01/07/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
And so it continues. The installation of watermaker is now in it's second day and going somewhat smoothly. I had to back out some of the wiring I did as it suddenly dawned on me that I have several hoses to run along with the wires(duh). So I pulled some of the wires out a few bulkheads until I had easier access to the area I was going to need to make more(and larger) holes in. Out came the saw and drills along with big bits and in I went. Several hours later, I had nice access holes drilled and sawed in panels so I could make the hose runs. Some of the areas were a bit tight, but I got them in. Of course, this was the time that Tracy came forward to see what I was doing and to lend a hand(hold back a hose for me) and made the comment "Why didn't you run the hose through here?" As is usual, she was right. If I had done what she suggested in the first place, I could have been done a good hour sooner. Oh well.
So once the holes were cut and drilled, we made the final electrical connections. I'd bought 35 feet of wire. I'd planned on buying 30 feet as it was less than a 23(measured with a tape measure)from electrical panel to where the installation was going to be. At the last moment, I decided to go with 35 just in case. I got lucky as when I was done with the wiring, I had less than 2 feet left!! I guess even a blind squirrel will find a nut occasionally. I added two pictures of the installation so far to the gallery. No hoses attached yet but you can see how we are doing. It's great that the unit is a modular construction so the parts can be installed in different places if need be.
I ran the electrical to a second switch so that I will have better control of the power during servicing(which is done regularly). I didn't want to have to go to the circuit panel and then forward to the watermaker. It will make the job much easier(I hope).
Installing the main pump became a chore as I bought bolts that were too short. It takes 6 to get the job done. I'd guessed at the thickness of the bulkhead(known as a wall to you landlubbers) and come up short. Two inch bolts didn't make it. So off to the Marina Store for more. Next size up--2.5 inch bolts. They worked on three of the holes but not the lower set of three as the bulkhead was thicker(extra wood paneling on the cabin side). Back to the Marina Store for 3 inch bolts and return the 2.5s. This time, I got lucky and in they went. We used large "fender" washers to distribute the load and cinched down the nuts and it was in. This pump weights quite a bit so we had to make sure everything was done perfect. Next the main pump with the charcoal filter and then the final filter on the unit. Everything was now installed--at least mechanically.
All we have left to do is run the hoses and make those connections. I figure to be at the main marine hardware store at least twice today picking up more bits and pieces.
01/06/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
Tracy's Two Cents...
It has been a very long time since I've done any input, so I figured that while Bill is busy putting in the watermaker that I would stay out of his way and put down some of my experiences and observations. So here goes...
Being in Mexico has certainly made people watching an interesting sport. I really didn't think that there would be such a large cultural difference between our two countries. You can spot a "tourist" a mile away because they are wearing shorts and a tee shirt or a sleeveless pullover. Well, in MX, that is a huge no no". The Mexican women all wear dresses or long pants and a loose blouse. Knees and upper arms are not to be seen.
There are Ladies Bars that women are allowed to come into alone. The men are very macho here and are very open about how their hormones are pulsing through their bodies, but it was pointed out to me by a Mexican friend that it is all in fun. I guess they haven't ever been on the "getting" end of that. Hmmm.
The Mexican's apparently don't eat peanut butter, good crackers, pickles or anything really sweet. Their cookies and ice cream aren't sweet, the desserts like flan or Creme Brule aren't sweet. I just wonder if their sugar isn't as sweet at US sugar.
The driver's here think that they will live forever, no matter what. Stop signs are a joke. No one stops, at best they sort of hesitate then gun it to get through. Most of the cars here are all bashed up, but we have yet to see a fender bender in an intersection.
There aren't any storm drains, if it rains the streets are a mess until the water all drains into the bay. The curbs are about a foot tall in places making them small cliffs to short legged folk like me. The sidewalks in the nontourist parts of town are a mosaic of broken concrete and tile. Some are real ankle breakers, so I really have to watch were I put my feet.
