Log #62l Stranded in San Carlos

January 17, 2018 in Logs by Series, Series 62, Series 62, The Logs

Log #62l Stranded in San Carlos

San Carlos, Mexico

Feb. 2, 2018

Hi Folks,

We are still here after over six weeks since we arrived in San Carlos on Dec. 17 with serious engine problems that I outline at the end of this attached log. We have enjoyed the area but…

This my first log this year takes us with pictures around San Carlos and down to the great chasms of Copper Canyon, larger than the Grand Canyon of Arizona and Colorado.

I will send out a short note as soon as we are operational and on our way south in Veleda. At least here in San Carlos we have good access to the internet and look forward to your reactions to our travels and travails. Incidentally if you no longer wish to get my logs, foe whatever reasons, let me know. I am hoping to use the next week or so alongside to update my website at www.veledaiv.ca with my logs and photo albums. Take a look.

All the best,



Log #62l Stranded in San Carlos

San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Jan. 17, 2018

This is my first log since returning to Mexico. We left Ontario Dec. 16, arrived in San Carlos on the 17th to board Veleda on the hard in Marina Seco on the 18th. We worked for a few days getting Veleda ready for sea, including a professional waxing of the hull, and two coats of copper based bottom paint, and launched her on Dec. 2Oth. Then the problem started. The engine didn’t start! Unfortunately we are still here!

The engine would turn over when I turned the key, but as soon as I released it the engine would die. We tried several things to start it, but no luck. A mechanic, Alex, came down and tried several operations, again with no luck. We couldn’t stay at the launch ramp and so had to be towed across the marina to slip C-15, by a small 2 1/2 horsepower dinghy with no reverse gear. Half way across another dinghy came to our assistance and we were manoeuvered into our slip. The mechanic Alex, came over next day and took the head off the engine to identify that the piston rings were defective and would have to be replaced. This is a serious engine job.

He told us the parts needed but did not have a supplier; we would have to get the parts on our own. Next day, Dec. 21, we e-mailed a Yanmar Parts dealer, but did not hear back from him by the next day, the 22nd. We then found out that all the suppliers were closed for the holidays and would not be open until after the New Year! In the New Year after a couple of fruitless E-mails and phone calls, we finally found a supplier open and who had the parts. However there are often complications in having parts shipped from the USA to Mexico, so had the parts shipped to the Motel 6 in Nogales, Arizona. Once we knew the anticipated arrival date for them we rented a car and drove up to the Motel 6 on Thursday Jan. 11. The parts did not arrive on the day specified and so we spent the next morning waiting for them, then drove back to San Carlos that evening. It was now a Friday and the mechanic said he would come Saturday, but did not show up. When called he said he would come on Monday the 15th, but again did not show, but did come on Tuesday to verify the parts were correct and to see how he would take the engine out of the boat next morning. Again he did not show! Mexican Time!

So we don’t know when we will be able to leave. It could be in an few days or a week or more. I will indicate any progress before I send this log out.

However the marina is OK, although we were without water for the first five days of the new year. A water main broke in Guaymas, cutting off the water for the city and for adjacent San Carlos. Fortunately we had sufficient water stored in our tanks and a 5 gallon jerry can.

 We have attended a few activities at the San Carlos Yacht Club in the marina, and Judy has been going on weekly bird watching excursions with a local birding club. We attended a Christmas dinner at the Yacht Club, and another Christmas party at some birding friends who are down here for the winter from whose condo we watched a glorious sunset, and the Parade of Lights where a dozen yachts sailed by with Christmas lights ablaze. 

View of sunset from the condo

Our dinghy is working well, and we have taken a few dinghy trips around the scenic rocky coastlines. The compacted volcanic ash, tufa and conglomerate formations have intriguing arches and sea caves. We also dinghied up a local river, bird watching for egrets, herons and kingfishers.


Sea cave and arches

Indian Head entrance to Bahia San Carlos


                                                                                                                   Yellow crowned night heron & snowy egrets


Alex the mechanic, finally came on Thursday the 18th and took the engine out to his shop. As it would be almost a week before he had it repaired we decided to take a bus down to the Copper Canyon for a few days while waiting. It was an eight hour bus trip to Los Mochis and on to El Fuerte, where we stayed for two nights in the quirky but scenic family run Hotel Rio Vista in order to take a river boat trip bird watching through the Bosque Secreto (Secret Forest).

 Our balcony gave a spectacular view up the river, provided views of beautiful sunsets and across the morning mist shrouded forest.








Morning mist over the forest

 A walkway in Hotel Rio

The town of El Fuerte is a quaint colonial town around a striking plaza with colonaded merchant shops on one side across the park from the classical courtyarded Municipal building, with the town church, arches, columns, bright colours.


Courtyard of the municipal building

                                                                                                      Arches of a shopping mall 

I love the Spanish architecture, the decorative doorways, and recessed windows sheltered by ornate ironwork, and the shopping arches and the town church at the end of the park.


From El Fuerte, the Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre) is a dramatic series of seven main canyons formed by volcanic and erosion factors of rivers coursing down the west slopes of the Sierra Madres Mountains into the Pacific. The area is reputed to be four times larger and the canyons deeper than Arizona’s Grand Canyon, with several of the canyons over 1800 metres deep.

There is a fascinating Adventure Park at a summit which allows individuals to soar over the canyons on some of the longest zip lines in the world, one being over 2.5 km, or to rappel down a cliff face, thousands of feet above the valley floor, or to traverse an aerial course of zip lines, suspension and slat bridges.

