When I left you after my last post, we had just arrived in Guaymas after a long night of motoring across the Sea of Cortez, anchored our trusty steed in front of town, and I was setting about getting some much needed sleep, before hauling our home out of the water and getting to work….
Like THAT was ever going to go smoothly…. I’ve been around Mexico (and boats) long enough to know nothing goes to plan. So I wasn’t entirely surprised when I dinghied over to the work yard on Monday morning, only to be told that something had broken last week and it would be 10 days before the new part would arrive and we could be hauled out, this despite my collection of emails saying exactly when we would be arriving and confirmation that it was all go, including one from 2 freaking days earlier!
Ever the optimist, I figured it was good news the sling had snapped on somebody else, as now we would have shiny NEW slings for us to haul out, and ok, 10 days was a pain in the butt, but we could still rent an apartment for the girls and I could set about framing in the second head (toilet) and other fun but noisy things I wanted to do, but didn’t think I could fit into Alma nap time.
So we plucked up the anchor and headed north a few miles to the retirement village of San Carlos. A picturesque bay and anchorage, turned into a minefield/maze by rocket scientist gringos who decided anchoring wasn’t cool enough and thought they would tie a mooring ball to an old fridge and use that instead.
We found a nice studio on the hill overlooking the anchorage, great for keeping an eye on the boat, not so great for biking home up the hill at the end of everyday. Especially seeing as I was also now in charge of keeping the fridge stocked, the heat was still too much for Sabi and Alma to trek down the hill to town and back, so each day I was packing around 10kgs with me… no complaining about needing anymore exercise thats for sure, and super stoked I refuse to buy a folding boat (clown) bike and have a decent mountain bike with me.
Again I found that it was either ridiculously difficult or ridiculously expensive to get anything in Mexico, needing bottom paint and a new toilet to get rolling with the current projects. I tried asking on the morning radio net – a morning chat show on the vhf where the local “cruisers” talk about the weather and who’s playing american fooseball this week – with no luck in figuring anything out, when a guy I met pointed me towards an import store in San Carlos that would bring stuff down from the states for you… hellllooo ebay and defender! parts ordered and back to work…
Eventually, 2 weeks after I originally though I would be getting out of the water, I went to the commercial yard next door to the sailboat yard and talked to them. What usually happens when you have a boat the size of Sea Raven, is you schedule the haul out with the sailboat yard owner, who then talks to the commercial yard, and they haul you out with their super-sized travel lift and move you into the sailboat work yard, where he bends you over the hull of your boat and proceeds to take a large some of cash out of your back pocket…. then you get to work. And here’s where speaking spanish in a spanish speaking country comes in handy kids! After talking to the manager of the commercial yard, a place where they haul and work on huge steel fishing and shrimp boats, and pleading my case, he agreed to haul me out and let me work in their yard for a couple of days. At this point I had given up on a lot of items on my wish to do list and settled with just taking the fins off and slapping a quick coat of bottom paint on. In doing it this way, and not dealing with the sailboat yard owner, I saved a cool $600 buckeroos, which almost paid for the new toilet and paint, sweeet!
Of course even this didn’t go to plan, and twice I was called the day before hauling to be told they couldn’t do it because of space in the yard, or lack there of. Another lesson in mexican culture for you – they won’t often say no to your face… try asking for directions or if someone can do something, and invariably the either know the way (dos cuadras por alla/2 blocks that way) or they Can juggle while eating a taco AND drinking a beer, brilliant. Its just something in their cultural upbringing that leaves them not wanting to admit they don’t get something or don’t know something… they’re not (always) trying to be annoying, they’re usually just trying to help or be polite…. not so helpful when you are driving somewhere, get lost and ask for directions…. Anyways, like I said, they don’t like saying no to you when you’re standing in front of them, so twice I borrowed a car and drove to the yard to convince the manager that I wouldn’t take up much space, and that it was REALLY important that I hauled out and soon. The last time I did it was a Friday, and I got myself scheduled in for first thing Monday morning, no chance to call and cancel this time amigo, bahahahaha!
Sunday lunchtime I kissed my beautiful wife and baby girl goodbye, put on my least best t shirt and headed for Guaymas again. I anchored in front of the city again and psyched myself up for a busy week…
Monday morning I moved over and parked in front of the yard, ready to go at 7am, they start at 8, so I just floated around for a while and waited. I was finally waved in, and then found that I would have about 30 cm (12″) of clearance either side of the boat in the slipway, and even less tucking into the sling… did I mention I was alone on the boat… Luckily I had though to set up dock lines both sides and slowly inched my way in… I wish I’d had a free hand to take photos, not that you could see anything, I sure couldn’t! The bows of Sea Raven are about 7 feet off the water and 50 feet away from me at the helm, so I lost sight of anything resembling water pretty early in the piece, all I could do was run from helm to dock lines, throwing them at who ever looked bright enough not to cut himself with it (not a big selection) and hoping like hell I could get back to the helm in time to correct any wrong moves. Some how I pulled it off without tearing a hole in the boat on the ragged edges of the travel lift, and we moved the slings into the right place, all guess work on my part, I’d never hauled her like this, so I just aimed for bulkheads and hoped the steel rail on the bottom of each hull was up to the task. Then they lifted me up…. I can honestly say, I have not been that nervous for a long time…. It is not a normal sensation feeling your boat lifting straight up under you, and the straps creaked and groaned the whole time, I was about 1 coffee away from hurling over the side from the stress, especially when we started heading into the yard, theres nothing but dry dusty HARD land under you as you swing slightly, creaking and groaning from the water to the back corner of the yard.
