I'm convinced Mexico doesn't want me to leave!!
It's late on Wednesday and I'm headed to Cabo San Lucas from San Jose - not sailing offshore yet, as expected this morning.
As I was about to leave Cabo San Lucas today,with mainsail hoisted and about to raise the anchor, I went to turn off the galley seacock so as not to have the same problem as before, (when trying to leave well heeled over in big winds & suddenly realised seawater was sploshing everywhere down below...) Saw some diesel near the seacock and remembered there seemed to be a film of diesel on top of all that water - "Better check the bilge"... To my horror, the bilge was almost full of diesel - and a lot under the engine also....
What to do? Clearly not sensible to head offshore with the problem not resolved.
Decided to head back to San Jose del Cabo, where I'd met the Capt and crew of 'Pacific Provider' on Sunday. They had been very friendly and offered any help I might need - surely they could help me sort this problem out? As I motored back, I looked carefully at the engine with a bright torch, hoping to see the reason for all that fuel in the bilge - sure enough, fuel was clearly leaking out, quite fast, from the area around one of the two primary fuel filters. I tried switching over to the other filter, but that didn't seem to make any difference. As we motored to San Jose, keeping well out, I was busy trying to get some of the fuel out from the bilge... Neither of the two small 12v pumps I had on board seemed to be able to lift out any of the fuel... but a soup ladle worked fine, if very slow ... Good being chef and mechanic on board.
After throwing away two bucket-loads of diesel, (natural, organic, will do no lasting harm).... I decided to re-cycle the next few lots - it looked perfectly clean and usable - so it was put through the Baja filter and on into the main tank... A few more bucket-loads and the main tank was clearly full. By then we were about to enter San Jose, so I stopped and went up to concentrate on docking at the long fuel dock, close ahead of 'Pacific Provider', well away from the fuel pumps - didn't need those, for sure!
I immediately went to find Capt Thomas and Engineer Dave (it's a big boat!!) to see if they would help - they came straight away to the boat and quite soon had pin-pointed the problem - not, as initially thought, the dried out gasket on the primary filter housing, but the bleed point above one of the filters having a misplaced copper washer - which was not seated properly and so was letting fuel past it - fuel pressure there is very high... Once Thomas had re-seated the washer properly and tightened down the bleed screw, all was well. Even running the engine at high revs did not result in any leakage. I wondered just howl long the problem had been present. Clearly, during the five-day passage, mainly under motor, from Ixtapa, fuel had been getting below. No wonder our fuel consumption had been surprisingly high!
Of course, solving the leakage problem was great ... Clearing up the mess, not so! Took a very long time to remove all the diesel from the bilge and under the engine - David lent me a useful little manual pump to use and I used some big containers they had stored on the aft -deck - I had to go back several times to collect more and finally ended up having filled six five-gallon containers with fuel or an emulsion of fuel and seawater. "Un regalo para los pescadores" - I tried to give the good stuff away! And eventually managed it... By nine o'clock, I was finished and had enjoyed a lovely warm shower on board 'Pacific Provider' - followed by a celebratory drink with David, Paul and Ashley before I left the dock to motor to and anchor off Cabo San Lucas, ready for leaving tomorrow morning .... I hope!!