Another Bloody Monday: January 13, 2014
I told Lisa this morning that somebody in Alameda might be calling the Crime Scene Investigation unit after my thumb opened up and began spurting blood all over the sidewalk. It has really been a long week for me. As usual the things I did to make life better seemed to have a completely different agenda in mind. Was it Socrates that said “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction”? Under normal expectations you would think that you worked on something that was broke, the opposite action would be that it would be fixed, but that only works in my dream utopia, and not my reality. For me fixing something broke just means something else will break in the process and so it has always been with the generator.
My generator and I go back nearly 13 years. It has become a type of second marriage for me. When I first met the generator I was awed by it. 4.5 kilo watts of power, grunt. It has nearly an unlimited amount of running time due to being hooked into our main tanks, double grunt. Because of items 1 and 2 above we have the ability to run electric heaters, electric blankets, blenders, heat guns, hair driers, coffee pots, POWER TOOLS, and computers without a care in the world about damaging our batteries, GRUNT, GRUNT, GRUNT. It looked like the perfect relationship until we tried to start it for very first time. It was kind of like finding that one hottie in school that you really want to date but then finding out they had chronic bad breath. You tell yourself you can overlook this minor flaw, but really it is just the beginning. First you purchase gum to mask the issue, then mouthwash, then the next thing you know you are paying for major oral surgery, but golly she sure turns heads.
I found out that the generator had blown the top of the injector off and it had gotten stuck in the top of the piston. It took a bit of work to change the piston out but like the gum all the symptoms were gone and she ran beautifully. Power to spare and she purred and purred.
For months I was completely enamored with my sweet generator. I think it was mainly because we really never used it. The generator sat on a pedestal, looked pretty and when talking to other skippers about all the cool items we had aboard I could always hang the generator on my arm and they would smurk back at me with jealousy. Nearly every skipper wants a diesel generator, but most will settle. Just as most people don’t need a trophy spouse, a good gas generator will give you less trouble and still makes a fine companion. I should have given it more though before entering deeper into my relationship.
The added costs came slowly at first, then they started to really mount about the seventh year of our marriage. There were times I threaten to let my generator go and settle for a cheap, virtually disposable gas generator with a generic name and a short shelf life but I had so much invested already and the next fix or expense was bound to be the last.
Fast forward another 6 years into our relationship and we are shore side in Alameda, 2014. I don’t really need the generator anymore but it is still comforting to know it is there, and the good memories are still fun to tell around the dinner table. It seems like only yesterday that somebody in a remote anchorage called over the radio to tell us that our spreader lights were still on and we should turn them off to save power. “Heck” I said, we have a generator, let them burn. Over the last 5 years the generator really has served its main purpose. It has been painful at times but it has kept us happily consuming Ready Kilowatt with a minimum amount of downtime.
It was noted a couple of weeks ago that the generator developed a bit of a temper and began overheating. This resulted in me pulling one of my primary nemesis’ out of the generator only to find that it’s (the dual purpose water pump) impellors were completely intact and everything about the pump appeared to be normal. Logic moved me to the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is similar to a car radiator. The difference being that inside a boat we can’t get the airflow across our “radiator” like you do in a car so we pump cool sea water across the warm generator water to keep it cool. We have 3 of these contraptions on board for different purposes. Over the last year we have had to repair, clean or replace every one of them at least once, and for the transmission heat exchanger three times.
The problem with the generator exchanger is access. In my utopia the process would be: Turn off the water, pull the water pump, disconnect the generator from the mounting beds on the boat, pull the generator to a more workable position, remove 4 tiny socket head screws that are corroded to the aluminum engine tray, remove the exchanger and re-install. What could possible go wrong. Enter Socrates’ phrase; “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, right.
Since the pump was already pulled I got to skip that step so I disconnected the engine bolts, resulting in the opposite reaction of losing two of the nuts into the bilges (I can buy more), I pulled the engine to gain better access to the socket head screws resulting in cuts and scrapes on my hand. I removed one of four tiny socket head, corroded, stripped out screws and then cut off the heads of the others with a cut off tool. This was a simple 3 hour job that I never want to repeat. It of course resulted in 3 headless screws that later had to be extracted with a pair of vise grips and another 2 hours of labor.
With the screws out is was a simple matter of disconnecting hoses and taking the thing to the local radiator lad for repair ($180). With that part of the problem working its own fix we decided to just kind of hang out for week and enjoy the boat. Of course that Action, created the opposite reaction and the toilet broke. Not wanting to have two open problems we waited for the repaired heat exchangers and this last weekend went about doing the install. My thoughts were that the process would be relatively straight forward and easy, heck the corroded screws were out and it is always easier to re-install than to disconnect on a boat. Reaction?…sees below.
The heat exchanger went in with a minimum amount of cussing. Not so little that Lisa didn’t hear some and decide to go do wash, but minimal for the surrounds of this boat. Indexing the screws back into their own holes was a bit more complicated but spending only an average of 15 minutes per screw was not bad for the cramped quarters I was in. The cherry on the top was how nice it was to exchange out the allen headed socket screws for normal hex headed bolts. Much easier to deal with, and someday I will be thankful for the switch if this thing ever has to come out again.
With the hard parts out of the way, I started to work on the water pump, easy, belts, easy and connect up all the hoses, easy enough. Heck we might even get to that toilet this weekend as well.
The boat as always has the reaction that goes with my mood. So when we started up the generator and crawled up top (when the generator is being worked on we have to remove the ladder so literally we have to crawl up out of a five foot hole) with a smile there was of course no water moving through the system. If you ever saw National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and the scene where Chevy Chase receives his Christmas bonus of the Jelly of the Month club you will have an idea of my reaction. To top it off Lisa just returned from her washing expedition, so she was able to witness my antics…Turns out the ol’ nemesis was paying me a visit again.
The water pump appeared to be working just fine but when I investigated I found that the pulley was actually spinning freely on the shaft and the pump was not turning. You can insert evil maniacal laughter here when I saw what was happening.
A weaker man would have called the Maytag repairman but not me. My wife loves me for my resourcefulness and it is probably why she puts up with my inner demons. I methodically pulled the water pump off the generator and set it on my desktop and immediately saw that the drive dog on the shaft had sheared off completely. Ok, we need a new shaft for the pump.
On board we have so many spares I sometimes forget we even bought them. The trouble is locating what I think we have. I tore the boat apart trying to locate all the possible pump type spares we had on board (old used and mostly broken water pump, shaft seals, silicone grease, paper towels etc.). From there I broke down the old, used pump to determine if I could even rebuild the rather new, none working pump with the tools I had. Luckily the shaft on the old, used pump was salvageable and the repair didn’t look too far beyond my abilities, so I sat down and had some wine, watched a movie and went to bed. Tomorrow would be a better day to tackle the problem.
The morning came and the rebuild went pretty well. By the time bacon and eggs were ready the pump was all done and could be re-installed before 10 AM. Those were my thoughts, the opposite reaction was that we did get the pump installed but in the process we discovered a stripped bolt that holds the pump to the engine. My reaction, just another maniacal laugh. Lisa’s reaction, “What now”? Two hours and nearly $60 later we had the bolt removed and had located the “Special” metric heli-coil to repair the stripped hole and insert a new (we had a spare) mounting bolt for the pump. With everything mounted we fired up the generator and made power for 30 minutes without overheating, I was in love again.
We celebrated that night with rum and coke (a standard) and maybe a glass of wine more than we needed. In the process of enjoying the moment we lost track of what Socrates had said and while washing dishes my thumb and the serrated edge of our vegetable dicer came together creating a lot of blood and a bit of dulled down pain. Before I knew it Lisa had me bandaged up but that only lasted till morning. I was pretty sure I was sealed up before going to work so I discarded the bandage. As I got to the ferry station I bumped my thumb and copious amount of blood spilled on the concrete until I was finally able to find an old newspaper to wrap around the wound. I was pretty sure the newspaper was pretty clean but it stemmed the bleeding for a while.
Closure: November 2013
Now that I have a signed offer of employment in my hands I feel that we have successfully brought our trip to a conclusion. That doesn’t mean we are done sailing, it is just that our travels through Mexico are completed and all the folks that either privately or publicly scoffed at us quitting jobs, dropping out of the American public race, selling off our cars and putting everything into storage with the hopes that someday we would either return to California to continue with our careers or drop off the face of the earth were wrong. That’s probably a pretty strong statement but back in 2007 when we first started the trip there were so many people who told us we were wrong. We really would have liked their support yet many said we should wait for the economy to get better, warned that we should be sure that everything on the boat was in perfect shape and to have every available spare and new electronic gizmo on board. Some even suggested that the drug war in Mexico would certainly take our lives. With all the warnings even I am surprised that we made it back in one piece.
Clearly now that we have returned I can say that Lisa was right all along, “You have to live your dreams before you are too old, sick or dead!”. I can add that waiting to repair every little thing on board, or till you have the every available cool gadget is also a fallacy. We waited a good long time. Most of our wait was to get enough money into the cruising kitty so we felt comfortable in leaving but we still left before we had a compressor, new computer, big water maker, new or rebuilt engine, new rigging and we even failed to come up with the money to buy the latest marine single sideband radio and associated pactor modem, heck we left without enough money to actually even make it to retirement. Yep, we left prematurely but we had enough and we felt if we watched our numbers just a little bit we would not have to work along the way. Working along the way just doesn’t sound like fun to us and we know of several people who have had to stop to work and they are still in the same places we left them 3 or even 5 years ago. Most feel that need just one more big ticket item from the Boat Toy Store before they can leave, a few are just afraid to cut the lines and go. From my standpoint, get your money, leave some of the expensive items and niceties on the dock or shelves of West Marine and run.
When we left San Francisco in 2007 we were sure our boat was equipped and in good enough condition to get us through the next couple of years of travel. As it turned out we made is almost 30 days before we lost an alternator, water maker, TV, starter motor bracket, alternator bracket, fan belt and realized that our refrigerator was probably going to be an issue when the weather turned warm. A month earlier we would have told you those items would be the last to fail. The items we thought were most likely to fail stood proud as we replaced some of our star players. The next 320 days of cruising went along pretty well with everyone pulling their weight and staying mostly together. We did have to return home after the first year but we put the boat away in much better shape that when we started out. When we returned for our second try at cruising (perhaps we should have waited for the economy to get better), things were surprisingly much worse. Again we had no way to anticipate the trouble, and that is really the point of this article, stop anticipating breakdowns and go.
If you have read the February 2012 issue of this blog you will know that returning to our once “perfect boat” was anything but perfect. All the items that we thought were in great condition had pretty much failed: Main engine oil pan, engine mounts, generator, heater, windless, toilet, water pumps, stereo, bilge pumps and even lamp wicks. Once all these were fixed we were good for nearly a month before the sails started to unravel, the radar started to die and the transmission leaked. Basically we had to replace all the items that we thought would have happily lived on the boat for years, it was frustrating but what I am trying to say is that if your boat is in fair condition, and you do have the funds to take off for a year or two, do it. The worst that can happen is you will have to shorten the trip and perhaps have to go back to work again for another couple of years. If you wait till everything is perfect you will most likely still have to replace everything along the way and you may never leave in the first place. Go with the knowledge that parts are going to have to be replaced and your frustration level will probably be less when they eventually let go.
What we do not recommend is that you sell your current life out from under yourself. We have met many people who have sold their homes, all their cars, furniture, quit their jobs, gave the dog and cat away then bought a boat and left on what would be an endless trip of sunsets and Cuba Libres’ on the fantail. Many have failed in the first months of travel. Some have lasted a bit longer but with one of the crew usually under duress, and then there are others that seem to just work out. I would say that the groups are about evenly split, you do the math on your percentages.
Most of those who are successful have sailed for years together and have like interests and dreams. I am not going to go into relationships here, but I think Lisa was right when we first started the trip and I suggested that we sell our home, all the cars, furniture, quit our jobs, give the cat away and sail off on what would be an endless trip of sunsets and Cuba Libres’ on the fantail, she said “No”. Not no to everything, but she wanted to be sure that if we ran out of Cuba Libres, that there would be something to come home to.
Taking her advice we rented our home (furnished) and kept a car and the dog. The first year we rented at a loss but in the grand scheme of things that loss was actually limited so based on our approximate budget of $1500 per month, we only had to add another $600 a month to that and still have the piece of mind that if life was not as predicted we could return in a year and resume life as normal and the worst it would cost us would be $7,200 ($600 loss for 12 months). As things turned out we did have to return but that was due to a 50% loss in our investments (Thanks Lehman Brothers ET all). The cost of $7,200 in negative cash flow felt like pretty good insurance when we booted the renters and walked back into our home.
The cool thing is finding a job is just not that hard. Within a month I had a viable job contact and by the second month I was fully employed. I am not a doctor, lawyer or nurse whose talents can be parlayed anywhere. What I am is a glorified fork lift driver who has a pretty good reputation in his industry. If you are qualified in your chosen career, have worked at it for some time and are known to do a good job, you should not be afraid to leave with the expectation of re-entry into the work force at some later time. On the other hand, if you have a criminal record or some big scars on your job record you might want to wait another year before leaving.
On our second go around we were a lot better prepared. We rented our house to people who could pay the full mortgage so there was no longer a negative outflow of cash. We had about the same amount of money in the kitty (approx $50,000) and were ready to leave for 3 years. As noted above we had some pretty heavy re-entry fees to pay out just to get the boat launched (about $8,000). Along the way we dropped another $8K to re-rig the boat but that was one of those “sales” that you just can’t pass up. If you just took those basic numbers we land at about $1700 per month to cruise Mexico, or anywhere for that matter for nearly 2 years. Having seen and done some of the most amazing things in our lives on this trip it was all well worth it. We didn’t scrimp to much either. The biggest help was staying out of marinas which was the whole purpose to go “cruising”. If we hadn’t wanted to anchor out we would have said we were just moving to Mazatlan, La Paz, Puerto Vallarta or some other marina in Mexico. The marina cost could have almost doubled our output of cash. While you might find some marinas that are close in price to those in the U.S. we had a hard time doing so. Our boat in Mexico is usually measured at 43 feet, but the costs are almost always close to $800 a month. In the U.S. we pay about the same cost but are measured at 53′ (there is no discount in the U.S. for having a bow sprite). It really is a good thing that we prefer the quite and remote coves as opposed to the hustle and rules of the marina.
So for $25,000 per year we left San Francisco with a near perfect boat and a home, and returned with a more perfect boat and a home and started a new job making the same money as when we left within a month of return. The new rigging was an added bonus and if you add all the new gear we purchased along the way you might even say that leaving San Francisco and going cruising was the best thing we could have done for the boat. You might find that if you have enough money in the kitty to support your cruising life style and just leave, replacing gear along the way will just take care of itself. Just don’t get hooked into having all the bells and whistle that show up on the pages of Sail Magazine.
My only regrets are that I may not have said “Thank You” enough to the people that encouraged us and helped us along the way, that I did not contract with Groupo Naval in Mazatlan before we left Mexico to repaint the boat from top to bottom with LPU for less than $4,000, and that I humored all those Nay Sayers who said we were crazy to leave good jobs instead of confidently smiling at them and giving them the finger.
Five years later I wonder how they feel about their big car payments on that now 5 year old vehicle and what they really have accomplished in their careers that could not have been delayed while they were living their dreams..Perhaps the dream really is to have a big car payment, big house payment, big Visa bill. I am glad we took some time out before we were too old, sick or dead to enjoy it, I can build up the big payments while I am celebrating my next birthday or lying in a hospital bed. Lisa will have to enjoy it while I am dead.
Calling all Taco Bells’ October 31, 2013
It’s a funny thing about returning to the USA after so much time away from the requirements of the big cities. We are so use to making things happen almost immediately on the boat. When you are hungry and don’t have food, you go shoot it, gather it or catch it. When something breaks, there are usually no stores so you either use the spares that you put onboard prior to your journey or you cobble something together to get you to the next port. It really makes no difference what it is that is happening, if it goes wrong you are in charge and your ability to adjust to the situation determines your level of anxiety, not so in the Big City.
Having been back officially for a week the job hunt is in full force. The unfortunate thing is I am not in charge of my own hiring. We don’t have a car and quite honestly the jobs that I am qualified for are often so far from the marina that visiting the job sites would cost an incredible amount of money in fuel (which we don’t have incredible amounts of) and would also take a bunch of time (we do have plenty of this resource). As such the anxiety level on the boat has risen and is rising each day.
Our experience with job searches previously have shown that it takes a couple of weeks before you get any responses and several months before you actually find a fit. From there you have to go through the standard background and drug checks which can take days to several weeks, especially if you have been out of the country for while.
My day begins like any day. It would not matter if I was working, sailing or enjoying the weekend, I am up before 7 AM everyday, sometimes I am up before 5 AM but usually that is because my dog friend (Sparky) has asked to go out early. From the time I get up to sometime around noon I look at the job boards, check out individual company sites and apply to anything that even resembles a fit. We originally (I tell you, originally lasted just a couple of days) were looking for work in just the local San Diego area. From there I branched out to San Diego and San Francisco and have since added Los Angeles, Madera and even Victorville. All my applications are done first rate and with a lot of thought put into the cover letters. All of the letters include a request for an in-person interview and even if Victorville responds, I will rent a car, put the ol’ suit of armor on and gallop over the hills and dales to report on time. We are mobile and that really helps since we are not tied down to any one location. The only downside to this is that you need a good mailing address and that means the first thing any employer see’s is that you are located in San Diego (our current address) or Roseville (near Sacramento) which is our current home of record.
Once the official job hunt for the day is through, I like to hit the Linked-In page for any updates that have occurred there. Linked-In is sort of a social media page. I don’t have a Facebook account, but I have to think that Linked-In is similar as you are attaching your “friends” or in this case, ex-colleagues, colleagues of colleagues and those that just happen upon your page that feel your profession and theirs are a match or could turn into additional business. The interesting thing to me is sometimes these pages are not social at all, but more of a “how many contacts can I make” type of page. I don’t say this from lack of experience, I have some experience.
It was not to long after I updated my Linked-In page a couple of months ago that several former co-workers asked to “Link” or in Facebook lingo, Friend me. I usually accepted the invitation and sent a quick note to them to let them know how I was doing and what was on the horizon for me as well as a quick inquiry as to their status. Nothing. I don’t mean that I have nothing going on, I mean there was rarely any response at all. I had accepted their invitation to get connected yet they were not even interested in responding to my acceptance, not even with a casual reply to of good luck or something else that meant they were interested in only active business opportunities.
Once you are linked to somebody, you are also viewable by their other “Linkies”. Occasionally you will get requests from these folks and again if you accept you can be assured that there will be no response, it makes you feel used, just another notch in their belt.
The most amazing folks are those that are recent employers or co-workers. You link to one and then everyone is asking to become your latest “linky”, but don’t expect any other type of communication from them, it is purely a request to add another contact.
The Linked-In pages do have a good job board. Not that anyone has ever reached out to me from one of my applications, but then it is still early and if I practice my impatience there is sure to be one that will contact me. Until then I will continue to hunt and seek. At some time I will pull out my old Taco Bell application. If you are in the Southland, look for me behind the counter, “Will that be red sauce or green”.
Buyer Beware, Marina Coral, Ensenada Mexico: October 16,2013
I don’t like to get grumpy at the end of a trip but I have to speak my mind here about Marina Coral in Ensenada. We have visited a number of marinas in the last month as we transited beautiful cities like La Paz, tourist stops like Cabo San Lucas and smaller places like Santa Rosilia and Puerto Escondido. All have their particular draws and drawbacks. We have written nice articles about places like Cortez Marina in La Paz and their hospitality and well managed (thank you Eduardo) marina. We have also complained about vermin and pricing in Cabo San Lucas (Pisces Marina) and San Felipe (Singlar Marina). Today we have another complaint and one that I hope those on the Baja Ha Ha and those that are just southbound this year will take heed of. Marina Coral in Ensenada has perhaps the worst daily rate of any marina including Cabo San Lucas and Ixtapa that we have experienced yet and a lot less to offer for the price as well. If you are coming from a well managed marina in the U.S. beware for a price shock.
We are documented at 43’ but I don’t know if that even figures into the equation at Marina Coral. I blindly pulled into this marina last night thinking that other friends have stayed months on limited budgets so the cost must be reasonable if not cheap. Discussing pricing this morning with a neighbor, I found out he was paying about $400 and change a month (cheap) for his Tayana 43 (another 43 foot boat). After breakfast I strode up to the office and was met by a very nice young lady. She checked us in and then handed me the bill for 2 nights. I reached for my credit card prior to looking at the bill. Although my eyesight is not that good anymore my peripheral vision is not bad. $239.80 was the number that was registering before I took a final verifying look. I had to ask that young lady if that was dollars as $239 pesos seemed a bit low but I was willing to pay just the same. She confirmed it was U.S. which was when my mind started to catch fire.
Marina Coral as stated in the earlier front page update has a very nice staff, but upon greeting the morning you will find just an average dock splattered with bird droppings, but without the amenities that we find in other high end marinas localized covered trash containers, recycle bins, wide fairways (to turn your boat around in), real high speed internet and reverse osmosis water that is purer than all US city water. It is just an average dock, in an average town close to the border.
I asked about the monthly rate for our boat when presented with the $239 bill for two days and was told the price was approx. $500 per month. Ok how about 3 days? $250 was the answer with other prices for one week and three week stays, why then the super high price of over $100 per night, I don’t understand. We were shocked by the $80 per night in Cabo San Lucas when we paid at the beginning of the month, but hey, it is Cabo, the water is clear and clean, the town is rocking and you are staying at a dock with other boats costing and average of 3 million dollars each, ok we can live like rockstars for a while in Cabo. $100 per night and I get the outskirts of Ensenada, opaque water and 2 free drink coupons (I think the girl at the desk felt sorry for me). I don’t think so.
Anyway we paid for the nights stay we already made (we came in at midnight so I guess we got our 8 hours of sleep. I thanked the young lady and apologized for venting in front of her. She is just the messenger and I think we left as friends. I will say that there are two other marinas in Ensenada (Cruise Port Marina and Baja Naval) that may have better pricing, call ahead or take your lumps, we are heading to San Diego and $40 per night slips tonight…So long Mexico, we will miss your anchorages, people and customs, we won’t miss your misguided marina management costs. See you in the U.S.A
Don’t know, things just happen: October 12, 2013
There was a point a couple of years ago that I would have sold Beyond Reason for $1. It was a brief moment and lasted less than 24 hours but in truth we would have just let her go. Today I am not quite at that point but my frustration with this trip is beginning to build.
Several of the issues we have had with the boat over the last month and nearly 800 miles of this trip we knew about and addressed when the time seemed right, others have been complete surprises and under normal circumstances would have been handled when we hit a marina with proper facilities to make the repairs. The water pump fits this category as does the alternator. Both of these items could have been left for a couple of days of easy sailing to the next port. Other issues are annoying and just part of the “cruising lifestyle”. Broken clamps, leaking oil, injector leaks, clogged fuel filters on the cabin heater and leaking water pumps are all in this category.
Today while dealing with the leaking oil filter we discovered that the fresh water pump was dripping just a drop of water every minute that the pump was running. This could have gone on undetected for years, but I just happened to be in the engine compartment working on oil while Lisa was pumping the tanks dry filling the kitchen sink with water. I just added it to the list of mounting issues I was supposed to deal with this morning.
It was cold this morning and Lisa thought we should start the diesel heater. I was thinking the same but I thought 3 hours earlier would have been more appropriate. She installed the little Charlie Noble on top of the heater flue and we started the diesel pump which feeds the heater. Of course it has been a year since we last used the pump and heater so feeling neglected the heater decided it would just not allow the fuel to enter the combustion chamber and a new issue was put on the list; clean out diesel heater fuel lines. I still hadn’t completed my oil filter task (which I really should have left till Ensenada) but I tackled these new issues and got them out of the way by 9 AM. I soon completed the oil issue and well and even though we made a pretty big mess of the engine room, kitchen and saloon, it looked like a good fix.
The ultimate test is always to run the engine. I prefer to have a beer first on most occasions, as when I start the engine or test my usual fixes, I am mostly depressed as I usually have to re-repair the fix yet again so the beer gets put off till the next day. It being only 10 AM, I drank my coffee started the engine and surprise, everything looked good, well almost.
Our exhaust manifold, water jacket, heat exchanger has leaked minute amounts of water for years. It is a fix that we have actually known needs to be addressed when we get back to the states. Most likely it will take a custom repair as the chances of finding a Chrysler Marine, 1979 Nissan exhaust manifold are pretty slim. When we left La Paz it was leaking a drop or two each time we ran the engine. Today when we tested for oil leaks it was leaking pretty good. I am quite adept at procrastination but when something needs to be looked at I can become a regular man of action and so I thought I would just see if the nipple that was leaking could be loosened and a bit more pipe thread tape applied to keep the leak at bay. Unfortunately, I also knew there was a chance that the manifold nipple had rusted through. A light touch of the wrench proved that my second theory was actually true and we had a new, big, big problem on our hands.
A manifold is critical to the engine running and with the nipple broken off we absolutely cannot move the boat under engine power…think, think. We have a product called Marine Tex on board. It is an epoxy and is suppose to be for this exact type of trouble. Unfortunately I do not have faith in miracle products but after telling Lisa about the issue, we went to work by actually reading the instructions for Marine Tex and then duplicating the instructions on the engine. 2 hours later we have applied the epoxy like material to the fitting and the stub of the old nipple. For those with a little experience there are no threads left or exposed, just a gaping hole in the manifold which the old fitting kind of fits into. We have mounded up the epoxy on the fitting and the clean manifold and are hoping for a good seal. The good things are that the fitting is not pressurized as it is on the salt water side, and it is easy to work on so we believe we ended up with a very clean, well sanded substrate to adhere to. We won’t know till tomorrow afternoon.
With just 110 miles to go till we hit Ensenada we are hoping we can get 24 hours out of the repair. That will get us to an area where we can have the manifold removed, rebuilt or replaced. Heck the boat could sit in Ensenada if things were really bad. What we want to do is get to someplace that has a marina. San Quintin is wild. There is a town here and in a worst case scenario we could probably get somebody to come out and take the manifold back into town. The problem is that “town” is about 10 miles away, the anchorage blows 20 plus every day and staying for a week or two would certainly create havoc on board. 24 good hours is all we ask out of the little miracle product.
Now I just need to get to my last projects for this day, diving and diesel transfer. The diving is not diving for fun, but rather diving to clear off the prop which got fouled yesterday on kelp. This was a whole other issue that was addressed on the main page. As much as I like diving I only have a 1/8” wet suit so this will be a rather cold dive in the 61 degree water. Luckily we have warm showers on board and of course I have 36 gallons of diesel to transfer from the temporary storage tanks near the front of the boat to the main fuel tanks in the back. That should reheat the ol’ core temperature!
Other than that all is good. When the manifold is rebuilt/replace we will have just about re-fit the entire engine so another 10,000 hours is probably on tap, until then we are crossing our fingers.
The underway refit continues: October 2, 2013
“Yep, every one of the gauges is dead” I yelled to Lisa. We had just left San Carlos after spending the better half of a week waiting on the water pump to be rebuilt. We were barely 1 mile from our last anchorage and already we had more gremlins to deal with. I did a quick check of connections but it appeared that a fuse must have let loose as none of the gauges were working (tach, oil pressure, water temp, water flow, engine run time). We thought about stopping the engine and restarting it but had second thoughts thinking the ignition switch probably did not have power either.
After dropping the hook we quickly located a blown fuse in-line with the alternator and replaced it but that did not solve our problems, so we dug a bit further and located a single wire that has disconnected itself from the main gauge distribution panel. After quickly “reconnecting” all the gauges sprang to life and we were ready to roll again, or maybe not so quickly. In a stroke of Novak we checked some of the other systems just to be sure everything was going as planned and wouldn’t you know it the alternator had quit making juice so we were slowly sucking the life out of our batteries.
I am just a little bit ahead of myself here so before you think that all this good luck of finding problems while at port was a good thing, let me back up to through the previous four days.
My silent impatience has been slowly running out. When you talk with mechanics you can become so excited that they are doing the right thing for you that you forget that they are also squandering the time that you worked so hard to capture as your own, away. Thus is my dilemma with Hugo. On the front page you would have learned that Hugo is a mechanic for a small fleet of Sardine boats here in Puerto San Carlos. Apparently his boss does not mind that he moonlights as a part-time yacht mechanic as well. When we first met him we were awed that although he did not have time to work on our boat that afternoon, that he would report for work at the unbelievable hour of 8 AM the next morning (Saturday). I know, I know, we have had only one mechanic in 3 years who ever showed up on time and early, but then again Colin was not really a Mexican, he was Canadian and he never worked that early anyway, he just wanted the free coffee. Regardless, we’re believers and were up and ready for him the next morning.
Hugo showed up around 4 PM the next day and quickly figured out the problem. I am always happy when a mechanic can describe what they think happened and it concurs with my own thoughts or experience, so when he detailed the issues and said he could have the pump back the next day I was satisfied that we had a good mechanic and our time and money would be well spent. How quickly I forget that he failed to show up on time.
Today is Tuesday. I am a bit concerned because none of the Sardine boats are at the dock, Hugo’s phone is on call forwarding and his helper came to pick up the pulley for the pump yesterday and said they would return in two hours. To complicate matters my attitude of believing that most people are good in the world let me hand over $300.00 US to Hugo to complete or at least we think to complete the work. I am not in the slightest suggesting that Hugo skipped town, it is just that I know better and should have paid ½ up front and the other half when the job was completed to try to get a little priority built into the project.
Our weather window is starting to wane. Today and tomorrow are the last full days we have of great weather up to Punta Abreojos. My guess today is that that weather window will dissolve and we may be here for another couple of days after the fix is finally completed. On our side is that the weather is changing for the better and the longer we wait in the season the better our bash will be but Lisa, Sparks and I are getting antsy to move on. On the bad side is the fact that even though the weather is near perfect in the bay it is hard to enjoy it since we are tied down to the phone. The cable/Mechanic guy said he would call before he came so we don’t want to cross the bay to the nice beaches when there is no cell service there. Additionally if he did happen to show up today say around 4 PM and we had been at the beach all day we would be too worn out to leave anyway, so we sit, and nap, and worry that he is on a Sardine boat that may never return.
While waiting for Hugo we have completed a couple of more boat projects. It seems that Beyond Reason is just looking for any opportunity to sink and the toilet has been the most recent item to try to take her to the bottom. The water inlet gasket on the toilet was leaking a bit and like all our leaks if given a couple of days we are pretty sure the leak could have filled the bottom of the boat. We did have a rebuild kit for the toilet as well so that project was completed this morning. Additionally, although not an official leak, Lisa discovered a split hose clamp yesterday that was associated with the raw water system. That one could have been a big issue had is actually let go while underway as “when” the raw water pump functions it might circulate 10 gallons a minute through the system. It was another quick and easy fix but I have to say I am surprised at the number of stainless hose clamps that have failed this year. I don’t know if it is the humidity or the age but these clamps are only lasting about 5 years before letting go.
With the exception of these small items everything else is working mostly like it should on board. The small frustrations are making it easy to want to get back to the states but if I had a better memory I might believe that at home getting this raw water pump rebuilt might have taken a full week to complete by a shop in town. The only difference would have been that they would have either projected a full week, or would have told us they would call us when it was done, I doubt it would have been done any quicker, then again I don’t know when the sardine boat is returning either.
Turns out Hugo showed up around 3 PM. This was good news as we would get a good start on the 190 mile journey to Abreojos. The other good thing was that my second guessing of only giving Hugo half the money to help speed our project along actually was just that, me second guessing myself. Turns out I only “DID” give him half as he wanted another $300 U.S. for the completed project. With the exception of the rigging this was the most expensive project we have done in Mexico. I will say that the pump does work well and somebody had to remake the main pump shaft as the old one is sitting on my desk with scores and gouges along its spine.
