Look Ma, No Motor
Trip Start Dec 01, 2010
35Trip End Ongoing
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We learned to bleed the hard way.
We were just having too much fun. The water temp was around eighty degrees, although the daytime highs were closer to 100. Our days were spent exploring coves littered with shells and soft sand made of finely ground and polished coral. We snorkled amazing crystal waters filled with brightly colored tropical fish with glowing neon accents. We would dive down into schools of dinner plate sized King Angel fish seemingly as curious about us as we were about them.
We were meeting other cruisers and like clownfish to sea anenomes, we bonded instantly. Evenings were often spent sharing fresh caught seafood and swapping sea stories with our water based community
And Ashika continued moving north. Our eventual destination was Guaymas on the mainland side of Mexico. Our jumping off place from Baja would likely be somewhere just north of Bahia de Concepcion; a stunning slice of paradise. But first we had to leave a delightful little cove called La Ramada and run out of gas. That was our first mistake.
We actually had another sixty gallons of diesel available in tank no.2 , but should have switched over before we sucked air into our iron genny.We killed the engine or it spluttered to a stop on it's own, we weren't sure which happened first. What we did know is that now we had air where there should be fuel and there was very little air in our sails. We were uncomfortably close to shore with an island just ahead and we needed to be much further out in order to feel safe enough to work on the engine. Bleeding the engine of trapped air was going to be difficult under the circumstances and it was a job we had never actually tried to do, second mistake (or was that our first?).
We had our main up, but the wind was light at five or six knots and it was dead downwind. To make it even more interesting, there was a short period swell of four to five feet that was rolling us around like a gyroscope
Hand steering our course was our only option as the autopilot could not handle such a delicate situation. The helms person had to maintain constant focus so the breeze we had would not blow on the wrong side of the main and jybe it to the other side of the boat... a dangerous manuever. We took turns at the wheel, me trying to get speed, Dois trying to keep a course. Our track looked much like the edge of the scalloped shells I found on the beach. We went along like that, milking it and eeked out two and a half knots, which gave us five miles of leeway within two hours. Only 45 miles to go... and if the wind stopped we might really be in trouble.
We took turns working on the engine, trying to follow the instructions from a page of the manual photocopied from a photocopy. We took turns because the diesel fumes and tossing of the boat would chase us out of the engine room after twenty minutes or so. While trying to bleed the engine, we inadvertently opened up a screw that held a fuel filter in place.
We radioed our friends that were ahead of us to let them know of our predicament and get advice on bleeding the fuel system. They have the same engine in their boat, and tried their best to guide us through the process. But we had litterally made the situation worse. We decided to put all our efforts into sailing her into an anchorage. It was vitally important to try and make it to Santo Domingo Cove at the tip of Bahia Concepcion by dark.
Going downwind in a light and shifty breeze can rattle a person to the core
We had left La Ramada Cove at eight oclock in the morning and sailed over 50 miles into the anchorage and dropped our anchor. We made our harbor in 12 hours averaging slightly over 4 knots of speed. Our friends were stringing a large strand of Christmas lights that spelled out "JOY" in case we needed a guiding light, but we had at least 1 minute more before the sun dipped behind the Sierra Madres of Baja
Dois and I believe we can't end this story without mentioning the enormous support we received from the cruising community. It was and is an amazing group. One captain suggested leaving his vessel (while his wife stayed aboard to tend the ship) in the middle of the sea while he dinghies over to help us. It turns out we were out of range at the time, but their generosity of spirit did not go unnoticed. That was not the beginning or end of the myriad of serious offers of help and we are grateful for the sincere and generous nature of our peers. Thank you!