05/11/2012, The Good and Bad of Progress
We have enjoyed anchoring in the San Blas Estuary now for 4 years and it's truly one of our favorite anchorages in Mexico. The sights, sounds, and tranquility of the Estuary is exactly what was in our minds when we cast off in search of whatever it was we were looking for. The sight of sunken shrimpers in the shrimp boat basin was a constant, but that and a whole lot about the San Blas Estuary is about to change.
Workers have begun the process of pulling up the 5 sunken boats that were blocking portions of the dock with ambitious plans underway to turn the Port of San Blas into a bustling commercial port complete with a cargo container loading/off loading facility and a newly dredged Estuary and Port entrance.
A new port Captain has arrived in San Blas from Chipas, with experience in turning sleepy port towns into thriving commercial ports and we were lucky enough to get a meeting with the busy young man to hear his plans for the Port's future. The plans and drawings of the project almost seem too big to be true, but if brought to completion San Blas will become a smaller version of the busy commercial port in Manzanillo. The Manzanillo port is currently undergoing a massive expansion and the same money backers from China have committed hundreds of millions of dollars with the goal of adding another commercial port to the coast.
It of course will forever change the face and look of San Blas and we are happy we got in our experiences now before the changes, but at the same time the project will add many high paying jobs and give a huge boost to the local economy. I'm sure the project isn't looked favorable by all the locals, development and change never is, but the local elected officials in San Blas are very excited about what a thriving port will mean for the town.
It will seem strange the next time we motor into San Blas with the current sand bar being replaced with a dredged entrance channel to 25ft, along with the estuary, but that's in the works to make way for the commercial ships. Anchoring in the estuary will still be allowed, according to the Port Captain, but just a bit further up the estuary past the marina, which is where we love to anchor anyway. As a result of the cargo ships, perhaps even more made in China "Mexican Crafts and Tourist Shot glasses" will be available in the town plaza once the port is functioning? Some things never change and I'm also sure that crazy captain Norm "jamma" will be telling anyone who still listens to him on the VHF Radio (which isn't many since none of the 8 boats here at the moment are responding or checking into his radio calls) that he somehow is involved and "is approved to help" by the port captain and other Mexican officials. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I can't say too much about it yet at this point for fear of causing chaos and worry....but yesterday we were checking out our new digs here in San Blas. One block from the Plaza, two blocks from my favorite taco stand and an easy walk to the Bakery! The list of things we need to bring down for the place is longer than our boat to-do-list, but like I said, there are Changes in San Blas, lots of good mixed in with a little progress!
Want to know more about San Blas?
Check out this Website:
|4th Yr. 2012 Cruising Season||
05/05/2012, The Real Draw of the Blog
Every time a photo of Cortez makes its way on the blog, my inbox fills up with his fans and admirers. So here's a little Cortez Photo Essay.
While Amy and I were at the Oakland Boat Show, a Cortez admirer brought us a gift to bring back to Cortez and as soon as Amy set her purse down on the boat, Cortez smelled the home made catnip toys and literally dove into Amy's bag after the toys!
He wore himself out playing with the catnip toy and then went to take a nap in his favorite Box.
One of his favorite spots while underway. Could it be he likes to admire his reflection in the teak?
Finally, Cortez must have known that I was putting together a post about him, because he came and decided to nap next to me at the desk. Or maybe it's because I have a fan blowing right at me and the computer to keep us both from over-heating!
|4th Yr. 2012 Cruising Season||
05/03/2012, Common Q & A on the issue
Since we just spent a budget staggering (for us anyway) $425 for 132.6 gallons of diesel and 7.2 gallons of gas, it seems like a good opportunity to try and demystify the Mexico Diesel and Gas situation and talk a little about two things every cruiser needs: Gas and Diesel.
A common question new cruisers have as they get ready to head South of the Boarder is about fuel: Diesel and Gas. Since the cost of diesel and gas in most West Coast US Marina's is oftentimes $0.75 to a full $1.00 above the prices you see at car and truck stations, the question of fuel costs in Mexico is an important cruising budget issue. There is also considerable confusion about just what the going rate for fuel in Mexico actually is on a per gallon basis since the confusion of selling gas and diesel in Liters rather than gallons is compounded by the varying fees added onto the purchase price at the pump and the dollar Peso exchange rate. The varying fees often lead to the standard "Cruise Rumor" of the local fuel dock "over charging" or trying to "take advantage" of the gringo cruisers. While it is true that certain fuel stations are known to "over meter" the fuel they sell, how else would 6.5 gallons of gas fit in a 5 gallon fuel can, it's not the norm, but still something to keep an eye out for.
All fuel prices for Gas and Diesel are set by the Mexican Government through their State owned Gas Company known as Pemex; however, different areas (or zones) of the Country have different fuel prices. Fuel in zones near the US border is priced higher for example.
If the Government sets the price for a liter of gas and diesel at the pump, then why do pay different prices from dock to dock? That is where the "Fees" come into play. Fuel docks add on a percentage of anywhere form 6% t0 20% depending on where they are and just how "captive" they have you when you need fuel. Now this is where it can get confusing. If you carry your fuel jugs to the floating dock, then you won't have to pay the extra "docking fee" but if you come and land at the dock in your dingy or with your boat...bingo...your fuel just got up to 20% more expensive.
This is where the beauty of San Blas, comes into play, because several hundred feet away from the Marina fuel dock is the concrete municipal dock that also fills cars and trucks. There is NO "docking fee" at the municipal dock so why would I go to the Marina fuel dock and pay 10% extra? That's taco money baby!
So to talk prices. Listed on the diesel and gas pump are:
$10.45P per Liter for Diesel
$10.09P per Liter for Gas
Or translated into US Dollars and gallons at a 13-1 exchange rate:
$3.05/Gallon for Diesel
$2.94/Gallon for Gas
THIRD DAY is "said to carry" 350 gallons of diesel, so in taking on 132 gallons we theoretically still had 218 gallons in our tanks. But here's the problem and why I say "said to carry". We have no diesel tank fuel gauge (most boats don't by the way) and we haven't ran the boat completely out of diesel to then be able to top it back off and actually verify this 350 number! Yes I know, we can keep track of engine hours and RPMs and then estimate how our 1/2 fill level by running out either the port or starboard fuel tank, but running a boats fuel tank dry is never high on anyone's "to do list", so the actual fuel tankage of the boat will continue to remain something of a little mystery. As long as we can motor from La Paz to Turtle Bay to fill up before going back to San Diego this July, then I'll be happy. Because at $3.05/gallon, you can bet we will be leaving Mexico with full fuel tanks before entering the States!
What about dirty fuel?
We have always filled our tanks using a Baja filter that separates out water and particulates. We have NEVER seen water in our fuel but have occasionally seen come particles and scum in the strainer and in the fuel can bottoms. So just to keep the fuel system happy (and to keep the engine from dying when we need it most) we always add a diesel fuel additive to kill bacteria each time we put diesel into the fuel tank. The type that actually dissolves their dead bodies is better than the kind that just kills them, because a dead bacteria body will clog a fuel filter just as well as a live bacteria body! Our approach still has us using our original fuel prefilters form when we brought this boat down to Mexico in August of 2010 after making the boat swap, so something must be working or we are lucky. But I've often said, I'd rather be lucky than good.
|Things Cruisers Should Know||