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S/V Nereida sails around the world

Arrival in San Carlos... Blanca dies down as she heads N over the Baja

Wednesday 3rd June 2015: Landfall in San Carlos, Sea of Cortez, Mexico
{Monday 8th June - all looking fine, despite a very overcast, breezy day - TS Blanca has reduced to a Low and winds and rain here in San Carlos are not much, although over on the Baja peninsula conditions have been a bit stronger - but nothing too bad, TG!}
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
June 7th, 8:00
The friendly little swallows on the boat opposite me in Isla Mazatlan had fledged their nestlings . The closed stern barbecue conveniently had a hole at one end that was just the right size for them.. It seemed the right time to leave Mazatlan to head north again - the prospect of sailing overnight in the bright light of a full moon was appealing...

The hurricane season has started up with a vengeance - Andres obligingly turned out to sea, as expected, but was very early and increased to well over a hundred miles per hour... To my surprise, Blanca was hot on his heels and looking quite threatening, as I made my way up to the Sea of Cortez, in a good southerly swell. I'd spent a pleasant couple of evenings before leaving, firstly with cruiser friends and then with Osvaldo (skipper of 'Romance') and his family..

I was sorry Eduardo (skipper of 'Mi Casa') hadn't taken up my offer of a farewell 'cerveza' on my last afternoon. Both he and Osvaldo had been very keen to help me in whatever way they could, but Eduardo clearly didn't realise just how early I wanted to leave ..... By 7am, I was well underway, avoiding the dredger in the shallow entrance channel and hoping not to run into difficulties with the big swell over the entrance bar. The waves were crashing heavily into the nearby shore, coming from the S as a result of the hurricanes not so far away. Eduardo had appointed himself my Press Agent and I'd had two newspaper interviews and one TV interview by the time I had left - a severe test of the minimal Spanish I've been working hard at trying to improve.. Fortunately, Eduardo was close at hand with his good English, to translate when needed. My time in Mazatlan was made very enjoyable by the many friendly people I met up with (a wedding party included!) and I hope to return there soon.

My passage N was, as expected, full of motoring in increasingly calm seas with a diminishing S swell and occasional light breezes from just about every direction as the heat of the day caused an onshore sea breeze and; later; offshore land breezes. The mainsail had been raised from the start but I was only able to enjoy the peace of sailing a few times in all, with quite a nice downwind run under poled-out genoa, goosewinged for a few hours.
Dolphins came by several times and. in the heat of the midday sun, I enjoyed a brief dip in the sea and a delicious deck shower within sight of San Carlos entrance and its familiar, distinctive, twin peaks . Other boats were only seen on arrival - surprisingly, I'd had the sea, sun and stars to myself for three days!

Now in harbour, I'm trying to find the cause of a major problem I had on passage - the toilet kept back-filling with sea water ... I had to turn off the outlet seacock to prevent the boat from flooding... Quite a worry, but a relief to see the water level in the bowl stay low in the end... I'm still trying to figure out what's going on. The other smaller problem was finding the motor stopping unexpectedly when I reduced power quickly (I was very gentle coming in to dock!). Luckily, there are two good mechanics here in San Carlos, so that problem should be easy to fix.. The other nice thing is the friends and acquaintances that are here - it has felt like a bit of a 'homecoming' having been here for most of last year when I met so many people - but I hope not to be on the hard again this time.

Blanca is still a worry and several boats have crossed over from the Baja peninsula to escape the very strong winds and heavy rain expected - far more so over there, to the West, than is forecast for here (Historically, San Carlos has been a good 'hurricane hole'). With any luck, Cabo San Lucas and the Baja won't be hit too hard. We were expecting some strong weather here also but the last I heard, Blanca will move out into the Pacific soon and not cause so much trouble on land as had been feared. ... Fingers crossed!  (Well, she actually came onshore at Cabo San Lucas and La Paz and on North, but diminished as she came - see above)

9Feb2015 - La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico

Monday 9 February 2015 - La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

A good visit to London for the January Boat Show where I gave two well-attended presentations on my sailing and saw several people about technical problems and replacement parts, with very helpful outcomes.  It was nice to meet up unexpectedly with good friends visiting the Show… and good fun ‘riding’ a Honda race bike on the new Show’s sponsors’ stand (CWMFX):


Before leaving for London, I had prepared 'Nereida' for my planned passage by tidying and stowing things away, as well as checking the engine and generator ….neither of which wanted to start!  Alejandro had come by that weekend to remove old impellor bits from the entry to the heat exchanger - even more bits were there than I'd expected, so that was a good job done.

 mAlex with impeller bits

While I was in London, Jesus and Salvador saw to the two engines - and reported the start problem in both cases was due to corrosion which they were able to deal with fairly easily - but corrosion in several other areas on wiring and connectors was something I would need to check over on my return.

