Posted last in Matanchen Bay near San Blas, just after leaving Banderas Bay.
The sail up to Mazatlan from San Blas was good, sail most of the way, maybe 60 percent of it anyway. We provisioned in Mazatlan, tried to fix the watermaker that started making BAD water on the trip and saw friends Federico and his sons.
Watermaker was a bust but found a contact in La Paz and since we were heading to the Baja anyway, we pointed boat at La Paz and headed out. Lots of sailing and lots of motoring, again probably half the time of each. We arrived to hear the fellow with the watermaker parts was heading out of town the next day, so no rest for the wicked, we ran into town from the anchorage we chose, Bahia Falsa, and picked up the parts the day we arrived, April 15.
There is a lovely beach for locals mostly here at Bahia Falsa, Treasure Beach (Playa Tesoro). Left the dinghy and called a taxi and ran into La Paz for parts and a bank machine stop then back to boat and a margarita, early to bed! Coroumels are blowing nightly so it tested our anchor holding nicely maybe 30 plus knots wind speed in this location. It’s only for a couple nights!
We are sitting in Matanchen Bay west of San Blas Nayarit Mexico and looking at the next leg of our sail north. Pulled up windy this morning and was playing with the “right” mouse button, on the right “PC” (not apple device) and found this:
See the “Distance and Planning” option on the pop up?
It is pretty self explanatory but here is a LITTLE primer:
I’m guessing it works FINE on an APPLE device too!
Seems we may be enduring “interesting times”. Think good thoughts, be kind and keep paying it forward.
Jess and I (Jim) are in Banderas Bay. Jess is involved in “Women Who Sail” and is speaking in a week or so at an “outdoor” socially distancing gathering, so we have not planned much until after that and have not planned much for even then!
Had friends here for Mar 03 through 08. Picked them up at Marina Puerto Vallarta after a couple days at dock and returned them to same. We ran up to Chacala and then Matanchen Bay did a tour at La Tovara springs. Swatted lots of noseeums.
Lots of motoring and a little sailing. Was kind of of good lesson in “what do you want of your sailboat holiday”? If you want to tack and jibe, haul, reef, and steer? Then best to stay on Banderas Bay and sail the thermals 3 to 4 hours daily. If you want to motor about and see a bit of real Mexico? We did do that. We will ask better questions before hand next time! Ahhh but the tour was pretty gooood!
Well normal boat maintenance projects:
Greased the windlass
Greased the watermaker, it was leaking oil, Katadyn 40e, and we drained the oil and greased all the bearings and moving parts in the drive gear box and we will monitor this change over time.
Made a very small flopper stopper from the parts we tried to use last year and it seems to do better than no flopper stopper…
We did get a partial house battery capacity test in for the LiFePO4 batteries installed in 2016. It takes so long to discharge and then to recharge the batteries and not have an empty bank at the wrong time that we don’t seem to find a great time to do this completely: We saw a 277 Amp Hr drop from full at 13.55 volts to discharged, over a couple days, of 12.45 volts. Looking back to the new numbers, I think we saw like 360 AmpHr full 13.5 volts down to 12.6 volts when new. So we have lost capacity, however the bank still fills our needs admirably. It is their fifth season s/v Hajime.
We would still do it again, and now the cost for a 400 Amp hour 12v bank is closer to $1150 USD cost includes a 250Amp BMS. Be Careful since 8 3.2v 200AHr LiFePO4 CALB cells weigh around 100 pounds total. When replacing maybe 8 CG2 6 volt lead acid batteries weighing around 550 pounds for the same usable capacity, you may change the trim on your vessel a bit… (in my opinion)
I’ve ordered and received these batteries and the less expensive and lower weight Aluminum cased Lifepo4 batteries for the house in Denver and for a friend’s camper van project and the purchased product each time has been very good…
We moved from Marina Mazatlan to the old harbor in Mazatlan Feb 11, 2021. Waited for a weather window in order to travel south. Had our 15th wedding anniversary at Angelina’s Kitchen in Olas Altas district in Mazatlan. Nice, nice, nice! We left around the 16th and made an overnight to Bahia Matanchen in Nayarit. (San Blas) Stayed 3 nights, hopped to Chacala for a couple nights stay and then ran down to Banderas Bay, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, arrived the 22nd Feb. The legs of the course were mostly motoring but got in maybe 25 to 30 percent done under sail. Lots of flat water and light winds, no complaints. (Huanacaxtle is a type of tree, the wood makes lovely table tops and table legs…)
LiFePO4 batteries are doing fine, we have not unloaded them deeply this season so far, probably need to do that. Water maker is doing well after rebuild with new membrane. We also moved the water maker to the cockpit lazaret. and added a control circuit and fused relay to which allowed us to shorten the power circuit. Did the a similar control circuit with a fused relay in order to shorten the power circuit to the refrigerator compressor. Happy with the results so far.
