Santa Rosalia

Safely tied up in the marina I took off to explore town. It’s not a big town and you can walk all of the streets in half a day.
I love the place, it’s unlike anywhere I have been in before, but some of it similar to the area I grew up in on Merseyside, where decaying industry was all around.
Santa Rosalia was just desert scrubland until a rancher discovered copper in the ground, he couldn’t make money from it, but the French company Compagnie du Boleo moved here in 1884 and built the town and started large scale mining and processing here. The town has a French influence, and although you can see much variety in the houses and shops, they were all built to serve the mine and the company.
The mine (El Boleo) was profitable until the 1950s when the French pulled out, the Mexican government took over rather than let the 10,000 people in the town down. There was nothing else here, and given how scarred the place was due to the mining, there was little chance of tourists visiting. The mine ran at a loss until the 80’s when the government finally called it a day. It must have been hard here until 2010 when a Canadian & Korean consortium reopened the mine and with modern technology were able to make it profitable. Initial delays caused the Canadians to pull out and the mine is operated soley by the Koreans now.
Just a few days ago I read in the Mexican press that Mexico’s often controversial president has announced the the mine cannot be expanded once current reserves are finished, causing the Korean company to say they will pull out in the next year causing much unemployment here once again.

While here I pulled down the Genoa, and put up the traditional, and newer Yankee and Staysail sails. I’m going to be doing a fair bit of sailing I hope along the mainland coast and wanted the best sails up.

Halfway through my stay here Dirk & Sylvia arrived, on Sunday I helped them replace the forestay wire inside their furler. They will follow me across to the mainland in a few days time.

Not much else to comment on, so I will just dump a load of pictures of the town here with some info in the captions.

The Museum, sadly closed for covid
Another steam train
Cemetery on the hill
The Library
Another steam train
Some old cellars
Municipal palace (Town hall?)
The Eiffel designed church
The Eiffel designed church from the fron
A lovely relaxing shaded spot at the entrance to the town
This used to be the other Marina office
And you can just see the piles that held the marina pontoons, destroyed by hurricane Odile
This may have been the cannery?
One of many buses owned by the Boleo Mine company
They tried to cheer the ruins up a bit
Well, you have to work with whatever you’ve got.
Furnaces and things, I’m no expert on smelting, but expect this place was hell to work in
Heading north out of town
This town has everything, including a ‘ladies bar’. Nice to see they are thinking of the ladies as well.
I had to launch the Bikemobile for the shopping run.
View from the boat looking north over an old ferry pier
Boat with old Genoa on
Swapped for proper cutter rig, hoping to sail from now on.
Lovely restaurant a few miles south
With a pretty bar
The harbour entrance from the far end of the Malecon
Great sunset, presumably caused by air pollution, like the best.

The harbour wall is mostly build from compressed blocks of Copper slag waste.

Tonight around midnight I will leave for the 75 nautical mile passage over to the mainland, hoping to arrive in San Carlos tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.
My first night passage in a long time, so I’m stocking up on munchies for the passage.

Paul Collister

Heading North

Sunday 11th April 2021
Time to leave the safe and comfortable setting of Puerto Escondido and explore to the north. 

Sunday arrived and I was up at 6:30 to ferry Dirk & Sylvia to the marina dinghy dock. They had a hire car and were heading back to the USA to get their second shots for covid. Perhaps shots is a bad choice of word for the USA these days.

Mike on Ikigai trying out his new (to him) mainsail
A little Turneresque ?

It’s been foggy the last few mornings, and today is the worst, I had to put a waypoint for the boat on my phone so I could find my way back.
Back at the boat I tidy up, have a coffee and start the engine. A msg arrives from Dirk, who is now speeding along the main BCS highway north, he says the bay and the Loreto area is clear of fog. So I cast off the lines to the mooring buoy and motor on out.

Sister Midnight just peeking in on the right

To hours later and I’m in Loreto. It’s calm and I motored all the way. A quick trip ashore in the dinghy and I’m stocked up with bread, fruit & veg and chocolate to see me through a couple of weeks. I also buy a big bag of empanadas, these are often just like pasties in shape and filled with meat or cheese etc. However these are stuffed full of sugar and chocolate, then coated in sugar. That’s pudding sorted for a while.

