The Sailboat Search Chronicles: Part 19 (Shafted)

It seemed like a safe enough plan.

We’d head out on Thanksgiving and spend the holiday anchored out in Bahia Algodones, a beautiful bay with a sandy beach and a terrific beachfront bar, the Soggy Peso. We’d take our dinghy out and go exploring, grill some fish for dinner and feel reassured knowing that we were only six miles from San Carlos if anything went wrong.

The toilet fiasco was blessedly behind us, and we’d consulted with the company in Seattle that made our boat’s shaft seal, which prevents water from getting into the boat around the propeller shaft. The seal had a persistent drip, and the person Marty spoke with suggested we install a zinc collar to prevent the seal from slipping and allowing more water to come in. It sounded like that would take care of the problem, at least temporarily, so we took the advice and headed out.

A great meal at San Carlos.

A great meal at San Carlos.

Again, the weather was perfect, a warm breeze blowing over the boat as we headed north. We anchored in Bahia Algodones, where there was just one other sailboat in sight, another Island Packet, which we took to be a good sign. The Soggy Peso beckoned like a siren, promising an afternoon of frosty margaritas.

But alas, the boat gods had other plans. The added water pressure caused by the steady swell in the bahia had turned the shaft seal drip into a steady trickle, causing the bilge pump to kick on within about 15 minutes of our arrival. We had no idea how much life the shaft seal had left. If it blew, we could sink quickly. And our backup bilge pump was broken. It wasn’t a chance either of us was willing to take. So there was only one thing to do—crack a beer, then head back to San Carlos.

“I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight if we stayed,” Marty said. “I’d be on bilge watch all night long.”

But sometimes there’s a bright side even to a cruise cut short. We arrived back at the marina before dark and headed for the nearby Captains Club, a marine-themed bar that serves as the local boaters’ hangout and has quickly become our new favorite haunt.

Like several restaurants in San Carlos, which is heavily populated by American and Canadian tourists and retirees, Captains was serving Thanksgiving dinner. We parked ourselves at the bar and tucked into delicious plates of turkey, gravy, stuffing and veggies, followed by homemade pumpkin pie.

A Thanksgiving in Mexico.

A Thanksgiving in Mexico.

The meal was surprisingly comforting, the company a salve. There’s always a boater or two sitting at Captains’ bar willing to commiserate over boating disappointments or trade sailing stories. We ran into Steve, an affable Oregonian who spends winters in Mexico sailing while his landlubber wife holds down the fort back home. Over wine, this relatively new sailor entertained us with tales of getting caught in storms on the Sea of Cortez during storms, replete with engine troubles and entering unfamiliar ports in pitch black and high seas.

There was good food, good drinks and a pleasant night spent in good company. And really, that’s what cruising is all about.

One Response to The Sailboat Search Chronicles: Part 19 (Shafted)

  1. Theresa Mead December 5, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    Deborah & Marty –

    So sorry to hear about the dripping shaft issue – but it sounds like you ended up with a good Thanksgiving after all. I think you were having the boat pulled on the 3rd – I figure it should be in Tucson by today. Mike & I will drive by today to see if it’s made it to Tucson. Hope you had a good trip home to Seattle.

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