Zip lining

A woman rapelling down the cliff face

 There is a cable car as well, traversing a canyon thousands of feet deep. Both Judy and I have done such courses before on a jungle canopy aerial course in Antigua, and I did an even more challenging course about 40 years ago over in Berchesgarden at a US forces recreational training base. We elected not to do so this time and settled for the more sedate cable car.

The stay at Cabanas Diez at Posada Barrancas outside the park was not enjoyable. The cabanas were small, dark, and unheated except for a fireplace for which wood was provided. We warmed ourselves at it before hopping into bed. In the morning there was frost on the grass and the vehicles. Brrr! In addition we had stomach ailments for a few days, Montezuma’s revenge as it is called.

 Judy sitting on the wood box bench keeping warm

  To get to and back from the canyons the Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacifico (the Copper Canyon Railway) nicknamed El Chepe, the only passenger train in Mexico, provides spectacular views as it trundles through 656 km of track, across 37 bridges, and through 86 tunnels from Los Mochis near the coast, through El Fuerte up to 2400 metres elevation to Chihuahua (the city and state – both on a “No Go” US travel advisory because of drug syndicates) in the central Sierra Madres mountains. As we traveled we noticed a couple of times a machine gun toting soldier passing through the carriages and saw at a few stops armed soldiers standing by.

The Sierra Madres provide conduits for drugs coming up from Columbia and Central America as well as opportunities for the local farmers who grow crops in the relatively inaccessible valleys of the mountains, including Copper Canyon.

The Tarahumara are a distinctive indigenous group living in caves and small houses in the mountains who were in the area before the Spanish incursion. They are materially poor with serious health problems, high infant mortality rates, malnutrition and teenage pregnacies. The kerchiefed women dressed in colourful skirts and blouses can be seen at railway stops and tourist huts selling their woven baskets and carved wooden dolls and animals at very low prices.





The train trip from Posada Barrancas down to Los Mochis took over nine hours on a jerky, stop and go train that went through some spectacular scenery. The bus trip from Los Mochis back to San Carlos took another seven hours, leaving us exhausted after a marathon journey of five days and four nights, spending 30 hours on trains and buses. It was good to get back to Veleda, especially expecting the engine to be installed the next day and we to be on our way shortly. Ha!

January 24, 2018

We returned on Jan. 22, and on the 24th the mechanic installed the repaired engine as I continue this log on Jan. 24, and we are now preparing to get back to sea as soon as possible.HOWEVER, the engine coughed and vibrated, but did not start. Instead a foundation bolt securing the engine to the hull was seen to be fractured and would have to be rewelded. Another delay!

January 30, 2018

Two days later on Friday the 26th the mechanic had the bolt, replaced it in the foundation base and instructed me to start the engine. It did not start! After several attempts to start it, he opened up the head again, to note that the fuel injector pump was not working properly and was pumping fuel through only two of the three injectors. The pump would have to be taken into Guaymas to be repaired. Of course it was the weekend and several more days were to be lost! It has not arrived as of today, the 30th.

Feb. 1, 2018

It is Judy’s birthday, and I am fighting depression. I got her a lovely set of earrings and a few sweets along with a card in Spanish, of which I am not sure if it was a birthday card or some other celebration for a woman with presents in front of her. But it had the word AMOR a few times, and I thought I could not go wrong. She also went out bird watching for her birthday.

As for fighting depression, it is because the injectors were replaced today, and the engine still did not start! The mechanic took off the front of the engine to adjust the timing, and it still would not start. The air intake rather than sucking air in, expelled exhaust. The camshaft may be faulty. The engine will have to come out again, and if the camshaft cannot be fixed, it will have to be replaced.


 This will delay another week or possibly two, if parts have to be had from a US distributor. Another overnight trip up to Nogales, Arizona…. That will be over two months alongside waiting for the engine to start! It will basically be a rebuild of the whole engine.

I haven’t the foggiest idea of the cost for the repairs, several thousand dollars at least, plus the cost of parts and two overnight trips to Nogales, and two months slip charges for the marina. The Spanish speaking mechanic is supposedly good, but I don’t know why he did not have the engine running the first time he took it to his shop. There was no problem with the engine when we put Veleda away for the summer last April. I am specifically asking him to ensure the engine will be running at his shop before re-installing it back in Veleda. The depression is more because of the loss of time than the money. It will be over two months sitting in the marina, not able to be free for more than a few days at a time writing for the mechanic or parts, inhibiting us from travelling further or going some place for a week or two getaway. In addition, this delay will limit how far south we can get with Veleda once she is operational. We initially wanted to get down to the border with Guatemala, so next year we could sail down Central America to Panama. This might put Panama two years away.

Ending on a lighter note, Judy just interpreted her card to realize it was a Mother’s Day card, not a birthday card. Oh well, she enjoyed it just as much.

Feb. 9

As I am writing this website log today, Feb. 9, the engine is back in again, and is working OK, except now the exhaust mixing elbow (mixes water with the exhaust)  is blocked. When removed it was found to have a hole in the elbow. Initially we thought we would have to order a new one from California and go up to Nogales, AZ to get the part as we did for the piston rings on Jan. 11 &12. However Alex came down this morning and said he could get one fabricated for a reasonable 2500 Pesos (about $125.00 US), and may be ready by Monday. I hope when it is installed that  there is not another exhaust problem to then be fixed. It will probably be a full two months alongside getting these repairs completed (We arrived back in San Carlos on Dec. 17.) I may put an addendum to this log once we are fully operational before we leave to let you know of the final date of our departure.