That’s a lot of oranges

Back on the boat, I download the weather and decide that it’s early enough in the day to go north to the Coronados, One big island and the other very small. I will have two nights there and do some research for the journey ahead. The wind has picked up, from the south so I unfurl the Genoa, and very slowly, 2knts, make my way north. 4 hours later I drop the hook in the northern end of the bay. It’s gorgeous here. Quite a few other yachts and a couple of motor boats share the bay with me, but it’s not crowded.

Lovely rocks in the NW corner
A strange bird

A lazy day after yesterday’s early start, up at ten, lovely bread for toast and coffee, and it’s going to be a hot day, probably in the 30s. I launch the kayak and head off to explore the northern side of the island. I row for 2.5 miles and get it into my head I must be about halfway around the island now so will push on and do the lot. It’s actually 8nm all round, and as I round the next headland I’m exposed to the windy wavy side of the island and it doesn’t feel so good. I’m a long way from the boat now and I start to think about what might go wrong. I’m pondering on the ‘up the creek without a paddle’ scenario, and can’t help thinking that’s got to be better than drifting in the Sea of Cortez with no paddle; surely you can just drift to the side of the creek, grab some branch and fashion a paddle out of it.  It’s very barren here so I decide to turn around and head back. I had been hoping to find some good snorkelling spots as I had brought my mask and fins with me in the kayak. Sadly the best spot was reported as just after the headland, and the second best was where I started from. Should have done my homework before the trip. I stopped in a sandy cove on the way back and donned my mask and flipper and dived in. It was freezing. I only had my trunks on, and jumped out again, however on my second go it seemed ok and I did a 20 minute snorkel, I was keen to test out my new GoPro, it worked great, but visibility was poor where the best fish were. 

I made a huge tuna salad for dinner and lay in the cockpit watching the stars which are so bright out here.
Around midnight I was woken by some fishy business. Going into the cockpit I could hear, what one could only assume to be a giant seal pretending to be a whale, or more likely a whale. Every two minutes a large exhalation and splash was heard, quite close by, and slowly heading north through the bay. 

Tuesday, and a chat with Kathy early on, then up with the anchor and north it is again. This time to San Juanico.

There’s no wind but a lot of swell from the SE, this bay is great for every direction except the East, as I approach the swell is coming more from the east and I’m not expecting to be able to stay there. I decide that as the wind is low, and will be for days, this will be a good time to practice laying out a stern line with the Danforth anchor. It hasn’t been used since we landed on top of the rock in Thailand, some time back. It could do with an airing, and I could do with the practice. The plan would be to load up the dinghy with the anchor and its 10 metres of chain, row to the shore with the remaining 60 mtrs of rope line trailing out from the boat, and position the anchor so that when I tightened the line back on the boat, the bow would point into the swell. 

The bay is very popular according to the guide/pilot book, and I was expecting it might be crowded, but with the swell I expected most people would leave. It’s rare to see an AWB (average white boat) or first timers stay long when it’s rolly.

Turning into the bay I was stunned with the beauty of the place, the rock formations are amazing. If possible I might dwell here a few nights. I saw no boats until I was further around the corner when a boat, looking a bit like mine came into view. But between us the waves were breaking ferociously on a line of rocks. He must have gone behind them. Getting closer I could work out how he got there, and I copied him. Behind the line of rocks, the swell was much reduced, so I dropped the hook, waved to my new neighbour and just spent 15 minutes staring at my new surroundings; Stunning. An hour later a pod of dolphins swam in, but I won’t put pictures on as I have posted the last video I will make of dolphins on YouTube here, I can’t imagine ever getting better footage of them again, so if you like watching a huge pod of them leaping and diving, check it out.
The wind increased, with it the swell, and although I felt safe, I didn’t fancy braving the waves and exploring ashore. 


The swell was still rolling in, and I figured there probably wasn’t going to be any places I could stop safely before the Bahia Concepción, so decided to leave early. 7:30 and I’m away heading north, the plan is to go to the top of Bahia Concepción and nip around the corner to a small bay protected from the east and pass the night there. En route the wind moved to the NE which allowed me to sail for a good part of the trip and on turning into the bay, some 8 hours later, the wind was from the NW so my plans to stop at the head were out. Instead, given that I had a few more hours of daylight, I pushed on to a little cove at Santispac, roaring down the bay with the main fully out.

