Today (Friday, 1/15) we got underway aboard Miss Miranda for the first time since March 25, 2020. We worked our way through all of the system checks at the dock and were finally ready for a real-world test. The weekend weather was shaping up nicely, with N winds of 10-15 for Friday and calm conditions through Monday.
We waited for the outboard guy to bring back our Tohatsu 3.5 hp engine for the small dinghy. He serviced it and found it to be completely gummed up with bad fuel, in spite of our having used fuel stabilizer. He also checked the big engine, and we concluded that the problem was the same. Bad, old fuel. Oh well, at least we know what the issue is.
Our first hiccup was before we left the dock. We started up all systems, including the wing engine and were rearranging dock lines when I noticed that there was no water flow from the stabilizer cooling pump outlet (yes, the one I just replaced). A quick check in the engine room showed both input and output through hulls were open and the pump appeared to be running. I concluded that the pump must have lost it’s prime, and because (unfortunately) it shares an intake through hull with the the wing engine, I wondered if by starting the wing engine first, the cooling water pump somehow lost it’s prime… maybe couldn’t pull enough water? So, shut the wing engine down, opened the priming valve on the pump (too much) and got a nice little geyser of water as I struggled to get the bolt back in place. Once that was done, I restarted the pump, and sure enough, water was flowing. We elected not to run the wing… trying to keep things simple.
Once out of the marina we headed North on the 20 mile run to the the Islands of Espiritu Santo and Partida, on what was a beautiful afternoon. The boat was running well, no problems at all, until I noticed a mysterious spike in the AC power demand. That is unusual because there are really only three things that use AC power when underway… the refrigerator, the freezer, and the stabilizer water pump. After a few minutes the power draw decreased. I began to suspect the freezer. More on that later.
There were only two other boats in the anchorage and we picked a spot midway between them, dropping the anchor in about 18 feet of water. Unfortunately, it did not want to set… catching, then dragging as we slowly backed down. Eventually we got a very solid set, though a little farther from shore than we would have liked. One of the guidebooks indicated that anchoring could be a challenge because of sand over rock, and that seemed to be spot on in our case. Of course, the wind started to come up just as we got set, a solid 15 knots gusting regularly to 20+. Eventually it died down, but knew I would have a fitful night’s sleep worrying about our set.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, a nice cocktail, and good dinner. It was utterly quiet, save for the lapping of the waves against the hull. Above was a beautiful, clear, dark, star-filled sky, and below a phosphorescent show in the water around the boat. This is what we have been looking forward to.
Before turning in, I noticed another spike in power consumption. This time we were able to confirm that it was the Sub Zero freezer. We thought the freezer died in Mazatlan last year, but apparently it had runout of refrigerant. After a refill it seemed to be running fine at the dock in La Paz. My suspicion is that it does indeed have a coolant leak and the compressor must run constantly to maintain temperature. Anyway, we emptied it of critical items and will get it looked at when we return to La Paz.
The next morning, we pulled up the anchor and moved to the South side of the bay, nearer to the passage to the other side and the fish camp. The water was clear enough to see the anchor on the bottom turn over and start to dig in as we slowly backed down. This time we got a very good set first time, and here we would stay for the rest of the weekend.
Finally, a systems gripe. We have an Iridium GO, which is an inexpensive, slow satellite data device that we use to get weather info when we are out of cell range. It worked just fine last year, but when we reactivated it this year, it was having problems. After endless tinkering and back and forth with PredictWind support, it started working… for a couple of days. Now that we need it…. nope. Very annoying, considering how much we are spending for the service and the PredictWind software subscription.
Gwen will have her own take and many more photos from Caleta Partida in a separate post later this week.