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SeaVenture 12-29-2008 09:46 PM

As cruisers we're supposed to be flexible, right? Well, when our dependable, perfectly running, always starting, never leaking or smoking engine decided to swallow a valve just north of Cabo, we became true sailors. I suppose it's fortunate that it happened then instead of when my eighty-year-old mother was on board. The only reason we'd resorted to a few days of motorsailing was that enemy of crusiers, the deadline. Mama wanted to come snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez and surely we'd be there by her arrival date. Well, if we hadn't dawdled and had so much fun in anchorages on our way south or felt we had to fix so many things before we left Ensenada, she would have been right.

Anyway, Mama postponed her trip, we zigged into Cabo and zagged right out again. Then we drifted in very, very light air to Puerto los Cabos, where we go a two in, thinking there'd be marine services locally. There weren't. So we waited for a good weather window to dash across the sea. Three programs prophesied 15-20 knot winds; just past the east cape we found sustained 30s gusting to 40s. It was late, the seas were messy, and we hadn't taken seasick meds (because we hadn't needed them on the way south. Oops. Exhausted, we hove to overnight. By the next day, the winds lightened, so what should have taken us two days, took six.

It was especially fun when we had Mazatlan in our sights for two days and nights and couldn't get there! Late on Friday night the wind finally shifted so that we drifted at 1.3 knots north--that's over the ground speed. Boat speed still read 00. Noon on Saturday found us six miles off the coast. A tow would pick us up at the jetty into Marina Mazatlan, but we had to get there. Michael lowered the dinghy, attached the 15hp motor, tied off to the starboard quarter, and in flat seas this big old girl made 2 knots. Yea! If we'd carried enough gasoline, we could have used that method any time during the previous four days, but we were saving it for an emergency. We had plenty of food, plenty of water, so the doldrums weren't really an issue. Drifting backwards was.

I hate being towed. It's dangerous because you never know what the tow driver will do. This one failed to communicate that we were in danger from a bar that the cruising guides failed to mention. We had read about 12' of depth at low tide. Our 6.5' depth rammed the bar (causing the tow boat to toss up its stern--fortunately nothing broke on either boat--we have good strong lines and strong Samson posts,) dug in, and then our good old full keeled boat heeled, turned, and finally slipped off.

Now we are here, waiting for the holidays to end so we can get tests done on the engine to see why it failed. Then we've decisions to make.

Marina Mazatlan is beautiful, the weather much nicer than Ensenada, we're making friends, and life is good. Merry belated Christmas to all and a Happy New Year from Sea Venture's crew, Normandie and Michael Fischer

imagine2frolic 12-30-2008 05:26 PM

This cruising is just plain fun, isn't it!!!!!!!....BEST WISHES in sorting out the trouble......i2f

redbopeep 12-30-2008 09:53 PM

Good to hear from you guys again!

Sorry to hear about engine problems but happy to hear that you were able to self-tow with you tender for a little bit.

Your "regular tow" towing story is the reason that my husband can't stand the idea of taking a tow--too many screw-ups entirely in the control of the guy towing you!

We know a few owners of large schooners (60-100 ft length including spars) that end up using their own tender in harbor to "push" around their boat into a berth in tight quarters rather than risk damage to their boat or another in a marina. The previous owner of our boat (54' on deck 67' including spars) used this boat for 20+ years without an engine>/huh.gif But lucky for him, he was a daring sort of guy who liked, umm...challenge! He routinely self-towed this 29 Ton boat into and out of berths--rowing!

We'll have an engine--thank goodness! but intend to use a small electric drive motor both as a prop-shaft generator and as an in-port maneuvering motor if we don't want to fire up the engine or, heaven forbid, if the engine doesn't work.

Some motor boats are set up with their gen-set to be the "limp home" engine by use of a set of sheaves.

