta. Rosalia isn’t exactly a great hurricane hole. We definitely want to spend a few days exploring Loreto and there’s supposed to be a great burger place down the road (Del Borracho) run by a former biker, or so I’ve been told. They’re also famous for their Sunday brunch.
So, that’s where we are and why we are where we are. Wish me luck on my engine stuff and I’ll try to get some photos of our previous stops posted in the next few days.
PS: My first move on the engine to eliminate the surging is going to be to change the secondary fuel filters. It’s been quite a long time.