7/2/2012 – OK, here’s the story

Pour yourself a frosty one if it’s after 0900 or a cup of joe if it’s before and get ready to read about our little trip from Las Cocinas to San Carlos.

As I wrote previously, I’d been checking the weather to see when we’d have the best chance of sailing (yes, actually SAILING) to Guaymas. The problem is that Guaymas is kind of SE of Las Cocinas and most of the wind here in the summer comes from the SE, S, and SW. None of these are particularly helpful to a boat that doesn’t point all that high but wants to go SE. Add to that the heavy, predominantly north-flowing tidal currents and the SE-SW swells that accompany the wind, and Guaymas would not tend to be one’s first choice of sailing destinations from here. But, since we need to haul out, and the nearest haulout facility north of here is back in Puerto Peñasco, Guaymas it was, like it or not.

With Micheal’s (s/v Fan) help, I had done a jury rigged repair to 2 of the 3 broken engine mounts. Here’s a photo of the broken mounting bolt. The little cup above the bolt is actually a nut used to raise or lower the engine during alignment. In all 3 cases, the bolt snapped off inside the nut, leaving this little “cup”.

One of three broken engine mount bolts

 

Consequently, all I had to do to get the engine in its former alignment was to shove it around until the “cups” dropped down on top of the bolts. But, then I needed a way to keep them there. Enter Micheal and his box of hose clamps. I had no faith that a hose clamp would hold but Micheal was a little more confident. Besides, what choice did we have?

Yeah, this’ll work…

Doesn’t this just look like something that’s going to fail? I couldn’t get the clamp all the way under the engine bed as it’s solid on one side. So, I had to go with just the corner. This is why we don’t want to run the engine unless we really have to.

But, with the new fuel pump, the engine is running good. The transmission may or may not be slipping. The engine is held in place with hose clamps. What else could a guy ask for? So, about 16:30 or so, we weighed anchor without an engine (a first for us) and headed out into the sunset. Well, sunset was still 3 hours away but we were headed in the right direction.

The wind was blowing a nice mellow 7-10 knots as we headed out just slightly south of due west. That’s as close as we were able to point into the wind. The trip started out nice and mellow. After an hour or so, we tacked back towards land.

If the whole trip had looked like this, the story wouldn’t be as interesting but the trip would sure have been more pleasant.

 

Yes, I know the winch handle shouldn’t still be in the winch.

“Tacked” is not the right word to use for what we did. Tacking is when you shift the wind from one side of the boat to the other by passing the bow through the wind. Jibing is when you pass the stern through the wind. Sailors, forgive me for a second. This part is for the lubbers. Say the wind is coming from due south. You are sailing WSW. When you tack, you go from WSW to ESE, passing through due south on your way. In jibing, you would go from WSW, passing through due north on your way to ESE. So, in one case you turn counterclockwise and the other you turn clockwise. Why? Well, tacking requires that you have enough speed and power to get through the eye of the wind, a point where your sails are useless. When jibing,your sails help you move through the entire operation since the bow never passes through the eye of the wind. It works but in high winds, it takes lots of care and technique to keep from causing damage when the boom slams from one side of the boat to the other. And, it looks kind of clunky. Like if you could make a left turn into a parking lot mid-block but choose instead to make 7 right turns to get to the same place. Left turns are problematic, right turns are easy. We seem to have a lot of trouble tacking. The bow makes it almost to being “in irons” (wind dead ahead, sails useless) and then she’d fall back off to leeward and we were once again going the way we had been before attempting to tack. Is this because we’re going too slow? Are the seas bringing us to a halt as the sails lose power? Are we throwing the helm over too fast? Too slow? Is my sail plan unbalanced? Damned if I know. But we’d have plenty of opportunities to try tacking on this trip.

