Monday, May 27, 2013

Staying in One Place – It’s About the People (Puerto Escondido)

Hanging Out in Puerto Escondido - It’s been relatively quiet since our friends Lisa and Joe flew back home to the bay area.  Lisa took some terrific pictures and is sharing them on her Google Album HERE.

Mostly we’ve spent the past couple of weeks, sightseeing, snorkeling, stargazing, doing our One Chore Per Day and watching a plethora of boats sail into, and then out of Puerto Escondido.

Tom and I wonder why many of these boats stay only a night or two before sailing on to further adventures. They probably wonder why that big red boat is content to stay put when there are so many beautiful anchorages within just a few hours sail from here. Maybe we’re lazy? Maybe it’s a philosophical difference in cruising styles? But Tom and I really enjoy getting to know a place, to know the people who work and live there, to learn their names and say “Hi” to them on a daily basis. It took us about a week to get to know Pedro (aka Pedrito), the character (and I do mean character) who runs the store and upstairs Porto Bello restaurant...
Pedrito serenades the ladies.
...Ulysses who maintains the grounds, Lenin and Gabriel the servers in the restaurant...

Lenin doing his magic behind the bar. 
...Candelario (Candi) the waiter at the hotel up the road, Raquel who works in the marina office, Carlos who is in charge of boat cleaning, Salvador who works for the fishing boats, and all the other people who work here.

Puerto Escondido, like many other parts of Mexico, had planned to have a large community. An entire neighborhood of canals, bridges and plots was zoned out, construction was started, but ultimately abandoned. A boatyard and small marina remain. I wonder if they will ever finish the homes in this terrific location?

Abandoned neighborhood as seen from under canal bridge.
In addition to the locals who work in Puerto Escondido, there are the gringos who live here and belong to Hidden Port Yacht Club. They get on the radio every morning for their local “radio net” where they provide weather updates, advice for local assistance and where they just love to hear which boats are visiting their lovely area.

Connie helps run the local radio net. Her radio handle is "Sun Lover".

We would never get to meet and know these folks if we only stayed here one or two nights.
We’ve also enjoyed getting to know our pals on Iolanthe and Telitha a bit better. They are truly wonderful people that we met up in Bahia Concepcion. Through some bad luck for them (Iolanthe: broke a backstay, wrapped a jib sheet around her prop and broke some motor mounts; Telitha: some wire and hose came loose from engine, wrapped around prop shaft and destroyed their engine seal) both boats ended up in Puerto Escondido to effect their repairs.
Tom and Nick (Iolanthe) enjoy a beer.

Joe and Kitty from Telitha
Tom read about a hiking trail that goes from our anchorage over the hill to a beach at the next cove called El Chenque, near Juncalito.  It was a pleasant hike but we were distressed to see an excess of litter and trash at the beach. Hence, we christened it El Janky, or Janky Beach.
(Recycling seems to be a problem in Mexico, and we have not seen an adequate recycling program since we left Ensenada. We met a guy who is part of an organization, EarthComp, that is trying to start a recycling program in Loreto and the area. So far they are collecting plastic, although they’re not quite sure what to do with it yet. I sure hope they can make a go of it. We also met Salvador from one of the fishing boats who collects cans and takes them to a recycling center somewhere.)

Salvador enthusiastically collects cans. Go Sal!
While wading in the waters of Janky Beach we were absolutely amazed to find a rare, deep-water squid swimming along the shore. We’re not sure, but it appeared that this Vampire Squid was likely in its death throes, possibly by-catch from a fishing net? We’ll never be sure, but it was an absolutely beautiful animal. Unfortunately none of us had cameras, but here is a picture from National Geographic:
National Geographic pic of Vampire Squid. Yes! We really saw this!
Another afternoon we dinghied over to one of the coves in our anchorage to see if the snorkeling was any good, and we were surprised to find that even though the visibility wasn’t so great, we managed to see tons of schooling fish such as Mojarras and Mullets, not to mention several types of angel fish, butterfly fish, scallops and oysters, and many schools of tiny baby fish that use this protective cove as their nursery. Tom even dove down and found a couple of lobsters in their hidey holes. We’ve been snorkeling in our bay a couple of times and it’s encouraging to see so much sea life in our anchorage.

Baby fishies swim around our boat every morning.

