Sailing With Bloom https://sailingwithbloom.com Family Sailing Adventures Fri, 17 May 2019 21:03:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 14 months with engine issues….. you won’t believe what the problem was https://sailingwithbloom.com/14-months-with-engine-issues-you-wont-believe-what-the-problem-was/ https://sailingwithbloom.com/14-months-with-engine-issues-you-wont-believe-what-the-problem-was/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2019 20:35:21 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=1028 The post 14 months with engine issues….. you won’t believe what the problem was appeared first on Sailing With Bloom.

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We got towed into the harbour in Mazatlan 14 months ago now. You can read our story here- Sea Shepherd to the Rescue- Stranded in the Sea of Cortez. To sum it up in a quick nutshell, our engine died about 7 hours of La Paz while we were in a channel. We ended up getting towed over 200 nautical miles to Mazatlan by the angels of the ocean, Sea Shepherd. We immediately started troubleshooting our engine. We were recommended a local mechanic who came onboard and suggested we pull the injectors and get them serviced. We went for it, and when the injectors came back from the shop and were re-installed, the engine was worse with a loud knocking sound. Great. So, we decided to try the next mechanic that was recommended to us and he helped us to get the injectors re-calibrated to solve the knocking and at least get us back to square one. After months and months of working with our mechanic, we had nothing but issues trying to track down the source of the problem. The engine would only run for 15-20 minutes before it would lose power and die.

The Sea Shepherd Engineer & Assistant, trying to get Bloom’s engine working

Here is pretty much everything we did, not necessarily in this order: We ran the engine out of a bucket- the problem persisted. We replaced all hoses in the fuel system. We checked the tank vent to ensure it wasn’t clogged. We checked the pick up tube to make sure it wasn’t clogged and pressure tested it. We pulled several samples of fuel from our diesel tank to confirm that it was not dirty or contaminated with water. We replaced the fuel shut off valve as we had heard that on our boat they are a known problem. We changed both fuel filters- twice. We found a tiny weep on the back of our Racor housing unit, so we replaced it. We replaced the fuel lift pump…..twice as we thought perhaps one of them was damaged. We checked our exhaust elbow to see if it was clogged- it was not. (While we had it off we also cleaned the heat exchanger and flushed the cooling system out as well as replaced our fresh water pump as it was quite corroded) The problem STILL persisted. Bloom’s engine would not stay running for more than 20 minutes before she would lose power and die.

At this point, we decided to get some fresh eyes onboard and brought a new mechanic in- Rafa with Mazatlan Yachts Services. He thoroughly inspected and tested our engine and after lots of investigation, we concluded that the problem must be the injector pump so we replaced it. That wasn’t it. Rafa even brought Volvo Penta specialists for us in from Puerto Vallarta to see if they could help find the problem. We pulled the timing housing off to inspect the governor and didn’t find any major issues. We inspected our idler gear on the oil pump and noticed that it had way too much play in it so we concluded that it was the issue. We ordered anew one and Rafa installed it for us- still no love.

Rafa with Mazatlan Yachts Services assessing our engine

As we started discussing the ‘repower’ word, Rafa wasn’t ready to give up. He bled the lines while the engine was running and smelled the bleed cloth. He believed he could smell a hint of gasoline on it. He took another fuel sample and asked a couple of nearby boat workers. They thought they could smell gasoline too. Hmmmm, this was getting interesting. Next we got a fresh supply of clean diesel (not from our tank this time!) and ran the engine out of a bucket after thoroughly flushing the potentially-contaminated fuel out of our system. She ran beautifully for well over the usual 20 minutes. No decrease in power, she ran perfectly. WOW. We couldn’t believe that after all this time, Bloom didn’t even have an engine issue- she had a FUEL issue! Yikes.

How the heck did gasoline get in our fuel tank you are wondering? Well, to be honest, so are we. We always fill our tanks out of jerry cans so that we can run the fuel through a Baja filter before it enters our tank (yes, we do catch a lot of water and crud!) Gasoline does not get caught in a Baja filter though. Just before we left La Paz, we topped our tank up with the two jerry cans of diesel that we’d bought while in Puerto Escondido. We will never know if the diesel was contaminated with gasoline or if the fuel attendant accidentally added some gasoline but we are sure this was the source of the contamination.

There was enough gasoline mixed in with the diesel in our tank to cause what we thought were fuel pressure issues. Thank goodness there was not enough gasoline in our diesel tank to cause our engine to explode. We were extremely lucky, even though we got stuck in Mazatlan for so long! That said, we have learned more about our engine during that 14 months than ever before. We like to think of it as our year-long intensive, hands-on diesel course in Mazatlan!

The other wonderful side affect of our engine trouble chasing journey is that we really got to know Mazatlan and all that it has to offer. It has found a place in our hearts and is one of our favourite cities in Mexico! We now consider ourselves ‘Mazatlecos’ and will be leaving behind friends and our ‘familia de Mexico’ when we leave.

The Bloom Crew bids farewell to the friendly staff at Marina Mazatlan

We are hoping that our experience will help prevent this issue happening to other cruisers- please be careful when filling your tank or your jerry cans and if you have issues with your engine, check your fuel first!

Thanks Rafa! We love you!!

We would like to give a HUGE shout out to Rafa with Mazatlan Yachts Services for never giving up on us and perservering until he helped us find the problem. He is a wonderful mechanic- highly skilled with great communication and very fair pricing. If you need your engine serviced he will take great care of you!

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Surviving the Summer Heat on a Boat https://sailingwithbloom.com/surviving-the-summer-heat-on-a-boat/ https://sailingwithbloom.com/surviving-the-summer-heat-on-a-boat/#respond Wed, 04 Jul 2018 21:35:47 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=825 We spent last summer in the Sea of Cortez and this summer in Mazatlan. Several people have told us we are crazy. The initial plan was to go it without an air conditioner, however we ended up getting one in San Carlos for the simple reason that there were a LOT of mosquitos and other […]

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We spent last summer in the Sea of Cortez and this summer in Mazatlan. Several people have told us we are crazy. The initial plan was to go it without an air conditioner, however we ended up getting one in San Carlos for the simple reason that there were a LOT of mosquitos and other bugs- way different from the Baja, so we could not open up the boat and screens cut air flow by at least 50%. If you stay on the Baja, this is doable if you have a high tolerance and allow yourself to acclimatize. The Sea of Cortez gets HOT in the summer. Like, melt-your-face-off-hot. Temperatures on average are in the high 30’s to mid 40’s and it never really cools below 28-30 degrees at night. The humidity is also really high, so you pretty much sweat constantly. So, unless you have a breeze, there is not a ton of relief. Here are some of the strategies we’ve adopted to help us survive the relentless heat of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez during the summer months!

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. This allows Bloom to receive some small kick-backs from our affiliates at no cost to you. We appreciate anyone who shops via our links below! Thank you!

Keep the Heat Out Of Your Boat

Bloom’s store-bought hatch covers

Hatch Covers

Hatch covers will help protect your hatches from ‘crazing’ and extend their life, while also keeping the sun out of your boat. We have several rectangular hatches onboard Bloom, so we had several made and opted for store-bought hatch covers for our square-sized hatches that are more ‘generic’. Lots of people have portlight covers made also, although we have not gone this option yet as they do make it quite a bit darker in the boat, but we may add these in future. You can find pre-made hatch covers similar to the ones pictured on our boat here on Amazon.

Bloom’s sunshade awning

Sun Shade

Having a sunshade made for your boat is a fantastic way to keep the heat out of your boat and create shade on your deck. We had a sun shade made while here in Mexico and it provides a lot of shade and keeps the decks and the inside of the boat cooler. We also like that we can have our portlights open and not have the sun come blaring in, heating everything up. We opted for a 90% sun blockage phifertex material and attached ours under the boom so we wouldn’t have to deal with our lazyjacks, or chafe on our sunbrella stack pack.

Phifertex cockpit shades zip onto sides of bimini

Cockpit Shade

We had dodger window covers and bimini window covers made to not only protect the clear vinyl windows, but also to create as much shade in the cockpit as we can. These made an immense difference! We also had ‘side panels’ made that zip onto our bimini top and not only create a lot more shade within the cockpit, they also add a huge amount of privacy as well. We had them made in La Paz from phifertex material, which blocks 70% of the sun’s rays. It allows you to see out very easily, but others cannot see in. (Although at night if you have lights on in the cockpit, the reverse is true- you cannot see out and others can see in!)

Here is the nice shaded effect inside the cockpit with the side panels zipped on.