Anyway, on our way back towards the shore, the wind built up from the 7-10 range to more like 8-12. Still pretty mellow although the seas started to build a little as well. We ended up making about 4 miles to the good when we reached our rhumb line. No idea how many miles it took us to do that although I’m sure we sailed at least twice that far.

By the time we were ready for our next tack (jibe), it was getting a little bit darker, the seas were building and the wind was a pretty steady 15 knots with gust to 20. At this point, with our leeward rail way too close to the water, we opted to roll up the jib and continue on under staysail and a single-reefed main. We found that by doing this, we were a little flatter and were actually able to point a little higher. I believe I read that, as one’s speed increases, the apparent wind moves forward. Makes sense, I think. So, since our speed dropped a bit when we rolled up the jib, our apparent wind moved aft and we were then able to point a bit higher since I also read that “you sail your apparent wind”. Ooh, we’re learning all kinds of stuff today.

I also found that the helm was pretty heavy under this configuration so we rolled out a little bit of jib which seemed to balance things nicely making it easier for the autopilot to hold a course.

On our last tack landward, the wind was blowing 20 pretty steadily with gust to 22-23. The seas were getting to be 3-4 feet and the ride was getting a bit uncomfortable. We were heeled way over and riding swells way up and then slamming down on the other side.  The seas in the Sea are always close together so these 3-4 foot swells were probably no more than 3-4 seconds apart. Not too comfy. And now it was dark to boot.

The good news was that we had a 3/4 moon and the wind had shifted a bit to allow us to point closer to our rhumb line. We were having a wild ride for awhile but then, around midnight, if I remember right, the wind started to drop. And then it shifted to the WSW and we were suddenly on a beam reach to Guaymas. EXCELLENT! Except then the wind dropped off to almost nothing. We continued to ghost along at the amazing over-ground speed of 0.8 to 1.0 knots. Oh, this was going to be one LONG trip.

There’s a large island on our path called Isla San Pedro Nolasco. We had to decide whether or not to take the route between the island and the mainland or to go on the outside of the island. Well, if that nice breeze we were getting right before the wind changed directions had held, we’d definitely scoot down between the island and the mainland. But, once the wind shifted and then dropped, I had no confidence that we’d be able to cross across the north end of the island before we were dashed on it’s nasty-looking rocks. So we opted for the outside. This was what we had originally dubbed “the clipper route”.

I had been too keyed up to be able to go below and sleep before this but now that we were just slowly (and I do mean slowly) ghosting along, I finally consented to get a little shut-eye. I went below at 0330 and Lulu took over the helm. I got up around sunrise, 0530 or so and we had hardly moved at all since I went to bed. Maybe a half a mile. Maybe.

Later in the morning, the wind began to pick up a little but it also shifted back to the south so we had to tack offshore a ways. We went out a couple of miles before tacking back. But, I had not guessed right and we hadn’t been out far enough to clear the south end of the island. So we tacked again. Only this time, the wind had shifted enough so that, instead of gaining some southing, we were actually just retracing our steps back to our last tacking point. Arrrgh! This went on all morning and afternoon. We could just NOT get around that island. Of course, you know we did get around or I couldn’t be posting this. Late in the afternoon, I decided to just keep sailing away to the WSW and see if I could get enough southing to make it. And I did.

Lulu, disgusted with the whole thing had gone below to take a nap. When she poked her head out a few hours later she said, “Well…?” I said “see for yourself” and she proceeded to look at the GPS screen. I said “NO! Look at real life!” She turned the other way and was pretty darn happy when she saw that we were rounding the bottom of the island with plenty of room to keep the south-running current from dashing us on the rocks. As long as the wind didn’t die, anyway.

We decided that we’d crack a beer when we finally could see the east side of the island indicating that we were fully around the end. But the wind was not blowing very hard and then it was not blowing at all. Then it’d come back up, very lightly for a bit and then die off again GEEZ! I really wanted to clear that damn rock so I finally told Lulu that I was going to fire up the engine and get us past the end. It’d give us a chance to test the motor mounts. Yeah that’s it, we wanted to test the motor mounts. So,I started her up and we ran for about 20 minutes at 1800 RPMs, clearing the island at last. And the motor mounts held fine, the transmission didn’t blow up, and the engine didn’t die.

