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Eagle's Big Left Turn
Join Jeanne and Tom now that we have prepared our Freeport Islander SV Eagle to sail on an adventure from the PNW to smaller latitudes.
a few pics....
07/28/2014, San Evaristo

Charlotte and Steve just got into town, and brought by a few of the photos from the beach salvage....

The day of the accident, Owner Bill started pulling things off the boat

Then once we got there, stuff started coming off the boat in a hurry

Christian starts to remove the main sail

Michael helps drop the boom

Me, sticking my head out of the companionway hatch

Taking the water makers out of the engine room....upside down and sideways

Here is Charlotte is helping out

Michael is still smiling despite the heat

Getting ready to take the mast down

After it was said and done, what ever was left over, the owner Bill donated to the locals

The end of a dream....
07/27/2014, San Evaristo

The end of a dream..

Those words still put a nasty chill down my spine.
The day started like virtually every other one here in La Paz, sunny and warm. It is getting towards the second half of summer, a season here that is filled with concern for all boaters. It is hurricane season. We have all seen the satellite pictures of the huge swirling mass of clouds, the news reels that show in such vivid reality of the loss, and the names Charlie, Katrina, Marty, Sandy, and yes, one even named after my sweetie, Jeanne.

This year there seems to be more talk of what "might be" than I remember in our few years here. Even the long time locals are sweating bullets. The water is warmer than it has ever been, which is what Hurricanes love. Along with the hurricanes comes the Chubascos, fast moving thunder storms that bring moisture over from the mainland of Mexico, across the 85-90 degree water of the Sea of Cortez. These storms, carry lots of lighten/thunder, and usually a lot of rain. And like the every famous Captain Ron says, "They come on ya fast and they leave ya fast".

All this week we have been seeing these storms build all around us, but going past to the east or to the west. Thursday, everything changed. This was a monster sized storm, packing the kind of punch that we all lose sleep over. When it hit Cabo San Lucas there were reports of winds in excess of 80 knots, 50 miles north of there, Los Barillas saw 70's and several water pouts (tornados that occur over water), and here in La Paz we saw winds in the mid 40's. Reduced, but still enough to cause several anchored boats to drag, but no real damage done. 40 miles north of La Paz is a small fishing village, San Evaristo. If you have been following along for some time, you will remember that name as we fell in love with this sleeping little village of roughly 150 fisherman and their families. This is where the rest of the story will all play out.

Thursday afternoon, I was sitting at the desk here in our store, the storm had passed, and all of the boats under out care were all in great shape. I was starting to get notes out to the owners, when I heard on half of a radio call on the VHF. "This is Del Viento, how do you copy me?" Silence "this is Del Viento, I copy you very lightly, please repeat" silence " this is del Viento, I copy that you are in San Evaristo, and your boat has washed ashore, all are safe but the boat is taking on water, is that correct". The worst news any boater can possible hear. The amazing thing is that if you are familiar with VHF radios, they are strictly line of sight, limited to 25 watts of power, and not to be expected to be heard from inside a bay, over 40 miles away!! Michael on SV Del Viento had the only radio in the entire area that had a copy on this poor sailor. He did an amazing job of getting all the information on the boat, and then started to looks for ways to help this very shell shocked sailor.

Another local boater, Will on SV Shaman jumped in and asked Michael to relay that he would make the 3 ½ drive north over incredibly bad (think 4x4) road to pick up the family that was on the boat, along with the three dogs and return them to La Paz.

I was contacted by Christian , on the trimaran Manakie, letting me know that he would be willing to drive to San Evaristo to help recover what every we could. He has a large 1 ton 4x4, full size box pickup truck. I jumped into the radio traffic with Michael, and told him I would get a crew together to go up at first light to help recover as much as we could before the boat sank or broke up.

First thing Friday morning, Myself, Christian, and Michael loaded the truck up with tools and headed north. We were able to make it in 3 ½ hours and set right to taking the boat apart. On our way to the boat, while we still had cell reception, I got a call from Jeanne, who had spoken to Bill, the owner that he wanted to make sure that we got the water maker off.

Having done as complete a re-fit on eagle as we had, and my two companions had each done similar work on their own boats, we knew that there was a lot of very expensive stuff that needed to get off the boat as soon as possible.
We started with the solar panels, and worked our way inside the boat. With my water maker knowledge. I jumped in and started removing this valuable piece (or several pieces in this case) from inside the boat. Now bear in mind, installing a water maker ion the cramped spaces of a sail boat is usually a full two day job. Now, working inside a boat, laying on its side, filled with water, fuel, oil etc added a few of its own challenges. I had the entire system, High Pressure Pump, boost pump, remote panel, and two 40" membrane tubes out in a little over an hour. While I was doing that, every other part of the boat was similarly being attacked. Winches, steering wheel, compass, roller fullers, spinnakers, spare sails, every electrical component, bar-b-ques, antennas, propane tanks, battery switches, bus bars, personal items...the list goes on and on.

