Our time at Dricoll’s was more or less a free stay at a dusty, loud marina. After living off the grid for a couple months in was pretty nice to be able to keep our batteries topped off, water tanks full, our holding tanks empty, have hot showers any old time we wanted (we are still using a camping sun shower or poaching showers around town), and go for a stroll without a second’s thought. Sure the hammering started daily at 7:30am and there was fiberglass dust everywhere, but we could use the docks and some of their tools for our own projects, had a stable place to do work up the mast and to clean and patch the holes in our dinghy… and most importantly they did a great job fixing our boat! All in all I’d say it was a good experience. My advice: if another boat is heading for yours make sure they have insurance!
They finished their work in a little over two weeks and then they let us hang around for a few more days without chasing us off, allowing us to finish projects and tie up some loose ends before leaving the country. We did our final provision shopping (so long Trader Joes… we’re going to miss you) said bye to our SD buds, and headed out to anchor at Point Loma so we could get an early morning start.
We headed toward Mexico at 5am on the morning of March 9th with a bit of trepidation, because of some white smoke in the exhaust that had slowly become more concentrated. We were SO ready to leave though that we decided to continue on and just keep an eye on it. There was not a wisp of wind so we motored. An hour into the trip we heard a loud THUMP from somewhere down below and the RPMs on the motor shot down and from then on the RPMs were lower than they should’ve been. The decision was made for us. We turned the boat around and for the first time on this journey we returned to San Diego feeling completely dejected and defeated. As the sun rose we gloomily slid back into our spot at A9.
We did some more research about the white smoke, and after a little troubleshooting (collecting, smelling, and measuring the temp of the exhaust water) we figured out that it was not smoke but steam. This was indicative of not enough raw water cooling the motor. The first and easiest thing we thought to check was a blocked intake. Jonah jumped in with supplies to clean the intake on the bottom of the boat and saw something blue out of the corner of his eye. He swam over and saw a bunch of blue line tied tightly around the prop and shaft, slowly realizing the source of the THUMP that early morning! As he cut it off one of our motor mysteries were solved. The intake was, however, clean. This meant that there was likely an impingement or clog somewhere in the raw water system. We had already changed most of the hosing as well as the heat exchanger during our recent engine overhaul so we knew they were ok. We decided to check the oil and transmission heat exchangers and found that one was pretty corroded and the other was almost completely blocked with corrosion. We fortunately had spares of both. After changing them we put the system back together and fired her up. All white steam was gone! Neither of us even knew that the exhaust could be so… invisible! We were back in business! Thank god. And while somewhat pesky that bit of blue line may have inadvertently saved our motor.
The next day we. finally. left.