We started up the engine at 8 am after over a month in La Paz to head to somewhere new. Even if our parts would arrive it was going to take some time as DHL seemed to have them on a terminal hold in Ohio since the 18th of February. It seemed a better idea to just go explore new locations while we waited.
Just leaving the harbor takes over an hour. At least at sailboat speed it does. The channel is narrow and dog legs at the entrance. My thoughts always go to what happens if the engine stops. If you fall more than maybe 100 feet outside the channel markers in a displacement boat you will be on the ground. This leaves little room for error. In my mind action go like this:
1. Try to sail out.
2. Drop the anchor in the channel or at the edge long enough to get the dinghy tied up to the Side and use the outboard for thrust. (This would only work at slack water. If the tide were running the small outboard would do little to help)
We made out the channel without any complications. I did notice the engine running a bit hotter than usual. Since changing the header tank (the reservoir for coolant) to the new combined header tank/exhaust manifold/heat exchanger (bowman system) we have been holding at 180F, which is the specified temp in the manual. Now we were sitting at 190 and when I pushed the engine to 2200 RPM it rose to 200F. I suspected the water intake was being restricted.
In La Paz, the growth on the bottom of the boat was impressive. When I cleaned the bottom, I had to scape shells out of the engine’s water intake through hole. With the engine getting hotter it made since this would be caused by water restriction from the raw water intake. The easiest thing to try first is to clean the raw water strainer.
I stopped the boat not long after exiting the channel to clean the strainer. I could see debris in the strainer and figured this might just be enough to cause problem. When I removed the strainer and stepped out of the engine compartment a small fish jumped out of the strainer and landed on the floor. Well… that might just be a sign. Emily grabbed the fish to get it back in the ocean before it died and I cleaned the strainer of the grime blocking the lower half. A minute later it was back in with the cover on and engine running.
The temperature started by rising to 180 then slowly rising to 190. It did not rise above this even with increases in RPM, By the time we were at Isla Partida the engine was back to running at 180. I guess it took a bit to pull more of the debris out of the lower tube making a clear flow.
We anchored in El Cardonal, which is one of the deep cuts into the island making for a very well protected anchorage. at the back of the anchorage is a valley with a trail crossing the island. We sat calmly in a flat anchorage, but the short walk over the island shows a rough ocean churned up by north winds. It is so good to have calm anchorages.
In the evening, just before sunset, a call was heard on the VHF from a vessel calling another vessel off the island. Their engine had stopped running and were making their way to our anchorage. Emily and I called the the vessel and asked if they needed help. I offered to drop our dinghy back in the water and meet them at the entrance just in case help was needed. They were very happy to have someone ready to help.
The vessel was still about a mile and half outside the entrance when I motored over. As the sun was setting with rich orange color, and the first stars came out, I could clearly see them approaching. We exchanged communications over the VHF. We agreed I would come along side as they kept as much momentum under sail to get them as far in as possible. When they lost power I would tie up to their side and use the dinghy’s outboard to provide thrust to the boat.
After making decent distance in under sail the wind died and I tied up to the boat. It was impressive that our small 9.8HP tohatsu outboard eventually had the 40 foot boat going 4 hmph. It took awhile, but they finally were anchored without too much drama.
It felt good to be able to help another cruiser in need.They were grateful and I was happy to have been able to assist. You never know when you will need help yourself.