(9) The Voyage Home – COMPLETE


(9) The Voyage Home – Ensenada to Marina del Rey, CA – COMPLETE

Hard to qualify the trip from Ensenada to MDR an actual Leg, since it’s almost like a weekend cruise to Catalina, but just didn’t feel right not taking the blog readers all the way to the home port.


We split the trip up with an overnight in Cat Harbor in Catalina. Time up to Cat from Ensenada was about 14 hours of calm motoring. Uneventful except for the crossing into US waters around 5am.

We departed Ensenada a little after midnight on Sunday and proceeded direct to Catalina.

It was pretty cool getting to walk up to the bar at Harbor Reef and tell the guy I had just landed from Florida via the canal with my crew. I left out the 5 months of stops in between, but I still felt like a rock star.

After all the years of sailing out to Catalina and dreaming about really going some place, getting to brag a little at that old bar was sort of a bucket list thing. Hope I didn’t lay it on too thick.

Who am I kidding, Jim always lays it on too thick…

Monday morning we departed Cat, rounded the west end, and made for MDR. 3 hours total, and about half the average time of Sierra Wind. Certainly a game changer for weekend trips to the island.

Karlsberg rolled out in his Swan to meet us in Santa Monica Bay. Thanks Dave!

We dropped the main, I turned the bows down the main channel, rounding the south jetty like I’ve done a thousand times before. I was a lot higher on top of Reliant than I ever was on old Sierra Wind, so maybe it felt a little different, but mostly it was familiar.

The day before in Catalina it occurred to me that entering Cat Harbor was the very first place since the moment I started the engines where I had even seen, nevertheless navigated, a place I knew while piloting Reliant. I barely knew to turn right or left when we pushed off the first dock in Ft. Lauderdale.

Going into Cat after a good trip up from Mexico was so exciting and noisy, I didn’t have a chance to ponder that feeling deeply, but entering the main channel of MDR was more quite. Anti-climactic maybe.

There were no banners or flags waving. No one really knew who we were, or cared. We passed the Coast Guard cutter, ran down battleship row, and found the open end tie at DRYC. Just another boat.

Nick jumped off and worked out our lines, we made them fast, I shut down the engines…and that was it.


Not sure what I expected, but I think something. You plan for provisions, weather, routes, crews, spare parts, emergencies, but not for the trip ending. It just ended.

Still, Nick and Aimee and I had a blast, and a good share of Buffalo Milk! I guess I should be grateful I got to do it, and glad I got the boat here in one piece.

Pics will be uploaded soon.

Welcome to your new home Reliant! She’ll be on one of the end ties at DRYC. Come find us.


Baja Update

Thanks for responses from all.

We missed a great weather window this week(week 1), so I’m bummed that my work schedule was the hold up.  Forecasts for the next 3 weeks are:

week 2 – not ideal, heating up towards mid week, so I say 100% out

week 3 – Long range forecast looks even worse, so I’m 90% sure week 3 is out(I’ve got a couple of you as maybes for week 3, I’ll contact direct if forecast improves)

week 4 – Long range also shows flow weakening Thursday, looks promising

That makes Week 4(Mar 3 to 11) the target.  Crew so far is:

Jenny (definite)
Stefan (definite)

Tim B. (maybe)
Gary (maybe)
Michael C. (maybe)
Matthew S. (maybe)
Dave (maybe)

Would like to have at least 3, and 4 would be better since Jenny will probably do watches with me.

Let me know as you can firm up schedules.



If you had an engine that randomly would begin rev limiting itself, would always work fine for the first hour or more of operation, and otherwise always ran smooth even when rev limiting, what would you think the problem was?  Slipping throttle cable?  Bad fuel pump timing?

Oh, so you’re the smart guy that thinks it’s the fuel filter.

Ok mechanical genius. What if I then said it started working again after the engine cooled off. Explain that smart guy!?

Normally, when a fuel filter is dirty or a fuel line is clogged, and engine will idle rough and sometimes be difficult to start, and always get’s worse over time.  In this case, the problem “rev limit” would come and go, and only happened when the engine had been run for more than an hour.  Sounds more like a heat problem, right?

I even had an ‘expert’ mechanic look at the engines in Panama and he couldn’t find anything wrong. I called a couple of Yanmar dealers, and they were no help either.

It took two half brained pilots(Dave and I) to figure it out.  I guess two wrongs do make a right after all.  😛

For the sake of crew 4, or for anyone that ever has a Yanmar 4JH4 series engine, the following is a description of the problem and the solution.