Again the scenery is stunning, volcanic remains all around, a geologists dream. It was just as I was thinking how I really should rig the gybe preventers that the boom took off, A crash gybe, however the dutchman saved the day, a device made of ropes and pulleys attached to the boom that slow it down as it tries to fly across. One of the reasons I like this boat’s design is that the boom is so high and short, it’s hard to get in its way when it crashes across. The end of the boom has foam padding on it, that won’t stop it killing you when it strikes, but it might cut down the amount of blood spilled around the cockpit, especially on the new spray dodger. Turning west out of the wind I arrived at my destination. What an odd place, very pretty, little sandy coves dotted around a bigger cove, with pretty islands dropped in for effect, just one sailboat and two motor boats in this cove. Along the beach of my tiny cove were RVs (Mobile Homes) lined up with no end of attachments adorning them. Further along were groups of tents, and little palapa style huts with cars/trucks backed up to them. Lot’s of families, and extended family groups come here to holiday on the beach. The big RV’s seem to be from the USA, with the tents and smaller setups being Mexican. There are 2 restaurants on the beach, and everyone seems to be having a great time, kids in the water, adults in kayaks and SUPs (Stand up paddle boards).
Come the evening, there are campfires, music and singing drifting across a very calm bay. 

I have a terrible snobby attitude to  RVs , seeing them as souped up caravans, and in some way an inferior mode of travel compared with, say, yachting. Of course, there’s not a lot in it. They can’t visit Santo Esperitu in their RV, and I can’t get too close to the Grand Canyon in Sister Midnight. Other than that, both modes of transport are pretty similar, weird toilets, cookers, electric supplies etc. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t got into this boating malarky I could well have ended up RV’ing it around Europe and further afield. 

One guy, and I don’t know why I presume that, but I’m sure it will be a guy, has his RV towing a trailer with his 4WD SUV on it, hanging from the cars rear is a hammock chair, on the roof of the SUV as fishing traps, on the front of his RV is a barbecue grill. For American readers you will surely know the kind of thing, for the Brits out there, this is not like caravanning as we know it. 

I expect he’s kicking himself for forgetting the Jet Skis


I’m not going anywhere today, so I launch the dinghy and have an amble around the next bay from here. It’s lovely, and proved popular as many houses have been built on the beach and cling to the rocky hillside at the edges of the cove. I suspect the main reason for this development is its close proximity to Highway 1. This is the main road from the USA border that runs the length of the Baja Californian peninsula, ending in Cabo San Lucas. But thinking more about it, the road is probably here because of existing communities. The town of Mulege a few miles to the north has been here a long time. I once read that everything that ever happened, is down to geology, The clashing of the tectonic plates and volcanic activity here created a beautiful, safe harbour, along with fresh water supplies, leading to a safe place for humans to prosper, and ultimately to bring giant mega trucks pounding down the highway behind the beach every ten minutes  or so as they take their goods south. 

Santispac beach with SM & Dinghy

I weigh anchor, and head further south down Concepción, I go to what I think might be the furthest south worth visiting, a place called Playa Santa Barbara, but later when I do my homework, I realise there’s many more places to explore. However this spot is just fine. I’m alone in the bay, there’s a few holiday homes set back from the white sandy beach, but nobody seems to be in. It’s a little early in the year still. I’m very exposed to the north here, but as we haven’t had a northerly wind in the Sea for a while, I’m hoping it will be ok. Yesterday, the wind from the north reached 25 knots in Santispec, and it was windy the day before, but I’m sure this can only be down to katabatic winds caused by the afternoon cooling of the surrounding mountains & hills. As both evenings turned out to be completely still. I did push on last night and got my boat web system to display a rolling 24 hour wind report, as logged at the top of my mast. A picture is below, it’s the last 24 hours since whenever I screenshotted it around 8pm and you can see the wind falling off quickly as night arrives.

I kayak to the rocky promontory and snorkel around, masses of weed on the rock, loads of fish, but little variety.
I’m away from everybody here, the highway is a few miles inland and the sky is clear. I’m hoping to get some stargazing in tonight, perfect conditions. I can now easily find the North star using Ursa Major & Minor and I can also spot Orion easily. Last night I found Mars, just under the sliver of a moon, I don’t think I have ever seen it before so clearly. I must be due a badge or something for all this.

