Just to catch everyone up on the Bumfuzzle
happenings: Pat, Ali and Ouest had been in San Diego
taking care of some last-minute things before casting off to move the vessel down to PV (Puerto Vallarta). On the morning of June 20th, the whole family
was up before sunrise and Pat took Ali, 7+ months pregnant, and Ouest to the airport
to fly to PV. He swung by Home Depot to pick up a carbon monoxide detector, returned the rental car, got a ride back to the boat and cast off before 8:30am.
Although there was a minor grounding mishap (that caused no damage) before he was out of the harbor, he was pulled off and on his way quickly. The goal for the day was to reach Ensenada before sunset.
He pulled into the marina just north of town an hour before the sun dropped into the Pacific.
The next morning he left bright and early, making some westing as he headed south, seeking to establish some sea room as he made his way along the lengthy lee shore that is the west coast
. By 5pm on the 23rd, he dropped anchor
Tortugas, Turtle Bay.
After a good night's sleep, he topped off with diesel
the next morning and headed south once again. He could have made for the next traditional anchorage down the coast at Bahia
Magdalena, or Mag Bay to most west coast
sailors, but he was passing there in the dark of night and wanted to keep going.
Sometime around 4:00pm on the 25th, his speed decreased by about a knot
and a half, and the next morning he could see why. Trailing behind Bumfuzzle
about fifty feet was a big hunk of styrofoam, being pulled along by a mess of fishing
line snagged by the vessel with even more fishing
line trailing along behind the float. Although this had happened to Pat and Ali numerous times during their circumnavigation
, dealing with it when you're sailing on a catamaran
with another competent crew aboard is one thing . . . dealing with it when you're single-handed and aboard a high-freeboard monohull
is quite another.
Still, the drag had to be eliminated, so Pat prepared to go over the side with his knife. Here's how he described the ordeal in his log:
"So I got a long line ready to trail off the back of the boat, I put the swim ladder in with another line tying that onto the boat, shut off the engine
, grabbed my knife and mask, stripped, and waited. Waited for the boat to stop moving. Two knots we were still laboring away at. Ten knots of wind
, small seas, and a small swell all conspired to keep us moving at two knots.
"Two knots doesn't sound like much, but it is. I climbed down the swim ladder and then slipped into the water
, still holding on to the ladder. Immediately me and the ladder were trailing alongside the boat at what felt like great speed. I could barely even get a look at the rudder
. All I could see was a big steel
leader line wrapped around it, another small styrofoam buoy tucked in against it, and a fish head
as big as mine trailing a few feet back. Not cool. By the time I scrambled back aboard I had a cut on my hand and a nice gash on my knee. And I hadn't even let go of the boat. This is an all together different ball game
than the catamaran
. And being alone doesn't help matters one bit. At least with Ali I could let go of the boat and know that if I were separated she would come get me. Now if I get separated I'm dead. Two very different outcomes to the same situation.
"In the end I dragged the line up on the boat, cut off the big buoy, and then tied off the remaining line to a cleat. This keeps the stuff still in the water
from getting wrapped up in the prop, and eliminates the bulk of what was dragging us down. The speed I'm making now makes it seem as if nothing is down there. And as long as nothing is in the prop I should be okay.
"One other thing. I'm two-thirds of the way down the Baja
Peninsula and the water temperature still took my breath away."
Annticipating a quick stop in Cabo San Lucas to take on diesel
and some fresh water, remove the tangled mess of fishing line and check email
before pushing on, Pat was happily motor-sailing along at about 4:00pm on the afternoon of the 27th when he heard what he describes as a "click clunk." The engine
still sounded good, but he knew something was wrong. Though the engine was running perfectly, the vessel was slowly losing momentum.
Checking in the engine compartment didn't reveal any issues 'til he looked further aft. The problem quickly became apparent . . . the shaft coupling had snapped and there was no possibility of repairing it at sea. The only option was to put in at Cabo.
Fortunately, in a sportfishing mecca like Cabo, competent mechanical help is not difficult to find. The only question was whether the single
good sail still capable of moving Bumfuzzle
would take him the last fifteen miles to the anchorage.
Within two hours of getting a tow into the anchorage and dropping anchor
, Pat had gotten two water taxis to tie off on either side of the vessel and move him into the marina, checked in and was told that Octavio was the transmission
guy, made arrangements to meet him back at the boat, gotten something to eat and found Octavio waiting for him when he got back to Bumfuzzle.
Octavio removed as much of the broken coupling as he could, but the remainder would have to be cut off. The entire shaft coupling would have to be replaced.
The next morning, Octavio and one helper were back at the boat to resume the removal
of the rest of the coupling, which went quickly without torching the boat. The hunt began for a replacement, and one was found that could be machined to accomplish the repair. By 6:00pm on the 28th, Octavio returned to the boat with the new coupling ready to be installed, and by 8:00pm the vessel was once again smoothly motoring around the harbor.
If the fuel
docks had been open, Pat would have filled the tanks
and set off that night, but since they weren't, that would delay departure until morning. The entire episode had amounted to a delay of about thirty-six hours, including waiting overnight for the fuel dock
Since people are forever asking how it is that Pat and Ali can afford their cruising lifestyle, Pat mentions how this incident cost him, essentially, nothing . . . though he spent over $700 in Cabo effecting the repair. Here's how that came to pass:
"I don't talk a whole lot about my [stock and commodity] trading but Ali just asked me how much this whole thing cost and it sort of ties in. All told, including hiring water taxis to tow me in, parts
, mechanics, marina bills, this will have cost over seven hundred dollars. So this morning while I was waiting for the guys to show up I was watching the stock market. A stock I like had been getting knocked around a bit lately so I placed a lowball bid right before the open to buy some call options. The order got filled somehow, and the stock immediately went up, along with the rest of the market today. Within fifteen minutes my sell order got hit, and the market backed off a little bit. In those fifteen minutes I'd bought the low of the day, sold the high of the day, and made enough to pay for this whole debacle.
"Some would say luck, but I prefer the saying about luck being when preparation meets opportunity. In this case I just happened to have a wifi
connection while waiting for somebody to show up. Instead of reading blogs I made a trade
. Now the funny
thing is that if I hadn't broken down I'd have been at sea and wouldn't have made the trade
. So financially we are no better or worse off than we would have been had none of this happened. Weird the way the world works sometimes."
Pat will have left Cabo the morning of the 29th (assuming the fuel dock
was open), with another 2-3 days to cross open water before reaching Puerto Vallarta
on the mainland. He may well be there now.
To read the log of the voyage, go to bumfuzzle | june 2011
and scroll down about half-way. The log for the beginning of the voyage begins on June 20th, just below the cute close-up of Ouest. Enjoy.