Back to Phoenix from LHR and then a drive on to Ajo with friends Ed and Charlene to get some sleep before crossing border into Mexico...  Up with the sun, hoping to arrive San Carlos mid-afternoon, but Mexican Customs wanted to charge an inflated amount of tax for their replacement ship's motor so we returned to Ajo to leave the motor behind and retraced our route through Arizona's fascinating 'Organ Pipe Cactus' National Park to the border and beyond, with some dramatic mountains just south of the border:

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We arrived well after dark, just in time to get fresh provisions at Santa Rosa's and then a meal at "L'Esquina" before making for the marina to get ready for leaving at High Water, soon after midnight.  It was essential to leave by 2 a.m., to be sure of getting out safely with Nereida's nearly 7ft draft, but there was a distinct lack of lit channel markers out from the marina entrance through Bahia San Carlos and the night was pitch dark with overcast skies, so it was nice to have Charlene's extra pair of eyes to keep a look out ...  Even so, we only just missed some new, unlit pilings where an extension to the present docks is being built out into the Bahia.

It was a relief finally to make clear water, having avoided both the shallows to starboard and some dark islands and rocks to port on our way out...   There was no wind so we were motoring and once further out into the Sea of Cortez (a.k.a. Gulf of California) there was a distinctly uncomfortable short swell which frequently made us roll about over the next two windless days.

Charlene was keeping me company for the 4-5 day nonstop sail south which meant we could keep a good watch overnight for the expected fishing boats and ferries en route.   In the event, almost none were seen but it was a nice trip down, with lovely clear starry skies at night and the seas slowly lessening. We got very excited on seeing a pair of whales close by and lots of dolphins and seabirds another time.  This area is well-known for its marine life.

The tides had quite an effect on our speed which ranged from 4.7kt to 6.3kt.  Up in the far N of the Sea of Cortez, the tidal range is 20ft or so, with currents of up to 11 kt in some inter-island passages, but as we headed further S the tidal effect lessened.  On the last day, some wind arrived as we approached the islands of 'Las Marias'. so we finally had a nice peaceful sail into the night, with a beautiful sunrise over Banderas Bay as we got close to the small rocky Marietta islands in the entrance.

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We made La Cruz de Juanacaxtle early on 28th January and soon met up with Canadian friends Maggie and Tom, who had flown in to Puerto Vallarta the day before to cruise with me on 'Nereida' for a time.   It's been a very nice change to have company on board!  Being boat-owners themselves, Tom and Maggie have helped me with several boat jobs, one being replacement of the corroded antenna lead to my backstay in an effort to resolve an urgent on-going problem:  the HF/SSB radio has totally lost transmission power.

 A ham friend, Don N7BD, has kindly sent me a Watt meter to instal in the system and Dan of 'Dazzler' came over with a long coax lead to test the connection directly between my radio and the tuner - the radio transmission was booming out...!  Conclusion?  ...Corrosion in one or more of my coax connector(s)?

(Today I had a lot more help from Eric, from s/v 'Scoots', using my new SWR/Watt meter with a dummy load and checking all connections.  There seems to be a ground problem to the tuner – sometimes it tunes, sometimes not - and I spent all afternoon removing cables, a shelf and lots of other items around the radio, to gain access to what seems to be the possible faulty connection.  "Work in progress...!"  Postscript on Friday 13th Feb: All now working fine, with more much-appreciated help from Eric.  Turned into a bad ground connection in two places, a cable and the tuner connection, both now dealt with - so I can now make good radio contact, although the Marina causes a lot of noise.  Winlink is now also working fine, using the new Pactor 4 'Dragon' modem and a bluetooth connection - so we're back in action...Making use of the new SWR meter - Many thanks to Don, N7BD.  If I hadn't gone down with a bad cold, with loss of voice and a sore throat over the last few days, all would be good - but recovery must take place soon and I've been getting lots of sleep to help things along)

With Maggie and Tom, we sailed over to Yelapa last Wednesday, on the opposite side of Banderas Bay from La Cruz...  What a delightful village!  It has only had electricity for two years now and its steep, cobbled, narrow, winding streets cannot take any cars. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of building work going on by N. Americans, renovating dilapidated old village houses to use over the winter period when it's cold and icy back north where they live!   We walked up to where a high waterfall tumbles over a steep cliff into a pool, surrounded by high trees on the edge of the village - a beautiful green spot.   The busy coast road passes quite a distance away, at the end of a steep path, so the main approach is by sea.

