Saturday, February 4, 2012

In Praise of Buddy Boating; Kudos to Alex II

We were never much in the way of Buddy Boaters, but we are now converts. This year after hearing increased stories about whale hits and midnight boardings from the Mexican Navy, sporting ski masks to protect their identities while in pursuit of drug traffickers, we decided buddy boating could be a good thing. (BTW, all Gringo boaters have reported the Mexican Navy has been professional and friendly during what they consider necessary boardings).

Kevan and friend
While in Mazatlan last Spring we met Kevan, a single-handed sailor aboard Alex II from New Zealand. We reconnected in La Paz this Fall. We liked his easy manner, wicked sense of humor, and friendly swagger up and down the dock. Sparky liked him too. We decided to buddy boat to Muertos, cross the Sea to Mazatlan and go quickly on our way to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  We have since learned that Kevan is much more than just a pretty face.

After 3 weeks in La Cruz, El Tib and Alex II decided to join forces again and headed off in the sunrise around Cabo Corrientes for points south. After an easy 8-hour motor sail we anchored in the exceptionally clear waters at Ipala, a small fishing village midway to our next destination.

Alex II in the morning light
Friday morning we pulled up the hook and headed 50 miles south to Chamela. Fifteen minutes out of the anchorage I complimented Darrell on how well he cares for our Yanmar engine. I snapped a couple of pictures of Alex II as Darrell set the fishing lines. Then suddenly a BANG - HISS - NADA. The engine quit. My two worse superstitions were confirmed; do not raise an anchor on Friday, and do not compliment an engine without knocking on wood for fear of jinxing it.

Darrell secures the bridle linking us to Alex II
No over-heating, no oil leaks found, no water where it wasn’t supposed to be, and nothing around the prop. Dead upon the water without a breath of wind. We knew of no place south for engine repairs. So, Kevan, gentleman sailor that he is, threw out a bridle and hitched up El Tib about 100 feet out from Alex II. For the next 12 hours north we were under Kevan’s power. Grateful for smooth seas, but we were disappointed in winds to light to sail. Strong currents around Cabo Corrientes slowed us a bit, but wind further off shore was not happening. We were hopeful of getting enough of an afternoon breeze around the corner to sail across Banderas Bay and onto the hook before nightfall. The wind never materialized and our tow continued past sunset.

In anticipation of darkness approaching and scarce moonlight, we alerted cruisers in the area over the VHF radio channel 22 that we may need navigational assistance as we approached the populated anchorage. Our image of El Tiburon limping into port weighed heavily on on spirits. We pride ourselves on self-sufficiency, now humbled, we were happy for helping hands and eyes to aid our arrival.
Ben from SV Jace responded quickly to our call. Under his calm direction we maneuvered safely into the anchorage. Ben and Molly’s boys flashed a strobe light from their cockpit to guide us to a perfect spot to anchor. Once in our spot, sans Alex II, down went 150 feet of chain. Ben used his dinghy to help us back down on the anchor to insure we were well set. Learning that Alex II had towed our big girl the entire way, Ben proclaimed over the VHF that Kevan was a “stud”. We’ll probably never know for certain if Kevin is a stud or not, but he is a stellar sailor and stalwart friend.

Gama, our panga pilot
Dog-dead tired, all rested well for the night. The following morning, Kevan arrived early on the scene offering assistance into the marina. We hailed a local panguero to escort us into our old slip. Kevan lead the parade in his dinghy and gracefully nudged us in while Bill and Julie from Voyager (also Ha-Ha 2010 alumni) helped manage our lines. Can’t think of a better marina to be stranded in surrounded by great folks.

El Tiburon, Home Sweet Home, Again.
Home Sweet Home. 
Kudos to cruising friends. 
Fabian, the mechanic is coming Monday.
More Sunday markets and great music in La Cruz. 
We thank our lucky stars, once again.

Moral of our story: 

Carry LOTS of line and Buddy Boat with a trusty worthy friend.

Any guesses as to what was wrong with our engine? 

Many man hours have been logged on the dock by fellow cruisers trying to diagnose the problem. No one hit the mark. Fabian, our mechanic, discovered very quickly that the fan in our tranny (transmission) had disintegrated. A fairly easy fix. A new fan, few O rings & some bolts and Viola!  New parts have been ordered, and should arrive in Puerto Vallarta, and be installed in 2 weeks. 
KNOCK on WOOD, Fingers Crossed, Prayers said.

The culprit. 
Actually the new replacement, the old one disintegrated into a hundred 
melted pieces. 


  1. I think buddy boating is a wonderful way to travel. We spent 7 months tagging along with Evergreen and really enjoyed exploring French Poly together, plus sharing boat parts and expertise. Great idea!

  2. What a great story, with a happy ending -- even a landlubber can understand!!! Or is it Land Lover? Sarah, I love your writing! I love your prayer at the end too, has it all! Actually, I just love you! Happy Valentine's Day xoxo