We took the mast down, and stripped the rigging, insulators, mast head lights, antennas and fittings all off.

I would be very remiss if I did not make sure to point out how much help Steve and Charlotte on SV Willfull Simplicity were the whole time we were there. They pretty much live in San Evaristo, and do incredible amounts of work both for and with the locals in this little fishing village. They were there from the time we pulled in with the truck, hauling things away for us, bring those of us inside the boat tools, and at the end of the day, arranged to have a very nice cold beer as well. Charlotte has more photos that I will post once they get back into La Paz.

At 5:30 that evening, we stopped.

There was just nothing left that we could do. The fuel in the tanks would go to the locals to run their water maker plant. The local mechanic would somehow pull the engine out, and the mast was left to one of the fisherman. I am pretty sure that next time we are there, a bright shiny new aluminum flag pool will be erected. The remaining stainless steel will be used on the various pangas. In the end, the village will remove every part of the boat that can be used, as is the culture here in Mexico. Nothing goes to waste.
And in the end, there will be only that very part of a dream, the part where it all starts. A little bit of fiberglass....the hull, the place where it all began, however many years ago. A place where every sailboat gets to start out as someone's dream. Our dreams can be fleeting, hard to catch, and sometimes even harder to hold on to. This was one man's dream, a dream of years or possibly decades. And it was all gone in minutes.

Rain showers + light show
07/25/2014, La Paz

I heard a slight rumble in the distance, and it wasn't from my stomach! And then I heard a lot more! I looked out our window, which faces sort of NE, and saw only blue sky. It did appear to be getting slightly darker. Moving away from our building and looking 180 degrees south.....YIKES! I quickly jumped on the bike and rode down to the boat to close up all the hatches!

The sky was very dark grey, and getting darker and lower, by the minute.
Within 10 minutes the lightning strikes were pretty impressive, even for daylight. All around us, multiple strikes at once with the thunder immediate.

The people on anchor out in the bay were monitoring the weather and wind. The last transmission I heard before turning off the radio was 36kts and building with lots of white caps. We had white caps inside our breakwater.

Shortly after the wind arrived, the rain started. A few big drops, then it just let loose! The awning on the restaurant next door, blew off, and lots of palms and coconuts are down.......

15 minutes later, the system has passed, the sun is out, the humidity is higher than before and all is well!

07/26/2014 | Wendy
First, I thought you'd written, "Rain Showers and Light SNOW." But your photos cleared things up... Heard some boats blew on the beach during a Chubasco up in Concepcion. Hold onto your hats, Kids, and have fun!!
Smiles all day
07/22/2014, The beach in La Paz

Opening Photo courtesy of Thomas Ireton
The grins say it all!

This morning I had the pleasure of taking 21 kids to the beach! Along with Tom's help in driving a carload, our friend Tom Ireton taking photos, friends Terry & Valerie Townson , the great assistance and pizza donation of Bryen Harker of Harker Stand Up Paddle Boards, and professional SUP racer Sergio, we saw smiles all morning!

I've been wanting to arrange a day at the beach for a while, and finally got it all together.

We met the kids and several adult members of the shelter at 7:30 this morning.
15 people in the cab and back of Pancho, the rest in Bryens loaner car, we hauled them down to his shop across from the beach.

The kids were very quiet until we could see the beach....... giggles and chatter all around, followed by 'Yeas' when we opened the doors!

Sergio and Bryen gave the kids a quick lesson, but for most of them it was great to just get in the water. The big kids quickly got the hang of SUPping, and started giving rides. The little ones just enjoyed pushing, pulling or being pushed or pulled on one in the shallow water.

The grins were contagious and non stop.

Just as some of the little ones were starting to shiver and teeth chatter, Bryen's crew brought out 10 pizzas for everyone!

There were so many fun photos, that I've chosen a couple of dozen and placed them in our gallery. Just look to the right on your screen and click on the gallery section - Mama Benitas Kids at the Beach.

07/23/2014 | Wendy
Way to go, Jeanne, Tom Squared, and Bryen Harker! It's always fun sharing with kids. The giggling and smiles are always contagious!!! Good on y'all! Best Fishes!
07/26/2014 | Nancy and Rob - Shindig
You did it!!! What a fabulous day for the kids. Love seeing their smiling faces. Thanks for sharing with all of us.
Wire woes...
07/15/2014, a lot of boats

Much of my time down here is spent digging around in somebody's boat, trying to figure out why something has quit working. Now, don't get me work, sometimes things just break, or wear out, but by far and away the biggest number of repairs I make have to do with faulty wiring. Corrosion, vibration, poorly done connections, and god forbid, the biggest problem of all BLACK ELECTRICIANS TAPE!!!

Boats by nature are just a bundle of wires waiting for something to go wrong. The are put away in the lowest, most cramped places, in one of the harshest environments you can, in an object that is nearly always in some degree of motion. Salt water in the air, constant motion, you have to do this right, or Mother Nature is gonna get you in the weakest link she can find, your wire connections.

