Limping Along to Chamela

16 Jan

(Jan. 10) I dove in today with scrapers in hand and found that it was amazing this boat moved at all when we left Barra. The bottom was a giant mass of growth. Hundreds of pounds of fist sized plants, quite beautiful actually, had attached themselves to our fifteen or so year-old bottom paint. Wish I knew what kind of paint it was, I'd Tweet a complaint to the company. I mean really.

Fortunately I'd bought the biggest scraper to be had at Home Depot, unfortunately my in-laws weren't able to find our snorkel gear stashed away somewhere in their cabin, leaving me with an ill-fitting mask and snorkel and no fins at all. Scraping a boat this size sans fins is quite an undertaking I must say. While down there I also found that one of the two big nuts on the prop was loose. It would have been the locking nut I suppose, and there is a pin in place behind that, but I was still glad to make that discovery and get it tightened back up.
We spent the rest of the day on the boat because of a big swell that had come up overnight making the beach landing a bit hairy. Actually I went in alone just to drop some garbage off and do a little hand laundry. Nothing but kid's pajamas in the laundry and kid's diapers in the garbage. This is our life. 
Ali spent her day more or less trying to pacify Lowe. He's been on the fussy side lately with his teeth coming in and although they are through now there hasn't been much of a reprieve. Hard days that leave both of us longing for nightfall.
(Jan. 11) The plan was to get an early start this morning, so what did Ouest do, slept until eight-thirty. Oh well. We finally upped anchor and left Tenacatita. We pointed the bow north again and motored out in calm seas and four knots of wind to Chamela. It was an uneventful morning. Just the way we like it. Lowe napped and Ouest played quietly. 
Of course the calm onboard couldn't last forever. I mean, we were motoring a whole thirty miles, something had to go wrong. We were all up front when we heard a loud knock. I scooped up Ouest, ran to the back, took a quick look over the side and confirmed we had both water flow and prop wash. So the knock wasn't the shaft coupler for a change. Good. Down inside a quick glance at the instruments showed normal readings for cooling water temperature and oil pressure. Good. Nothing obviously wrong so far. Grab the engine compartment door and lift. Poof, nothing but a cloud of smoke. 
"Um, Ali, we've got a problem."
I throttled the engine down and started waving away the smoke. It was a full minute before I could see anything. And fortunately what I found wasn't as scary as the smoke would have led me to believe. The belt for the refrigeration compressor had somehow come off, throwing black rubber all over the compartment and smoking like a Taco Bell employee on break.
Nothing else appeared to be wrong, the belt was already off (at that point I figured it had broken), and the engine was fine, so on we went.
Now the problem of course is… Guess. Right. We don't have an extra belt. No, I've got no idea why we only have one. Both Ali and I can remember in specific detail buying this belt, because we had to go back to the store twice to get the right one. One. Who buys one belt? We do. Now we've got until about two o'clock tomorrow before the fridge gets too warm and everything inside starts going bad. 
This afternoon we went ashore and showed the belt to the first guy we came across. He indicated that there was a place right up in town that would have it. We started walking to town but it was too hot and too far so we gave up, circled back, and sat down for beer and fish tacos instead. Tomorrow is another day.
I should mention that when I say fish tacos I don't really mean fish tacos in the traditional sense. Along the mainland coast you don't find fish tacos on a lot of menus. Instead I mean a filet of grilled fish served with rice, vegetables, hot sauce, and a big pile of tortillas. Fish tacos.
Sea sickness. We've been giving Ouest between a quarter and a half of a dramamine pill in her juice before we head out on any passage lately and we haven't had any sickness. As for Lowe, he seems to have been born for the sea. He doesn't care a bit and never seems sick in the least. I've been taking a pill before most passages as well. Mainly because I seem to spend so much time with my head down in the engine compartment. Nothing will make you sick faster than climbing into a hot engine compartment on a rolling boat. Ali has been fine with nothing.

(Jan. 12) This morning I went in to town to try and track down a belt for the refrigerator. A typical automotive style belt. I walked up through town which is just a shabby little place laid out all along one road about three blocks inland from the ocean, back behind the dunes. I stopped three or four times to ask directions and kept being told "Toques, Toques." I didn't know what that meant but everybody else did and they kept pointing the way.

Eventually I stumbled on El Toques. A house on the end of a long dirt road, over a one lane bridge that I somehow managed to meet a car on every time I crossed it. The cars never slowed. The auto parts store consisted of one room about eight feet by eight feet, but just like in every auto parts store there were belts lining the walls right up against the ceiling just like the wall paper borders that our mothers all put up in the kitchens back in the eighties.
Of course there were no perfect matches, so I bought the three closest and went home. Turned out only one was big enough, and just barely. I stretched it on but knew it wouldn't last, and within minutes of running the engine it was toast. Back to the store later on in the afternoon for the next size up and back to the boat again. This time I also dug around and found my spare alternator belt to replace the one that was a little too stretched out on there now. With everything back together again we fired her up and, success.
An hour later, while Ali was laying Lowe down and I was in bed reading with Ouest, the engine suddenly died. I ran out and opened up the engine hatch to find one big mess of coolant. The coolant hose I have to remove to replace the alternator belt had popped right off. I know I had tightened it, but obviously not enough, and as if to teach me a lesson, it was the only hose in there with only one hose clamp on it. 
What a day. Honestly, it feels as if not a day goes by lately without at least one negative boat issue cropping up. I seem to remember writing more than once in the past, "Boats. Never again."
On top of all of our woes, a guy on a neighboring boat flagged me down last night and asked me if I could do him a favor. He broke two ribs when he slipped and fell a couple hours south of Puerto Vallarta. Then in the ensuing trip his boat wouldn't do over 2.5 knots. He was sure that his prop needed to be scraped or that it had been fouled. He needed me to go under and scrape it for him so he could continue to Barra to see a doctor. So today I dove down on his big fifty-four footer and found, well, nothing. There were some barnacles on the prop, but nothing major and there was nothing else hanging off the boat. I scraped it off for him, but suggested he may have some other problems because that shouldn't have slowed him down even a half a knot. For that bit of business his big Polish wife served me a plate of some sort of apple pancakes and I couldn't leave without a big bottle of Sangria. Personally I would have been happy with just a little bit of good karma onboard my own boat.
I make it sound as if I'm the only one doing anything around here, but while I'm off gallivanting around town Ali has been hog tied with two kids that seem to need full attention twenty-four-seven. We need a vacation from this vacation.
I went swimming tonight after the kids were asleep and found the water to be full of phosphorescence. As I swam the green lights exploded off of my fingers and as I kicked my legs left long streaks of radioactive green behind me. Pretty cool. I remember sailing to a specific bay in the Spanish Virgin Islands for this, and now I just stumble upon it here.


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