Cool Cooking

We tend to eat ‘cooler’ meals like salads when it is super-hot as not only do we not feel like cooking, we don’t want to heat the boat up further! A great strategy is to make pasta or cous cous in the morning and then let it cool during the day. You can turn it into a great pasta salad by adding some chopped veggies, nuts, herbs, etc. and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Boat Galley also has a great article on making rice in a thermos. Here is the Hydroflask thermos that we use! It is also a great option to make meals that require just a little bit of reheating- beans (can be easily scooped into tortillas with veg, cheese, etc.) or leftovers. A lot of times, we buy the envelopes of beans widely available in Mexico and just leave them to sit in the sun for several minutes- works a charm!

Ventilate Inside Your Boat

Wind Scoop

You’ll want to open as many opening hatches and portlights as you can if you have a bit of a breeze outside. We also have had great success with our ‘Breeze Bandit’ by Cruising Solutions (available for $49.95 here) which mounts in the v-berth hatch and pulls a breeze from any direction- which helps at anchor and while at the dock as well! A helpful tip if you do buy a Breeze Bandit- rather than screwing the snaps into the fiberglass inside of your boat that come with the Bandit, we stuck a command hook on each corner of the inside of the hatch and sewed shock cord loops into the fix points on the Bandit. This makes for easier installation, no holes in the boat and a little stretch to allow some natural movement in the wind scoop.

Fans

We have these Caframo DC-powered fans mounted in the boat and they work really well. We love that you can pivot them to direct the air flow where you need it. They are also very easy to install- it only took us a few minutes each and we are are by no means pros. These Caframo Bora 12V 3 Speed Fans can be bought on Amazon here. They also only draw a fraction of an amp- so when you are at anchor you don’t have to worry about draining your batteries down which is a major bonus. When we are in a marina at the dock, we also put another two AC powered fans out to push the air as much as we can!

We also LOVE this suction fan that we got on Amazon. We sleep in the aft cabin and Lisa’s side of the bed is under the cockpit- away from the portlight, hatch and fan so it can get really hot and stuffy. This little suction-on fan has been a God-send! You can stick it to any smooth surface and it runs for hours! It charges up from a micro-USB in about an hour. It can also be removed from the suction cup (it just slides out) and you can use it as a personal hand-held fan. It’s brilliant! Check these suction fans out on Amazon!

Keep Yourself Cool

Cooling Towels

These are one of our all-time faves! Each member onboard has 2 cooling towels so you always have one if one is in the wash. They are very thin, come in a multitude of fun colors and they WORK! All you do is soak the towel in water (preferrably cold water but any water will do), squeeze out the excess, snap the towel between your hands and drape it on. You can wear it around your shoulders (which also provides great sun protection if you are getting a little too much sun), a bandanna, under your hat to protect your neck, around your neck as a scarf, over your legs- the possibilities are endless. These can often help cool you down at night in bed as well if you drape it lengthwise down your body. Sometimes our dog gets one draped over her as well if she is panting a lot. These really cool the body down- it is really amazing! When you move the towel away and feel your skin, it is way cooler than before. We cannot recommend these enough! Check these cooling towels out on Amazon!

Misting Fans

These personal misting fans are really great for keeping cool also. Just fill up with some water, spritz and fan yourself to your heart’s content! They take AA batteries and these particular ones come with a carabineer so that you can hang it from your backpack or somewhere in the cockpit. A great option for those hot summer days and you can even use them on your dog 🙂 Check these misting fans out on Amazon here!

Keep Hydrated

When it is hot it is SO important to keep hydrated since you are sweating to much. We love our Hydroflasks! If you fill them up with water and some ice, they stay cold for HOURS. We have their personal sized (20 oz) water bottles and one of their 64 oz ones as well (to refill the smaller ones) and it also works great for thermos cooking (as mentioned in above ‘Cool Cooking’ section- think lentils, rice, pasta and more)!

They come in a TON of colors, sizes and lid-styles as well. They are on the pricey side, but from our experience with water bottles, you get what you pay for. These babies are BPA-free, stainless steel and are double-walled and vacuum-insulated.

 

Keep Your Drinks COLD

Nobody likes warm beer…. Keep your drinks cold for hours with this Yeti soft cooler. We really like ours and use it daily throughout the summer! It makes grabbing an ice-cold drink really easy and saves having to open and close the fridge multiple times a day. (Which is really important in hot locations as every time your open your fridge you lose precious cold air!) The nice thing with this cooler as well is that unlike a hard-cooler, it squishes down really easily for storage when you aren’t using it. It is also easily portable and has handle straps as well as a long, adjustable shoulder strap. These coolers are not cheap, but with YETI, you really get what you pay for. The quality is unprecedented and YETI is a leader in marine coolers. TIP: We hung a bottle opener on ours! Check out the Yeti Hopper 30 on Amazon here! If you want a smaller size, they also have this one!

 

 

 

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Sea Shepherd to the Rescue: Stranded in the Sea of Cortez https://sailingwithbloom.com/sea-shepherd-to-the-rescue-stranded-in-the-sea-of-cortez/ Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:44:22 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=990 Our next destination was Mazatlán, Sinaloa, on Mexico’s mainland coast. With a little over 200 nautical miles to get there, we planned for a full two-day crossing and did all of our due diligence before departing: provisioning and food prep, engine checks, filter changes, weather routing etc. We picked what we felt would be a […]

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Our next destination was Mazatlán, Sinaloa, on Mexico’s mainland coast. With a little over 200 nautical miles to get there, we planned for a full two-day crossing and did all of our due diligence before departing: provisioning and food prep, engine checks, filter changes, weather routing etc.

Excited to be on our way to a new city on the mainland of Mexico! Farewell to the Baja!

We picked what we felt would be a good window- light winds and fairly calm seas. We topped up our fuel tank from our jerry cans (through a Baja filter) and headed out at 8:30am into calm conditions. The wind wasn’t supposed to pick up a bit until later in the day, so we were prepared for a calm motoring morning.

Heading out of the channel with La Paz behind us.

Around 15:30, we were settling in while headed south through Cerralvo Channel. This channel is know for being very sassy (As it was when we went through going north to La Paz. We had 20 knots of wind directly on our nose and big swell, also on our nose- not fun!) so we were happy that it was flat when we were going through.

Settling in for a long journey- Carson reading his Kindle and relaxing with Ruby

We were motor-sailing with Lisa at the helm and Jason and Carson down below when suddenly the RPM’s dropped, shot back up and dropped again, then stalled out. We immediately started troubleshooting- was there air in the fuel lines?  Jason had just done a filter change of both primary and secondary filters while we were in La Paz, so it was possible that there could be air in the line, although strange as we’d already been motoring for about 7 hours at this point. Jason kept bleeding the lines and trying to get the engine going while Lisa started tacking back north towards the nearest anchorage, should we need more time to figure things out. Then the wind completely died to under 3 knots. We were not making much headway at all- it was likely current pushing us north at 1 knot. The sun was very low in the sky and we were starting to worry about being powerless in the channel in the dark.

Lisa began searching on AIS for other boats nearby for a possible tow or advice. We contacted a catamaran that was just south of us- almost out of the channel. They preferred not to turn around and head back where they’d come from to help us out so they offered advice on a possible anchoring spot. A very small shelf on Cerralvo Island that would be tricky to get into even with propulsion. Going in very close to shore with no power and no wind didn’t seem like a safe or viable option to us, so we kept looking on the AIS for another vessel who could assist.

Our location when the engine died- in Cerralvo Channel, several hours south of La Paz with the M/V Farley Mowat heading our way

There! a boat coming south towards us, into the channel! It was the M/V Farley Mowat. A Sea Shepherd boat that we had recently seen anchored near our marina in La Paz. Perhaps they would be able to tow us to a safe anchorage!

Lisa hopped on the radio. “Farley Mowat, Farley Mowat, this is Bloom”.  The former US Coast Guard cutter was quick to respond and listened intently to our situation. They asked us what our destination was, and when we responded, “Mazatlán”, asked us to hold for a few minutes so they could discuss the situation with the vessel’s captain.

“Bloom, Bloom, this is the Farley Mowat. It is your lucky day! We are also going to Mazatlán!”.

<insert radio silence here>

“Farley Mowat, do you mean that you are going to tow us all the way to Mazatlán, over 200 nautical miles?”

“Bloom- like we said, it is your lucky day!”.

Wow. This was surreal! We also had to kick it into high gear as the Farley Mowat was due to arrive at our boat within about 20 minutes. We had to get tow lines ready and get ourselves organized for what was to come. The Sea Shepherd crew onboard were so professional, calm and organized. With some tossing of lines and rigging of a tow system up on our bow, we were ready to get underway.

Lisa on the bow, rigging the tow lines for Sea Shepherd to hook through- If she looks a little freaked out, it is because she is!