The people are happy. That was a really shock to me. Even the dirt poor people have a easy smile and seem genuinely happy. They all seem eager to please and love it when you try to speak their language. Even if you slaughter the pronunciation and give them a laugh, most start pantomiming whatever they think the answer is. Sometimes it gets to be really hysterical for all concerned, but in general it hasn't been a problem.
In stores, the clerks feel we Norterners are really rude as we come in and ask where something is or "I need such and such". For them, there are pleasantries and courtesies to go through before "business" begins. We have to learn to slow down and not be in such a hurry. After all, this is the land of "Manana".
Restaurants...were a tad frustrating until we learned that you have to ask for the check, it doesn't come automatically. They feel it is rude to give you a bill unless you ask, they don't want you to feel that you aren't welcome. Waiter attentiveness is unsurpassed here in La Paz. One couldn't ask for any better and if they are going to be slow they apologize and tell you that service is going to be slow, so if you want to leave, you can. You wouldn't find that in the U.S., huh?
For those following in our footsteps later on, just know that Mexico is no longer a cheap place to live. About two years ago, the President of Mexico changed their economic structure to be based on the U.S.'s and the prices definitely reflect that. Burgers are 6 to 10 dollars. Marinas are anywhere from $1.50 USD to $3.00 USD per foot per day, usually with electric metered. Gasoline is $2.70/gal, diesel is around $2.60 up per gallon. Beer is still a bargain at 65 cents a can if you get it at a "beer store", but at a restaurant, coffee is about $3.50 a cup, soft drinks and beer are about $2 to $3 a can.
I love the scenery here. Growing up in New Mexico, I'm quite used to moonscapes. I'm often saying to Bill, "Oh, this feels like Elephant Butte or this really looks like Santa Fe.
I think learning a bit of conversational Spanish would definitely help out here, but so far I wouldn't trade a minute of our time here.
Oh, the #1 Christmas gift in La Paz for people of all ages was a set of inline roller skates, the Malacon is filled with kids, young adults and the parents trying their luck. it makes my ankles hurt just looking at them.
01/06/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
I know it has been quite a few days since our last post, but for the most part, all we have been doing is planning and trying to figure out how to best install the Spectra watermaker we bought in San Diego.
There are lots of parts and hoses and we had to figure out the best place to install it. While the factory says that you could install it in the engine room, they don't recommend it as it gets hot in the there(duh) and could cause the unit to malfunction. Plus they really don't want the filters in there as they would degrade over time because of the heat. We finally decided to put the unit in the forward head on the starboard side in a "wet locker"(a closet used to store foul weather gear). It's close to a through hull fitting and while it is a ways from the electrical panel, it would simply mean running bigger gauge wires to it.
I spoke to another cruiser that has the same unit on his boat and we went down to take a look at his installation. He has even been through several classes at Spectra so I figured he knows what he is talking about. He was in a marina on the opposite side of town so it we went out there on the day we rented a car. While taxis are available, it you have lots of errands to run, it's best to just rent a car. It was a big help seeing his installation.
We've been into town just about every day trying out new restaurants and seeing the sights as well as buying screws, nuts, bolts and lots of 6 gauge wire for the installation. I hiked all over town getting the stuff we needed. Tracy thought I had gotten lost for as long as I was gone. The marina runs a shuttle into town three times a day but it is primarily a one way shuttle-hike back.
Yesterday, I started the installation running the wire from the circuit panel though lots of bulkheads and panels to the forward locker. I'm glad we have two different types of drills and big bits to make the holes I needed for the wire. I ended up using a regular drill as well as the 90 degree drill we use on our winches to adjust the sails. I'd have been hard pressed to make the run for the wires without them. Any how, while it took me the better part of the day to get the wires in, they are all installed and checked for the proper voltage.
Today, I will be installing the hardware for the watermaker and running hoses all over the place. I will be using the forward through hull that normally supplied water to the forward head for flushing for the salt water feed. I'm going to change the flush water over to fresh from the tanks once we get it all installed. I have to run another hose to another through hull to get rid of the water that doesn't get made into fresh water. It's called "brine". That though hull has to be above the water line so you can tell the machine is running and getting rid of the excess water. There's more hoses involved with more connections but if I told you about all of them, you'd be reading for quite a while and asleep before you got the the end list of connections.