Saturday 17th
I depart early, not quite sure where my next stop will be, my destination is the marina at Santa Rosalia, a mining town 30-40 miles north of here, but I want to check out the Island of San Marcos on the way. As I progress north I pickup a signal again and download a weather forecast, it seems I’m in for another week of very calm weather, I decide to stop at Punta Chivato for the night and catch up with the internet world. Like a lot of spots around here, it’s a lovely coast line with many low lying areas and beaches. This, and the close proximity of highway one, has caused a lot of fancy properties to be developed here, along with a few resorts.

The hotel complex

I anchor off a quite flash looking hotel, but there’s no one around so it’s a very quiet. I’m annoyed to see many of the beach front properties have put obstructions out to make it difficult to walk along the beach in front of their properties. As with many countries, the beach is public property and cannot have access restricted. There have been a few high profile cases here, one where a hotel had a man arrested by the local police for walking on the beach in front of the hotel, hundreds turned up at the weekend to set up on the beach and protest until the policeman was arrested, which he was. It shouldn’t annoy me, especially as no one would want to walk on these beaches, there’s hundreds of others close by that are better, it’s just the principle. Although I’m sure if I had a beachfront property I would probably hate people walking in front of my exclusive view out to sea.

Sunday 18th
Whilst talking to Kathy in the morning a gang of rays swim past the boat, they wave their wings in a funny way to propel themselves, it’s like they make a sine wave shape.
I leave around 10am and head for San Marcos island, around the headland and a little further north. Between the island and the mainland, there’s a channel I have to navigate, it’s about 5 miles wide, yet it’s recommended to stay in a small section under a mile wide, near the coast. A large rocky reef extends from the island’s southern end, it has many visible rocks, but continues much further than you might expect to the mainland. To add to the fun, in the middle of the channel, just before the reef is a pinnacle rock, think of something the size and shape of the eiffel tower, but made of hard solid rock, sitting on the bottom of the sea, with the tip just below the surface. Best avoided, the annoying thing is that it’s not marked on the charts I have, so I add it from coordinates in the pilot book. I use the Eiffel tower as an analogy, as I’m going to visit a church next week made by the same man Monsieur Eiffel himself, Made in France and shipped out here to Santa Rosalia, so the mine workers had a church to go to. I hope to learn more next week once I’m in the marina.

Safely past the obstacles, I motor up the west side of the island, the wind is showing 20 knts now, on the nose, with an open sea ahead, normally I wouldn’t dream of anchoring in this, but I’m assuming this is the normal afternoon blow we have had here for the last 3 days. The forecast has nothing more than 10 knots.
I pass the mine/quarry workings, this island is being disassembled by diggers, loaded into big ships and sent around the world. The product is Gypsum, used in plasterboard/drywall, portland cement, food production and a stack of other things.

Sitting at anchor a few miles away is a large cargo ship, I suspect it’s waiting to load up.

I have seen a few islands, especially in Japan, being carved up and shipped out. This can’t be a sustainable way to behave, surely. So I start to think about volumes, and decide to research how many islands the size San Marcos will be consumed in our need to have smooth walls? a quick wikipedia search tells me that one source in New Mexico (White sands) has enough Gypsum to supply all of the USA’s needs for the next 1000 years, so perhaps it’s not too bad. I drop anchor on a ledge of sand, so the guide says, but it sounded like rocks to me, just north of the mine in a small indent called ‘Sweet Pea Cove’. The wind is already dropping and there’s little swell here. Tomorrow I hope to get a place in the Marina and move there.

Monday 19th April
Not a great night, the wind dropped but the swell continued. When this happens the boat no longer points into the wind, which is usually the direction of the swell, but instead turns side on to the swell and rolls. A boat rolling side to side is much more annoying than front to back. Eventually I fell asleep and at 9 in the morning the anchor was raised as I made the short trip to the Marina in Santa Rosalia. On the way out the fishermen on the small beach camp wave as they work on their nets. It looks so lovely, but I’m wondering if they delivered a load of shark fins to their customer in the night or maybe worse.

Fishermen working on their nets
The nav light at the top NW end of San Marcos

I had been trying for days to contact them to reserve a space, I had initially thought if they were full I could anchor off, but I just found out that’s no longer allowed, so I was a little worried I might be turned away and have to return south, the wind change meant I couldn’t go back to Sweet Pea cove, but would be heading back towards Concepción. But as usual, things turned out for the best, as I approached the marina, a man waved me in from the end of the dock, and I could see spaces available. Two guys where waiting to take my lines, which I hadn’t got out yet. Ten minutes later I was safely tied up in the harbour and looking forward to mad crazy shore life again.