On the 4JH4, Yanmar built in a manual fuel priming bulb(a little hand pump on the side of the engine that looks like a bell, with a spring underneath)  It is attached to the fuel filter housing, and is inline with the fuel lines to the intake side of the injection pump.  The idea being you can pump this thing a few times after you change a fuel filter or work on the engine.  In other words, it helps you bleed the fuel system of air.

The old fashion way to bleed diesel fuel systems was to crank the engine over and over while you crack the line to an injector(old timers know this trick), until you spray fuel all over the place.  Clearly a real clean, and starter sparing operation.

Most modern engines build in a self bleeding feature to avoid the mess. Yanmar does too, but then they go a step further, and their solution should never effect the engine in normal operation, right?

Wrong.  Turns out if you start to have a little restriction in the fuel flow(not enough to make the engine run bad, but just enough to create suction in the fuel line) the plunger on the hand pump starts to “suck” in.  Since the hand pump chamber is inline with the fuel system, it slowly opens.  If you run the engine long enough, with enough suction to overcome the spring in the hand pump, the pump chamber is eventually “opened” completely to outside air.

Turns out that Yanmar, by accident or design, built the hand pump return orifice exactly the right size to pull in enough air to limit the engine to run exactly 2100 rpms.  How do I know that?  Because Reliant has two of them, and they both did the exact same thing.

What caused the restriction?  Just fuel filters.  Not so clogged that they didn’t work, but enough to create the ‘rev limit’.

So do you call this a flaw in the design, or failsafe?  Since I read the service manual cover to cover twice, and found no indication of the ‘issue’ in the troubleshooting guide, I’m going to call it dumb luck.

What’s the good news?  You don’t have to install an inline suction gauge to read the condition of the fuel filters on a 4JH4 install.  Just wait until the engine stops reving past 2100 rpms.

Reliant in the Pacific!

Be advised, the big R and crew are now the scourge of the Pacific!  We downlocked to saltwater at 5pm today, and captain and crew are ashore at Balboa Yacht Club.

Things could get rough here, as there is a large variety of spirits available in Balboa, and we are sampling all.  We fought off howler monkeys and caymans to arrive here, so the crew is well deserving.

Weather is great, wish you were here, next stop Costa Rica!

(5) The Canal Transit! – COMPLETE



Confirmation and Details for all Summer Legs!

Greetings all,

I’ve finally got enough info together to firm up the summer route. Expect a series of leg update emails later today to confirm all routes through the Canal and into the Pacific!  Big adventure is planned!

Remember, weather can always bump the schedule, but if you are confirmed on a leg, you are a go for plane ticket purchase. Check leg details for airport locations.

A makeup trip to Key West last weekend completed most of the deferred prep from Leg 1, and left Reliant in good condition for departure from the States next weekend.  The solar panels worked, confirming the potential for cold beer at the start of each leg!  Most important.

Notice to Scuba Divers: Duties as “Sailing Master” leave me short on capacity to double as “Dive Master”.  In the spirit of El Caribe pirate ship democracy, I’m leaving dive research and planning to the crew.  Study your leg and pick some spots.  I’ll get the boat there and fill the tanks.  Any volunteers for “Dive Master” on a leg are accepted with pleasure.  No resume required.

Happy Mother’s day to all the moms, and below is an important message from the Quartermaster(aka Mom) on sea sickness:

“Here is the link to the Relief Band https://www.reliefband.com.  If you use promo code “GH2017″ when ordering, you get Free Shipping and 20% off.  Not sure if it works, but it’s worth a try and it’s drug-free.”

“Another option is prescription scopolamine transdermal patches.  I’ve used them before and they worked for me, but it can make you drowsy if you’re especially sensitive to its effects.  Not everyone gets seasick, but for those of us who do, it’s important to prepare so you can enjoy every moment of the voyage.”  Debra Oates

Crew Assignment Page, 1MC Page, and Leg 1 Update!

This is my first attempt with blog notification.  I called it 1MC(for those familiar with Navy terms).  Hope you receive loud and clear!

Leg 1 is complete!  Read here https://svreliant.org/2017/03/29/keywest/

I’ve also added a Crew Assignment web page, and a NEED TO KNOW.  If this notification thing works, you’ll see changes to route segments, dates, and crew assignments.  Will make it way easier to keep everyone informed.

I’m playing catch-up with work this week, and have a lot of stuff to do for the boat(insurance, paper work, etc.), but should be fully organized by the end of the month.  If you’ve made a leg request and don’t see your name, just send again.  More dates and details to follow!