Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Puerto Escondido: Bad Pumps...Again

We launched Intermezzo yesterday morning after six months in dry storage at Marina Puerto Escondido, near the Baja town of Loreto. Everything went great until we started up the engines and the normal sound of gurgling water mixing with the exhaust was missing. Looking over the side confirmed no water coming out with the exhaust of either engine. Not good. We drove Intermezzo a short distance to a nearby dock, tied up and opened the engine hatches to figure out what was wrong.

I started with the port engine. I disconnected all the hoses and systematically check for blockages, finding none. The raw seawater pump impeller looked fine, but I replaced it anyway. It made no difference. Somewhat baffled, but with no other option, I replaced the raw water pump with a spare I had on board. That did the trick, the engine running normally with plenty of water shooting out from the exhaust port.  I was sweaty, dirty and my back was aching after four hours crouching in the engine compartment, but at least I got one engine running.

I crossed my fingers when I started working on the starboard engine. Although it exhibited exactly the same symptoms, I hoped that the cause would be a blocked hose or bad impeller, as I only carried one spare raw water pump.  I sweat, got dirty and ached some more pulling off, blowing into and replacing hoses and the impeller, only to determine that the pump was bad, just like the other engine. Bummer. Now I have to find a new pump.

Finding marine engine parts in Mexico is not easy. We experienced this problem last March when we launched the boat after dry storage in Puerto Chiapas and discovered a leaking fresh water cooling pump. I ended up having to fly back to San Francisco to pick up a new one and bring it back. Hopefully, it will be easier this time and I can either find one in La Paz and drive down to get it or have a marine supply company in San Diego put it on a bus in Tijuana to bring it to me.  It will take some phone calls today, but I’m sure I’ll get something figured out.  Fortunately, replacing the raw water pump is about a half hour job compared to the fresh water pump which takes a few hours.  I’m hoping that we’ll get underway before the end of the week.

Let me bring you up to speed on what happened between the end of the Baja Ha-Ha in Cabo San Lucas and now. I arrived in Cabo on Mustique on Thursday morning (November 9) and enjoyed meeting the rest of Gary’s family and partying with other Ha-Ha’ers until Saturday morning, packing and cleaning the boat up in between. On Saturday morning I enjoyed breakfast with Rich Lee, an old friend from Sonoma, and his family and then hopped on a bus to Loreto.  Nine hours later I arrived in Loreto and checked into the Santa Fe Hotel, a decent enough place across the street from the small, dusty bus terminal.

Sunday morning I picked up a rental car at the airport and drove to Puerto Escondido to check on Intermezzo and start preparing for launch. The boat was very, very dirty on the outside, but perfectly clean and just like we left it six months ago on the inside. The dry desert air seems to be much better for boat storage than the moist tropical climates of Chiapas and Costa Rica where we previously stored Intermezzo and had to deal with varying degrees of mold and mildew inside. In the afternoon, I drove back to the airport to pick up Renee, who arrived intact but with her luggage missing. The delay caused by the broken pumps will allow said luggage to be delivered before we leave, a silver lining, I guess. After grabbing a bite to eat, we went to the local supermaket and filled up two small grocery carts with provisions and brought them back to the boat.

We spend Monday getting the boat ready for launching, servicing the propellers and saildrives, changing zincs and washing, washing and washing again the boat until it was finally clean.  And that brings us to where this post started on Tuesday morning.

Now it’s Wednesday morning and we’re sitting peacefully at anchor in the natural harbor of Puerto Escondido, the sky perfectly clear, the water perfectly blue and the day beginning to heat up under a brilliant sun. The desert is much greener than we left it last May, the foliage clearly benefiting from the summer rains.  In fact, from a distance in the low angle light of the morning, the hills remind me of the drier regions of the Hawaiian islands.  The climate is nice here this time of year- it gets pretty hot in the afternoon but is pleasant and even cool in the morning, evenings and at night.

Today I’m going to find our pump.  Maybe even get in a car and drive to La Paz to get it, I hope.