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Lots of tourist 'pangas' bring people for the day from elsewhere in Banderas Bay to enjoy a long sandy beach opposite the village at the river entrance in the bay.  We picked up a mooring buoy in 50m/160ft depth of water close inshore - anchoring here is difficult with the sea-bed dropping away so steeply and small fishing boats moored in the small area of shallower water close to the main village.  The weather was fairly calm but the small bay in which the village lies is open to big swells when the wind gets up.   We had an enjoyable two nights there and I vowed I'd return soon.  On the way back to La Cruz, we had good sightings of several pairs of whales (a couple breached) as well as dolphins and a turtle, in addition to the usual frigate birds, boobies, gulls and pelicans.

Now I'm alone again, it's back to boatwork in the daytime - but there's plenty of excellent live music of an evening here in La Cruz.  Sunday evening was spent with friends Robert and Rose of 'Tillicum' at the 'Black Forest' restaurant - with fabulous classical guitar-playing by 'Lobo' during the entire evening.  There are several good places to eat here and I keep meeting up with cruiser friends last seen in San Carlos.  The weather is mostly dry and sunny, with just the occasional heavy rainstorm - as we had early last week....   So I'm looking forward to a nice mix of productive daytime work and plenty of evening music over the next few weeks here.

Season's Greetings - from 'Nereida' afloat in San Carlos!!

20th December 2014 - 'Nereida' happily afloat... Happy New Year!

Seasons greetings Nereida lit up - showing new hard top

Sending you the warmest of Season's Greetings and wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year 2015...  from 'Nereida' decorated with a string of coloured LEDs...

It's great to be afloat at last, even though it's in a marina, still with lots to do...   There's a problem here for deeper-draught boats and 8th December was the last possible date for 'Nereida' to be launched for quite a time.  So it was vital to be 'splashed' now, in order to be able to go sailing at all over the coming months.

Photos of the short road trip: leaving Marina Seca, onto the main road close by, down to the marina ramp - all being pushed 'backwards', ahead of the tractor driven by Jose-Maria...:

m2  3.Leaving Marina Seca 

4.Onto the main road by Marina Seca

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 m7 Afloat ..... at last!! m8

To celebrate, I invited yardworkers Jorge, Pepe and Edgar and their families to join me on board 'Nereida' the following Saturday afternoon with the idea of taking them all out for a sail after a good lunch. (They've never been out on a sailing vessel, despite all their years of working on boats in the yard...)  I had a lot of work to do, clearing things away and tidying up to make room for twelve people eating down below and in the cockpit! (Photos show chaos in the main cabin and in the cockpit when we were about to leave the yard - made worse by having had to retrieve lots of gear from a storage locker...  I'm busy now working through everything on board, hoping to reduce the excess and make space for visitors!)

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I had a nasty shock when hoisting the staysail and finding I'd managed to crease the luff in the track on the foil... It proved impossible to budge it up or down, so I folded/furled it up as best I could, leaving the halyard slack, and then got help from my willing neighbours to hoist the genoa in the hope of using it during the Saturday outing...  (A few days later, a cheerful local rigger, Carlos, came to help me - and pulled the staysail down with very little effort - a big relief!!)

The usual scenario in the afternoons is for a N wind to pipe up strongly here, usually after a flat calm overnight and during the mornings, and I suspect my visitors were slightly worried about the possibility of the wind making 'rough' seas and causing seasickness - I later heard that Pepe had asked someone for pills, just in case!   I switched on the instruments in preparation for leaving the dock - and saw very little depth of water ... I'd totally forgotten about the shallow water in the marina and that LW was in the afternoon!  I checked with a knowledgeable neighbour - sure enough, the word was not to even think about leaving ...  I'd be sure to go aground in the marina entrance - either on the sand bar there or on an unmarked rock close by to its S....  (Friends Ben and Lucie, in 'Georgia'went aground on that same sand bar twice a week or so ago... despite their relatively shallow draught!!)   ... So my planned outing didn't happen - but we enjoyed the afternoon on board, despite that.