Santa Rosalia Fonatur Marina
The anchor area is now used by a large ferry. Reminds me of Greece
Could this be a storks nest here?

After I left the office to check in, I bumped into Karl, I think he is Latvian, but we met him the day after we arrived in Port Hardy, Canada from Japan. He had arrived from Alaska. He said he was sailing to Mexico. Later we met him near Seattle and again in Ensenada. What a small world.

I’m expecting to spend a week here before I cross to the mainland, I have to get the weather right so it’s an easy passage. Rosalia is a working town, not for tourists, but it has plenty to see, including the Effiel designed church, a museum, and plenty of historic sites.

Paul Collister.

Engine Electrics

March 2021
As the title says, this is a little technical, and probably worth skipping unless you are interested in Engine Starter motors, solenoids, and stupidity.

As I mentioned before, the instrument panel in the cockpit wasnt working and I had to start the engine manually with a hot wired jump to activate the solenoid. The solenoid is just a big electro-magnetically operated switch that provides power to the starter motor, which is just a big motor that gets the engine spinning fast enough for it to start exploding fuel in its cylinders. I also have to pull on a coat hanger connected to the high pressure fuel pump to stop the engine, as the electric panel stop option wasn’t working either.

It turns out that the negative or 0v wire from the battery, via the engine electrics box was broken. As I took the lid off the engine electrical box, sparks started flying around me, eventually I worked out it was coming from an earth wire, that was chafing on the solenoid positive terminal, once repaired, the panel lit up, and the engine started and stopped as expected.
I should have stopped at this point and moved onto the failing herb plants, but instead I decided to work out how the earth system worked, the engine block is floating from the battery negative, the alternator, starter motor, and all the sensors, which would normally have there -ve side connected to the block, were 2 wire isolated devices. This prevents stray currents from flowing through the engine. On my Beta engine on Stardust, these stray currents destroyed bronze bolts holding my heat exchanger together because I didn’t know there was a zinc anode inside it that had to be changed. There are no anodes on my volvo engine so I worry that if the earthing isnt working as designed, some part of the engine might be corroding away as I speak.
So measuring between the battery negative and the engine gave me a reading of 0 ohms, meaning that the intended plan wasnt working and there was a short somewhere. I set off to find this, disconnecting the starter motor and alternator earths didn’t help, I then removed the throttle cable, but didn’t do the gear shift, as that’s hard to get too. There is a route from the throttle, to the steering and from there to the quadrant which is earthed to the boats external zincs and thru hulls. I found the SSB earth wire stuffed under the engine and saw where it had once been connected, the SSB earth goes to the ATU earth, and thru the coax to the SSB case, which is connected to the -ve 12v supply from the battery, so that sets up a route for current to flow, especially when transmitting. I gave up, put it all back together, started the engine to check I had done it properly and nothing. De Nada. The solenoid was clicking, but not providing any power to the starter motor. The multimeter proved the solenoid had given up the ghost, I had wondered why the post that the power goes on was a bit loose, and I had remade the connections to it. I must have caused something inside to move. As I don’t know anything about solenoids, this seemed like a good time to learn. I managed to pull it off the starter and dismantled it in the cockpit. By this time the boat had become a bit of a mess.

The contacts on the solenoid were touching, but not passing any electricity. Looking at them, I could see they were covered in a black crud. once cleaned they conducted just fine and I reassembled the unit and attached it to the starter.

The solenoid
The wires had to be unsoldered to get to the contacts, thankfully I’m handy with the iron
The moving part of the contacts
These two lumps of blackened copper are welded to the posts you connect to outside
That’s a bit cleaner
Why is there always something left over after reassembly 🙁
On the starter again

Thinking this was the end, I started the engine, or tried, all I got was a sad groaning from the motor and a lot of smoke coming from the starter motor. I assumed I had not fitted the solenoid properly, so out it came with the starter this time and I took the end of the starter off, refitted the solenoid, connected properly, refitted the lot to the engine, reconnected the big fat 12v cables and started it. The engine started with a whiff of smoke from the starter. I tried to think of a way to make the little whiff of smoke ok, it was way smaller than the last bit of smoke, and the engine did start. I tried again, no smoke, and the engine started, job done I thought, but really I knew I had to come up with an explanation for the smoke. I tried the engine again, and this time the starter groaned, did a quarter of a turn, then looked like it was going to burst into flames, smoke poured out and didn’t look like it would stop, despite me pulling the power pronto. Bummer, starter motors are hard to get for this engine, and cost £300-£400. I hoped it could be repaired, I dug it out and started to take it apart on a sheet of newspaper in the cockpit.