The 40 amp Renogy DC-DC charger is working as advertised and we are pleased with the operation so far. We installed it with a 20 second delay circuit on the ignition signal circuit wire and added an on/off switch in case we want to disengage to charger.
We found some toilet flush tank tablets at the local Walmart in Mazatlan and dropped half a tablet into the sea water inlet strainer for the refrigerator cooling water. This line usually gets little sea critter buildup in the water line and in the small 12v pump we use to circulate the cooling water to the compressor. So far the line has remained clear, the pump has not clogged with sea critters and the flow through the compressor cooling coils seems less constricted. We are thinking we will keep using the occasional toilet tank flush tabs in the future.
We did get the cell 4g modem/router working on the sims we brought down with it. It worked very nicely on the trip down from Mazatlan to San Blas. It exhibited poor performance in Mazatlan Marina and again here at Marina Riveria Nayarit. Our observation, however, is that the modem is great, the cellular data band width in these areas is simply overloaded. We had great cell data reception here in years past, for some reason, the usage has outstripped the infrastructure. Just an opinion. Was nice while it lasted. We do get email and data at a snails pace most of the day and at times we get fair data response…
It has been mid 60’s temperature most nights and mid 80’s most days. Winds are up in the bay in the afternoons say 3:00 PM to 6 or 7:00 PM. Been blowing in the low to mid 20 knots range. We have chased a large schooner, Lydia, whos anchor did not hold ground in the blow a couple days ago and worked radio warning of a rather large buoy who broke loose and careened through the anchorage yesterday. No people hurt and no boats took damage in both cases. Never dull moment, it seems.
Have friends arriving in a few days, we hope to leave the bay and do a few days back in Chacala then back to the Banderas Bay in order to send them home to snow and cold in Denver!
We have made it to Mexico, arrived Jan 23! Mazatlan seems pretty tranquil. EVERYONE is wearing masks when out and about and you are always stepping into sanitizer foot wash/dry and hand sanitizer at entrances to stores and restaurants. Nice! The population seems to be taking things in stride and we have not heard of major outbreaks here. Mazatlecos are a bit worried because a baseball tournament is in town and they are getting more than normal tourists for the event, time will tell…
Trip down on United was very nice. Denver to Houston flight was maybe one quarter full and the flight Houston to Mazatlan had 15 passengers on it.
My how time flies.
LiFePO4 batteries update. They were disconnected for the 9 months we were in Denver, the shore charger was set at 13.8 volts and seldom turned on by the boat management folks. When we arrived they were at 13.1 volts. Starter lead acid batteries were at 12.6 volts. Since arriving, we turned on the 3 solar panels on the stern arch and the system is tending itself very well. We really have not turned on shore power except for testing the new automatic transfer switch installation. Oh yes, and for a the electric heater a few times in the mornings!
Of the first three boat projects, I failed to complete even one! Felt like a poor batter in a baseball game.
Project one, brought down a 32 gig SD card with chart update for the Garmin 840xs chart plotter. Long story short, wrong SD card spec, the one I took 2 hours to download in Denver, was both formatted improperly and the SD card was too new to work in the Garmin 840xs. Garmin only used Fat32 formatted SD cards NOT NTFS and the HD V10 card was too fast for the reader on the 840xs, needed a U4 or slower. Took a couple weeks to work through it all.
Project two, I brought down a Xantrex Prowatt transfer switch so I can stop blowing up power inverters. I’ve blown three so far. The auto transfer switch will detect when you plug into shore power and AUTOMATICALLY disconnect your inverter, in case you forget to do it before plugging the boat on to shore power. After installing the switch and plugging into shore power, it would not latch to shore power, the relay kept switching over and over again. After a week testing and scratching (my head) we finally figured out the shore power supply from the meter on the dock was faulty and nothing AC would work on the boat. We plugged into the neighbors outlet and it finally worked. Another couple week ordeal. Same two weeks as in one above.
