Well, what can we say? Somehow it feels like all the incidents thrown at us are part of the bigger picture. We had to be towed to Puerto Escondido with a (repeatedly) defective engine. But the situation could be way worse. Firstly, we learned to sail Milagros in sporty conditions, secondly, we’re now stranded in the perfect place that has everything we need. The playgrounds of Puerto Escondido will be our backyard for the coming days or weeks. How long we’ll be here we don’t know exactly.
Our maiden voyage is forever. Once again, we made an experience that we will remember for the rest of our young lives. We started our journey on Milagros with a firework of emotions and very valuable lessons. We couldn’t even have imagined such a maiden voyage in our dreams. Chaos and panic in between, then complete calm, control and concentration and a Milagros that performed like an absolute championesse. We didn’t feel unsafe for a second on our boat, not even when she sailed us instead of us sailing her.
Time to arrive
It is no coincidence that we chose Puerto Escondido as our alternative port. We knew we had everything we needed here. A place that is protected from all wind directions, has other sailors, a well-equipped marina and a small town, Loreto, nearby. In addition, we were independently recommended the same mechanic by various sources. So many positives! But first we had to arrive in Puerto Escondido. After a good night’s sleep, we first put the dinghy (our small inflatable boat) in the water and went ashore to explore the facilities of the marina.
It’s a rich man’s world
Puerto Escondido (Hidden Harbour) is one of the best sheltered bays in all the Sea of Cortez. Completely surrounded by hills and headlands. For mariners, the site has for decades been a haven from rough weather or even hurricanes that get a little too close for comfort. Formerly an anchorage free to use for anyone, in 2003/2004 the Institution for sustainable tourism of Mexico installed mooring balls in the anchorage and started the construction of buildings. As is so often the case in Mexico, the whole idea and operation was abandoned at some point and another consortium took over the anchorage. With a little help of some deep pockets in the background, a whole Marina was built. We think it’s a pity that natural anchor bays otherwise open for anyone can just be taken over. But that’s how it is. Money makes the world go round.
Marina Puerto Escondido
The marina itself is top of the line. From a small, well-stocked supermarket, to all kinds of offers for maintenance and ship-related work, a small restaurant and a fully equipped “Captain’s Lounge”, which one could only dream of at the Cabrales Boatyard, Marina Puerto Escondido offers everything a boater’s heart desires. Of course, all of this comes at a price. While we pay just under $400 for a mooring ball in the bay, it would be a good $1,000 per month in the marina. Eeehm, no thanks. But: all the marina facilities are included in the price when you’re moored on a buoy in the bay. The internet is good, the showers are next level! Life at the mooring ball is a good compromise that doesn’t ruin our cruising kitty completely.
The best shower in years
The showers in the marina are the highlight for us and many other boaters. We can really only let the pictures speak for themselves. We smell like flower gardens because of the L’Occitane shower gel provided by the marina. In addition to the showers, we also benefit from the internet in the lounge every day. For example, while Pati is putting hours into her new part-time job, I made a website for our friends on the catamaran «Charly». This way, we not only throw money at Milagors, but also earn some of it back. And then we take showers. For hours and days.
Burrito is still broken
Finally, we got to enjoy life on and by the water. A whole new feeling. We went on dinghy tours, explored the area on the various hiking trails in the area or even caught our own food. What a great way to recharge the batteries. Nevertheless, we mustn’t forget one thing: our engine was acting up again! So, we contacted Lauro, the local diesel engine whisperer, and asked if he had time for our Burrito (we christened our engine “little donkey”). A few days later he was our (very expensive) guest on Milagros and quickly identified the issue.
In the engine room. again.
Something was wrong with Burrito’s diesel pressure, as already suspected by the other mechanic in Puerto Peñasco. He identified our injection pump as the source of our engine problems, quickly removed it and took it into his care to have it examined. While we were there, we informed him about our defective lift pump. We wanted to have that one replaced, too. So, a few days passed, during which we continued to explore our surroundings. When Simon on SV Kudra, a former resident of Cabrales Boatyard, also showed up in Puerto Escondido, we set out to explore a nearby canyon.