It’s now been about 26 hours since we set sail.

We now set our course for ESE towards Guaymas. Of course, the wind was more or less out of the SE so we couldn’t go directly there. Naturally. That’d be too easy.

As the evening wore on, the wind and the seas began to build. It started to get uncomfortable again. There were times that we just couldn’t get the autopilot to hold a course because of some imbalance causing a ton of weather helm. I’d try to adjust sails to lose the imbalance and was sometime successful and oftentimes not. During this time I was outside and occasionally dropping off in a little catnap. No problem as there was absolutely nothing to hit for miles. Invariably, a few minutes into my nap, the autopilot alarm would go off and I’d have to go rescue it. Hope I get all this stuff figured out some day.

After one tack where we once again found ourselves retracing our steps, I thought, “Forget Guaymas! We should be able to reach San Carlos pretty easily.” How wrong I was! I don’t know if it was wind shifts, current, ineptitude, or what, but I just could not point towards San Carlos . We tacked a few times trying but we would have had to sail almost down to the latitude of Guaymas before tacking and, even then, I’m not sure we could have tacked back into San Carlos. And every mile was hard fought. And did I mention the sea state? Winds 20-25 and seas 4-5 feet.

Again I tried for San Carlos but, the nearest I could point was a couple miles north of it. Tacked again and headed a little further south. Tacked again and found myself retracing my steps. Again. And the wind was howling and the seas were big and we were small and bouncing around like crazy.

Finally, a couple hours before dawn, I told Lulu that there was no way we would make it to San Carlos anytime soon, if at all, without starting the engine. So, biting firmly down on the bullet, I started her up. Well, it helped but it didn’t do the trick. To head straight to San Carlos required dropping the staysail. But, going directly into the current, waves, and wind, the best we could do without revving the engine too high was maybe a knot and a half. Don’t know if that was because the clutch was slipping or just because of the sea state (I’d find out later). This was going to take days and we’d probably run out of fuel. However, by adjusting our course just enough north enough to be able to use the staysail, we might be able to make it into Bahía Algodones. So we couldn’t make it to Guaymas, so we opted for a port a few miles north. But we couldn’t make San Carlos, so we opted for a port a few more miles north. If we couldn’t make Bahía Algodones, the next port would be Bahía San Pedro. After that, we’d be back in Las Cocinas where we started. But, you know, sometimes the whalers and such would try for 30 days to get around Cape Horn and finally say screw it and go towards Africa instead. Kind of puts our problems in perspective. But still, this was royally sucking!

Well, the upshot is that we couldn’t point high enough to make it into Algodones under sail. We picked our spot of diminishing returns where sailing further in to port also put us further north. Finally we started the engine and headed straight in. After rolling up the staysail we were still making pretty good time, 3.5 to 4.5 knots. The main was up and drawing but, dead into the wind it didn’t seem like it would add significantly to our speed. So, maybe our previous slow speeds were due to outside factors and not the clutch. The closer we got to the entry, the more the wind and seas dropped until finally, it was almost calm. We still headed in and dropped our anchor off the entrance for Marina Real. I shut the engine down and checked it out. The hose clamps were still in place and tight and the transmission case was no warmer than usual.

After we were anchored and calming down, Lulu says, “Since it’s so calm out now, do you want to just go ahead and go to Guaymas and get it over with?” I said “Are you out of your mind? NO FREAKIN’ WAY! I want to sit here and rest.” Turns out she was kidding but I didn’t realize it. I thought she’d just gone over the edge.

It was now around 0715 and we had left Las Cocinas some 39 hours ago.

