sailing homepage : trip reports : 2: baja-haha : cabo san lucas

Nov 10-12: Hanging out in Cabo San Lucas, parties and drinking every night, engine problems, Briana departs

Friday morning was slow, very slow. Will and Sara were temporarily jolted awake by the sounds of Sean and Briana climbing aboard from the first panga of the day, but after that even the annoying jetskis weren't loud enough to intrude on the sleep enjoyed by the fantastic four.

We enjoyed a light breakfast around noon and made plans to head in to the beach for the all-day Baja-haha beach party. Our goals were more ambitious, but we ended up spending the entire day sitting and drinking around one table in one bar on the beach. We were there for more than eight hours, consuming an overwhelming amount of beers and chips and salsa. It was a great end to the Baja-Haha.

From Here to Eternity


Sean and his shorts

Will and Sara participated in a re-creation of a famous kiss from the movie "From Here to Eternity", filmed on the beach in Cabo. Sean ditched his shorts and went skinny-dipping for the promise of free tequila. Briana flirted shamelessly with Noah, who was desperately searching for a new ride south. We all enjoyed the sight of some tipsy Haha women taking the topless challenge a little too seriously. It was a perfect beach day!

Topless Haha women


Returning through the surf

We enjoyed ourselves well into the night. It was much different from our Squid Roe evening, we made sure we left early enough to catch a taxi back to the boat, and we were all on the same panga! Leave no 'Luster behind!

Sexy Sara


Wonderful Will

Super Sean


Bodacious Briana

Saturday morning we raised anchor and motored Wanderlust into the harbour for fuel and water. We wanted to go snorkeling before the Haha awards party later in the evening. The fuel dock was busy, even without any sportfishing boats in the area! It would have been much more stressful to try to manouver in the tight spaces with a hundred more boats milling about. Good tip to avoid the rush.

We filled up with diesel and asked about the water. The fuel attendant waved us off, said "no, senor, no agua para berber", and when pressed, said something about "giardia". Funny thing is though, the fuel dock is in the same complex as the marina docks. The fuel dock also has a convenience store and bathroom complex halfway down the pier. So you're telling us the fuel dock has a different freshwater source than the rest of the complex? The infrastructure required for that would be overwhelming! Two sets of water pipes, two sets of water pumps?! No way, they just wanted to get rid of us.

Fine. Whatever. I guess we'll go to a slip fifteen feet away and fill up with the non-giardia water from there. We made an all-stations call on the VHF and Bronco, another Haha boat, answered and indicated we could side-tie to him and fill our tanks with his hose. Problem solved!

We motored up, side-tied, and were preparing to fill our tanks when a marina attendant came over and turned off the water at the source. He told us that we needed to call the marina office. Ok, no problem. We called, explained that we needed water, and asked if we could have some water. They said no. We asked if we could buy some water. They said no. We asked how we could use their non-giardia water. They said we needed to pay for a slip: $150/night. We said no. We left.

What sucked was the good PR the marina had - all we heard about through the Haha folks was about what a bunch of good sports these guys were, how helpful they were to the Haha boats, etc, etc. Our experience was not the same: they wouldn't give us water, they wouldn't sell us water, and they had the fuel dock employees tell stories about parasites - all in order to gouge us for a slip for the night.

We went back to the fuel dock and took on the giardia-infested water. The attendant really didn't want to allow it, but the dock was empty, we weren't causing him to lose any fuel-related business, and we were very nice. He looked the other way, we bought him a coke, and everyone except the marina people were happy.

Motoring out of Cabo


Two small minor problems

We motored out of the harbour with the goal of heading to a nearby snorkeling spot, but as we cleared the breakwater and increased revolutions our engine hesitated and wouldn't run at a constant speed. That's no good! We idled Wanderlust back into the shallow water and discovered the wheel wouldn't turn much to the left. That's no good! Stress levels immediately rose. We managed to get into a good spot and quickly dropped the hook. Time to play boat doctor!

The steering was troubling, but turned out to be an easy fix: our stern anchor chain had fallen off the shelf in the rear lazarette, and had wrapped around the steering quadrant. It hadn't damaged anything, it just restricted the quadrant from turning very far in one direction. We hauled the chain up, put it in a bucket, blocked the hole in the shelf, and were done.

Next: the engine. The symptoms were: no problems operating at low RPMs, a few minutes of problem-free operation at higher RPMs followed by surging and a decrease in engine speed (with fixed throttle setting). No smoke, no funny noises, no symptoms when in neutral - only when under load.

It sounded like a fuel, or more probably air, delivery problem. It felt a lot like a dirtbike with a totally clogged air filter. Sean and Will opened up the engine compartment and dived in. We went straight to the air filter and discovered it was soaked in oil. We cleaned off the filter and checked the oil level, which was a bit high. We decided to drain some of the oil out of the engine, and discovered we needed to remove several liters to bring the oil level down to the max mark on the dipstick.

The engine must have been venting oil through the crankcase exhaust hose onto the air filter. We started the engine up again, raised the anchor, and motored around for ten or fifteen minutes. The symptoms were decreased, but we were still seeing the surging and loss of power! Hmm, back to the drawing board.