With the payments made Hugo left and we were ready to start the journey. As you read at the top, we had a bit of a false start. After 30 minutes of hunting and thinking we completed all our fixes and that did include the fix on the alternator which was just a loose connection that Lisa hit while trying to clean up the engine the day before.
Epilog: After our second start we completed a very nice trip to Abreojos without incident. Well, almost without incident. We pulled in last night to a bay completely ringed in lobster pots and tuna pins. We were kind of lucky to have aroused a pangarero who helped us find a nearly empty spot without pots or pins. The only trouble is that the area is over ½ mile from the beach and the boat incessantly rolls from one side to the other, no trouble, we are sleepy and will rise tomorrow morning early for the next leg of the trip which should put us in Asuncion Bay by cocktail hour.
Must be purgatory: Sept 16, 2013
Editors note: Just prior to sending this update Lisa noticed the boat was sinking. It turned out to just be a hose clamp on one of the raw water lines to the generator but it took a bit of time to replace due to the tightness in the generator compartment. The boat is dry now, and really we might have continued to leak for quite some time before our feet got wet but all the same, just another day in Paradise. We did make it out to Lovers beach also, just a little too crowded for us to enjoy, can you imagine why (look closely at the below picture)?.
I have entered into my own personal purgatory this week. As we already explained on the front page we tried to move up the outside of the Baja late last week. There is a saying about trying to start a voyage on a Friday but we ignored that since we started our voyage from La Paz really and this bit about rounding Cabo is just a continuation of that journey, or so we thought. We could have shortened the trip by turning around when the weather just didn’t seem to want to let up, but my wife is determined sometimes and pushes me to my limits whenever possible. I don’t take that as a bad thing. I have accomplished a lot of things with her insistence and really am grateful that she doesn’t get all pissy every time she pushes and I react. Instead she just pushes again and before long I submit and together we get things accomplished. Last week we accomplished an additional 20 miles in some pretty sloppy seas that we had to ultimately retrace, but on any given day we could have just broken out into nice weather, so no faults given here.
Being back in Cabo we have been watching the weather pretty carefully. One of the Guru’s of the Baja Bash (the pet name for travelling up the coast), says that fall is the best transit time for “Bashing” and the first 150 mile leg is usually the nicest once you get around the cape. Well we laid that to rest last week as we definitely made it around the cape, but the weather never did get nice. I do have to add that in my own experience of transiting this coast twice I had yet to see any wind over about 5 knots in this area until last week. So we watch the weather. Most of the reports are changed on a daily basis so when we see a weather window that is two days out, by the next day it changes and the weather window moves out again. Today, Monday, we are looking to depart on Wednesday. Yesterday we had a window for today but the winds have been blowing all day in the bay to about 15 miles per hour. Not bad but the cape generally adds 10 to 15 more MPH to the prevailing winds in this bay and all the forecasts are showing winds near 20 knots along the whole coast, doable, but not likely for us.
Yesterday and today I have been fighting the computer blues. Two Saturdays ago we had a rainstorm and somebody had forgotten to close all the hatches. My trusty and dusty old computer probably enjoyed the rinse down that it received for a while but since we didn’t return for almost an hour after the storm the half cup of water that remained in the old steam powered CPU probably brought on a cold or seizure and some of the parts are still being effected today. The biggest issue should have been the keyboard but I have overcome that by using the on-screen keyboard and pointing and clicking with my mouse. What surprisingly became the overhanging issue has to do with the sound board. Our ham radio email requires the use of the sound board and a couple of headphone connections. Those are not working correctly.
We have a backup computer that I am using now. The trouble is my ham email program is not working well with the new computer: yet. I have spent 2 days downloading Window updates (108 in all) so you know it has been a long time since we fired this computer up. Unfortunately we needed the vast majority of those updates to be loaded and applied before we could finally get a solid internet connection via cell phone (our modem of choice). Until then I was at the mercy of stealing signal from one of the local bars 500 yards from the boat. Slow does not begin to explain the download speeds. We are still installing updates now but I have been able to contact the Ham radio folks to try to figure out the issue with that challenge. Unfortunately I have to join a Yahoo group so somebody might help with the Ham issues. I am now adding that to my wait since I need to be approved before they will let me join. Nothing moves fast enough here in Mexico. I expect once my downloaded updates have all been installed the internet will improve and my acceptance into the fancy Ham radio club will be approved. Somehow I have a feeling I am just not clicking the one button on my screen that probably says “Let your computer fix your Ham issues”, but I won’t know that till I talk to the exalted ones at the Ham Club. Certainly my 24 hours of internet purgatory will be solved in about 1 minute; I just don’t know which minute that will be. Chances are we won’t even use the email between here and home, but you can’t be too sure.
The good news is the weather in the Bay of Cabo San Lucas is very nice. Mid 80 degrees, warm and clear water and everything on board is working correctly. So what to do while we wait on weather and “Acceptance”. We should launch the dinghy, but honestly it becomes a bit tedious undoing all the ropes that hold it to the front of the boat, dropping it over the side, adding the engine, and then seeing a weather prediction that says to put it all back together tonight so we can leave in the morning. Of course in the morning the prediction will change and we will do it all again. Oh we will do it anyway. If not for my sanity from Lisa’s pushing, but I won’t like it till I start the dinghy engine. There is absolutely nothing I like better than the feeling of the engine churning and my little dink taking me somewhere, anywhere.
75 updates still need to load, it’s twelve o’clock and I should probably do something. Up in Escondido I might be thinking about going to the Palapa of Knowledge, but hear in Cabo things are a bit different. The Palapa of Knowledge in Escondido is just a group of plastic chairs set outside the local Tienda (Stop and Go, 7/11, Quickie Mart). On a daily basis some of the cruisers who are either waiting on parts, bored with their lives or looking for a bit of juicy hearsay gather at the Palapa to have a couple of cold drinks. In Cabo, since we don’t do much drinking at regular establishments, my entertainment is to “Listen” to the daily Wet Tee Shirt contests going on over at the beach. I usually have a coldie in my hand, but Lisa steers me away from the Binoculars. It’s a worthy endeavor but I imagine the dinghy will be calling by that time and perhaps a trip over to Lovers beach will be the order of the day. When we come home perhaps we will only have another 30 updates to load and with any luck the Board of Trustee’s for the Ham Radio group will have had time to meet, discuss and approve me. I hope I don’t have to put in an appeal.
I am looking forward to the commute but right now I got to get that coldie as the DJ is asking for volunteers.
Are they boxer shorts, or boxer panties? 17, August 2013
It has been a busy and somewhat strange week here on Beyond Reason. I believe I have received my last haircut from the shaky handed barber with an affinity for Unicorns in Loretto. He is really a nice guy and for about $4.50 U.S. I always seem to come away with a pretty nice shearing. It is surprising though as the guy’s hands shake so much, I am just thankful that the clippers are sharp.
Lisa and I have said our goodbyes to a number of friends that we have either known for a long time or have spent a good amount of time with in the last year and a half. We have also said goodbye to people that we may have met just once in all our Mexican travels but now want to have one Sun Downer with us before we leave. I don’t know if we have become mavens or if people are just asking us questions about everything Baja. In any case we are passing along a lot of information that we have taken for granted that just about everyone knew, perhaps not.
Our diving friends have moved north so I don’t know if we will see anymore diving for a while. Unfortunately we lost our two tanks in Z-town a few months ago. Lost may not be the right word, they just wouldn’t pass the hydrostatic pressure testing so we left them with the dive shop. Anyway, we did get our new underwater camera and are trying it out with some free diving and snorkeling. We have a bit of time to go before Steven Speilberg needs to worry about our re-make of the Titanic.
The job hunt has been begun and I did get two hits this week. One involved a phone interview with DHL and the other got me an appointment for a telephone interview with Hellman Logistics. Both would be good fits for me, but beings as I am overly truthful on the phone I just don’t know if anyone will take our efforts seriously till we arrive back in the states. Either way I am OK as we don’t really want to rush home and it is good to start thinking about our re-entry into the job market earlier than later. I do have to say that each time we have somebody call with interest it gets Lisa and I thinking about the logistics involved in getting me to the states for a face to face interview which will include hotels, rental cars, suit fittings, shirts, ties and SHOE’s. It is going to get tough.
We discovered or rather recognized a new trend in cocktail wear this week. The people we met were not the first we have seen in the latest garb, but since we have seen the style more than once we have to figure that the U.S. is probably leading the way or the Paris fashion shows are underway again and somebody missed the theme. Anyway, apparently it is OK to wear your boxer shorts almost anytime of day, in public. I had always heard that a cardigan sweater was appropriate for most occasions and you could never go wrong with a black suit and tie, times are changing.
We were invited to cocktails last night. Our host was in “afternoon boxers” when he set the time for us to arrive. His partner was dressed in more fashionable togs that looked a bit more appropriate for guests. When we arrived (fashionably late as usual) he met us at the side of his boat still dressed in the “afternoon boxers” which I guess proves a point that they were in fact “all occasion boxers”, with just one button barely holding the fly closed. The single button could be a fashion play on what we see girls wearing lately; too tight blue jeans with the first button or two undone to allow their bellies a bit of breathing room.
Anyway our host asked us aboard and apologized for not have put on a shirt. Lisa and I did NOT give each other the usual askance glances as we both were surely thinking, we just caught him at an awkward moment and he will pop back up with more civilized clothing soon. With the shirt just barely over his shoulders our host re-appeared with his companion who again was nicely dressed or should I say more historically acceptably dressed, while he still had on the same “all occasion boxers” and the shirt fully open. I’m not passing judgment on the shirt being unbuttoned. I have done so myself and with the temps hitting 95 plus or minus and the humidity just about the same, buttoned or unbuttoned is fine with me, but the Boxer fashion is going to take some time to sink in.
We did have a fine cocktail hour complete with scallop cerviche and some very nice dip and cool drinks. I guess I will just have to find some boxers the next time we are in town if we are going to invite guest over.
Tomorrow or Monday we plan to fuel up for the last time in Puerto Escondido and then travel down to one of the resorts just south of there for our telephone interview on Tuesday. After that we will be on our way to La Paz where we plan to be for the month of September doing some quick repairs, cleaning and even a bit of “adding” to the boats inventory of cool electronic gadgets. It should be a fun trip. About the only thing that could spoil it would be the dreaded “J” name hurricane which still hasn’t shown up. We have been almost two weeks without a named storm. Either the season is ending early or “Ivo”and “Juliet” are going to be doosy’s.
Save room on the freeway for me.
What would we do without Internet: 7, August 2013
We are currently on passage (Passage is used pretty lightly here, as most people consider a passage as a voyage of 3 days or more. We on the other hand consider it anything that requires us to take down the sun awnings) from Loreto to Puerto Escondido. In keeping with our standard of not making this a travel log, I was musing over what was interesting today. We have been in the Loreto area now for about 4 weeks. I would not say that we are cruising at this time but rather vacationing. Seems like a whole different world when you are not going from one place to the other just to see what it is like. Now we stop a lot more and actually take a hard look at the geology, makeup of a town and the nuances that hold a place like Baja together.
In the last week we have traveled up to 2000’ in elevation to see San Javier, the old mission that was built back in the 1600’s by the Jesuit Priests and down to 70’ below sea level exploring thermo-clines, harassing eels and rediscovering the thrill of breathing underwater and walked the hills of Isla Coronado watching birds, listening to Cicadas, dodging spiders, snakes and the shore side stingrays as well as avoiding the barbs, stickers and other nasty things that make you wary of the desert. Unfortunately what has taken up an enormous part of our time has been the internet.
In the Loreto area we can get internet almost every day. Sometimes it is slow and clunky and other times you wouldn’t know the difference between being on the beach and sitting behind a table or booth in Starbucks. Either way it has drawn us in to check
email, job postings, weather reports for the bash back home and other somewhat interesting stuff. I regale everyday thinking about how well we did over the last 19 months in Mexico resisting the temptation to be plugged in everyday. Up until one month ago the only contact with the internet that we had had was when we traveled into a town and found a local establishment that had free wifi, or when Lisa would incidentally hook up to a 3G signal on her Kindle and receive email. Internet was rare and kept us focused on the real reason for being down here: See the country, enjoy the people, explore nature and every now and then throw in a little drama for texture.
Over the last month of course we have deemed our viewing of the internet as required. Heck, how else will we ever find jobs upon returning home and how could we ever expect to make the trip home without exploring every bit of information available on the internet. Our kids must be incredibly smart knowing how much time they spent in their rooms browsing over all the available information.
It must be especially hard for folks to pry themselves away when the weather is not perfect. Luckily we have perfect weather almost everyday but not always. 5 days ago we had a small wind storm that blew through the anchorage at night. It was the night before Lisa’s Birthday and the following morning we had planned a trip on a Rhino. Not a real Rhino of course but a Yamaha 4-wheel drive, Rhino. We had good internet in the morning and we actually had to pry ourselves off the seat, challenge ourselves to find clothes and castigate ourselves for the dismally slow way we brought ourselves to put them on. What we both really wanted to do was sit in the cabin and look at things that seemed just too important to give up. It was a Thursday for God’s sake, what important information is there on a Thursday! The problem was that the waves hadn’t settled down and even though we knew they would (and they did) we wanted an excuse to not go out into the world and make ourselves a part of it. Once we got into the dinghy everything changed. Our morning breath got better, our senses expanded, our sense of humor took back over and when we beached the dink and hailed a taxi, Lisa’s birthday took on a whole new meaning and the day brightened again.
We spent the day exploring dry river beds and taking the Rhino to places that most vehicles could not go. Taking the road up to San Javier in the Rhino actually helped to justify the cost of the rental as most of the road in the canyons that lead to San Javier had been washed away last year during hurricane Paul.
Without the internet I am still able to work on this blog. Even now, with the wind blowing 15 knots through my graying and balding scalp I can plug in the cord and write for entertainment sake while watching dolphins jump through our wake. I wonder how many people wish they had that experience up north. I wonder how many people who started off their cruising careers looking for a bit of adventure and hoping to see wildlife like no where else in the world but are now hold up in their cabins trying to break the grip of the internet. There must be twelve step program somewhere that can help.
In the coming weeks we will be closing the door on the Loreto area. I am reminded that I could do so from the inside of our boat with the fans blowing and a cool drink in my hand but I am lucky to have a fun partner along for the ride and she insists that we go explore the south side of Carmen Island just one more time before we leave. With no internet or other connectivity it looks like I will have to get along with just some engaging conversation, bubbling companionship, a bit of hiking, exploring and most likely some water activities and of course some of the freshest seafood anyone could ever want. Every day that we get out in the open is a new experience and we cherish the diversity.
Now let me get back to the excitement of the Myspace page before my signal drops.
Pur Thoughts: 23, July 2013
When I re-read this excerpt it started to sound a bit like a Sidney Sheldon novel. I thought about pulling it or numbing it down then thought, “what the heck” a little curiosity never hurt anyone.
The morning today started just about like every other Sunday. I was up early and trying to find a cup of coffee. In the back of my mind I was wondering how the radio transmission signals were going to react since we were in a very protected anchorage and many times that means the signals don’t travel as well as normal. The weather was comfortable but then it is nice almost every morning around 7 am.
At 7:30 I did my usual Sunday morning radio net before we ate breakfast. The boat still hadn’t warmed up so Lisa and I started in on another activity. Neither of us were really dressed for visitors so you might not have that startled to hear Lisa ask if it was better for me if she held it while I worked the thingie a bit. When she continued, your interest may have peaked as she asked me to put on my “super goggles so I could see what I was doing”. “If you don’t you could damage it beyond further use” she continued. Of course when an hour had passed and she said it was perfect and not a drop spilled, it could only mean that our Pur Power Survivor 35 water maker was finally completed and working.
When it comes to water makers there are a number of factors that are involved when considering if the unit is working or not. The contraption could be “dead” which means there is no water coming out and something major needs to be done. The water maker could be working as ours was a month ago but putting ten times the amount of saltwater into our bilge as it was putting good fresh water into the tanks. It could also be pumping just as designed but not producing drinkable water, or it could be doing everything correctly and running like a champ.
This morning we rebuilt the pump with the rebuild kit we ordered a couple of weeks ago. Lisa played the manager, parts procurement officer and oversight boss part while I turned wrenches and grumbled when things didn’t quite go correctly. Ultimately we had 4 extra parts but since the instructions left a bit to be desired (like leaving out a critical step that would have had us pulling the entire thing apart again) we figured it had to do with 2 plugs they said “might have to be unseated” but which weren’t leaking so we left them alone.
So with the pump pumping and the water not leaking into the bilge we began to do tests on the flow and quality of the water coming out of the correct ends of the pump. The first check was to see that water was actually being rejected from the membrane of the water maker. The rejected water is the volume of water that does not get converted into fresh water. Perhaps converted is the wrong term since the water is more accurately scrubbed of the salt and minerals via the membrane. Anyway, the reject water flow looked good and Lisa still could not see any errant drips from the newly replaced seals.
The next check was for water quality. Prior to putting the water maker into hibernation we “pickled” the membrane with an alkali solution to keep bad bacteria from growing while we found parts. When we checked the output we were definitely putting out a good quantity of water but it was about 4 times less pure than the CDC and World Health Organization would consider as potable for even the lowest of 3rd world countries. Definitely not what we wanted to drink. After 20 minutes of running the unit to clear out all the alkali we retested the water and found it to be well under what is acceptable for most California City water. They may not sound safe but if Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger say it is good enough for them, it is good enough for us as well.
Lisa did a volume test about 30 minutes later and the volume of water was well within our previous production standards which are close to the manufacturers minimum for the unit so we concluded, “it the minimum was not good enough it would not be the minimum” and we closed the hatch on the Pur water maker for now.
The levity of sweat.
Humidity, I don’t know if I will ever get use to it. Some days a case of cold beer or more can’t even help out. If you live on the East Coast you certainly understand the trouble with humidity but I wonder if you can wrap your head around 350 days of the year being above 80 degrees and humidity levels that more often follow or exceed the thermometer. I’m not really complaining about the heat, I was born and raised for the most part in California, and the better part of my life I have lived in Sacramento where the summer heat rises above 100 degrees on a regular basis…in the summer.
In Mexico the heat is just about constant, actually check that, during our travels in Mexico which include moving south in the winter and north in the summer, the heat is constant. You could plan on just a 20 degree swing in temperature all year long. In my native Sacramento home the year long swing is as much as 100 degrees, from the low 20’s to the highs of 115 degrees in the summer. The only real variance in temperature here in the Baja and Mexico is the water temp. During the winter heat you have to wear a wetsuit to enter the water. My dive friends from California will laugh, but 75 degrees is not comfortable to dive into after you have spent the year basking or simmering in 85 or 90 degree water.
The real problem I have with humidity is that it is confusing. Yesterday was typical of the summer weather we have had this season. With both giant fans going in the bedroom Lisa and I were comfortably sleeping. The cabin temperature was 83 and the humidity was…83, no surprise there. The wind was blowing out of the south at perhaps 5 MPH when we woke. Coffee was placed on the stove as it is every day. When it finished Lisa and I walked up on deck to watch the sun rise and wouldn’t you know it, we were freezing. I pulled our dog skin blanket (Sparky) up on my lap for warmth but eventually went down stairs and changed into my flannel pajama’s before returning. Lisa is a bit more stoic than I and decided that since I had given up the “Blanket” she would just pull it a little closer and endure. The temperature was 84 degrees.
No sooner had I put on my P.J. then I started to sweat. In the cabin where it was 83 degrees, the humidity was surrounding me. I would say pressing as I believe that is the word that folks from the south use to describe the moisture, but to me it just envelops you and it did. I could not wait to get back outside. Outside I was chilled again; there is no happy medium here.
Being pioneers of the new age, Lisa and I both toughed it out and continue to endure the moisture laden air of Mexico. We have been surprised this year by the number of boats that are carrying either factory installed or “Home Depot” style air conditioners on board. Two years ago it was rare to see one on a boat, let alone used in an isolated anchorage. This year when you come into an anchorage you not only have to locate safe holding ground but now you need to determine who is running an air conditioner if you plan to have any peace and quite at all. Perhaps next year everyone will have giant solar arrays, but this year the power source for all the air conditioners is an on deck generator. Generators that run 24 hours a day, air conditioners that run 24 hours a day and people that hide in their cabin nearly 24 hours a day.
Air conditioners are one of our biggest peeves. We constantly question ourselves about why we are down here in Mexico. The cost of living is not much cheaper than the states and getting more expensive every day. The weather certainly is no better than the San Francisco Bay area, the infrastructure of Baja and Mexico is no comparison for that in the U.S., cable television is none existent on a boat unless you are tied to a dock, and fuel, water, good gin and tonic as well as quality meats are in short supply. The reason we are here is because of the incredible natural beauty and wildlife. The quality of margaritas in Mexico varies so badly that you would be better served at the local Chili’s or TexMex restaurant in your local home town, no the only real reason is the beauty of the surrounding sea and country side, so why lock yourself inside a cramped boat all day long reading books and watching TV and hoping against all that is natural that the cool winds of some Chubasco will come relief your misery. If I wanted to be comfortable I would be at home in my own air conditioned home watching the Animal Planet or National Geographic. By all accounts they cover the Baja very well. Actually if you don’t dive on a regular basis they really cover it better than you could ever imagine doing in 10 years of floating around on a boat, 100 years if you are cocooned up all day.
No, humidity is not fun, the sweating is probably good for us, but the clinging moisture wrap that we wear nearly all year long is not our best suit of clothing. It is only when you add the sunrises, sunsets, dolphins dancing in the water, unbelievable colors of the reefs, soft white beaches, warm water, dramatic backdrop of the mountains cascading to the sea and uncommonly helpful people who without resources of their own are more than willing to give you a lift to town, help you gather supplies and ask for nothing in return,for that we will sweat and enjoy it while we can.
Coffee is ready. Today it is 84 in the cabin and 85% humidity, I think I will put on my flannels and take a look outside. Where is my dog skin blanket?
Santa Domingo Spinnaker Rally: 26 June, 2013
About a week ago we had the chance to fly both our spinnakers. We were anchored in Santa Domingo just outside the Bay of Conception and the wind was light and we were not in a real hurry to get anywhere. Lisa loves this type of sail as there is no pressure to change out of her jammies and she can pretty much sit back and relax with coffee.
Once we got the boat off the anchor we pulled up the big red and white spinnaker and began to just sail down the bay. Within minutes the CSY44 True Companion joined us with their spinnaker and a bit of a race insued. Beings that True Companion was an Australian boat we figured we better put on a good show so we began to pull out our mizzen spinnaker which is affectionately called the mule. No sooner did it come out when two New Zealand boats joined in the fun and the race really began to heat up. Not that anyone was going anywhere quickly. We had 5 knots of wind maximum throughout the entire 10 mile journey down the bay. Our top speed just nudged 4 knots but it was enough to keep the two New Zealanders, Entres Nous and Karmaseas off our heels. The Aussies put on a good show and if they had had another 10 miles might have even caught us, but Beyond Reason kept her pace and nobody was able to pass her.
We were very proud of our boat and thrilled to finally have raised both spinnakers at the same time (a first for us). The best thing about the race was for over three hours we never touched the sails. All that was necessary to sail the course was steer a little left and a little right while having a cold beer or warm coffee. It really doesn’t get much better.
The winds of change. 25 June, 2013
It has taken a while for the summer to kick in here on the Baja. When we crossed over last month we thought we would be enjoying 80 degree plus water and very high temperatures. What we actually got was cool 70 degree water (you really do need a wet suit at 72 degrees) and very comfortable days and cool nights for the last three weeks. Only this week has the weather warmed up and the water has become more to our liking and lured us out of the comfort of the cockpit and into its warm wrap around feeling.
Apparently the “fun” gods had been sleeping in a bit late with all the cool weather we had experienced but they are finally starting to rouse themselves and with that the “fun” meter is starting to show some increases.
Just the other day as we were putting down anchor Lisa exclaimed that “The gosh darn windlass switch is not working”, “What” I said, “The FN anchor won’t go down”. “Of course it will” I said. If there is one thing that the anchor will always do, it will go down, even if I have to hand lay it out to do it. I went forward and sure enough the switch didn’t seem to work. Of course being a dude, I was sure if I kicked it enough the switch would turn on and so it did. Dude logic, but the anchor went down.
Yesterday as we came around the corner to Santo Domingo anchorage, the auto pilot decided to have a bit of an apoplectic fit and wouldn’t turn into our anchorage. After dicking with it for 5 minutes I decided I would just hand steer. It was almost like having to drive myself in a car, hated it! We have since determined that either the oil needs to be bled of air or the pump will have to be replaced. We are waiting for re-enforcements before we do anything rash. The Calvary is on its way and should be here tonight or tomorrow.
To really get the fun meter to push into the red our water maker has just been getting slower and slower so we (emphasis on WE), decided to take a little look-see. Sure enough the water maker was “no looking so fresh”. Drips and leaks are a part of the machine. Heck I even showed Lisa in the trouble shooting chart where it said that a little leakage is normal…High pressure technology for you. And how much is a “little”. I drink a little beer on weekends, but I am not sure that everyone would agree it is a little or not. Well, Lisa encouraged me to pull the thing apart to see if “we” could repair it. 12 months ago we did “repair it” with the last of our rebuild kits. We have about 1/3 of the O-rings and assorted gear to do a proper repair, but what the heck; we are just sitting in paradise with nothing to do so let’s just get on with it.
The initial attempt got us no-where but we could confirm that the leak was not coming from the manifold anyway. With the same amount of leakage as before I was sure the “little” that was coming out (about a cup a minute) was just fine and was determined to put the thing to bed and just drink less water. Lisa was sure one more try would help and had I really checked all the seals that we could possibly fix; well, no, not really. I confirmed that we could take a second look in the morning. It was 6 PM after all and we still have a freezer that made ice, and the coke was cold, and we had plenty of rum in the cabinet. She relaxed.
The fun gods being who they are were thrilled to see me get up this morning. I laid out everything like a brilliant surgeon and started my work. I was surprised that after one hour, I hadn’t lost any nuts and actually was able to find a single set of gaskets that just might do the trick. 11 AM and my job was completed, or so we thought. I turned on the water maker and a bit more than a little water began leaking from the unit. I was still thinking it was kind of a large little, but I am not an engineer so instead of worrying about the boat sinking I thought I should check out the volume of good water coming from the other end. Bad news always comes after the little victories, we were getting about 1/3 of normal delivery. With a little more anger I took to the task of removing the pump again, checking a bit deeper to make sure there wasn’t at least one more O-ring that I might have a spare for. I didn’t find any spares but it did look like I might have inverted one of the rings which are concaved on one side and straight on the other. It was a slight correction but I faithfully assembled the pump and put it back into action.
It is at the point that I started the pump, then I got a bit testy with Lisa. She always means well and many of the things she suggests are correct and items that I have either omitted, forgotten or just didn’t know. She suggested that the pump was leaking water and perhaps I should think about it some more and have a beer. OK, proper suggestion and a great thought but ol’ Bill was a bit pissy and snapped. I should not have, and I think Lisa forgives me, but the pump is still not working correctly.
We hope to get a re-build kit from the States in the next couple of weeks. Luckily for us we have no intention of going further north so the only down side is that we will be lugging 120 gallons of water to the boat anytime we fill up. For the cost of the rebuild kit we could fill tanks 7 times before recovering the cost. That would be about 7 months of cruising, don’t ask me why we just don’t de-fragel our world and toss out the water maker. You don’t even want to know the price of a new auto-pilot!
How do you spend time in paradise? 10 June, 2013
We’ve all heard it, whether it was on this website, a travel brochure or from a friend that traveled to Mexico; The people are wonderful and warm. Today we finally realized the translation was “You should meet my Friend/Sister, she/he has a great personality”.
Time management is one of my specialties. If you have read some of the recent posts you will understand that expedience is something that the Dude tries to excel in and even Lisa can attest to that fact that some of our honeymoon festivities did not make the record books for longevity or rather they may have “Exceeded time Expectations”. OK, enough of the fun stuff. Today we are talking diesel and propane. We did not need either, but thought since we were in Puerto Escondido, why not top them off.
We are often on a limited time budget but today we figured we could save precious time later by ordering propane when we didn’t need it and had time to wait and also fill our diesel tanks even though we have only used about 30 gallons in the last two weeks of moving 300 miles. I know, 10 miles to the gallon. Well listen smarty pants that includes all the power to facilitate straightening Lisa’s hair, keeping the shower water warm, cooling the milk and bacon in the frig and freezer and providing the power for the entertainment center on board Beyond Reason. If I were the comedian Tosh O, I would say Suck It. I am not, so just believe me, it is well worth the mileage, we don’t own a Jetta TDI anymore and we know it.
We ordered Diesel on Saturday and dropped off our propane tanks the same day. Since our itinerary was not tight we suggested that Monday would be a good day for the diesel and since the propane farm was not open on Sunday, Monday would work for the propane as well. Both orders were scheduled to deliver well before noon on Monday. What do you think happened?
We do a lot of work for others on the Ham and Single Southbound Nets. Actually we do well over our share of work and monitor each net daily and fill in when somebody flakes out. Monday we were in attendance and watched over a couple of nets. When they finished we pulled anchor to hit the fuel dock so that we could top off the tanks. No Dice, Three power boats had just tied up and even though we had ordered fuel 2 days previous, they were first in line.
We dropped anchor in the bay near the dock to wait. Lisa suggested we dinghy over to the fuel dock and confirm our order. The man at the dock had a very nice ”Personality” and was exceptionally warm and understanding while we called in our order for fuel (previously ordered). He also confirmed that there would be a $34 tax since we were 43 feet long! OK, good looking or not, there is no personality that is worth $34 for 40 gallons of diesel, Sheryl Teigs or not.
We complained, we pleaded and then were sent by the overly nice guy at the fuel dock to the main office to have it all explained again. Did we say Nice Personality?
At the main office we were informed that the tax was correct, but when we explained that we would broadcast the taxing over the Ham and Single Sideband nets, the manager said if we could fuel within 1 hour, it was Gratis/ free, we were happy: Kind of I mean. We left smiling thinking that we had found a loop hole and soon we would have our propane (by noon) and our fuel (by 10 or noon, which ever came first). Ha.
At noon we checked on the propane. Having sat in the harbor outside the fuel dock for three hours waiting for somebody to show up, we figured we might as well check to see if the proprietor of the local grocery store showed up with our tanks . Of course the answer was a courteous “No” ! “Pedro will show up at around 3 pm unfortunately and we know you understand he had an appointment today”. Terrific, how about diesel, Nothing. Everyone continued to smile and remind us how soon stuff would start to arrive.. At 3 PM we were still watching the three power boats tied up to the fuel dock. They were loading ice and drinks but no diesel. Actually there had been no activity on the fuel dock all day so far. Oh you ask, What about the guy in the grocery store with the propane bottle, nothing. Apparently he was 1 hour late but surely would arrive at 4 PM, ”You understand correct”. Prrrumph!
Around 4 PM we saw movement at the grocery store. Our propane had arrived. The three powerboats still sat idling at the fuel dock, no fuel in sight. We snagged the propane from the purveyor of the groceries and high tailed it to the boat. As far as we could see we had wasted an entire day of Manana time waiting for fuel when we could have been enjoying Margaritas on the deck in some secluded anchorage. The nice people of Mexico had made our wait pleasant enough but looking back at the photo’s of the our date with the personality packed step sister of a friend, I am not so sure I really had fun nor am I willing to try it a second time. If I have to schlep fuel from Loreto to the dinghy dock, I will do that, next time.
Does God Hate Mechanics: 26, May 2013
In 1978 I owned a little MG Midget. To me it was a lady killer, but Lisa might tell you otherwise. I am pretty sure she would have preferred that I own a Toyota, Datsun of some other reliable car of some sort. The problem was that MG stands for Morris Garage with the emphasis on “Garage”.