The problem was obvious, somehow I had tightened the nuts on the +12v and 0V terminals so tightly, they had crushed the plastic brush holder inside, this was old and brittle, and as I took it out to examine, it crumbled more in my hand. The brushes had been touching each other and presenting themselves sideways on to the armature. Normally fixing this would be out of the question, but given my predicament, what’s to lose, and I like a challenge.

I figured I could glue it all back together, my childhood expertise with airfix WW2 fighter jets could come in handy, however I had memories of once gluing the wings of a spitfire on backwards, also detail wasn’t my thing, those little tins of paint never got opened, and the transfers often ended up on the scalextric cars.

The first problem was getting the surfaces clean, but just gently rubbing a wire brush over them caused more cracks and lumps to fall off. I devised a strategy, just get some glue on to hold it all together, a bit like tack welds, so i can clean the surfaces better, then more glue, then a final coat over large areas to give it strength, this took 3 rounds over three days, in the end it seemed great and quite strong, the only problem was I had glued one half of a brush socket to the other out of line, so the brush wouldn’t slide through freely. I had to build it up with epoxy then file it back until I was close to the right shape. I reassembled it all but didn’t fit it to the engine.

I found stretchy plumbers tape ( the gas type) to be good for pulling things together while they glue

Then I left it another day, just to give the epoxy a good 48 hours for a final set. This was the hardest part.
I then connected some wires to the battery supply and touched them onto the lugs to see what happened. as you can see in the video below.

When I came to bolt it to the engine, one of the three bolts was missing, this was crazy, I would have heard it fall from the top of the fridge, could it have gone into the bilge to be lost forever, I doubted I had a spare. I’m always thinking my efforts can all be ruined by one stupid mistake at any point. I spread my search further, and found the bolt had hitched a ride with my gopro magnetic gorilla grip to the other end of the cabin. Phew.

It worked, I mounted it onto the engine, being very careful with the connecting lugs, and it fired up right away, without any smoke, confirming my earlier suspicion, that there really is no acceptable excuse for smoke coming from electrical equipment, no matter how much it helps out with the logic.
I do need to buy a replacement starter, and this might represent 50% of my hold allowance when I return from the UK in September. Should I get back there in July. I have started the engine some 30 times now and it starts quickly without fuss, I’m hoping we will get a few more months minimum without any trouble.

Paul Collister

Chilling in Escondido, (no hay vacuna)

Monday 22nd March 2021

There’s not a lot happening since I got here, I’m just swinging on the mooring buoy with the odd trip into the marina to buy an ice cream and make use of the fast wifi there. My chances of getting vaccinated here look slim. The rich countries are all boasting about the money they have pledged to let developing countries buy the vaccine, yet at the same time making damm sure none of it leaves their shores and recently seem to be stopping other countries that have vaccine factories from having access to the recipe due to patent concerns.

Dirk & Sylvia have returned, vaccinated, after their mad dash up to the states by car. Mike from Ikigai is sailing from Ensenada on a friends boat, and will return to his boat which is on the buoy behind me in 2 weeks.

In an effort to improve the connectivity here I tried putting my at&t android (Hot Spot) phone into a bag and sending it up the mast. It works a bit, but I haven’t worked out how to get the charging cable up there yet.

Kayaking around the lagoon is fun, the stingrays in the shallows are spectacular.
I planted some herb seeds today, Basil and Mint, They should be easy to grow on the boat, and Basil can be hard to get here.

I was going to put the same picture at the end of the blog, as two weeks later, nothing has happened.

I saw this guy swimming around the marina, I might have talked about manta rays before, apparently there are none here, this might be a Devil Ray, I think a ray from the Mobula species. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it’s about 5ft, or 1.5 metres across, or OMG when you see it swim past you. Ever so graceful too.

