I have been asked by lots of people what's it like to spend the summer in Mexico............Hot and sweaty. As Robin Williams said in Welcome to Vietnam "hot and sweaty is good if your with a woman but not good if it's the weather.
Whilst the temps inside the boat can top 100 and outside 120 , there are ways of coping with it. However it's the humidity which is the real killer. You spend a great deal of time drenched in sweat, just breathing makes you sweat.Thank god for A/C..............and fans. I use two A/C units, one a 5000BTU window unit which sits in the campanion way and blows into the saloon. Coupled with a fan and the sun shade , the saloon temp is a comfortable 70+ . Clothing is still optional. Mind you , it makes the cockpit unbearably hot because of the exhaust heat. At night I use a 9000 btu unit which is free standing and points into the aft cabin and is ducted out though a hatch via and large diameter pipe. This can really drag the temp down to chilly !!!
To cope with the humidity, towels are strategically placed to stop me sticking to the furniture, especially when reading. Ventures outside are accompanied by a very large brimmed straw hat and a sweat clothe. Boat projects are limited to before 11.00am or after 5.00pm and completing anything is considered an victory. The remainder of the day is mostly taken up by visits to shopping malls, large supermarkets or coffee shops which have A/C. It's amazing the amount of time you can spend aimlessly wondering around a mall ( if the A/C is good). 3 hour coffee breaks , no worries. There are some positives............you lose weight, it's too hot to eat and no way is the stove being switched on to cook anything. You sweat out salt and toxins ......good for the blood pressure and you drink lots of icey cold water...not pepsi. Plus you get to shower a lot during the day, normally straight from the hose on the dock....so you are cleaner than perhaps you would normally be. Downside, you use lots of underarm sprays and you have to wash your hats frequently. So a well planned day will allow you to miss the brunt of the humidity and heat, unless of course you are at anchor and then your life is hell . Actually there are 100's of boats who spend the summer in the Sea of Cortez on anchor and deal with the weather in their own ways. Crew and wives may be on the verge of mutiny, so I am told by my friends on Ponderosa who are currently up in the Sea, but they find ways of getting through it. Most socialising between boats appears to happen at "floaters" around 4.00pm. People grab anything that floats and jump in.
Probably the biggest concern of anyone staying the summer in this area of mexico is the possibility of Hurricanes, whether you are up in the Sea of Cortez or in a marina on the mainland or Baha side. We have a rather powerful hurricane 450 miles south of us at the moment, Hurricane Hilary, already a cat 4 so a dangerous one. It sat still for a few days and some predications thought it may come on the mainland or go up into the Sea. It appears from tonights position it is headed WNW, away from us. Although this could easily change and it could head this way. There are a few hurricane holes up in the Sea but if a cat 4 or 5 hit the marina, it would destroy the place completely. From previous statistics the later in the season June-Oct, the more chance of hurricanes heading into the Sea. Hilary is certainly the most powerful one this year so far and 450 mile is not that far . I guess we will get some of the weather from it over the next 3-4 days. We all follow the hurricanes via a couple of websites, www.stormpulse.com and www.eebmike.com, morning ritual check hurricanes and then drink coffee in peace !
So with the thunder, lightening, heat, humidity and hurricanes why do people stay here in the summer. Two main reasons, the Sea of Cortez is unique, isolated and stunning with fantastic wild life, the second reason....it avoids the Baha Bash, the northerly trip back up the outside to the States against wind, sea and current. This gets you out of the hurricane zone but you are faced with a nasty trip back to the USA. Some even virtually sail to Hawaii before tacking back towards the US Coast.
Soon this years contingent of boats will leave San Diego in the 2011 Baha Ha Ha, around the 23 rd Oct, over 200 boats will head south taking about a week to get here. Cruising season has begun from that point onwards !!!
And the best bit, only and few more weeks and the humidity will disappear and winter temperatures will prevail, a nice 70 degrees
Well, the replacement GPS antenna turned up, a Raymarine 125 . Opened the box and was somewhat dumbstruck by the contents, 3 seperate installation guides, two bags of bits, one long cable and 5 other cables with various connectors , plus conversion blocks and more connectors. I guess this is what happens when a compnay uses so many protocals, plus NMEA . I was not looking forward to what should be a simple connection. Plan A, follow instructions.......fail, Plan B follow instruction in installation manual 2.......fail. Plan C , use convertors as suggested in installation manual 3....fail. Go to bed !
Get up early and cut connector of end main cable...........old school approach, connect one wire to direct power , not through SEAtalk bus. Crimp data wire from Antenna to Seatalk in , crimp shield to Sea talk. Hey presto, GPS comes on line on master display at nav station but not on slave display at helm. Shit !! Follow back helmstation seatalk to junction box. bring master connection back to same box and twist wires together into junction block. BINGO, GPS is up and running at helm and nav station. Sounds pretty simple, only troule is this all took a total of 12 hours. Had to dismantle aft cabin to follow cables back, dismantle Nav station electronics , take apart Nav pod at helm, fit antenna on dofger top instead of aft rail ( Raymarine only supply 20 feet of cable). General pull the interior apart to run cable. The photo's don't do the dishevelment any justice. A day spent drenched in sweat but one which ended in VICTORY. It would have been quicker to learn how to use a sextent !!!
09/03/2011, Still mazatlan
Okay, so here's plan B...............as soon as parts turn up for GPS and a second stage regulator for the hookah, wait for a weather window, which will probably mean something like "No tropical depressions expected for the next 48 hours" and make the dash to La Paz. Have spent most of this week provisioning for 2months up in the Sea. Completed most of the projects and just need to get the main GPS back on line and I should be ready to rock and roll. Will buddy boat with one or two other boats. Looking forward to it, not looking forward to unhooking the A/C.