Now thru my life I have had the chance to do, and learn a lot about wiring. I have built houses, restored Corvettes, worked on more cars that I car to try to add up, and well, a heck of a lot of boats. When it comes to the marine side of wiring, I was very lucky to have enrolled in a course at the university of Washington, that was being taught by Dick Trowbridge. What an eye opener!! Much was learned about various grades of wiring, components, installation, and what causes them to fail.

The bottom line was that if you make a proper, corrosion proof (or at least very resistant) connection, and control the vibration, you will go a long ways with very little trouble. Lots of zip ties, and various hangers to reduce or eliminate vibration and movement. Marine grade wire and connectors, Di-electric paste, shrink tube terminal fittings, all will lead towards the optimum electrical wiring you can obtain.

As you can see by the cover photo, there were a few things done poorly. First of all I am not a fan of electrical equipment that allows the user to just plug a piece of raw wire right into the connection, and hope it never fails, pulls out or corrodes. The above is a 40 Amp battery charger, that failed due to corrosion more than anything else, but with that many raw, unprotected wires just hanging out there, what would you expect? In this case, there was significant corrosion on the connection to the positive terminal for the house bank of batteries. The corrosion caused enough heat to actually melt the connection, and cause irreparable damage to the entire unit, not to mention a possible fire hazard. The #2 bank wires were very close to as bad, and the negative wire has more wire outside the connection than in it. This also adds the chance of a short that could happen with anything that crosses those wires. Yup...just a whole Lota bad going on here.

So, lets be careful out there, good luck and happy wiring...

07/16/2014 | Don
Was the class that Dick Trowbridge taught just on DC?
07/16/2014 | Jeanne & Tom
Don, The class was a complete course in all levels of marine wiring, AC, DC and a small amount on communication stuff like coaxial wire
Leaping lizards!!
07/07/2014, El Magote, La Paz, Mexico

Well, so they weren't leaping but we sure had fun watching them run around, pose and just look cool.

Actually the day started out with us finally taking a full day off! We loaded up Pancho The truck and headed north, looking for a place to do some snorkelling and spend the day just chilling. We found a great spot to snorkel near San Juan de La Costa, about 50 miles north of La Paz. We then set up a small camp had lunch and a very short nap.

It was time to move....but where to go? We wanted to explore a new area, so we decided to drive down the spit that forms the Magote, the long bit of land across the bay from down town La Paz. This is where there is a small group of condos, some done, some in various states of completion. The standard way of getting there is by small little boat ferries that run from the down town La Paz area, over to a dock on the other side. We had been told that it was about a 55-60 mile trip by land from La Paz, north to the turn off, and then back south again to the end of the spit, or Magote.

Well, lets just say we now know why nobody drives it....the road is, well, in order to keep the story "G" rated, I will say it is in very bad shape. For those of you that have driven on wash board gravel roads, imagine 6"-8" washboards, for 14 kilometres....then throw in a few small wash outs, some standing water, and a couple of realm soft spots that have caused almost a sink hole and you have an idea.

But, like every cloud, there was a silver lining....LIZARDS, a lot of them. Now most people would probably have a little less enthusiasm about a bunch of iguanas, and lizards, but we had so much fun shooting (with cameras) that we forgot about how bad the road actually was.

As you can see on the cover photo, we got to see some Coastal Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma coronatum). There are three basic Horned Lizards in the Baja, the Desert, the Coastal and the Regal Horned lizards. We did not see any of the other two, but it was great to see these horny little devils.

We also got a kick out of the Desert Iguanas (Diposaurus dorsalis). They have a very wide range of colors and patterns all the same species, in the same area....they sat on rocks, the ran in the sand and even climbed the bushes for a better view. All of the following are the same species, and all with in a 5 kilometre area

The third lizard we got to see was the smaller, and much faster, Zebra Tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides). These also have a very wide variety of patterns and colors. I have been shooting photos for them for a couple of years now, with the idea that they were different kinds...nope, all Zebra Tailed...some lighter, some darker, some with a blue patch on the belly, some with a couple of black spots...and much like the birds, the males get all the fun color. The females tend to be much more muted in their markings, as seen in the second picture

I am sure that Lizards are not everybody's cup 'o tea, but they turned a long bumpy drive, which we were not able to complete due to a closed, locked gate that nobody had mentioned, into the fun afternoon chasing these very beautiful creatures around the desert.

07/07/2014 | Roger Irwin
Outstanding photos - Great Bokeh! You are the Olan Mills of Lizard photos!
07/08/2014 | Don
When I was a kid I used to catch the Horned Lizards in some part of San Diego, but I haven't seen them in decades. As kids we called them Horny Toads.
07/13/2014 | CJ
Great photos Tom.. I used to have Aligator lizards as a kid. Thanks for sharing. CJ

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