A Test in Patience
03 January 2015
January 3, 2015
It has been over a month since we arrived in La Paz and here we sit. In the slip.
At first, the joy of seeing Cadenza in the good condition we were promised was our prominent emotion. But then we realized, that despite surviving a hurricane - the worst hurricane ever to hit the cape, she still had been put to bed for not just an entire summer, but a total of seven months, and many of those days the heat had reached over 100 degrees. There was still much work to be done before we could take her for a sail.
The electronics had to be reconnected as Jay had disconnected them in case of a lightening storm. (Which, in fact, happened in July and, unfortunately, hit our neighbors' boat, knocking out all their electronics.) That shouldn't be a problem except for the tape Jay used to label the cables melted. Now, does white go to red or red to black? Hmmm.
The sails had to be re-rigged and the rigging had to be checked.
We had our decks refinished over the summer; all the screws and teak bungs replaced (over 2000) and all new caulking. (For one eighth of the cost we were quoted in California, by the way. She looks beautiful!) We also had all the teak rails stripped and varnished. However, he wasn't quite finished as the bowsprit was being worked on - we were finally getting the stainless rail replaced that had been damaged due to a faulty rudder back in Channel Islands. Getting that done took another two weeks. And on closer inspection, Jay noticed that when they did the decks they unbolted a fitting that holds the staysail boom and the nut fell between the deck and the headliner. Okay, so that took another week to get fixed.
Then we had someone sand and paint the wall over our refrigerator/freezer. Only he got sick in the middle of the job and disappeared for several days, leaving a room full of dust and our fridge covered with paper and us to wonder when and if he would ever come back.
Meanwhile, there was re-provisioning to be done, but it was difficult to get in and out of the fridge due to the mess left by the painter. (In the end, he did a fabulous job. It was just the waiting, not knowing, and living in chaos that was the difficult part.)
Then, we had to get the paint on the outside of the boat retouched due to the tape that was used for the varnish.
"When will that be done?" We asked Chava.
"Manana." He answered. Only, we have learned manana doesn't mean tomorrow. It means "sometime later." Eventually, that got done too.
The kayak that Jay had spent hours repairing last spring, collapsed under my knee. He gave up on that one and donated it to a Mexican worker who was thrilled. He would take it home and fix it for his family. So, a frustrating challenge turned into a good deed.
The dinghy needed repairing. One of our connections that we use to raise the dinghy was wearing thin so we had a new piece made - only the carabiner clips were too large to connect to the lifting rings because there were some old shackles still connected to the lifting rings and took too much room. Jay got the Dremel out and went to work. This was not an easy job and it cost him two burns on his hand.
Next he had to replace one of the wheel tracks on the dinghy.
There was a question as to whether the windlass was leaking oil. That took several days to get someone to come and look at it. It turned out it wasn't leaking. It was the heat in the summer that had caused the oil to expand and spill out onto the deck. It was a small stain, but after having the entire deck redone, we wanted that spot to be refinished too.
We thought there was a problem with the ignition, but it turned out to be a wiring issue. This took several man-hours of contemplation and testing.
Then the water pump was making strange sounds and we thought we would have to replace that. But before replacing it, Jay wanted to check all the connections and make sure they weren't loose and changed the water filter. This seemed to fix the problem.
Finally, we were ready to go out to the islands for a shakedown sail. It was a beautiful, warm day with little winds. The norther that had been persisting for several days had finally calmed down.
It was time to raise the mainsail. Only we couldn't get the mainsail up because the halyard was twisted. Fixed that. We also noticed that the hurricane had pulled about twelve inches of the track slightly up off the boom. Okay, add this to the list. Something else to fix when we get back to the dock.
We arrived in Bahia San Gabriel and joined our friends, Don & Bobbi on sv/Sea Dancer, at anchor. Jay and I decided to wait to the following day to drop our dinghy. We sat back with a glass of wine and I fixed a nice dinner. Nightfall came and we relaxed under the stars with a cup of hot chocolate. All was well and we went to bed early, looking forward to exploring the cove in the morning.