We listened to the weather report on the morning cruisers’ net and they were still calling for big south winds and associated seas coming later in the day. This was one of the reasons we opted to find a port. We had heard the same prediction the evening before. So, wherever we were when it hit, we’d probably be there for at least 3 days. We looked around at where we were and didn’t see anything interesting. So, less than an hour after we anchored, we decided to up anchor and motor (oh what confidence we were getting in our old power plant) to San Carlos where, if push came to shove, we could opt to haul out and skip Guaymas altogether. Of course, the fact that wind had died and the seas were calm helped a lot in our decision.

With no wind, gentle swells and no need to rely on wind direction, we made the short trip in just under 2 hours. Dropped the anchor and finally said “PHEW! Glad that’s over!”

Total time: about 42 hours
Total distance covered: 86 nautical miles
Total distance made good: 24 nautical miles.

Hmmmm….

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About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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18 Responses to 7/2/2012 – OK, here’s the story

  1. Tate says:

    Wow Steve, you weren’t kidding about the condition of those motor mount bolts. Those things look like they’re made of dust.

    Glad you made it. Our W32 has some pretty vicious weather helm too, so I feel you there. If you’re trying to tack and failing you might want to try falling off the wind (pointing to a beam reach) until you build up sufficient boat speed to attempt the tack. When you tack put the tiller hard over, don’t pussy foot with it. Once the bow crosses the eye of the wind you can let the jib sheet go just until she backwinds a little and it will pull the bow through the eye of the wind for you, then let it go all the way and sheet home.

    Remember when you’re trying to point very high to:
    1) Sheet in until you luff then let out a smidge
    2) Tighten up the outhaul
    3) Tighten up the cunningham if you feel underpowered (which looks like it might not even be rigged)
    4) Tighten the halyards, especially on the jib, put a lot of tension
    5) Tighten up the forestay if you can
    6) And tighten up the boom vang (which I don’t see in your photos)

    You’re looking for pretty flat looking sails. Also adjusting the cars can make a big difference. Dani and I have found we can point pretty well by doing those things and we’ve only missed a few tacks.

    Another trick I learned… (I know you’re sick of that asshole know-it-all-amateur-Tate by now right (; ) If you set a way point in the GPS way way beyond your actual way point, say 200 miles behind it, as you approach it tacking, you can look at the VMG and it will tell you when the best time to tack is. If you’re interested, I can elaborate on that point, but I’m sure I’m just making way too many points by now.

    Look at me attempting to give advice…. How far we’ve come so fast since our lubberly beginnings. Racing really does some wondrous things for you.

    And btw, we leave the stupid winch handles in the winches too. We know we shouldn’t, but hey… You know how it is.

    And now for the coup de grace…. Why do you need to haul the boat?

    The transmission can be pulled and rebuilt out of the boat without hauling. The motor can be lifted with a come-along off the boom (reinforce the boom with a halyard) and the motor mounts replaced one by one. I’d def hit the bolts connecting the mounts themselves to the bed with some PB Blaster before attempting to replace those either way. Careful not to get it on the engine though because I’ve heard it will eat up seals. Unless you’ve got cutless problems or a prop issue or a thru hull issue I bet you can do it in the water.

    See…. Look at how you’ve caused me to ramble and I was about to go to bed. Then you sent me this interesting blog post to ramble on about.

    =)

    • sryoder says:

      Tate,

      I’m always glad to get advice.

      A far as falling off, speeding up, and then tacking, I did try that a couple times. Of course, when you want to let the autopilot steer you through your tack, the falling off first part sort of becomes a hassle. But, at any rate, even that didn’t work. And we always let the staysail get backwinded a bit to push the bow across. No luck there either.