Most of my date nights were predicated on whether the ol’ MG was functioning or in my mom’s garage with the Weber Carburetors off and possible the clutch throw-out bearing being replaced.
Deep in my Teen-age-hood, I met a mechanic who I had taken the beloved MG to. I was making about $3 per hour at the time and he knew it. He took pity on me when I first brought the car in for its first “Clutch repair”. Not to get too technical but the 1972 Midget (can I even say amongst the PC community?), anyway my 1972 “Little People” used a carbon throw-out bearing. I drove in traffic and the bearing was good for perhaps 3 months before being renewed. So as I was saying, I took the car in for the first repair. The mechanic told me to take the car back home and try to fix it myself. Worse case scenario would be that I brought him the car back with half the dis-assembly work completed already. The cost to me would be no more than the original clutch repair would be. Best case, Lisa got a second hamburger and movie out of the deal.
Since then and throughout my 52 year venture on this earth I have tried to fix everything I could with the thought that I can goof up a repair as well as anyone, and in any case it probably won’t cost much more it I can’t get it repaired correctly in the first place. As time went by I made a bit more money and felt that my free time was worth a bit more so I have taken items to mechanics and repair places more and more often; I still know better but I do it occasionally. Our current diesel leaks fall into this type of situation.
We arrived Mazatlan hoping that we would finally fix the last of our diesel leaks. Originally we asked Bob from Total Yacht Works to do the work for us. He came over, looked at the leaks and said no trouble but that turned into a week-long wait and his later decision to not do the work for us. Because of our long history with these leaks and the small number of Nissan SD22’s used in the marine industry we felt we needed to speak to someone with absolute perfect English to solve the issue; we hired Captn’ Rick from Marine Services Mazatlan.
Captain Rich is a nice enough guy and happily took on our dripping problem and a small electrical issue we were having with bow thruster. The electrical work on the thruster went completely perfect and 30 minutes into the job we were complete, hooray.
We completed some yard work (the boat out of the water) and then launched on a Thursday morning. We told Captn’ Rick when we arrived at the marina by noon the same day. His idea was to come out the next day and work the issues. When he arrived an saw the engine his idea of fixing our single injector leak was to recondition all of the injectors…we have money and it is not expensive so OK if that is his suggestion. We had originally told him that sealing the injectors had been the initial problem and after two attempts we had gotten 3 of the 4 sealed. He was not perplexed and moved forward. The injectors arrived from the shop the following Tuesday but unfortunately not the washers needed to seal them. We had mentioned that the “leak down” gaskets had been a problem in the past but I guess it took a reality check for him to believe us. He was sure he could have the washers by 2 pm that day, but it took till Wednesday evening for the washers to arrive. On Thursday he showed up, washers in hand and 30 minutes later the engine was running again for 5 minutes, then it stopped, one of the washers had blown and was allowing raw fuel to spew into the bilge.
Thursday became a throw-away day and we waited for Rick to show again on Friday with new gaskets/washers. When he retrieved the new washers it was late in the afternoon but still they were installed. Unfortunately we could not get the engine to run for more than a couple of seconds at a time after installation. It seems the bleeding of air process was not going well for Rick so eventually he called it a day with a promise to return the next morning at 7:30 AM. I have to question any mechanic coming at 7:30 so I did and soon it was revised to 8:30 AM. On Saturday 8:30 ran into 9:30 and then eventually Rick showed at 10:30. I could have been grumped up but I let it go, it is Mexico.
So Rick arrives and does some quick mechanic magic and is ready to fully bleed the system of air. It took about 30 minutes to get the engine running but it sounded wonderful. Smooth, peppy and ready to cross the sea, save for the 3 new leaks that now sprouted from the engine, Rick looked defeated and it was Saturday and he had payroll to complete. Minutes later he was puffing a trail of smoke rings down the dock with the promise to return between 2 and 3pm. Lisa and I settled into to wait our Saturday out.
By 6 pm my impatience was running thin and Lisa was starting to come unglued at the prospect of waiting for yet another set of washers to be procured and a potential Wednesday departure. It was not a happy night for either of us.
As the night angels came and took my mind from me last night I figured and planned that we could give the washers one more shot since we had 3 remaining from our purchase a year ago. Rick had earlier concluded that the washers we had were the incorrect size and would not use them. It was a rough sleep but by 8 AM I was ready to deal with the issue myself. Our plan was to work one washer at a time and check for leaking. If we were successful with one we would work the others. If not, it was Ricks issue to deal with on Monday and we would just keep quite and find something relaxing to do.
We pulled the first sealing washer to find an unbelievable horror. I attached a picture (above) of our old leaking gasket that was removed months ago during another attempt and the “New” washers that Rick had installed. You will notice our 6 month old used washer ( with 2 small holes) is cleaner, shinnier and more compressible that the “New” washers Rick installed. In all seriousness Ricks washers look like used or run over washers. If you notice the small holes (leak downs), they are not even symmetrical or in the middle of the washer mass which they must be. This was a retarded attempt at fixing a problem on a boat which would have sometime in the near future failed on us. I was beside myself.
In the end we replaced all three of the leaking washers. It really helped to have almost 24 hours to decide how best to install them but ultimately we know that 3 of 4 are brand new washers. We have an additional 8 on order from the USA and will replace the 4th washer in the next couple of months. Today we are leak free, have clean running injectors and fixed a litany of small issues along the way. By Tuesday morning we will be draggin’ lines and killin’ Mahi Mahi for dinner.
Viva Mexico! I hope God hates mechanics as much as I do. I would hate to see him coming down from the heaven in a chariot of flames and dripping diesel.
Drug dealing and other skullduggery: 19, May 2013
We were at the ball game yesterday. For some reason I needed a baseball fix? I am not the world’s greatest fan of baseball but I do enjoy watching the game. If I get really caught up I will keep track of the stats of some of the players but usually this will only happen if the San Francisco Giants are running for the pennant.
We were watching the Mazatlan Tirado’s. In a rough translation I would call them the Mazatlan Marksmen. Kind of a cool name since it does not include an animal name, color or oil field reference. Anyway the Marksmen were the league champions and they were playing a practice game before they left for Ventura, California to play a tournament in the USA.
These eight and nine year old kids were certainly on top of their game. The catcher was giving signals to the picture, the batters were taking signs from their coaches, and Lisa and I were taking signals from the lady selling home made popsicles indicating that we should buy a couple to help support the team. We did what we could.
After a couple of hours we had had our fill of ball. The Tirado’s had won but we kind of knew that would happen in the beginning. The other team which was made up of All Stars put on a good showing but was absolutely no match for the “Men”. We wandered back to the bus stop and then the boat before 6 PM and had our customary cocktails while looking out over the water in the harbor. It was a Saturday night and things were starting to liven up.
A tour boat carrying a newly married couple and all their entourage showed up with speakers vibrating on the foredeck. Several minutes later two more tour boats showed up and since nobody was getting married they had apparently decided that nobody had a reputation to protect or parents to answer to so they put the married barge to shame with hoots, hollers, and half dressed men and women gyrating on the front deck of both boats. Yes the evening was getting interesting.
When the boat disembarked the noise level dropped a bit and we could see the new bride and groom being led around the marina to pose in front of the fountain, beside the blossoming trees and for some reason on the incline of the launch ramp. I don’t get it, but almost everyday people come down to the marina to have Quinceanera pictures, glamour shots and wedding photos taken. They always have to have the bride or pretty girl pose on the launch ramp. Perhaps it is to indicate launching into a new stage of life, a funny metaphor if you think that it could represent a slippery slope or an up hill battle. Any, I think I would prefer something a bit more picturesque than a concrete ramp with skid marks on it. To each his own.
Last week we had a wedding party that lasted ‘till almost three in the morning directly across from the boat. Lisa was complaining about the noise until I told her she was getting old and just didn’t like seeing somebody being louder than she had been in the last three months. This couple must have decided on something else since the area around the boat and the marina went quiet soon afterwards and just a light din could be heard from the few restaurants that dot the harbor. We turned in for an early night about 9 pm. The temperature had dropped with the music level and a little National Public Radio was pulled up on the I-Pod that we keep in the bedroom, “Tranquillo” as they say here in manana land.
It was around 0430 in the morning when we heard the first shots ring out. Four shots in quick succession then two more quickly spaced. This kind of startled us or at least it startled Lisa out of bed. Within a minute there were another four shots then two more. Not sure the reasoning for the spacing but apparently the culprits of the shooting could only count to four then realizing there were still two more shots in their six shooters, fire the fifth and sixth rounds.
By now I was starting to think that perhaps I should get up and see what all the skullduggery was about, but I am a man that does not like to interfere in others cultures so I slowly began to rise out of bed when a 5 second burst of automatic machine gun fire shattered what was left of my tranquil night, I got up.
Lisa and I were both ready to go outside and see what was going on but somehow the thought of our canvass dodger vs. the 1” fiberglass hull of the boat providing adequate cover for us led us to stay inside for while.
Eventually we drifted outside expecting to see hundreds of cops and ambulances converging on the marina, but nothing. The more we waited the more nothing happened till we eventually just let the morning happen as it does just about every day after dawn.
Lisa eventually sleuthed out the information from the locals. Apparently the evil doers were in a shootout with the cops. The guys that couldn’t count their shots were the bad guys. The ones that sent an endless stream of 5.56 caliber rounds back at them were the cops. Cops 2, bandito’s 0
No need to call Judge Judy, the bandito’s don’t need a lawyer at this point.
Slingin’ it! 15, May 2013
The appointment was at 9 AM, we had some trouble with understanding the rules of the haul-out so we arrived at 8 AM to sort out the issues with Groupo Naval. Actually there were no real issues they just needed 6,000 pesos to start the job. Of course we always run around with thousands of pesos in our pockets so the payment was just a matter of pulling out 12, 500 peso bills and the deal was sealed. We feel so rich when we deal in pesos, unfortunately it would take many thousands more to make the final payment and the ATM limits our pesos every day so it will be several days more before we can make the full withdrawal.
A couple of minutes after nine the Travel Lift operator arrived and we were given the signal to bring the boat in. By 9:20 we were tied up on the wharf and ready for the lifting folks to do their magic.
Lifting a boat always feels like a big deal but frankly we have lifted Beyond Reason perhaps 10 times over the time we have owned her and for the most part it is routine. Since we had arrived well in advance of our lifting time we figured all would go like normal and by 10 AM we should be snugged up on stands in the marina yard.
On queue the travel lift moved over us with the slings submerged. If you are unfamiliar with travel lifts they could be described as a type of four wheel crane. It is built much like a box with one end removed and canvass slings hanging from the top. The open end of the crane/box moves around the boat until the boat is inside the box. The slings are then lowered under the boat and lifted again to pull the boat from the water. Our particular travel lift handles approx 50 tons so our 22 ton boat should fit very nicely into its lifting capacity.
The slings were position under the boat in what we remembered as a correct area of the boat for the lift and minutes later the lift began. Lisa was just telling me how nervous she felt when the boat finally began to lift from the water. I told her it was so anti- climatic to me that I never give it a second thought. During this conversation we had been lifted approximately 4’ out of the water with another 10 to go. Almost as if on que from Lisa, the boat took a sudden lurch forward, the head stay slacked and then tighten and almost immediately and the boat dropped perhaps 6” in the forward section. As I watched I notice the 50 ton travel lift nearly compress its huge front tires flat then flung it self backwards enough to lift the tires an inch or two off the ground, then everything fell silent. The travel lift slings had slipped on the hull either from not being properly supported laterally or from poor placement. Lisa was freaking out. I was a bit calmer but concerned and the travel lift operators were all looking wide eyed and concerned.
After a bit of examination the lift continued, slowly and soon the deck of the boat was even with the dock and we were allowed to get off. The boat is now 7’ above the water. After we got off the operators all recheck the slings and for some reason decided the lift was unsafe and dropped the boat back in the water. It’s good to know they had enough since to put it back, but they really could have just placed it in the water with us in it instead of lifting us up on a potential catastrophe just to let us off.
The slings were readjusted and a lift began again. Dismayingly we noticed that the boat was always lifted with the bow lower than the back. Our concern of course is that a sail boat such as ours has most of its ballast in the forward section of the keel. Having the bow nose down just seemed like an invitation for the boat to slide merrily out of the slings and into the water at any chance it had. The boat was again lifted perhaps six feet in the air and then it was placed back in the water and the slings were again adjusted. This time the slings were placed closer together with the most forward of the two slings only at the mid point of our boat. I know this is hard to comprehend, but our boat is 43 feet long. In a typical operation one sling would be approximately 10 feet from the bow and the other about 10 feet from the tail; this leaves about 20 feet in the middle section. This time the operator moved the forward sling 20 feet from the bow, and left the rear sling, about 10 feet from the tail, leaving just 10 feet in between the two straps and nearly half the boat, everything forward of the front strap, unsupported. From what I could see the forward strap would be supporting nearly the full weight of the boat, and the aft sling would just support the boat if the world suddenly did a back flip; I stopped the operation.
I fully believe that the travel lift operators are well trained before getting the job but I had to weigh in on what I was seeing and how I perceived all the previous 10 years of lifting to have gone. Although time was not a problem for us, these guys had been lifting and repositioning slings for 2 hours and the boat was still in the water and now looked to be in a perilous position. I advised the head lift operator what my thoughts were, then told him to proceed as he saw fit while I went to the marina office to draw a picture of the correct way to lift a boat. 30 minutes later the boat was still in the water and discussions were still going on. Lisa and I sat back and watched.
As the noon hour approached the slings were removed from the boat, which was still water borne, and some additional lateral slings were added. The lateral slings would be to prevent the two canvass belts from separating from each other once the boat was in them. The lift was repositioned over the boat again and the slings spread to their widest or longest arrangement. Surprisingly the slings were dropped and positioned 10’ from the bow and 10’ from the stern as I had originally suggested. The boat was lifted without incident and at a near death crawl moved to its position in the yard.
We thought the excitement was through as they started to disconnect the slings but there was still a slip of the slings after the boat was securely on the ground but not yet fully released from the lift. This sent workers scattering from beneath the boat, but again no damage was done except to the lift operator’s ego, since they should have released the tension on the straps equally instead of from the back first. The final bit of fun was when the travel lift operator tore an electrical cable from and outlet and carried it far enough to nearly pull a workers sander from his hands, on the boat next to our, before the lift was stopped.
Just another walk in the sun for us. How was your commute?
It’s a foul world, 28 April, 2013
At 28’ long by 18’ wide, I had passed it before and was pretty sure what it was, Lisa on the other hand was just a bit more curious and wanted to be sure so we asked the hombre that was standing next to the gate and filling a large cooler with beer if it was for “Pollo Box”. Sorry but my vocabulary at the time was just not coming to me but the guy quickly retorted “Si, hoy”. We were elated. We quickly confirmed with a bit more broken Spanish and a confident English version of “Tonight”. Yes tonight was to the night at 9 PM. We assured our new amigo that we would return after we took our groceries back to the boat and walked the dog.
I don’t know how long we have wanted to see a chicken fight but we were really looking forward to this “cultural” experience. As we continue to hear on all the cruisers radio nets, “Remember we are guests here in Mexico so act accordingly, and while their customs and traditions may be different from our own, respect them. But most of all have fun”. There was a fair going on in town so everything felt festive and after taking care of boat business we drove the dinghy back to shore and went in search for some street tacos and local brew. Today, unlike so many others, was going to be a straight up Mexican night without gringo restaurants or influence. We eventually wandered around and came back up to the fight ring. Not really sure if you can call a rectangle a ring but just outside sat that quintessential Mexican cuisine de dia, Tocino wrapped Salchicha’s, or for those with just a English to Spanish dictionary in their hands, bacon wrapped hot dogs. The Mexican bacon wrapped hotdog is similar in emotional delight for me as I think most East Coasters feel about New Castle Hamburgers or Nathans Hot Dogs in the States. You find the stands that sell these beauties all over Mexico and on the right night you might find a stand on just about every corner. The dogs certainly are not healthy. I can attest to always have 2 or 3 even though I know when I get home my stomach will feel upset. Not really a sick type of upset, just a grumbly, what the heck did you do kind of upset. The feeling usually lasts a couple of hours and then everything is fine, but it is just something that you know will happen. Regardless it is but a small price to pay for such a delicious meal. The price is usually fitting for street food and rarely do you pay more than $1 per dog and often you can catch people offering them 3 for $1.
We picked up a couple of heart stopping dogs and then paid our $5 for entrance and a couple of bucks a piece for beer. Our total investment being about $15 for both Lisa and I to attend what in the United States might have cost us 6 month in jail. One of the locals took us under their wings and tried to explain some of the major rules of fighting Gallo’s or Cock Fighting. We understood that the fights would include knives and usually the fight was to the death (usually just one bird, but sometimes even the winner loses everything).
We had about an hour to wait but the beer was cold and of course the hot dog stand was just 50 feet from our chairs so we didn’t mind. There were two teams already set up. I don’t know what makes you part of one team or the other but we sat on the Verde (Green) side, and 28’ away was the Rojo (Red) side. What surprised us the most was that only about 15 others people besides the bird owners were in the stands. Beings that this is a major tradition for Mexico we anticipated the stands would be filled, but not tonight. The ring was lit by a piece of plywood with four of the largest CFL lights we had ever seen screwed into the wood. It is nice to see that conservation is catching on in Mexico even though animal rights are lingering a bit. The wiring as you might expect was suspect but we had the best seats in the house and if an evacuation for fire or explosion would have been necessary we would have been the first people out or the first to be trampled..
Our local friend came by again about an hour into our wait to apologize for the delay in the fight but apparently somebody hadn’t received all the notices and we were either waiting for them to arrive or the stars to align or something. 15 minutes later the Rojo side of the ring picked up their birds and just left. I looked at Lisa and said that something didn’t look right just about the time our friend showed up again and explained that the Red team had left, “well duh”. Anyway the fight would be held the next day around 1 or 2 pm. “Well, we will return then” we said and drifted out into the night enjoying a bit of the fair before heading home and thinking that even traditions are held in manana time..
On Sunday we arose all filled with excitement again about the “Cultural Event” we were about to witness. We arrived early enough this time to drink a couple of afternoon cerveza’s and order a couple of tacos from across the street. The hot dog lady was just outside but even though everything is better with bacon, we had our fill the previous day so today was Adobada Tacos, still a local favorite. The atmosphere was definitely different today and we wondered whether the organizers had just gotten their dates wrong yesterday. Today we saw at least 10 separate teams with 5 or more birds each. The official, Mexican government sanctioned, Corredors (betting runners) who are a bit like Kino Girls if you are familiar with Las Vegas, were in attendance with their bright, starched white shirts and logos. The crowd which started small had swelled to perhaps a couple of hundred folks and left little room to stand in the small arena and even the bingo machine was working to take up the time between matches. You could feel the anticipation and it felt good.
The basics of the match start with the birds being weighed. We don’t know what the weight classes are but most of the matches we watched involved birds in the 2.5 Kilo range (about 5 ½ pounds). The birds actually looked bigger than the dressed birds we see in the grocery store which weight up to 5 lbs dressed and cleaned but Lisa reminded me that most of the grocery bird have been injected with water or raise in closed pens which restricts exercise and puts the pounds on the bird in the form of fat. In any event these are not your standard barnyard chickens. They are mostly leg and their leg bone structure is definitely enhanced to be used at weapons not for scratching bit’s of worm from the barnyard terrain.
Once weighed, the birds are leashed and walked around the ring to loosen up. It a little like one of those dog shows you see on the animal planet: The bird running around the stage with the handler trying to keep the bird under control but keep the lead loose as well. Anyway during this period the owners brings out a single spur or knife, that will be attached to one of the birds’ legs, for inspection by an official to assure it does not exceed a certain size. Once blessed the knife is attached to one of the birds’ legs. We thought the birds would be armed from head to foot but actually it is just a single blade that they wear. The blade is attached to area that naturally has a large talon growing out of it. This talon has been removed somewhere in the life cycle of the bird so the armament must seem like a natural appendage to the bird when it is attached.
The bird owners are involved in each aspect of the fight but they are accompanied by a bird handler as well. To us it really makes a huge difference to have a handler that knows what they are doing. When the matches started both Lisa and I could pick out the winners of most of the matches based on the care the handler took in preparing the bird, tying the knife onto the birds’ leg and encouraging the bird when the chips were down.
You might scoff at the word encouragement or actually think that it meant shoving the bird into an already lost match to try and save face but actually encouragement or the coaching of the bird was so extremely important. We watched several birds that looked total overwhelmed by another’s battle strategy, but when “time” was called, the good handlers could literally breath life back into the bird through stroking, cooling with water and even sucking the nostrils clean so the bird could breath easier. I kept thinking about bird flu, but apparently the handlers where confident in their healthcare as it didn’t seem to bother them. In more than one instance, including one match that we made a polite bet on and were certain we were winning, the badly beaten bird was revived by it’s trainer and ended up winning the match. Coaching was huge and to us costly.
When the birds are outfitted and ready, they are taken to the center of the ring and on a command released. The fight continues until the birds became locked up or one loses. Locking up is sometimes caused by one bird putting the other in a head hold, and others times it can be caused by the actual knife holding the two birds together. In either instance a count of ten is made and then the handlers are allowed to go in and separate the birds before the fight resumes. In the end of course one bird would give in. The winner was the last bird standing or in some instances breathing. We asked our friend if both birds usually died and he said yes, but we later learned that this was not really true. We watched perhaps 10 matches. Of the ten, five birds certainly lived and as a matter of fact were not injured at all that we would tell. Of the five other winners we can’t be sure who actually survived. I did meet an owner while wandering around the ring between bouts. He had one of the questionable birds that had won but who had looked pretty bad about an hour before. The bird was standing around crowing and otherwise enjoying itself save for the large gash it received on it thigh. My guess is about 70% of the winners live to fight another day or go into the breeding program.
The characters you meet at these matches certainly meet with the imagination of most people. My new owner friend, Jose, is definitely one of them. If I had met him some place else I might have either crossed to the other side of the street or called the cops in anticipation of what would come next. At the meet he was filled with good information and as pleasant a soul as anyone could wish to meet. The tattoo’d tear near his eye and spider webs on his arms told me that he might have lived a much less socially acceptable life than I, but we got along well and soon we got into a discussion about the raising of the birds. He said that champion chicks can command about $100 US, and the Gallo with the gash in his leg would bring about $600 if he were to sell it. According to Jose, raising the birds is like owning a dog. You walk them daily, feed them only the best feed and genuinely love the birds as pets.
The birds are only allowed to fight one fight per night, and each owner if given approximately 10% of the betting proceeds from the match as well as the chance to win over $2,000 US if his team comes in first place.
The betting was fun. Lisa and I watched the birds and handlers and as I said we quickly understood who the favored bird in each match was. When we finally put $200 pesos down (about $20 and the minimum bet) we realized that each bet had to have a matching bet from the opposite side. You could bet on either the red or green side and that really didn’t have much bearing on anything, but when you bet on a green bird you had to wait until somebody would take your bet on the red bird or your bet was returned to you. Being first time betters we only wanted to place the minimum bet. We were offered a bet of $300 pesos, but said no and waited for somebody to take our $200 pesos bet. It turned out a nice man that we had spoken to beside us took pity on our cheap bet and accepted the bet for the other side. No money was exchanged till after the match.
Lisa had chosen well and our match lasted about 60 seconds. The guys that took our bet graciously gave up his cash to the Corredor who took $20 pesos for the bird owners and gave us the remainder. We were please to have successfully placed and won a bet even though we were sure the man who bet against us only did it so our bet would go through.
We didn’t bet on the next match though I told Lisa which bird would win. Again not 60 seconds later my bird had won and we were happy that we had caught on to the culture of Mexico. We were ready to leave even though there were many matches yet to come. My mom will likely read this and as an avid PETA supporter she will be appalled that we attended the match. In reality for me, and I think for Lisa as well we didn’t feel that there was much cruelty in the matches. The birds are naturally aggressive towards each other. At no time did anyone have to force a bird to fight, and the rules actually say that if a bird refuses to fight the match is awarded to the other bird. When death came it usually came quickly. Only one match went over the typical five minute rule (there were some issues with the weapons coming loose), if any suffering was sustained it never lasted more than five minutes. I don’t even think that Tyson or Foster Farms Chickens can claim that their pain lasts for less than 5 minutes and there really is no chance of winning a fight against Foster Farms once you enter their ring. I have seen the conveyors that the chickens are attached to when processing.
From what we saw the fighting bird gets extremely good care throughout their existence and the owners really appear to have a great respect and devotion to their bird right to the end.
As we were about to leave out neighbor who had accepted our bet previously asked if we would take his bet on the next match. We hadn’t looked at these next two birds but since the guy had been nice enough to accept our bet we couldn’t turn him down as it seemed like the honorable thing to do while we were in his country. To add to our experience he did not want to use the Corredors, this was a bet between two gentlemen. We had heard this type of betting goes on as well so again we didn’t have any issues. As I eluded to before, our bird this time lost. In the beginning it looked like we were going to win again but the handler of our bird was slow in removing a tangle up with the two birds and I believe that gave our friends bird the chance to recover with the aid of one of the most intense handlers we had seen in the arena.
I gave up the $200 pesos to our friend opposition and thanked him for the opportunity and then we left. Would I go again, yes, would I seek out an event, no. It was fun and an experience that we had never had before. Ultimately it will become one of the memories of Mexico that we will hold on to for a long time.
Personal Issues. 27, April 2013
“Just practice your patience and everything will be fine”. My mom use to say that years ago. It might have been one of the few lessons that I never seemed to learn well. Potentially I am who I am because I never learned the lesson and so when people say I am a Type A personality, I attribute most of it to the fact that I don’t have a lot of patience when things are not done on my timeline. Having worked in the transportation field my impatience has probably helped to speed along a delivery of some goods that you were impacted by in some way or shape. In Mexico perhaps my lack of patience does not serve me quite to well. Lisa will often comment that I am not only short on patience but that my impatience is running thin as well, I don’t know what the next descending patience feeling is after impatience but that is probably my static level on most days.
Today is day three of being in Puerto Vallarta. We have planned to stay till Monday which will be day five so really waiting is not that big of a deal. On day one we contacted our rigger (the dude that puts all the stainless wire on the boat to hold up the masts). We had two items for him at the time. Number one was to check our rigging since it was new four months ago and could have and actually should have stretched a bit an may require some “tuning”. The second item was to take a second look at a quote for bottom paint that he gave us several months ago. It took till day two to tell us that the quote was the best he could do. It was also day two that he was to come to the boat for the rigging but then had troubles at home which he needed to deal with so that got delayed. This morning at 9 AM we were to pick him up from the dock to come take a look at the rig.
Lisa and I have had a terrible time with working out the Daylight savings thing that changes our clocks almost a month ago. The sun doesn’t set till almost 9 pm here, so dinner is usually late and bedtime is even later. When the sun finally does poke its head above the hills at 8 AM we are just beginning to stir up the dog, make coffee, turn on the daily boat news and generally start out day. Around 11 AM we are ready to run errands, or at least that is how our typical day goes. This morning everything got turned around as we tried to make a normal day out of being ready by 9 AM. I know, most of you are thinking 9 AM; I have already gone to Starbucks, dashed through traffic and opened up Facebook on the company computer by that time. Sorry, it is just the way things go around here. I am no stranger to early starts but when in Manana land you have to do as the Mananan’s do. Somehow we got bamboozled by a rigger that though he could break the mold and be to work by 9 AM. No dice.
We called the rigger about 9:05 AM (I told you I was impatient). I swear I could hear his serape fall off his still prone body when I asked what was up. He of course tried to lead me to believe he was in Puerto Vallarta (perhaps at the marina) but when you hear the bathroom door close behind the person on the other side of the phone I was sure he meant Nuevo Vallarta which is where his home is located. He said he would be here soon but he would call on the radio, of course he would. Its 11:05 now, no radio calls.
With 2 more days of waiting on weather windows you would think I might be OK with waiting; not so much. The problem with waiting is the same one you have when you want your cable fixed, your tires rotated or Double Mocachino, half and half, latte Veinte for your morning commute. It is going to get to you in the next couple of minutes but you crave your free time and that does not include waiting for some Yo-Yo to finish his breakfast, the car in front of your or even to empty the espresso cup and fill it with fresh beans, they all should have thought ahead when they saw you coming. Nope, I want my free time as well. Waiting on the rigger is no fun. I could be on the beach, at the internet café or spending time irritating my wife, but instead I wait.
I am running out of impatience.
Shades of Samuel Langhorne Clemens.. 18, April 2013
“Why don’t you just go shopping and I will polish the boat”. Yup, Lisa was in one of those moods again. Other men could be daunted by such directness, but not me. Yo Ho Ho, 3 bottles of rum…. oh, 2 cases of beer, Limes, tonic water, eggs, butter and shrimp. Just another day of shopping on board Beyond Reason. The Sailors life for me.
The only discouragement I have is that we have switched out the big outboard for the little 3.5 Nissan that has been dunked in the sea more times than we can remember and abused like Linda Blair’s rag doll during the filming of The Exorcist. Dog gone if this shopping trip could take all day and I will be missing out on Stainless Polishing. Geez I feel like Tom Sawyer. Don’t think that we have run out of Blue Jobs for me to do, I am sure I can still find some but I did get the main engine running flawlessly yesterday.
We had been having trouble with the engine coming up short in revs by about 500 RPM’s. This may not sound like much but it is the difference between traveling at just under 2 knots or booking along at nearly 6 knots. Either one is still just faster than a quick jog but when the weather gets bad or nightfall is just around the corner the difference could be several extra hours at sea when we would rather be in bed or watching the sun fall below the rail from the front porch.
The fault of the diesel did not turn out to be any of the big issues I had told Lisa might cause the problem. We had spent the night discussing everything from the engine governor to the main fuel pump or even a lost cylinder. As usual the project kept me from getting a good nights sleep so at 6 AM I started disassembling the boat to find torque wenches, sockets, filters, leak-down gaskets, fan belts (might as well replace these while I am already dirty, greasy and cussing), and a light. Lisa was not up yet so I was as quiet as I could be when I pulled the settee away from the engine and started working on what would be the least difficult task that might fix the issue: Fuel Filters.
We had changed the primary filter just a couple of weeks ago but the secondary filter had left alone as we usually don’t bother with it until we see 100 hours or more on the engine. The secondary filter is a little more involved as it requires bleeding the engine and usually a good amount of diesel spilling into the bilge which ultimately has to be soaked up (preferred) or washed out to sea (not really in the interest of being Green), so we look for a good harbor when ever we do this filter.
I inspected the filter when we got it off and to me this did not look like the cause of our trouble as the filter we were using looked cleaner than the new one I was installing but the job went easy enough with the help of a full roll of paper towels. Before I started the fuel system bleeding I figured we should try to finally fix the slight diesel leak we have had since February of last year on the #1 cylinder. This involved replacing the leak down gasket that we ordered and installed last May at a cost of $0.50 each plus $100 in shipping costs. At the time we had 4 leaking gaskets but were able to seal up 3 with the first try. As we pulled the fuel line from the #1 injector I did notice that there was a small amount of air just under the joint we had disconnected.
The thing about diesel engines is that the smallest amount of air can keep fuel from getting to the combustion chamber. During our last filter change we were sure everything was clear, but then again it could have just been that for the last 20 miles we have been running on 3 cylinders as we never pushed the engine since Manzanillo.
Once the gasket was replaced I called Lisa to help with the bleeding. If you are not familiar with bleeding a diesel it involves opening up otherwise good connections throughout the fuel system and then sending pressurized diesel down the lines to purge even the smallest amount of air from the system. This is not really a difficult job but again while you wait at each connection for the last air bubbles to pop out you are dribbling diesel all over the inside of the bilge. We got the job done and surprisingly the engine started right up and after a brief warm up we threw the throttles forward and the engine cranked up to nearly 2,100 RPM’s which to us is 100% of what we expect from it.
