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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ipala to Cabo San Lucas (engines, fish and dolphins)

May 5, 2010 9:00AM CST
Day 1710
Position: 21°42'N 107°56'W
Underway toward Cabo San Lucas
Miles YTD: 3820
Miles since day 1: 30,044


Enjoying very settled conditions as we cross the southern boundary of the Sea of Cortez which is also known as the 'Southern Passage' to local sailors. Very light headwinds are dominating the forecast so we expect the remainder of the ride to Cabo to rely heavily on our twin Yanmar 2GM20 inboard diesels. The engines are running incredibly well as they should as I change the oil every 100 hours. We've developed a slight leak in the Yanmar SD20 saildrive transmission on the port engine. Luckily the leak appears to be at the input shaft seal for the transmission and thus not too serious. I keep topping up the oil and then mopping it out of the bilge a messy affair with sticky 80/90 hypoid transmission oil. We are carrying two extra liters so I don't anticipate any issues with the trany prior to our planned winter refit many hundreds of engine hours from now. Or at least that's positive thinking on my part as I don't really want to pull the engine to get to the leaking $5 seal within.

We think LightSpeed would greatly benefit from larger engines with the idea being that when we are required to power we could do so with just one (1) powerful engine at a time. The benefit would be lower overall operating costs as only one engine needs to run at a time. When you consider each engine costs $4 USD (fuel, routine maintenance and amortization) per hour to run and the average run time of 400 hours a year then one could realize a savings of $1000 plus a year by running just one engine. Currently, the horsepower output and propeller combination we have on LightSpeed just doesn't work well running just one enigne thus we run two. I'm thinking about upgrading to the Yanmar 3YM30 which has a continuous rating output of 27hp engine in lieu of the existing Yanmar 2GM20 which has a continuous rated output of 16hp. If we stick with Yanmar then it would be a quick and easy swap even though the new engines are three cylinders in lieu of two. The same transmission is used and the engine bed need not be changed out. We're leaning toward brand new engines and transmissions so it would be the Yanmar 3YM30 engine fitted with a Yanmar SD20 saildrive. The bad news is that these engines saildrive combos are $9000 each before install and new propellers so it's likely a $25,000 job... if I do all the work myself! Anyone know anyone who can get us a discount on Yanmar engines? Any and all leads would be greatly appreciated.

The big new for the morning is around 7:30 AM nearing the end of my early morning watch I dropped a line over the side and almost instantly caught a nice Marlin. Kathy jumped out of bed at the sound of the screaming reel and strapped the fish fight belt around my waist as the fish tail walked and ripped line off the reel. The reel was getting hot so I asked for bottle of water to pour on it to cool things down. This was a nice fish and lots of fun to fight. Once Kathy was awake enough she took over the battle. Luckily for all involved the Marlin was released near the boat by slacking the line intentionally so he could shake the hook. Lot of good fun. Now I'm too awake to take my off watch time sleeping even though I only got a few hours of fitful sleep last night.

Lots of dolphins kept us entertained during last nights watch as they streaked under the boat aglow with bioluminescence. A very cool sight that is difficult to describe in a way that truly inspires the feelings of awe and appreciation that one can experience witnessing the show first hand. It's sort of like watching the stars on a stary night and seeing an amazing shooting star, one could describe the shooting stars as streaks of light of across the sky, but it wouldn't do the experience justice. The same is true with the dolphins frolicking in the bow waves, dashing back and forth between the catamaran's twin bows, jockeying for position, surfacing to blow and doing all this while aglow like ghosts of shooting stars of the sea. Very amazing!

We should arrive in Cabo early morning on the 6th to refuel do some shopping and look at weather for the next major leg of the journey the 'Baja Bash'. Who knows how long we'll stay waiting for weather.

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