4/8/2014 – Still at Bahia Salinas

Had to go back and look at the previous post to find out when we got here. Looks like we’ve been here now since Saturday. And, I’m not sure when we’re going get to leave. The wind has been blowing pretty steadily since we arrived. The weatherman keeps hinting that these strong NW winds are supposed to lay down soon and become mild winds from the SW. So far, haven’t seen anything like that. Last night was actually the windiest night so far. Blew 15-20 knots steadily and I measured some gusts of 26 knots. Wouldn’t be surprised if they hit 30 occasionally. As when we were anchored here almost exactly 1 year ago, this anchorage provides very little protection from winds out of the north, However, the seas have no room to build so the ride is pretty comfortable. We’re swinging side to side on our anchor but the only time our mast isn’t perfectly vertical is when a wind gust heels us over for a few seconds.

On Sunday a group of kayakers came in and set up camp on the beach. They’re part of a paid excursion from the looks of things. There’s a panga support boat, etc. However, they’ve now been stuck on the beach for two days and, unless they’re really hardy, they probably won’t be leaving today either. I feel sorry for them because you know they paid good money for a kayak adventure and may end up spending half of their time sitting on a beach doing nothing. Guess that’s the breaks.

Besides being very windy, last night was also very hot. When I got up at 0630, it was 73 degrees outside and as I write this at 0900, it’s already 85. Heard reports on the morning nets from other baja boaters reporting the same thing. I guess spring has sprung.

Every morning when I get up, the first thing I do is record the battery voltage and the amp-hour deficit. We had been staying pretty steady on “amp-hours used” the first week or so of our trip but the last few days we have seen the deficit steadily increase. I was hoping the new solar panels would meet our energy use but maybe not. But why the increase? Granted, we’ve been anchored 24-7 for the past few days but I don’t think we’re using our amps any more slavishly than we were before. After checking the readings yesterday, I switched over to the “amps” reading. If this is a negative number, we’re drawing from the batteries. If it’s positive, we’re adding to the batteries. Well, after turning off the anchor light, the GPS, the fridge, and anything else I could think of, we were still drawing 1.3 amps. I wracked my brain trying to think of some hidden juice user but came up empty. I even went so far as to turn each breaker off in turn to see if one of them affected the reading. They didn’t. What could it be? 1.3 amps may not seem like much but, in 24 hours it’s a little over 31 amp-hours and that’s significant use. Later in the day, I had a thought. I pulled the sandals that are stowed behind the companionway ladder out, removed the ladder, and opened the engine room door. There it was. I had turned on the engine room overhead light when I checked the oil at San Evaristo and apparently forgot to turn it off again. Why it didn’t show up when I switched the breakers off is a mystery for another day. I switched the light off and the amp draw fell by 1.3 amps. To put it in perspective, this one incandescent light uses as much electricity as all three of our Alpenglow LED lights put together. And that’s if the Alpenglows are running on their “High” setting. On the “Low” setting the three of them put together would use half what the incandescent uses. Guess I need to be a little more careful.

Speaking of energy use, I’m always on the lookout for places to cut our usage as well as checking what various appliances use. Last night we were watching our shows with the MacBook plugged into a 12 volt charger, the anchor light on, one Alpenglow set on “red-low”, and the fridge. Lulu got up to do something so I paused the show and checked the ammeter just to see what all this stuff uses. We were drawing a little over 5 amps which seemed kind of high. First thing I did was to check the fridge controller to see if it was running or on standby (between runs). It was not only running but it was running at full speed. The controller has a 6-bar LED scale to show compressor speed. Normally only the first bar is lit. Right after we’ve restocked, there might be 2 or 3 bars lit for a little while but generally not for very long. The only time I’ve ever seen all 6 bars lit up is when there’s a problem. But, if there was a problem it must have just now happened. The beers and agua mineral we’d had with our shows were nice and cold so the fridge must have been working right until very recently. Lulu had just restocked so I optimistically waited to see if that was the problem. Within 10 minutes or so we were still showing 6 bars. Checked the evaporator plate and it was no longer cold. CRAP! Looks like the same problem we had in La Paz just after we got back from the States. I tried “rebooting” the system a couple times but to no avail. Last time, we just shut her down overnight and by morning everything was settled and the fridge ran fine. Decided to try that again.

Well, what with it being hot and very windy, I didn’t really sleep all that well last night. Then I’d get to thinking about the fridge and what if we couldn’t get it working again. Mostly we’d be fine. We’d just have to hope the milk, butter and cheese lasted and we’d have to plan our meals so there were no leftovers. Plus we’d need to use up the bacon and the coleslaw but that’s hardly a huge burden. Mostly we’d have to get used to tepid beer, Gatorade, limonada, and agua mineral. That would definitely take some of the fun out of things but it’s certainly not the end of the world. I got up at 0430 to check our position and decided that would be a good time to fire the fridge back up. Our position was the same. Our anchor was holding us in one spot quite nicely. But, the fridge didn’t miraculously start working. The compressor came on but there was no sound of refrigerant being pumped through the evaporator (just like in La Paz) and the evaporator did not get cold. I shut it off and went back to bed. Got up for real at 0630 and the first thing I did after getting dressed, taking my readings, and starting the coffee water was to start the fridge. First I held my hand on the compressor to ensure that it really was running although the amp draw pretty much confirmed that it was. Then, I opened the fridge ready to try to figure out how to clear the suspected blockage. But, I was greeted with the sound of refrigerant flowing through the system. The evaporator plate was getting cold as well. The controller was showing 3 bars but that was to be expected. I closed the fridge and kept an eye on the controller. The bars dropped to 2 and then 1. After 30 minutes or so, it went into standby. Since then it’s come on every 10 minutes or so and runs with 1 bar only before going into standby again. Ahhh! Guess we dodged another bullet.

That’s about it for now. Should have a little better idea when we’re leaving after I download the weather when I upload this blog. Tried listening to the weather on the nets this morning but, every time the relevant weather came up, the fridge would start. This plays havoc with reception and I usually turn it off during the net. But there’s no way I’m turning it off again until I’m sure that everything is fine and dandy.

Not much to do. The water’s still too cold and way too rough for swimming (not rough enough to cause us discomfort on the boat but pretty damn rough for enjoyable swimming). The wind is blowing too hard to go ashore. We finished all our chores the first day we got here. So, we’re pretty much just lounging: reading, crocheting, listening to the radio, playing cribbage, and doing crossword puzzles. Guess things could be a lot worse.

PS: As normal at anchor inthe islands, I’m posting this via Sailmail and the SSB radio. If I don’t seem to be responding to your comments it’s because I won’t see them until we’re back on the internet again. Please keep ’em coming anyway.


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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2 Responses to 4/8/2014 – Still at Bahia Salinas

  1. s/v Eolian says:

    Sounds to me that you have a little moisture in the refrigerant, Steve. It’s probably freezing up at the capillary tube.

    If you have access to it, apply a warm, damp rag to the capillary the next time it happens. And when you can, replace the desiccant container…


    • sryoder says:

      I’m pretty sure you’re right about the moisture as the warm rag trick worked great when the fridge first acted up in La Paz. Don’t recall ever seeing a dessicant container. Maybe I’d better poke around a bit.

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