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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

MacGyver spends a day helping other boaters

On the net this morning there was a boater needing help towing his boat “Computer Doctor” from La Cruz across to Puerto Vallarta – an 8 mile trek.  (The “morning net” is when all the boats in the area get on the radio at 8:30am to converse about all kinds of topics – what’s going on, if anyone needs help, etc.)  Dave volunteered to help with the tow since we have a 20 HP motor on our dinghy – larger than the typical cruiser dinghy.  Dave figured that with a boat name like Computer Doctor that the guy would probably be tech savvy and he might have something in common with him.  Dave also figured that experience playing tug boat with the dinghy was good – as this has always been our plan if we lose our engine – use the dingy to get to port.  Turned out to be good experience because it was way less than trivial to control a big heavy boat with the dingy.  Figuring out how hard to turn the dingy in order to get the boat to turn, how fast the big boat would slow to a stop, etc. took some doing.  Fortunately by the time they had crossed the bay (took three hours – way longer than anyone had figured) Dave had it pretty well down pat.  He was able to get Computer Doctor in through the breakwater safely and was able to maneuver around the tight quarters in the marina.

Alas, because the trip had taken so much longer than anticipated, the tide had gone out.  And the channel in which the boat was to be parked wasn’t deep enough.  So despite being squarely in the middle of the channel, the boat went aground and Dave saw a ton of mud get kicked up.  Dang.  This wasn’t a particularly big deal though – just meant the boat was going to be stuck till high tide again.  The tides only change a few feet here – so it wasn’t like the boat was going to be lying on the ground or anything – just stuck in the mud for a few hours.  Computer Doctor’s captain rigged a line to a nearby dock so that he wouldn’t float away once the tide did come back in.  And now that he was situated a short distance to the dock he was headed for – it would be no problem to get one of the local pangas to tow him the rest of the way in a few hours.  So Dave was able to head back to La Cruz.

When Dave got back to La Cruz, there was another boat, Skabenga, that was having trouble with their solar cells.  So Dave headed over with his multi-meter.  He measured the output current from the panels themselves – which are 12 years old.  He suspects the panels are just old and not putting out as much power as they used to.  Dave had Skabenga’s captain clean them off but that didn’t help.  It was getting late in the day, so Dave showed the captain how to use his own multi-meter to measure the output current and told him to measure it tomorrow at noon when the sun is high to see whether the panels are indeed bad.  He also showed the captain how to bypass the control box and dump directly into the batteries to test the control box.  Dave’s got a spare control box if that does in fact turn out to be the problem.  The captain had located another set of panels he might purchase if his are indeed bad, but they were a slightly different size, so Dave figured a way for him to mount them that wouldn’t interfere with fishing lines off the back of the boat.

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