Our Epic Journey Continues

Just before we entered the Sea of Cortez, with the tip of Baja Peninsula to the north, sheltering us from the 5 foot seas at 5 second intervals expected for the crossing, our starboard engine quit again.

Sea Of Cortez Crossing

  Brian was doing his routine engine room checks as the starboard engine shutdown.  I had just woken up and ready for my midnight to 6:00am watch, when someone notified me that an engine was offline.  We woke up the captain and notified him of the situation.  He joined Mike and Jessie Fleming on the bridge, which were on watch at the time.  I arrived at the engine room where Gerry and Brian attempted to start the engine and realized that fuel was not flowing to it.  They traced the issue to a T coupling that sent the fuel to the generator and the starboard engine.  We were perplexed that the generator was still running even though no fuel was flowing through the T coupling.  To inspect it, we would need to stop the main generator, which would mean lights out and no power steering at the helm.  This would make it difficult to continue finding the clogged fuel line.

So, Gerry suggested that we bring the backup generator online, drop a work light and a fan down to the engine room for us to continue sorting out the issue.  Jessie continued heading east with the port engine, keeping the ship stable while Mike and Brian fired up the secondary generator on the boat deck (top deck).  Gerry plugged in the work light and fan while I shutdown the main generator.  After taking the T coupling apart, I noticed that there was no fuel flowing out of the Racor fuel filter.  I checked the bowls and they were clean.  That meant that the clogged fuel line must be up stream.  Gerry and Brian determined that a clogged fuel valve at the main day tank required a nut to be opened that has not been touched for at least the last 16 years.  Needless to say, they were very cautious as they opened the nut to clear the debris.  Once we put the fittings and hoses back together, we bled the air out of the starboard engine once again and successfully restarted the engine and main generator.  Whew! Two hours has passed and Charlotte had taken the helm while Jessie and Mike were relieved of their duty and Capt. Ed and Chief Engineer Gerry returned to their quarters.  Brian and I joined Charlotte at the wheelhouse for the remainder of our watch.

Wednesday at 4:00 in the morning, when Charlotte’s and Brian’s watch ended and Capt. Ed and Chatelier’s watch began, the 5 foot seas at 5 second intervals began pounding the ship as forecasted.  The ship was rocking and rolling as each wave passed.  Noah had awoken an hour earlier because while sleeping in the V-Berth (the most forward stateroom of the vessel) he felt the ship rising and falling giving him the sensation of negative G’s.  Later, Ellie had joined him on the back deck as both of them were sea sick.  Charlotte sleeping in the main salon was also sea sick.  Everyone was fine until now.  As Capt. Ed and Chatelier attempted to maintain the course to Mazatlán, due east, the ship would pitch and yaw as the high waves would slam our port side and the ship would right itself through the trough of the wave.  Mike had the foresight to screw down the blocks to keep the dining room table from being hurled across the room.  Jessie had fastened down any loose items the night before.  I had two more hours until my Engineering watch ended.  When I was doing my rounds, I noticed that the strap that secured the tool racks to the wall had severed, below deck aft of the engine room.

After 15 minutes of re-securing the tie down, Chatelier came down to check on me.  I walked over to greet her when a huge wave picked up the ship on the port side and threw the tools and huge fire extinguisher from the shelf, opposite of the tool racks, onto the floor where I was just standing.  Soon, another wave hits and the content in the cabinets of my office shoots out onto the floor.  Then another hits, waking Brian from his bunk as the content in the drawers of his quarters flew out and showered him in the face.  It also threw Charlotte across the main salon out of the couch onto the ottoman, breaking my mother’s antique wooden table and rolling onto Gerry who was sleeping in the other couch across the room.  Fortunately, Charlotte didn’t hurt herself but sustained a bruise on her leg from crushing the table.  Jessie and Mike were asleep until a wave splashed onto the foredeck and water poured into the air vent and down into their cabin, splashing Mike in the face.  He came out of the cabin looking for a towel and saw the floor all covered with debris from the shelves.

When Chatelier returned to the helm after helping me sort out the mess, she changed course into the waves, north east for a much smoother ride.  Soon, it was Gerry, Mike, and Jessie’s watch.  Mike calculated our progress and realized that we only traveled 2 miles in the last hour.  Brian and Mike estimated that at best, it would take over 50 hours to reach Mazatlán.  Gerry and I calculated that we had about 30 to 40 hours of fuel.  If the seas were calm as we’ve seen it for the past 10 days, we would have had enough fuel, with about 10 hours of margin.  However, the forecast was about the same on Thursday and on Friday it would be calmer with 1 foot seas at longer intervals.  Capt. Ed listened to the crew and decided that we need to return to Cabo San Lucas to refuel.  Jessie turned the vessel west and we reached our destination about 10 hours later.

At Cabo San Lucas, the crew regrouped and cleaned up the mess caused by the rough seas.  Rested on Thursday and refueled on Friday morning and attempted the crossing again.  This time, the seas were calm.

On Saturday around 1:00pm, 2/11/17, we arrived at Mazatlán bay, cruised by the YWAM campus then anchored off the islands nearby for the evening.  Jessie, Ellie and Noah kayaked out to the island and returned to the ship for a nice meal on the back deck with the crew.  We started our 2 hour anchor watches that evening.

On Sunday morning, 2/12/17, after waiting for the fog to clear, we raised the anchor.  Making our way to the marina, a panga boat shows up on our starboard beam with a video and photography crew welcoming us to Mazatlán after our 14 day voyage.  A huge reception greeted us at the dock where we were honored with carnation leis and a brief period of praying and singing praise for our safe arrival!