The next hurdle was the fact that as an ex-Coast Guard boat, the M/V Farley Mowat likes to cruise at 10.5 knots. Bloom’s hull speed is 8 knots. This means that our entire back transom was a couple of feet under the water. It also meant hand steering with intense concentration; due to the speed, but also due to the fact that the Mowat was towing a panga off her aft port quarter that would flip if our tow line crossed it. The original plan with our two day and one night crossing was to have Carson, our 11-year-old son help with some of the night watch shifts. Our new setup meant that the steering was too intense for him, so would have to be shared between Captain and Co-Captain.

Underway, being towed by Sea Shepherd’s M/V Farley Mowat out of Cerralvo Channel

After a few hours, we were well clear of Cerralvo Channel and were well into the open water crossing portion of the journey. We were starting to feel the burn out and still had a long way to go. Discussions amongst the crew ended in a decision to advise the Sea Shepherd team that we couldn’t continue at this speed and as we were safely out of the channel, we could detach from their tow line and hope for wind to get to Mazatlán. Captain Brian was adamant that they see us arrive safely and asked what the maximum speed would be comfortable with (Seriously!? How nice are these people!?) We let him know that around 8 knots would be much better for us so he offered to try it out and see how it goes- we’d touch base in the morning.  We found this speed to be much more manageable, but still pretty exhausting. We were really looking forward to reaching Mazatlán at this point!

Early the next morning- still getting pulled along by our new friends!

After a mostly sleepless night, we heard from the Farley Mowat in the morning who so-overly-graciously asked us if we’d like them to send back their Engineer and his assistant in their panga to troubleshoot our engine along with a crew member who was also a sailor to let us get a break at the wheel for a little while (I know, right?!) We were thrilled to accept their offer and helped their crew members climb aboard Bloom. After a couple of hours of troubleshooting and a much needed break at the helm, it was determined that Bloom’s engine needed to be assessed at a marina by a mechanic and the injectors were suspect.

The Sea Shepherd Engineer & Assistant, trying to get Bloom’s engine working

The sailor onboard the Farley Mowat came to help Bloom steer for a while! Here he is chatting with Jason while he has a rest.

The tow was continuing to go well and it was decided to tow us all the way to Club Nautico, the anchorage at Mazatlán’s commercial port. From there, we’d arrange a tow into the marina the next morning. Before the Shepherd crew panga’d back to their ship, we were blessed by an amazing show of hundreds and hundreds of spinner dolphins! What wonderful company to share this experience with.

Bloom in tow at sundown- the final leg of the journey (photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd crew member)

We arrived at the anchorage at about 23:00 and were exhausted at this point. We rafted up beside their 125 foot ship and used what little fumes we had left to accept the honor of a visit onboard the M/V Farley Mowat to meet the crew and express our gratitude to all onboard.

Rafted up to the M/V Farley Mowat at the Club Nautico anchorage at Stone Island, Mazatlán

Carson got his Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals of the World signed by the crew and lots of hugs went around. We toured their amazing vessel and were sad to wave goodbye to our new friends and saviours the next morning as we got towed away to the closest marina.

Farewell to our new friends, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat. Thanks guys!

If you aren’t familiar with Sea Shepherd and their efforts- their job is not saving people at sea, but sea life. Sea Shepherd is a worldwide, non-profit organization that focuses on marine wildlife conservation. They are currently in the Sea of Cortez for ‘Operation Milagro’ in which they are trying to save the extremely endangered Vaquita dolphins in the Northern section of the Sea. Sea Shepherd’s crews consist of almost all volunteers (only the Captain and Engineer receive compensation) which makes this team even more amazing. The compassion and care shown by their phenomenal team was second to none.

This was a once-in-a lifetime experience that we will never forget. We are forever grateful to them for their devotion to helping all those on the ocean and are donating monthly to them to continue to support their amazing efforts. If you would like to support Sea Shepherd, you can donate here or volunteer here.

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Sailing the Sea of Cortez: San Carlos to La Paz https://sailingwithbloom.com/sailing-sea-cortez-san-carlos-la-paz/ Thu, 01 Feb 2018 17:34:13 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=938 After waiting out the 2017 hurricane season onboard in San Carlos, we were anxious to get back out on the water and do some more exploring! We left on November 3rd and decided to spend a night at a nearby anchorage called Algodones which was a short hop away. The seas were really lumpy and […]

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After waiting out the 2017 hurricane season onboard in San Carlos, we were anxious to get back out on the water and do some more exploring! We left on November 3rd and decided to spend a night at a nearby anchorage called Algodones which was a short hop away. The seas were really lumpy and we were grateful that this was only a quick hop. The next morning, we opted to go straight to Caleta San Juanico on the Baja side. This picturesque anchorage is not to be missed and is only favourable during the Fall and Winter northeries, so this was the perfect opportunity to check it out. At about 100 nautical miles away, this would be an overnight sail- approximately 24 hours to arrive. The seas can really kick up in the Sea of Cortez, so we were very happy that they were calm and comfortable for this crossing, but we didn’t get to sail as the wind never hit more than about 5-6 knots.  The full moon was so bright, it was almost like daytime during the whole evening and we had very good visibility of the water, which was excellent.

our view from Bloom while anchored in Bahia Algodones

From Caleta San Juanico, we headed south to the southern anchorage at Isla Coronado. This was a quick hop away and with not much wind, we motor-sailed for about 2.5 hours to get there. The seas were a bit sassy with some cresting waves that were fairly close together. This anchorage has cell coverage, which was nice so we could check in with family and friends. Jason did a quick check-in on the condition of the oil in our sail drive leg while here and discovered it was very milky. This indicates sea water ingression into the leg through a small leak. Very frustrating as this had just happened to us the year before and we had to haul out and fix the issue when we were in Monterey, California. We figured we could investigate further when arriving to P.E. as they have a mechanic and a haul-out facility there….

Carson, enjoying some reading time on his kindle while it charges from the mini folding solar panels beside him!

The water temperature was perfect and we enjoyed an after-breakfast swim the next morning before making our way further south to Puerto Escondido. We had a nice day sail down, but getting closer to Escondido, the seas really picked up and the swell began to build outside of the bay. Bloom was surfing down some decent-sized waves! We were happy to get around the corner and into the protection of this beautiful bay. We grabbed a mooring ball and began making inquiries with the local mechanic with regards to our saildrive issue. The decision was made to haul out here to drain the oil and investigate for the source of the leak. We had to wait about a week to get hauled out, but it was a fantastic experience.

Bloom getting carefully hauled out of the water in Puerto Escondido on the Baja.

The staff at Puerto Escondio Marina’s boatyard are extremely professional and very helpful. Dago was the lift operator and he did a great job of hauling Bloom out safely with their travel lift after Jason stealthily backed her into the haul-out slip that was TIGHT! Once out, Greg with Puerto Escondido Marine drained the oil from our sail drive leg and assessed it. It was determined that the sea water was getting in via the housing unit that connects the prop and the leg together- we needed to order a new one and it was going to take a few days. The few days turned into about a week as the wrong part was delivered and PE Marine made it right. We made the best of our time on the hard by hanging out at the fantastic new wood-fired pizza bar there, using the store’s WiFi in the breezy-shade and feeding the 18 boat yard cats and kittens (which later got spayed and neutered by some good samaritans, yay!)

After nearly three weeks in Puerto Escondido and with Bloom repaired and in ship-shape, we were ready to make our way back to La Paz. We headed south again with a plan to stop at San Marte . With new friends on sv Happy Dance, we buddy boated along with them and ended up surfing some big swells again, coming in closer to the anchorage. We were again happy to get tucked in and out of the open waters into this fairly calm anchorage. First thing was first, we jumped in the water! Manta rays greeted us all around with their loud SLAP! sounds as they bellies flopped graciously against the flat waters. A peaceful night was had and we headed to Mangle Solo anchorage the next morning.

Cacti forest at Mangle Solo

So green and beautiful!

This was a really pretty anchorage with a huge cactus forest onshore that made for a beautiful backdrop during cocktail hour. We noticed several other Canadian boats anchored here as well- one being our friend Ken from sv Island Drifter that we’d met in Santa Rosalia. We reconnected with him and then decided to link up again the next day at the western anchorage of Isla San Francisco.

Island Drifter on his way to Isla San Francisco

This gorgeous anchorage boasts beautiful and warm turquoise waters and a white sand beach. Carson and Lisa decided to swim ashore and explore a little bit (we were anchored in very close) and Jason and Ken connected up for some cold beers. It was a wonderful stay until the very unusual southerly swell began the next morning and encouraged us to be on our way. We decided to head for one of the anchorages on Isa Ispiritu Santo- just north of La Paz. As we sailed south down the island, we inspected each anchorage as we approached. Most of them were extremely busy with many large motor yachts and jet skis zipping around. We continued on our way until we reached a very calm and peaceful anchorage which became a fast favourite- Ensenada del Candelero, or ‘Candlestick Cove’ in English.

