May 10, 2008 — Singlar Marina, Santa Rosalia — N 27 degrees 20′ 15.3″/ W 112 degrees 15′ 46.2″

75 liters of fuel — 28.3 nm on the day; 700.9 nm cruised on the trip overall

I awoke just before the alarm rang, dressed, and went on deck to prepare for departure. I was a little surprised to find the breeze still blowing, and a swell still swinging into the anchorage. It was more settled than when we had gone to bed, and I took that as a good sign. I turned on the running lights, got my headlamp out, and raised anchor. I told Sandy to sleep, if she could. It was an extremely dark night, with the first quarter moon having set long before. I had a great deal of difficulty orienting my way clear of Chivato, with its hazardous rocks and offshore island. By the time I reached open water I found myself in about 3 foot swell, and about 10 knots of wind. I tried running the speed up to 8 knots, but the swell wouldn’t allow it. I throttled back and pointed toward San Carlos, some 70 miles distant. By the time I was 5 miles out, the wind was showing no sign of easing, and the swell, if anything, was increasing. The forecast had been favorable for crossing today, however, the conditions I was experiencing were anything but encouraging. Decision time was at hand. Continue and hope things would improve, or alter course for the marina at Santa Rosalia and hope for a better day in the near future. I elected to take the conservative approach, and swung around to the north.

Altering course didn’t completely bring an end to my problems. About midway through the shallow Craig Channel, the outboard began to miss. It has run perfectly for the entire cruise, and at this stage of things, possible engine trouble was thoroughly disheartening. I eased back on the throttle, and she settled down — for a while — and then started missing again. I throttled back once more, with the same results. It seemed to be a fuel problem, and I began suspecting bad gas. The only problem was that the engine had been running fine on the port side tank. I was only having trouble since switching last night from the starboard tank. I dropped to idle and switched the fuel line back to the starboard tank and — sure enough — she ran fine. I couldn’t believe I only had bad gas on one side. Then it hit me. I’d forgotten to open the air displacement valve on the fill cap. After opening the valve, she ran fine on the port side tank. Would that all problems could be solved so easily.

My predawn cruise was not without its rewards. I saw several brilliant shooting stars. The most spectacular sighting was not in the sky, however, but in the water. While motoring along, something caught my eye, off to the right. It was a wild display of bioluminescence in the water. I thought it to be a big fish, until it swerved and sped right toward our hull at breathtaking speed. It looked like a torpedo, on collision course, its trajectory fully illuminated by millions of brilliant points of light. It was a dolphin, come to play. He swerved toward the bow, then veered back and forth, his every move illuminated by glittering water. After a few minutes of this behaviour, I lost track of him. Just when I thought he’d left, I was startled by a loud smack just behind the boat. I looked back and saw him playing in our wake. He gave another loud tail slap and disappeared.

We entered Santa Rosalia harbor shortly after 9 am, and pulled up to the fuel dock. This time, I made sure all fuel containers were filled. We then tied up in a slip for the balance of the day. We still had several days of credit from our first stay here, so this stop wouldn’t cost us anything extra. We spent the day drying things out, repacking the king berth, and cleaning ourselves, the dinghy, and the boat. We were visited by Arturo, who commented on the lush growth on the dinghy. I told him I’d be cleaning it up. He asked me if Chinook had a similar growth. I said it was in need of cleaning. He offered to dive in and clean the hull, for $30. That sounded like a great deal to me, so after lunch, Arturo came by and did the job.

We are now rested and the boat is in good shape for the crossing. The weather all day has been dead calm here, just like the forecast said. I’m sure we could have crossed today, but nonetheless, I’m happy with the decision I made. The forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning looks good, and there should be very little, if any, residual swell out there. Time will tell. We’ll retire early tonight, try for some sleep, and I’ll rise about 1 am this time. With any luck at all, that should put us into San Carlos around 10 am tomorrow.

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