We anchored again and the boys sent the girls off on a panga to go snorkeling. We wanted to go to this sweet spot 10km down the coast, but instead Sara and Briana went across to the Cabo arch and had a great time swimming around and enjoying the colourful fishes. It was Briana's last day with us, and it wasn't fair to send her off without having some fun.

Sean and Will dove back into the engine compartment. We cleaned the air filter again, which had been re-oiled, probably by excess oil that was previously in the crankcase breather tube. The oil level was perfect, so we didn't think it was still venting. We also decided to change both our Racor external fuel filter and our Yanmar on-engine fuel filter. We had no idea how long they had been on the engine - we probably should have done it earlier!

Changing the filters was a good idea - the Racor 20-micron unit was visibly dirty, and who knows what was growing in them! Diesel can support bacterial growth, so it's a good idea that we carry so many filters. We filled the new filters with diesel from our external tanks, re-attached them, and bled the fuel system with the on-engine manual fuel pump. Bleeding brakes during Will's motorcycle racing days was certainly a helpful experience!

We triple-checked everything, started the motor up, raised anchor, and motored around the bay again to make sure everything was fixed. The difference was amazing! The engine sounded better, ran WAY better, and we were able to run at a higher RPM than we had ever achieved before. We motored around at lots of different rev settings and tried to detect any problems. None!

On the way over to the Cabo arch, the boys intercepted the girls coming back on a panga, and we all celebrated with a cold afternoon beer. The timing of the problems was perfect - we were in a protected bay, with lots of people around to help if necessary, it occured during daylight hours, and we had all the tools we needed to fix the problem. Disaster averted!

We idled away the rest of the afternoon - we had all had enough excitement - before taking Purpeat into the dinghy dock to attend the Baja-Haha awards party and take Briana out for her leaving-Wanderlust party.

Will making sure Purpeat still runs fine


Wanderlust crew heading into shore

The dinghy dock was so packed we couldn't reach it with our rope, so we tied Purpeat to two other dinghies and climbed over them to reach the dock. The awards party was cool. The skippers and crew from most of the 150 boats that finished - something like 500 people - met in a parking lot just off the boardwalk. Richard, the Baja-Haha Grand Poobah, was our well-spoken host and ran the event well.

Richard the MC


The class of 2006

Free beer helped to make everything run smoothly. We did our best to help out, given how much extra beer the organizers had.

Our free-beer lineup


Will, Sean, and two of their best friends

Wanderlust and her crew did well in the race - we scored third in our division! Well, everyone who didn't finish first or second was scored third, but we were the first 'third-place' finisher announced, so I think maybe we did actually come third. Who will ever know?

After the ceremony we found a great little place with our friends Evan and Jill from Avrio, and who happens to show up but the Haha organizers and the Poohbear? Many cervesas and margaritas were enjoyed. Great food too.

Yummy crab legs


Little ones can't hold their alcohol

Next we were off to the famous Cabo Wabo for a real send-off for Briana. This is Sami Hagar's famous bar, and it lived up to expectations: lots of booze, lots of dancing, lots of plastic-looking people.

Apparently every bar that caters to the American tourists that visit Cabo believe that Sweet Home Alabama, Pour Some Sugar on Me, and Livin' on a Prayer, are the sum total of the musical adroitness all Americans have...and you know what? They're right. Every crowd loved those fucking songs - including the 'lusters (Canadians included).

Briana also wanted it noted that "Briana is a salty dog and can out drink and out dance all of her crew ;)". Whatever, B-dog, we won't ruin your illusion by reminding you of the time we had to help you up off the floor! haha!

Cabo Wabo


Everyone gettin all crazy

We did what we had to do: drink, dance, get wild. We left when we were the last ones on the dancefloor. The staff weren't too suble - they started sweeping the floor around us as we danced. haha.

The band


Sean wants just a little more tequila

We stumbled back to Purpeat, now the only dinghy tied to the dock, and made it back to the boat by 3AM. What a crazy day!

Sunday was slow. We dropped Briana off at the dinghy dock - she was going to the hotel to take their cheapo shuttle to the airport - filled up with fuel, and slowly walked around town looking for some fish-catching implements. Our hangovers were serious and we stopped often to rest. It was a slooow day.

We finally found a tackle shop open on Sunday, and were pleased with the prices. We had been warned Cabo was one huge tourist trap, and the stuff we found wasn't cheap. We were looking at spending $50-70 pesos for lures, $100 pesos for a fish bonker, etc. At 10 pesos per dollar, it was reasonable. We collected a pile of goods and were preparing to pay when the woman working the store told us all the prices were in US dollars.

$100 for a small short aluminium bat? That's fucking robbery! We bought the bare minimum and left.

The rest of the day was spent recuperating from the previous night and preparing to escape Cabo. It had been fun, but three days of non-stop drinking had finally caught up with us. No. More. Beer. No more panhandlers. No more timeshare salesmen. No more million-dollar boats driven by pimply-faced teens. No more glitzy glamour. We were done.

Check please! Wanderlust exit left.