We celebrated with breakfast and then I pulled and replaced all the belts on the engine so I think most of our periodic maintenance is done for a while. The old belts looked good but the last time we thought they were in fine shape we nearly overheated the engine, so an ounce of cure for us this time.
Well I guess I need to get rolling along so I can make it back for cocktail hour. We should be out of Bara in the next week. We are in a hurry to get North because of the promise of good fishing and clear water, but with water temperatures in the mid 60’s up North the hurry doesn’t have to mean now either.
What it really means. 22 March, 2013
The other day my friend Paul from the boat Grace was telling me about his blog. I had mentioned how proud Lisa and I were for having reach 10,000 hits last month after just a year of having the new site up. Paul countered by telling me he had over 20,000. Like most guys I am competitive, and in that competition feel that my writing and website content are up to par with at least some of the better writers doing free blogs. I am not saying that I think Paul is a lesser writer than I, but he hasn’t written in about 4 months yet still gets hits.
Lisa and I try to keep things fresh on the site. We don’t rely on photo’s to make up large amounts of content but instead like to give you the 1,000 words that a picture is said to contain. Of course this is good for you the reader at work since your boss doesn’t know if you are actually reading a tech manual or if you are skimming time from the clock. If we clustered the site with pictures you would have to look over your shoulder most of the day and if Lisa was wearing another stunning bikini somebody would certainly accuse you of looking at porn. Anyway I am diverting from the actual subject that I started with and that was how the heck does Paul do it?
We are new to using tags. For those that are in our category, tags are key words that the internet looks for when you look up a website. If for example you were looking for mating habits of the East Tibetan Silk Worm, you might enter those words in your browser. Assuming I tagged one of my posts with Little Worms or Eastern Mexican Toilet habits, you would most like see our website come up near the top of your search. You wouldn’t find anything about the Tibetan Silk Worm, but you might see a post about maggots or out houses in Eastern Puerto Vallarta.
My friend Paul apparently is smarter than we give him credit for as he does use tags to his advantage. During our conversation Paul mentioned that he tagged one of his blogs with a pharmaceutical name of some sort. I don’t know if it was Viagra, Cialis or something to do with heart medication but apparently he picks up hundreds of hits each week because of the tag. He swears he only has two readers that actually follow him and Judy, but this little bit of insight certainly made me rethink how impressive 10,000 hits really were or in this case really are not. I am going to have to go back and be sure I haven’t’ tagged our site with words like Male Enhancement, Pintrest or Anime (all the geeks love these cartoons), unfortunately we can’t stop putting in the Sparky’s name into the blog and that most likely gets the most hits of all.
Come to think of it, Sparks writes just about as much as Paul does. Perhaps I should take a hint.
It’s all possible. 19 March, 2013
“Well, anything is possible in Mexico; you just need to know how to do it”. The words were music to my ears. Having been in Mexico and looking for obscure boat parts, peanut butter, dish soap that actually cuts grease, real bacon, anything other than Turkey hot dogs (really, I have heard that the US uses more turkey than any other nation but in Mexico, if you want ham, chances are it is turkey ham, Bacon is mostly turkey bacon, hotdogs or lunch meat is again turkey, it’s amazing there is not Pavo (Spanish for turkey) that is flavored as broccoli) and Secret deodorant (“strong enough for a man but made for a women”, and this cowboys favorite), I know most anything is possible. Be that as it may, we still can not find Bug Bombs, fine thread SAE bolts, Padron cigars, tomato paste or parts for a US imported Yamaha engine. There are other items we are missing but we don’t crave Triskets, Oreo Cookies or Cheese Wiz so we have soldiered on.
Lisa and I woke up very early yesterday. We had rented a car from Manzanillo to take Lisa to the airport in Puerto Vallarta. Chances are that the plane fare from Manzanillo to San Jose, CA would have cost less than the combine cost of the car, flight and bus fares that I paid yesterday, but in the grand scheme of things we thought there might be a possibility that I would bring the boat up to Puerto Vallarta while Lisa was gone. Chances are slim but you can never be too prepared.
To help make the decision easier, Lisa is bringing the failed Garmin GPS unit back and Mexico makes that just a little bit more work than it would have been in the US. Part of the requirement to bring the item up to the US and then exchange it for a working part to bring back to the boat is to have the old unit inspected by Aduana (Mexican Customs). The work with Aduana is actually easy. Finding an Aduana agent to help you is the tough part.
Puerto Vallarta airport is similar to many small town airports: 4 airline docks and one way into the docks and one exit. If you have friends coming you don’t have to worry about them exiting the building without walking by you as the only exit door is the one you will be at. Aduana is located inside that exit door. Airport security won’t let you go “in” the “out” door because of “security” so you have to call, we did.
The Aduana agent that we spoke with told us to come inside and find the special door within the terminal and that is when the fun began to happened. Unlike most US ports which only have the occasional Hari Krisna guys wandering around in their orange pajama’s asking for donations and plunging roses or some other do-dad into your face, Mexico has an actual “Lair de Accosting” or “Tomb of Molestation” which is between the airplane that you just got off, and the Taxi barkers on the outside of the terminal. No matter who you are or how encumbered you are with baggage, no less than six guys will assault you with a pleasant smile trying to get you to come to a 45 minute presentation for their condo/timeshares. Even salmon like Lisa and I who were going the wrong way got side tracked by these guys. All we wanted were directions to door 1833 or was that 4377 (sorry 10 year old boy joke). When we explained to one of the guys what we needed, he was sure what we actually needed was to go talk to the guy from the Mayan resort. He didn’t say so in so many words but that is what we got. The man from the Mayan quickly figured we were not in the mood to purchase a time share. He did try to be helpful but when he explained to a new security guard what we wanted we had to re-explain as the guys Spanish was worse than ours and the security guard could not understand him. When I busted out my excellent Spanglish the idea was conveyed perfectly and we got a resounding, “No puerta 1833”. OK, back to the phone.
Eventually we did hook up with an Aduana agent and 30 minutes later we were free to have Lisa return to the states with our ailing GPS unit. Next stop was INM, Instituto Nacional de Migracion, La Migra as the home boys call it. We have documented so many items regarding our legality in Mexico I dread even bringing up another. The law is the law and as explained before most of the representatives of INM have told us we must fly to the States then can re-enter Mexico again to get a new Visa. This rule has always seemed a little sideways to me. Mexico gets nothing from my spending $500 on a round trip ticket from PV to LA and back to PV just to see the same representative, even on the same day, so I can then pay $230 pesos to re-enter the Mexican country. Lisa eventually found a reason to return to the states and is doing that just now. I on the other hand have tried to work with the guys to see if reason or logic could settle into the situation.
Since there just happens to be an INM at the airport, and our instructions from Manzanillo INM were to see INM when we departed the country to turn in our paperwork, Lisa and I decided to visit the booth. The person working the desk was pleasant and quickly afforded Lisa a new Visa so she could get on the plane and fly home. While they were filling out the form I asked if perhaps there was an additional fee or special program that would allow me to get an extended 180 day Visa without leaving the country. “Well, anything is possible in Mexico; you just need to know how to do it”. “Perhaps I can help you find a way in 10 minutes”. The person was just a bit busy at the time since a new flight had arrived and they needed to stamp in all the Visa documents from the new arrivals. 5 minutes later I was asked to step forward to the empty desk and was explained to that the area was monitored by cameras and bright lights so everything that happened at that desk was watched and very legitimate. I was awestruck and impressed by the formality and quickly acknowledged that it was important to have safeguards like that to keep the country safe. I was then asked if I had money to pay for the courtesy of an extension and if so how much it was worth to me.
We have found flights to the U.S. for as little as $499 round trip. A bus ride is close to $400. Renting a car to the U.S. plus the gas for 3000 miles of journey and a couple of nights in a flea-bag hotel would be over $1000 but the dog could travel with us. When asked a question about what something is worth to not have to hassle packing bags, setting up sitters for the boat and bus travel, I was speechless. I had to ask the agent what the customary fee was in a situation like this but then added that $1,000 pesos would be a bargain but I was willing to pay what ever fee was necessary to be allowed to use the “special exception”.
“How about $1,500 pesos” the agent asked. At this time I was thinking about the cameras. I don’t know if the airport actually watched this agent but I was sure that the agent must have had a camera trained on my wallet when Lisa and I checked 5 minutes ago to see how much we had to pay for any program that might be available. I tried to be cool but actually I think I pulled the money out so quickly that had I been doing that trick were you pull the table cloth out from all your grandma’s good china on a table, I would have been successful. I tried to keep the money from view but the agent did not seem the least concerned. The form was filled out, my passport was stamped and the agent said, “Welcome to Mexico”, not even “Bienvenida a Mexico”, these agents really do know how to make a person feel at home. I don’t even get that type of greeting from the US customs agents when I cross the border. It’s good to be wanted, now let me see about those Padron Cigars!
News from Santiago, Mexico. 10 Mar, 2013
M.W.W. wants time with A.S.S. on beach. If the VHF radio was anything like the Craigs list want adds at home I am pretty sure that is how the print would have come out. It is funny the things you hear on the radio. Lisa and I of course have excellent radio etiquette and would never be heard saying stuff that you couldn’t say in a 2nd grade school room, but I think we share most of that with you on the home page anyway. This morning was a classic.
The funniest part of the radio contact was that we know the people, not well, but well enough to believe that they believe they just might be a notch or two higher on the evolution category than the rest of us “cruising on a budget” types. Perhaps they were really popular in Glee Club or even parleyed that into a being a club booster for their kids football team and then moved on to arranging the company Christmas party, but in any event when you get somebody calling to the Fleet (that is every boat in the anchorage for those who live in Winters CA), that “if anyone would like to meet me at the club for a little chit chat please feel free to call” to me they are either really lonely, i.e. Craig’s List, or they feel they are so important that everyone is just lying around waiting on them to call with an opening in their social agenda.
So the call goes out….silence, for a long time, silence. Damn lady that had to hurt; a prom queen without a court. It could have been that everyone had their radios off, but after a couple of minutes of silence, Lisa and I felt sorry for her and just called to see if she might need a ride in. I tell you we have gotten soft since we have come down to Mexico and just can’t stand to hear of anyone having a tough time.
Turns out she was just trying to fill some idle time, (we could be so lucky!) while her husband was helping another boater out. And here we pile on to her sad state and poke fun. She was even a bit pouty over the radio and said she would just have to go in alone. Not to leave her in a depressed state we let her know that with all the pale Canadian single men and vacationing North Dakota boys down here from the oil fields she would not be alone for long. Tanned, English speaking, lonely women just don’t stand a chance in Mexican tourist towns. By the time we broke radio contact I am pretty sure she felt better and no doubt was looking forward to being a single woman for an afternoon.
As far as we know all went well and we will leave it at that. What goes on in Santiago stays in Santiago I think.
Oh, I almost forgot, M.W.W. wants time with A.S.S on beach…Married White Women wants time with Any Santiago Sailor.
Another Conspiracy. 26 Feb, 2013
Unlike the US Government who along with most of its citizens wants to kick every illegal alien out of the country; the Mexican Government and its citizens appear to want to keep every visitor no matter what their status is and for as long as possible in their country.
Before I go on with this I would like to make it known that I really don’t care much about illegal workers as long as they are not working directly for me. It would be nice if the US eased the worker requirement and allowed these folks a chance to pay into the tax, medical and even the social security system in hopes that they would someday complete the process of citizenship, but honestly I don’t know what the US would do if one day somebody from the Starship Enterprise suddenly beamed them all up and placed them back into their respective countries. Who would fill all the work needs? I have interviewed and passed up so many folks with their 12 years or less of American public education who thought that sweeping a warehouse was an $80,000 a year job that would let them drive a Lexus to work each day and drink Martini’s each night at the Four Seasons. Ultimately we need a lesser class and currently it is being filled by those who just moved into the country.
Mexico on the other hand appears to want anyone who is in the country to stay for as long as is possible and by almost any means. It may be more of State government and citizen conspiracy but I am almost certain it is happening. Today Lisa posted on her Facebook that we were making plans to leave the State of Guerrero. Not 10 minutes later I was going to shore with Sparky to pick up our dive tanks that just yesterday we were told were ready to go. What do you know, the tanks are not ready and the owner of the dive shop said it would quite possibly be Monday (6 days away) before they were ready. Imagine, another 6 good days to spend money in Zihuatanejo. I’ll bet the State of Colima had no idea!
Of course this is not the first time this has happened. When we moved back on to the boat last February we were ready to launch the boat within just a couple of days. We spoke to the yard the day before we wanted to launch and what do you know, the State of Sonora moved all the high tides away for almost 20 days, so there we stayed, on board the boat dilly dallying about and waiting for the 20th day to pass. Of course those 20 days were wasted as we had another 20 to wait when the oil pan leaked on us. Finally, I guess Sonora got tired of us so we moved to the State of Baja Sur were we had another month of waiting for Baja Customs and DHL to deliver our washers. Later in the year we were ready to leave La Paz when suddenly The State helped us develop a broken propane line, a disintegrated engine impeller, a leaking radiator cap and a broken, marine grade raw water line elbow all on the same morning.
Yes the conspiracy is alive and well. While we were in the State of Baja Norte we didn’t develop any issues as we really had no plans to leave for months but as soon as we hit the Mexican State of Jalisco boy did we bring it on ourselves with the Chart-plotter trouble. To this day I believe that all 32 Mexican states are aware that any time we would like to leave they can pull out the Garmin trump card and get another couple of weeks from us.
So as I said, Lisa posted that we would leave tomorrow and head north. Our goal was the State of Sinaloa but apparently Guerrero got a hold of this information from Facebook and delayed our dive tanks by another week. We like Guerrero and Zihuatanejo so I guess we are not bitching this time, but we really would like to make it back to the Sea of Cortez sometime before the beginning of summer. Hmmm shall we surf???
Surfin’ Safari..part 2, 21 Feb, 2013
Editorial note: If you are having trouble understanding some of the words in this read, please reference Riptionary.com
“No, we are going to have lots of fun. You don’t need to think, just relax and you will do fine”. That was the theme for the day as Beto loaded up 7 surf boards ranging from well used to almost requiring repair. We weren’t paying for frills, just a good time and some fun on the ocean and that is exactly what we got. Mexcalli Surf Skuela is the real deal, surf lessons, taught by a guy that surfs almost daily for the fun of it. From the looks of it Beto was going to have his work cut out for him. Lisa and I are not in prime condition and even though the Benny’s looked fit they both we closing in on their mid 60’s. His attitude said no trouble so we all loaded into the van driven by Leonel and headed out to a surf spot another 10 miles away, Salidita.
Our prelim to surfing was to each get on to a land based board and demonstrate that we might be capable of lifting our lard asses off the board at the appropriate time to launch down the wave. I was confident until Beto made me do it a second time. I was sure I toasted the first demo, but when he gave a couple of pointers to be the second time I stepped back into the lineup with a little less smugness and a lot more respect for what our Guru was trying to do.
Looking out at the waves just before entering the water we noticed just how nice the surf looked. I took lessons in Santa Cruz, California several years ago and the surf looked cold and aggressive. Here the water was a nice hue of blue, the waves actually looked soft and the break looked gentle. Lisa had no hesitation to hit the water and prove that she was not only born and raised in California, but also had the makings of a surf chick; OK a slighted aged, bit more soft at the curves surf chick but surf chick nonetheless.
We all paddled out to the surf line with ease. After all we each were well rested, had just spent 30 minutes in an air conditioned van, yes real air conditioning, although on the way home we used the Mexican air conditioning (rolling down the windows and driving fast) because it worked slightly better and it was good to enjoy the fresh breeze coming off the ocean as well.
Lisa was first to go. Beto is a great guy and certainly a gentleman, “ladies first”. Her take-off looked awfully good to me, actually too good as the pressure was on me now. Unfortunately she fell just as she was about to launch into her Spiderman stance. My first take-off did not go as well. Truth be told the next 4 take-offs did not go well for me. Each time my turn in the line up came, the Zen Master would give me another piece of advice. Perhaps the most inspiring was when Beto said, “don’t think about anything, just relax and stand up”. By this time Lisa had dropped into a number of waves and rode them into the beach. The cheering section (Benny wives) all stood for Lisa’s rides as each of us three guys failed again and again. To keep things in perspective though, there was improvement at each of our turns. The trouble was all of us had started from a deeper hole of coordination than Lisa had.
Next up was Tom. The ride was a little rough, but he was picking up fast. I finally got the hang of it around my 5th turn and from there I never looked back, but I should have. Some time during our second hour I had ridden a wave out to the beach and was paddling back. My arms were really starting to hurt from all the quick turns we were making. I was about half way back when Lisa stood up and started shredding her way down a fair sized wave. Of course I was right in her way. I felt like a rabbit in the middle of a crowded freeway as I tried to paddle out of the way but my rubber arms just couldn’t get me to the side fast enough. I would paddle five feet thinking that would give Lisa room, and then she would be five feet closer and still on a crash path with me. I paddled some more, and she would still be on a vector for my head. Eventually she yelled those words that I dreaded to hear, “Cowabunga” and then added a giggle just axed the tail of my board and biffed it. It was lucky she was wearing a one piece suit or I am sure she would have butt breached the pearl she did from the board.
Ian picked up last but made a good effort on his last wave and rode it home. I have to hand it to our teacher. Beto has patience galore and the resolve of a saint. He was not going to let us go home until everyone surfed at least a single wave, even if he had to swim to shore to pull us out.
Eventually Lisa had to quit as she got cactus juiced on her second to last run and bent a finger or chipped a nail and had to go in. I am thinking she was worried as I catching as many waves as she was by now, and if she stopped the throw down via a technical injury she was pretty much assured the adulations of the Benny’s wives, and so she did and so they did. They all called her a flare, and even though I was frothin’ the waves at the end no one paid me any attention until the bar bill came afterwards.
We rode back with Beto in the surf van. He was nice enough to drop us off near the boat and wished us good luck. The last thing he told us was that when we returned, he would still be here, surfing Troncones or Salidita. From what we gather he is in his paradise. Wiamia Bay, Trestles, the Kaiser Bowl or Narrabean don’t hold up to the surf in Western Mexico.
Have a nice commute.
Surfin’ Safari…part 1. Feb 21, 2013
Editorial note: If you are having trouble understanding some of the words in this read, please reference Riptionary.com
You may find humor in this story if I can relate it well enough today. Two Barneys and a couple of Benny’s meet up one morning in southern Mexico. It was not a typical shore side resort that you might expect new surfers to appear at but rather the backside of the mountain barrio in central Zihautanejo. Having only met their Zen master surf Guru 24 hours prior it was kind of a leap of faith that they would even walk into this type of neighborhood in a town that just a couple of years ago had a reputation for lopping heads and putting them in duffle bags on the porch of the local Policia Municipal. But such is the life of wandering sailors and there we stood, two Barneys or for those that don’t surf, two beginners meeting up with their would be teacher. The Benny’s, those are Canadians, another surf term for folks that take off during the cold winter for the “benefits” of the warmer weather in Mexico, were soon to be met.
Lisa and I had 24 hours previously visited the small town of Troncones via motor scooter. It wasn’t really on our plan to go find one of the coolest little towns in Mexico but we kind of stumbled on it when we decided we needed to get off the boat and do a bit of exploring. If you follow us you will know that we prefer to get off the beaten path and when you rent a scooter you are pretty much going to go the way less traveled if not because the thing can’t keep up with traffic, then because it is damn scary to do 50 MPH on a bike that seems better designed for one than two.
After breakfast at La Tertulia ($8 US with free coffee refills) we went to the scooter shop. After a 5 minute lecture from the proprietor of the shop cautioning us that the scooter was really made to just do trips around the plaza and perhaps the central city but certainly not up country 20 miles, we smiled, put on our helmets and wobbled away on another classic yellow scooter (see the San Carlos blog in the archives).
To get accustomed to the bike we decided to head directly into the hills of Southern Zihautanejo and see the bay from the vantage point of several hundred feet. This tested the bike a good bit and the brakes even better. Although I didn’t tell Lisa at the time, I don’t think I could have locked up the tires in an emergency, but fair brakes are better than none, so we continued.
During the entire ride we only had about 6 miles of “freeway” that we had to travel. The first 2 miles came just after leaving Z-town. We have been traveling in the boat now for almost a year and with the wind in our hair, 25 Mph seemed just a bit quick for us, so when we boosted the bike to just over 60 Kilometers per hour or say 35 Mph, Lisa held on to me like she was about to be ripped from her seat. At one time she hit me and I figured it was because she wanted to slow down, but on the down hill side of the freeway the previously mentioned “fair” brakes were not going to be much help. When we stopped coasting I asked her what she poked me for and surprisingly she thought I was watching the speedo and not the road; She just wanted me to pay attention. Actually I was holding my head down and watched the road while trying to keep the wind from pulling my helmet back. The helmets we were given were little more than workman hard hats, but that’s Mexico.
After the big freeway blast we rolled through Ixtapa and then on to San Jose de Ixtapa. Never heard of it? Neither had we. SJ de Ixtapa is just off the beach and another town that seems to have been left in time. We were parched from our 6 mile ride so stopped in for a cold one at El Buzo. The name just caught our eye (wink, wink) and the place was welcoming, clean and inexpensive to boot.
Our waiter, Arturo was very nice and explained the entire menu (in Spanish), in Spanish. We were pleased that he spoke slowly and made our choice of Sea food stuffed fish rellenos. If you don’t like seafood you probably don’t belong here, but Lisa was in heaven when the food arrived, Octopus, shrimp and vegetables all wrapped in a fish fillet. It was bit much for me, but Lisa put this dish at the top of here “Best Meals in Mexico” list. Total price for the meal with 2 beers, about $9 US. We were livin’ high today.
We picked up some directions from the waiter to Troncones and sped off down the dusty, pot-holed road filled with donkey traffic, chickens and of course dogs of every shape and size until we reached the old highway and turned north.
The next 10 miles were just a nice country drive through palm and mango farms and scattered with cattle ranches here and there. Our next mile stone would be Burro Boracho road, or Drunk Donkey road. We only got slightly lost but found the correct turn-off about 30 minutes up the road. It was plain that the road was not well traveled so we immediately started smiling about what we had discovered. As we drove into the town of Troncones we noticed they had everything a person would need for survival plus a nice beach to boot. If you have to ask, a hardware store, grocery store and all the beach Ramada’s one could ever want. The town proper stretches perhaps ¼ mile in each direction on two roads, but the beachfront homes cover about another 2 miles along the coast. All are nicely done with plenty of room between to the homes to keep a private, uncrowded appearance.
After a quick run of the town we found ourselves in front of Mexcalli, Surf Skuela. We didn’t go in at first as Lisa had ideas of her own to purchase some clothing at one of the local shops. As she was trying on her new cloths I noticed a guy working on some surf boards. What really caught my eye was that he was using a pair of scissors to tighten a screw on one of the skegs attached to the board. I love quality and so I also knew the surf skuela was our place to learn how to surf.
With quick introductions Lisa and I both told Herberto, or Beto that we would like to join him tomorrow for lessons if he could get us from Z-What to Troncones. When life in Mexico is on your side there is really nothing that can stand in the way of progress and so it happened that Beto lives in Zihuatanejo and meeting in the morning would certainly be possible if we could just take the taxi to his home.
So Wednesday morning we were up with first light. Lucky for us first light comes around at about 7:15 AM. Sparky made his beach visit while Lisa prepped for the day and then we were off for anther $8 breakfast and a meeting with the taxi driver.
At 8:15 the taxi drove by and we flagged him down New York style. I hopped into the front seat and Lisa took the back. We handed the driver the address that Beto had given us the day before and the driver looked shocked! He questioned me about the address and asked twice if I really wanted to go there. Of course we wanted to go but in the back of my mind all I could think of were heads in a bag or that the guy figured we were doing some type of drug deal. As it turned out we didn’t have to knock on any bolted doors or wind our way through yards filled with fighting dogs and crying children, no, Beto and his son Leonel were waiting outside chatting with neighbors when we drove up, the day was looking bright.
As it turned out Leonel was going to drive us to Troncones and Beto, along with his truck, Lola, were going to pick up some others along the way. According to Leonel, Lola was “historico” or legendary. You really need to study the picture to understand but it does look like a story or two has been made in the presents of that truck. I believe both headlights still worked but all the others were missing. For that matter most of the metal was missing around the roof, the tires were bald, the bed rusted out, cracked windshield but most of it was clear of dirt, and a 20 year old paint job that looked like it was done in Sears Weather Beater paint (I guess the warranty would just be running out now). All of this made for a very cool ride.
Along the way we listened to Bob Marley just to make sure we were getting stoked for the day to come and soon we drove into Troncones for the second time in 24 hours. Arriving for the second time we still loved the laid back feel of the town and meeting up at the surf shop got us in the mood even more as several surf dudes were hanging around, along with a couple of surf chicks and of course the Benny’s from Canada who would become our friends and surf mates later in the day.
The beer is still cold, but how about some sympathy: 31 January, 2013
A little editorial note. This is pretty trade related and may not be a fun read for everyone. Please hang in there with me on this one. It is not typical of my page.
Ah the wait; 30 days and counting as I wait for Garmin and UPS to get it together and send our card for the chart-plotter. In defense of Garmin I will say they have tried to send a card to me three times, that’s not bad, but boy trying to get them to communicate with me can be a struggle.
Chad/Garmin is our main contact. During the first part of our conversations he was very helpful but once the product was sent the conversations became less and less frequently. I believe he is actually part of the Garmin product technical helpdesk, so even here I will say he has done a fairly nice job but once the hand-off to the Garmin Shipping teams happened he and I appear to be out of the loop of communication. For a week now he has said he will message me with any information his shipping team comes up with. Those messages have equaled one mail. I have been faithful and sent a mail each day and tried to follow-up with telephone calls whenever we could get a good signal.
Today UPS informed me that Garmin had asked for the product back and although the second shipment was near Guadalajara it would soon be back in the states per Garmin’s request. I called Garmin immediately and nobody at the 1-800 number can supply me with the name of who asked for the return, but since it was headed back to the states they would send a third card to us. We are waiting on confirmation of the movement now. Although we are in Paradise, and frequently attend the Paradise bar just to remind us where we are, it doesn’t feel like Paradise to us, purgatory, punishment for the evil summer we spent in the sea, a test of our patience all come to mind, Paradise, no.
We have posted many pictures of Las Has-Been already so you know the area looks nice and the anchorage is small. Today I count 16 boats at anchor here. Much more than comfort will allow so I am on the boat while Lisa is ashore shopping and eating tacos. If we are ever released from our “cruisers hell” we will move immediately 4 miles from this spot and then flip the coin to the other side and viola, Paradise again. A funny world we live in.
UPS being the second party in this little fiasco has been a real burden. As a professional logistics operations person I can tell you that UPS runs a very good business in the USA. Usually when dealing with the local people things go smoothly and if they don’t somebody on the other end of the phone line will make a couple of calls and resolve the issue quickly. As an international business in Mexico, I have my concerns that they just don’t get it. Their systems don’t appear to talk to each other so if you send a package from the US to Mexico, the first part of the trip you speak with the US customer service representatives. When the package reaches Mexico you have to speak with the Mexican service representatives, all very well I expect but the US customer service people don’t tell you that the information they are giving you may not be correct, only to keep monitoring the shipment (like I am the one doing the transportation) and wait for the system updates. Of course the updates in the system are usually wrong and you end up calling Mexico for a confirmation.
Last week I confirmed that our package was routed correctly to the hotel we are using as a base address. Both the Mexican and the US (1 day later) confirmed all was well. After “monitoring the shipment” everyday this week, we see the system was updated to show our package had been returned to the states (second time). Making a call to US UPS, they confirmed the shipper had recalled the shipment. Calling Mexican UPS I found they had banking hours and would not be in till 8 AM, which turned into 8:30 before I could reach anyone. I called Garmin in the meantime and they pulled their information from US UPS and of course confirmed we would be waiting for yet another package.
Around 8:30 Mexican UPS woke up and a nice gentleman advised me that the shipment was indeed back in Guadalajara but would soon be moving to Manzanillo for delivery to us at our current address, huh. What are we to think, is there an eminent delivery in our future? My heart says yes, but it really gets me that the number one rule of logistics is being broken by the largest logistics company in the world, that being “safeguarding the integrity of the information on the system”. If this shipment returns to the US then Mexico UPS is at fault (they are passing information that is not correct for the shipment), if the shipment delivers to me then US UPS is at fault as their system updates which are read by anyone that inputs our tracking number into the system are incorrect. All this amounts to customer frustration, added expense for the shipper who is trying to do the right thing and a tidy profit for UPS with multiple moves, returns and reshipments occurring because of failed communication between their respective international companies.
Unfortunately for us we are at the mercy of Garmin who chooses the international carrier. I am not saying this could not happen with Fed Ex, DHL or even Expeditors but to offer the limited help, i.e. (Thank you for your patience Bill, but you will either have to contact Mexico or continue monitoring the shipment) they have in getting our shipment delivered is just not what you would expect from a company like UPS.
That’s my rant. Tomorrow is another day, UPS Mexico has not changed their story in nearly 4 days so we are hoping for a phone call or email message telling us to come pick up our shipment. I did fail to say that because of all the trouble we purchased a disposable phone just for the purpose of “monitoring” this shipment, and in case UPS wanted to contact us for further information.
I haven’t worked so hard in weeks, if it wasn’t for the gorgeous weather I would feel like I was back home working on Christmas morning for one of my favorite Logistics companies.
A little sympathy, probably not, but that is OK. In a day, a week or a month we will have everything corrected and back to the land of soft sand, clear water, endless snorkeling, beautiful sunsets and a chilled drink. Come to think of it we might have said that 30 days ago.
Enjoy your commute.
Ranking the days: 24 January, 2013
The sun has gone down and the moon has not risen, for that matter I am not completely sure the moon will even rise tonight. Dinner was great again and one of the best parts of the day ended a couple of hours ago when Lisa and I discussed the day over a rum and coke on the front of the boat as the sun receded under the sea to the west of us. Life is good.
I wandered up on deck just a couple of minutes ago. I had not particular purpose in mind but the air is warm and the seas are fairly calm. We do have a slight rock to the boat, but when I look out over the fleet that has joined us in Las Hadas tonight I am encouraged when I see a 60 foot power boat rocking violently while our 43 foot sailboat which can not be consider large by any means gently acknowledges the waves and rocks my wife to sleep. Life is good here.
There is no doubt that we have our own trials to deal with, but in the grand since Lisa and I have taken in our laundry and decided that the cloth that has been cut for us is just fine. We took a ride in the dinghy today and decided that in the morning we will dive below several of the zillion dollar homes that are built along the coast here. Not sure what we will find but really it doesn’t matter that much, we are free to enjoy whatever is presented to us and when we have completed that we will deal with the small issues of the day.
On the menu is of course the Garmin/UPS issue. With any luck something positive will happen and I will be on my way to Barra de Navidad and Lisa will be on her way to the Centro Mercado and more Rib Eye Steak at $10 US per kilo or $5 per pound. Bacon/Tocino will also be on the shopping list, you just can’t pass up bacon sliced to order for less than $4 US per pound; as I said, life is not bad here in Las Hadas/Mexico/South of the US border.
We are still discussing our plans for the next couple of months and will advise those when we finally reach Ixtapa or Acapulco. The Sea of Cortez still beckons us to come back. It’s a been there done that feeling, but holy smokes, it is hard to beat the intense feeling of solitude and wildness that abounds there. In the words of my hero Winnie the Pooh, “Think” ‘Think”.