Once we had her set up on blocks, the travel lift moved away, I took many deep breaths, and started unloading weapons… First up was the grinder, a clean cut close to the hull and easy enough to smooth out…. Nope, it was slow and sketchy going, no scaffolding around to use, so I was standing on a milk crate, not quite up to Health and safety standards. There aren’t many times you wish you’d packed your chainsaw on the boat, but this was one of them, seeing as my chainsaw was safely tucked in my brothers shed back in NZ, the saw-zall was the next best thing. Even with this though, it was hard going, 2 of the fins leaked water when I cut into them, not the best additive to power tool work, and it took some slice and dice action on the first fin to figure out a plan of attack for the rest. It took until dark, and a little more, to get them all off and make a good dent in tearing off the foam, glass and framing that was stuck to the hulls, but I was happy with that for a days work!
Next day I finished getting everything off and ground down the layers of bottom paint and fairing compound (epoxy stuff to make the joins smooth) until it was ready to fiberglass over. Of course the wind picked up just as I was ready to start glassing, and unlike last time, this was vertical work, a little harder to do alone and even more so with a breeze trying to peel it back off the boat again… I waited a while, and got started on grinding at the bottom rail so I could barrier coat and repaint it the next day while I was barrier coating over my fiberglass work, everything I was doing had to be timed right in order to have the right amount of curing time between each product or coat of paint… fun times..
Eventually I got the glass and epoxy work done… in the bloody wind of course, which put more epoxy on me than I would have liked. Boat yard facts – 1. you WILL cut your hands up, 2. you will get epoxy on your hands , 3. vinegar stops epoxy from curing and gets it off your skin… add all three together and it hurts like a bee-arch.
Next day saw 4 layers of barrier coat going over the glass repairs, with 2/3 hours between coats, which gave me just enough time to sand the bottom of the boat – 55 foot water line, 4 foot draft, 2 hulls one sander held straight out at shoulder height… I call it my boat yard shoulder buster workout, all with a mask and glasses in an attempt to minimise the amount of cuprous oxide you absorb in the process…
Seeing as it was now Wednesday and the plan was to go back into the water on Thursday afternoon, I then painted the bottom of the boat too. The last time we did this was in Napa 2 years ago, there we slapped on 2 coats of nearly 70% copper paint, believing it was going to last ages… this time it was one coat of 50% copper bottom paint… There was still a good layer of the old paint on the hulls, and to be honest I don’t think it will make much difference…. I tend to clean bottom every 3/4 weeks anyways, and it saved a not so small fortune. I was still painting after dark, and as I wanted 2 coats in some places, I had to go back down and paint 10 pm that night after the barrier coat had dried off, painting by headlamp is some serious dedication to the cause I decided.
Thursday morning I was up at 6 again, and putting the final touches on the 2nd coat of paint, so it would have time to dry well before the afternoon’s return to the water. I asked the yard about the tides, no problems, so I cleaned up my mess and started putting things away. Around 1 they lifted my back up, not as stressful this time, and moved the blocks so I could paint where they had been, then I sat around a little, killing time, itching (literally from the bloody fiberglass dust) to get back into the water and away from the yard so I could clean, me and the boat.
Right on time, they came back to move me into the water, and instead let me know that the tide was too low, and it would have to wait until the morning… Bollocks. I had busted my ass, and painted all night to meet this schedule, pulled it off, only to have it shot down by the yard guys inability to understand the tides! (see my previous note about what happens when you ask a local a question).
So was it all worth it? The haul out fees, the money spent on paint, the 4 days of dawn to dusk sanding/grinding/sawing and playing with epoxy/fiberglass and paint, all to cut off 4 fins that were tacked onto the boat as an afterthought of some kind?? Yes.
While moving to the marina the turbulence off the sterns was gone, she accelerated faster and hit the previous top speed 500 rpm sooner. I didn’t open her up fully, the bay I was crossing is shallow (10 feet) and the locals have a habit of leaving their fishing nets everywhere, but I checked her at different RPM’s compared to before and we were going 2 knots faster. Then today, I moved from that marina, back to San Carlos, another shitty ride with 15-20 knots of wind on the nose and choppy short seas, typical Sea of Cortez weather… Yes it was still a shitty ride, it would be in any boat, but it was a LESS shitty ride than last time, the pitching (rocking) was I guess softer would be a good way to try and describe it than before, it doesn’t have the same see-saw motion she used to have and it was definitely faster and smoother riding. Still haven’t had a chance to crunch fuel numbers, but we are heading back over to Baja on Monday, so we can test her under sail (yeh right) and under power for the trip and compare it to the ride over.
Not sure it was worth being away from Alma for a week though, but I’m home now, and tired, so bye…