Log #56k Mexico to Texas

June 23, 2013 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 56, The Logs

Bellingham, Washington, USA

June 23, 2013

Hi Folks,

It has been a long time since my last log, but we are still alive and doing well here in Bellingham, WA. As I indicated in my last Log #56j we prepared Veleda and put her on a low bed truck for shipment across the continent. It arrived later than scheduled and as a result we were not present for the unloading here. There were no problems and Veleda arrived in good condition, other than a bit of road dirt. We were in Victoria and Esquimalt at a Navy reunion for a few days and a weekend visit with friends up the Malahat Highway.

We spent ten days on the hard getting Veleda ready for launch, which was completed on June 21, the first day of summer. We are in the water, have the mast up, the new bimini constructed and mounted, the dinghy in the water (our used Yamaha outboard reliably started on the first pull – anyone want to buy a used 9.9 Mercury four stroke?), new standing rigging rigged, and one of our solar panels mounted on the bimini. There are a few maintenance tasks to be completed by an outside contractor (replacing the aft stay base plate, freeing up a corroded chain stripper on the windlass, and replacing three halyard exit guides on our mast – all of these involving corrosion damage over the years). However we are mobile and hope to go out for a day sail to anchor in a cove a few miles from the boat yard, to return tomorrow, hopefully to have these tasks completed.

My next log will give more details about the shipping costs, the associated boatyard costs, and the on the hard tasks of preparing the boat for shipping and reassembling for launching. Take a look at the attached pictures of barn swallows at sea, the rain flatted sea, and a non-operational oil platform.

We are fine, Veleda is back in the water, and it is good to be afloat again.

All the best,

Aubrey

 


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Bellingham, Washington, USA

June 17, 2013

We departed From Isla Mujeres (21 14.710N, 086 44.615W) at 1134, May 7, after checking out ashore with customs and immigration (a small fee at the port captain’s office) and motorsailed around the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula until 1600, when we set sail under genoa and reefed main for our long 700 mile leg on a course of 306M for Port Aransas in Texas across the Gulf of Mexico.  We motorsailed most of the night until I came on watch at 0614, sunrise May 8, to shut off the engine and quietly sail for the next 48 hours crossing the Gulf. I set the whisker pole and at 0715 shook out the reef in a light easterly 3 to 4 force breeze to sail placidly along at 4.2 knots.  At 0820 we had a Thick Billed Kingbird resting on our bow pulpit, and at 0915 sighted a jaeger flying around us, over 100 miles from any land.

At our noon hour fix May 8 of 22 29.767 N, 087 45.759W, having logged 113 nautical miles since our departure at 1134 May 7, we had a barn swallow hitching a ride until about 1600, still over 100 nautical miles from  land.

May 9, the breeze was still from E to SE and our noon hour fix had us at 23 49.011N, 090 01.628W having travelled 244 nautical miles since our departure 48.5 hours Ago. During the night we had an accidental gybe as our Raymarine autopilot was acting up. We switched on our back up Simrad wheel pilot which held the course quite well (the value of redundancy in crucial systems).

The next day, May 10, the wind picked up to force 6 (25 knots) and we double reefed the main again mid-morning.  Our noon hour fix had us 372 miles along our course in three days passage. In the late afternoon the wind eased off and we motorsailed from 1600 to 2140, when we tried to sail. At 2230 when I put the engine on, the warning light came on and I immediately shut the engine off. The alternator belt had broken. We replaced it with our last spare, and motorsailed until 0548 on May 11 when we sailed and motorsailed throughout the day.  

At 0715 we noted storm clouds ahead and furled the genoa to motorsail, but at 0800 we also furled the main, anticipating a heavy storm we could not avoid. The rain came down in torrents and the wind veered to the NW but increased to only 15 to 20 knots. I steered into the wind, which was close to our course line anyways. The rain lashed down ferociously, reducing visibility and flattening the seas for another hour and a half before easing off (see attached picture). By 0930 we hoisted a double reefed main and let out the full genoa to resume sailing and motorsailing the rest of the day.

Starting in the early afternoon, we were visited by a trio of barn swallows who landed not only on our bow pulpit and life lines, but occasionally on our bimini and even inside the cockpit. A couple landed on our heads and even on my outstretched arm at one point.  Again I marveled at their endurance, flying over 100 miles from the closest land. Were they exhausted and needed a place to recuperate, or were they lost, having ventured so far out to sea that they did not know which way the closest land was? In the late afternoon and evening they ventured into the main cabin. We chased them out at first but then allowed them to stay as they periodically took flight in and out and around the boat. We tried to feed them some sweetened water and bread crumbs, but being insect eaters they did not partake of the repast of bread and water we put out. They stayed on board even after dark, some inside and some in the cockpit (see attached pictures). We lost track of where the ones inside stayed. One that was outside left some time during the night. Unfortunately a week later when in Hooking Bull Boatyard, I found a carcass behind our AM/FM radio. The two weeks later here in Bellingham I found another carcass tucked under a speaker up forward. We felt bad about this, but at night with limited lights down below, we did not see where they settled. Sob, sob!

Late that night a storm developed on the horizon from 2330 until 0045, but did not affect us. Night sailing can be beautiful, but also can be scary as distant clouds and lightning cannot be accurately assessed. By 0045 May 12 we were clear of the storm area, and sailed and motorsailed through light NE breezes (our heading was 302 across the Gulf).

By midday May 12 we were 573 nautical miles along our track. By sunrise (0638) on May 13 we were 674 miles across the Gulf and approaching the oil rigs off the Texas coast. The first one I saw I altered course so I could go up sun of it for a picture (see attached picture). It was a nonoperational rig; after this we saw many (at least eight large platforms and numerous smaller rigs) around the horizon, some with large VLCC tankers alongside, others stark abandoned skeletons, and a parade of large tankers to starboard (see attached picture) awaiting taking on loads or ready to set off for distant refineries with their loads. Fortunately our course took us south of these behemoths and their attending rigs as we headed to Port Aransas.

About four miles from the entrance channel to Port Aransas, after we had furled the mainsail and were quietly motorsailing under genoa only in preparation for negotiating the entrance channel, the engine started acting up. On checking the systems I found the squeeze bulb we have on the fuel line was collapsed. The engine died!

Fortunately it was not the alternator belt, as I was concerned for it as we now had no spare. The engine was starved for fuel. Massaging and squeezing the fuel bulb brought fuel to the engine and we were able to start it. We then furled the genoa, motored into the channel, and made a sharp left turn into the Port Aransas City Marina to secure at slip #116 as directed.

It is a good marina in an attractive setting but remote from the town. Rather than a per foot charge there were two or three categories of charges, $30.00 for boats under 30 feet and $50.00 for over 30 feet. Oh well, it was good to be ashore after a six day plus two hours passage of 706 nautical miles.

Our plans are to take Veleda up to Rockport to the Hooking Bull Boatyard where we will take Veleda out of the water and prepare her for shipment diagonally across the country to Bellingham in Washington. More about our time in Port Aransas, Corpus Christi, and Rockport, and our transcontinental shipping of Veleda in my next log.