Lovely Loreto - In addition to entertaining ourselves at beautiful Puerto Escondido we have also enjoyed a couple of day trips into Loreto, a town we fell in love with in March 2012 when we flew down with some friends as part of a Baja Bush Pilots whale watching excursion.
March 2012 with Mary and Lou, flying to Loreto.
In 2012 Loreto was (and still is) recovering from severe hurricane flooding and was repairing and constructing its shore side Malecon. We were delighted to discover that now, 2013, the Malecon is nearly completed and is a beautiful sidewalk along the ocean.

The Malecon in 2013, looking great.

Downtown Loreto - This look hasn't made it to the states yet.

Lucha Nick will fight for a deal.

Tom rents a bike in Loreto
But even though we have truly enjoyed Puerto Escondido it’s feeling like our season is winding down and we have to start thinking about getting down to La Paz and putting Cinnabar away for the summer.

A few days ago we had a going away party for Telitha since they would be leaving the next morning for their return trip to San Carlos on the mainland.
We celebrate with our last bottle of Tres Mujeres wine.
Telitha gets ready to leave for her journey back to San Carlos.

Then Iolanthe went back into the water...
In the water at last!!
...Arthur returned from La Paz with Iolanthe’s new backstay...
King Arthur and Prince Nick
 ...we got the backstay installed and now Nick and Arthur are getting ready for Iolanthe’s sail back down to La Paz and eventually to San Diego.

I'm not Sonja, my name is Sylvia - A funny side story. Nick's dad Arthur was absolutely enamored to hear that my sister Sonja works at Ridge Winery. Apparently Arthur is completely obsessed (OK, maybe not COMPLETELY...) with the famous "The Judgment of Paris" wine competition of 1976, where one of the French judges rated Ridge Winery's red as #1, even above all the French wines (gasp!!). After learning that, every time Arthur sees me, does he say "Hello Sylvia"? Nope, he tenderly takes my hand and murmers, "You're Sonja's sister." Every friggin' time! OK Sis, you have fair warning, I KNOW that Arthur is going to visit you at Ridge winery and you'd better take good care of him!
Wrapping it up - Here on Cinnabar we are enjoying our last days in Puerto Escondido, doing some repairs and fixes on the boat, paying bills and catching up on emails, and reconnecting with other cruising pals we have met along the way. We will probably start heading south in a couple of days (but not before the SJ Shark's game Tuesday!), stopping at various anchorages and letting our livers recover as we say our farewells to beautiful Baja.

More photos of Puerto Escondido and Loreto can be found HERE.

We sacrifice precious rum to Mighty more breakdowns, please!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It Ain't All Margaritas! Refrigeration System Breakage...

In a hot climate, refrigeration and cold drinks are a top cruising comfort.
WARNING: This post is not about having fun, but about a specific boat repair. It's got a lot of detail for my (Sylvia) benefit only, so that I'll remember how we did the repair. If you are not interested in this kind of stuff, by all means skip it. But if you are interested in the realities of cruising and the inevitable repairs, in this case our refrigeration system, then please read on...

Back in California, when we packed up Cinnabar for her trip south, I was appalled at the plethora of HEAVY tools and spare parts that Tom insisted on stuffing into the boat. Did we really NEED all these items?
A mess! Cinnabar the night before we leave California. Where are going to fit all this stuff?
Over the past few months I have definitely seen the sense in being as self-reliant as possible when it comes to repairing and replacing broken bits. Replacement parts are difficult/expensive to obtain down here in Mexico, although they can fix almost anything (may not be pretty). Kind of like how the U.S. used to be before we became a disposable society where it is now cheaper to replace than to repair. But I digress…

Yesterday we were relaxing over our morning tea, listening to the local cruisers radio net and catching up on email, when our Glacier Bay Mark II refrigeration system turned on as normal. But it sounded ABNORMAL. We always listen for anything out of the ordinary on a boat because it is usually the first sign that something is amiss. “What’s that noise?” I demanded, “Something doesn’t sound right.” Tom ran to the back of the boat, noted that there was no cooling seawater output like there is supposed to be, and he immediately turned off the refer system. Shite! We had a full refrigerator and a freezer packed with fresh fish and other meats. Were we going to have to eat all of the food before it spoiled or would we be able to make a repair? Would we have to suffer no ice and warm beer, old school style, for the remainder of our trip? This was a serious condition that needed immediate attention.
After some discussion about “what could it be”, our first stab at troubleshooting revealed it was likely the 10 year old Johnson marine pump (Johnson CM30P7-1, 12V, 2 Amps, 6 gal/min), which is a little circulation pump, mounted below the water level, that pumps raw seawater through the system to remove heat from the coveted cold boxes.  
Johnson Pump - the offending part (center). Note seawater level marked with blue pen on Sea Chest to the upper right.