As is so often true, I've found people here to be really friendly and helpful...  Garth (originally from USA but with Mexican family across the Sea of Cortez in Mulege) has been very supportive - got my outboard properly serviced by Umberto, gave me some 'magic liquid' he guaranteed would unstick a well-stuck-down turning block on deck, sent rigger Carlos over to me to help with the jammed staysail, and also made sure mechanic Alejandro came to undo the seawater cooling pipe leading to the heat exchanger, where I knew I had bits of impellor stuck - ready to cause me a problem at some point, when running the engine...   I was amazed to see just how many broken bits of impellor flanges were there when Alejandro finally got to my engine yesterday (having been to the wrong marina at least twice over the week!) ... LOTS more than just the one impellor that had broken while battery-charging in the Southern Ocean last year...!:

 20141219 100040 20141219 100238 - gasket needs replacing Of course,the gasket needed changing but I have no spare - a tube of liquid gasket proved useful until I get another...  Alejandro reminded me I should have a spare injector or two, also...  And a small filter placed in the seawater pipe would be useful for easily extracting future impellor bits...

I've been working hard at improving my Spanish recently - of necessity, since many locals have little or no English.  It's satisfying to be able to communicate better with them.

With Christmas and the New Year so close, there's been a lot of movement in and out of the area & several friends on boats have left recently, but fortunately a few others will remain.  In particular, Ed and Charlene will be here - we're hoping to go out for a sail on 'Nereida' over Christmas Day - that would be great!  Ed spent quite a time with me today, looking over some problems on board with a view to helping me, which is greatly appreciated.  He'll be back tomorrow with tools.

The Internet here is awful - often impossible to make a good connection, so I tried to get my Bullet antenna working, to a wi-fi router...  Gustavo came by - and proved to be very helpful.  He got it working at one point, using a spare data cable I bought recently, but it's misbehaving again and needs more work.

My Christmas (and New Year) present to myself will be to get 'Nereida' better organised and sorted out!!  Despacio, despacio ...!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!  Feliz Navidad y Buen Ano Nuevo!!

San Carlos Report - 5th Nov 2014

Back to San Carlos via Phoenix, to work on 'Nereida'

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Spoke at Arizona Yacht Club meeting in Tempe, by Phoenix, on Tuesday 14th October, before heading on down to San Carlos.  A great audience at my talk . and a fun time the Sunday beforehand, sailing a Laser on Tempe Lake, in bright sunshine. Strong gusts capsized me twice - but water was fresh and warm, so swim was quite pleasant... Safety boat came to my rescue - I was just not heavy enough to get boat up again each time, despite all my efforts heaving on the end of the centre board!

Busy again now in Marina Seca, San Carlos - trying to get into 'Mex mode' to avoid stressing myself out over time taken to get nowhere...  But my bow thruster streamlining projecthas been nicely smoothed and finished off by Pepe and Adriano. (No - I didnt want one, but since its there, might as well prevent the loss of speed the tunnel must have caused).

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Had help installing replacement steering bearings and cables (with new greasers) and (replacement) new wind generator - wiring needs to be finished and hub plus blades to be put in place.

Also installed a Halyard Exhaust Alert in exhaust hose, with cockpit display - hoping never to have engine damaged by overheating in future.  Wiring of alarm and junction box needs completion but its not difficult - just needs me to find time to get to it.   (Photos show sensor inside hose and outer connection to junction box)

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With aft cabin turned upside down for access to wiring, Ill complete work there before replacing newly-cleaned bunk tops and tidying up - means main cabin and forepeak are jammed up, making moving about difficult.   Hard awning/dodger is also needing some more careful thought - spent time making patternsfor steel plates and straps to attach it firmly.   Jorge has been mproving the inside finish in places with fresh gelcoat.

Found an empty (i.e. leaked!) bottle of epoxy hardener all over forepeak floor ... grrr!!  Have spent time cleaning up a big mess, chasing up replacement and organising travel to/from Tucson to pick it up quickly - this weekend, I hope, ready for applying Coppercoat next week.  Have scheduled launch for 24th Nov so need to get it done, along with Propspeed application to prop and propshaft, plus dealing with anything else below waterline.

Hot now in sun around midday, but has suddenly become very cool in the evenings and overnight - having to get out warmer bedding. (Debated getting out socks last night, uncovered feet felt so cold!)  No shore power input - not too surprisingly, charger is malfunctioning with high input voltage (132V, instead of 120V!) - yet another problem that was NOT on my list of expected boat work!  Having to rely on solar power to keep batteries charged - three wires needed new sections added to eliminate loss of output power due to corrosion.