Project three, I brought down a ned cellular/wifi router than hangs on the boat and provides a wifi hotspot from the cell sim chip in the device for the boat. It had worked fine in Denver with the GoogleFi data sim and with a TelcelUS sim but neither worked the first day I tried them. After lots of messing around, I left the unit on and did some other chores one day and it started to work. Moral of the story, PATIENCE!
Things got a little better after those three strikes. We took a couple days to do some rewiring of the power systems. The goal is to shorten some of the cable lengths to the larger power users on the boat. We moved the Victron power meter shunt closer to the battery bank and added a negative buss bar to help shorten some of the cable runs.
We installed a Renogy 40 Amp DC-DC charger that charges the house battery bank of LiFePO4 batteries from the lead acid starter battery bank. This charging occurs only when the diesel engine is running. Also put in a 20 second startup delay circuit to give the alternator on the diesel motor a chance to produce current prior to loading the 40 amp draw. We chose this charging method after messing with voltage regulating the alternator for the LiFePO4 batteries for a couple years. We had tried to do the voltage regulation on the cheap (see previous blogs…) and it would always over charge the LiFePO4’s on a long motor. We have great hopes for the Renogy DC-DC charger.
No mas techie…
Sails are up! We are stowing gear and hope to be under sail in a week or so.
Weather has been cold at nights and not hot during the days. Winds and seas have been strong and high so not sure when or where we might go next.
The Marina Mazatlan offices have been plagued with a HOT WATER leak under the floor in the area where the hot water boiler is located so the hot water was only being turned on an hour or so a day but that was flooding the utility area so they did not try to repair it? Heard today they are closing the showers until they get it fixed, yeah! Jess and I are taking a hotel room for a couple days so we can get a hot shower.
Rebuilding the watermaker and starting the dingy motor are the main items on the list for when we get back to boat! Stone Island here we come!
Jess has been discussing, within my ear sight, solar power for the apartment in Denver for a while now. I have been selectively ignoring the whispers that make it through to my ears until recently. Quarantine and all…
So we ordered a bunch of parts from Ali Express et. al. and waited a hand full of weeks and voila, batteries and BMS parts arrived.
Of course, if we are to check these batteries out properly we would need some other “tools”.
Ahhhh many trips to the essential “hardware stores”.
Batteries LiFePO4, 3.2 volt prismatic cells have come down in price considerably so i ordered 4 cells then got confused and ordered 4 more…
A BMS (Battery Management System) to ensure we don’t over charge/discharge the cells
Straps for connecting the batteries together in parallel for balancing and series for use.
Cables for connecting batteries to loads for testing.
Something to charge up the batteries for testing individual cells and assy. (this is getting fun)
Something to be able to generate DC load for testing
Something to measure power kWh for both charging and discharging
Something to put the battery cells and BMS into when assembled and working
When we put batteries in the boat a few years back, we spent around $3200 for nominal 400 amp hour 12 volt capacity. The above list contains a bunch of stuff not needed “on boat” but handy for the home hobby shop and totals around $1300. The eight 200 amp hour cells will make a 400 amp hour 12 volt battery.
Eight 3.2V prismatic LiFePO4 battery cells we can make a (2p4s) 12 volt battery or an (8s) 24 volt battery, (2P4S – two parallel, four series) or (8S – eight serial) .
Really great things about LiFePO4 cells; they are very safe, you can repeatably get an incredible 90 plus percent of the stored energy from the batteries. These batteries should perform for over one thousand complete charge/discharge cycles with less than 20 percent loss of capacity and if you operate between 90 percent and 20 percent state of charge (at less than 0.3C) you may be able to obtain many thousands of cycles. In a 12v configuration they operate between 13.15 volts and 12.7 volts which is perfect for typical 12 volt loads in a marine vessel or recreational vehicle.
I did some things very wrong. Tried to use a cheap, $16, 12volt – 33 amp power supply for a charger and smoked it. Tried to build a resistance load device and decided it gets too hot. I did pick up a nice 1200/2400 watt Giandel Pure Sine Wave 12v/120v power inverter for $140 and am using it for DC loading the batteries for capacity testing.