A true Milagros adventure
Since it was time to fill up our fridge and stock up on water supplies anyway (our watermaker wasn’t working yet), we rented a car and headed out into the wilderness. The description for the drive to the start of the canyon hike sounded pretty straight forward. But nothing about it was straight forward. And so, we ended up with our rental car on a loose gravel road, in which we almost got stuck. With a little pushing, painful scratching around the undersides of the car and a few drops of sweat, we made it back. Once again lucky after all, Milagros style.
Our merry little hiking group
By chance, we met an American couple and their dog who were also on their way to the canyon in their 4×4 campervan. Without further ado we were allowed to hop on and so we all set off together. “Follow a river bed before you head off sideways into the canyon.” said the directions. Easier said than done. The river bed itself was fairly easy to identify, the only problem was that there were all sorts of small junctions heading into little valleys to the left and right. Long story short, we were unsuccessful in finding the described canyon, but still had a beautiful little hike in the desert.
After all the scratching and banging, Weirdly, our rental car lost a bit of (brake?) fluid after its trip and also made a few other strange noises. Of course, we know We have no idea how that could have happened.
Shortly afterwards we received word from Lauro, the mechanic. His diesel pump specialist had actually found a few defective parts on the injection pump that were responsible for the low pressure. She had to be rebuilt. We had no other choice anyway, and a day or two later Lauro was back in the engine room at Milagros working on Burrito. In addition to the injection pump, which looked like new, he also had a brand new lift pump with him. All our injectors had also been checked and serviced. After the installation we tried to start the engine. Vrooooooom! Burrito woke up from his sleep. In fact, with less vibrations and a much better sound than before. Burrito is back! A big thank you goes to Lauro from Lauro’s Diesel Services. A good, competent man who was warmly recommended to us by a number of people.
What we can say (with a bit of pride that is) is that the problems with the injection pump have nothing to do with our change of the pump cover. The problems lay deeper. As a hobby mechanic, you should only dare to service the injection pump of a diesel engine in an emergency. The injection pump is the heart of an engine’s diesel system and consists of many small parts that only have smallest tolerances. Tiny particles of dirt or even minimal wear on certain parts can affect fuel pressure. Lauro brought us the “defective” parts to show us how little it takes for an injection pump to cause problems. The discoloration on the parts in the following pictures was enough to seriously affect the diesel pressure on Burrito. Crazy!
Out for a ride
To make sure everything was as it should be, we took Lauro on yet another test ride on Milagros. This was associated with a bit of nervousness on our part, because we have never undocked and docked with Milagros from a mooring ball. We read up on the matter a bit and got started on a nice, quiet morning. And what can we say: it’s not as difficult as we thought. At least when there is no wind. The test run was completely uneventful in a positive way, we just did a few laps in the bay outside of the harbour basin and put Burrito through its paces together with Lauro. Burrito did a good job, but we still had a leak in the transmission that needed patching. No big deal, said Lauro, just a small seal needed replacing.
We’re ready again!
Said and done. And now we’re ready to head out again and have gained a ton of new knowledge about Burrito, especially from Lauro, since we always looked over his shoulder while he was doing his job. He was patient and answered any questions we had. Nothing to be taken for granted, compared to the mechanic back in Long Beach. Now it is up to us to define a departure date and a destination. The goal is still to head for La Paz and maybe even catch up with Iñaki and Carmen before they head to Costa Rica. After almost two years in Mexico, they are headed further south. Good on them, Costa Rica has been calling them for a while now. As for us, we don’t want to head any further than Mexico yet. The Sea of Cortez wants to be properly explored.
We had plenty of beer time during our stay in Puerto Escondido! Feel free to offer us a beer or two by clicking on the button below. Or you could become a monthly supporter on Patreon if you feel like it. Many thanks!