Bees have invaded a boat on Dock 6, obviously looking to set up a new home.
The marina boys have been out with there insecticide, god only knows what they have used, something Toxic.
I had a spare Rule bilge pump which I been meaning to install as a secondary bilge pump. I had already installed the float switch and alarm and today finally got the whole system up and working. Lots of swearing, head scratching and blood spilled but with some wiring diagrams from Rowan , managed to complete task. Of course had to rewire the alarm and float swithc in the process. So hopefully, the spare parts parcels arrive in the next week or so. Then we wait for a gap. Will hit Muertos and then up to La Paz. Stay a few days and then get north , doing mostly day sails .
What started out as a Friday night out to sample some Thai cuisine turned out to be a real adventure. Rowan ( Vortex III) and I had previously tried to eat at this particular restaurant a few weeks earlier but it had been closed for renovation when we arrived. We were relieved to see it was open this evening when we disembarked from the bus. The meal was great, nice and spicey and we were treated to a fantastic thunder and lightening storm, instant thunder and then lightening immediatley, which meant we were right under the storm. It rained and rained throughout the meal, rained some more and when we got to the main road in Mazatlan, it was completely flooded. Really flooded., cars were still navigating the road, some had stalled and stopped and everything was awash. We spotted a bus , not the right one , but one which would take us to within 1/2 mile of the marina. As we slowly made our way back towards the marina, cars were stopping and turning around as the water was getting deeper and deeper, the bow wave from the bus was 9 inches high and causing waves to hit the walls on the opposite of the road. Cars had their exhausts submerged and the water was up to and over the wheel tops on smaller cars. Any way our bus turned around as expected short of the marina and we were faced with a hike through knee high water to the marina. Fortunately we had to go over a bridge which meant going uphill, thankfully meaning dry feet. However half way home one of my sandals gave up the ghost and was tossed away, quickly followed by the second sandal. I had purchased replacements the day before but thought my old ones were good for another few weeks. Hah not the case when you trudge through water !!
Finally got home at 10..pm, we left at 6.30 to go for the meal. When you cruise, everything is an adventure, even going for a simple meal !!!!
Some should invent drainage ?
Last night I witnessed the biggest downpour so far, according to my dockside buckets, it rained a good 5-6 inches. During the day i had inspected the bottom using a hookah, the marina water was actually fairly clean for a change. Today it looks like brown soup. Even Reuben who cleans the bottoms of most peoples boats in the marina did'nt go in the water today. It was a day for chores inside the boat, open and close the thru hulls, start the engine, start the geni, flush the electtic toilets thru ( I have not been using the sea water flush) been using Fresh water flushing. Argh what a stink flushing the trapped sea water thru the system. Of course I took a chunk out of my skull on the normal nut I catch with my head when I open and close the scupper thru hulls. Only this time the blood loss was substantial, I felt a trickle running down my face and thought to myself, it's not that hot to be sweating that much, wiped away the sweat and went to pick up the wrench.....jesus where did all that blood come from. Went into the head to look in the mirror as i could now feel drops of blood from the ned of my nose and chin..............it looked like someone had hit me with an axe. Stop the blood by inserting a kitchen towel under my Golf cap and 10 mins later, it had stopped. The cut was tiny no more than 1.0 cm, maybe slightly more. Needless tpo say I removed the nut and bolt which catches me everytime. Showered up at the end of the day ready for a night out at the Pizza place, and of coarse washed off the small scab..............got out of the shower and 2 mins later am covered in blood again!!!!!
Oh well, something I am just going to have to get used to. Need to buy one of those sticks the old time barbors used when they nicked your eat. Asked a few pharmacies but they just look at me and stare. I was never that good at charades so my rendition of shaving , cutting my face and jamming an imaginery stick onto the cut and smiling is obviously not stirring the correct images in the minds of the pharmacists.
Everyone understands to do lists, especially those who own boats. The list never gets shorter, no matter how hard you try. I decided to attempt some items from the "to hard to do list" and had some sucess after many hours of trial and error, serious thought and help from friends. For those interested read on, for others , the next few pararaphs could be boring.
Connecting an ICOM 802 SSB to a non ICOM antenna tuner......any boaty will know you connect an ICOM AT130, AT 140 or AT3 antenna tuner to the most previalent SSB's on the market, the ICOM 700, 710Pro and 802. Hey you can also connect an MFJ tuner ....... and the auto tune also works. It was so straightforward even I got the connection correct the first time. Anyone wanting to know how drop me an email.
Next was getting an MMSI number and call sign. Simple, 20 bucks later the New Zealand call sign people emailed me my new MMSI number and my new call sign ZMG2585. Input these into the 2 VHF's and the HF radios.
Interconnect the Icom to my GPS and set up DSC calling. Tear apart the nav station to get at the various rear ends concerned. Lay out the owners manuals, grab the wire and connector box and set to it. 4 hours later, no GPS being displayed on the SSB, another 4 hours and still no interconnect, call Rowan on Vortex III for help. Run though all the connections and have him check them, he agrees everything is in order, asks what the problem is and I reply no lat and lon GPS display on the Icom. He repies Yes there is................and blow me down, there it is, all working. I had gotten it correct 7 hours previously but was done in by a dirty connection. All we had to do was bend the centre pin of the coax cable in two , to make it thicker and we got a perfect connection.
Spurred on by this decide to connect the VHF to the second comm out port on the gps and got these two honeys talking together in no time .
Next project...............install a new bilge pump, well actually a secondary bilge pump set higher up the bilge.