      As far as futsin’ with the sails: 1.) We do this already 2.) I’ve never adjusted the outhaul but it seems pretty tight to me. 3.) We have a cunningham which can be rigged quickly but have never used it. 4.) The only halyard we can tighten is the main. The roller furlers we use do away with the halyards once the sails are hoisted and shackled to the furler at the top. 5.) Tightening the forestay requires a lot of work as the turnbuckle is buried inside the furler drum 6.) We don’t have a boom vang

      Mostly, once the sails are up, we like to stay in the cockpit if the weather is nasty precluding some of these tweaks. Also, all this stuff is probably easier when you’re on a racing boat with a crew than when it’s just the two of us on a windy, very bouncy night. We need a nice 7-10 knot, flat sea day to try some of these things out.

      As to why we’re hauling out, we had planned to do that anyway. We haven’t painted the bottom since we left Oregon two years ago. The paint we put on to raise the waterline did not stick well and has been a growth site for crud ever since. We also want/need to change out our sea cocks ow that the rubber stopperss inside the Grocos are no longer available. Also, we have a lot of play in the rudder at the pintles/gudgeons and also between the tiller and the rudder head to deal with. The engine room work is just a bonus.

      Sorry to keep you up so late, and on a work night, too.

      -Steve

  2. Hang in there Team Siempre Sabado. The first order of business should be a big nap- everything seems better after a nap.

    We leave winch handles in the winches too. Whoops.

  3. geesh!! what a long, sloggy trip! just reading about it was painful, and brought back memories of our trip from san carlos to penasco, with an engine failure. hope you’re still having fun (??) in spite of this experience. thankfully, things do look better after a long nap and a few beers 🙂 sure wish we were there to share a few with you! hang in there. we hope you can get hauled out in san carlos. maybe you will end up bunked next to us! let us know how it’s going. your phoenix aerobed awaits! just be sure to get those friggin winch handles put away before you head to phoenix–lol ❤

    • sryoder says:

      Happy to see from the comments so far that we’re not the only culprits who leave their winch handles in the winch, accidentally of course.

  4. Joan/Raymond Yoder says:

    Ooh, what a description of the very bouncy trip. How did the pills survive. I got sick just reading it. Glad you are in port and I enjoyed LuLu’s suggestion although with tongue in cheek about going on to Guayas (sp). Never could spell those darn Mexican names. Love, Mom

    • sryoder says:

      The pills worked great for me and, although Lulu didn’t take anything, I don’t think she got seasick either.

      Trouble spelling those darn Mexican names? You mean names like”Rianda”? hehehehe

  5. s/v La Morena says:

    Here’s what you need: more advice!

    Actually, just a suggestion that has worked for me. La Morena is the 3rd vessel I have sailed extensively in the last 18 months, but the first have presented that same tacking problem. Why? She is the smallest (27′ vs 30′ and 34′), so speed could be an issue. Fortunately, I mostly single-hand so do not have to go through that “I MEANT to do that…” thing following a failed tack and a cumbersome gybe.

    But here is what has worked for me (I read it somewhere, and it is fairly consistent with Tate’s advice above): I am not a fan of falling off before a tack, and you mentioned the auto-pilot issue). I center the main, then winch the leeward sheet as tight as possible. This takes less than 10 seconds, and you will lose a smidge of spped. Immediately turn the helm very hard, and be patient on releasing the jib sheet until you are certain you are way through the wind (patience is the key word here). What happens, at least for me, is that the jib spends LESS time without the wind (luffing). After passing through the wind, of course, you release the sheets and pull tight on the other. Then ease the main.

    Maybe La Morena is the only vessel things works on, but I can honestly say that I am successful 95%+ of the time. I may actually take a guest along with me someday!

    And i do not even have winch handles!

    • sryoder says:

      Do you have a staysail on La Morena? I don’t think I remember one. My staysail was originally boomed and so, self-tending. But like many other Westsailors, I lusted after the deck space that the boom made unusable and so, went to loose-footed. However, now when we tack, we have two headsails to deal with. I’ve seen a plan where a loose- footed staysail is made self-tending by use of a block on the clew and a continuous sheet. All tension adjustments are made on one side which would be good because, what with my off-set companionway, there’s really only room to work with the starboard sheet. Might make things a little easier when the backwinded jib is no longer blocked by the backwinded staysail. I’ll give your idea of tightening the leeward sheet a try.