Roca Monumento at Ensenada Candelero on Isla Espiritu Santo

This cove offers two little lobes for anchoring one to two boats in each and a fantastic ‘Roca Monumento’ in between them that turned out to be fantastic for snorkeling! The shallow, clear waters allowed us to see all the way to the bottom and made anchoring in the sand very easy. It’s always fun when you can easily see your anchor while snorkeling or even from the deck of your boat looking down. Amazing!

Jason snorkeling in the pristine turquoise waters

Jason & Carson watching manta rays jumping!

Lisa & Carson hanging out up on the bow on a windless motoring trip!

The shore at Bahia Falsa

From here, we opted for one more overnight stop in Bahia Falsa, just outside of the Costa Baja Marina in La Paz as we knew that the wind typically kicked up in the mornings and we wanted to have an uneventful docking experience. Bahia Falsa was really pretty and not to be overlooked! We were the only boat in the anchorage and were surrounded by Sea Turtles surfacing the entire time there. It was magical.

So hard to get a decent pic of a sea turtle!

The next morning we motored into Costa Baja Marina in La Paz and settled in. November is a fantastic time to be in the Sea of Cortez. Without the threat of a hurricane hanging over you, the temperatures are just perfect- the water still warm and there are a ton of anchorages to protect you from the northerly weather. We absolutely loved our journey south back to La Paz.

Sea Lions sunning themselves as they float aimlessly….

We were now excited to be getting a visit from family- Lisa’s Grama who would be coming down for a week from Washington. We enjoyed our last few weeks in La Paz, knowing that we would likely not be returning and had an absolute blast. Lots of time with family, friends and enjoying the beaches and all that La Paz has to offer. Next stop- Mazatlán!

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Sailing the Sea of Cortez: Santa Rosalia to San Carlos https://sailingwithbloom.com/sailing-sea-cortez-santa-rosalia-san-carlos/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 18:41:50 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=927 After five hot weeks in Santa Rosalia, we had the opportunity to have several discussions with cruisers in the marina as they came and went in regards to weathering storms there. One boat in particular- sv Slipper, had weathered Hurricane Newton in 2015 at the dock in Santa Rosalia. They said it was hell on […]

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After five hot weeks in Santa Rosalia, we had the opportunity to have several discussions with cruisers in the marina as they came and went in regards to weathering storms there. One boat in particular- sv Slipper, had weathered Hurricane Newton in 2015 at the dock in Santa Rosalia. They said it was hell on earth and the never wished to go through it again.

Carson at the helm!

So, as Summer is hurricane season in Mexico, we decided to sail across the Sea of Cortez to Mainland Mexico and weather the rest of the season at the marina in San Carlos. Although not totally impossible for hurricanes to hit there (Hurricane Odile in 2014 toppled several boats on the hard there) it is very protected and as safe as you are going to get if you don’t go further north. (Since our business requires internet to run, we needed to be at a marina with internet access and therefore couldn’t go north).

Sunrise enroute to San Carlos, Sonora.

It is about 70 nautical miles to cross the Sea of Cortez from Santa Rosalia, Baja Californa Sur to San Carlos, Sonora. This is the shortest distance to cross the Sea of Cortez, but you do have to be careful as the Sea of Cortez has been know to get quite angry at times and really kick up a fuss. We have heard all kinds of stories of horrible crossings- be it from the La Paz to Mazatlán or Santa Rosalia to San Carlos. We were very careful to check weather forecasts frequently to find a decent weather window to cross. We also had to be sure we weren’t leaving on a night when a Chubasco (sudden and intense nighttime storm) was going to hit. Read more here about predicting and preparing for a Chubasco.

On August 28th, 2017, we left the dock at 1:15am, planning for about a 15 hour crossing. We did a lot of motor sailing that night and battled a lot of wind on our nose.

sv Bloom and crew, approaching San Carlos

We finally arrived after a fairly uneventful crossing at about 4:45pm. We were warned that the afternoon winds tend to pick up in San Carlos and this is extremely accurate. They really kicked up when we wanted to dock and continued that pattern almost each day of our stay. We booked our slip a couple of weeks in advance at Marina San Carlos as it does tend to fill up in the summer months as people hunker down for the hurricane season. It was around 0.42 a foot USD and worked out to $514 USD per month, including electricity and water. Keeping in mind that the water on the dock there is NOT potable, the water is really only good for washing the boat or cooling yourself down. One other thing to note about the Marina in San Carlos is that the slips are VERY tight and the fairways are quite narrow. With the wind blowing it was very difficult to get into our slip. We are still not totally sure how we managed it. The boat beside us was one fender width away!

We knew it would be extremely hot in San Carlos. In fact, we met a few people from San Carlos while in Santa Rosalia who said that Santa Rosalia was cooler than San Carlos. Really?! Not sure how that is possible. As we’d been sleeping outside and survived 5 weeks in Santa Rosalia in July and August, we figured a few more weeks in San Carlos would be doable. Then, we met some cruisers on the dock who told us we wouldn’t be sleeping outside anymore. What?! Why?! Well, San Carlos has LOTS of mosquitos and other bugs. Ick. While the Baja was virtually mosquito-free in the summer, the Mainland side is a different story. We verified their statement when we went for dinner and attempted to sit outside- only to be swarmed by dozens of mosquitos and had to move inside. The restaurant ‘Embarcadero’ was so gracious and let us sit inside with our dog, Ruby because the mozzies were so bad. Side note- this restaurant has mostly gringo food- but if you feel like a good grilled cheese and fries, this is your place!

Marina San Carlos

Our neighbours on Ciao Bella who told us about the mosquitos also offered to take us to Home Depot in the morning to buy an air conditioner if we didn’t have a good night in the boat. I’m sure they knew we wouldn’t- LOL. It was miserable trying to sleep inside the boat with all the screens in. The screens block about 50% of the ventilation, so it was HOT and so uncomfortable. Needless to say, Lisa went off with Dianna from Ciao Bella first thing in the morning to pick up an air conditioner at Home Depot. Oh well, we lasted pretty long without it! At least we tried. We picked up the smallest ‘in window’ type air conditioner from Home Depot- an LG model for about $200 USD. We also picked up some 1″ thick pink insulation foam and decided that the easiest place to mount the AC would be in the companionway. We popped it in place, put one piece of foam straight up-and-down on top of it and another one parallel to it where the slider usually goes and voila! Instant AC. A bit of hassle going in and out of the boat, but since it was SO hot, we really weren’t going out much anyways. Sometimes if we needed to pop out briefly, we’d just go out the v-berth hatch.

So, we spent about 10 weeks in San Carlos and ended up weathering Tropical Storm Lidia there as well. It really hit the Baja hard- especially Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, but by the time it got to San Carlos, it was not that strong. We didn’t see more than 35 knots of wind but we did get a LOT of torrential rains.

Some minor flooding in San Carlos after Tropical Storm Lidia

From San Carlos you can easily walk up by the Hotel and catch a bus to Guaymas for about 12 pesos. There is lots to explore in town, from local tortillarias to a large mercado with lots of wares and food for sale. Also, about a mile from the marina is the ‘Santa Rosa’ market, nicknamed the ‘T’ store that has a lot of ‘gringo’ food and an array of Costco products, which we loved.

A beautiful doorway in Guyamas

San Carlos itself is famous for its mountains- specifically the ‘Tetas de Cabras’ (goat teats) which you can see as you approach by boat and also while you are in the marina. Every Saturday, there is a ‘Farmers Market’ right by the ‘Shots’ restaurant at the marina. It is certainly not much compared to La Paz, but you will find a stand with homemade dog biscuits, pies, portuguese donuts, preserved veggies, fantastic homemade bread and dragon fruit.

Fresh dragonfruit from San Carlos

There is great cell reception in San Carlos and Guyamas. There is WiFi offered by the San Carlos Marina. When we were there, it was pretty much down the entire time, but we did end up having success connecting to the WiFi at the local hotel. You need a username and password, but we went in and asked and they gave it to us. Never hurts to ask! At times, the hotel WiFi was lacking also, so we went to our favourite- Barracuda Bob’s. It is a local café right at the hotel that offers baked good, coffee, smoothies, etc. and has FANTASTIC WiFi. They are happy to allow you to sit there and use their WiFi for a while and sip a coffee, etc. Tokens for the laundry room right next door are available through Barracuda Bob as well. It’s nice to do your laundry while enjoying a cold drink and some WiFi. We also heard that the hotel offers laundry service if you go to their employee entrance and ask. We heard that they don’t always have your laundry ready same-day though. Something to consider if you bring sheets or towels to them and don’t have spares.