As Tom started removing the old pump I began thinking of Plans B and C should this repair not fix the reefer. Let’s see, ice could keep stuff cold and semi-frozen for a few days until we fixed it here or got to La Paz…I could contact my old pal and reefer expert Jim A. from Glacier Bay and fly him down here to do the repair (plus it would be fun to see him again!)…but first things first, so we (i.e. TOM) attacked the repair.

Tom unscrews the pump bracket so he can access the pump.
After closing the valve on the seawater input hose we had to remove the input hose (bottom) and the output hose (right).

Loosening the hose clamps on the hoses. Note towel underneath to catch drips.

After removing the input and output water hoses (easier said than done, but isn't everything on a boat?) we put a flashlight to the inside of the pump and confirmed the little vanes were not spinning, so it appeared the problem was the pump, which was a good thing because we had a spare identical pump! Yay for Tom and Rich for having the spare and cataloguing it! 

Replacement pump on left, broken pump on right. Looks like it will be a perfect fit!

Removing the water hoses caused one end to split; this would result in a leak if not addressed. This hose was barely long enough and looked to be in rather poor/deteriorated condition...
Yuck! Looks old and hard.
...but we decided that cutting 1” from the hose end should be OK.
We cut 1" off the hose to remove the section with the split/leak.

After checking the new pump with Tom's homemade 12V test jig to make sure it would actually work...
Handy homemade 12V tester
(High quality fused cig lighter plug w/LED power light, 2-line cord, alligator clips)
...Tom cut the electrical lines on the old pump.

We Bullfrogged (anti-corrosion cream, brushed on) the new pump because, in Tom’s words, “I just hate seeing rust on anything.”  We took the bracket off the old pump, Bullfrogged it too, and attached it to new pump.
Bullfrogging the pump. No rust or corrosion allowed!

We attached the electrical lines to the new pump and turned it on momentarily to ensure the connections were good.
Stripping the wires with Gucci stripper tool.
 Then Tom crimped and heat shrank the connectors.
Using the perfect crimping tool to crimp the connectors.
Heat shrinking the "butt" connectors (really - their technical name) with butane torch.

We put silicone gel on the pump inlet and outlet barbs to make re-attaching the hoses easier. We started to reattach the outlet hose (the one with the split) and the hose started to split again! Was it too small? This hose looked to be in terrible condition, but replacing it looked nearly impossible, i.e. there was no working room to attach a new hose to the reefer hose. Also, there was the real potential of damaging other nearby elements.  What a dillema!
The small work space, I could barely get my fingers into it. The reefer hose is the dark hose leading from the bottom valve back into the boat (in the very lower right rear of the picture).
After some discussion about which way to go, we decided that it's never a good thing to have an inferior hose serve such an important purpose, so we decided it would have to be replaced. Yep. That took about another 2 hours to get the old hose off and the new hose on (all of 14" in long). But we finally managed to get the job done, hoses re-attached (with a quick shot of heat from the blow dryer onto the hoses), bracket put on, and pump screwed back into place.
New pump is installed. But will the reefer work?

We turned the reefer on, the pump sounded like it was working fine, but it was still not pumping seawater! Drat, even though the pump was below the water level, it had lost its prime. I checked the Glacier Bay Manual and in the FAQs I found,  Question: "Does installing the pump below sea level insure it will get primed?" Answer: "Not necessarily." And no hints on how to prime the pump. Uh, thanks for that.
Tom and all his tools. It's put back together but will the darn thing work?
Then Tom had a great idea. He took the hand plunger, normally used for our sinks to break the air lock, to the outlet at the back of the boat. The plunger was used to suck air/water through the system and prime the cooling pump. I turned the reefer on he reverse-plunged away until water started shooting out the back. 
Brilliant idea to prime the pump by reverse-plunging from the back.
Success!!!! The reefer was once again running like a champ and our cold food and drinks were safe!
Total time to replace water pump and janky hose = 4.5 hours.