Took last weekend off to relax and go sailing in Tucson S.C. Regatta here in San Carlos - lovely to get out on the water Friday - Sunday, with parties each evening.  Many thanks to Peter and Judy Burgard for inviting me to join them, with their son Alan, as their guest for the Regatta racing on Bandito, with its distinctive Halloween’ spinnaker in black & orange adding interest on the downwind legs!

Large moths are out in force in the evenings they seem to enjoy settling upside down on theinside of glasses to drink the beer! 

Friends Robert and Rose finally enjoy Tillicumbeing launched - after two years of hard work on a total refit - she looks beautiful - happy people!!   Im envious!

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Hot work on the hard...

24th June 2014 - from Marina Seca, San Carlos, Mexico

I've been busy since my return but it's baking hot here (35C/95F in shade) from 8 a.m. onward - I've been getting up early, to start work while it's cooler - often around 5:30 am!! By midday, it's difficult to do anything much - above or below deck... (and painting, epoxy work & varnishing is impossible!). It gets very tiring trying to get work done in the heat of day and I'm drinking loads of water and fruit juices. Some people have installed air-conditioning - lucky! There's a good fan above my main bunk which makes for a reasonable sleep overnight and I eventually managed to rig some sunshade, making a big difference on deck. Work is going very slowly, with collar bone problem not having helped (even now, it often still aches) and even the Mexicans slow down in the heat, not surprisingly. It's so hot that the laptop starts overheating & misbehaving during daytime. We're in a desert here!

A couple of weeks ago, the steering wheel was removed to expose the totally rusted/useless/ 'exploded' bearings - had three very knowledgeable and experienced guys helping, with great difficulty, to remove the steering components and take everything apart - bad corrosion helped by mix of aluminium and steel in a poorly-designed system with little or no anti-seizing grease used originally - no wonder steering had been difficult - amazing that I was able to steer at all! A local good metal worker in the town of Guaymas nearby had to deal with some damage unavoidably caused to some items during removal of the steering system shaft and bearings and I also had to find the local bearng specialist to replace one bearing I didn't have a spare for...

The keel is looking good after a lot of effort by yard workers Sergio and Edgar who have stripped off all the old anti-fouling, faired the lead keel and its join to the GRP stub and then coated everywhere with epoxy. I sanded some parts myself - including the propellor and shaft, ready for Propspeed to be applied later. The plan was immediately to apply the Coppercoat in the early morning, around sunrise.... but the heat, even so early, has put that plan on hold until October. In the meantime, the epoxy is reacting to the intense sunlight, so I'll have to cover it up during the 3-4 months in dry storage.

I managed to sunburn my back while dealing with the starboard forward lower shroud that had broken loose on my way down the South Pacific towards Cape Horn in December 2012. All I had to do was undo a connector, loosen the rigging , replace the shroud protector, tension the shroud correctly and secure a few split pins - but I managed to replace the protector upside down - so had to undo and re-do a lot of work - all took a time in the burning midday sun with no shade over me - not good!

The yard workers are presently making a hard top in place of my canvas sprayhood... Glass fibre is about to be applied, after a long time preparing the 'mould' - mostly in wood, with Formica covering, resulting in my having to perform a 'limbo dance' in order to access the companionway steps to get down below...

The good news is several cruiser friends here being helpful and the Mexicans generally being cheerful and friendly - although timing is not their forte!  There are many other jobs still waiting...   many as a result of my recent ocean voyaging...  Rough seas are tough on a boat!

I gave a well-attended Presentation on my solo sailing recently in 'Tequilas' with a rigged-upcloth for screen and Pitt and Ron supplying essential equipment and generally being very helpful - it was good to enjoy the air conditioning!

Later last week, I decided to take a break from being constantly in the dusty, hot workyard and went over to walk around the marina area after my shower - and enjoyed some live music... 'Los Tres Amigos' grew to 'Los Seis Amigos' when two more guitarists and a harmonica-player joined the group! I later had a lovely walk back in the light of the full moon.... San Carlos feels very safe. The evenings after sunset are definitely the best time - a lovely cold shower and a walk in the night air are very welcome.

While waiting for a ride down from Phoenix/Tucson area back to San Carlos, I heard that old boat-friends Karen and Bryan were not far away - so had an unexpected, very enjoyable trip to Clarkdale, with visits to the fabulous red rocky outcrops of Sedona, old Cottonwood, the old Native settlements of the (mis-named) Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot and a fascinating high lake (equally mis-named Montezuma's Well!) caused by upwelling of underground water - a resource for locals from time immemorial...