Any how, that's about it for what has been going on. I'll fill you in on what we have seen around town and our experiences once I get the water maker in. We expect to be out of here next Sunday so I'm running out of time. Of course we could stay longer if we need too but we are chomping at the bit to get out sailing again and see more of Mexico.
I've added a few more pictures.
I've posted several more albums for your enjoyment. Have fun.
01/01/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
OK, I'm back and it's day 609 since we started back at the end of April in 2008. Hard to believe so much time has passed since we moved on board.
Well, here is a wrap up of the last week with Matt(our son)on board. I know you all read about my massive OOPS! in the last post so I'll start there. Karen asked about how he handled it--Calmly. Actually, he tried to calm me down as I was beating myself up for doing something so dumb. With Tracy along, they both were voices if sanity and reason to my accident.
Any how, we finally left Marina Costq Baja for Isla Pardita and a nice bay called Ensenada Grande along its Northwest shoreline. A great anchorage with three separate inlets off the main entrance. We chose the North one (24 34.000N 110 24.440W)as the center one had a nice beach and lots of tourists that got boated in on Pangas(small fishing boats) from La Paz. The South inlet, had about a half dozen boats already at anchor and we had the North one all to ourselves after the only remaining boat left(about a hour after we pulled in). Our GPS put us up on the shore instead of in the water. That's a big reason why you never enter a new harbor at night. The water was a beautiful shade of blue green with a view all the way to the bottom. We launched Puff and Dragon and took off on a tour of the cove and to find the Blue Footed Booby nest in the next cove. Apparently, they only exist at the Galapagos Islands and along this shoreline(so we have been told). We found a nice group in the next bay. Not hard to find, just look for all the rocks covered with bird poo(not rocket science). I'll post some pictures later of what they looked like. Matt steered us along using Dragon(our outboard) like a pro. When we came back to Ensenada Grande, we went ashore at the beach along the South shoreline and poked through the shells and sand for a while. We used our Danard wheels on Puff to help get us ashore. They worked great at keeping the outboard prop from hitting the bottom. Once on shore, we pulled Puff up to make sure she didn't drift away. It was fun poking around seeing what we could find. When we climbed back in and started Dragon, I noticed that there wasn't much cooling water coming out of the engine. I took over and steered us back to the boat keeping a close eye on the coolant spray of water from the engine. Once back at Zephyr, Matt and Tracy went in for some snorkeling while I stayed on board to read and relax. It was great that the diesel engine on Zephyr had performed flawlessly(no water to screw it up) for the trip over. Of course, the winds had been against us all the way up the island. We settled in for a nice night. The moon was approaching full so it not a great night for star gazing. Boy, the Moon can sure be bright!! We had a nice turkey dinner to celebrate Christmas--a few days late, but what the heck.
We planned on returning to Marina Costa Baja Monday afternoon as Matt was to leave on Tuesday afternoon. Monday started out nice but quickly clouded over and actually started to rain just as we left the anchorage and headed home. When the rains came, the winds left so we were forced to motor back to the marina. Sometimes, there is just no way to win. We had hoped to fly the spinnaker for the trip back, but that was not to be. We got back to Marina Costa Baja about 1630 and settled in along with the rain. La Paz only averages 6 inches of rain a year, so we saw something that rarely happens around here. It rained off and on through the night.