In comparison to what could go wrong on a refer system, this was an easy fix! Just because it took all day means nothing. 1 pump, 3 screws, 2 hose clamps, and 2 wires. That's it. However, we used 16 distinct tools and 7 specific supplies (e.g. 3/4 in hose) to effect the repair. Without those at the ready, the repair would have been delayed for who knows how long.

But, was merely REPLACING the busted pump good enough for Tom? Nooooo way. He had to find out WHY the pump broke. So he took the broken pump apart and discovered the problem was really quite simple. All that had happened was that the stainless steel spindle/axle in the pump head had corroded a little and become frozen enough so that the little vanes that pump the seawater through weren't able to spin and do their job.

Repairing the original pump - Polishing the spindle with the Dremel tool.

So he took the pump head apart, cleaned and Dremeled the spindle and all the other parts, and put the pump back together. He hooked it up to his 12V tester and the pump seemed to work fine. So now we have a repaired spare pump as a backup.

Disassembled pump. Tom says it has a brilliantly simple, solid construction.
(Magnetic drive, centrifugal action; head fully separated from the motor)
Total Time to repair the old pump = 2 hours.

So I guess the moral of this long-winded story is that it IS OK to have the right tools and spare parts aboard the boat, because when you need a part and you actually have it, your life will be a lot easier and more comfortable!

It's nice to have ice! And freshly frozen Wahoo and Yellowtail are a bonus.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dinghy Name Has Been Decided! And We Finally Leave Bahia Concepcion

First of all, a huge shout out to the McGuire Family and Casa de Los Suenos for letting us anchor out and use their facilities for an entire month. Wow! If it weren’t for Joe we would likely still be there, but read on for more about that.

Second shout out to our friends Joe and Lisa who not only came to visit us, but brought us some of our favorite supplies so we could restock our stores. Thanks to them Cinnabar is now brimming with my favorite, super strong TJ’s Irish Breakfast Tea, Tom’s favorite Peet’s Coffee, TJ’s granola bars and TJ’s chocolate covered almonds. Yum!! Lisa even brought me a bonus pack of assorted black and green teas. Love her.
We Leave Bahia Concepcion - Joe was quite keen to see more of the Sea of Cortez, so two days after our infamous “Best Day Ever” in Bahia Concepcion, we weighed anchor and motored out of our favorite anchorage bound for Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto, as our ultimate destination. I wish I could say our departure was uneventful, but we motored over a shoal and Cinnabar stubbed her toe in the sand, so to speak. Joe, Lisa and I leaned WAYYYYYY over the side of the boat while Tom plowed us out.
The chart said we could go there! But the sand said "NO".

The rest of the day was absolutely beautiful with no more mishaps. As we passed Isla San Idelfonso, where Tom and the others had caught all those yellowtail, we saw hundreds of pelicans soaring over and diving into the water. Birds in a feeding frenzy? That’s always a good sign for fish. Naturally Joe and Tom had the hand lines out, and a short time later we hooked a small yellowtail. While the guys discussed whether or not it was too small to keep, I grabbed the bottle of tequila and made a beeline for the fish. A few sprinkles into the gills and our beautiful catch went calmly to sleep forever.
Small but delicious.
Caleta San Juanico , Snorkeling and Fine Dining - By late afternoon we made it into the beautiful San Juanico anchorage. We decided we had just enough time for an afternoon snorkel before our happy hour, so we grabbed our gear, slipped into the water and kicked over to the nearest pinnacle. Yowza! We were amazed at all the sea life! There were schools of all sorts of reef fish swimming around the rocks, a turtle, schooling puffer fish, angel fish, schooling brown chromis, mullets and many, many more. To top it off, high atop the tallest pinnacle was an osprey nest with the two osprey gazing down at us with jaundiced eyes the whole time.
Dinner that night would be my favorite, our beautiful just-caught Hamachi thinly sliced sashimi style, and served as a tiradito a la Muelle Tres, my favorite restaurant in Ensenada. This had our Bahia Concepcion twist of serving it hand roll style, with fresh avocado, sushi rice, and nori.
Tom, Joe and Lisa enjoy a perfectly delicious dinner.

Add some cold beer and chilled white wine and it was pretty much a perfect meal, sigh. (Recipe at end of post.)