      -Steve

  6. Dave says:

    Glad you made it. What a story! Don’t you have a windvane? Why wouldn’t that work for you instead of using the autopilot? Good fix on the motor mounts. Good luck on the haulout work. bet its a bit warm there now.

    Maybe it is time to think about a powerboat 🙂

    • sryoder says:

      We do have a windvane but I had the steering oar out of the water so it wouldn’t add drag when we weren’t using it. Lowering it into the water when things are gnarly almost always results in the paddle coming loose like it would if it hit an obstruction. Then it’s a big hassle to get it back aboard when things are bouncy. In retrospect, I should have rigged it before we left port. But things were so quiet then. We like using the autopilot because of the “tack” feature. One less thing to have to do during a tack: steer the boat.

      It’s getting nice and toasty here.

      We have thought about a power boat but rejected the idea. A motor- sailer perhaps but not a straight power boet. At least not yet. What we’re really lusting after is the nice flat ride of a trimaran.

  7. Dani says:

    Wow, what a story!! 24 miles in 42 hours. You are beginning to make me think our Beam Reaches in the Mississippi Sound were a thing of rarity. Glad you finally made it though.

    back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…the life of a sailor.

    Dani

  8. bud says:

    Even though my 28′ sailboat is an Aloha 28, I think you can adjust the weight in your boat, and sail close to the wind like I can. At the Aloha forum I posted pics proving that I can go within 10 degrees of the wind. No one there or anywhere believes me, but I can. Sooooooooo, my suggestion to you is, why not try what I did?

    I loaded my boat heavy aft of the keel. I didn’t do this so I could go to windward, I did it because that’s where I put my batteries, etc. Nonetheless, when I go to windward I do not use the mainsail. I am not a dyed in the wool sailor, I use common sense. Any REAL sailor will tell you that your main is, well the main sail that you use. I beg to differ for two reasons: 1.) I have heart disease and cannot manage the main well by myself, 2.) my 150% genoa roller furling is adequate enough.

    With my boat balanced heavy aft and using only the 150% genoa, I am able to sail close to the wind, have little to no weather helm below 25 knots of wind, and go plenty fast enough for a 28′ boat. So, regardless if you believe me or not, you might try sailing with my configuration. You do not seem to have problems trying new things to make your life easier!

    P.S. I love reading your blogs!

    • sryoder says:

      Appreciate your comments, Bud. As far as weight distribution, there’s not an awful lot we can do to change it. We certainly can’t add weight “aft of the keel” as that would require us to pull a trailer behind our full-keeled Westsail. Hmm… Maybe not such a bad idea. Right now, the aft half of the boat has the batteries, the engine, tool boxes, a lazarette full of crap, the diesel tank, etc. Amidships we have the water tank and more stored stuff (canned good, etc.). Up forward, the only significant weight ar the two anchors (70 lbs total) and about 200′ of 5/16″ chain. Not really any good places to stow the chain except in the chain locker. The boat is set up for living on full time and everything has eventually migrated to where it’s least inconvenient to access it.

      Never tried going to windward w/o the main. Guess I could give it a go.

      • bud elkin says:

        Ya, I forgot you have a full keel, but trying to sail with just the genoa might still do the trick. When the main is up it definitely helps the axial focus position stay centered over the mast. When using the genoa, as I do, it puts the focus close to the bow(the control point of adjustment). I adjust the furl in or out to not only make the boat sail closer to the wind, but to avoid weather helm. Clearly the force of the wind is also a factor in trim, but try messing around with the genoa method. It may take a bit of trial and error, but I’m convinced it will improve your angle to windward.

  9. Pingback: 12/3/2012 – Life is still good | yodersafloat

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