Archive for May, 2010

May 27 2010



This unassuming storefront may not look like much, but this is Mario’s. And, they just saved me $20 US on the bilge pump. They also had great prices on a new zinc, a replacement lure for the one that was attached to a huge fish, and other bottom cleaning goodies!

Thanks Mario!!!

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May 26 2010

More delays

As I was completing my final check of the boat, I discovered that the bilge pump is not functioning properly and must be replaced.

Fortunately, the local chandlery has a replacement bilge pump.

I should have the repairs completed tomorrow and have my eye on a new window of mild winds that begins on Saturday . . . .

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May 16 2010

Big Winds and a Weather Delay

The GRIB files for weather have just worsened.  A high pressure system is bringing some big winds off of San Diego that will extend all the way down to Cabo San Lucas . . . and, so we sit for another few days.

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May 09 2010

Thinking of You (I swear)

Published by under Mexico,The Adventure

Final preparation, and provisioning for the return trip are underway . . . and, my cousin arrives tomorrow and will be sailing back with me to San Deigo.  The weather looks good and we are scheduled to leave early on Wednesday morning for San Francisco.  I am certainly looking forward to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge again.

In the meantime, here is a parting shot of what I am leaving behind.  (The beach is El Cerritos, and the rest is well, pretty self-explanatory.)

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May 05 2010

Zenzi: There goes the neighborhood . . . .

Published by under Boats

A beautiful boat . . . .

This is Zenzi, purported to be owned by Larry Ellison (think Oracle and America’s Cup).  It anchored out in the bay in Cabo for a few days . . . and, we were neighbors.  Then she set sail.

How sweet it is . . . .

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May 05 2010

Sailboat Heat Exchanger Problems and Repair

One fine day, I started the engine of the sailboat and saw the temperature continue to rise–rather than holding at its normal low temperature.  Upon further inspection, there was about a gallon of lovely, green anti-freeze sloshing around in the bilge–and, the culprit was the heat exchanger.

Cooling on a sailboat (or powerboat) is a bit different than your car, but the principle is the same.  Sea water is too rough and has too many particulates to circulate through the machined parts of your motor (plus salt water electrolysis can eat away internal parts of the motor), so a closed system with freshwater is used.  This is exactly like your car.  The systems on sailboats even use anti-freeze to raise the freshwater boiling point to a higher temperature because–well, boiling water (steam) isn’t going to keep your engine cool.

The main difference between the two systems is that instead of a car radiator with its hundreds of internal cooling fins that uses fresh air from the car fan to decrease the temperature, a sailboat has a heat exchanger.  This little device has a series of tubes, and it runs sea water through some of them and fresh water through the others and heat from the fresh water is transferred to the sea water–which is then mixed with the exhaust and jettisoned out the back through the exhaust.

So, here’s the problem: at some point, the idle was set to a lower number on the motor–down to 600 RPM.  It probably happened at the boat yard during the last tune-up.  This is a normal idle for motors, but on the Universal M-25XPB.  The three-cylinder diesel shakes violently at 600 RPM.  Universal Diesel even recommends that the idle be set higher to 1100 RPM (I have since set it back to the correct settings of 1100 RPM).  All of that rattling around and vibration basically shook the fittings right off the heat exchanger–putting a pin-hole into the outer body in the process.

While it looks pretty simple and sounds pretty simple, and, in concept should BE pretty simple, there is a caveat.  A heat exchanger has a copper body, stainless steel bolts, brass water connectors, the pieces are soldered together, and even includes a pencil zinc.  It is the perfect example of what can happen when dissimilar metals are placed together (although the zinc is supposed to eradicate the electrolysis part of the equation).  I was concerned about finding someone who could do the work properly . . . .

Fortunately, one of my friends knew a metal craftsman.  We drove to his metal shop and as we were pulling in, a brand new, stainless steel swim platform/live-well combination was pulling out of the yard.  It was beautiful work and I felt better already.

The guy looked at the heat exchanger and all the pieces and said, “no problem.”  He said he would weld the brackets back together, clean everything, fix the pin-hole, solder everything back together, clean and pressure test everything–and, that it would be ready tomorrow afternoon–around 3pm.  At the time, my spanish was not good enough to negotiate the price, so my friend did it for me.  After a couple of rounds of friendly bartering, they agreed on $100. (I guess he wasn’t following the: Good work, Cheap, Fast: Pick Two” rule.)

And, here is the finished result.  So beautiful, I could photograph it on the settee–even painted the exact same color as the motor–classy.  It installed in about 45 minutes, and after the usual hose tightening and air-bubble bleeding, hasn’t leaked a bit and the motor has stayed nice and cool.  And, lastly, I hand-siphoned the spilled anti-freeze from the bilge and the local boat yard recycled it for a modest fee.

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May 04 2010

The Baja Bash (and another Beautiful Cabo San Lucas Sunrise)

It has been quite a while since I have updated the blog–but, things have gotten a bit hectic.

There was a repair to the heat exchanger on the motor, the Tsunami from the earthquake in Chile, a trip into the Sea of Cortez with friends, lots and lots of client work (that has been the consuming part), and now, the preparation for the return trip home.

That list is a bit lengthy, unfortunately, but here it is:

  • Clean the filter screen in the fuel system
  • Clean debris from the bilge pump/screens and hoses. If that does not resolve the slow pumping problem, replace. I tested it the other day, and it was pumping slowly, if at all. It has power and you can hear it working. It is certainly not pumping the 500 gph rating. If the hoses are filled with gunk, it should return to normal operation once they are cleaned. If not, it must be repalced. Gotta have a bilge pump.
  • Mount the flag holder to the first spreader (a lashing–no drilling involved), and mount the radar reflector on the standing rigging. On the sail down, we attached the reflector and our courtesy flags to a halyard, but I took them down because the rolling from the waves caused this contraption to swing back and forth–and, it was resting against the spreaders–basically sawing through the halyard.
  • Change the oil in the motor. Bought the hand pump to remove the old oil in La Paz a few weeks ago. Have the new oil aboard, and purchased a new filter at a local store.
  • Sew temporary repairs to the first reef points and rig the second reef. On the way down, the winds were 45+ knots and we had to gybe. We made it through, but the reef points tore about an inch on two of the four. I’ll use the palm and waxed thread and sew those together to keep them from ripping any more and out of their insets. I’ll certainly need to reef on the bash back to San Francisco.
  • Tie down the front netting with heavier-duty line. The netting on the bow was fixed with plastic rings, and they simply cannot endure rough conditions. I purchased some nylon line and am sewing it to the railing for a more permanent fix.
  • Clean the bottom thoroughly, and replace zincs. I finished this yesterday (with the exception of the zincs)–and, it took about 1.5 hours. The last guy I paid was a friend of a friend, and he kinda took me for a ride. “Oh, yeah, it’s CLEAN.” Perhaps we simply have different definitions of “clean.” Regardless, it is super-clean now.
  • Mop the deck with fresh water. The sand blows all the time–it is a desert down here. Time to mop the deck and get all that dirt off.
  • Purchase 2 jerry cans for water. One of the two 25 gallon water tanks sprung a leak. The best idea would be to pull it and have it repaired, but that process may be cost-prohibitive. As an alternative, 2 more jerry cans of fresh water would suppliment the two that I already have and give me 24 gallons–one gallon less than the tank, and would cost hundreds less.
  • Buy the provisions. Already made the menu and shopping list.
  • Fuel up, and top off the water tanks.
  • Wait for a good weather window.

I’ll keep you posted as to the progress. For now, please enjoy this morning’s sunrise.

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