The friendly staff at Barracuda Bob’s!

There is also a beach club that you can easily walk to from the Marina that is open to the public. I believe it was about 100 pesos per person and children were even less. A fellow cruising family that we met there on sv Habi Hoba told us that if you ask at the Marina office, they will provide you with a key card to access the Beach Club for free.

A few other notes- JJ’s tacos is a really fun taco stand that you can easily walk to from the marina. Tequila’s restaurant is super-friendly, fluent in English and cruiser-friendly. The food is okay, but not unbelievable. Fishing licenses are available at the marina office. The ‘Captain’s Club’ restaurant is right at the marina as well, but is closed for the summer. We really liked this place- they have fantastic wood-fired pizzas. If you like live music- they also feature live music quite frequently.

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Sailing the Sea of Cortez: Chubasco Prediction & Preparation https://sailingwithbloom.com/sailing-sea-cortez-chubasco-prediction-preparation/ Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:10:57 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=925 During the summer in the Sea of Cortez, it is not only excruciatingly hot- there are Chubascos to worry about. A Chubasco is a suddenly-occurring, localized storm that brings thunder, lots of lightning, very strong winds and often lots of rain as well. Winds can rapidly kick up in a matter of minutes, bringing 40-50+ […]

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During the summer in the Sea of Cortez, it is not only excruciatingly hot- there are Chubascos to worry about. A Chubasco is a suddenly-occurring, localized storm that brings thunder, lots of lightning, very strong winds and often lots of rain as well. Winds can rapidly kick up in a matter of minutes, bringing 40-50+ knots of wind before you even know what is happening.

The best thing to do with the Chubascos is to try to predict them so that you can prepare for them. The best resource that we found was www.eebmike.com. On this website, which is updated regularly, you can see the storm patterns. We found that when we saw a lot of red on the mainland side of Mexico and the red was spreading West (especially over the water) then a Chubasco was likely to occur that evening. Chubascos typically hit in the late evening to early morning (yes, when you are sleeping!) so it is best to try to know of their possible presence in advance. If you suspect a Chubasco based on what you see, then prep your boat. Remove as much windage as you can. Lash loose items down securely and bring any cushions, etc. from your cockpit inside so you don’t lose them. If you are at anchor, make darn sure you are set really securely and have a secondary anchor ready to deploy, should you need it. It’s also a good idea to bring your dinghy onboard- up onto the davits or lashed to your bow. Don’t leave your dinghy in the water, or it is very likely to flip over or be lost. If bringing your dinghy onboard isn’t possible, then the next best thing would be to remove your outboard if you’ve got one and fill your dinghy up with some sea water to weigh it down.

Also be sure to close up any hatches or port lights that may allow rain through or you may find you have an instant puddle in your boat or worse- yet, soaked clothing or bedding!

While in Santa Rosalia, it was so hot that we were sleeping in the cockpit. When a Chubasco would hit in the night, we found there was a precursor of sudden gusts of wind that would wake us up just in advance of its arrival. Within 2-3 minutes, the Chubasco would be upon us, unleashing all of its fury. They really are like miniature tropical storms as they swirl about in a counter-clockwise direction, testing your dock lines and cleats. Lots of fenders are recommended if you are at a dock and be mindful of your rigging next to your neighbour’s!

Here is a quick checklist for prepping yourself for a possible Chubasco:

  1. Add some extra fenders if you are at a dock. Fenders on both sides is probably a good idea. You never know.
  2. Check all dock lines to ensure they are secure. Add extras as well as some snubbers if you have them. Check cleats on both the dock and your boat as well.
  3. Ensure your mast and standing rigging is not aligned right beside your neighbor’s. It is a good idea to stagger them, in the event that your boat rocks a lot due to stirred up seas.
  4. Remove as much windage as possible- sun shades, boom tents, wind scoops, etc.
  5. Lash any loose items down- jerry cans, dinghy, generators, etc.

Secure your dinghy! Bring it up on its davits, lash it to the bow or deflate it and stow it. If these aren’t an option and you must leave it in the water- remove the outboard and fill the dinghy with some sea water to weigh it down. Ensure you have an extra ‘safety’ line attached to your dink so that it doesn’t float away on you.

Take all loose towels, blankets, cushions, hatch covers and other light items inside and stow them so that they do not blow away.

If you are anchored- be sure you have a secondary anchor ready to deploy, should you need it. It might also be a good idea to have an anchor watch app with an alarm set, in case you do drag anchor. We had friends in the summer of 2017 who turned off all of their electronics and stowed some in their oven in case of lightning and dragged anchor two miles in the Bay of Concepcion without even realizing until the storm was over.

If you have any loose items on the dock like bicycles, etc., ensure that they are stowed safely or secured to your boat. We once saw our neighbour’s bike flop right into the water during a Chubasco because the dock was rocking so much and the bike was not tethered to anything.

Close all hatches and port lights that could create problems for you with torrential amounts of water pouring in them… or perhaps this could be a good opportunity to catch a little rain water?

One final note- if you have an SSB radio, you can tune into the Sonrisa net, which discusses the possibility of Chubascos each evening. Essentially, the net host is interpreting the data on EEBmike.com though, so you could listen to hear what he/she has to say and then look at EEBmike.com yourself to see what you think. Soon, you’ll get pretty good at predicting their arrival.

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Sailing the Sea of Cortez: Puerto Escondido to Santa Rosalia https://sailingwithbloom.com/sailing-sea-cortez-puerto-escondido-santa-rosalia/ Mon, 01 Jan 2018 21:47:33 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=901 We headed out from Puerto Escondido and started our way North on July 17th, 2017. We got some sailing in and headed to Puerto Ballandra, on Isla Carmen. We first anchored in the Northern area of the bay but decided to move into the southern bay due to quite a bit of swell coming in […]

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We headed out from Puerto Escondido and started our way North on July 17th, 2017. We got some sailing in and headed to Puerto Ballandra, on Isla Carmen. We first anchored in the Northern area of the bay but decided to move into the southern bay due to quite a bit of swell coming in from the South.

We also found the cell reception better in the Southern part of the bay (1-3 bars). Ballandra was one of our favourite anchorages. It was absolutely picturesque! There was only one other boat with us that came in the later afternoon, so it was quite intimate. The water was clear and turquoise and begged for a swim. We blew up the paddleboard as well and ventured to shore with Ruby, who was happy to run free on the beach! We explored the southern coastline via paddleboard and even saw huge dorado swim right underneath us. Our anchor waypoint was 26° 1’003 N, 111° 9’907 W .

The next afternoon we picked up and sailed north to Isla Coronados. The western anchorage is really big and can fit lots of boats. Although we didn’t find this anchorage as beautiful as Ballandra, the water was spectacularly clear and was absolutely full of sea life. It was hot, so we were sleeping in the cockpit and were accompanied by a pelican for several hours of the stern, swimming about and fishing by the aid of our Luci light and saw trigger fish swimming below us as well. The next morning, we were entertained by a huge pod of dolphins swimming about the anchorage.

They seemed to know we were watching them and swam right beside Bloom’s hull- peering up at us through the waters. There was decent cell reception in this anchorage as well and we were anchored at 26 6° 712 N 111° 17.043.

Next, we headed North again up to La Ramada, just north of Caleta San Juanico. This was another stunning spot, and we were the only boat in the whole anchorage for our stay. We had fun exploring the shore here and searching for the Apache Tears and Cruiser’s Shrine mentioned in Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer’s ‘Sea of Cortez’ Guidebook.

The shrine was a bit tricky to find as there was a fork in the path to the right that was not at all obvious. It looks like some previous cruisers have piled a few rocks on either side of it, so you can look for that.

From La Ramada we headed north to Santo Domingo, about 47 nautical miles. This was a full day with a big swing around to enter Domingo when we arrived as it is surrounded by a shoaly area. It is a fairly ‘roadstead’ stop as it is quite open, so watch your weather forecast if you go here. Cell reception was excellent at this stop and we could hear coyotes howling on shore at night.

We picked up first thing in the morning and ventured the 36 nautical miles further North to Santa Rosalia. It was a hot and uneventful day so we were grateful to arrive around 4pm, although it was in the absolute heat of the day and it was HOT. We’ve never experienced heat like this, being Canadians. Wow. You instantly drip sweat from every part of your body.