Heading to Puerto Escondido - The next morning we completed our trip down to Puerto Escondido. The sea was absolutely alive with all sorts of life, in the air and in the water. It seemed that every few minutes there was something new to see, whether they were hundreds of sea birds, sea lions basking in the water with fins up, or leaping mobula rays. One of the most exciting events was when I saw a weird standing wave off in the distance. What in the heck was that thing? Turns out it was hundreds of Pacific White-Sided dolphins in what looked like an absolute feeding frenzy. We headed their direction and tried to stay out of their way as they leaped in the air and dove toward their prey beneath them. We saw one or two more of these large dolphin boils and they were so close I even managed to get some shots with my little camera.

We sailed alongside Isla Carmen toward Puerto Escondido, enjoying the jaw-dropping view and lunching on freshly made fish tostadas. Thanks to Joe and Tom we got two great meals from our little yellowtail.
Our final excitement before pulling into Puerto Escondido was a couple of whale sightings. What a trip! We motored into the bay, carefully watching the depth of this notoriously shallow entrance, but managed to make it (barely) without stubbing our toe again. We found a mooring, and thanks to Joe and Lisa’s experience from their bare-boat charters we easily grabbed a mooring and secured Cinnabar.
We figured our friend Nick from Iolanthe was still in the area since last we heard he’d gone on the hard to wait for parts to repair his boat. We wondered if Telitha was still around, and as I stood on deck with binoculars, searching the anchorage for our friends, who should come gliding into the bay being towed by another boat, but Telitha!! Holy cow, what happened?? Turns out they’d had transmission problems and ended up being towed practically all the way from Agua Verde (about 22 nm) by the good Samaritans aboard Huck Finn. So, due to bad luck for everyone but us, the unlikely group of Cinnabar, Iolanthe and Telitha would be together once again.

That evening the Cinnabar crew spiffed up and took a taxi (driven by taxista Nestor) into Loreto for a last bit of shopping for Lisa and Joe, and our final dinner together. Loreto was practically deserted, with the only excitement being a claxon of mission bells followed by a parade of people entering the mission for 5:00 mass. We were in Loreto to enjoy the beautifully temperate and perfect evening, and after a starter of Margaritas...
...we managed to find a restaurant that served Tom’s favorite Baja Brewing Company microbrew! That, paired with a yummy Chile Relleno and Chocolate Clams Gratinee made for a delightful last dinner.
Almejas Chocolates Gratinee

Adios Lisa and Joe - The next morning, after helping us clean Cinnabar’s deck (Lisa and Joe sure know how to get invited back) our guests packed their bags, we stuffed a cooler full of frozen fish for them to transport home, and we loaded them into Nestor’s taxi, bound for Loreto airport.
Joe, Lisa, Tom and taxista Nestor

Pictures of Weeks #3 and #4 in Bahia Concepcion, and our trip down to Puerto Escondido, can be found HERE.
Since Lisa and Joe departed, we have spent time cleaning the boat, enjoying the beautiful Puerto Escondido anchorage, and trying to entice our cruising pals away from spending all their time doing boat repairs. Actually, that’s not too difficult, but more about that in another post…

Dinghy Name Update – Believe it or not we finally decided on a dinghy name. Yes! After all this time! Thank you again to everyone who submitted all the absolutely brilliant names. Here they are and I hope I remembered every one:
Cinnabarbary Coaster
Dinghy Dong
Galena Ballena

We might not have picked your favorite, but we went with the one that “felt right” to us.  A couple of weeks before they decided to come out, Joe submitted Quicksilver as his entry. Miraculously, we both liked Quicksilver, also mercury, associated with Cinnabar, also a common name in the Santa Clara Valley, and with the likely nickname of “Quickie”. So Quicksilver, aka “Quickie” it is.
Joe and Quicksilver, aka "Quickie"
And the grand prize was…winner got to visit us on Cinnabar! OK, in the interest of full disclosure, let’s just say that anyone who submitted an entry was eligible to visit, as well as anyone who thought about submitting an entry, as well as anyone who thought we were bonkers for even thinking we should name our dinghy. In other words, EVERYONE is invited to visit us! Come on guys, last chance is NOW because in a few weeks we will be in La Paz putting Cinnabar away for the summer.
But if you can’t visit us this time around, you should at least try making our favorite yellowtail dish. Here is our recipe. If you don't have yellowtail you can use any type of sushi grade fish...
  • Very fresh yellowtail, thinly sliced into bite-size pieces, chill on platter; (or use any kind of sushi-grade fish if yellowtail is not available
  • Soy sauce or Tamari
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Minced fresh ginger
  • Juice from 1-2 small limes
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or basil
  • Avocado, 1-2 sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Optional: diced jalapeno/Serrano peppers or dribbles of Salsa Martajada

