Welcome to Vagari’s 7th winter of sailing. We have put 8,000 miles under Vagari’s keel during those cruises but this year like last year won’t be a high mileage year. We just don’t have the lust for the long cruises that we did when we started cruising but we still enjoy living on board and sailing near our homeport. Welcome aboard! We hope you enjoy our blog. Your comments, questions and suggestions are appreciated and encouraged.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Trip Down - First Two Days

We are safe and anchored in Chamela Bay off the little town of Perula, Jalisco, Mexico. That is well south of Cabo Corrientes and Puerto Vallarta.  Latitude 19 degrees 33 minutes North: 105 degrees 7 minutes west if you want to look it up on Google maps.


The nonstop trip was 123 hours, 641 nautical miles or about 740 statute miles, average speed 5.2 kts/hr with some adventures and challenges but overall a pleasant trip.

Underway First Two Days


We needed a little luck with the weather and it looks like we have it. No wind is predicted for the first couple of days but that means no waves and warm temperatures.  We caught three Sierra Mackerel the first day.  One was too small to keep but the others, after cooking on the BBQ provided two delicious meals. We had fresh fish for dinner about an hour after we caught them.  Tom not only cooks outstanding fish; he made a great breakfast the second morning. Bright sunshine sparkling on the water reminded us why we enjoy cruising.


The first night while on my 10 PM to 2 AM watch I found a little water in the bilge. I found the source. The exhaust hose that carries the exhaust gases and hot seawater from the cooling system was leaking a little where it connects to the engine. I had some work done over the summer that required this hose to be removed.  It's a difficult connection to make because it's a 3" very stiff hose and its located in a hard to reach area. I showed it to Tom as we changed shifts.  By morning he had figured a better way to run the hose clamps. In the morning we started to sail without the engine. After the engine cooled Tom had it fixed in no time.


The second day the wind stared blowing from the southeast, just the direction we needed to go. We beat into the wind and seas making very little progress but sailing.

After dark the wind decreased so we turned on the engine with the mainsail up and started to work our way back to the rum line course.


Just before Tom went to bed he pointed at what might be a light or perhaps a rising star to the southeast of us so we could track it if it was a boat.  Rhea and I were on watch and the light was definitely a boat but small because it didn't show up on radar.  We passed it to port about a mile off as best we could estimate. Just after putting it behind us we passed a white object in the water very close to us.  I should have known it was a net float but didn't until it followed us. Rhea cut the power to idle immediately. But the damage was done.  The prop and rudder had snagged fishing net. The net stopped us and turned us around so the wind was coming over the back of Vagari.  We were 25 miles southeast of Topolobampo and about that far off shore.


Tom woke up immediately just as the boat we just passed started flashing a light at us and headed towards Vagari. After the small boat with three men arrived we showed them the problem using our big spotlight.  Not only didn't they speak any English my guess was that may have never heard English before.  But communication was not a problem.  We all understood the problem but we weren't sure we could fix it without diving on the prop and cutting the net.  Cutting a net never makes fishermen happy. 


We gave them our spotlight and boat hook.  With the big mainsail up Vagari was pulling on the net so we had to get the sail down. Sailors always head into the wind to take sails down because it takes the load off the sails. We couldn't do that so we had to muscle the sail down hand over hand as the boat bounced around on the lumpy seas. 


A short time after we got the sails down the fisherman announced that the net was "in total" meaning it was free and not cut which hopefully meant our prop should also be free. We engaged the prop it worked but we thought there was a little vibration. Meanwhile the fishermen where attending their float and net.  We had two problems.  They had our equipment and we didn't know where their other nets where. We bobbed around for a couple of minutes until they completed their work.  Then they came over and returned our gear.  They also indicated that we should follow them. So off we went turning every which way for 10 or 15 minutes until they stopped next to a float and waved us outside.  One guy bowed and waved his hand like we were entering a formal hall.  Both boats said thanks, smiled and waved goodbyes. We were impressed with their skill in handling their boat and freeing the net with just our boathook and a long stick.


For Vagari the fun was just beginning.  We tested the prop at high speed in both reverse and forward. Perhaps we felt some vibration but not a showstopper and no water was coming in around the shaft. An inspection showed no other damage to Vagari. We had a discussion in the cockpit reviewing our reaction to the problem and what needed to be done. We decided to dive on the prop at first light to look for any fishing net that might be attached to the prop, the prop shaft or other signs of damage and to run the engine at 2,000 RPM instead of the normal 2,400 RPM until we looked at the prop.


Rhea headed Vagari into the wind and I pulled the line that should raise the mainsail.  It had no resistance and the sail didn't move.  What happened?  At sea off shore with no moon its black dark.  With the flashlight we could tell that the line wasn't connected to the sail but where did it go?  After looking for a few minutes we saw it swinging around well above our heads.  Somehow it became disconnected from the sail.  That had never happened to me before on Vagari or any other sailboat.


We have a spare line rigged and ready but with the waves tossing the boat around the metal fitting on the end of the original line could do a lot of damage hitting things including the mast. It took a lot of work to get it down.  First I stood on the boom and then Tom stood on the boom.  Tom finally hooked it with the boat hook.  Once it was re-attached we started to raise the sail.  We found another problem just before the sail was all the way up. A stainless bolt that is part of the system that attaches the mainsail to the mast had broken. We eventually found another bolt and nut that would work, installed it and finally raised the main. This may have been caused by the way we had to take the sail down and the fact that we didn't neatly fold the sail when it was down, it was all over one side of the deck.


I dove on the prop in the morning and found no damage or line attached.  The water was 78 degrees and very clear. We decided to take the middle ground and run the engine at no more than 2,200 RPM. 

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