Frailes to Muertos

Part 1

I woke up from an exhausted sleep at around 4am, and then I remembered – we had no engine. Boo.

The problem was that the hole the fuel return screw tightened into the fuel filter (the one half in shown below) had completely stripped it’s threads, meaning there was no way to compress the copper washers that held on the banjo fitting

This is what attached to the fuel filter

You can see the screw goes through and tightens down, with the aid of two copper washers.

With no cell service I was unable to check the internet for help, and there were no other boats in the anchorage – so it was something I had to fix myself! After a bit of experimentation, I found that that there were still some threads at the bottom, but the two washers made it so the screw didn’t reach. After spending an hour unsuccessfully filing down copper washers, I remembered I had some thinner cloth gasket material in a cupboard I’d bought years ago. Swapped the copper gaskets for that, and was able to get the screw to just about bite. Gulp.

It was now 6am, and we had 40 miles to go to reach Muertos, which had cell service and a restaurant (we hadn’t brought much food as I had wrongly assumed the trip would be easy and we’d catch hella fish). The wind was light and on the nose, but was picking up to over 25 knots at around 12 o clock and staying like that for a couple of days. We made the decision to try to get to Muertos before then and so used the engine and ran for the bay.

It was a very nervous morning of motoring – I wasn’t convinced the temporary fix I had done would hold so kept constantly checking on the engine, and right on cue the wind picked up a couple of hours before we got fully into shelter so it was a bit of a bash at the end.

Finally however, we got in safe. We put the potabote together and went in for a well-deserved dinner.

This sign has seen better days

We ended up waiting out the North wind for a couple of days and did some really fun snorkelling in crystal clear water and chased pufferfish around (they are my favourite)

Muertos to Lobos

Once the wind had abated a bit, it was time to head back out! The wind was a very nice 10 knots even though it was straight on the nose, so we tacked all the way up the inside of Isla Cousteau. It was over 30 miles and took us most of the day despite an early start.

That’s the thing about beating into the wind, it takes twice as long. At least it was a nice sail with flat water and good wind. No fish – though we had a hit but the drag had been left off the reel and the fish got away. Doh. So out of practice!

Once at the top of the channel we had 10 miles to go to La Paz and it was getting dark. The wind died, so we turned on the motor and the engine started leaking fuel again… damn. On the plus side, we snagged a Pacific Sierra right as we went across the narrowest part of the channel. First fish and dinner for the night!

We limped into Lobos Rock, an anchorage around 8 miles from La Paz and dropped the anchor.

Lobos Rock to La Paz

We ended up staying at Lobos Rock a few days while I tried various things to get the engine working just enough to get us to La Paz. Nothing worked – the remaining threads were completely gone. Luckily it’s a nice anchorage and we did some fun snorkelling to take our mind off things.

Without many other options, we decided to catch a ride to La Paz and take the part in (which I had removed) to a machine shop, where they could repair the threads with a fairly simple procedure called a helicoil.

The problem was the nearest road was a couple of kilometres on the other side of some hills and a small desert. Without much choice, we set off

A view of Gudgeon in the bay from the top of a hill

Luckily there was a fairly defined path

This desert looked so cool, the pictures don’t do it justice

Finally, we got to the road

We started to hitchhike but with not much hope as it’s a pretty quiet road on this stretch – luckily the first car stopped for us! He was super friendly and drove us all the way into town, dropping us at the machine shop. They were great and managed to do a same day fix and we went back to the boat, arriving before dark

Hooray!

The next day we set off for La Paz, and sailed all the way to the channel (where the currents can get up to 3 knots, hence me wanting a working engine before attempting it!)

Arriving into the anchorage we saw a small pod of dolphins who swam over and said hi, swimming along and around the boat despite the fact we weren’t moving (usually I’ve only seen them swim alongside when the boat is going fast)

A great end to a somewhat stressful week!

 

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