The Log of Indiscipline
Cabo San Lucas Delivery in Uncontrollable Urge
|Uncontrollable Urge in Cabo San Lucas|
|Arrival - lets get her loaded up and go sailing!|
|View from the hotel.|
|Yours truly at the helm.|
|Captain Mike and crew Laura|
|Trying to fix the motor.|
All photos by Laura Roll
I arrived Friday afternoon and joined the crew getting the boat ready. We taped up the
sprit, the forward hatch, loaded, bought food and ice, tied down 30 gallons of fuel jugs
in the cockpit, and got everything ready. After a nice dinner we hit the sack at midnight.
We were up at 4 and left the dock at 5:30 to the smiles and waves of the owner and crew.
I dressed in foulies, boots, with jeans and a tee shirt underneath. It was surprisingly cold and already windy in the marina, blowing about 10. Crew was Mike, very experienced, and Laura, 25 his daughter, a non sailor, and already seasick. She was taking scopalimine pills. We had the J29 main up, double reefed, and flattened as much as possible. This was not much (the guys on Magnitude 80 right next to us said it looked like a garbage bag). The sail was blown out and baggy but it was small. Mike was wearing foulies and boots, but Laura didn't have any. She was in waterproof breathable light backpacking wear and open toed dress shoes.
We rounded the corner into winds about 18, gusting 20, seas 6 feet and very steep. Winds were right on the nose. On one motorsailing starboard tack we could make a course of about 0 and on the other a course of about straight into the beach. The starboard course varied between 0 and 270, at times even down to 240. We were on starboard most of the day. At 4000 lbs, the boat was capable of making 6 knots, but it would leap off the oncoming walls, drop 6 feet into the trough, then slam the bow through the next wave. I had the helm most of the morning and kept falling off to the west to take the waves better and then steering around the largest. We kept slowing down to reduce pounding, eventually finding the best conditions at a course of about 270 and a speed of 4.5 knots. Cabo Falso did not offer us a nice NW swell, it was big peaks jumping up from every which direction, but the wind, swell, current were all mostly from 290. Our course was 290.
Breakfast was impossible. Drinking was impossible. Going below to use the head was nearly impossible. Putting on sunscreen was nearly impossible. Autopilot could not handle the conditions. The inside of the boat was extremely tiny and very cramped. A Catalina 25 has about twice the room. There was a single place about 2 x 2 feet where you could crouch, a small seat was available at the end of the quarterberth. One quarterberth was open, and the other was cramed with gear. There are no bulkheads inside (reminds me somewhat of a C250). The toilet area was clear. Every other space inside was jammed with gear. It reminded me of being inside a Potter 19. The boat has a lifting keel so the center of the salon is full of the winching gear. V berth was wet and filled with sailbags.
Mike asked me how I would take these conditions in my boat. "fall off to the west, get the jib up, and sail. We've got plenty of wind. Lets get about 50 miles out then go to port tack." He didn't want to sail and I agreed that breaking out from Cabo Falso should be our first priority. So we kept motoring on the starboard tack.
Around noon Cabo Falso was still in sight. We were still on the starboard tack, and well offshore. Winds had been dropping and the conditions actually got pretty nice. Soon, we were in 10 knots and the seas seemed OK. I felt we had broke out. Mike went below to sleep and Laura and I took the boat. She was very seasick all morning but started to feel better. When we lost all sight of land we went to the port tack and ran back in towards land. Eventually we got a great lift and even on port we were soon sailing 300, our heading to Bahia Santa Maria. I told Laura we were about 30 hours out, and started teaching her a lot of seamanship like how to estimate how far offshore we were.
I had told her things would moderate once we broke out and I also predicted that things would continue to improve and during the night we could expect light headwinds and calm seas. I thought we could push the boat up to 7 knots, then. We were talking about dinner.
The lift lasted about a hour, then the wind went back and started to build. We went back to starboard. We were under autopilot at 5 knots. I laid down on the leeward cockpit and took a nap. She was watching the autopilot. We were having problems with it. When the boat would slam off a big wave it would often pop off the tiller, then the boat would round up. So someone had to keep a close eye on it especially after every crash - which happened about every minute. We were soon back to the pattern of the morning, slow down, fall off, course 240 on starboard tack. Big waves, winds above 15, lots of spray.
I heard a loud "bang" and the engine slowed way down. It didn't stop but it went to about 1/2 RPM. I opened the hatch but couldn't see a problem. Mike came on deck and said they often had a problem with air in the lines (first I heard of this). He shut it down, bleed the lines, this was the last time it ever ran. It would start, idle at about 100 RPM. If you gave it any throttle or put it in gear it would die instantly.
We had a crew meeting and Mike said we could sail it. It was 4:30 PM and we had only made 40 miles to the good after 11 hours. I said no way would I go on without a working engine. Sailing it would take weeks and we didn't have enough food or water. With no engine we would very soon be without power - no lights, no radio, no sat phone, no GPS, no autopilot. I suggested we try one more time to fix it, change fuel filters, crack and injector, bleed everything. He didn't want to so I said, "what are we waiting for, lets gybe for Cabo." We got out the sat phone and called the owners - who cancelled their flights and started arranging for a tow, for a slip, and for hotel rooms.
Soon we were up with the #2 asym, at night, in 18 knots of wind and 6 foot seas. The boat was a handfull and would not go very deep but we were averging 9 knots and often surfing for 1/4 mile or more and seeing speed to 11. I learned why the boat is named "uncontrollable urge". It is very easy to wipe out. I was not a very good driver but did my best. We gybed and then we rounded up. Winds were now up to 22 knots and there were big breaking waves everywhere.
Not long after the gybe we decided to douse.We did a cockpit douse like I do on Indiscipline, with Mike on bow, Laura on pit and me driving. The sail went in the water, I accidently gybed the main (I always rig preventers but they didn't have any). But we got it sorted out and nothing broke. With full main only we were making 6 knots and I could steer nearly DDW.
A big breaking wave hit. Urge has a slender deep bulb keel, very narrow rudder thats not deep enough, and very little boat under the water. The wave broached us like we were a floating beach ball. It was not much of a problem and I soon got us back on course but Laura screamed. Mike was below at the time. We were wet and freezing cold.
Around 9:30, after being on deck on deck for 17 hours, I was exhausted. I went below, used the head, undressed from the foulies, and laid on the bunk. I was soon asleep. Mike woke me at 11:30 and Lands End was in sight. I got dressed, this time with my fleece underneath. We sailed in under full main, docked at the fuel dock a little hot but not bad. Laura couldn't douse the main when I called for it and in retrospect we should have put her on the bow with the lines and I at the main but I was dressed so I went up there.
The guys met us at the dock with good news and bad. There were no hotel rooms available. But they had never checked me out and I still had my key so I went up to my room. Mike and Laura went out for a drink with the guys but I had enough.
We met at 7:30 AM for a team meeting. They decided to have someone drive down the trailer, lift the boat, put her on the trailer, drive to the La Paz - Mazatlan ferry, then drive her up the mainland side. I was asked if I would stay and help with that but I declined. Karen (my wife) got me a ticket for a flight leaving at 1 and I left for the airport.
Very glad to be home. I learned one really important thing. I don't really want a sportboat. If it was a Catalina 36 with a dodger and bimini we'd still be chuggin up the coast, eating steaks and listening to music. I don't really like being crew for another captain (I would have sailed more and never would have gotten up the asym, at night, in 20 knots of wind, with 2 novices on board). However, if I was sailing when I wanted to we would have had the engine blow up when we were 400 miles up the line so it all worked out.
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