We weren't in bed long before the wind and seas picked up from the south. This was not predicted. The bay is open to the south and so we were on a lee shore. Things began to rattle and roll as the waves got bigger. It was time for anchor watch.
Jay got dressed and went topsides. All was fine and he settled in in the cockpit. I brought him a blanket as the temperature had dropped. It was a cold wind and a sweatshirt wasn't enough. I went below to stay warm and to read.
The wind was a steady eighteen knots. The waves were maybe six feet - and close together. Some were literally breaking under the boat. There was a loud thud and then a jingling sound.
"What was that?" I yelled up to Jay.
"I don't know." The jingling stopped and we both laid back down.
Again, a loud thud and then a jingling sound. This jingling sound I had never heard before.
"Jay! What was that?" I said, this time getting out of bed and heading up to the cockpit.
"I don't know. I'm going up to check on the anchor." Jay and I both put on our life jackets and I stayed in the cockpit while he went to the bow. (We have a deal that neither one of us leaves the cockpit at night without the other one, at least knowing, if not watching.)
Our bridle had broke and our anchor chain was escaping from the windlass a little bit at a time. We were anchored in front of Sea Dancer and if he hadn't have caught this we could have slid back and been just a wee too close to our friends. Jay directed me to get another bridle he had in our "garage" and he reconnected it while riding the bow that was bouncing up and down like it was a seesaw. Fun.
The following morning, we checked in with our friends via radio.
"How was your night?" Jay asked.
Don laughed. "Not so great. And you?"
"Well, I didn't sleep much, that's for sure." And Don agreed.
We discussed our plans based on the weather at hand, and the weather forecast for the next few days. We jointly decided to try and nap for a few hours and then make our final decision. But it was looking like it wasn't going to settle down anytime soon and there were more winds predicted for the next few days. Besides that, there were some gray clouds gathering, hinting it might rain.
Three hours later, we were ready to go. Don & Bobbi were behind us, so they weighed anchor first. Meanwhile, we started our engine to warm it up. Or rather, we tried.
"Sea Dancer, Sea Dancer, this is Cadenza. Our engine is not starting. Could you hang out for a minute, please?" I called over the radio. They paused in the middle of pulling up their anchor. (Not that they could do anything. I just wanted moral support and someone to know if there was an issue.)
The engine battery wouldn't start, and jumping it didn't work, but when Jay connected the house batteries to the engine battery, it started. Ugh! Now, we have something else on our list!
And so here we are, several days later, waiting for the electrician to help us find the source of our problem. Jay suspects it is the battery but wants to make sure it's not anything to do with the previous wiring issue that Victor had fixed before he spends 3000 pesos on a new battery.
Victor arrives as I am writing this blog.
"The battery is dead." He says, after he uses his load tester. (Victor speaks very good English and has been a great help to us while we have been in La Paz.)
"But it is only two years old? Why?" Jay asks. "What do you think could cause it to die?"
"This marina was without electricity for many days after the hurricane. When a battery runs low for a length of time, it dies."
Then Victor removes the battery and we notice that both ends are distended.
"Do you think that was from the heat?" Jay wants to know. We have heard that the intense heat here in the summer can affect batteries.
Victor does not have an answer other than to reiterate that something is definitely wrong with this battery.
Jay and Victor are on their way to buy a replacement battery right now. Hopefully, this will be the final answer to our latest dilemma.
You might wonder why any of this is a surprise. It isn't. After all, it's a boat. And, as they say, "Cruising is just fixing things in exotic ports." But there is more to this. We have a schedule. (A bad word in the sailing world.)
Our friends, Alison & Allan, from Oxnard and sv/Fly Aweigh, are flying in next week. The plan is for them to make the crossing to Mazatlan with us. But when it comes right down to it, it all depends on the weather and if the boat is ready.
Schedules and boats - they don't mix. That was my very first lesson in boat safety.
So here we sit, waiting for the wind angels and boat angels to release us and to bless our journey.