The engine took on some seaweed just before the LA Light, 15 min from my old slip;
I was so busy with last minute preparation and working the route on MaxSea charts,
that I spent less time piloting than I should have. Charlie, my French amigo, who
has had very little experience, was at the wheel, I neglected to tell him to avoid
the seaweed. The engines overheat warning sounded. I was much surprised, not that
the old outboard was overheating but that the overheat alarm actually worked! Honestly
didn't even know it had one more so that if it did it would work. The backup plan
came into action a lot quicker than I expected, but it was most definitely expected.
We where near the rocks but the wind and swell wasn't all that bad but to be on
the safe side I pulled the dinghy in. The dinghy was being towed about 20 ft behind.
I'm very happy with the dinghy, it's a dux inflatable catamaran style dinghy/tender
also known as a tunnel hull inflatable. A little oversized at 13' but she is exceptionally
stable and fast with 18 hp two stroke engine she can cruise at over 15 MPH. I tied
a line to the transom of the dinghy and towed Siam back to the launch ram dock where
we managed to clear the seaweed and get running again. The rest of the trip was
relaxed and the wind picked up into the evening. We killed the engine and sailed
the last leg into two harbors Catalina at five knots feeling very impressed with
ourselves. I've been to Catalina before twice to Avalon with an old girlfriend,
which was great for a romantic excursion, but Two Harbors is far better. Quiet and
away from the crowds it's hard to believe a place like that exists so close to LA.
On the first leg I noticed that we used more gas than anticipated. Yes the old girl
has a two stroke gas outboard off the transom. Firstly the engine is way too large
for the boat 30hp when she'll do hull speed with half that and secondly the boat
is not designed to take an engine off the transom. Not sure whose idea it was but
it was certainly a bad one. This is the first thing I intended to change once I
get to Mexico, at the top of a long list of priorities. Scrambling back and forth
from the center cockpit to the engine to keep the rusted old thing going is quite
some exercise, not to mention dealing with a bunch of fuel tanks while hanging on
to the back and doing the trapeze between the dinghy and the transom in mid flight.
I decided the fuel belonged in the dinghy far behind the boat.
A high pressure was reportedly coming when we left long beach, and it seemed to
arrive early, I managed to get some sailing done in the wee hours but we had very
little wind most the way and the gas was running out fast, too fast, so at about
3am I decided to head in for Mission bay instead of a direct shot to Ensenada. We
changed shifts at about 4am I set the autopilot (Mr. Armstrong) and a course for
Charlie to follow. Charlie woke me in the morning just outside the entrance to Mission
bay a peaceful little bay with a relatively quiet and easy anchorage.
On the way we saw a large group of seals, looks like they were migrating from the
main land to Catalina?
I took a good afternoon nap at mission bay and we headed off around four for Mexico.
Plotted a course to avoid the few obstructions and set the autopilot. No wind again,
we had the rusty old outboard humming away at 4 knots, down from five to save gas
as the engine seemed ever hungrier. At about 2 am, why does everything seem to happen
in the early hours?, I was woken from my nap by the engine going full speed ahead.
Popped my head out and saw Charlie frantically steering or trying to figure out
which way to steer. Coming off the Starboard bow headed straight for us at an amazing
speed was a super yacht. She just missed us but the wake threw us about quite a
bit. Siam being a catamaran I had two Champaign glasses on the galley counter all
the way, without any issues but they were knocked over in the wake along with a
bunch of stuff on the counter. I have no idea where that super yacht was headed
in such a hurry we where across the Mexican border in line with Roserito, there's
no port that I know of there and she was headed directly toward land. Besides the
tankers we saw passing on the horizon, this was the only boat we saw and it seemed
intent on mowing us down. This left us a little paranoid, Charlie started to think
the tankers where coming to get us too, so he went off to get some rest. The dolphins
visited later, the moon was almost full and they could be seen swimming between
We ran out of fuel at around 8am, this is when I finally discovered what the problem
was, cracks in the old fuel lines, no wonder we were going through so much fuel,
and I thought my calculations where just out of whack. We kept a few gallons in
reserve for the Dinghy/life raft/towing service. Fortunately for us the wind started
to pick up and I was able to get her up to between 3 and 4 knots most of the way,
under sail. We eventually reached the bay and headed in wing on wing while the wind
steadily increased. Coming into Ensenada port, it was blowing, we were tired and
I couldn't get the engine started again. I tried taping up the cracks in the fuel
lines but nothing seemed to work, so we had to fall back to the dinghy again. I
set up to tow Siam but the wind was blowing too much and I couldn't control it,
the Dinghy kept crabbing, and we had a chance of blowing into the wall, so eventually
I flagged down a sport fishing boat who helped pulled her in.
Viva la Mexico!
Siam is hauled out at Baja Naval to have a new and I mean brand new 9.9 high thrust
four stroke motor installed in the center cockpit, where it is designed to go!