We spent a fantastic (and did I mention HOT?!) 5 weeks in Santa Rosalia. This little town has a lot to offer! There are zero tourists here, so you really get an authentic Mexican experience. The marina is a Fonatur marina, which are not known for their beauty or being well-kept. The office manager Isabel was really nice and very helpful. They are extremely low-key about paying. You just go up and check in and it is all very casual. The rates are very, very low- about 8 pesos a foot when we were there in July/August. There is a small pool (okay, not very clean or nice so we didn’t use it but the pigeons did! LOL)

There is WiFi as well as excellent cell reception and the office is air conditioned and has a small lounge area. There is a decent laundry facility on-site that charges about 30 pesos for a wash and 30 for a dry. The washrooms are okay, but they lock them so you need to get a key. They are quite unkempt and after showering with a very large cockroach, I decided to shower on the dock in a swimsuit from then on. This was actually way nicer anyhow as the water would cool down just a little at around 8pm and sometimes there was a tad bit of breeze so you could cool off a tiny bit (I use the words cool off extremely loosely!). We slept outside the entire time we were here. (We slept outside for the entire summer, actually!) There were no bugs at all- just the occasional early morning or late night ferry arriving to wake you up. The Mexican navy boats are docked here and the fellows onboard are extremely nice. We were a tad grossed out at them swimming in the marina though. It is not clean water by any means!

The itself is fantastic- it has the coolest vintage ‘old west’ vibe with all of its wooden buildings! Santa Rosalia was a huge copper mining town back in the day and it used to ship its copper up to the Pacific Northwest. Instead of sending the ships back empty- they would load them up with lumber and send it back to Santa Rosalia- hence, the many wooden buildings.

The town has the most amazing community feel to it and the locals are out every night walking the malecon, swimming in the ocean or hanging out in the city park and playground. We were sad to leave Santa Rosalia, but had heard a lot of horror stories about hurricanes hitting this marina. Being it hurricane season that it was it was time to move on to San Carlos, on the Mainland side…

On a quick sidenote, we had several t-shirts silkscreened when we were in Santa Rosalia. The guys working at the shop were amazing, super accommodating and the tees were only 90 pesos each with a 5 day turnaround. They turned out great! Mario from Imagina in Santa Rosalia is highly recommended! Here are the shirts:

 

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Sailing the Sea of Cortez: La Paz to Puerto Escondido https://sailingwithbloom.com/sailing-sea-cortez-la-paz-puerto-escondido/ Sat, 26 Aug 2017 22:17:37 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=832 We planned to leave La Paz in mid-June, but we had a couple of things come up that delayed us some. We discovered that our muffler had some corrosion in it which had created pinholes causing it to leak. No bueno. So, we either needed to order a new one from the USA (expensive and […]

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We planned to leave La Paz in mid-June, but we had a couple of things come up that delayed us some. We discovered that our muffler had some corrosion in it which had created pinholes causing it to leak. No bueno. So, we either needed to order a new one from the USA (expensive and would take a while!) or try to repair the one we had. With the recommendation of the local mechanic in La Paz (Rob Cross from Cross Marine Works- originally from Victoria too!) we had our muffler sent to a fiberglass shop. They took a mold of the stainless end caps and were able to make exact replicas of them in fiberglass. This means no more corrosion! We had the center rubber tubing replaced as well and the muffler was ready to go. Other than the hose clamps holding it together, it was a completely new unit.

Ensenada Grande, Isla Espíritu Santo

We pulled out of Marina Costa Baja in La Paz on Sunday, June 25th and headed towards Ensenada Grande on Isa Espiritu Santo. With no wind and glassy seas, we motored the whole way, but were treated to the site of several jumping manta rays and several sea turtles as well. We pulled in to the anchorage to see several other boats including a few mega yachts (Ensenada Grande is a charter destination and so close to La Paz that it is popular for the party boats too!) We anchored underneath the white cross at 24° 33.49 N / 110° 23.87 W. This cove can get corumuels (strong localized nighttime winds) so be sure to set your anchor well. We only planned to stay one night here, so we opted not to inflate our dinghy or kayak, but go for a swim to shore instead since it was really close. We broke out the boogie board and Carson and Lisa swam in to shore, only to be greeted by several sting rays lurking in the shallows. Sting rays are hard to see, as they bury themselves in the sand, so you have to do the ‘sting ray shuffle’ with your feet as you walk to scare them away. Stepping on a sting ray is something that you want to avoid at all costs as it is one of the most painful stings and the venom travels up your leg! No thanks. Note that there is no Wifi or cell reception available in this bay or the majority of Isla Espiritu Santo.

Swimming at Ensenada Grande

Isla San Francisco

The next morning, we had breakfast and got going around 10am with our destination set at Isla San Francisco- one of the Sea of Cortez’s most famous bays. We were told by several other cruisers that during this time of year, it is ideal to anchor on the east side of the island and not in the famous ‘hook’ bay on the west side due to the wind picking up at night from the west, making it an uncomfortable overnight spot. The east side of the island was completely empty and we had the cove all to ourselves. We anchored at 24° 49.712 / 110° 34.579. We did some swimming to cool off and the boys kayaked in to shore to do some exploration. Unfortunately, right after dinner as the sun was starting to drop in the sky, the anchorage received a bunch of easterly swell and got extremely uncomfortable very quickly. We were forced out- luckily before dark and were able to make it around to the northern most anchorage on Isla San Francisco where it was much calmer, although still a bit rolly. One other mega yacht pulled in at the same time as us and dropped their anchor as well. There is no WiFi or cell reception available throughout all of Isla San Francisco.

Floating in the refreshing water at Isla San Francisco

San Evaristo

After one slightly-roily night at Isla San Francisco, we motored to San Evaristo. We were excited to visit this harbour as it is a little fishing village with a tienda, restaurant and supposedly, WiFi. We were sadly disappointed with this town was pretty much shut down when we visited. The only place that seemed to be open was Agua Tony’s water purification plant. There was a note at his entrance saying you could radio him on VHF channel 16, so we did. A lady was on and in broken Spanish, we tried to find out what the WiFi password was and when the tienda and restaurant would open. Her response was “No hay WiFi” (There is no WiFi) and “No se’” (I don’t know) So, the tienda was closed for our whole visit- as was the restaurant called Lupe’s. We were also told by the locals that sometimes if you stand in the middle of the soccer field there (while also being careful not to step in the numerous cow patties) you may be able to get cell reception. We were not able to, nor were we able to get cell reception with our booster. The winds also kicked up quite a bit at night in there, so be sure to set your anchor well. So, Evaristo was a bit of a bust for us…oh well!

Carson in front of Lupe’s Restaurant at San Evaristo

Punta San Telmo

We left San Evaristo around 9am on June 28th and were able to motor sail a bit until we got to Los Gatos- a popular anchorage amongst cruisers as it is famous for its gorgeous red rock cliffs. As we approached Los Gatos and looked into the bay, we soon realized why there were absolutely no boats anchored in there. the seas were kicking up big, choppy wind waves and there were big gusts going straight into the anchorage. No bueno. So, we resorted to our trusty Sea of Cortez guidebook by Heather and Shawn and opted for the northern anchorage around the point of Gatos, at Punta San Telmo. We were relieved to find another boat anchored in there when we approached , although disappointed to still see swell wrapping around and and making the anchorage a rolly one. With winds blowing around 15-20 knots when we approached, we anchored at 25° 19.912 / 110° 57.748. We were happy to discover that the other boat anchored nearby were our friends Hillary and Ty on sv Varuna. We follow them on YouTube and had linked up with them in Santa Barbara, San Diego and La Paz. It was great to catch up with them and nice to have some company in the anchorage. Punta San Telmo, (although rolly and windy when we were there) is a gorgeous anchorage. It still boasts the beauty of the red rock cliffs and provides decent protection from the south. During the night, we experienced an interesting phenomenon- rather than a corumuel, which affects the La Paz area mostly, we had a huge wind for several hours come pummeling down from the desert mountains. It was a hot air and was gusting over 30 knots, with 25 knots sustained. It was tough to sleep and we were happy to get going the next day to Agua Verde.

Headed to Punta San Telmo

Agua Verde

A lot of cruisers we have met have claimed Agua Verde to be their favorite stop in the Sea of Cortez, and for good reason. This protected bay is home to a wonderful little village with amazingly friendly people and you are surrounded by gorgeous scenery. The snorkeling is fantastic and the water is clear and very green (Agua verde means ‘green water’ in Spanish). We anchored at 25° 30.956 / 111° 4.066 and settled in for 3 nights. It proved to be one of our favorite stops too. There are two tiendas in the village with some basic staples and our favourite- the restaurant on the beach that serves fish tacos. Yum! We explored the town, which is very ‘authentic mexico’ with no tourists (other than the cruisers that come through). The houses are very small, the roads are dirt and most people had their beds outside under a tree. It warmed our hearts to walk the village with Carson while he handed out some of his toys from younger years to the local children as well as a few things we had bought before coming down to Mexico. Some toy cars, balls, coloring books and more were graciously accepted by the local families. It was so wonderful to sit in the beach-front restaurant at night and watch all the local children come out and play in the water as the sun was beginning to set. There is no Wifi or cell reception available anywhere in Agua Verde.