Dinghy Raft ups: Dec 28, 2012
“We’ll all pass the hors d’oeuvres clockwise”, “that’s this way (with hand signals)”. We hadn’t attended any dinghy raft ups in a while and this was the infamous Mayors Raft up in Tenacatita, Mexico. To our surprise it was partially scripted and nearly a church meeting or as we tried to play it to our liking an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Of course when we were asked to repeat which way the orduvous were to be passed we said, “This way” without hand signals.
There are just some people that get carried away with their own pompous titles. Being the mayor of Tenecatita, and elected by who knows what surely brought on a bit of pomp to this raft up, but being the mild manner person that I am, it was his raft up and I guess if I created a raft up of my own I am entitled to run the raft up as I please. For those that don’t understand the lingo of “raft-up” this is when boaters gather around sun down for a little chit-chat while floating in their dinghies. Most start with a quick introduction and perhaps a small toast to a recent passage that was made. This one started with a bit of a sermon which touted the closeness of the cruising community and ended with everyone being asked to contribute there story of how someone had helped them in the cruising world. Because I am writing this you know I was not really a fan, but in all fairness I would say that we had fun and it didn’t cost us money so what the heck.
Several of the standout stories had to be the ones regarding, having too much money and then being “helped” by other cruisers to join in the chaos that is the cruising communities by buying a boat, quitting jobs and taking off for distant shores (nice help and a great way to lose all your wealth at an alarming rate), being destitute for rum and coke and having others willing to trade Coca-Cola for Rum (really), and of course the story about the lady who blew her first conch (shell) and also ate the pizel of a fresh caught conch. Well that last one may not have been the “help” laden story we had expected but it sure added to the entertainment for the night. Not sure how you could pass up all the innuendo’s in her story, so we didn’t.
Well eventually we all ran out of stories and rum so we went home to yet another beautiful sunset in Mexico. I guess we all have our station in life, I will keep mine as an observer of interesting people, and the mayor can his raft-ups as he see’s fit. Please be sure to pass the hors d’oeuvres “This Way”.
The Cape of Currents: Dec 26 2012
“Is everything OK”? Once again Lisa was woken out of her sleep as has happened so often on this trip when something has flown from a shelf and hit the floor hard. This time was not so bad. We had been underway for almost 6 hours (Lisa sleeping a good five and a half of those) and were just rounding Cabo Correntes (the Cape of Currents) which would be the furthest south this boat has ever been since it’s delivery to California back in 1979. So far the trip was going well and we had only just lost the dog water and dog food to the cabin sole. I had earlier caught our faux paux of leaving a bowl of fruit on the counter so there won’t be any stories about “Fruits gone wild” this time.
As usual I am ahead of myself. I am writing this as we complete mile 50 of a 120 mile passage from Puerto Vallarta to Tenecatita on the mainland of Mexico. We just completed 30 days worth of refitting and supplying the boat for what will all be new territory for us.
Peter Vargas of Sea-Tec rigging completed the replacement of our standing rigging to include replacement of 4 major chainplates on time, on budget and at the agreed price so I have to give him big kudos for a job well done. Surprisingly Peter had spotted the chain plates that he thought would be bad before we even pulled them. In all we pulled 6 plates. Two of the plates were fine, two had pretty good corrosion pitting and might have lasted a couple of years, one was very serious and we were actually able to break it in to two pieces with less than 15 ft pound of torque and the last one just had some questionable stainless filling that had us both scratching our head to either replace or not. In the end we chose to replace that one as well so there would be no question about having the rig fall down in a storm. The old chain plates varied in size by a millimeter or so, but the new ones are all 3/8” stainless with no variation in size. I love the wood work on these Taiwan boats but the steel work throughout is questionable. Luckily we have replaced a lot of the other obvious metal issues during previous dock work.
Just prior to Christmas Lisa and I attended “Movie Night” at the marina. There was nothing particularly special about the movie “Wild Hogs” but it did get us giggling for while. What was peculiar about this night was that we were rushed to make the movie and failed to treat our tank water the proper way. On board we have two water tanks. When we are anchoring and moving from quiet hide-a-way to quiet hide-a-way we generally drink, shower and use our reverse osmosis water that is made by de-salinizing ocean water on board. The water is tasty, clean and much better in quality than the World Health Organizations standards for drinking water. When we move into a dock, things change. Our second tank is used for dock water. Because we question the quality and purity of this type of water we treat is for bacteria and other nasty’s with ¼ cup of bleach for the 70 gallons of water we have in the tank. We have done this during the whole time of our cruising and for the most part I think we are still normal and basically healthy. Not so much during the last week.
We ran out of water just about the time we were to pickup friends for the movie. Knowing it would be late when we returned we thought we would just delay the movie enough to get about twenty gallons of water into the tank. When we returned we could fill the remainder or just leave it till morning. Lisa got a little heavy handed with the bleach and without a measuring cup may have dumped a full cup of bleach into the tank. I was not aware of the over dose so when we felt we had twenty gallons in the tank we sealed it up and went to the movie. After returning later in the evening we both felt good enough to complete the water job and because I though Lisa had only added a small amount of bleach, I added a full ¼ to ½ cup of bleach just to be sure no bugs were in the water.
The following day was pretty warm, and the refrigerator was set very low since we were on dock power (unlimited). I must have drank nearly a gallon of our fresh “bleach” water that day. Lisa refused since the odor was so strong but I just figured if was because we were so use to the good R/O water, so drink I did. Sometime around 3 AM the next morning I woke up with awful feeling and needed to move fast to make it to the toilet. The amount of vomit I had in me is still mystifying. For the next 3 hours I made trips to the toilet at 30 minute intervals. By 6 am I was either dry or done and the feelings subsided but I was so tired I slept for the next 24 hours with only an hour or two of wake time. Everything is good now, but boy it was intense.
A neighbor came by the following morning. They had coincidentally borrowed some bleach from Lisa the morning I was out, and came back to check on me. When she did we told us that the bleach we were using was the new “Concentrado” bleach which after some research is actually 33% stronger. I guess we should read labels a bit better.
As we pace down the Mexican Gold Coast we are stunned by the number of turtles we are seeing. I won’t include any pictures unless one of the turtles does a back flip or something stunning next to the boat as they just don’t make good subjects when 2/3rds of their body is under water and usually they are 100 or more yards from the boat. Since rounding the cap 20 miles ago I have counted at least 20 turtles. If I only had a book on identification I would tell you which type.
Have a great commute.
Friggin’ Riggin’: Dec 19, 2012
”…So Bill if the rigger says “Oh Shit” while he’s up the mast is that a bad thing”? I was reading Lisa’s email in the local pub around 1pm while I was trying to get some work done on the internet that was just not possible with the incredibly slow connection we had on the boat. It didn’t seem good to me, so I thought I had better pack up and head for the marina.
As I strolled down the Malicon (Mexican sidewalk in good repair), I heard banging coming from the direction of our boat, I quickened my step. Pedro/Peter has been working on the rigging of Beyond Reason now for about week. Four of those days the parts were in transit so really he was on day 3. We had discussed during our initial contract that he would inspect a couple of chain plates before completing the replacement of the wires that hold up the mast. The banging was coming from him trying to loosen up the chain plates enough to pull them through the deck. They were being stubborn, and I was getting anxious. As much as I tried to think that he had pulled hundreds of chain plates in the past I just had to offer some advice.
The Hans Christian Owners Association (HCOA) and I have had a good 10 year run. Because most Hans Christians (the make of our boat) are semi-custom built there are no manuals for repair so the HCOA is where most people come to tell their maintenance woe’s and look for some type of advise or sympathy. I had read over the years that the proper way to remove the chain plates from our boat was to pull them up through the deck after taking out the bolts. Most people just leave the wires attached to the plates and tighten them till they pop out. I relayed this to Pedro and he agreed that they were so tight a little leverage might just be in order to help the cause. We cranked on the wire till we figured we had reached some sort of limit and then, nothing. When were yanked on the wire to give it just little more pressure we finally heard a pop, and the plate moved about ¼” and from then on there was no more movement. Somebody decided that if it can’t come out, it most go in, so the real pounding began in earnest and the chain plate was driven down into the locker. With the help of a Dremel tool, a couple of layers of fiberglass were removed between the plate and the hull and the thing came out.
“Oh Señor” Pedro said, really he only speaks good Spanish but excellent English as he is American but built his rigging business here in La Cruz as a off-shoot of a larger company (Sea-tec) in Southern California, “Señor, this doesn’t look so good”. “Oh Shit” I told Lisa, and that’s not a good thing. Pedro showed me the rust and pitting that had developed on the chain plate. Too my eye it was not bad but since it was on a corner I appreciated that the damage might be sever enough to give us trouble down the line. Pedro offered that it might last either one or three years, or twenty, “Great”.
Lisa and I had purposely picked the first chain plate pulled and there was another in the bathroom that Lisa in particular had issues with. We discussed replacement of the first plate and whether we should replace them in pairs or just one at a time. Ultimately we decided we would pull the plates in pairs and make a decision after we cleaned them up. It was time for Pedro to go home so Lisa and I sat on the lawn chair which had been placed on the dock, drank a mature beverage and looked at the boat thinking how nice she looked just sitting at the dock, with half her wires pulled off and the masts held up with clothes lines in place of the missing stainless steel wire with a working strength of nearly 15,000 lbs each. The sun went down.
Next morning Pedro was back up the mast to disconnect even more wire. He had replaced some of the lower rigging but if the wind came up in the harbor I would start to become uncomfortable. Little did I know how uncomfortable I would get till he took down the back stays. The back stays hold the mast from falling forward as you crash into waves ahead of you or sail down wind. If you read this blog you will know that 90% of our moving this boat either involves terrific down wind sails or smashing into waves since the wind is against us. The back stray are “muy importante”.
“Hey Señor”, Pedro said, “This is not good”. As we lowered the back stay, Pedro pointed out that one of the connectors (the wire insulator to be exact) had a full length crack down the side and the threads of the connector were actually starting to disintegrate! “Excellent” I told Pedro, and I meant it. We had questioned replacing the rig and now we had the proof that we did the right thing. From the looks of it, one more wave or gust of wind and the main mast might have come tumbling down.
The rest of the day went according to plan until we got to the chain plate again. We pulled the port chain plate which was the twin of the one we pulled the day before and it looked good. We moved on to the second plate that we had wanted to pull and Bingo, once a again we had a plate that was damaged but this time there was no question that it was a part that could have broken at any time. Not only was it rusted but there appears to be a crack almost completely across the back of the plate. I am sure if I put it in a vise I could break the 3/8” stainless plate into 2 pieces.
Being a little frustrated now since we were two bad plates for the three pulled, we made a decision to pull the remaining 3 small plates that remained. On initial inspection they looked fine, were the two bad ones appeared bad to begin with. Pedro game me the option to pull them myself to try to save money and so Lisa and I spent the next hour yanking two of the remaining plates out. My inspection says they look pretty good, but we took them to the shop to have them cleaned up first. We should see the results later today when he returns. If the winds stay calm we should also get our forestay and our main uppers replaced and tightened as well. The new chain plates will be behind us by a couple of days but are available (locally made) here in Mexico. It’s only money.
Comfort of lapping waves: Nov 24, 2012
We have written on a lot of different subjects over the year while doing this blog, but something that I don’t think we have ever delved into very much is what it is really like to travel at sea while sitting atop the mercy of the waves. I am sure we have made reference to “Roller Coaster rides”, “Confused Seas”, “smooth as a millpond” and the like but really that does not explain what it is really like. Now I can’t say that our experience is the same, better or worse than other sailboats our size, but based on the literature that comes with our Hans Christian, she is a sea kindly and gentle boat in a seaway with an easy motion. OK, where did they do the trail sail at to write this stuff? What I really would compare our most recent 250 mile sail to is a slow motion movie of a car driving over a cliff with a 45 degree incline (or is it a decline since you would be going “down hill”).
If I can paint this picture correctly I will describe the first 48 hours of our most recent trip in terms of what was really going on (Not Italicized) and how I would compare it to your missing a turn and tumbling off a cliff (in Italics).
When you start a trip or passage you are generally coming out of the marina and the seas are calm and usually you have little or no wind. This is kind of like leaving your driveway for a Sunday road trip up into the mountains. You are excited about the trip and the final destination may or may not be your primary purpose for enjoyment, sometimes it is the travel to the destination that keeps you going.
As you start to make some seaway the boat begins to yaw a bit left and right, the motion is easy and steering between some of the bigger waves is fun (Most of us enjoy the start of the trip into the mountains with the road just beginning to head upward and the bends in the road becoming more and more “thoughtful” as the land to the right or left of you begins to drop away from the road). Sometime we get a bit of wind or even a lot of wind, but as the saying goes, “you can’t change the wind but you can trim the sails” and so we do. What you can’t really change if you are trying to get from point A to B is the sea state and angle of the waves (You can slow for turns or speed up but you have to stay on the road no matter if the turns are left or right). As often as not the waves are coming from the wrong direction. Sea kindly or not, waves from anywhere other than directly in front or in back of you makes the boat roll. If you have plenty of wind there is a chance the boat won’t roll as much, but certain passengers still feel the motion which depending on who it is might be a bad thing (even a Ferrari will roll a bit if the turns are too tight and you don’t really want that lovely blond in the passenger seat getting sick). If the waves are spaced nicely most trips are the same as going over hill and dale in the country. Kind of a slow undulation that your body absorbs and learns to lean into fairly quickly. If the waves are tightly spaced, and it really doesn’t make much difference if the waves are 4 feet or 40 feet, the ride takes on a much different aspect. Our general rule is if the waves are 6 feet high and coming faster than every 6 seconds the ride is going to be ugly.
So you are riding along in your Ferrari and you miss a turn, “Dang, the cute blond beside you says”, Your car begins to leave the roadway and head for the ravine below (The waves have increased and lucky for you they are from the aft of the boat, but perhaps 8 feet tall. The back end of the boat lifts and the boat begins to accelerate down the wave and into the trough). Your Ferrari begins to accelerate and because it is so aerodynamic the nose digs into the dirt a little and acts like it will slow the car, but really it presses you against your seatbelt with 1G of negative force but with little deceleration of your vehicle. As the boat travels into the trough, the bow digs into the water below and if you are sitting sideways (looking to either the port or starboard side of the boat while you do your business, you suddenly find you have to brace yourself on the thrown or find your fanny flat on the floor because the more bow that enters the water, the quicker the deceleration of the boat as it reaches the bottom of the wave. Your friend in the next seat has a look on their face that pleads to get off the ride, but as you reach over to hold them in their seat you bank off a small rock that was inconveniently in your way and the Racaro seats with the leather upholstery fail to hold you as the Ferrari careens to the right just a bit and you find yourself pressed tightly against the door handle and glass of the drivers side door. The boat has reach the smaller wind waves that are running counter to the natural sea state, with the deceleration from the digging bow just becoming familiar, you are now lifted upward and slightly rolled to starboard which sends your drawerless fanny into the starboard door (if you have doors) of the head (bathroom) or if you failed to install doors you find yourself in the middle of the cabin sole wondering why nature called at this particular moment (I hope you don’t have company).
Your Ferrari with all it stabilizing features is no match for the hard edge of the pinnacle that appears now to the right of the car and as you glance off of it your blond companions door receives a scratch that is sure to cost your insurance company $10,000, not to mention the fact that your friend will be less obliged to go for that country ride the next time you ask. Your boat has now finished its roll to starboard just in time to meet the next wind wave as you begin your travel up the backside of the next wave. This one not only slides your fanny back to port, but with the uphill accent you find yourself sliding back to the galley, “Hello honey, what’s for breakfast” you say as you reach for your trousers. There is a moment when you are sure you have saved the Ferrari and are wondering if AAA will cover the cost of a Sky Crane to lift the car out of the gully as you car scrapes and bounces across a small landing about halfway down the cliff. As the boat begins to ride up the wave your movement slows and you begin to buckle up your pants feeling confident that your wide stance, port and starboard will support you from further visits with the side of the boat. The boat still rolls a bit but everything is feeling normal again.
Unfortunately those 18” low profile Pirelli tires don’t quite have grip to stop you on the shale footing you find on the landing so you continue to skid over the next section of the cliff in a semi controlled fashion until a small birm of gravel sends the front of your stallion skyward. The blond is simply elated at this time and screams out in Arabic (I don’t know perhaps some other language but you can’t understand them just the same) something incomprehensible but you are sure they are saying “enjoying the ride”. Wind waves can be found any where on the bigger waves. The big waves are usually generated hundreds of miles from your location, wind waves are local and can double the size of primary swell if given enough wind and time. You are lucky that the additional height of the wind waves are only a couple of feet. As you crest the top of the wave, content with your stance and your gig line, the boat heaves upwards and tumbles your backside into the companionway ladder, it smarts, but you are happy to have been thrown somewhere that you have three point bracing, The blond on the other hand now has a permanent crease in their lap courtesy of Sergio Pininfarina’s lap restraint system. As you come over the top of wave and begin to angle down again, you wish you had been dropped into a box since the only angle you can’t brace for is the bow and by golly your boat bucks it’s stern over that last wave and send you back to the front of the boat as the ride continues. Your Ferrari has reached the apex of its skyward journey and has begun its decent back to earth. Lucky for you and the blond the bottom of the gully is near and your trip (at least your mountain trip) has ended, the blond is fine, but you have scratched your Maui Jim sunglasses, you failed to buy insurance for them so the $400 to replace them has a ruining effect on your Sunday. You are only into your first hour of the trip, these waves will keep up for at least the first 2/3’s of the trip, the finger nail scratches that you left in the cabin sole will need to be repaired at $80 and hour by some boatyard expert and you think to yourself, “its good to be on the water”. Enjoy your commute.
500 Miles to ride: Nov 1, 2012
We are probably in Puerto Escondido now. The port is near the beautiful town of Loretto, Baja Sur, but the closest place we can get to and find a safe harbor for doing a bit of delayed boat work. It seems it has been months since we have had any major breakages, but we do still have a single diesel leak on one of our injectors. I promised Lisa that I would fix this one in Escondido, so hear we are.
The current list of fixes will also include 3 fuel filter changes on the main diesel and the installation of the new fuel pump that we bought 6 months ago for the diesel heater. Yes it is getting cold at night. Last night it dropped below 78 degrees and although we have comforters for the bed, getting up to brew coffee is a bit disagreeable for the inhabitants of this boat. We also have a delivery of new L.E.D lights which should not take long to install but will certainly bring a nice warm glow to the cabin when the sun drops below the horizon at 5:30 pm (yes, daylight savings time is alive and well in Baja). Aside from that we will take on another 50 gallons of fuel and a little water then blast off for La Paz and Los Muertos which is a small cove about 30 miles south of La Paz and a stepping station for jumping to the Mexican mainland. We figure we have about 30 days left on this side of the world (Baja) before we descend to Puerto Vallarta and the real “Gold Coast” of Mexico.
The trip to Puerto Vallarta is approximately 500 miles from here, but when we jump we should be within 350 miles or 3 days if we decide to do it in one bite. We have visited most of the anchorages along the coast from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta and really want to get to some new areas to explore, thus the potential 3 days at sea, time will tell.
So that is the plan for the next couple of weeks. We have been eating up the life out here over the last month or so. Hurricane Paul came very close to us with the eye passing just 60 or so miles to the west. Lucky for us Paul never moved passed the Gigante Mountain range so winds never reached hurricane force, but 50 knots can still cause havoc, and it did with our dinghy. As the hurricane started to reach us we had a big wind shift and without notice the winds went from 10 knots to 50 knots. Our dinghy being tied behind the boat got caught in the shift and suddenly flipped over, engine, dinghy wheels and all. At the same time the tide shifted and brought tons of flotsam, trees and broken cactus into the anchorage and around the boat. Lisa and I spent about 30 minutes trying to rig a sling to right the 350 lbs of boat and motor and ultimately succeeded. The next morning we sat about flushing the inside and outside of the motor and doing successive oil changes to try to save it. Now 3 weeks past it looks like we might have been successful and it is a good thing since we were having trouble even posting a potential claim with Blue Water Insurance Company.
Ultimately Blue Water Insurance responded to one of our emails regarding a potential claim on the engine. Turns out the local agent had some troubles at home so I will give them the the benefit of the doubt. At any rate I don’t think the claim will be required but it is a fore warning if a claim is ever required.
So with the exception of Paul, our day and night social agendas have been full. We seem to move through the days, diving, playing games on the beach, attending bon fires, clam bakes and sundowner parties and even had a date night aboard Nirvana complete with Sushi, fresh pasta, fresh clam Risotto and baked chicken, all very well done and enjoyed by four of us couples dressed in the best clothes we could find that were not in the hamper.
Life could get better, but bacon is hard to find in the Baja.
Beer run: October 15, 2012
We have made some legendary beer runs over the years. It usually starts as a whim for me to go on a long dinghy ride, but no beer run is complete without a friend to come along to help you through the tedium of driving endless miles on an open sea while the engine drones on for what could be hours. To qualify as a beer run on board Beyond Reason the distance between the anchored boat and the cerviceria (beer store) needs to be at least 10 miles away. If there is an element of danger (bad weather, mud flats, and pirates) that just makes the run that much more inviting.
I believe the typical definition of a beer run starts with running out of beer sometime during a party, bender, or ballgame, but since I was a cub scout long ago I live under the ethos of “be prepared” so having to leave the party, drive exceptionally drunk or missing a play rarely happens. What typically occurs is that somebody in the anchorage will make mention that they are low on beer. In the absence of telling the truth they will sometimes appear at the side of our boat at odd hours of the day expectantly waiting for us to offer a beer (common courtesy among boaters). Upon being offered the beer they immediately except the first offer (rude behavior from a boater). I believe that Miss Manners would suggest you receive two offers before accepting, or at least that is what we try to do. It is at this point that I like to suggest far fetched beer run solutions. Most of the solutions are designed around a dinghy run during the morning hours to a town or village on some far shore that most people would consider much to far away for a dinghy ride. The cub scout that I am, I am rarely at the disadvantage of somebody shrugging off the suggestion since we typically store 3 cases of beer in the refrigerator and several others in the aft bunk that my daughter use to use but who has thoughtfully left that bunk empty so she can live with her husband.
Several weeks ago a friend dropped by expecting the usual courtesy of a beer and I suggested a run into town the next day (12 miles). He sat in his dinghy drinking my once offered beer quickly, and began asking questions as he handed me his empty can. This of course prompted me to politely, although reluctantly offer a second beer which he greedily accepted as well. When the second beer was consumed and a third offer failed to leave my lips, my buddy accepted the challenge and we made plans (over a third beer) to leave after breakfast the next morning. Sometime during the night we offered to others in the anchorage to bring back needed supplies and before we finished the rounds we had taken on another passenger and a list of groceries that would enable everyone to stick around for another couple of days. The morning broke with a slight chop on the sea and I was fairly sure the trip would be wet, rough and probably slow but that did not detour anyone. Unfortunately within the first mile of the trip the “rough” got a bit rougher than we thought and because of an unexpectedly large wave we came down hard and our passenger lost her breath and was unable to breath well for several minutes. We returned home to get her the care she needed then proceeded to finish what we started out to do. 3 hours later we return triumphantly from Santa Rosalia with beer and groceries in hand.
We had an occasion to make another beer run the other day from Sweet pea Cove to a small village across the bay named San Bruno. San Bruno lies about 10 miles south of Santa Rosalia on highway 1. For the most part it is ignored by boaters except for the ambiance that is brings to Sweet pea cove in the evening as you gaze across the bay to the shimmering lights of the city. The town shows up on maps but we have yet to find a guide that discusses any anchoring possibilities, services or any historical or geographic reasons to visit the town. To me this made for a perfect place to explore and when another friend of mine told me the woes of his beer locker, I immediately explained that if somebody suggested we go to San Bruno to look for beer I was in. The trip was planned for the next morning.
I know this is a fairly long update, and if you have stuck with me this long I will tell you that the trip to San Bruno was without incident but not with out high points. After a 45 minute ride across the sea to the town shores we discovered a delightful little town that at first appeared to be just a bedroom community without any stores or services. My buddy Bob and I made a quick tour of the town by water at first then turned into the little darsena (breakwater) that had been built for panga’s (Mexican fishing boats) and found a small pier to tie up to at the back of the breakwater. Conveniently there was a small palapa built next to the pier and a couple of locals where hanging around waiting to give us directions to the cerviceria and tienda (grocery store). In fluent Spanglish we asked about the grocery store of which they said it would be too far to walk, but offered no alternative, and the beer store which they enthusiastically answered, “Si, la casa azul” and pointed to a blue house not 30 steps from the pier. As our late president George Bush would say “Mission accomplished”…sort of.
We still had eggs, beans, insect repellent and bacon to buy so we strolled around town looking for the grocery store. What we found was a very clean, very organized town with plenty of small shops to keep one occupied for hours. To add to the discovery we noted that the town would have a small fiesta that night which fit perfectly with what would soon be a trip in the big boats to anchor off the town that night.
Our return trip and then successive return trip in the big boats went without incident and later that night we had one of the best clam dinners ever at a small beach side restaurant known only as “The Palapa by the Grande Casa” from the local people. Bob and Sherri, Lisa and I all went home satisfied after several hours of laughs and watching the moon rise. We capped the evening by attending the fiesta and watching the local talent show which included dancers, singers and bands from the local area and then wandering through the carnival that had set up near the city center.
NASCAR, Sept 8, 2012
“And the winner of the 2012, Sunrisa Ham Net award for special programming is….Bill Novak”. You read that right, heck I am barely able to consider myself a Ham radio operator, and if you ever check out the website QRZ and read some of the postings from or about KI6CJQ you will find that at least half of all Ham radio operators actually despise or disapprove of my ham radio intentions, but whatever, I will take an award whenever I can. The special award was given for my coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup races on the Sunday Morning net that I run on 3.968 Mhz, at 1330 zulu time.
It all started as a joke several years ago, monitoring NASCAR that is not Ham Radio. Our friend Jim was doing something on the internet and when his soon to be wife Susan checked in on him he quickly turned to a NASCAR update, or at least that is the story I am telling. Anyway, Susan mentioned it and for almost a year we queried Jim about NASCAR. When we returned to the states I was intrigued and started watching it on TV on Sunday afternoons. I really didn’t follow the events but Lisa allowed me some down time on Sundays and I thought it was a great way to take a 3 hour nap while appearing to be interested in something other than beer and sex.
When we came down to Mexico in February we started to lurk on the cruiser radio nets to find out who was in which anchorage and periodically to check on the weather. Once our name started coming up it was not long before I was asked to fill in, then to take over the Sunday portion of the Sunrisa net. You can look up the Sunrisa net on the internet and see that this is a mostly professional site. It’s primary purpose is Safety and Weather information, with a secondary purpose of allowing cruisers to meet up with each other on a daily basis to pass on important and not so important information. There is a net controller for each day and their job is to direct radio traffic so the whole thing does not become a big cluster.
As the net controller position is voluntary you get all types of personalities. Honestly the net controller can either make the net fun or just a role call of people in the sea. Wanting to make a fun impact Lisa and I tried to come up with our own little schtick. Perhaps it is too much TV or something but I wanted people to want to listen to my 15 minutes of fluff before the weather guy comes on at 1345 zulu, so we came up with something that would be off-beat and fun, NASCAR…NASCAR in America is a love or hate sport it seems. People either make fun of those that follow it or they watch it. Some who watch it actually love it, we are in the middle.
In Ham Radio there is an acronym that is QST, essentially it is a call for any information that could effect a lot of people. Most times on the Sunrisa net it is about a party, request for new net controllers or call out for donations, on my net it is an update on the next NASCAR race and sometimes a little dialog about the Beyond Reasons crews favorite drivers. To be honest it is all fun, and really just my way to be sure I cover the 15 minutes fluff as I said above. Apparently it became a hit. Most people we meet that listen in, and they number in the 10’s of people, know the Sunday net and the NASCAR updates. Usually they say with a smile that they enjoy it but didn’t know that I was the controller, I will have to work a little more on my fame, but it’s a start, ask for your autographs now ‘cause I may not have time later.
So I accepted my fabulous award from the two Net Managers (Jake from the S/V Jake, and Tom from S/V Eagle). I shed a tear in private about the love I felt that night. My public is waiting, I am almost sure.
Pests, 7 Sept, 2012
We haven’t written much about pests in Mexico and Baja. For the most part they had been none existent. Baja has enjoyed a pretty wet summer this year. The results are wild flowers and green pasture areas that we have never seen before. There are times now when you are walking the beach or taking a short hike that the smell of the flower cactus and other plants just kind of overwhelms you. Typically you might smell mesquite or sage when you brush against the bush but lately just a puff of wind can loft the smell of blossoms into the air for all to inhale. At the points of some islands the fresh scent can travel a mile or more out over the sea make it possible to for even passing vessels to take notice. The additional or what we use to call in the shipping business, assessorial charge or bonus is the bugs.
During a typical summer you might experience a couple of anchorages where you are battling bees during the day time. Sometimes these battles do not go your way and others can see you leaving the anchorage with your electronic fly swatter waving madly about the boat while black exhaust billows out the stacks as your boat is trying to make warp speed away from the humming and infuriated bees. This summer with its beautiful flowers and frequent boat washes is just a bit different.
We did get our share of bees during the early stages of spring and summer, but as we drifted north we found BoBo’s. Bobo’s are similar to the gnats you find on a summer soccer field. They don’t bite, and for the most part don’t even land on you, they just irritate you with their soft buzzing around your head, eyes and ears. Looking back I think they were the harbinger of things to come. If I had only listened to their soft voices which were cleverly disguised as buzzing I would have heard them say, “Get out! Get out while you can”. The Sea of Cortez was about to unleash it’s furry on this city boy.
Bobo’s required just a short relocation or a wind above 10 knots to keep them out of the boat, but when we drifted into San Felipe we found Cockroaches. Before you ask, I am fairly certain we are roach free even today, but that was not from lack of them trying to get on board. The San Felipe roaches were nearly 3” long. When we poisoned the ropes to the boat, they flew inside. They are not cleaver fliers, but occasionally they get lucky and hurl themselves through windows and open hatches. We dealt with the roaches and I believe that when they figured we had them beat they called on their friends the fly’s to take a visit.
Still in San Felipe, we figured the flies were a local anomaly and when we departed they too would leave, we were wrong. The flies, hundreds of flies visited us daily. The locals say the flies came from the long awaited rains, but we still felt a bit self conscious when friends visited and along with a cocktail we handed them fly swatters at no extra charge. After a couple of weeks of flies, Lisa and I started lighting those Jesus candles you buy in the local tienda for a dollar. We figured it could not hurt and after all Jesus still owes us for being mean to use on our trip to San Felipe. Anyway, we eventually got our wish when we moved the boat to Isla Estanque. No flies, no roaches, no Bobo’s, but we did get moths.
Funny, moths are just like butterfly’s and for the most part during my life they have been well mannered and usually will just hang our by the lamp shades. My experience with Mexican moths is a bit limited so I was surprise when we were visited with enough moths to begin finding them in Salsa, cooked rice and periodically in our popcorn, enough. We bought a couple of candles for the moths too. Our boat was starting to look like a road side monument to dead truck drivers, but something had to be done. We made our vows but somehow I think we forgot that the “fly candles” had recently exhausted themselves and before we left Estanque the moths had backed off and the fly’s returned during the day shift. Along with the flies during the day, we started to get “no see’ums” at night. No See’ums are like Bobo’s except they bite, and hard. Without air conditioning it is really hard to keep the No See’ums at bay. We do burn insect coils to help. Actually we have burnt so many insect coils that Lisa has started to hallucinate during the night but when she wakes up without bites it is a struggle to decide if the death of brain cells is more important than the lack of itchy bites.
With regret I can tell you we are still almost 100 miles from the next Jesus candle shop. At our rate of movement it will be another week or two before we find relief. I have read the story of the biblical plagues and luckily my first born male child is hundreds of miles from us…lucky for him, not for us.
