Saturday, November 23, 2013

Turtle Bay to Mag Bay

FUBAR Fleet’s next leg of the journey is 260 miles from Turtle Bay (27.67N x 114.88W)  to Magdalena Bay (24.651N x 112.12 W).     Turtle Bay was a little bit depressing with abundant poverty, dirt streets and poor housing in the area we visited.   We did find excellent coffee beans and friendly people.  I missed the dinner the night before we left, spending my evening working on one of the boats that choose to return to San Diego.  A large Searay sedan had inverter problems that left them without the ability to continue.  It was a very complex boat, multiple battery banks, automatic crossover controls, after delivery modifications and tough access to the main control panel.  Additionally, the owner’s wife injured her knee and was in pain.   We left them with a running generator and capable to returning along with a knee brace to support her injury.  The second boat of 33 to abandon the trip.

The leg to Mag Bay is expected to be 36 hours at 7.5 kts. (we used 160 gallons of fuel)  Generally the plan was to leave about 10 am to arrive at 10 pm the following day.   By 8:00 am the anchorage was nearly empty as the fleet seemed anxious to get going.  The fishing was supposed to outstanding as we crossed some of the best fishing banks on the west coast.   We got underway at 8:30 am planning to travel at 7.5 kts.  This makes WORKNOT right in the middle of the pack for speed.  Notable boats underway included a Nordhavn 76 and a pair of Nordhavn 62’s.  We are traveling in good company.

Fishing turned out to be outstanding as promised.  We landed Dorado and hooked something that destroyed a new “Candy Bar” lure and got away.   Wahoo were caught by several folks and perhaps that is what we lost.   Can’t find a filet knife on board, (know we HAD one), so again we are filleting fish with a bread knife.   Not pretty but effective.  The volume of meat per fish is impressive and the freezer is filling up fast. 
On our boat the water tanks are not connected to each other.  We carry 350 gallons of water in 4 tanks.  Useful for balancing the boat as we can take water from any tank to help trim the boat.   Frustrating as a liveaboard at the dock as we have to frequently switch from tank to tank or refill the tank we are using often.  The logic of this design showed itself on our trip about 7 pm on the way to Mag Bay.  A hose clamp fitting popped off allowing the freshwater pump to empty one of the tanks into the bilge.  Caught it on a routine engine room check.  Repair was easy, just reattach the fitting and tighten the hose clamps.  Since we only lost one tank, no impact on our trip, safety etc.   The watermaker replenished the tank in about 5 hours and we were again carrying enough water to complete the journey without  buying or making more.  Recently added a secondary filter to the water system and it was one of those connections that slipped off.  
All the FUBAR boats monitor the same channel and there is a fair amount of chit chat as the group gets more comfortable with each other.  The chit chat was interrupted by one of the faster boats, about 25 miles ahead of us, taking on water at about 11 pm.  They could not pinpoint the intake point and has lost one bilge pump in the aft lazzerette.  Somehow water was coming on board from the stern in what had become a 3-5 foot following sea.   The Nordhavn 76 was nearby and turned around to stay with them as they continued south.  No real relief is available at that part of the Baja until you are almost to Mag Bay.  Well over 100 miles away from them and they would not reach there until the afternoon. 

A call was made for any help and one of the more seasoned boats suggested they might be able to use wax toilet bowl seals, found in any Home depot, to plug the leak if they could find it.  They transferred seals to the stricken boat and they applied the wax to the area of the transom expected to be the source.   The seas had calmed down some and things seemed to be under control.   By now it was early in the morning and they had been working for several hours, all while still traveling south, to solve the ingress.  The next morning they reported things well under control but wanted to make a more permanent repair.  We have a crash kit that includes multiple ways to repair a hull breech and offered to provide it but we were still 25-30 miles away.  At 7.5 kts it takes a long time to close the gap even if they waited.   One of the fast sport fishing boats was about 5 miles from us and reversed course to meet us.   The Riviera 54 is capable of nearly 30 kts.   We transferred the repair materials to them and they raced off to the stricken boat.  

The transfer process might be of interest to some:  Getting two boats together in open seas is a major safety issue.  Even in fairly settled conditions the opportunity for damage or worse is high.   Different boats roll at different rates and the wind impacts every boat in a different way.   The solution was found in a stroke of luck and inspiration.  At the beginning of the journey, we were given an orange float tube similar to those carried by lifeguards on California beaches. It was a promotional gift from the maker “Drytube”  At the time we all thought “what the heck am I going to do with this thing?”   After this trip would not go to sea with one aboard.  Below is the material we placed in the Drytube for transfer.  We then tied a fender to the tube and threw it overboard.  The pickup boat snagged the line, much like the “Deadliest Catch” does with crab pots and retrieved the goods.

The stricken vessel and several other boats stopped just short of Mag Bay at Santa Maria Bay.  They were able to locate the ingress point; a locker built into the swim platform and made a suitable temporary repair.  The seam that was opened up could be sealed with less than a tube of caulk.  That does not minimize the concerns anyone would have felt with water coming into the hull from an unknown source, pitch dark and dozens of miles from any safe harbor.  Traveling with a group like the FUBAR must have been of great comfort the captain and crew.
We arrived at Mag Bay, just as the sun was setting.  The bay is about the same size as San Francisco Bay but very sparsely populated.  We made our way to Man of War cove dodging 10 or more small boats, all fishing with a variety of lights and techniques.   After 36 hours it was good to get the anchor down and get some much needed sleep without a watch to stand or an engine room to inspect.  
Mag Bay turned out to be everything Turtle Bay was not.   The water was very calm; the panga visits were pleasant and helpful.  Best of all, the dinner on shore was a fish fry with the fish provided by the FUBAR fleet.   Our host, Captain Marco, was gracious and his team put on a great feast for all of us.  A FUBAR tradition is bringing school supplies and gifts for the kids of Mag Bay.   Mary had studied this and we delivered a collection of back packs, school supplies and small gifts.   Several other boats also provided items and they were all assembled at the dinner location.  The kids came and sat very quietly until asked to come retrieve the goodies.  They even gave all of us some handmade gifts in exchange.   I could have stayed in Mag Bay for a few more days and plan to on our return trip.
Next leg is Mag Bay to San Jose Del Cabo (23.02N x 109.38.5W), just around the corner from Cabo San Lucas.   176 miles.    

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