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Finally got past all the stuff getting in the way of commissioning the new tiller pilot, and set out for Lake Pleasant on a Monday morning. John and Alice Hicks were supposedly staying at the dropzone in Eloy, and I’d hoped to stop by and see them, but they were spending some time with friends in Palm Springs.
Here’s the latest photo I’ve got of John, in his vestments!
Don’t know who photoshopped the goats into the photo. Probably another jumper.

Onward to the lake!

Arrived about early afternoon, set-up done reasonably quickly, and had a primo parking spot at the South ramp.
Putting out onto the lake, the wind was a no-show, so my little outboard got a bit of a workout. The instructions for commissioning the tiller pilot say to maneuver the boat in large, slow circles, so the unit’s fluxgate compass can calibrate itself (which way’s North?). There are buttons to push, then, when the compass has a fix on magnetic North, you push some more buttons to get the tiller pilot’s compass to agree with the ship’s main compass.
At this point in time, and in this part of the world, the declination from magnetic North and true North is about 11 degrees, but I’ll wait to figure that into the mix. The ship’s compass still could use a corrective set of magnets to take the declination into account, so for now, I just do a little math.

Okay, point the boat where you want to go, press “auto”, and the pilot’s got the helm!

My new best friend!

My new best friend!

I’m beginning to see what all the fuss is about, regarding these tiller pilots. It’ll do it’s job anytime, day or night, when it’s blistering hot, rain-soaked or what-have-you.

But it does eat electricity, and we’ll get to that…

Up Cole’s Wash, keeping an eye out for shoals, I dropped anchor just South of a small spit of shoreline. What little breeze there was came from the Southwest, so I set my Manson Supreme accordingly.
Eat some 2 day-old pizza, then watch as the light breeze does a 180. Ahh, you know how I feel about this anchor.

My battery at dusk was 13.03v, a good start. By morning, it was down to 12.58v.

Day 2-
A good day out on the water, some wind in the morning, going completely limp by early afternoon. Long about late afternoon the light breezes were back, with temps in the mid to upper 70s. The tiller pilot performed flawlessly, and the only tweaking needed was getting the two compasses into even closer agreement. I was able to fly my spinnaker, and make and eat a sandwich at the same time!


When it came time to quit for the day, I ended up in Cole’s Wash again. I’m pretty predictable, huh? But the holding’s good here, with alluvial mud and some snagging underwater brush.

Dinner consisted of pasta and some spaghetti sauce Pam had sent along. Who knows how old it is, or where it came from? Only Pam. I boiled the heck out of it.

Battery voltage at anchor lighting was 12.76, and the winds did the same thing as last night, the old 180, but increased to 15-20 kts after midnight.

Day 3-
Some fishermen were motoring past my beam, and I heard their motor come to an abrupt halt. One of them berates the other, complaining about not going around the other side of that sailboat. I pop my head up and notice the shoal where they grounded is dead downwind of my present location, making for some excitement when it came time to weigh anchor. Hauling in on the rode, I found the line had snagged on something, letting me haul in only about half the scope I’d put out the night before. I knew what to do.
Fire up the outboard, and drive hard over the snag, reverse engine and repeat, until the snag is ripped out from the bottom. Haul in more rode, keeping the outboard running, because when that anchor lets go, I’m gonna start drifting right onto that shoal.

I exited the wash under the partially reefed genoa. The battery that morning was at 12.43v, continuing its steady losses. It seems that my little shop-made solar array, combined with the engine alternator, isn’t quite cutting it. More money needs spending.

Solar anchorage

You can tell that that photo was from a previous expedition, can’t you?

There was another sailboat out there, a J27 I think, running a sea-green spinnaker. As an island occluded my view of her, I thought it’d be cool to emerge from the other side flying my own spin.

Well, I did a silly thing. Hurriedly rigging the sail, I made the remarkably rookie mistake of confusing one end of the spin halyard for the other, and when I went to hoist the sock, zzzzzip, up the mast went the bitter end of the line, then falling down into a heap at my feet. Crap!

This halyard does double duty, as it’s also the line I use to raise and lower the mast. I could still use the main halyard with the gin pole, but I didn’t want to be without my spinnaker for the rest of this trip, so I headed over to the ramp and hauled the boat out. It took about two hours from docking to putting back in, and in the meantime I lost my great parking space. But I’ve got spinnaker! This time I was more careful, and got the spinnaker up without losing the halyard up the mast.

Always know which end of the rope you’re pulling on. Harrumph. Now, get over it!

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful, and I anchored again up in Cole’s Wash. Where else? There were some campers on the north shore, shooting what sounded like a large caliber handgun.
Dinner was made, and the battery voltage at anchor lighting was 12.6v.

Day 4-
The temperatures are getting steadily warmer, topping out today around 90 degrees. I explored different parts of the lake until the winds died down to nil about early afternoon, then decided to take a swim. Set the boarding ladder on the gunwale, and set an extra line out to grab onto if any wind did come up. Let the mainsheet loose, and dive in. Holy mackerel, is this water cold! Climb right back onto the boat.

I then headed over to Scorpion Bay Marina, and had a late lunch. The last time I was here, they had an old boat rigged up like a ghostly pirate ship, and here she is, moored in the small bay;



According to a patron at the restaurant, the boat has sunk 4 times since showing up here! And according to another source, she’s for sale. No, thanks anyway.

There’s also a huge houseboat with a silly name;

MV Sex-Sea

MV Sex-Sea

Okay then.

Back at my familiar anchorage for the last night, anchoring a bit farther from those same shoals, a very light dinner was had.
The winds came up again that evening, and I do appreciate that stalwart anchor of mine.
As I’ve said before, I’m gonna hate to have to cut it away, someday…

Day 5-
Out of the anchorage shortly after sunup, and out of coffee, I headed on over to Pleasant Lake Marina. They’ve got something like coffee.

Boats were coming and going. There was a bass fishing tournament going on, but I couldn’t stay for the finale, and took no pictures.

Today’s even hotter than yesterday, just over 90 degrees, so I took the longest time hauling out and tearing down the boat for traveling back to Tucson. I think I’m technically ready for the Sea of Cortez trip. I just need to tweak the battery charging capabilities, and put together some sort of dinghy/life-raft. And an extra gas tank. And a new VHF radio. I’m sure there are more things.

Oh, and Mexican automobile insurance and a fishing license, even though I don’t plan on doing any fishing.

When you think about it, one is hardly ever “ready”, no?


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