Reflecting back on San Felipe, 6 Sept, 2012
I didn’t get much of a chance to write while we were in San Felipe and I only just noticed it after I posted the update about the incidents I had had with the birds. Time really does fly when you are having fun I guess, and sometimes it flies even when things are not perfect as well, so choose your time wisely! While San Felipe may not get the vote for best small metropolitan area in Baja it really was worth the journey, if not just for the one time.
We explored the vastness of the desert via ATV and I think that if we would have rented the ATV’s for 3 days straight we still would not have run out of room to roam. We of course did the tourist thing by attacking the sand dunes around town but then struck out on our own across some desert trails. We got stuck a couple of times but with Lisa driving and me pushing we managed to not have to spend the night with the Coyotes and chopping off our fingers for dinner or drinking our own urine never even occurred to us. As a competent cub scout I had prepared well and brought a 12 pack of beer, a blanket and even an umbrella to provide shade so stuck or not we were prepared for an afternoon of fun and exploration.
Improvisation is one of my strong points and Lisa quickly pointed out that the ATV, although made for two riders was not equipped with a step or pegs that would accommodate her dwarfish legs so they lay about on the hot plastic right beside the engine. Lucky for us somebody had left a bunch of concrete banisters in the middle of the desert and we were able to knock the square pedestals off the ends to provide Lisa with steps that actually fit her well and made the afternoon ride comfortable.
We spent a couple of days roaming the town and at one time we actually visited Baja Ink, which is a tattoo shop. Lisa was contemplating getting a Man-O-war tattoo over the scarring that she took from the real thing a couple of months ago, but after working with the artist for several days it was decided that not all tattoo artists can draw a Man-O-war jellyfish that she would like to live with for LIFE! While we were down town we picked up a new pair of Harachi sandals for me and a couple of “San Felipe” tie dye dresses for Lisa, we have our weak side for kitsch so just couldn’t resist.
The trips to the doctor for Lisa were certainly the centric point of the trip, but each day we went into town we punctuated the event with Taco’s, Ice Cream or some other goodies, we certainly did not go hungry. With all the restaurants we hit while in San Felipe the one place we failed to discover till the last day was located near the fishing pier.
In order to get the full enjoyment of the tamale place we found on our last day you really need to get a good visual and sensory picture of the fishing pier. The pier is located about ¼ mile from the marina, and if you have read this blog you will know that the marina docks were covered in Pelican and Cormorant poo and at night you could dance the Rumba and without missing a beat crush 100’s of cockroaches in a single song. Lisa made the comment that the gate at the end of the dock was to keep the larger roaches from entering the marina. Anyway, there is a smell that goes with the Pelicans and Cormorants but back on the fishing pier our marina conditions pale in comparison.
Pelicans by the dozen roam the pier with an attitude. If you have young children you definitely want to hold on to them, the pelicans will actually attack if you don’t give them a little leeway. The pier is active so the smell of fishing boats, dead fish and decaying by catch are always at the forefront. The city sewer also appears to empty near the pier. I wouldn’t say it was gross, or one of the primary smells but when you have such a good cocktail of odors it is hard to discriminate.
So, we are hungry and really not looking to cook on the boat before a long trip so we ask the security guard if there is a good taco shop someplace within walking distance. I figured he would suggest something about a mile away but he pointed to old blue 1970’s vintage van down the street. He was pretty sure they were open so Lisa, Sparks and I wander down the “pier” street avoiding cockroaches, Pelicans and piles of dead bait to the van. Yup, she was open. We ordered a ½ dozen Tamale’s and a bottle of coke then went back to the boat. The van actually had a small Taco bar setup outside with chairs, but we had reached our level of experimentation so the boat seemed a bit more comforting, especially if something in the tamales when horribly wrong.
Once back at the boat we enjoyed the best beef tamales we have had in Mexico! No after effects, cheap, and convenient, who could ask for more!
So the trip to San Felipe ended with a good note and we are proud of ourselves for completing a trip that only about 10% of the cruisers in Baja attempt. Oh, it is not a dangerous trip just inconvenient in the distance from any other anchorages and the proximity of the marina from the actual town does not lend itself to leisurely exploration. The trip home included a stop in Gonzaga bay, but then that is another story.
Birds; 11 Sept, 2012
Birds and specifically Sea Birds get an incredible amount of good press. They adorn the walls of many homes in the shape of brass silhouettes, as the focal point of a painting or to draw the attention of the observer to away from the main subject giving the painting or picture a much deeper since of realism. My mom has plastic sea gulls hanging from a mobile in her back yard. Even while sailing we watch with awe as Frigate birds sweep across the sky with indiscernible body movements that send them to all corners of the compass with ease and grace. Even the ungainly pelican is surprisingly graceful once it becomes airborne.
For a long time I have enjoyed the presence of birds around the boat. We have multiple pictures and fine memories of pelicans and both blue and brown footed boobies landing on or near our dinghy, but like everything in our fragile lives, those memories can be shattered by a single chaotic event, for example while in the final moments of docking your boat, the freeloading Boobie that has ridden 30 miles on the top of your mast decides poop on your head. Or as a second example the amazing frigate bird that look so graceful in the sky decides to land on the spreaders of your mast and immediately takes a dump on your freshly washed boat, cleaned solar panels and your chest and pants all at the same time. Nope, no longer are seabirds the enchantresses of the sea for me.
Having spent 2 weeks in San Felipe I have learned to deplore the existence of Pelicans, Cormorants and just about any other sea bird. They are filthy creatures that care not where the excrement that seeps from their bodies lands. I spent 3 hours scrubbing the dock in San Felipe to try to rid the place of crusted bird guano that not only accosted our olfactory senses but also brought hordes of flies into the boat. When we had finally gotten the cache of Caca off the docks we spent the next 13 days policing the docks of birds and fighting to keep the cormorants off our masts and defending against their almost automatic reflex to defecate on the boat seconds after finding a roost. Yes the loose stools of birds have lead me to outright Jihad against their incontinent ways.
It might come as a surprise to many that Jesus and I speak on a regular basis. Usually it is when I think he is being a bit mean spirited with me but there are other times that his good humor with me needs a response of thanks or acknowledgement. I have not done so yet but will soon have a discussion about the poor design of the incontinent bird. There is simple no reason these animals either don’t care or have no connective control over their bowels.
I can already hear you saying, “What a pansy, he gets hit with fresh liquid coprolite twice and he has to go straight to the boss”. Well that may not be completely true. While we were in San Felipe there was yet another incident that nearly caused an international incident. Lisa loves the story and although we have only been out of San Felipe for a little over 2 days she has mentioned it to at least 2 other boats and several people we have met on the beach.
After cleaning the decks one day, I noticed yet another cormorant on the mizzen mast. This scenario has played out several times a day for the last week or more. Each time my rage intensifies as I go about pounding on the mast, shaking halyards, sanctions and any thing I can find attached to the mast. It has even dragged me down to the level of squawking over the loud hailer to intimidate the poop filled birds to leave before any more of their stinking turd pudding flows over their sphincter dam and on onto my decks. As luck would have it, the Mexican Navy was watching this deranged Gringo yelling obscenities at the birds as he nearly torn the mast down trying to get at them. Although I was successful enough in finally getting the bird to move the last laugh came from the Mexican Navy when the bird shot an enormous glob of while sploog from it’s anus as it lifted from the mast. Of course the glob of half digested bird batter landed squarely on my bare chest which left my crew and the navy giddy for hours there after.
Dark and Stormy Night, 14, Aug, 2012
On August 14th around 10 pm it was a dark and stormy night. Truly the moon has yet to rise and when it does, if we see it, it will be less than 1/8th it’s full size. We expect it to come up around 3am on the 15th. The last radio transmission we have had was from a cruiser on another boat who said, “Dang, I was watching a Conquestador Movie and the next thing I knew my whole world was upside down”. We had just experienced a very large and powerful Chubasco, Mexican for Big “FN” Thunderstorm with lots of wind.
At 60 knots of wind we were taken by surprise. Lisa and I had settled down about 30 minutes before hand to watch another episode of “24” before putting up for bed. The first sign that things were about to get a little weird was the rolling of the boat. We had dropped anchor in a small cove at the North end of Isla Angel la Guardia (Gaurdian Angel Island I believe). We dropped plenty of scope (the amount of chain) for normal winds to 30 knots and figured we would have a pleasant night. We had sailed up from Isla Coronado this afternoon in 28 knots of wind and were really looking for some good sleep. Anyway, the boat started to rock and within 30 seconds the wind went from perhaps 10 mph to over 65 MPH. What surprised me more than anything now that I can reflect is that the ropes that usually clang about in 20 knots of wind stood completely silent in 60 knots, not a peep from any of them. What did make noise was the wind…holy Jesus did it roar. More than the noise was the immediate spray that flew around the boat. The entire viewing area of the window had turned white with spray and the occasional appearance of the dinghy as it leap from the water trying to free itself from the pelting it was taking by the wind driven rain.
Usually you need fetch or room on the water for wind to blow up waves that crest or turn white due to the force of air being driven into them. We literally had 300 feet from the shore to us. In an instant the wind was filled with spray and all the water around us was white. Never have either Lisa or I seen this before. We had wind protection from a hill that sits close to the shore and again no room for fetch, but hurricane category 1 wind will apparently make a mess of anything.
The TV was immediately shut down and moments later we were pulling down the aft sun shade trying to save it if possible. We make it a daily event to pull down the front shades immediately after the sun sets so that trouble was already taken care of. After the sun shade I went to work trying to find the deck chairs that had been laid flat earlier in the evening. Unfortunately we had a 50% casualty on the deck chairs and I found only 1 chair. After recovering the chair we also retrieved our salt water bucket and our cockpit cushion (25% loss). From there we just battened down the hatches and turned on the radar to watch for the calamities to happen.
Some 30 minutes into the ordeal and after we had started a small radio net to be sure everyone near the anchorage was safe, it sounded like a bowl of marbles had spilled over outside. Investigation revealed that 48 crushed beer cans had escaped captivity and were now freely roaming the boat top sides..Lisa most likely would have volunteered to recover the cans but I moved first and then sat on the cabin top while the waves whipped around us and collected cans as they rolled by me. The whole thing was pretty comical although if I had fallen off, the boat learched or Lisa had won the lottery, I could have been stranded or killed, such is the life of a sailor.
With most of the cans recovered I placed the can holder in a place I was sure was secure. I went down stairs to hear the can holder tip over again and the sound of expatrioted cans fleeing for their lives. I ignored the sound and figured the cans would be available for rescue if needed or I would be paying a large Mexican fine in the next couple of months for Littering.
The storm has been raging for about 4 hours now. I am getting tired and Lisa is sleeping. There are still winds over 30 knots but they are becoming less and less concerning since we just had a chubasco late last week that got up to 36 knots of wind and heck that one came with quite a bit of fetch and 4 foot waves to boot.
Assuming we live through this we will publish this story in about 2 weeks
Dancing to the beat of Life: 12 Aug, 2012
“No, but they are watching” Lisa said. Once again my spouse was giving me cogent advice on my public image and the impact it might have at another time. We had arrived at our new favorite anchorage, Las Rochas off the island of Coronado in the north portion of Bahia de Los Angeles. Our arrival signified the furthest north in the Sea of Cortez that Beyond Reason had ever sailed. Mind you we are just 4 miles or so further than the last time we visited but goals and mile stones need to be celebrated as they happen or you might miss a chance to celebrate.
The cove here at Las Rochas has seven distinct beaches. Each one sports a different venue, smooth sand beach on one, smooth shale stone beach on another, interesting rock formations on others etc. We are anchored pretty deep for Baja at 35 feet, but the interesting thing is that in the morning we can still see our anchor chain laying on the bottom of the sea from 35 feet up…nice clarity I would say. The weather so far has been agreeable with the humidity dipping to mid the 30’s yesterday and the temperature being only 99 degree’s, heck it felt like a cool day in Sacramento California in the summer. One of our reasons to celebrate was the lack of humidity as the previous 4 days in BLA had been hot and because of the morning rain that had gone on for 3 days the humidity had climbed into the 80% range. Honestly we thought 80% was rain, but not here.
It appears that we have 270 degree’s of wind wave protection in the cove which will be tested tomorrow when we expect to see 30 knots of wind come over the hill. If it works out fine I will forgive Las Rochas for not having any killable fish. It was only today that we found out this last tidbit of information although on the plus side the cove does boast one of the largest populations of Opal Eye’s that we have seen in a long time. Let’s just say that Las Rochas has beginner fish for killing, but since I graduated to the Omar Black Master spear gun, we normally do not take fish less than 3 lbs for lunch, that’s what chicken is for.
So our first night here was a celebration, and a long time ago my friend Dave Torrey gave me a card or something or other when I retired from the company we worked for that said to enjoy life and Dance like nobody is watching. Lisa and I had had our nightly (sometimes afternoonly) cocktails and some good tunes were wafting over the radio so I took Dave’s advice. Lisa, bless her heart told me to stop, the Pangarero’s (fishermen) were watching. Thank god “I’m too sexy” by Right Said Fred was not playing as I always get out of control on that song.
Northern Sea, Welcome to Baja Norte: 3 Aug, 2012
Today is day 7 in San Francisquito. This is a small bay about 150 miles south of San Filipe. The bay is lined with pure white sand beaches that roll up to yellow bluffs which are potted with caves and trimmed with Stovepipe and Cardon cactus.
In the evening coyotes will call out to the boats at anchor and periodically come down to the beach to check for snacks or perhaps take a small crab for a meal. If there was one complaint it would be the small desert marsh area that floods at high tide during the full moon releasing thousands of tiny mosquitoes that within seconds can overwhelm anything you are doing and send you seeking cover.
Because of their size it does not take much wind to send them searching for their own cover so for 5 days we have been able to keep them at bay. Over the last 2 days the mosquitoes have been a bit of a distraction during the night and anytime you need to pass through the marsh (to take pictures or go for a hike). Yesterday I knelt down to take a picture of the pickle grass and surrounding area and it took me 3 tries before I was even able to snap a picture because the mosquitoes were so quick to attack me. A better word than attack would be that they literally engulfed me within seconds of my stepping into their domain. The attack was so fast and furious that I really could not hold the camera still enough to push the shutter button and get the picture. I tried to get Lisa to come and see how bad they were but after the last couple encounters she has had with animals I guess she is getting a bit shy.
On August 1st it was my sad duty to report that Lisa was attacked on her last day of being 48 years of age by a Man-of-war Jelly fish. Although the actual details are sketchy, I am pretty sure she was yelling “Help me baby Jesus or Help me Oprah Winfree” as the Jelly fish chased her to the dinghy. The stings to her shoulder were pretty bad so taking a lesson from what we learned on our honey moon 30 years ago when I stepped on a sea urchin, I offered to pee on her shoulder to help the stinging (the ammonia is suppose to ease the pain according to Jamaican lore). Lisa quickly said “NO” and we drove to the boat to consult the medical manual. Apparently Ammonia is not the cure (it would have been really funny now if Lisa had said OK, instead of No), and instead we used the spray bottle of vinegar.
The scarring doesn’t look to bad this morning, and we are trying to figure out what type of tattoo will cover it. The only real issue was the amount of rum Lisa consumed to kill the pain we will need to find a liqueur store soon.
After our trip to the states we finally got my spear gun working. I took it out a number of times over the last week and to be honest it is not really fair to the fish. We no longer Fish, we Kill. Sadly the killing has become so easy that I nearly lost my gun the other day when a school of 20 Crevalle, each about four feet long came swimming along. I was prepare and quickly aimed and fired. My spear found the mark and a second after pulling the trigger; my gun was jerked from my hand and watched in amazement as the fish swam away with my spear and the gun. Lucky for me the wounded Crevalle wanted to join the rest of the group and for some reason they all wanted to come back for another look at me. When they did this the wounded fish went to the bottom to scrub my spear from its body then disappeared. The gun and now bent spear floated to the surface and I recovered it. I was sure the gun was ruined (bent spear and all), but I was able to straighten it up while I reviewed my lesson on making sure I had a good hold of the gun at all times.
Today we are head north again. We are hoping to visit a couple of new coves along the route to Bahia De Los Angeles and expect to be out another week or two before posting this and other messages.
Showers: 16 July, 2012
“God damn it, I am serious I tell Lisa, let me out and the guys at the desk owe me a beer”! I was tired even after just taking a shower. We had pulled into Santa Rosilia earlier in the day. We anchored out in the bay to save a couple of dollars on the fee to berth. Although we had made reservations for earlier in the month, they were not for today, so we thought we would wait one day and enjoy just one more day of being off the grid.
The Palapa of Knowledge is well known on the Sea of Cortez for cheap beer, funky atmosphere and cagey old men that seem to know the answer to everything. Really it was the cheap beer that attracted us, plus the fact that several of our friends were berthed near by. The cool thing about the place is it is a kick back in time where beer is on the “honor system”, heck the whole place is on honor including the $25.00 pesos (about US $1.50) which allows you to land your dinghy, take a shower, drop off trash and pickup beer for about US $1 each that are cold, very cold.
So after we racked up 10 beers for the short afternoon, I decided I would test the shower. Lisa is much more risk adverse than I, so she opted for showing on the boat. She has quite a phobia about cockroaches (or as they are called here, Palm Beatles). Same thing though, 3 inches long, brown and if you step on them you stand a good chance of losing your footing. Anyway I got my shower gear and before I went in I was told that I had to mop the bathroom when I finished. Well that was kind of a shock but heck, I can do manual labor and at least you can be sure that the filth is kept to a minimum if everyone does this.
We have written about Mexican showers before, and this one was not exception, tile floor, cracked and missing in places, mold lightly providing contrast to the tile/grout motif, rusting shower drain and of course the dribble of water that comes from the shower head that you just hope can be adjusted by wiping the calcium deposits off with your finger nails.
Once I get the water running, and find some way to keep my junk (clothes this time) from touching the ground, I enjoy the shower, warm, refreshing and continuous which circles back to refreshing, something that is not always available in Mexico.
I complete and am happy to have kept my bare skin from touching most of the hard surfaces while doing pogo jumps to get my pants up. I pack up and that is when the real fun begins.
I am ready to begin mopping my way out of the room but can’t find a handle to the door that I PRESSED shut since it didn’t have latch. Most shower doors have room at the top of the door to grab the door and pull it toward you in an emergency, not here. This door was virtually sealed. Had the drain clogged it is reasonable to assume that I could have floated out the window and onto the street if I had wanted, but no matter how I pounded and quickly retracted my hand, tried to dig my finger nails between the frame and the glass of the door, or tried to create suction cups with my gecko hands, I could not get the door to open….Enter tourettes syndrome.
I am screaming to Lisa that I can not get out and I need her to enter the men’s room to help pry the door open. In the background Lisa is giggling and speaking with all the old men about me “mimicking scenes from Spinal Tap or Captain Ron or even Christmas Story”. I pound again with a little more enthusiasm and a little more volume, but again the giggle, and “your funny, I am not coming in to “HELP” you”. Finally I have to just yell, “God Damn it Lisa, come in here I am stuck”. That helped. She came in and pounded on the door from the other side, literally. It was at this time that I told the guys when I got out either somebody was going to pay the price or owe me a beer.
Eventually Lisa was able to get the door to open and I waltzed out with my mop in hand, sweating and ready for another shower, at the boat.
Another day at the Island: 13 July, 2012
Tropical storm Fabio is beginning to form up today. The location is 400 miles south of Manzanio so we are not concerned today as it will have to travel 800 miles North just to begin to put a scare in us. We are told that in any given year there are about 16 named storms during the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season. Of those 16 storms, 8.4 will become hurricanes and 3.9 or the 8.4 hurricanes will be major. To date we have had 5 hurricanes this year out of 6 named storms. Storm #6 is Fabio. I am not sure what I think of that. The most active hurricane month are July thru September, and since we already had 5 hurricanes already I can’t imagine what the active months are going to be like. God bless us everyone.
We are currently enjoying being at anchor in a place called Sweat Pea Cove on Isla San Marco’s. Don’t ask me why it does not have a Spanish name to it, but there you go perhaps it is payback for the Spanish naming most of the towns in California “San” –what-ever. Anyway, we have expected it to be nice for the last couple of day and continue to endure the 19 knots of breeze during the day and 25 to 30 knots of breeze during the night. Needless to say I have black circles forming under my eyes and every night but one I have spent in the cockpit trying to sleep and watch anchor while Lisa lounges away in the forward berth with fans and misters keeping her cool and content, not to mention oblivious to noise and racket created by waves and wind. Paradise I tell you, just wish I was Lisa.
Actually we have still been having a good time. We dive and kill fish most days and when we don’t do that it leaves more time for Gin and Tonic or Rum and Coke, so how do you curse mother nature for less than perfect weather, perhaps she is just keeping us in check (don’t want to drink all the rum in the first week : ). The thunder storms keep us guessing every afternoon if we need to pull the dinghy engine “just in case we have to escape” or if we should just relax and let the insurance agents worry about the anchor draggin. Today Blue Water insurance has the watch, I’m going to the beach.
It’s not the same the second time around: July 10, 2012
Lisa and I have been on a little morality kick lately. Our primary view is still that if you are not hurting other people do what you like, but be prepared for us to talk about you anyway.
One of the things that has really caught us this time around is the pervasiveness of drugs. By this what I really mean is marijuana. I can’t remember if anyone offered us a joint while we were here the last time, but over the last 6 months we have been offered a “toke” by at least 6 other cruisers. There has definitely been a shift in attitude as I don’t think we have been offered a beer by many more people than that. The odd thing is the ages of the folks we have met smoking dope range from 23 to over 70! In all instances the people were polite and asked us if we minded them smoking in front of us. Since it was not our boat or car we obviously did not object, somehow that would be rude.
I don’t know all the rules in Mexico but I do know that drugs are still illegal. I also know that your boat can be confiscated if drugs are found on board. I don’t know if there are limits or minimums that would allow you to keep your boat, but you can look that up yourself. The topic of drug use (in all instances marijuana) came up the other day with a friend of ours. He was surprised by my attitude about weed and questioned me about why. I truthfully answered him that I haven’t touched it since I was 17, it makes me nervous and it was illegal. He questioned me further asking if I had ever done anything that was not legal, and I just had to answer him that I have never done anything that would allow me to lose my boat if caught. He thought about this for a second and then relayed a story of his drug storage on board. Just a number of months ago he was in San Pedro cove north of San Carlos and he did have a stash on board. During the day three Mexican Navy boats came into the cove. He said he got so nervous that he threw his entire collection of drugs and smoking equipment over the side. The Navy never came over to inspect him, but he was afraid just the same.
I can’t imagine living under the pretense that you always have to watch for the navy or customs because of what you have on the boat. Heck we offer up beer and wine whenever the local constabulary is around, why risk your boat. As we were talking about his experience it morphed into where people hide there drugs and to me just the fact that I would have to place it in a bottle under all my chain in the chain locker, or inside a unused thru-hole or pipe would make recreation so much of a chore that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it even if I did, I have a hard time putting the rum bottle in it’s cabinet at the end of the day. To each his own, but I can’t figure out why you would complicate your life.
The other day we were at the Fourth of July party. For the most part it is a pot-luck. Somebody had the idea that cooking up marijuana laced brownies would be fun. Ok, if it is your house or boat and you let people know, perhaps, but a family pot-luck, I don’t think so. The brownies were labels as “Toxic”, not drug laced, not for people over the age of 21 or whatever, just toxic. We picked up the hint and avoided the brownies, another friend of ours failed to take heed. He is not a drinker and I am fairly sure he does not use any recreational mood enhancers but he did try the brownies. Keep in mind this was pot luck so anything is possible, but shortly after his snack he became ill. My guess is he had a panic attack or nervous attack if you like but it could have been bad potato salad or even the sun. He needed to lie down for about an hour before he could make it back to the boat. After a couple of more hours on the boat he returned and was fine, no harm done.
On the other side of the morality issue is the question of when is it ok to walk around the decks nude. I can here my daughter saying now “for you Dad, never”, ok I get it. Many of the anchorages we go to are filled up like a KOA on Labor Day. Several times now we have entered these types of “campgrounds” and there is some dude with no shorts on traipsing around the deck like he is the only one in the anchorage. Now before you say it, I do shower on deck. Mind you we have large gunnels so really unless you are really looking the best you will see is me from the waist up. We always try to anchor away from others and if the anchorage is really crowded I do go in doors, or we pull up a shade in the cockpit. My peeve is really just the guys or gals (heck most of us are over 50 so it takes the cultured eye to see beauty in the lot of us) who seem completely immune to the fact that they are not alone in the anchorage and although a glimpse of there naked selves leads to good cocktail conversation, watching them clean the boat in the nude leads to dinner convulsions, put a sarong on Tonto!
Addendum: I wrote this piece several days ago. We hadn’t had a chance to post it as we were away form the dock for several weeks. 30 minutes ago, a boat pulled into the anchorage. We are the most southerly boat in the anchorage and our closest neighbor WAS 500 yards from us. This boat pulls in within 100 yards from us. By all accounts I am ok with the closeness but really the anchorage runs about a half mile further south (in case you are wondering we were the first boat here and alone for 2 days before anyone came in). Anyway, the anchor is dropped and 30 minutes later, Nature boy is on deck, wang-a-danglin’ and launching his dinghy..err…small little boat to get to shore, naked as a Jay Bird. Somebody tell me Jesus doesn’t have a since of humor.
Another day in Paradise: June 28, 2012
It is 10:30 in the morning, 91 degrees and the sun is just beginning to ascend above the hills of Punta Conception. Perspiration is beginning to crawl its way out of my pores, but the breeze coming down the seaway devours most of it before it can make its way down my face. Call it another day in paradise. Already today Sparky and I have gone to the beach to take care of the morning call, Lisa has ordered up 2 lbs of Callo or Scallops from the local fisherman ($4.50 per pound), the breakfast dishes are done and the solar panels are juicing up the batteries favorably. We have strung together a number of very good days lately. I won’t say that all the boat issues are taken care of but at least they have slowed down to a manageable level.
Over the last 3 days we have travels just short of 70 miles. Two thirds of that we did yesterday mostly under sail in 20 knots of wind and 5 – 6 foot following seas. On our last day in Coronado (3 days ago) we completed the removal and re-installation of 100 teak plugs which has enhanced the appeal of our deck, harassed a large portion of the fish population in the area, harvested 25 rock scallops that immediately made it into stuffed Pablano Peppers with a cream sauce, swam with dolphins and then watched the phosphorescence bloom under the boat as the moon drifted across the moisture laden sky.
On departure from Coronado we caught our second fish this season while underway. Skipjacks are certainly not the best of fish and some would say they are more useful as bait than food. Lisa and I have a way of preparing this strong flavored fish which might change ones mind. You can have look in the recipe section if you have a mind to look it up. Again, as with the Mahi Mahi we caught less than a week earlier this fish had copious amounts of blood which it sprayed on our decks and cabin but this time as if not to be out done by the Mahi, it also has a pretty intense fish odor to go with it, a big clean up job.
So we are now at the mouth of Conception bay. Why they call it Conception is anyone’s guess. Last night I would say the Conception Index might have been 2 on a scale of 5. Sweltering, but not so much that the bed was completely empty. During the night there was actual a point that both Lisa and I occupied it at the same time, but certainly at arms length from each other. As the fourth of July nears I am sure the index will continue to drop to zero, there will be no Grandpa sex for at least a couple of weeks I am sure.
It looks like the local pangarerro is coming back with our fresh scallops (can’t seem to get enough of them), so I will end it here and look to post this in the next couple of days when we reach El Burro Cove about 8 miles from here.
Internet is tough to find: June 15, 2012
It seems like a long time since we have written anything down, but the real truth is it has just been a long time since we have had internet. We are sitting on the North side of Isla San Francisco today. We spent last evening in the Southern anchorage here and due to the wind and waves that were influenced by that wind had a pretty rowdy night of rocking and bobbing about. All in all it was really a good day yesterday despite what we might have thought of the evening conditions.
We had left Caleta Partida that morning and had a fine sail the 20 or so miles to San Francisco. To top off the sail we caught our first Dorado in over 3 years and quickly made a mess of the deck filleting it. We have caught a lot of big fish on this boat but the little 22 inch Dorado we caught yesterday bleed more than any fish we have ever caught. When we were completed we had blood from the gunnels to the top of the cabin roof and spread out about 15 feet from the front of the boat to the back. We ended up closing all the windows and just doing a general scrub down of the boat to clean up. We pulled into a place called the Hook and after setting the anchor dove into the nearly 80 degree water to cool down from a fairly warm day.
Today we moved about 2 miles to try to get out of the wind and put us closer to a small village of fishermen on Isla Coyote. After we anchored Lisa and I worked on our forward sail which during the sail the previous afternoon had torn free from the top part o the mast. Mostly this just entailed pulling the sail (Jib) down, hand sewing some nylon strapping to the top and then re-installing it. Not a bad job or way to spend the morning and it sure felt good to work on something outside instead of in the bilge or in some tight corner of the boat. When we finished we fired up the dinghy and roared 2 miles across the bay to the island of Coyote and the small village.
We were greeted by Manual, one of the village elders and he promptly helped us to the beach and tied our dinghy up. Manual was not pushy but asked if we would like to see his village, which we promptly agreed that we would. The town contains perhaps a dozen homes, each is attached to the hillside of the island with very nice cement foundations and most have a thatched roof, though some are not as nice as others. The whole village was remnisant of the hamlets that you might see or read about in old England. Although there is not a lot to see in a village this size they do have a small museum of whale bones, a church and a small bead or jewelry industry. Manual asked if we would like to see the beading work and of course Lisa said yes, so we strolled up the dirt path to one of the last homes on the hill and were greeted by Contessa who made the necklaces and other stuff. Lisa spent a good 15 minutes looking around and eventually we walked away with $7 worth of bracelets and neck jewelry. The nice thing was there was never any pressure to buy anything so it was relaxing. The other thing about this town is it is the first time I have ever seen any Mexicans lying about in Hammocks. In the Jewelery show room there were two people in other rooms relaxing in hammocks and on the way down the trail there were at least 3 others keeping up the image. It all added to the charm of this town and although we soon jumped back into the dinghy it was a great diversion for the day.
Sparky was waiting for us on return and so we motored to the beach for a little stroll down the small beach. We are cooking up the last of yesterdays catch tonight, The freezer is keeping up with our ice needs so there should be some cool rum and cokes about to help wash down fish.
The fun starts with the turn of the Key: 9 June, 2012
Casey from the Sailboat V-ger called out to me from his dinghy, “That was good luck it didn’t happen 20 miles from here”. He was right in a way, but “Good Luck”, I don’t know.
We anchored out the night prior, just slightly beyond the docks that had held us for a couple of week. We stayed an extra day just so we could visit with some new friends that came into town, so today was departure day. As we figured we would motor at least an hour today to leave the channel that flows out of La Paz we didn’t really mind that the batteries were low and I was running the Ham net that morning.
After the net and a near perfect checkout with the local port captain in understandable Spanish, we pulled up the anchor and slowly started to motor out the channel that flows from La Paz. Not 100 yards from our original anchoring spot I notices that we were not producing any electrical power (not a big deal, but quizzical), and the water temp looked way high. Since we had been fiddling with electrical stuff over the last couple of weeks I figured something had disconnected so continued for a few more yards as I watch the temperature go from 170 degrees to almost 200. I yelled to Lisa that we had a problem and I was shutting down the engine, “prepare to anchor”.
We coasted into a spot that looked safe enough and dropped anchor. I was quite sure we had lost a belt to the engine and on inspection that was precisely what had happened, the alternator/freshwater cooling belt had failed.
The belt braking was not wholly unexpected as it has happened many times in the past and these belts have weathered some pretty warm temperatures in the last 4 years. We pulled out some new belts and as luck would have it the ones we had were just about the right size to almost offer a solution, but not quite. Apparently we had bought belts about 1” too long and we did not have that much travel in the alternator to take up all the slack.