I know your hubby is very handy so I bet he's got the cogs a-turning thinking about these sorts of things>/happy.gif

SeaVenture 12-30-2008 11:11 PM

Brenda, we had suggested to the harbormaster's office here at Marina Mazatlan that we could tow ourselves in with perhaps one other dinghy/panga to help. She said it wouldn't be possible because of something having to do with the entrance channel, though she didn't clarify. One wants to come in at slack tide with plenty of water over the bar, with no current, and no dredger in the picture--none of which was mentioned by anyone, including the three cruising guides we were using for information--one of which was supposedly just updated. She forgot to mention the impediments--and the surf bouncing off the rock wall just on the other side of the bar, which frankly might have sent us elsewhere. The bar is now such an issue here that the dredger works most days and most of the time, closing off sections if not the whole entrance. He opens things up for an hour or so in the morning and the same in the afternoon -- which may or may not be at the appropriate time for keel boats or boats in tow -- so that the fishermen can get out and come back in. The timing couldn't have been worse for us. As you can imagine, we're not leaving the dock until our engine is fixed--and then only when all conditions are right. It's such a nice place to be; I'm just sorry that the entrance is such an issue.

Michael and I discussed using the genset, but we didn't have the things needed to try to make it work. He may invest in such after this.

redbopeep 12-31-2008 12:20 AM


Originally Posted by SeaVenture (Post 28990)
Brenda, we had suggested .....

I've been to Mazatlan a few times but not by boat. I remember seeing sailboats anchored out a ways and I can't remember there being a bar--but that was many years ago, too.

Not knowing about the surf and bar issue sounds a bit frustrating! For us, in a wooden hull with 6 ft draft minimum, it would have been awful to scrape on a sandbar even if no "real" damage was done! Though most the bottom of the exposed keel is lead, the part of the keel which is not lead has something called a "worm shoe" which is a bit of wood that is replaced from time-to-time, In the front, the worm shoe is expose and at the deepest part of the keel in the back that wood has bronze plates over it. However, once the bottom paint is scraped from the bronze plates or the wood, one ends up hauling out the boat shortly thereafter to touch up the bottom paint before nasty wood-eating sea life (i.e. "worms") start munching on the boat.

I'm glad you're in a lovely location and hope you enjoy it while you're there>/smile.gif

Do you have what you need to fix the engine onboard? Is it accessible and possible to do there? If you need anyone to call 'round for parts or anything, let us know.

Warm regards,


SeaVenture 01-05-2009 07:24 PM


The bar is located at the entrance to the marina area, a bit north of the regular harbor--home to Marina Mazatlan, Marina El Cid, and a new, very small government marina. Having just had our bottom painted, we're not happy about the scraping--especially when it could have been avoided with proper information before we headed in. We should have asked, but without warning from the two cruisers' guides we were using, the marina manager who'd sent us here, the marina manager in Mazatlan with whom we'd been speaking, the tow boat operator, or anyone on channel 16, we didn't know we needed to ask! The advertised 12' seemed plenty.

Good lesson there: in a foreign port, always ask first and make your decisions based on of-the-moment information.

As for parts, there seems to be a plethora of ex-pats down here (married to Mexicans so are residents if nothing else) running businesses out of Marina Mazatlan and the surrounding area. We've contacted one such who comes highly recommended. We just hope that the recommendations aren't reminiscent of the highly touted dentist we visited in Ensenada--"Oh, he's done so much for us!" they said. I bet. His evaluation after cleaning? I needed $1700 worth of fillings. "Don't you trust me?" he asked, much like the cartoon snake, whatever his name was. Eight months after seeing my CA dentist and now I've 10 cavities and will die of Alzheimers or arthritis if I don't get rid of the silver in my mouth? I found another local dentist, asked him to take a look, and came away with one filling in a chipped tooth for a total cost of $45. Okaaaayy...

If we do get into trouble, I'll give you a call. Otherwise, we'll be here for a while. If you get down this way again, holler at us!


redbopeep 01-05-2009 09:18 PM

Good to hear that dentists in Mexico are the same as here--totally inconsistent!

Regarding the bar--sorry, again, for your troubles and I suppose its just another lesson learned: "ask, ask, ask, ask, ask" for info about everything! Sometimes I think that I ask for way too much info from way too many people--but sometimes I'm very happy to have been so dogged about it.

Best to you!

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