Did a few things right to okay! The batteries did no come with terminal connection straps, so I had to make some, turns out that at Home Depot the copper pipe hangers flatten to pretty much the correct dimensions for these cells and 5 pieces cost under $3.00:
The power meters we got were inexpensive and work well:
First test is in the record books and we got 200.86 Amp Hours from the 12 volt four cell configuration (2751 watt hours) at nominal 12.8 volts. The 4 battery cells combined weigh 16 Kg and produce an energy density of 160.7 Wh/Kg, wow!
We use 35 Wh/Kg for lead acid batteries!
Some photos of the batteries we waited for 5 weeks to arrive:
Way happy with the 200 Amp Hour test, so happy we will do it again!
This kind of testing is so hard to do on the boat because you are also using the batteries while you are discharging them. It is almost impossible to find a time where you can completely discharge the batteries!
An interesting note, at 10.5 volts (low voltage), the Giandel 1200 watt pure sine inverter was still cranking out 400 watts!
So where to go from here?
Assuming the pandemic will continue, duh? We will charge and discharge the cells a few times and record the results here in some table or what ever!
We got back in Denver March 25th after a couple weeks in Marina Mazatlan, where we left s/vHajime for the season(?). A a bus from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta and a plane ride to Denver and we were greeted by a deserted Denver International Airport and our best friend Tracy who came to pick us up!
Last days in Mazatlan and arrival in Denver:
Home sweet home at the dojo in Denver. Turns out there might have been some roof leakage after our 2008 roof repairs. Oh boy a hobby for March and April:
Did some miscellaneous maintenance and repair work. Thinking power conservation, replaced my old 400 watt computer with an Intel NUK consumes around 18 watts/hr average over 24 hours. Did some work on, son, AJ’s car ( struts, hubs-bearings, brakes and rotors, etc.) . Put in a work bench in back of dojo. Added some square footage to the deck area on the dojo roof.
Jess has been making masks, feeding us incredibly well,
And the biggest event ever (almost) was acquiring a daughter in law, getting to see daughter, son in law and grandson all in town for the event…
We also had some nice large line FIDS and smaller whipping line if needed (have not needed it yet). Also brought some heat shrink for a diameter for 5/16 line (the kind without adhesive) and the heat gun. We have used some polyester 1/8 inch line to add chafe guard to the shrouds where jib sheets or other lines tend to rub.
Project was to replace 316 SS standing rigging 4 lower shrouds were 1/4 inch diameter with 1/2 inch turnbuckles. Back stay and side stays were 5/16 inch diameter with 5/8 inch turnbuckles.
Found out that the convention is to put the LH threaded toggle LOWER in a build leaving the RH threaded for the swedge fitting end.
Important to know, just in case we brought to Mexico both RH and LH toggles for the upper end of each of the seven turnbuckles… And a spare of each size turnbuckle complete. Turned out only one of the 5/8 turnbuckles needed replaced after a rough disassembly…
Photos of mast top and center:
Photos of side stay rigging:
And yes, in order to get the lengths pretty good, we did our best figuring and still had to shorten all the stays/shrouds by 3 to 5 inches in order to get them short enough to adjust with the turnbuckles. So far we have only removed and replaced the original splices at the thimbles one time on each line.
We do like the way the 316 SS spacers worked, however we could not fit them and thimbles side by side in the lower shroud connection plates just under the spreader on the mast. So we ended up with one on a pin only, and one on a spacer only. both without thimbles. Word in the literature is that as long as the pin is AT LEAST THE DIAMETER of the line that is brummel spliced around it, then the failure will be elsewhere in the line/connector system!!!
We have been through some pretty poor seas/weather since launch and are very happy with the synthetics so far!
Some project photos:
The red mark in photo above was our best guess of the insertion nearest to the thimble for the brummel splices, we of course added length around the thimble and bury length to this mark. We estimated 3 inches construction contraction in the line lengths and thought we could pull them out with the jib sheet winches.
When we were done constructing the stays/shrouds, with the turnbuckles mostly at full extension, it was EASY to step the mast and make it secure. The next day we re-spliced each end individually and added the 1/8 whipping line to the system.
After sailing some and working more and more of the construction contraction from the splices, we have gotten to the point where four of the 7 lines have no whipping needed and we still have takeup in those four turnbuckles. Woohoo!
We may re-splice the side stay/shroud one day since a couple rotations of the turnbuckles un-load them completely. The backstay, however will probably always want the whipping since the rig wants to move forward when we release tension on this line and it takes over 35 full turns on the turnbuckle to un-load it…