Monday, February 10, 2014

Aground!

Yes! You heard us right. Moments has run aground in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico. Now you're probably thinking, shipwreck, two dead, the dreaded end to the blog. However, read on...

So, it's not that bad. We've seen worse (today running into town). Yes, we just had our bottom painted. But the truth is, our first grounding of Moments was quite anticlimactic. We're ok, the boat's ok, and we've learned...the boats seen worse. One of the wonderful items we found aboard Moments was the previous owners log book, which splendidly details the travels of Moments former crew. You see, the boat was originally in Texas, and spent a considerable amount of time cruising the Gulf Coast (and later the Pacific Northwest) which is known for shallow waters. In these travels, Moments was frequently aground on the sandy shoals of the area, probably groundings similar to our recent experience, but I'm sure, as with any boat being used, some worse.

We knew the entrance from Melaque to La Laguna at Barra de Navidad would be a tricky one. We had heard only to enter at the highest tide, as the dredged entrance only ranges from 1-2 fathoms (1 fathom = 6 feet, so 6 to 12 feet). Enter the sometimes annoying truth about tides...the high tides in the area were at ~6:30am and ~9:30pm, both (admittedly) during our usual high time of slumber and of course in the dark. Well, darkness adds a whole another element to entering unknown shallow territories, so we decided we we bite the bullet, wake up before the dawn, and be at the entrance just at sun up. We'd be entering just past the highest tide, but hey, close enough, right?!

Well, in true cruising schedule form, we hit the snooze button a few times, slowly (and awkwardly, thanks v-berth) rose from bed, scarfed a lovely oatmeal (aka provisioning-needed gruel) breakfast and, oh crap...we gotta go! Sun's up. So, we decided to go for the record.

See, we have a little competition going, as it sound like Moments previous owners did as well. How fast can we get the anchor up and get moving? I think I recall times of eight  minutes coming up in the old log, but we haven't finished reading all of it yet, so maybe there is a new record coming. Well, I'm not sure when the clock starts (exit companionway?) or stops (hook to roller?) so let's just say it took us 20 minutes to raise anchor (I think it was probably faster than that, but we actually haven't timed it yet - Rachel will read this later and may be encouraged by her readers to start timing anchor's a-weigh). Side note - previous owners did not have an electric windlass as the boat now has, so...anyone have ideas on how to handicap that? Minutes per anchor scope length? I don't know...

Okay, so we got the hook up a little late, but we saw a beautiful sunrise over the entrance to the lagoon we were aiming for...things were looking up. Of course, we had studied a chart carefully to plan our entrance (quick look and "we should be all right..."). As usual, a couple breakwaters, some unmarked rocks to avoid, swell, shoaling, NBD (no big d...). So we got past that first part - we were in. Smooth sailing from here. Town/palapa (beach front restaurant aka more expensive tacos given the view)/panga (the coolest super-planing barebones fishing boat ever) parking land to the left ritzy high class marina fertilized grass land to the right, lagoon dead ahead. The wise men told us, stick to the right, near the shellfish/fish pens to avoid the sand/mud bar, yeah, aim right for the island, hang a left, and boom...ancla (anchor in Spanish - remember, it's masculine! So use the "el") land. So, we followed the wise man's advice - stick close to the pens...stick close to the pens.

Depthsounder (little meter that tells us water depth) say: 8 feet...7 feet...6 feet...5 feet (mass confusion because Moments keel is 5'6" under the water...more calibration required)...4 feet...3 feet...

Knotmeter (little meter that tells us boat speed) say (should have made a table or graph...): 4 knots...4 knots...4 knots...3 knots (mass confusion, why slowing down?)...0 knots

Engine tachometer (little meter that tells us engine revolutions per minute) /transmission say: 1500 rpm/forward...1500 rpm/forward... 1500 rpm/forward...(oh crap, we're not moving forward anymore, what do we do)... 2000rpm/forward (nope, didn't work, more stuck)...1000rpm(idle-ish, thinking...)/forward...1000rpm/neutral (still thinking/sinking into mud)...1000rpm/reverse...1500rpm/reverse...2000rpm/reverse...full throttle/reverse...etc...

So, if you followed all that. We were heading into the lagoon, clearly went the wrong way and motored ourselves into a sand/mud bar until we stopped dead, but luckily, after some guesswork and likely not-by-the-book maneuvering, we able to escape our first grounded via propeller power. Phew. Why phew? Well, later today we saw the top of our friend's boat's keel as they waited the 12 hours aground for the tide to come back up and lift them of the sandy shoal. During those 12 hours, we were drinking beers and talking about it. Hopefully we're just as lucky next time.

The propeller that got us out - thanks Max-Prop. Here, testing home remedy antifoulings that cost less than PropSpeed. Baby diaper ointment (Zinc Oxide), Lanacote (lanoline sheep's wool goop), and bare polished bronze. Stay tuned for results...I should really write a post about the haul out in general.
In case we do run aground again, anyone have some tips and tricks for us on what we should/could do? I'm gonna have to read up a bit more on this one, because the charts are getting worse and worse as we head south and there are less and less people around, so we'll have to be pretty independent.

We're glad we made it to Barra, as we heard it's a cool town. Went exploring today and looks like we could spend a while here, but after a couple days we'll keep heading south. We love Mexico, but it's time to go!