Agua Verde’s little village

Manta rays jumping

Pyramid Rock, Agua Verde

Treking around the small village of Agua Verde

Carson & Jason kayaking back from the nearby beach with Ruby

Bahia Candeleros

We pulled up our anchor at 9am on July 2nd and headed towards Bahia Candeleros (Candlestick Bay) and managed to get a few hours of sailing in! So nice to shut off the engine and listen to the water cresting against the hull as we slid along through the sea. Bahia Candeleros could not be more opposite from Agua Verde, although we really enjoyed our time here as well. It is home to a very large resort called Vista Palmar so as soon as you pull in here there are kayakers and paddle boarders throughout the bay and lots of activity on the beach. We anchored at 25° 43.374 / 111° 14.180, which ended up being a tad shallower than we’d have liked, but it worked out okay. The water was crystal clear and warm- perfect for swimming off the boat and cooling down. We were also super-excited to get WiFi at our boat while anchored here. The WiFi at the resort has a very strong signal and is unlocked, so no password required! The resort is self is a site to be seen. So crazy that only a few miles south, Agua Verde exists. The resort is primarily all Americans on vacation. There are pools and bars everywhere with staff waiting on their every request. We pulled up on the beach in our kayak and were greeted by one of the staff their who escorted us all the way up the beach, through all of the pools to the main building with the front desk where we required to check in, give our information and get wrist bands so that we were ‘accounted for’. There is a great tienda on-site here, although the prices reflect the American clientele. Lots of great staples like veggies, fruits, yogurt, milk, etc and we were thrilled to find big heads of romaine lettuce (yay for salad!). You can also pick up the morning cruiser’s net while anchored here, which is nice. Our friends on Varuna joined us in this anchorage as well as several other boats- but mostly for a short time. With the WiFi and full cell reception we were able to get ‘back on the grid’ and work, so we stayed here for an entire week and loved it!

Bloom at anchor

Puerto Escondido

It was just a quick hop (5 nautical miles) to Puerto Escondido from Candeleros. Puerto Escondido means ‘Hidden Harbour’ in Spanish, and for good reason too! It is completely surrounded by land and many mountains, making it a very safe and protected harbour. There is a tiny entrance that is maybe 70 feet wide or so to get into the bay, once you pass the ‘Waiting Room’ anchorage and the ‘Elipse’ anchorage. We pulled in at about 12:30 in the afternoon and grabbed a mooring buoy. We soon discovered that this harbour is very strange. It is very empty around the marina- lots of deserted buildings and paved roads that have no buildings around them. It is quite a ways from Loreto (30 minutes by car) and there is no shuttle or bus. So, you either have to take a cab (current rates when we visited were 600 pesos each way) or try to catch a ride with another cruiser who has got a car there. The rates are unbelievably expensive for what you get. It is $0.50/foot per night for a mooring buoy and $2.50/foot per night for dock space. Say what!? For us, that is $20/night for a mooring buoy and $100 night for a spot on the dock. I think it goes without saying that we opted for a mooring buoy. The facilities are decent- the showers are clean (although when were were there, so HOT you couldn’t really cool down in the shower) and there is a good laundry room. The office gives you two laundry tokens included with your stay also. (One token is $3- each load takes one token) There is a restaurant there that is extremely pricey and was always empty. We opted for a quick walk up the road to the restaurant Tripui at the nearby hotel. It was fantastic food- a tad bit pricier than most authentic Mexican places, but it was really nice, good service and very clean. Definitely a favourite. We enjoyed a lovely last dinner there with our friends Hillary and Ty from sv Varuna and Terry and Dawn from sv Manta. We caught a ride into Loreto with Manta a couple of times to check out the town and get some groceries, etc. Loreto was really quaint and cool. It reminded us a bit of Todo Santos. While in Puerto Escondido, Lisa also got to try out scuba diving for the first time with long-time scuba diver Terry from Manta who has taken hundreds of people for a ‘trial’ dive. It was really fun, and Lisa went 35 feet down! Not sure how we can fit a dive compressor onboard Bloom though….. 😉

Dinghying in to shore

Puerto Escondido docks at dusk

A fun BBQ night with other cruiser’s at Puerto Escondido

The view from aloft as Lisa changes out our anchor light from halogen to LED

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Getting Internet on a Boat! The Cruiser’s WiFi Dilemna – UPDATED 2017 https://sailingwithbloom.com/getting-internet-on-a-boat-the-cruisers-wifi-dilemna/ Tue, 01 Aug 2017 04:46:11 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=305 UPDATE 2017: We have been using this internet boosting setup for over a year now and have sailed down from Victoria, through the Gulf Islands, Puget Sound and down the West Coast of the U.S.A, the Baja and up into the Sea of Cortez. We have been extremely happy with this whole set up! We […]

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UPDATE 2017: We have been using this internet boosting setup for over a year now and have sailed down from Victoria, through the Gulf Islands, Puget Sound and down the West Coast of the U.S.A, the Baja and up into the Sea of Cortez. We have been extremely happy with this whole set up! We have been able to use this system to get WiFi at our boat in a LOT of places. We used the WiFi booster in these locations with success:

British Columbia: Port Sidney Marina , Sidney Spit, Ganges Marina (Salt Spring Island), Montague Harbor (Galiano Island), Chemainus mooring field, Nanaimo, Newcastle Island, Gibsons Marina, Plumper Cove mooring field, Bowen Island, and Fisherman’s Wharf Vancouver.

Washington: Point Roberts Marina, Cap Sante Marina (Anacortes), Bell Harbor Marina & Shilshole Marina (Seattle), John Wayne Marina (Sequim), Port Angeles Boat Haven, Neah Bay.

Oregon: Newport Marina

California: Emery Cove Marina (San Francisco), Monterey (both marinas), Santa Barbara, Ventura Yacht Club, Pacific Mariners Yacht Club (Marina Del Rey), Kings Harbor Yacht Club (Redondo Beach), Alamitos (Long Beach), Avalon (Santa Catalina Island), Police Dock, Harbor Island West Marina and Southwestern Yacht Club (San Diego)

Mexico: Baja Naval Marina (Ensenada), Bahia San Quintin anchorage, Acuncion anchorage, Cabo San Lucas Marina, Ensenada De Los Muertos anchorage, Marina Costa Baja (La Paz), Bahia Candeleros, Puerto Escondido, Ballandra (Isla Danzante), Isla Coronodos anchorage, Santo Domingo (Bahia Concepcion), Santa Rosalia. (NOTE: We have not been to Mainland Mexico yet, but will update further once we do)

Let’s face it. It’s an online world these days! Cruisers are constantly looking for ways to get internet access when away from the dock (and sometimes when they are still tied to the dock!). We hope we have found the solution.

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As we run a business from our boat that requires us to be online regularly, it was our mission to get Bloom rigged and ready to get the best possible internet connection while we are out cruising in the Gulf Islands, harbour hopping down the West Coast and exploring the waters of Mexico. We are currently very spoiled as our marina has a ‘hard-wired’ coax connection from our router straight to the power tower on the dock that gives us high speed internet access through our local provider, here in Victoria, B.C. As soon as we leave, this special privilege is gone and we are faced with the task of trying to get online without it.

Typically, this means trying to connect to ‘open’ (unlocked) WiFi networks which is often impossible from close to shore, let alone farther away! Some restaurants and resorts offer their passwords if you are using their facilities, which may work great when you are sitting in their coffee shop, but by the time you dinghy back out to your boat, the signal is pretty sad.

There are quite a few WiFi-boosting solutions out there- from the Rogue Wave to the Wirie, which all offer different ranges, setups and features. These essentially are an external antenna that you mount outside of your boat and connect via ethernet cord to a router inside your boat to boost the WiFi signal coming into your boat, and creating your own password-protected ‘network’ from it. Again, you are restricted by the quality of WiFi being broadcast around you with this option.

After loads of reading through blogs, product reviews, forums and Panbo.com, I discovered that it was also possible to integrate a cellular-signal booster into the mix. This means that in addition to boosting WiFi signals, you can also boost cellular signals to allow connection via a cellular provider’s data offering! This seemed like the perfect solution for us.