While I was futzing with the belt I notice a slow leak of water, so since I was in the vicinity I followed it to the intake hose for sea water cooling of the generator. It looked like just a loose hose but the more I touched the hose the more water leaked in. I shut the valve off and did a bit more discovery only to find out that a complete fitting had shattered and I now had a 1.5” hole in our boat below the water line, Good Luck was with me in that the valve to shut off the water actually worked.
I tightened up the belt on the alternator and basically got the boat going again, although I would say we where hobbled at best. So we upped anchor again and headed to a safer stop for anchorage (we were actually in the main channel during this period). We dropped anchor and I prepared to go to shore in search of the right belts, the fix for the broken fitting and to take the trash in. Of course this would be Sunday and the chances of stores being open in Mexico on a Sunday are limited. It was good luck that we do not have a holiday tomorrow.
I spent an hour in town finding an open beer store, plastic florist and rotisserie chicken outlet, but no open auto parts or marine parts stores. Our biggest issue now was power. We do have solar but it hardly keeps up with hair driers, refrigerators and computer usage, so the number one priority would be getting the generator back on line (water). As I boarded the boat Lisa met me with “I think we have another problem”, I think I said “shucks” but perhaps I am just shy. Anyway, turns out the propane hose blew up while I was away. Blew up might be overstating, it just blew apart. Lisa was close by so the propane was shut down immediately and no harm happened. Unfortunately getting a new hose will have to wait, it’s Sunday. On the good luck side of things we have a backup and breakfast, which was a bit late, was done on the barbeque which uses a separate tank and shorter hose.
It has taken a little over 2 hours since I arrived back to cobble a new fitting for the water hose, so it was good luck that we had spares which could be cobbled. We will get a new fitting tomorrow. We also were able to clamp the propane hose back together using a special wire clamping tool I bought 6 years ago, so Good Luck we had that on board. The belts will have to wait till tomorrow as well, but thank God for our Good Luck we could have been doing all this in the cold damp North West, North East or South Pole.
I really am thankful that we have a finite number of systems and items on the boat, we are working through each one and someday soon we will have repaired everything. With good luck we will only have to do each one once.
Farm Raised Rabbits: June 8, 2012
We needed propane today. We didn’t really NEED propane, but since we are just about ready to jump the fence that is La Paz I figured we better fill up while we can. Propane is kind of hit or miss situation in Mexico. By this I mean that sometimes it is easy to get (La Paz/San Carlos) and other times it is a bit of a ride (Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta) on a bus with an extensive walk tacked on. In San Carlos we were able to head to the bar, give the bar tender our tanks and later that day the tanks would be filled and the bill was the price of the propane fill was the cost of the propane only. In La Paz they offer a service where a guy comes and picks up your tanks and charges a set rate for the transport and fill. We have 1 gallon tanks. The typical charge if we fill directly from a vendor is about $20 pesos or $2 US.
Last week I took a tank to the “service guy” to have it filled. He wanted $100 pesos, but at the time I needed some for the Bbq, so I paid the $6 or $7 US dollars to have the single tank filled, fine. Today I took our other tank in just to be sure we were topped up and he wanted $150 pesos. I just couldn’t do it. I could live without this tank till we got to another city if needed so I returned home. On the way I passed Club Crucero’s, the local Yacht club for Gringos and others. Our neighbor called out regarding me carrying my still empty tank back to the boat. We discussed the situation with the “price hike” and a heavy discussion began regarding my inflexibility to accept that this guy was running a business and the devaluation of the peso for him needed to be shored up by people like me. I explained my side of the situation to this Ex-patriot, and assured him that Goat Tacos were still the same price regardless of what the dollar value was in terms of the peso. The price of fuel here is still the same and a cup of overpriced coffee at the local café is still the same expense as it was 2 weeks ago.
As the conversation continued I was reminded of the book, Watership Down by Richard Adams. As I recalled there were a bunch of farm rabbits that could not be persuaded to leave the farm for a life of freedom because they got their daily needs filled by the farmer that eventually chose a couple of rabbits for his dinner. Somewhere in the story the quote “Rabbits need dignity and above all the will to accept their fate” shows up. I thought to myself how fitting this is for many of the gringo’s in La Paz. La Paz already has a reputation of being a vortex. Lisa and I have known this for a while which is why we are so adamant about getting out of here. When I think about the way this city sucks in Gringo’s and then holds them while providing all their needs I can’t help but think that the marinas here should be called Warrens not marinas.
Eventually I broke off from the conversation a the rabbit hutch, aka, Club Crucero’s and walked back to the boat. For the most part the Rabbits at the club were the same Rabbits that frequent Ciao Molina, and although I hesitate to say that I wrote about them already, I am not sure. In any event on the same day that we were overcharged at Ciao Molina we did have a chance to go back and bring the topic up to some of the patrons there. To our surprise many had been overcharged on occasion but again, nobody would take my side, just the retort that it was Mexico and it happens some times (so does the taking of rabbits on the farm) but that is just the way things happen.
I can’t say I am sad for these folks, but what burns me is that there is local discussion daily on the VHF radio were many of these same folks are bad mouthing the US, our policies and rightfully or not our politics while here in their own home they accept their local establishments to extort money from them in the same way they say republicans and democrats are extorting the money from the US citizens.
As we get ready to leave the marina/burrow I am happy to say that we have yet to be cheated by any establishment that is outside the influence of gringo marinas. We are thankful for being able to travel in Mexico and truly love the hospitality that we are shown from the greater majority of its citizens.
Ciao Molina, La Paz, May 29, 2012
So we had a pretty good day today as we said in the front end of the blog. Lisa and I decided we would blow a little of our hard earned patriot cash on the Mexican economy and then go to pick up her new bathing suits.
Ciao Molina has been a fixture here in La Paz for at least the last four years that we know, but during that time we have never had any reviews on it.
We dropped in at about 4 pm and of course since the weather was hot and the sun was still up there was no body in the place. We checked in with the waiter to be sure they were open and to be sure that Margaritas were actually 2 for 1 then made an order for 2, and asked for the La Carte (menu). When the Margaritas arrived (all 4 at once) we ordered some Calamari so as not to take advantage of the 2 for 1 special (daily from 1 to 8 pm).
The Margaritas were nice, small, but plenty of ice and salt which is really what we wanted after being in the sun for 8 hours varnishing. When we completed the first two drinks (one each) and settled into the next two, which by now were a bit watered down, the calamari arrived. The squid was very good and the wait was worth it since I am sure they were warming up the oil, this place has potential but we hadn’t yet received the bill!
So the waiter came over to offer the bill and to our surprise, 100 pesos for drinks and 65 pesos for squid added up to 210 pesos, Surprise!
We paid the bill and tipped the waiter well, although we were astonished that the bill was about $5 more than we figured. After we paid we thought to ask the waiter if we had premium margaritas and he said “no”, just the normal 50 peso ones. Again we were taken back by the cost so asked why they were not 2 for 1? The waiter then went to the sign which is normally out side and looked at it and told us the sign said 2 for 75 peso’s..OK, Gringo stupid here, we said thanks then left and on the way picked up the sign, 2 for 1.
We have been treated very well in Mexico, so this is not a slam on the country, but bullshit like this beyond me. The sign reads 2 for 1 everyday from 1 to 8 pm. We left and on the way out spoke with the taxi drivers that we just outside the place. In broken Spanglish Lisa tried to tell them that we just got taken. The Spanglish didn’t work so well but when I showed them the international sign of the Gringo getting screwed, they all laughed with sympathy. We walked on for about 50 feet when I finally had enough sympathy and thought I should go back and give the waiter a piece of my mind.
I don’t know many cuss words in Spanish, which might be good since I think you can still shoot people for crimes of passion and get away with it. Instead I went into the restaurant and called out for “Pancho” which I figured was about as bad a word as any other thing I could come up with. I told Pancho I didn’t want money back but was offended by his failure to treat us right. I also showed him the sign (which he had read to us earlier), then we walked out. Pretty weak I know, but I do like Mexico still.
Lisa bought me a fancy ice cream about 5 minutes later to calm me down…Drama
La Paz, time for a fix: May 26, 2012
It has been a pretty fairish couple of days here in La Paz. We had a good trip south and although we did not do much exploring we did visit three new anchorages. Two of the anchorages will be repeats for the way north and the third, Caletta Gallina will be held in memory when we need southern wave protection. Gallina was not really pretty but it sure made for a good nights sleep.
We pulled into La Paz on Monday evening and anchored just across from the Mexican Navy base. Having been here before we knew the tides and wind could be strong so we anchored with plenty of scope (lots of chain in the water). The wind stayed close to 20 knots all night and for some reason the current was counter to the wind for what seemed like 18 hours. This didn’t put any undue stress on the boat at anchor but made the boat rode sideways to the wind all night and although the boat faced one way the anchor was actually behind us giving me an uneasy feeling. It was all short lived as we moved to the marina on Tuesday.
As we entered the marina a large crowd gathered. The crowds are not unusual when we come into a marina as our boat is good sized and most people know that boats of our style are not easily handled in marinas, ie they don’t turn on a dime and are hard to stop once they get going. So although it would have been nice if everyone was throwing Hawaiian Leis or waving flags they were just here to see the crash. When we didn’t come directly into the slip but instead passed it and then began to back into the slip you should have seen the faces and all the excited movement from the 5 boats that seemed most likely to be speared or crushed by us, poor non-believing masochists, as usual our bow thruster did most of the work and we easily backed into the 15’ wide hole for our 14’ wide boat. The crowds dispersed, and I am sure I heard them murmuring how disappointed they were that no fiberglass was exchanged today.
We got to work on locating mechanics and electronic technicians immediately with the help from our friends Alex and Sue on Maitairoa. With everything lined up for the next day we went in search of tacos and a beer or two.
On Wednesday the mechanic for the transmission showed up. Collin is about 70 and as I understand it does transmission and diesel work now as a hobby. He is very grandfatherly when Lisa is around but I think he must have been in Nelson’s Navy because when she is not here he is plenty verbal with stuck nuts and bolts. We got on well and although he had another job to complete we got most of the removal work done the first day.
On Thursday we were rudely reminded that we are in Mexico and even if the mechanics are gringo they have been in the country long enough to dispel the notion of being on-time or on-date. To this end at 0930 we did not have anyone on the boat working on transmissions. Just about lunch time, Collin dropped by to say he was still working on the other boat and said he would come by later in the day. We countered with asking him to just show up on Friday morning with out fail as we were expecting the Electrical technician to come by in an hour anyway.
As 3pm rolled by and the electrician hadn’t showed I began to get frustrated. We have a lot of additional things that we could be doing if we were not waiting on appointments to come and go. When 5:30 came along I began to hustle Lisa to get dressed so we could go have a couple of sundowners with friends and bitch about the fricken-fracken mechanics and electrical numb-nuts. Just then the electrical dude showed up.
So at the time of this writing I do not think that Jeff from JWi is a numb-nuts anymore. He appears (the unit is not fixed yet) to know his stuff and after about 30 minutes of playing with the radar monitor he asked to be hoisted up the mizzen to see what was going on at the ray dome side of the unit. He took a bunch of pictures, wrote down notes and then departed so he could consult with the Furuno techs in the states. On Friday he returned with the news that the most likely trouble was the magnetron. The magnetron is essentially the radar. It is what produces the energy to cook your hot dogs or popcorn in the microwave and also the part that sends out the “RA-y” in Radar. Approximate cost is something like $700 plus installation. We will see.
Collin also showed up yesterday and we got the transmission out of the bilge with some cleverness and muscle. I am happy to say it is gone, and although the boat doesn’t move now, I think by this time next week we should be ready to leave the marina. Now I need to get to another taco stand.
It’s not all curly fries and sunshine: May 16, 2012
It has been quite the day today. After a near perfect day yesterday at Isla Monserrat we woke this morning to no wind in the anchorage but there were one foot smooth waves that were left over from the wind that we had last night.
Most people who don’t sail would think that an anchorage with wind was bad, but in reality it just holds your boat steady and if you are well anchored you sleep fairly soundly.
When the wind dies the boat no longer takes on the angle of the wind (and usually the waves) meaning it no longer points directly into them (especially the waves). So the wind died this morning about 4 am. By 4:30 we were broadside to the waves and wallowing from side to side pretty good. Actually it was good enough to send dishes that we left to dry last night on to the floor, and good enough to slam the dinghy into the side of the boat with a bang. All this meant my sleep was over and I needed to get moving to settle items into their “underway” position and paradise was lost. Lisa continued to slumber away as her’s is to sleep during the normal none waking hours and that is just the way it is.
After breakfast and doing the dishwashing bi-athalon (wash a dish, set it down, chase it across the counter till you have it wrapped up in the drying towel, repeat), we realized that our chosen anchorage, though well protected from some weather was not protected from the incessant waves that wrapped around the point and continued to roll us from side to side. Lisa and I decided to bail and try to make Agua Verde, 15 miles distance from us. After upping anchor and rounding the point we realized that it was going to be a tough destination to make against the wind. Being the type of folks that like to avert repression we adjusted our sails and 2 hours later found ourselves back at Candelaros Grande for the third time this month. The anchorage is really nice but honestly we feel like we have a rubber band pulling us back to the Puerto Escondido area each time we try to leave..
Our total forward progress in 1 month has been approx 7 miles although in actuality we have sailed or motored about 80 miles. Looking at the weather forecast we will be here for a couple of days then we make the big jump 12 miles down the coast if everything holds up. Yeah I am saying it again; trouble is looming just around the corner with our transmission this time.
Before we moved from Candeleros Chico two days ago we noticed some red transmission oil in the bilge. The gearbox was about 1 quart short so we topped it up and have yet to determine if the leak is pervasive or something that had just occurred over the last 3 months, either way it’s got our hackles up again and moving to La Paz becomes more and more a requirement (radar and now potential disassembly of the engine/gearbox unit).
So we trudge forward two steps and stagger back one again. It’s not all bad, the location is still nice and the weather has actually forced another 24 boats into the anchorage today so we have lots of company, but the deck showers will now have to stop for a while. Since we were not the first boat we don’t feel we can scare off the neighbor by showering outside and still feel good about ourselves. Another day in Paradise
Country Time:12 May, 2012
Today feels a lot like one of those old Country Time Lemonade ads. Lisa has the satellite radio turned to the Sinatra Channel so we have Louie Armstrong, Dinah Washington and Eartha Kitt all lulling us into a mood that is surprisingly relaxed and without worry. The dog is peacefully sleeping in the shade of the bimini, Lisa is in and out of the water swimming, sunning and doing that manny/petty thing that girls do. None of us seem to need anything from the other so we are all in our own little places doing what we enjoy. Things are really good.
A lot of this has to do with the anchorage we are in. The place is on the south east side of Carmen Island. The official name is Bahia Cobre, but we like to call it Corbert Bay in honor of Steven Corbert and the Corbert Nation.
We arrived yesterday, May 11th after leaving Bahia Salinas which is just around the corner. The place is completely deserted and the first anchorage since San Pedro cove that we have had to ourselves. To complement the isolation the fishing and diving have been terrific. There are simply way to many large fish here. If my spear gun was working we would fill the freezer with grouper and obscenely large trigger fillets. Lisa took a nice grouper yesterday but capping crown was the 20 lbs trigger that I took with the pole spear. The vibrant blue colors you see in the photo do not do justice to how spectacular it looked underwater. The fillets are providing 4 full meals for both Lisa and I.
I am not usually a fan of eating triggers but the one we shot yesterday honestly could have passed for teriyaki beef or pork in both taste and texture, call me a convert.
Sadly we will be moving later today or early tomorrow due to the expected NE winds of 20 knots that will pummel the anchorage. If we have a chance we will return in a couple of days when the winds change directions. There are very few all weather anchorages in the Sea of Cortez so moving is just a part of life. We could just ride the swell out, but I simple see no reason to rock and roll when just around the corner there is a new cove worth exploring that will allow us to relax at night and keep us from decimating the marine life here.
30 days in the hole:7 May, 2012
We are finally moving again and have put Loretto and Puerto Escondido behind us. We did the final shopping last night at the marina teinda. Pedro is a little pricey but when you factor in a $60 taxi ride to get to Loretto for groceries he is the best bargain in town. Even better than the convenience is the fact that he accepts our ATM card so we still have ducats in our pockets for later on in the trip.
The plan is to move east then south. The next big city should be La Paz but we don’t believe we will get there till late May or early June. That is three weeks out so you never know. La Paz is only about 150 miles away and we have never hit a lot of the anchorages along the way, we hope to this time.
Major provisions for this leg of the trip included a case of beer to top up the refrigerator (4 cases in total), a case of Castillo Rum which we bargained with Pedro to give to us for about $6.23 but in the end I think he still charged us the full $6.83 for each liter bottle, 36 eggs, 3 lbs of scallops, flour and some assorted other items. We were not empty by any means so this was just to keep Beyond Reason running at full speed.
We are roughly 4 miles from our destination and the weather is a nice 85 degrees with just a slight wind out of the southwest. The best I can say is we are motor sailing. I won’t add this leg to our sailing portion of the trip which is still a good 75% of the time. Summer is coming and I am sure the motoring will out do the sailing, but it was a nice start.
Yesterday Lisa and I did some fishing and diving. Lisa caught a 3 foot needle fish with her own lure, but in the end the fish won as just at the boat one of the swivels let loose and the fish dropped back to the sea. I recovered our lunch in the form of a 2 foot Opal eye and a couple of rock scallops.
That’s about it for updates, everything is running well we have no major issues at the time, boring huh. Bahia Salinas will be today’s stop. It is a closed salt mine (1980’s), but sports a sunken “treasure/tuna” boat and some easy hikes. If the weather holds we will stay for a while, if not it will be a short trip around the point of Isla Carmen to Bahia Cobre for protection and seclusion.
SNAFU part duex: May 1, 2012
There are days when I have to think that I am genetically disposed to have trouble. Obviously my troubles pale in comparison to those who are losing houses, farms, or lives but I just don’t know why the simple things escape simple solutions when I am here in a foreign country.
My biggest issue with blaming troubles on my family is that I don’t remember my dad even being beset with small issues that dragged on and on. My older brother appears to be without trouble, but my younger brother may be afflicted the same as me and I seem to have passed it on to my son.
For weeks I have written about the trouble with our diesel leak and generator issue. Ultimately both troubles were cured when the correct parts were fitted although the parts were either never there in the first place or replacement parts were available on board the boat but defective. Before we started this “Adventure” we acquired a new spear gun. Because the gun was used, we also made sure we had replacement parts just in case something broke. As luck or “genetics” would have it, the first day I was ready to use the gun the rubber bands that propel the “spear” in spear gun, snapped. OK, we had spares so nothing unexpected, just replace the rubber band and move forward. If you are aware of Murphy’s law, “anything that can go wrong, will”; you would know that the spare rubber band we had had the wrong ends on it and we were unable to screw it into the gun. For those familiar with spear guns, many don’t require the screw in rubber bands, but since quality to us is sometimes more important than function and ease of maintenance, we got the fancy gun with parts availability nearly non-existent.
So for weeks we have been without a gun to shoot fish making Lisa a bit cranky at times. I have spent hours laboring over the replacement part and when we finally found a company that sold them we were very specific about the size of the bands and the end fitting, heck I even used calipers to measure the fitting. We ordered the bands and had Patty bring them with her along with the parts for the engine. We all know the engine now works as does the generator, but of course the easiest fix (spear gun) had the wrong replacement parts for second time.
I spent most of Friday and today (Monday) on the phone trying to return the parts and get a replacement set of bands. We will have Josh send the package from the US so I don’t expect to see the bands for months, perhaps more. To fix that problem I thought I should order a single set of bands from another company and have them sent to another friend that is coming down here next week, simple right? No. Because we will not see the original replacement, return, replacement set for months I am having them shipped to my mom’s house. Also since my moms address was on my mind when we ordered the new, hurry up and get them to us soon set, I made and internet boo boo and had that set sent to my moms house as well. My mom is not coming to Mexico next week or perhaps ever.
As luck would have it the company I miss-ordered from had a customer service email address and I have sent a letter explaining my needs and hope that by tomorrow they will respond. Being mostly an impatient man, I also called the company, trouble! There is a commercial that use to play on TV about a year ago. It involved UPS I believe, but the kicker was that a person called customer service and a Russian Man at some remote North Pole station answered and said, “Customer service, this is Peggy, may I help you”. I am pretty sure I got that same North Pole station on the phone today. It worries me when a US company does not understand English, so ultimately I got no where with Customer service and now worry about my credit card, bank account and email address being stolen. I am hoping tomorrow we will here good news from them via email. Of course we have now had to upgrade any shipping service so lord only knows how much these things are costing. I should just learn to buy fish from the market like the rest of the gringos.
Rambling: 26 April, 2012
Today we woke up to a beautiful overcast day here in Baja. Funny you come down to Mexico for clear water, clear blue skies and days filled with sunshine but after a couple of weeks of 90 degree sunny days with no wind an overcast morning becomes a “picture perfect” day.
We had a fun experience in San Juanico 2 weeks ago which we never had a time to put up on the site. My friend Sergio reminded me yesterday that it was great example of the can do attitude of the Mexican or Baja people when faced with adverse conditions or when Papa just doesn’t want to have to wash his truck.
Lisa and I were motoring along in the dinghy making our way to the shore for a walk when we noticed this particular family on the beach working on their boat trailer. We are always pleased when we see how close families are in Mexico, so seeing 10 or 11 people all “working” on a boat trailer really wasn’t that odd. At some time during the trip we noticed that family was actually going to pull their boat from the water. I asked Lisa for the video camera but she was a bit late so we have no pictures but you probably can use your imagination. The family had an old low profile 21 foot jet boat; the type you would have seen back in the 80’s and 90’s with large exhaust pipes sticking out the back but this one had its large V8 engine pulled and replaced by a 90 horsepower outboard. They had a nice 4 X 4 truck which seemed appropriate for pulling the boat from the water on the sand and gravel beach. Because this was a typical Mexican family, Mom, Dad, 2 Tia’s, 2 Tio’s, 4 nina’s and a couple of nino’s they decided to not use the truck and instead all 11 of them grabbed a portion of the boat trailer and manually backed it into the water to retrieve the boat. The Papa of course stood by with his Tecate firmly in hand and instructed everyone when to pull or push and after a bit of struggling they finally loaded the boat and the entire family pulled the trailer back out of the water with the “customized Jet boat” firmly attached.
After they rested a bit, Papa opened another Tecate and had them connect the trailer back up to the truck at which time everyone jumped in (6 in the cab, 5 in the bed) and they roar off down the beach and back up to the highway. Nice.
Yesterday we got the good news that our washers were in Tijuana. The original expectation was that they would make their way to the Mexican side and end up in Guadalajara or even Mexico City. We are told that either Guad or Mexico City would be like having your parts kidnapped as the delays can be huge. With the news we were elated and so returned to the boat for a couple of afternoon refreshments. We spent the better part of the afternoon reading and enjoying the day. As six o’clock rolled around we took the dog for a walk and figured we should check the progress of the washers. Too our surprise UPS had stopped the package in Tijuana sighting a bad or incomplete address. We made the call into UPS and believe we have sorted out the issue. The only trouble was we had to endure a lecture from UPS about being very careful about placing the exact address on the UPS label when sending packages to Mexico. What she failed to realize was that UPS only has about 4 available lines for an address and the Baja address we have needed 6 lines. Beings that everything is computerized and bar-coded on UPS packages I think the computer could only route the package so far. The remaining 2 lines of address were added in pen by DFIS.
Another day of waiting, April 16, 2012
So we are taking a little time out in Loreto BCS. It is not so much that we are tired of sailing but we needed a bigger city to get some shopping done and to hopefully seal up the diesel leaks that have been plaguing us for a month. Apparently finding 5/8” copper washers is still a problem in a city of 10,000 plus people as we had to send to La Paz to get them. We are hoping that by the time I complete this blog the bus will arrive with the parts.
On the good side we are now stocked up with groceries, Lisa has had her hair pampered in a fancy Loreto salon, the dog is happy, and the water heater is fixed (not replaced). We had thought the water heater was going to be an issue, but when we dug into it a bit we found the heating element had actually corroded away and we just needed to locate a new one. Funny you can’t find a dang copper washer in Loreto, but locating a heating element for our marine water heater only took one stop and $25, go figure.
The town of Loreto really has a nice vibe. I don’t relax well, but while Lisa was getting her hair done I did have a chance to settle down at the plaza with a cerveza or maybe 2. I was actually able to sit for nearly an hour without being bored or over analyzing the problems we have on the boat.
We should be kicking out of here in the next day or so. We plan to travel to the southeastern side of Carmen Island were we spent a couple of hours last week hiding from weather. There is a small cove called Caleta Cobre, or Copper Cove that we want to explore. Lisa is anxious to hook another fish and I haven’t killed anything for almost 2 weeks now. While we were in San Juanico I had a chance to shoot a couple of very large Cabrilla’s but for some unknown reason the bands on my speargun and pole spear broke before I could get a shot off. We have ordered up new bands for the gun (the replacements we carried with us from the states were the wrong size), and as always have paid a premium to get the shipment forwarded to the correct address so the package can be delivered to us in 2 weeks. Anyway the pole spear is fixed so the underwater world needs to do a little “heads up” as I am coming with a vengeance.
That’s it for now from Loreto.
Tsunami Warning: April 7, 2012
It’s 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. I am enjoying a new Ken Follett book (to me) in a semi-quiet anchorage, 75 or so degrees and 15 knots of wind with the anchor set hard. A crackle comes on the radio and 2 minutes later Lisa is saying a boat that was at anchor with us “Might” have heard that there is a Tsunami warning, anything to break up a relaxing afternoon.
We have been out now for about 2 weeks. Things continue to break at regular intervals but really the radar is the only real outstanding issue. I can’t remember the last time I wrote but I believe it was at Punta Chivato. Kind of funny that I won’t know until we get to some town again with internet since we never save anything on the computer as it is old and the hard drive is almost full.
We had a “Fabulous” time in Bahia Conception. On our first day we almost bought a Palapa on the beach. It took 2 days before we actually checked the thing out, and at that time some dude had drown after going into the water without waiting the 30 minutes required post meals. Sorry that is a tough sentence but I believe if you read it twice it works. Anyway, the dead guy was recovered, placed into the back of a pickup and when we looked out the front window of what we hoped would be our future home, there he and his pickup where in our front yard, or beach.
We met Mo and Pat on the first day and even though they don’t sail, beer with a tequila shooter was the “conversational” drink they offered when we showed some interest in being their neighbors. Of course one drink lead to the bar and the next morning lead to another visit, an invitation on board Beyond Reason, Rum, wine, Bongos and Cigars, the rest is history, and what happens in Bahia Conception, stays in Bahia Conception.
We left Conception after a week and a short trip to Mulege where we stocked up on veggies, fruits and meat that you can’t kill using a spear without the neighbors calling the cops. Had a great sail down the coast to a little place called Punta Pulpito which now makes our sailing vs motoring about 75%. As usual it required a bit of engine upset to force the sails to go up, but once we turned off the engine everything settled down, the dog relaxed and the experience improved. The engine fix was familiar and after 15 minutes the alternator was tightened up and working nicely again. We arrived in Pulpito just at sundown, so it was quite the successful sail. Along the way we saw the requisite dolphins and turtles but the whale shark was quite a surprise.
We are not real marine biologists, but my kids know I play an amateur one at home all the time. Lisa has video of the whale shark encounter and once we get it produced we will put it on Youtube, until then you will have to believe what we saw.
Prior to the engine forcing us to sail, we saw a large rounded fin followed by about 2 feet of pointed fin sweeping from side to side. Lisa and I both recognized that it was not a dolphin or even the dreaded pilot whale so we divert course to investigate. It wasn’t long before I recognized the profile of a 15 foot whale shark, but what perplexed us was the 5 small wakes it was making near its front section. We did a slow flyby to not disturb the animal and noticed that just above the feeding maw of the shark were 5 smaller, baby whale sharks. You can do an investigation, but what we observed was that whale sharks must have live young (not unknown with sharks), but then they must protect them for some time. The young sharks where perhaps 1 – 2 feet long, and swimming directly above the mouth of the “mother” shark. It was perhaps the greatest animal encounter we have ever seen.
We didn’t dally much as we did not want to disturb the mother too much so we moved on, then the alternator broke.
Anyway, we sailed from Pulpito to San Juanico today. The wind is still close to 20 knots in the anchorage but we are well anchored. I have contacted a couple of Ham Radio stations regarding the Tsunami and I believe we are in the clear. Life is good, Lisa has handmade pizza dough and the oven is screaming “open me now”, but the timer is saying to wait another 5 minutes. Perfect timing to make another rum and coke.
Chivato, 28 March, 2012
Well, we have had a lot stuff going on over the last number of days. We left port about a week ago and have been at anchor ever since. While we are unable to update the website we have had contact with our family via Ham Radio. 2 days ago we crossed from the coast of Mexico to the coast of Baja California. We departed around 5 AM after a very rolly night in San Pedro cove. We had spent a couple of pleasant nights in San Pedro and did a bit of snorkeling a couple of miles north of the cove. The water temps were a bit cold for my liking so we gathered a couple of scallops and then bought some 5” Blanca Clams from the local Pangarero’s (fishermen).
Our crossing was done in mostly 18 knot winds with 4 foot seas all out of the west. We sailed the entire way across so savings on fuel was pretty good and our speed was much faster than what we could have achieved if we had motored. Actually we were a bit surprised as we maintained better than 6 knots of boat speed across the sea. It was only as we rounded Punta Chivato that we lost most of the wind and the final 7 miles took us a bit over 2 hours to complete. We dropped anchor just as the sun set. Total sailing distance was about 79 miles.
During the crossing we did see a very large pod of Pilot whales. If you know my history with whales I do like to look at them from a distance but when sailing I would just as soon harpoon the dang things than look at them. Pilot whales are of course the most aggressive of all whales, or at least the stories of whales attacking boats that I have heard all include Pilot whales. Lisa enjoyed them while I cursed their battleship grey bodies. We also checked off turtle sightings from the punch board. We really need a book to help identify some of these animals as I have know idea what type turtles they were so for now we will just call them sea turtles.
As the sun was setting on the bay here we watched a pod of dolphins chasing bait fish around the water, if was a good ending to a nice day of sailing.
First anchorage in a while, 24 March, 2012
28’03 N: 111’ 14 W, 24 March, 2012
Well, we finally made it off the dock. We had a very pleasant mile ride up the coast. Yes it is only 14 miles, but it was 14 miles of listening to the engine purr. We did check it every 10 minutes, but she just kept on doing what she was made for. The beach here is wonderful, crescent shaped and backed by huge mountains and rugged desert terrain that is dotted with palm trees and cactus.
After walking the beach we did some minor chores around the boat. I guess that is really one of the best parts, we were not NEEDING to do anything, we actual choose to do stuff instead. Tomorrow after noon will bring one of the last real issues we need to tackle which is re-stringing the spinnaker line. We haven’t had a chance to get to that because of the broken windlass, but now we have the time and ability, plus an added benefit is if I fall there is a fifty fifty chance I will hit the water instead of the dock. Lisa always tells me to look on the bright side of life.
We have some exploring to do in the morning but for now it is nice to sit back in the lounge chairs on the forward deck and watch the sun set with a cool cocktail and ice.
SNAFU, 22, March, 2012
OK, so this is the Dudes view of things. We started today by pulling anchor, you saw the cost of the windlass. Anchor up, no problem. Set sail (motor) for the gin clear water of San Pedro cove, nice, good coffee, engine running, charger charging, wife happy, dog pooped, life it good.
7 miles and 1.5 hours later (yes, we are taking it easy), oil pressure drops to 30 psi, bilge is full of oil, WTF, seems like the oil pan has sprung a leak again.