I’ve spent some time walking around the marina estate for a bit of exercise. Somebody had a big dream for this place once, there’s a grid of roads laid out in concrete, covering quite an area, waterways weave through with one property under construction as you can see below.

Credit to google maps for the image

However most roads go nowhere, some are fenced off, and in places the concrete is cracking and weeds are starting.

The Ellipse, one day this might be full of mega yachts

Just around the corner is the harbour masters office and a jetty for a rescue boat. I got this picture of some locals reeling in the fish.

After a week here I decided to head out to the local islands, Isla Carmen is only 3 hours away and has the lovely Balandra bay. Leaving the lagoon I snapped this mega yacht, which I overheard someone saying was Steven Spielberg’s yacht, who knows, owners are always secretive, and buy and sell yachts quite frequently. I think John Wayne kept his yacht in this region.

Route to Loreto, then Balandra bay

I sailed north into the wind, by heading close hauled towards Loreto, then tacking for Balandra, however either my bad sailing, the boats poor sail trim, or a coincidental wind shift, (most likely the first), when I tacked, I ended up heading back to my start. On came the engine for the last bit. Unfortunately the autohelm had stopped working again, so I hand steered for the last hour, which wasn’t so bad. It turns out the screw that holds the key in the keyway had come loose and the key had fallen out, yet again. I was so sure I had fixed it good last time. This time I used some of the red loctite, I think I needed a less strong one, but thats all I had. It says something about needing nuclear weapons to undo the screw should I need to in the future. This may be why I didn’t use it last time. I feel this story isn’t over yet. There were three other boats in the bay when I arrived and the prime spots had gone, strong winds from the NW were forecast and I would have preferred to be tucked further in. however that night the winds weren’t too bad, the next morning one of the boats left and I moved closer in. another boat arrived later in the day and took my place, they had a rough time of it for the next 48 hours as we had constant 20+knot winds and quite a swell was rolling into that part of the bay.

A rich man’s boat chilling out with just the crew on board
Balandra Bay, Isla Carmen
Marks the start of a hill trek
Halfway up the hill
A north american flag flying upside down
Sister Midnight third from the front in the middle

After a few days just chilling I decided to anchor off Loreto and go into town and get some groceries.

Anchored off Loreto, taken from the malecon with Isla Carmen behind
Checking she’s still there

All went well until on my return I tried to start the engine and the instrument panel was dead. This isn’t unusual, there’s a stack of connectors between the panel and the engine, the wiring loom comes in three sections, and each sections suffers from corrosion, so I usually pull them apart, spray some contact cleaner in and wiggle them around. This time it didn’t work, and after an hour I decided to leave and work on it on the way. I jump started the engine so I had some power to haul up the anchor, then I raised the sails and set the now repaired autohelm for Puerto Escondido.

With the engine off I pulled out the wiring diagrams and starting chasing through the fault with my multimeter. The problem seemed to be related to an open earth fault in the engine end of the wiring. That’s complicated as the engine earth is floating from the battery earth. I’ve always been confused by this, Volvo did it to protect the engine I think, but with other parts of the boat being grounded for galvanic corrosion purposes, and then another ground system exists for the SSB radio, I have never been sure that everything was connected and working correctly. What I don’t want to do is have corrosive currents flowing through my heat exchanger destroying it. I decided to spend some time when I get back to port to investigate properly.

Arriving back in PE, taken by Dirk / Sylvia
Losing the light in PE

The next day started with a trip up the hill with Dirk & Sylvia

It was quite a walk, but led to some spectacular views

There are quite a few big charter boats live here

Back on the boat I started chasing wires to find the fault, it turned out to be a earth wire to the alternator lug that had chafed on the positive terminal of the solenoid. I remade a few connections around the area and up fired the instrument panel, it worked fine, sadly the engine made no effort to start when I turned the key. It appeared that the solenoid had stopped working on the starter motor, this was to be the start of a difficult few days. I will put up a post on the starter motor separately, so you can all skip that.

I filmed some amazing dolphin scenes on the way up to Loreto, but I haven’t had a chance to edit them yet, hopefully I can put a link in my next blog post.

I’m going to wait for Mike to arrive, he’s due in the next few days, I have booked another week here, and I will leave at the end of this week, maybe Saturday 10th and go North then across the sea to Guaymas/San Carlos on the mainland.

Happy Easter.

Paul Collister.