Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, Run aground! La Paz

Well, I have heard it many times from many different sailors that sooner or later everybody goes aground.  As many times as I have heard it I have told myself "not me, it's not gonna happen to me".  WRONG! Bret Mitchell has officially run his boat aground.  Here's how it went down...
We left Caleta Paritda this morning heading toward La Paz so that Clint, Kari and Katie could grab a hotel, cold beer and long awaited hot shower before jumping a bus back down to Cabo tomorrow.  The entry to La Paz is a long, 5 mile channel that is dredged and marked with red and green buoys from well outside of town all the way to downtown in between the Magote (a sand island) and the Malecon (the boardwalk along the La Paz oceanfront).  As you enter you are on an easterly course and then within a 1/4 mile the channel takes a hard 90 degree dogleg right to the south and then parallels the coast all the way into La Paz.  We entered in between the buoys and Clint mentioned that he is kind of color blind in that red and green look the same to him.  I pointed to two separate buoys, port and starboard, and asked him if he could see the difference.  Just about the time he was looking carefully and responding that they looked very similar we went from 6 knots to zero in about 2 seconds! The boat jerking forward as we came to an abrupt stop.  Chit!  While Clint and I were talking I overlooked a buoy on the dogleg and inadvertently shortcutted the dogleg completely missing one buoy.  Guess what?  It is pretty shallow outside of the marked channel. haha. Immediately my mind raced through a hundred it high or low tide, did I damage the keel or the rudder, can I back off of it, did anyone see me (lol) and the questions went on.  Fortunately it was pure sand and maybe a little mud, not rock. I immediately put it in reverse and tried to back off the sandbar.  With full throttle reverse we were not moving backward but the boat was rotating slowly so I kept it in reverse until we rotated somewhat aftward to the port then went to forward with full throttle hoping we could inch our way into the darker and deeper water that we could see only 20 yards away.  It was a little windy and there was a slight chop which helped because with each small swell the boat lifted for just a second or two and allowed the motor to propel us slightly forward.  Then the swell would drop us back on the sand and we repeated that process for about 5 to 10 minutes before we had actually come completely free of the bottom and we motored back into the safety of the channel. There was another sailboat just a couple hundred yards behind us and he was following us right into the sandbar but he finally saw me waving him off and pointing toward the channel and turned before he hit the sand.  I thought we might have company there for a minute.

Anyway, no damage done except for a deflated ego, a momentary leap in heart rate and a couple more grey hairs.  ha.  We "carefully" docked in Marina La Paz, fueled up, washed the boat down then said our goodbyes. Them going their way headed back home and me back into official single hander status.  Before leaving La Paz I made a quick trip to the store to restock and then to the marine store to see if they had the salt water pump that burned up that feeds salt water to the galley sink.  They had the exact pump so I bought it and hope to have it installed and working in the next day or two.  

I think that is enough excitement for one day my land lubbing friends.  Ciao for now!

SV Liahona

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