Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Unplanned stop in Ensenada

We headed almost due south from Ventura and went past Santa Barbara island (in the dark) and outside San Clemente Island (also in the dark). The plan was to just stay way offshore, pass by the inside of Guadeloupe Island, then turn east, head past Cabo San Lucas, and straight to Puerto Vallarta and have that be our port of entry for Mexico. Sometime around noon on the 7th, Christine noticed that our mizzen mast (the smaller mast toward the back of the boat for all you landlubbers) was twisting when we rolled from side to side. It was because of the weight of the wind generator that we'd just mounted up there. I knew the thing was kind of heavy but I hadn't really anticipated it having as much effect as it did. Christine questioned whether it might be too heavy from the get-go but I thought it would be fine. I should have known better. As soon as we finished installing it, you could feel a change in the boat's motion - even while still tied to the dock. At sea, it definitely exaggerated the boat's tendency to roll. I was willing to live with that in exchange for the extra charging capacity (partly because I'd already gone so far down the road of buying, having a lovely custom mount made up for it, and installing the damned thing) but this mast twisting business was the last straw. We decided that the wind generator had to go.

Since pulling that thing down off the mast isn't really the kind of thing you can safely do at sea, we decided to head into Ensenada and take care of our entry paperwork there as well. We picked motored into Cruiseport Village Marina at about 9am. We pick that marina kind of randomly but I think we chose well. Jonathan, who runs the place, was extremely helpful. He drove us and another carload of cruisers over to the Centro Integral de Servicios building when we could take care of all our entry paperwork. Apparently this is one of the few ports (the only one, perhaps) that has all of the agencies you need to deal with for you entry in one building. Given our extremely poor Spanish, our sleep deprived states of mind, and the bureaucratic nature of the process, it was amazingly helpful to have all this stuff in one building and to have Jonathan there to help us out. The whole process took an hour or two as it was but I could easily imagine it taking all day (or longer) in another port without help.

Once we got back to the boat, we immediately set about removing the offending wind generator. It turned out that Mark, whom we knew from the Ventura Harbor Boat Yard, was in the same Marina and, being the gregarious guy he is, knew everyone there. With his help we took the wind generator around to all the other boats to see if anyone wanted to take it off our hands. We found a buyer almost instantly and sold the generator and its charge controller. Of course we took a big loss compared to what we paid for it but it was worth it not to have to deal with lugging it around. Unfortunately, the buyer's boat was not a ketch so we still have a beautifully crafted stainless steel mount that we'll have to try and sell once we get to Puerto Vallarta.

With that all dealt with, we turned to the issue of fuel. The only accessible fuel dock in Ensenada was several miles in the wrong direction from where we were so we'd have to fill up using Jerry cans. We determined that we needed 20 gallons and we have only a single 5 gallon Jerry can. We really didn't want to make four trips to the gas station so we asked around the other boats. Dan, who bought our wind generator, had a bunch of full Jerry cans so he gave us four full ones and told us to put that in our boat, refill them and bring them back to him. Another cruiser (oddly enough also named Dan), offered lend us his car. I was hesitant to set off uninsured in an unfamiliar town in an unfamiliar country so he very graciously agreed to drive us to the gas station. Overall, it was great to see how well cruisers take care of each other and, having now been on the receiving end, we'll do our best to help out others when we get the chance.

After all that, it was great to get a good night's sleep on a stationary Architeuthis and we were able to set out at about 8am for a hopefully uneventful and nonestop passage to Puerto Vallart where we will meet Christine's family who will be arriving on December 18th. Hopefully we'll be there when we arrive but this isn't like taking a train. It's a little bit harder to predict when we'll get into the station.

No comments: