This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Joel visited the boat yesterday to assess the propeller shaft. I expected him to simply look at the shaft while it rotated but instead he used a dial gauge (pictured) that I had never seen before. He found that between the stern tube and the transmission coupling the shaft is .032" out of true. He then went to a lot of trouble (because of rust and corrosion) to decouple the prop shaft from the transmission. I then went over the side and turned the propeller while he did his measurement and he found that the free shaft was .010" out of true. He then recoupled the shaft so that I could drive the boat to the lifter.
I then went to the boat yard and got a shock at the prices.
A package of liftout (both ways), 3 days hardstand, and the labor for antifouling is $648 USD (all prices will be in US dollars). Thereafter the hardstand charge is $50 per day, with no weekly or monthly rates. I've just checked the current rates at the Port Townsend Boat Haven and found that their two way liftout charge for a 40 ft boat is $278.24 and their monthly hardstand rate works out to $8.32 per day. Welcome to sunny Mexico where the living is easy and the yachties get gouged.
The current plan (which sometimes changes by the hour) is to do nothing until the Volvo engine arrives. At that point I will have the boat lifted out and have the shaft removed for assessment. If it can be straightened out I should have it back in a day or two. In the meantime I will have two coats antifouling put on. I will have to supply the paint which is priced at $230 per gallon. I asked that the antifouling be raised about 2 " to the top of what is currently enamel boot topping. That will cost an extra $130. I asked for a quotation for painting a new enamel boot topping 2" wide above the antifouling and that cost came in at $430 which I consider outrageous. I've done the job myself in less than half a day but I will not be allowed do any exterior work (i.e. hull and deck) while on the hard stand.
The only good news was the cost of a crane which is only $100. So we will use a crane to lift out the Sabb engine. They would prefer lift the engine out before Pachuca is hoisted out of the water, but of course I need the engine to get to the lift, which means that I'll need time to free the engine for lifting.
Neil suggested that I have the engine bed work done at the boat yard because they have very good fiberglassing and other skills. That sounded like a great idea to me until I figured out last night that at $50 per day I would be under pressure to hurry the job. My inclination is to put the boat back in the water as soon as possible and have the engine bed and installation work done here in the slip as originally plan. At least the heavy Sabb engine would have been lifted out intact.
But returning the boat to the slip will require that the boat has a propeller shaft. If the current shaft cannot be straighted then I will have a problem because only shafts of 316 grade stainless steel is available locally. That would mean bringing one in from the USA, which would mean more delay.
I have paid 2 months in advance for this slip, which is costing about $18 per day. On top of that I will be paying about $60 per day for a hotel room for the duration of the engine work, and within that span I will be paying $50 per day for the hardstanding. That's OK. I'll just have to think of the literally months out at sea on my return to Australia living within the confines of the boat while the pension checks keep rolling in.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is an international bird of prey: the Peregrine Falcon. This bird was flying was flying with some difficulty as it had another large (deceased) bird in its talons. It landed well up a communications tower just near the marina, where it began to pluck and eat its victim.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Brenda and I did our first bus day trip to a small town named Todos Santos ("All Saints)" on the Pacific Ocean side of the Baja peninsula 55 miles from La Paz. During the 45-minute wait at the bus station we watched on the big flat screen TV Germany score two goals against England. The one way fares were 85 pesos for the 90 minute ride.
The bus was a large and modern "Greyhound" type bus with large comfortable seats and leg room which reminded me of how cramped tourist class air travel is. The movie was "Avatar" which I had not seen before. It started off in English but then the driver fiddled with the controls and soon the movie was in Spanish language with Spanish subtitles. It didn't matter because I dozed most of the way while Brenda gazed out of the window attentively as she saw her first wild cacti. (She had seen only one before, here in La Paz.) The terrain was generally flat and arid, with high hills to the south of us. I suspect that we were travelling in that gap that produces the evening cooling Coromuel wind that is unique to La Paz and is its salvation in the summer.
At the Todos Santos bus station I made what turned out to be a very fortunate move in purchasing our return tickets immediately. Outside of the bus station we immediately noticed that the air was much cooler than in La Paz - in fact, it was quite pleasant. We then walked through the small town which to me appeared to be in transition from small and traditional to larger, more modern, and definitely very "touristy" with many arts and craft shops. We walked past the Hotel California with its 245 peso lunches and found a cafe with a pleasant outdoor eating area. My sophisticated index of local prices, the cost of a bottle of beer, confirmed that we were in a tourist town: 35 pesos for a 355 ml bottle of beer vs 22 pesos in La Paz. But the lunch was good and reasonably price.
We then headed off to what appeared to be a green belt area on the map so that Brenda could survey the bird life. We were surprised to find what we can only describe as a Mexican oasis. It looked like a creek of fast rushing and clean water had been diverted along the quarter mile of road floodway, and along both sides of the road were ripe mangoes literally falling in front of our eyes, commercially grown paw paws, coconut trees, and a cattle farm with a toro with horns like goal posts keeping a wary eye on me. Brenda had a wade in a pool then we walked up to the other side where we found a large modern soccer field with lights, a viewing stand, and sand instead of grass. I had a snooze on a narrow bench in the stand while Brenda did her bird walkabout. After Brenda returned and had her snooze we set off back to town and Brenda could not resist another wade in the pool which she shared with a Mexican family who were giving their children a treat.
Back in town we wandered into a modern and superbly landscaped shopping arcade where Brenda exhibited surprising bargaining skills (As Brenda was about to walk out of the shop the proprietor asked "How much are you willing to pay?") to purchase a very nice Mexican made blouse. On one wall of the arcade was a large mural telling the story of the area from before the Conquistadors though to industrialization and modern times. Christianity was of course a big part of this story.
From there we went to the Hotel California for cooling drinks and soon we were on our way back to the bus station via a short visit to the park.
Whereas the bus from La Paz to Todos Santos had been practically empty we were surprised to find the 6 PM bus back to La Paz completely full. Of course! It was Sunday evening and people who had been visiting their families all of the way back to Cabo were returning to La Paz for the start of another working week. We thanked our lucky stars that we had purchased our tickets early.
We arrived in La Paz at 7.30 PM and immediately felt the last of the day's heat. But the city was as lively as ever. The waterfront promenade was full of people enjoying the cool of the evening and we enjoyed the walk back to the marina.
The first photo is of the decoration in the men's room at the Hotel California. The last photo is of a patriotic fan of the Mexico-Argengina World Cup game.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is a Turkey Vulture. This bird is a carrion eater. It has rather untidy looking black outer plumage and a red bare-skin head. (They look much better when airborne and a long way off.) Eight of them were huddled on a communications tower in Todos Santos and I saw several from the bus in the cactus country between La Paz and Todos Santos so there must be plenty of good pickings out there.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
We spent some time in the Hotel California during our visit to Todos Santos today.
We confirmed that this was not the Hotel California that the Eagles had sung about when we did not find the place full of people who had checked out but could never leave. Nevertheless it was an elegant hotel with superb decor and landscaping that Brenda and I found to be cool, soothing, and relaxing.
We walked in after our return to the town after a long walk to the "river" area. I was hankering for a beer and Brenda was thirsty too. We sat in the patio where Brenda had a cold lemon drink and I had two Sol beers with lime.
Note the signage to the rest rooms. Even a Martian should be able to figure out who goes where.
Friday, June 25, 2010
I've completed the move of the Monitor wind steering control lines from the starboard to the port side. The photo shows the lines forming a barrier on the same side as the engine controls and manual bilge pump (that square plastic cover in the central center of the photo). The other side of the wheel is now clear for passage and peeks at the chart plotter.
Note that I had to move the outboard motor stand to the starboard side.
Over the last two days we have settled into life in a marina.
On the practical side we have shore power and I have dug out the toaster, electric kettle, and workshop light which we are now using regularly. I've also set up the small battery charger which puts out 6 amps for the battery bank. This enables us to keep the refrigerator going about 18 hours per day.
I found the marina wireless to be hopeless - so bad that my computer could not establish a connection. I learned from Charlotte that the wireless antenna is at the end of the jetty right over their boat and they get great service. I grumbled about this to the guys at morning coffee and Dave suggested that I get a 50-ft ethernet cable and plug directly into the outlet at the slip's utility post. Sure enough, every utility post supplies 110V and 250v power, water, and internet connection. For 520 pesos I had a 50-ft cable made with a waterproof connector that screws into the jetty service post then ran the cable into the nav station and plugged it into the computer. No password was required. The speed is not spectacular but good enough for useful work. As far as I know there is no limit on data. However, the wireless dongle still has its uses. Brenda uses it for her internet work and we will both use it for secure banking work, given that the hard wire service is described as "unsecure" and I've had no security problem with the wireless service. Years ago I wondered out loud why the Fremantle Sailing Club could not offer internet services to its jetties and here in Mexico it is a reality.
To fill in time until the new engine crossed the border I began the project of swapping the Monitor wind steering lines from the starboard to the port side of the cockpit. On the port side is the manual bilge pump and the engine controls, and it did not make sense to be forced to move around that side of the wheel because the other side was blocked by the control lines. More than once I have moved the throttle of the running engine with my leg as I passed through to get to the cabin. Another reason is that I need to be able to peer around the starboard side of the wheel to see the chart plotter at the navigation table. This was my big chance because I have an opportunity to use a shore power electric drill which will have enough torque to drill through the stainless steel rail on the port side. The early stages of the work were difficult and tense. Because the control lines are of different lengths I to remove them so that I can swap them. But the trickiest thing was to unbolt two blocks so that I could turn them 180 degrees. This involved crouching on the framework above the water and delicately removing nuts and bolts without dropping anything - including myself - in the water.
Bob Carroll was kind enough to lend me his electric drill which I picked up yesterday afternoon as Brenda and I passed by on our way to the Mogote peninsula and I hope to complete the job today. When we returned from the Mogote I mounted the outboard motor on the rail and lifted the Zodiac onto the deck. I'd rather take the trouble of lowering and raising the Zodiac than having it sitting in the water getting its bottom fouled and under the hot sun day after day.
Brenda and I have noticed that the temperature has dropped slightly over the last two days - nothing dramatic, but 95F is a lot better than 105F. Last night it was actually cool enough for a sheet and blanket.
The engine saga goes on. Yesterday I learned that after his visit to Pachuca Mac had made a plywood jig for the engine in the workshop. The engine jig is a light weight model of the engine that is good enough to use for preparation of the engine bed. Essential elements of the jig include the overall dimensions, location of the feet, and the position and angle of the shaft coupling. These elements of the jib must of course be very accurate. The mounting of the engine such that it lines up perfectly with the propeller shaft is probably the trickiest part of the engine repowering task.
But then I ran into problems with Columbia Transport. Judith had not sent me an email message giving me the status the previous day as she had promised. I telephoned yesterday and was told that she was in Cabo and would not be back at the La Paz office until Monday. I registered my intense displeasure.
I passed on this information to Neil and he offered to make his own enquiries with Columbia today. I appreciated that because he has the stature and clout to make a big difference. He advised that I do not begin to dismantle the Sabb engine until the Volvo replacement has crossed the border. That should give me 2 days' notice of arrival in La Paz which should be enough time for the dismantling work.
Well after dark last night I got a message from Judith, which I found bizarre and irritating.
The good news was that the entire consignment had been given the OK to be imported "temporarily" duty free. The bad news was that it would take another 3 or 4 working days for the process to be completed. So far so good: I had been told to expect up to a week of processing and it would now be two weeks, but I could accept that. But then she gave me the option of having the engine placed on the truck for La Paz today if I was willing to pay full duty on the import - about $1300. SAY WHAT???? What was going on? Why was I being even presented with this preposterous option? And why was the option being presented to me well into the night only hours before the truck departed the next day?
I sent a very measured and polite but firm response to not load the engine on the truck today and allow the "temporary" importation process to run its course. I asked her to keep me informed and to confirm that at this point I can expect the engine next week. I'll see Neil today for his take on the situation.
I told Brenda that this is Mexico and I would normally accept doing things their way. However, Columbia Transport is charging me Gringo prices - over $600 USD to handle the formalities - so I expect Gringo style services such as predictable and professional procedures as well as keeping the customer informed.
... No wonder I've been having back trouble all week: I've got $14,000 in assets out there and games are being played.
The first three photos are of Pachuca at slip 111 of Marina de La Paz.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is a Western Gull. There are several variations on this theme in the bird world. They are a familiar accompaniment to the beaching of fishing boats along many coastlines as in the second last photo.The Western Gull occurs from Vancouver island to the southern tip of the Baja California. Robert's photo was just in time.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Yesterday afternoon Brenda and I were entertained by hundreds and probably thousands of fish swimming around and under Pachuca. They seemed to be holding their ground by swimming into the incoming flood tide so perhaps they were feeding on whatever the tide was bringing in. Frequently a group would reach the surface and roil the water with a loud 'bubbling' sound.
We had a quiet night of Scrabble (Brenda 2, Robert 0 in this series) and set the alarm to make sure that we were up in plenty of time to make the final preparations for motoring into the marina.
At 9.30 AM today we were ready: sun screens and link sheet put away, outboard motor on the rail and the Zodiac on the foredeck, wheel unlashed and binnacle uncovered, deck and cockpit cleared of unnecessary items. At 10AM Ken and Bob arrived and soon Bob was on board. I started the engine, showed Bob the rope setup, and he raised the anchor while I helmed the boat. Ken returned to the marina to join Rick and Al who were waiting to take our lines.
There was no current and the wind was light, so I should have been able to make a perfect landing even though I had never reversed into a pen. I underestimated the strength of the prop walk and went a boat length too far before going into reverse. The boat began to spin on its axis as though it had a bow thruster and the guys had to pull me in with ropes while fending me off the corner of the walkway. Fortunately there was no boat in the adjacent slip which made the operation easier.
I went through the formalities of checking the boat into the marina then found Neil and told him that the boat was in the slip. Soon Neil, his father Mac, and Joel the chief mechanic were on board Pachuca discussing various aspects of the repowering process. There does not seem to be too much concern about the extraction of the Sabb engine. They've done this sort of thing before and have plenty of timber on hand to do the job. Mac was very concerned about the amount of effort required to modify the engine bed. I told him that at least the area was accessible and everything should look simpler when the Sabb engine is out.
They agree that I should dismantle as much of the Sabb as possible. Mac advised that I keep the 160 amp alternator. I am to take all of the bits and pieces that I remove to the workshop so that Joel & Co can decided what to do with it.
Neil asked about the status of the Volvo engine and he advised that I call Judith at Columbia Transport, which I did later. As I watched the three men walk away I marveled at their "can do" positive attitude about the job. Their main concern is how to best do things.
I telephoned Judith and she said that tomorrow she should know the result of the Customs assessment - the formal question being what will and will not be duty free. Judith asked me to telephone her tomorrow at about 2 PM when she expects to be able to give me a reliable estimate on the ETA of the engine in La Paz. There is a chance that the engine will leave San Diego on Friday's truck, which would put it in La Paz on Monday. If everything still looks good after our conversation tomorrow I'll begin dismembering the Sabb so that we may be able to extract the block at about the time the new engine arrives.
We took it easy in the afternoon. Yesterday's highest temperature was 104.3F and today it was supposed to reach 105F. In the late afternoon I put in a couple of hours setting up proper dock lines and washing the boat down with fresh water. It was great to finish the day with real showers and in the cool of the evening we went for a pleasant walk up the jetty where we struck up a conversation with Steve and Charlotte of Wilful Simplicy.
The first photos are of the fish around Pachuca, a regular event. The next photos were taken by Brenda during our recent evening visit to La Paz. Then there is Bob and myself in the cockpit on the way to the marina. At the marina are left to right Rick, Ken, Al,and Bob. And finally there is a photo of Neil and Mac discussing the repowering project.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is a Blue-footed Booby. These are large sea-birds, similar to Gannets,and like Gannets, launch themselves like airborne missiles to plummet into the sea and spear fish. This was underway over at the Mogote one day last week when we were there. They have a few breeding colonies in the Sea of Cortez. Reading this Robert was reminded of a couple of passengers he had one night during the Hawaii to Neah Bay passage.
Monday, June 21, 2010
For weeks I've been hearing what a cool start to the summer that we've been having in La Paz, and Brenda was told how fortunate she was to get a chance to acclimatize from the Australian winter (mild as it is in Perth/Fremantle) before the serious heat arrived. Yesterday it arrived.
At 11 AM the temperature in the cabin was 40C (104F) when we began to put up our defenses. I zipped on and fastened the shade cloths on each side of the cockpit then did the same with the "link sheet" that connects the cockpit shelter to the compaionway spray dodger. The shade cloths stop the reflected heat from the ocean and yet allow whatever breeze there is to pass through. The link sheet keeps the sun off the cockpit sole and companionway, keeping the quater berth areas below the cockpit much cooler. We then put up a wind scoop which we improvised from a small plastic tarp which directed what breeze there was down the forward hatch. At the end of this activity the cabin temperature was down to 38C (100.4F).
A gentle breeze came up in the early afternoon which brought the temperature down to 35C (95F) and at 4.30 I went over the side to cool off and clean the propeller and shaft once again to make sure that they would be ready when we moved the boat to the marina the next day. Brenda had an early cockpit bath in the privacy of the shade cloth and I did the same when I emerged from the water at 5.30 PM.
We then went ashore and had a light meal at The Dock restaurant then set off for a walk along the foreshore toward the center of La Paz. There was still a warm breeze blowing as the sun was going down but nevertheless the temperature was much cooler and tolerable. This was Sunday evening and it did not surprise us to find the foreshore area very lively with people of all ages enjoying the cool of the evening. There were young boys break dancing under the admiring eyes of the girls, couples whizzing by on roller skates, real functioning nuclear families strolling with the children, and older people sitting on benches. This reminded me of Tahiti, but I understand that this is a pattern common to many warm countries. On the way back Brenda and I got ice cream cones then became part of the geriatric scene sitting on a bench looking out over the bay while we licked our cones. It had been a hard day. Even though I had not done a lot I felt wiped out and out of energy. Brenda felt the same. Welcome to La Paz in summer.
This morning we heard on the VHF22 net that the minimum temperature yesterday had been 81F and the maximum was 101F after 5 PM. During that radio session I learned that a lady called Helen from a boat named Sara Ann was heading to California on Wednesday and could take flat mail. I arranged for her to pick up a large envelope containing a signed pen lease contract for the Fremantle Sailing Club at the marina office. She will mail the envelope to Australia and let me know how much it cost when she returns in a few weeks.
We went ashore "early" at about 9 AM. Brenda had volunteered to go solo on the bicycle to CCC while I waited at the marina. Before we left the boat I saw that Brenda had set up the wind scoop like a seasoned expert. We saw some the morning coffee crew - Bob, Al, Ken, Dave - and after seeing Brenda off, disposing of the garbage, and dropping off the envelope at the marina office, I joined the guys at the coffee table where I was forced to endure a tease about sitting around drinking coffee while Brenda was out hunting and gathering in the heat. By then I had a firm slip assignment (no. 111) so that these men would know where to receive my lines when we came in tomorrow.
Ken has been kind enough to offer to drop Bob off on Pachuca at 10 AM tomorrow, which means that I will be able to ship the Zodiac onto the foredeck for the motor into the marina. It will be Bob, Brenda, and myself on Pachuca and whoever can make slip 111 to take our lines. What will make this a doubly heroic act of benevolence is that Mexico starts playing Uruguay at 8 AM.
Brenda returned to find me alone at a table having coffee. She joined me to finish her cool drink then Bob passed by again and while we were chatting Mac, the founder of the marina came by. Neil had earlier this morning mentioned getting advice on removing the engine from Pachuca to Mac (his father) and it it looks like the three of us and probably Joel the chief mechanic will discuss the project on Pachuca after she is safely tied up. I mentioned the 850 lb weight of the SABB engine to Mac and he said that it would be a problem - with the pushing the heavy weight on the floating jetty as well as the extraction. He thought it a good idea that I dismember the engine to lighten it up as much as possible. I don't know how many marinas would even consider allow this sort of engine work to be done at their jetty, but Mac and Neil have shown no hesitation.
The accompanying photos show Pachuca's heat defenses, with Brenda enjoying the breeze funneled by the wind scoop.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is a Woodpecker. I saw it in a garden on our way to CCC when we were walking there a couple of days ago. Today I had to forget the bird and watch the traffic. Any woodpecker is exciting for an Australian as we have none there. Robert says they can chisel through aluminium.
We have included photos of two earlier BBODs. Magnificent Frigate Birds and Brown Pelicans. The pelicans are on an old hulk that is our nearest neighbour. The pink paint has been applied recently and we understand that this mark has been made on all neglected vessels in the area and that soon they will be removed before the hurricane season begins in earnest.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Yesterday morning Brenda and I walked up to the food market on Bravo street. Bob was correct: the fish selection was much bigger and fresher than that of CCC. We purchased a kilo of tuna for 70 pesos, which is equivalent of 7 Aussie dollars, which compares very favorably with the 35 dollars or more we would have had to pay in Australia.
On the way to the market we visited three different drug stores in an attempt to find non-stick dressings for Brenda's knee, with no success. To my amazement even band aids are hard to find in La Paz.
After lunch I took the bicycle to CCC and their large pharmacy section had no band aids and no sticky tape . Even the pharmacist admitted that he didn't have much. The only thing that they had were rolls of stretchy bandages very suitable for knee injuries and I purchased two rolls along with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide so that Brenda could clean her wound, which had been looking a bit slimey and pusy.
I returned to the boat to find that Brenda had found some extremely good antibiotic ointment in the first aid kit that changed the entire look of her wound. Between that and the bandage it appears that Brenda will be OK with her injury.
I'm including photos showing the sidewalk trap that caught Brenda. All over La Paz you can see where light poles or signs or whatever have been removed but the inch or two of metal foundation have been left to stick out of the pavement. Those are the minor traps that lead to skinned knees and the occasional broken wrist. There are plenty of more serious traps that can roll ankles, and break legs, pelvises and maybe even crack skulls.
In the evening we had a delicious meal of gently fried fresh tuna with rice and salad, accompanied by red wine.
This morning we went to the marina relatively early at 9 AM to show Brenda the Club Cruseros coffee morning. On the way we had a short chat with Bob and Al finishing their coffee at The Dock restaurant.
I handed in three movie DVD's and Brenda selected two fresh ones. (No blood & Guts I regret to say.) We met Susan and Dennis of "Two Can Play", well known local identities who have a company that tends to boats while their owners are away. They gave us a lot of valuable travel information on ... which brings me to the next topic.
A few days ago Brenda surprised me by suggesting that instead of visiting Costa Rica maybe we should get to know this vast country Mexico while we are here. This surprised me because I know how much the nature reserves of Costa Rica mean to Brenda, but I could well see the logic and practicality of exploring this vast country instead of flying off to see another. Besides, I am sure that Mexico has plenty of feathered treasures of its own.
Susan and Dennis gave us very useful information on their explorations of Mexico. One possibility is to take the ferry across to Mazlatan and after a day or two there use the extensive network of modern airconditioned buses to go wherever it suits us. Accommodations are cheap and available with no reservations. This has advantages to us such as touring in a stable and safe country with the freedom and flexibility of no prior bookings.
In the afternoon we motored over to the Mogote peninsula where Brenda did her bird watching thing while I scrubbed the Zodiac. The photos show me at work and my biggest worry about the Zodiac: barnacles!
Brenda's Bird of the Day is a Snowy Egret which is about half the size of yesterday's Bird, the GBH. This bird spends much of his time fishing in the Marina. See photo in which he is poised for action - which involves plunging right in.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
We went ashore relatively early today in order to do our shopping at CCC before the worst heat of the day. We were early enough to catch the regular morning coffee crew at the table and I introduced Brenda to Dave, Al, and others. Brenda already knew Ken and of course Bob.
My plan had been to use the bicycle to make a trip to Lopez Marine then meet Brenda at CCC. At Lopez marine I was going to get the price on a replacement topping lift which would be 120 ft long. This was going to cost me some serious money. Fortunately I sought the counsel of the Round Table of Wise Men. They told me where I could get the rope for a lower price. Then we discussed my plan to use the boom to extract the SABB engine and I was told that the topping lift would not be a player anyway because the main load had to be taken by the main halyard supporting the boom directly over the point of load from the engine. Great! That meant that I didn't need a new topping lift. But it got better. After some discussion I received the opinion that it would be easier and safer for Joel to construct a wooden scaffold for lifting the engine out. They reckoned that Joel's workshop would have the necessary planks, hoists, etc for doing the job and it shouldn't be a big problem for them. So I walked away with no worries about the topping lift, no worries about the boom, and few worries about the engine extraction because I will put the responsibility on Joel an his crew.
Brenda and I walked back from CCC heavily laden with groceries. Along the way I stopped by a roadside vendor and purchased an enormous bag of oranges for 80 pesos. These oranges looked better than what CCC offered and later on the boat we were able to verify that the oranges were as sweet and juicy as we had hoped. Because I was carrying such a big load I tended to walk ahead of Brenda then stop to rest. At one point I walked across the street to the little beach where the fishing pangas are based and set up some rickity chairs under in a covered area for Brenda and I to have a rest in the pleasant setting. I struck up a halting conversation with a nice old man who was also under the shelter. Then Brenda showed up with a bloody hand and knee and blood on her shorts, blouse, and hat. She had stumbled on one of the many sidewalk traps and fallen. This trap was spiky pieces of metal sticking out of the sidewalk at the end of the crosswalk. I had constantly warned Brenda to the point of nagging about looking at every place where she stepped because nothing can be trusted. Fortunately Brenda was not seriously hurt. A bright side of the event is that even as Brenda was falling two men started to rush over to help her. One was a policeman.
After lunch I had a good session reading the newspapers.
In the New York Times I saw for the first time a phrase that must become a contender for the political Newspeak prize of the decade. The apology of a member of Congress to BP included the statement that "I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure...." Legitimately Wrong. I took the trouble to look up the definitions of "legitimate" and "wrong" and found them so mutually exclusive in meaning that juxtaposition them in a phrase was nothing less than political genius. I like the sound of it. It has a ring to it - or maybe a wring to it because it appears to me that the English Language has suffered yet another affront to its integrity at the rack of modern politicalspeak.
Then I said to Brenda "Hey, that Mexico was in that soccer game that I glimpsed in the restaurant Two minutes ago they won 2-0 over France." No wonder the waiters at The Dock restaurant had been more watching TV than waiting on tables. A few minutes later Brenda called me out to the cockpit and we could hear across the water the din of car horns and human cheers as the town of La Paz celebrated in the streets under the hot 4PM sun. To me this was too one sided, so from the safety and anonymity of my boat I yelled out "Vive la France" and "Merde a vous", but neither that nor "It's only a game" had any effect (mercifully). But I jest. It was great to see the triumph and pride of the Mexican people. Mexico is a large and populous country and I have seen in my short time here evidence of the strengthening foundations for a bright future.
Later in the afternoon we took the Zodiac to the Mogote peninsula. On we way we dropped by Bob's boat Adios and gave him 5 oranges from our plentiful supply.
I took the accompanying photos from the Mogote peninsula. The middle photo shows one of the victims of past storms scattered througout the area. This was a ply board catamaran that must have been deemed not worth saving. In the background above the bow of this unfortunate boat is Bob' Carroll's Adios.
The last photos represent my first attempt at panoramic photography. The two photos cover all of La Paz from the entrance to the channel near the oil terminal at the left to the head of the bay at the right.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is a Great Blue Heron.These are tall, widespread in North America and very elegant in colour and stance. We passed close by a GBH that was on a post at the exit of the Marina.
A further note about yesterday's Bird: On the way back from the Mogote we saw one Frigatebird flying low. Next he was beset by several of his fellow Frigatebirds. It is one of their feeding methods - to harrass another bird until he disgorges his last meal.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
After lunch Bob took Brenda and myself to a nice little hotel that he knew about. We were shown two of the rooms, one with views of the bay and the other one looking back toward the town. Brenda and I liked the very Mexican style of the small hotel, its location in on a quiet street, and its proximity to the marina. The hotel provides basic kitchen facilities which would be very useful.
Afterwards we did some spot checking of other hotels via the internet and found that the Posada LunaSol Hotel that Bob had showed us was the cheapest, so that is where we will stay if we are driven off the boat by the repowering effort.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is the Magnificent Frigate Bird. These can be seen cruising above the bay and the town all day and even before sunrise. The MFB is a large seabird with long angled wings (Robert says they look like bats) and a deeply forked tail. The trusty bird book says that they have the longest wings to body weight of any bird species. I missed a photo opportunity when one scooped up something (possibly a squid) from near Pachuca.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I met Neil at noon to discuss the repowering project. The marina is very flexible in that they will allow me to do as much of the work myself as I want to. I told Neil that I have neither the tools nor the skills to do much of the work, but I was willing to do the hack work myself. (I have a hunch that I might wind up doing much of the engine bed preparation myself because I am willing to put in a lot of time, energy, and patience to ensure that the result is within a half a degree of perfect.)
We discussed the extraction of the SABB engine, which weighs over 850 lb. I undertook to dismantle as much of it as possible. Since the engine will probably be scrapped I'll try to remove the cylinders and pistons. I'll also detach the Hurth gear box.
I have been booked to move the boat into slip 108 on Tuesday 22 June, one week away. Bob Carroll has agreed to help Brenda and myself to move the boat, which we must back into the slip. I do not anticipate much trouble with this if we follow Bob's advice to move the boat at slack water. The slip will be to my left as I approach the dinghy dock and my prop walk when in reverse will pull the stern to the left, which will make the operation much easier.
Once I am in the slip Joel will visit the boat to assess the job and start planning the scaffolding work for extraction of the SABB engine. I'm beginning to think that we can use the boom to lift the engine up and swing it onto the jetty. I would have to spent a couple of hundred dollars on a new topping lift, but that would be much cheaper than paying for the time required to put together a scaffold and besides, that topping lift should have been replaced before I left Fremantle.
I'll then work until the following Monday taking breaking the SABB down as much as possible. At about that time the new Volvo should arrive so we will work fast to get the SABB out of the way.
I spoke with Neil about keeping Pachuca in the marina until September and he sees no problem with that, and I suspect that he is delighted because there are quite a few empty pens around during this low part of the season. I read the marina requirements and one of them is that we must drop the headsail and remove all canvas if we leave the boat for more than 48 hours. The anchor must be removed from the bow roller. All this is no doubt to reduce windage and damage in the event of a hurricane.
I found the rates to be reasonable: $530 USD per month, which reduces to about $18 USD per day. This will bring advantages of access to the internet, showers, and the dinghy dock facilities that have been costing $30 per month.
This marina and its boats were heavily damaged during hurricane Marty in Septembert 2003 (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wyzlZdTiHo and http://www.clubcruceros.org/HurricaneMarty/Marty%28T%29/thumbnails.html). I'm told that most of the boats wound up stacked like toys at one side of the marina. I asked Neil if my boat would be safe and he assured me that the metal breakwater that has been put in place since that disaster will prevent a repetition. I then watched the video of Hurricane John whose eye passed over La Paz in September 2006 and saw for myself the improvements that Marina de La Paz had made. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd0WOj8CTuk&NR=1)
In the late afternoon the wind was calm so Brenda and I visited the Mogote Peninsula on the Zodiac. Along the way we dropped by Bob's boat and I made the introductions. We visited some mangroves then went ashore on a small stretch of sandy beach where Brenda took off like a jack rabbit to do her bird watching thing. I enjoyed seeing the full expanse of La Paz from that perspective.
Brenda's Bird of the Day. The Mogote is vegetated with mangroves and other plants suited to harsh and salty conditions. As I peered among the bushes a large insect whizzed by. Was it an insect? Luckily it returned and hovered, perched and darted and the tiny wings were beating in a blurry figure of eight. A Hummingbird! From the bird book it was probably a Costa's Hummingbird - the only one down here. They are only 3 1/2 inches long.
All sorts of tropical depressions will spiral up the western side of Mexico and the trick will be to identify which ones will approach La Paz. Since we won't be able to go to the safety of the northern reaches of the Sea of Cortez we will have to stay in the vicinity of La Paz where we can run into a marina while a tropical depression is still days away.
If the new engine is in place before the end of July we will probably take a short trip up to some of the islands to try out the engine and to enjoy some of the many anchorages between La Paz and Loretto, knowing that we can get back to La Paz within 2 days if we see trouble brewing.
We might then leave the boat in the safety of the Marina in August and take that trip to Costa Rica. We would have to return by the end of August because Brenda is due to return to Australia in early September. Time Flies.
During our telephone conversation I questioned Judith about the paltry 15% insurance coverage of the engine. I pointed out that were there to be a major accident I would lose over $10,000, so could I purchase more coverage? She replied that she would look into it but then asked me to hold on for a few seconds while she checked the policy. She came back and sheepishly told me that she had gotten it wrong: the policy had a 15% deductable and in fact my engine would have an 85% coverage. "Now your talking!" was my reply and then I told her that I was happy with the coverage.
I finished the day by re installing a fan in the forward V-berth area. The June weather in La Paz has been unusually cool, but we've been told to brace ourselves for hot weather from July onwards - along with thunderstorms and higher humidity. I could use a few thunderstorms because Pachuca's ropes and rigging are covered with desert dust.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The first order of business of the day was to learn the status of the engine shipment. UPS Customer Service informed me that the ETA of the engine in San Diego is Wednesday the 16th - two days away. I passed this information on the Judith at Columbia and Mark in Port Townsend.
Brenda and I then went ashore with a specific set of tasks on the agenda.
Our first task was to visit Telcel and attempt to have a SIM card installed which would enable Brenda to use the Nokia 3G phone that she had brought from Australia here in Mexico. The Telcel outlt near the marina sent us to their central facility so that an engineer could make sure that the Nokia was not blocked. We obediently set off for the main office and along the way hailed the first bus during my stay in La Paz. There seem to be neither bus schedules nor bus stops at La Paz - you hail one when you see it coming and the driver stops. Our ride to Telcel was so short that the driver charged only 12 pesos instead of the ususal 16 for both of us.
The Telcel office was its usual marvel of professionalism and efficiency. The first SIM card didn't work so the man tried another and it worked fine. The 150 peso fee covered the SIM card and 50 pesos of prepaid service and Brenda purchased another 200 pesos worth of service.
We then took another bus to the center of La Paz where we soon found a real bakery that supplied us with fresh snacks that we ate on the benches of a bus station. Next we found the Banamex bank and Brenda successfully used her Master Card to withdraw 3000 pesos. After I did a side trip to purchase some stationary we walked back to the marina along the seaside walk. During this walk I used my new camera for the first time to take a Photo of Brenda under a whale.
Back at the marina I found Neil in his office. I told him about the UPS shipment and he figured that the engine would arrive in La Paz late next week. He asked me to visit him tomorrow at noon for a meeting with Joel, who will be doing the engine work.
The broad plan is to have the engine delivered by Columbia to the Marina de La Paz workshop. Even before it arrives I will move Pachuca into a slip at the marina and begin to dismantle the SABB engine. The idea is to make it as light and small as possible for the extraction. I plan to remove the heads, separate the Hurth gearbox, and if possible remove the cylinders. In fact I'll dismantle as much as possible. It should be fun and a great learning experience for me. As far as the engine itself, there has been no interest in it and I am resigned to scrapping it after salvaging a few pieces from it.
Joel will then build some sort of scaffold for lifting the SABB block out of the engine bed. After the engine has been removed I will do two or three days of work removing all associated cables and wiring, then cleaning and painting the engine bed, knowing that parts of it will be chipped away for accommodating the new engine.
Then Joel take over and install the new Volvo engine. Brenda and I may have to take accommodation in a hotel for this phase but regardless, I plan to be present at the boat every day watching the activities and being prepared to make decisions.
Brenda's Bird of the Day is the Brown Pelican. These are our nearest neighbours. Around six of them hang out on an old hulk about 100 metres away from Pachuca. They are lumbering in flight but spectacular when diving as they explode into the sea at high velocity. They are the same species as those unfortunate oiled pelicans being fimed along the coasts of Alabama and Louisiana.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I've just hoisted Chiquita's storm jib that Brenda brought from Australia and we both think that it sets very well. It has an area of 30 sq ft in contrast to the 130 sq ft staysail which I could not carry comfortably beyond 35 knot winds. The new sail should work well with the storm trysail
The storm jib will have to stand up to very strong winds but it is in practically new condition and is extremely well stitched - triple stitche in places.
For the trial I used a piece of rope to connct the tack of the sail to the deck fitting, but I plan to get a wire strop for the task, long enough to place the sail a bit higher up the inner forestay.
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- ► 2011 (288)
- Bent Shaft and Bent Prices
- Visit to Todos Santos
- Hotel California
- Monitor Control Lines Changed
- Settling into Marina and Engine Games
- At the Marina
- Hot Weather Has Arrived
- Fish and Zodiac
- Shopping and Soccer
- Lunch with Bob
- Volvo Engine Is In San Diego
- Meeting and Visit to Mogote Peninsula
- Engine and Fan
- Brenda Getting Established
- Pachuca's Storm Jib
- Goodies From Australia
- Volvo Engine On Way
- Brenda Arrived OK
- More Volvo Photos
- Zodiac Maintenance
- Engine Preparation
- Engine at Shoreline Marine Diesel
- Having a Fitness Fit
- SABB Maintenance and For Sale
- Moved the Boat
- Status on New Engine
- Engine Sea Trial and NewHome for Pachuca
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