Farewell Isla San Benedicto, Hello Isla Socorro…..

Dear F&F,
January 14, 2009

Chuck & Linda got a head start at 7:30 am since they are a shorter & slower boat. We stowed the dive gear & up anchored at 9:00 am. There were mantas feeding in the anchorage & a couple of dolphins that cruised by. It was a sad farewell to our fairy tale dive-land. We have no particular expectations of Socorro so anything positive is a bonus.

There was no wind so we had to motor the whole way. A heart sinking moment came as we were winding the engines up to normal cruising speed & the starboard engine would not reach full rpm. We did various tests: it would go up to full rpm if out of gear, but not if in forward or reverse. This potentially points to the dang transmissions – again! Scott put a satellite call into Bob\’s cell, the Mazatlan mechanic that did our transmission work when we hauled out there. His remote diagnosis is something changed the pitch of the propeller. We do not think this is the problem, as we dove on the anchor as soon as we arrived & checked everything under the boat which looked fine. We did have a loud noise & problem putting that engine into gear upon traveling to San Benedicto here a month ago. It is possible we caught a line that did some kind of damage that is not visible from the outside. Or the transmission repair they did in Mazatlan has failed. Scott has emailed Bob again & gone through various scenarios involving throttle cable adjustment etc. We hope to get a reply from him tomorrow.

Meanwhile it took 6 hours to motor with just the port engine, 30 miles. As we approached Socorro jumping dolphins welcomed us. Being the faster boat, we entered tonight\’s anchorage a full hour ahead of Chuck & Linda. We had been instructed to check in with the Mexican Navy in the south part of the island. We hailed them on the VHF channel 16 & they told us to enter & anchor in Navy Cove & that they would come to check us in. Eight guys in uniforms came out in their panga to our boat. Three came aboard. One with an M-16 that just stood watch on our stern. The other 2 higher ranking officers were shorter than me so I made Scott sit down immediately so he would not be towering over them. I gave them all the usual paperwork for inspection: passports, long stay Mexico visas, temporary import document & US official documentation of the boat, our Revillagigedo visitation permit, good through 1/31. They had their own form to fill out. They did not speak English to us, we managed with our pigeon Spanish. They said we could stay in this protected anchorage overnight. There are a few buildings visible onshore. We had been told previously to not even ask about going ashore, so we did not. There is a bit more vegetation here than San Benedicto, but it does seem to also be a volcanic type island. We saw steam coming from the top peak. It isn\’t currently active, but one day, Socorro will again blow her top!

Both boats got through the check in process ok. We made copies of Chuck & Linda\’s documents since they do not have a copier onboard. It is hotter today, 92 in the afternoon heat. This is the furthest south we have been. It is now cooling down as the sun has set. I made hamburgers served with a leaf of iceberg lettuce each. No buns left. Side dishes of canned corn for Scott & canned beets for me.

In the morning Scott will dive under the boat to check the propellers again. Our entire future hangs on the extent of the starboard engine/transmission problem. Please send good thoughts our way that an in-field repair is possible. It is against the wind if we have to limp back to Mazatlan with one engine. It is hard not to play out \”worst case scenarios\” & how that may affect our life. If we get delayed for parts, have to haul out again, etc. etc. we won\’t be able to stick to our plans. Just having to return to Mazatlan instead of sailing directly to Zihuatenejo from here will cost us a week of time, not including any time for work needed. But tomorrow, we will do more research & must take it one day at a time.

I am always hopeful that things will turn out better than Scott\’s worst fears. He also often surprises himself at how much he is able to fix out in the field. Obviously our enjoyment of this place will be second to what we discover & decide is needed. It is not prudent to sail down to Zihuatenejo with unknown resources there. Bob & Raphael, the Mazatlan mechanics have been most resourceful & we have confidence in them. Even though it is possible the work they did there has now become a problem. We are still under the 90 day warrantee for Yanmar. We shall see. More & hopefully better news tomorrow.

Scott & Cindy