Spread fish slices out onto large plate overlapped or in a single layer. (I like to chill for 30 minutes if not already refrigerated.) Dribble lightly with soy sauce and sesame oil. Sprinkle with minced fresh ginger and sesame seeds. Add fresh, diced peppers or Salsa Martajada, or serve on the side. Just before serving squeeze some fresh lime over the top and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and fresh cilantro or basil. Arrange avocado slices on top of or around yellowtail, or serve alongside if making hand rolls.
Serve with chips or tostadas, or use for sushi or hand rolls by serving with white or sushi rice, nori and a ponzu sauce made of soy, lime juice and wasabi.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Best Day Ever - Still in Bahia Concepcion

Looks yummy doesn't it? Read on...
Just a quick Cinnabar update, still anchored in Bahia Concepcion below the lovely Casa de Los Suenos and enjoying our little bay filled with lots of birds, fishies, shellfish, and the occasional turtle...

We've been having a terrific time with our friends Joe and Lisa who flew out to visit us from back home.

Yesterday morning Joe and Lisa were in the cockpit reading and enjoying the morning, when I popped my head out to have a look around. And what was the first thing I spied? A whale shark swimming just a few boat lengths away! We immediately grabbed our snorkel gear, jumped into the dinghy, and motored over to it. Lisa, Joe and I slipped into the water and swam with the beautiful creature a good, long while. This one was small for a whale shark, but still quite big and impressive. It did something I hadn't seen before, it would swim down, then open its mouth and rise to the surface, then sink back down again and leisurely swim around. Very cool!

Unfortunately nobody grabbed their cameras so we don't have any pictures. Lisa and Joe found it again and snorkeled with it a while longer. What a great morning.
Lisa, only slightly excited about seeing her first whale shark.

Mike had told us about a beach that supposedly had lots of clams, so later that afternoon Joe and Tom decided to dinghy around the point to see if they could locate some. The wind had started to whip up but they gave it a go anyway.

They returned about an hour and a half later with a bag filled with clams. They had collected over 80 clams and I could barely lift the bag.

I soaked the clams in sea water for a couple of hours so they would hopefully spit out their sand. (They did.)
Big bucket 'o clams. Mike told us to throw the big ones back, too tough to eat.

Later we cooked up some pasta, then steamed the clams in Pacifico beer, garlic, butter, Salsa Martajada (dried chiles in oil, my new favorite condiment), tomatoes, lime and cilantro (recipe below). What a feast!
Lisa, Joe and Syl, about to indulge in some very fresh steamed clams.

Not only did the guys forage dinner for us, they even did the dishes afterward.
Tom and Joe, these guys are the best!

Later we sat under the stars and watched little phosphorescent sea creatures wiggle and swim around the boat.

Yes, it was a VERY good day.

Yield: 4 servings
  • 60 – 80 steamer or butter clams (15-20 clams per person)1-2 cans Pacifico or other light beer
  • ½ cup sliced onion (white or yellow)
  • ½ head garlic, diced
  • ¼ - ½ cup butter
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Salsa Martajada (dried chiles in oil) to taste. Some brands are spicier than others.
  • Juice of 1-2 small limes
  • Chopped cilantro, basil or parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the clams in sea water for 30 minutes. Swish around in the water and scrub any especially dirty ones. Remove clams and re-fill bucket with fresh sea water. Soak the clams for another 30 minutes and swish around again to dislodge any sand on the outsides of the shells. Rinse with sea water. Cover with fresh water and soak for another 30 minutes. Hopefully the clams have spit out most of their sand; drain them well.
Saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil until just starting to turn golden. Add beer and heat until it is steaming. With heat on high, add the tomatoes, clams and the butter. Steam on high heat until the clams open.  Remove the clams to a bowl, squeeze lime juice over them and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Taste the pan liquid and adjust seasoning. Pour almost all the pan juice over the clams and strain well, but BE CAREFUL to not pour any sandy liquid at the bottom over your beautifully cleaned clams. Serve with crusty French bread or with pasta sautéed in garlic and olive oil.