Although a nerd at heart and quite ‘tech saavy’, I didn’t feel well-versed enough to hand craft my own solution and buy all of the components I would need and set them up on the boat. This lead me to seriously consider the Wirie Pro, which is an all-in-one solution and offers both a WiFi booster and a cellular booster in one device that gets mounted outside of the boat with one simple cord coming inside to give it DC power. Simple to setup and simple to use. However, with a $700 USD price-tag and a terrible Canadian exchange rate, this little baby would have set us back over $1000 Canadian and I was not able to get enough feedback from West Coast or more specifically, Mexican cruisers, to make me feel really confident in its abilities. Also, with only a 10-day money-back guarantee, I was worried that by the time we received it in Canada, set it up, tried it out, etc. the 10 day window would be closed and we could possibly be stuck with a $1000 unit that didn’t work for us.

Enter in Coastal Marine WiFi! I was referred to CMW by a fellow cruiser who had recently purchased their WiFi booster and was very happy with the service he received from the company’s owner, Phil. I connected with Phil to ask about the possibilities of his system allowing for a cellular booster as well and ‘Project: Internet’ was born onboard Bloom. Phil advised me that it most certainly could be done and he would help me to achieve my ideal setup. He was extremely colloquial in his discussions with me about the setup and worked with me through the details of getting everything working. Overall, it was a fantastic experience and we were so pleased to be able to support a local business! In the end, here is what we’ve now got set up on Bloom:

  1. Coastal Marine WiFi Anntena mounted on our bimini frame and connected via Ethernet cable to the POE device that comes with it, then to our router-
  2. Peplink Pepwave Surf SOHO 3G/4G Router
  3. weboost Marine Dual Band Cellular High Gain Antenna (available at www.weboost.com via this link) mounted on our bimini frame and connected via low-loss coax cable to the cell signal booster in #4.
    UPDATE JULY 2017: WeBoost has a new model of this antenna, the  weBoost 4G Marine Antenna that we are currently trying out! It is available at www.weboost.com via this link)
  4. weBoost Drive 3G-X Cell Phone Signal Booster mounted inside the boat, which is then connected to a
  5. Aircard Sierra 340U USB Modem (purchased on eBay) that is unlocked for all networks (this was a tricky one to find as we had to make sure it would work on Mexico’s TelCel network) The USB modem/dongle is then connected to a
  6. USB 2.0 Active Extension Cable which then connects to the Pepwave Surf SOHO Router, mentioned above in #2

The last piece of this solution was a SIM card, which I was able to acquire through my current cellular provider, Rogers. I was able to add another SIM card to my existing cell phone plan with them for an additional $10/month and share the data I already have. When we venture into the USA this summer, we can either buy a local pay-as-you-go SIM card from a US provider or we can use our Rogers SIM card for an additional $50 CDN per month. The SIM card just pops into the USB modem, which is connected inside the boat, making it very easy to swap out when you move from country to country and the particular one we purchased also shows data used on it’s LCD display, which is an added bonus. Here is a ‘layman’s view of our set up!

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This system (AKA ‘Project: Internet’) allows us to control our boat’s internet via Peplink’s IOS App and runs solely on DC power. It allows us to set priorities so that if there is unlocked WiFi available, it connects to it automatically. Then if that WiFi connection becomes unavailable, it automatically toggles over to the cellular connection- if available. If it picks up the WiFi again, it lops back over to it- always keeping the free WiFi as a priority. SO awesome! Although this system cost more than the Wirie Pro would have, I am much more confident in dealing with a local company, especially one like Coastal Marine Wifi, who gives fantastic personalized service. In addition, the amplification of the antennas is much stronger than other available systems. We find it to be much more robust all-around. I would not hesitate in referring other cruisers looking for this solution, or just a WiFi one to Coastal Marine WiFi in Saanich, B.C.

We have completed the setup and tested it out while at the dock still and all works like a charm. I will post an update here once we’ve had a chance to push the limits more and test the system while away from the dock.

Happy Interneting!

*Disclaimer: The Bloom Crew does not receive any kickbacks for referrals to Coastal Marine WiFi, we have just been extremely happy with their system and their service and like to support local, B.C. businesses. We do however, receive referral credit on Amazon links throughout this post…. hey, it’s what helps keep us going! 😉

 

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Laundry Without a Machine https://sailingwithbloom.com/laundry-without-a-machine/ Sat, 29 Jul 2017 16:56:58 +0000 https://sailingwithbloom.com/?p=809 The post Laundry Without a Machine appeared first on Sailing With Bloom.

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When away from a dock and laundry facilities for some time, the family laundry pile begins to grow…. Luckily while in the Sea of Cortez, we aren’t wearing a ton of clothing (mostly swimsuits!), so it takes quite a few days to fill our laundry bag. Once we’ve got a little pile going, I like to tackle it before it gets too big. It is easier to do a little laundry frequently than a huge amount all at once. Here is how we do it onboard Bloom!

Treat Stains, then Wash Clothes in Salt Water

Using salt water to wash your clothes can save a lot of your precious fresh water, so I fill a 5 Gallon bucket with sea water by dipping it off the back transom.I vigourously rub a stain-removing bar along any stubborn spots or stains that I notice. I then add a few drops of biodegradable, sea-safe laundry soap, add the clothes and start plunging with our washing wand. Plunging the laundry is an easy task to get the kids to help out with as it doesn’t take a ton of power to get a good agitation going and generally only takes about 5-10 minutes.

Rinse and Dry Clothes on Lifelines

Once your ‘wash cycle’ is done, it’s time to squeeze out all of that sea water from each item. I use another 5 Gallon bucket with a few inches of fresh water in it and after squeezing the sea water and soap out of each item, I rinse them one by one with a good swish through the fresh water. Another big squeeze and you are ready to hang your items out to dry on your lifelines or wherever you can find hanging space! It is amazing how fresh your clothes smell after they have had a chance to dry in the sun. The UV light really disinfects, whitens and freshens everything!

Here are some links to all of the laundry tools I find helpful and get the job done!

 

25 Litre Collapsible Bucket

These buckets are fantastic! I use one for the washing and one for the rinsing. They are very sturdy and stay standing when full. The webbing straps are very strong as well and I have no problem dipping the bucket via the handles off the back to fill with sea water. The best part is that they collapse totally flat for easy storage! So far, these have been holding up just great and their uses are endless. Click here to buy this bucket on Amazon

Hand-Powered Washing Wand

This washing wand is definitely my favourite. The ‘wand’ end really grabs the clothes and agitates the water well. It’s only downfall is the plastic handle and shaft. We had it break while using it and so had to take out one of the ‘notches’, which seemed to make it stronger. Our friends on sv Giada Marina in La Paz found this to be their favourite as well, even after using a couple of different models available on Amazon. Click here to buy this washing wand on Amazon

NaturOli EXTREME Liquid Soap Nuts

This NaturOli extreme concentrated liquid laundry detergent is my absolute favourite! It is unscented, organic, natural and REALLY concentrated, so it lasts forever. (I like this 3-pack as each 8oz bottle gives you 96 loads, so almost 300 loads in total!) As we are currently cruising Mexico, this is an absolute must as the detergents here are loaded with toxins and heavy perfumes. As a family of 3, we really find this stuff cleans well, and we don’t worry about dumping the dirty water into the ocean once we’ve cleaned our clothes as it is totally ocean safe. Buy this laundry soap on Amazon here

NaturOli Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are really great as they are all-natural, environmentally-friendly and ocean-safe and they do a great job of cleaning clothes! A little goes a long way, and 6 soap nuts in a little muslin bag (included with the soap nuts) will last you 6-8 loads before you need to get another batch of 6. They also have a ton of other uses that you can read about with the pamphlet that comes with the nuts! I like the 2Lb bags, which gives you enough for 480 loads and comes with a free sample of the liquid ‘Extreme’ soap, mentioned above.  Click here to buy these Soap Nuts on Amazon

Buncha Farmers All Natural Stain Remover Stick

This stain removing stick works really, really well!  A little goes a long way. You just wet the article of clothing, rub this stick on it (it is the consistency of a bar of soap) and let it sit for a while before washing. I’ve had great success with cleaning baseball hats with it too. It is also environmentally-friendly and 100% biodegradable, so you can feel good about washing it into the sea. Buy this stain remover stick on Amazon here

Mini Handheld Laundry Washboards

These are a little tricky to hold onto, but once you get the hang of them, they work well. I use one at a time and scrub the clothes with stain remover first, let them soak, and then scrub with one of these little gizmos while the article is still submerged. Works really well!  I wanted to get a washboard, but opted for these for their space-saving and I love that these are super-small! Click here to buy these little washboards on Amazon

Clothes Pins

We like these plastic clothes pins- they hold tight so you don’t have to worry about your clothing taking flight. We do use 2-3 pins per item just to be sure they are held well. Purchase these clothes pins on Amazon here

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