Wednesday, March 15, 2017

En Route to Zihuatanejo: Another Little Engine Problem, Playing with Dolphins

We paid our bill and slipped our docklines at Marina Chahue just before 1 pm yesterday and headed over to the fuel dock to top up our tanks and fill our fuel jugs.

Our 350 nm passage from Huatulco to Zihautanejo approaches the limit to our range if we have to motor on both engines, unlikely but possible. The 30 gallons of fuel in the jugs provides a large margin of comfort and the opportunity to forgo a subsequent fuel stop if we run on one engine and/or make some distance under sail.

We left the fuel dock at 2 pm and headed out to sea in hazy sunshine, light headwinds and a gentle swell. After motoring on the starboard engine for a while, I decided to take a look at it to make sure there was no leakage from the new water pump. To my dismay, somehow the hose from the engine to the coolant reservoir had ended up on top of the spinning alternator which chopped a nice chunk out of it. I guess all my activity in the engine compartment moved the hose, but I'm not sure how I could have missed the problem when I ran the engine to test it.

Fortunately I remembered that the crew that delivered Intermezzo from South Africa had captured rain water from the hardtop using a small piece of rigid tubing and I also remembered where it was. It was the perfect diameter for splicing the broken hose back together. I completed the repair in 15 minutes and we were back in business.

We motored the entire night under one engine, making a solid 5-6 knots boat speed against a 5-10 knot headwind. It was a beautiful night with a full moon in a partly cloudy sky.

A large pod of energetic dolphins came to visit me while I was on watch shortly after midnight. I went up to the bow to watch them swimming just below the surface, juggling for position with one another, breaking the surface intermittently in shallow jumps to take a breath of air. I was wearing a headlamp and turned it on to its bright white setting to shine it on the dolphins just below and ahead of where I was sitting on the bow.

The dolphins seemed to enjoy having the addition of the light to their playtime. They would jostle each other to fall under its beam and then would twist their bodies slightly to look at the light, their eye sparkling up at me with its reflection. I could aim the beam at a spot in the water and a dolphin would race over to it to follow just behind it. This game amused me and, I hope the dolphins too, for about an hour.

It's just after noon and we continue to motor along on a calm bright blue sea under clear skies. The wind has shifted enough to port to allow me to unroll the jib and its adding about a knot to our boat speed. I'm hoping it will continue to shift more and we can roll out the Code 0 and turn off the motor. Or maybe it will shift a little less and the wind speed will build and we can hoist the main. Anything for a little relief from the hum of the motor and some piece and quiet.