Of course that is not likely, we felt the oil pan and everything feels good. Lisa took the initiative to kill the engine, so as we are are slowing drifting to the rock I take to the bilge and wallow through the gallon of oil that resides there to discover that the oil filter which earlier had been an issue is leaking all but 2 quarts of oil out of our engine…Dang, SNAFU as usual.
You would thing, oil filter, that’s a Jiffy Lube issue that only costs $15, wrong. We have a very special oil filter and arrangement for it. I have changed the filter perhaps 20 times since we bought the boat but each time it seems it is the first. I dove into the project telling Lisa, it would only take a minute but ultimately it took 30 plus. After I got the filter set, I checked for any other leak and of course found more diesel leaks, “no problem most likely just a loose screw so I told her to fire up the engine”, SNAFU, oil is oozing out of the filter now. Stop engine, continue to drift toward rocks…SNAFU.
In a matter of 15 minute we were so close to putting the boat on the rocks that Lisa made the decision (I wasn’t on watch mind you) to put up sails and try to save the crew and dog. “Nice choice Lisa”. Actually it was an excellent decision to allow me another 4000 minute to get my act together and finally fix the filter correctly…My god couldn’t we just have a screw on filter everyone else.
In the end we decided to abort out trip and put into Marina Real, about 3 miles from were we started. The engine had quit draining it’s oil into the bilge (think Exxon Valdez but the diesel continues to slowly leak so we thought what the heck we need more oil, let’s call Hansell and get him to fix the diesel leak as well.
One hour after arriving, Hansel arrive and while he fixed the diesel, I did an overhaul on the Nissan 3.5 hp outboard that has been sitting on the afterdeck for 3 years. Both Hansell and I finished about the same time. Cost for repair of the diesel leaks $0.00 and cost for repair of the outboard motor (Nissan 3.5) $0.00. Tomorrow we will try again, but for now, SNAFU….Close your ears, Situation Normal, All “F’d” up.
System status and the cost to start a new chapter: 18 March, 2012
Here is a quick rundown of the status of all the major systems I can think of upon our return 3 years after leaving the boat. Prior to leaving the boat in the dry storage all systems worked except as noted.
Interior wood- There has been some drying effects on the wood. For the most part it is how we left it (Very Good and Clean), but I notice now that we have a couple of interior joinery that has released bonds that I thought had been connected when we left. You wouldn’t know unless you really looked.
Exterior wood- We left the boat covered about 6 months out of the year. The remainder of the time the wind and sun had either torn or deteriorated the tarps until we returned the next year. With the exception of the cockpit which was mostly uncovered, all the varnish has held up well and will just require it yearly sanding and another coat or two of Bristol Finish to bring it back to where we left it. The cockpit has some major chipping and flaking so we will do a complete strip and re-varnish. Cost approx $150.00
Decking- The decking looks very good with the exception of one area where the teak appears to be lifting or rotting. We have the wood to repair if necessary. Sure would have been nice if it had rained salt water on the deck each week.
Stainless and rigging- No trouble here at all, we had pulled all the lines prior to leaving and covered all the winches with aluminum foil. Nothing needs to be worked.
Windlass- This was a major repair for us. We left the windlass in good condition but on return it required new brushes, bushings and a good cleaning of all other contact areas. This was a $400 repair plus the cost of replacement parts which we did not have spares for. Total cost about $600.00
Anchor and Chain- We did not have a chance to wash the anchor and chain prior to departing, but no rush has been noticed so everything is good.
Lights and antennas- All good and working. Because of the hurricane the Ham radio antenna stand-offs are gone and we just need to re-attach them.
Engine- The oil pan rusted through and required lifting the engine. One engine mount which was on its way out prior was mostly useless on return, injectors needed cleaning but they probably needed it prior to leaving. Cost of pan and mounts plus installation help – $800.00
Generator- The generator had issues prior to leaving but during the course of storage we repaired it with new rings. On return the fuel pump, fuel control and water pump all stopped working. Cost of repair – $600 in parts, $40 in labor, oh yeah and the cost of Aduana (Mexican customs) $150. Total cost $790.00
Water Maker – worked fine when we left. Functions now but a bit slower and will require an acid bath. Cost to repair $0
Toilet- All the seals had dried out despite our use of vegetable oil which we were told would preserve them. Cost of fix, $150 for parts, and $100 to ship via FedEx. Total $250
Refrigerator – No troubles. We added a new refrigerator anyway because of the power usage of the old 110v. Cost $2000.00
Radio- All radios functioned fine. We replace the old ham radio with a new one for better reception and email capability. Cost $1000.00
Bilge pumps- The two primary bilge pumps had no issue even though one had been immersed in diesel (from a serious leak due to expansion and a hose that was left open) for almost 1 year. The “last resort” bilge pump in the cockpit required a complete overhaul with on board parts. Cost $0.00
Salt water wash down and galley pump. The galley pump required resuscitation because the leather seals had dried out. We boiled the seal in oil (or rather put the seals in oil about 200 degrees) to swell it. Worked. The salt water wash down pump had a stuck valve. After working through the system we found the internal valve, worked it and put the pump back into service. Cost $0.00
Batteries- The batteries when we left were only a year or two old. We replaced them so we didn’t have to replace them next year either in Mexico or Panama. I know we saved money but the cost was approx $1000.00 plus nursing my back for 2 weeks.
Valves for water discharge- There are 11 valves that let water either in or out of the boat. All had to be worked but nothing unexpected. No cost
Bottom paint- The bottom paint still looked good so we added a single coat of ablative paint to refresh it and called it a day. Cost $150 per gallon. We squeezed by with 2 gallons put on extremely light and accurately. Total $300
Yard bill – this should have been cheap since we really were ready to drop the boat in the water after the second day but our draft required us to stay another 17 days to wait on the tide. Cost – $500.00 to include launching.
Marina stay- This is why we don’t usually stay in marinas while cruising but l think it was a good decision, we never could have gotten everything done so soon if we had been at anchor – $500.00
Cost of lodging and transportation to Mexico – $250 plus visas. Total $300
So the jury is still out on if it was better to keep the boat in the dry yard or the water. I think the cost of the marina stay ($300 per month more) and the bottom paint plus having someone come to the boat to run systems every couple of weeks would have far exceeded anything that we have spent so far. Moving the boat home and re-tracing our steps back down here would have been terribly expensive. If we were to do it again I would not exceed 1 year in the yard. The boat just deteriorates too much by under use. It might be better to put her into a charter deal with a local company.
Total cost to bring the boat back to life – $8190.00 that would have been quite a nice vacation or two. I haven’t even tallied up the cost of the repair parts Lisa is bringing back from the states which we MIGHT need.
All in all I think we are where we expected to be. We actually thought we would have some other big ticket items requiring repair or replacement so as long as those don’t manifest themselves we should be fine. We just didn’t expect to see this many incidental costs.
Parental guidance required: 16 March 2012
So I had just written an update to post about an hour ago.. Now that I have 5oz of vodka and a splash of vermouth in my belly I have reconsidered sending a diary of all the work we have done this week.
My new thought is “forget about it, nobody really cares”. Let just close it down and say we have worked our bottoms off this week with travel to the States for Visas and many many repairs to systems that should have worked but didn’t.
Tonight I want to leave you with my supper choice. OK perhaps a bit “guy”(use the Canadian pronunciation) but what the heck, as Tosh-O say, Suck it, dude.
There are bad days and then there are ways to make things better. Today I ran into the local “fish monger”. He comes by each Friday with mostly out of date fish and prawns, but we avoid those as they are usually over priced and un-negotiable. Scallops are not the food of choice for most cruisers so “negotiating” the price is a little easier, acting stupid is more easy (I know, but English is not my first language, American is).
So I checked the scallops and of course they were $7.50 a pound, or $150 peso’s: Not for this cow poke though. Lisa sometimes think I am cheap, but I will pay $70 dollars to ship $22 worth of caulk overnight when I need it, but $7.50 a pound for scallops that nobody wants, not me. At the current rate I paid $5 US with 4 limes thrown in to help my after dinner Margarita out. Now, if I was a dating man I think the following recipe would be a wonderful entry into the world of keeping a girl coming back. Yes it is a bit chauvinistic, but the key to woman’s heart really is her stomach. After all when you fatten them up there is no where else they can go, right? I know, a bit much today but remember the dry martini at the top of the page.
So a guy’s dinner looks like this. Scallops with what else (think guy, not the Canadian pronunciation), Scalloped potatoes. Doesn’t sound fancy, but I was willing to date myself again after dinner. Here is how you make it.
1 large Potato per person
1 Pasilla pepper
6 large Scallops per person, if they are small, triple and expect a big hug after dinner
1/8 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup of sour cream or Mexican Creama
¼ cup olive oil
1 cluster of garlic.
Slice potatoes super thin and toss in a heated pan with the Vegetable oil.
Crush the garlic while the potatoes start to get some color.
Slice the Pasilla, and add as soon as you finish (4 minutes after adding potatoes)
When the potatoes have color, or turn translucent (I know one is with color and the other is clear, get over it) add the sour cream, garlic and olive oil.
Allow approx 5 minutes for things to adjust, stir as necessary.
Add Scallops and stir them in.
The large scallops may take 3 to 5 minutes, the small (dime size) will cook much quicker so you should have opened the wine earlier.
Open wine. I know red with meat, white with fish, relax, go red so you don’t have a head ache in the morning when you are fixing Omelets.
Enjoy…Oh, the Salt. Go Kosher or Sea Salt, about a pinch just after the Scallops are added. Coarse salt will make you an instant Gourmet; don’t tell anyone I said so.
The meal should not be served in bright light unless you have some parmesiano, but then you’re not “guy” (Canadian pronunciation) so you probably don’t have any…I do..Woot!
Back to square one: 5 March, 2012
The engine is running and the generator started today after installing the new fuel pump. The start on the generator was almost as exciting as the start on the main engine. When we departed 3 years ago we have plugged up as many holes in the boat as we could find. The reason for plugging them was to prevent unwanted vermin from entering the boat while we were away. It became very apparent that we failed to close up the exhaust port for the generator. When we started it for the first time a swarm of insect wings and body parts came flying out. Unfortunately there was not much water flowing so we pulled the water pumps and quickly located the issue, 2 impellors had cracked and broken.
Hansell, who is still working off his original $40 estimate to get the engine running quickly pulled the pumps out and we replaced the impellers. When the generator was reassembled we discovered no leaks which just amazes me. Murphy’s law regarding anything that can go wrong will is a big part of my mechanical forte’. Hansell has now replaced probably 20 fuel, water and coolant lines and not once has he had to rework any of them. I on the other hand would still be tracing leaks if I had done the same work.
So the generator has started and water is moving through the exhaust system like it should. We feel we have started again or moved to square one. We still have some lingering issues but to tell the truth we could pull away from the dock today and start moving south. Of course we won’t as we have paid up till the 20th of March so we will stay tied to the dock and enjoy the freedom of unlimited power until we have to leave. The other issue with cutting the dock lines for those of you who are pushing for us to leave is we only get “in-store credit for any remaining days. Since we don’t plan to come back to San Carlos those credits would do us no good.
After Hansell left we wanted to take the generator through some stress tests to make sure that everything was going to stay working. We have done the same thing with the main by running each day for 30 minutes to an hour while in gear. Within a couple of minutes the generator automatically shut down. The onboard panel showed this to be an overheat issue to our next projects will be to diagnose the generator over heating issue. I am hoping for an easy fix but something tells me the heat exchanger (or radiator) will need to be serviced. It is probably good insurance to just do the work regardless of the issue since we have the time.
Assuming everything works out with the generator we will be building some supports for the new refrigerator tomorrow and hopefully glassing them into the hull by afternoon.
The radiator leak on the main has been fixed now ($6) so we will most likely have the injectors worked on Wednesday morning. I don’t know if they really need the work but since we are feeling rich this week we will have the work done anyway.
Lisa eludes to things feeling more normal now, and I have to agree that the more things work the more it feels like our boat, hell I even shined up some of the stainless steel yesterday and today I leaned against the stanchions with pride drinking my coffee and looking disdainfully towards the other boats next to us; it is nice to have the prettiest lady on the dock, again: Yes Lisa that was directed to you if you read my blog, if not I mean the boat.
Enjoying every minute: 3 March, 2012
We are reaching our anniversary day of 1 month out of work. For the most part things are moving along as we had hoped. We had the delay in the dry storage and both the generator and the engine had troubles that we only expected to be half as large. We tested the primary engine yesterday and found most everything to be OK after the re-installation of the oil pan and engine mounts. There are no more oil leaks and the alignment of the propeller shaft went by the numbers and appears better than it has ever been. We are finding a few more leaks but are addressing those as we go along. Two diesel leaks were found and repaired and only the radiator cap is leaking now so we will take care of that tomorrow.
As a former Logistics superintendent/warehouse manager/forklift driver, you would have thought that I had a clue to the cost of shipping parts to Mexico. Boy did we learn a lesson yesterday. As a previous shipper of goods all I can say is God bless those in Mexico that are willing to pay for American goods. We imported 2 pounds of machinery parts yesterday. The real cost of goods to us was about $500. The cost of goods to the shipper was probably on the high side of $100 to manufacture. We added $100 to the cost of the goods by using UPS 2nd day service (that’s $50 per pound). Would have been nice to of created a UPS account prior to moving the goods. Aduana, the Mexican customs agency then added another $210 to the cost for importing the product into Mexico. If they had a local supplier I would have been happy to buy local, but Entec is manufactured in the USA and the base engine is German, pppttt.
So now we know that in order to move goods legally through Mexico from the US, you better have some additional cash. When the delivery came we were actually excited since we had never had a driver (UPS) come down to the dock to do deliveries before but of course he was there to collect the $2100 in pesos. Since we didn’t have the cash on hand he went to the Marina office to see if they would front the money for us. I quickly realized that if they did not front the money we might lose the parts forever and the chance that Entec would refund the $500.00 for the parts was slim so I put Lisa in the truck and she sped off after the man in brown.
When she caught up with the delivery boy he was exiting the marina office with our package. I didn’t see it but there was word on the docks that Lisa virtually tackled the brown man to get our goods. Between her and a couple of office chicks they came up with the money to satisfy UPS and we now own a new diesel injector, magnetic fuel cut-off and a couple of Teflon washers, I feel proud.
It is funny about the way that ransom works in the marina. There have been a number of occasions when the cost of goods just don’t make since but when you are faced with the possibility of never leaving paradise the price doesn’t ever seem to get so high that we can’t find another child to sell to afford the trip. I kid about selling my children. I swear we have never had more than two, and to the best of my knowledge Lisa knows where both of them live.
So Monday we can install the parts into the generator which should get it roaring to life again, or at least long enough to figure out what is really wrong with it. I don’t think I mentioned but the actual problem we had expected had to due with oil loss, not with diesel fuel, so whether we have solved anything yet is still up the air. It is 75 degrees the sun and shining and all we can say is “isn’t this great”.
P.S. I had a warm shower today, but the water stopped midway through my body wash, Viva Mexico!!
Oil: 26 Feb, 2012
It is early morning on Sunday, Feb 26. I am drinking the last of yesterday mornings coffee. Lisa is warm and cozy sleeping in with Sparky next to her. She won’t rise till the new pot is put on I am sure.
We have had plenty of time to write but unfortunately have not been in the mood since we were waiting on our mechanic to do some major engine work As usual it is work that Lisa and I could have done ourselves if we were in some super remote part of the world, but lifting engines and labeling one hundred motor parts as we pull them off to get access to the oil pan just didn’t seem like a lot of fun.
Hansell, our mechanic came to our rescue yesterday after taking a day off on Friday. He brought his brother with him, and 8 hours after arriving succeeded in lifting the engine and pulling out the pan. In his usual fashion, at the end of every mechanical session, Hansell said, “I need money”. Lisa and I both laugh each time because he has a shy way of asking for money that is absolutely no nonsense. Sometimes it is a lot of cash and other times just a few peso’s but either way you know nothing else is going to happen until some sheckles pass hands.
For years we have had a small water leak at the top of the engine. It was never really something that we saw, but each week we would clean up a bit of rust from the top of the engine although we never really saw a drop of water. Anyway this has come back to haunt us twice now. The trail of rust leads from the top of the engine, over the mounting bolts to the engine starter. Last year we had to deal with removing a rusted starter bolt which took nearly a day to extract. The trail then leads down one side of the oil pan, directly over a bolt which was the major difficulty this time. Once the pan was off you could see that the trickle of salt water left a definite area of diseased metal on the pan. That will now be cut out and welded. We hope to have the pan back by the end of the week.
Additional to our prime engine troubles has been the generator. This was a known issue when we came down, so not really a big disappointment but certainly an introduction into securing parts in foreign countries. We think we have everything ordered now, but until we can get fuel into the injectors, we won’t know what other troubles the generator has. Of course without a generator there is no hair dryer, refrigerator or excess use of radios and laptops, so it will get fixed.
We’ve had good times exploring the little anchorages that are within a dinghy ride from the slip, but are anxious to get out of the marina. We are hoping to depart before my birthday in March. It seems such a long way away, but honestly we expected 30 days of marina life, and as much as we don’t like staying tied to the dock, it is a nice way to get re-introduced to life aboard.
Mostly good stuff: 21 Feb, 2012
Yesterday was mostly excellent. The boat was dipped into the water, the engine started with a blast of smoke on the second try, the transmission functioned mostly like we remember it and we successfully docked, twice.
In all the excitement and anxiety over getting the engine running we overlooked a couple of items. It is always the simple things that you forget which can give you the utter feeling of despair and make sleeping difficult on the boat.
Not long after we had docked for the second time; the first being at much larger dock which had electrical fitting more proper for a small aircraft carrier than our puny little barge, Lisa excitedly asked me if the toilet should be filled with water. Of course there should be water in the bowl, but you have to understand that Lisa will at times understate what she is actually seeing so that I don’t move too quickly into action with hacksaws, duct tape and fire extinguishers. On inspection the bowl was just short of filling the boat with water, so there was a problem. Previously we had worked on the toilet while in the dry storage yard. Of course the chances of flooding in a desert parking lot are slim so everything appeared normal. Today the first order of the day was to tear into the toilet again to discover the new issue.
We unfortunately have two issues with the toilet, first is water that is suppose to come into the boat and stop until asked to do the flushing is coming in regardless of what we need. There is a valve to make that stop, so don’t panic, we are not bailing the boat 24/7. Second is the water that is suppose to go out to the holding tank, is kind of seeping back into the bowl. I say kind of since it is only about 2 quarts of water that can return to the bowl, but just the same, it is unwanted. Again there is a valve for this as well. The valves are definitely an inconvenience since you have to go to two separate areas to either open them (go tinkle) or close them (all done tinkling). New parts are on the way. Cost of parts about $10. Cost to get them down to Mexico, probably $40 but we have not seen the bill yet.
With the toilet all sealed up, we moved on to two salt water pumps that are not working. Seems a pity we have salt water that we don’t want coming into the boat, but the salt water that we do want can’t get in, yet. We have a replacement for the first pump which supplies salt water to the deck for wash down and teak preservation. The second pump is for the kitchen to help clean the sink and other assorted tasks. This pump has a non-removable leather seal that we are trying to restore in oil. 12 hours has done little for it, but we will see how it goes.
This morning dawned fresh for me at about 4 AM. I don’t sleep well when we have issues on board, and the last issue to pop up yesterday was a diesel leak. The apparent source of the leak is a fuel return line which is shared by the generator and the main engine. It appears that although the main engine was purring along just fine, the shared line was pumping diesel into the generator which ultimately filled up and spilled the remainder on the floor. Again, minor inconvenience but now we have to trace why the fuel is not returning to its proper tank. I am fairly sure this is a simple fix, but the tracing could take an hour or more.
So all in all the past 24 hours have been kind of a push. One big win and several small losses that we have to work on. My mechanical dance card is filling up quick.
A better tomorrow: Feb 15, 2012
Lisa celebrated by doing a beach cleanup with some of the other locals in the area and I celebrated by changing the engine oil, adjusting the fluid in the transmission, and replacing or re-installing all the wires that I had previously undone or pulled out thinking they were the problem for the engine not cranking. By noon I was beat, and my back was asking for forgiveness. Lisa had just come home (imagine, a morning of fresh brewed coffee, a walk on the beach and then pop back in just as the heavy lifting is completed), but boasted a couple of free margarita tickets, so off we went for drinks, and a bit of celebration regarding the engine movement.
After lunch (hic) we decided to try and purchase some bottom paint so the boat would look and feel good when we put her in the water on Monday. We checked locally then went to Guaymas to confirm the fair pricing of paint in Mexico. Ultimately the clerk in Guaymas gave us a price that we nearly $50 cheaper per gallon than in San Carlos, but we were unable to purchase it since the cost was more than our allotted ATM quota for the day. This prevented us from purchasing the paint till the next day.
Yesterday we went to pick up our allotment of peso’s from the local bank only to find out our account had been blocked and both ATM and Visa cards were useless. The solution to this delima was another trip to the bar (reliable Wifi), purchase a couple of obligatory beers and call the states via Skype to undo the tangle of financial trouble. $4 worth of beer later (for you in Winters that is 4 beers, not 1) we were financial solid again and made the trip to the paint store only to find out the price in Guaymas was now equal to the price the San Carlos; Thanks Visa your security maybe Priceless to you, but just cost me $100.
Today we painted the bottom of the boat, $100 dollar poorer thanks to Visa, but it does look great. Trying to pile on the wins, we checked the bow thruster (kind of an outboard motor for the front of the boat to help us spin quick circles while berthing). This is one of the items that I was concerned with, and when we touched all the right buttons, nothing happened. Oh well, time for a shower and some thought.
On return the bow thruster miraculously worked, so testing our luck we checked the anchor windlass, Bingo!
If I could say Holy Shit here I would. I am sure most of these items will break down the road, but we are living a good life now. For the most part all functions are green and the fish better start seeking shelter and the rum factories better start burning the midnight oil, the crew of Beyond Reason is about to hit the water!.
Another work day: Feb 13, 2012
Yesterday did not start off the brightest. We have been trying to trace a couple of grounding issues with the motor, and the more I traced the worse I felt. In the end I found a single wire that appeared to be shorted or grounded to every piece of equipment on the boat. I don’t take failure well, and this was no exception as there have not been many items on this boat that I have not been able to figure out either on my own or with limited guidance. Lisa popped in at just the right moment to ask if I had “failed”, but trying to stay positive I just responded that I had changed courses and was going to sort through the mess of equipment that still needed to find homes inside the boat (how’s that for using my previous conflict management experience?).
It wasn’t long before we heard a knock on the hull and to my surprise, Hansell, a mechanic that we asked to do a little electrical work three days before showed up. We had actually expected him on Sunday, but I guess Monday morning is a close second. I invited him up and explained the problem as best I could. A short while later he said he was not good with electrical issues, but knew somebody who was. Hansell claimed he would come back in the morning at 9 with his friend to fix the issue. Not sure if the Electrical magician would show in the morning, I just agreed and went about cleaning up. Lisa, the girl of action, went to talk with some of the boaters to find a real electrician.
My yard days are driven by the number of wins I can score each day vs the number of losses so I was still trying to find a win. I set to fixing a small flexible flashlight. 1 hour later, and several tries at doing micro soldering, I had my first success of the day, time for a beer (it was actually time hours ago, but I have to limit myself sometimes).
We have several dogs in the yard, that more of less just scrap for food, look lazy and pee on the trailer tires which I guess is just the meaning of life for most hounds anyway. I don’t usually pay much attention to them as they ignore me, and don’t bother Sparky. Today as I was gulping down my hard won beer I did have a bit of an after taste or really just an after sense that something was wrong with the cerveza I had chosen.
I was drinking Indio which is not a first choice most days, but it was on sale for about $8 per 12 pack, so how could I resist. Unfortunately each taste of beer was laced with that nagging sense that something was not right with the beer, and $8 or not, it just wasn’t worth drinking the rest of the half rack in the cooler. About the time I took my last taste realized that the sense I was experiencing was the distasteful smell of dog urine. The lazy, half witted hounds had pee’d on the second half of my 12 pack that didn’t make it into the cooler the first night.
So much for my win today.
February 11, 2012: Down and out in San Carlos
I could really put a big gripe on the exchanging of batteries on the boat, but I think it is best to just let bygones be bygones in this case. Lisa and I both knew that the batteries would be big job to exchange. On board we have 4 large, 119 pound batteries that keep the lights on at night. Additionally we have a larger car sized battery for the starting of the boat engine.
Under normal conditions changing the batteries would have entailed lifting them out of their cramped quarters and then hobbling them up 6 feet of steps, lifting them an additional 2 feet to get them out of the boat and then rolling them someplace to recycle them. Of course it is just the reverse to put the new ones in. We had hoped to do all this at the dock, and the reward would have been a frosty beer at the end of about and hours worth of work. Bring on the Laddersauras (See the Chick updates for Feb 09, 2012).
There are times when the need to get things done overcomes the need to think things out. I guess that is one of my weaknesses, but often times Lisa comes to my rescue and forces me to do the later. Replacing the batteries was not one of those times, Lisa must have been busy below or just watching and giggling as I began to take battery after battery up the 14 foot ladder. Somewhere along the line she must have felt some compassion or just didn’t want to deal with gathering up a crew of strong men to haul me off to the emergency room so she made the suggestion to perhaps ask one of the forklift drivers to help us, TADA. So at least the batteries coming back out of the boat would get an easy trip. Unfortunately my knees and back already began to give me payback. Hopefully I will be fully recovered by Monday.
February 10, 2012
Thought I would give a little update to what has been happening inside the boat and how everything fared during our hiatus to the states. Lisa has kind of given you a run down on the trip south and of course we had expected the boat to look a bit rough around the edges when we arrived, so seeing the tarps in disarray really didn’t have a big impact on me.
One of the biggest surprises was how well the varnish had held up. Unfortunately I think Bristal Finish has or is going out of business. Sad considering that we have had this last coat on since we departed Santa Rosalia in 2008. Only the cockpit combing varnish has peeled, but the rest looks almost as good as when we first applied it. Another surprise was the teak decks. Keep in mind that we have kept the boat partially covered the entire time with plastic tarps. I say partially because we usually cover the boat in June and by October the big winds come down the sea and by the following June the tarps are mostly “not there”. That leaves the boat uncovered a good portion of the year.
Covering winches, blocks and anything that is odd shaped but would be subject to the suns rays with aluminum foil not only saved us time in wrapping with some other material and tape, but also made for a quick uncovering as well. All the winches still spin freely and the wooden blocks are operating as they did when we left.
The electrical systems all seem to be in order except the starting system which was somewhat suspect when we left. The items that did deteriorate the most were those with LCD screens (multi-meter and some older radio screens). In each case the screens have faded a bit which is strange since they were all out of the sun, but no matter there is really no great cost involved in these items.
Some of the things that did not fair as well were the Aladdin kerosene lanterns which fused there wicks to the brass and needed to be completely overhauled prior to them working again, the Walbro pump for the heater failed and will require $125 to fix and probably the biggest failure was the water heater or Hot water heater as Lisa likes to call it which has rusted through. Of course the failures if you know our plans are really just annoyances to me since Hot water showers and heating the boat are pretty low priority when you are sailing in Mexico with intentions of moving south, so we will place those on the back burner for now and deal with them somewhere along the way. For me I hate to have anything not functional, so while they are on the back burner, they are still cooking in my mind.
I did forget to mention the toilet, which quit pumping. We had originally put vegetable oil in it to prevent the seals and valves from drying out, but ultimately a couple of the valves just curled up and no longer sealed and the oil somehow converted to a sludge that thankfully Lisa found first (finders keepers on the boat), so she set about cleaning it out with a plastic chisel.
After reacquainting myself with the plumbing lines on the boat and removing many of the hoses to check for additional blockages we got the toilet back in working order.
I know this is getting long and drawn out so I will close it for now. We are suppose to have internet in the marina, but that will come manana I guess since it is down now.
Will update as we can.
April 4, 2011
Well it has been a couple of years since I have added to the Dudes View so bear with me as a struggle through.
In anticipation of our return to the boat we have began work on our wish list. The list consists of some fairly high dollar items that we could never have afforded while actually cruising. Understanding Lisa’s need to stay in touch with family I have finally made good on my promise to her of getting a radio capable of sending email. Sure there are those Ham’s out there that could get my old GE cassette AM/FM tuner amplifier to connect to the internet via the radio waves but for us it just was not that simple.
If you had read in the Beyond Reason Archives our trials of using our Single Sideband Marine Radio for Ham communications (we are licensed), and then trying or rather failing to connect that radio up with 1970’s technology via an update TNC unit you would understand that it was not for trying that we failed. In all things boat and boat related it was money. The technology existed but was just out of reach.
In December we put together about a Kilo-buck and bought a new Kenwood TS-480SAT Ham radio. We also set up a dipole antenna across half the backyard so we could test out a new email program developed for ham radio which does not use any other equipment besides the radio and a laptop. If I recall correctly the laptop can even be using pre 2000 operating systems. Anyway, after weeks of connecting up radio’s, grounding spikes, antenna and coaxial cable connections we were able to make contact with people clear across the country. OK, so the radio worked, but then the radio on the boat has always worked. The next process was purchasing two simple items (I know I said there was nothing else to buy, but I fibbed a bit). The first item recommended was a $3 external sound card. Really, $3. The second item was a $50 Donner digital Interface. Don’t ask me what the thing does, but as the end of this story I will say it works.
Lisa and I to very careful steps to do everything as the Winmor instructions told us (Oh yeah, the program for HAM email is WINMOR, not Winlink). We got no where. The next step was to join several email groups filled with Elmers (that is Ham speak for “know it alls” or “Ham Geek”, in a good way). The Elmers where all nice and helpful but as usual with anything to do with Beyond Reason we got no where.
As a last resort I invited one of our friends over to help out (I hate asking for help unless I absolutely can’t figure something out), lightly disguising it as Dinner. To my surprise he was able to figure out the issue within an hour and even tossed out the $3 sound card opting for the internal card on the laptop.
That night we sent out emails and were able to respond to them on Lisa’s email without issue. Unfortunately the wine flowed in celebration and by about 10 PM we decided to “Modify” the new Ham Radio so it would be able to transmit on Single Side Band channels in an emergency (kind of the reverse of what we did on our first radio). We completed the job by 11pm and by 11:10 realized that we had broke the radio. Time for bed.
In the morning I got on-line and with QWZ.com (another bulletin board of Elmers and quickly realized through their help that we probably dropped some solder on something and that we were messing with proper Ham protocol by making the modifications. No matter, the radio works.
So email now flows out weekly from our radio and we should easily be able to set this up on the boat when we return.
Should you decide you want to do the same thing (really I am just looking for a place to put this information so I won’t forget it), here are the instructions.
Download the Winmor Primer on the internet
Purchase required items (Donner interface is the most important)
Radio Settings: Kenwood 480 SAT
Power set to 100 watts
ALC showing on meter
Use volume meter on Windows computer program to reduce ALC to zero
On radio Menu
Tuner for reception Off
External AT Operation mode AT1
Linear amp off
50 Mhz limit off
Interval playback 10
Sidetone freq 800
Filter for Data comm.” Off
RF Input level for data: 1
RF output level for Data: 1
Com port 9600
VOX operation with Data Input: on
Winmor capture device: SigmaTel C-Major audio – 00
Winmor Playback device: SigmaTel C-Major Audio – 00
Virtual TNC host address/name: 127.0.0.1
Virtual TNC Command Port: 8500
Inbound Session Bandwidth (hz) 500
Drive Level: 90
Winmor radio Setup
Select Radio Model: Kenwood Amateur
Antenna Selection: Default
Usb digital: Unchecked
Serial Port to use: none
Serial Port to use: Com5
Enable RTS: Checked
Enable DTS: not checked
Piece of cake, huh.