First thing Tuesday, I took off for downtown to pick up our rental car so we could get Matt to the airport. I'd booked a car with National and since I did it online, I got the best deal on a rental car since we have been here. The "normal" rent a car goes for upwards of $60.00 a day!!! And that is for a compact or economy car. I got this one for $37.00 a day--not cheap, but a far better price. While in town, I checked on Marina La Paz for their rates--$39.00 a day. I then stopped at Marina Palmira(about two miles South of town). They came in at just $23.00 a day. A whole lot cheaper than the $37.00 we were paying at Costa Baja and it's within walking distance of downtown. After talking to Tracy, we stopped in after dropping Matt off at the airport and booked ourselves in to their marina for a nice 10 day stint. This will give us plenty of time to work on assorted projects on Zephyr. I want to get the water maker installed if I can possibly do it. While we were there, we did our laundry(hey, it's lots cheaper than Marina Costa Baja) and had a nice lunch at one of their restaurants.
We got Matt to the airport and sadly watched him leave. We're going to try and get him back on board in a few months when we can actually do some sailing.
On Wednesday, we finally got the Honda generator fixed. Favian came by and adjusted the oil inlet so it now starts just fine. With all the work he has done on the generator, he only charged us $60.00!! He's the same guy that took care of the water in the diesel tank problem. We took our propane tank out to be filled. We've been using the same tank since Newport, Oregon--and that was back on August 21. That's over 4 months on one tank. Not bad.
Yesterday--Thursday, we returned the rental car, paid our bill at Costa Baja and took off for the 2.7 mile trip to Marina Palmira. We needed to be out of Costa Baja as early as we could as a big "Norther" was due anytime. These babies pack winds in the 30 knot range and we didn't want to be in the La Paz channel in those winds, let alone going into a marina in them. We're now at Marina Palmira (24 10.959N 110 18.192W) safely tied to the marina. About 30 minutes after we pulled in, the winds started to pick up and they blew for the entire rest of the day and far into the night. When we made our reservations, we had filled in all the paper work so checking in was a breeze. We spent the rest of the day getting settled and having a nice lunch of left over turkey on board.
This morning, I finally found the "ear muffs" that clamp to the outside of the outboard and push water up into the water intake vent. I've been searching for them for quite a while. I just didn't dig deep enough. I hooked the "ear muffs" up to the hose and let her rip. A pull of the lanyard on Dragon and she roared to life though she still didn't produce much water out of her coolant port on the side of the engine. I blew through the hose that goes between the pump and the outlet and it appeared to be partially blocked. I jammed a short piece of wire in the hole. Still no good. I pulled off the hose where it exits the pump and lots of water came out of the opening. When I put the hose back on the pump, it started streaming out the pipe the way it is supposed to. Problem solved. I let Dragon run for another 5- 10 minutes to make sure any salt that might be up in her plumbing was gone and shut her down. Something was just blocking the hose outlet.
I stuck my head under the stern bunk to check the hydraulic steering assembly. Still a drop or two on the pipes but not much to worry about. I'll climb back there in a day or two and get it all straightened out.
We hiked into town to play tourist and have some lunch while visiting the Club Cruceros at Marina La Paz. It's more of a hangout for cruisers making their way through La Paz. A nice library and a lending DVD library. We stopped at the local "Thrifty Ice Cream" parlor on the way back to the marina for a nice dessert. All in all, we walked about 6 miles coming and going. A nice bit of exercise.
You sure can tell the locals from the tourists and yachtistas. While Tracy and I are walking around town in shorts and tee shirts with sun hats and sunglasses, the locals are all bundled up in coats, with scarfs and long pants huddling trying to keep warm. I guess they just have thinner blood than we do.
And there you have it. You're all caught up!! Tomorrow, more projects. We think we may know where we will be installing the water maker. Tomorrow we will see if it fits.
12/30/2009, La Paz, Mexico
I know it's been quite a few days since my last update so here goes. It's a long one so get comfortable.
We'll pick up on Thursday, December 24. Early in the morning, a boat was getting ready to leave the marina to take a trip up to one of the islands. The husband busied himself getting water added to his tanks while you could hear his wife talking from down below that they had quite a bit to go. She also called out that she didn't feel that much air coming from the tanks as the water rushed in. The husband checked his fittings and he was putting water where it belonged. Down the "water" intake hose, not the diesel inlet. After a good 30 minutes, they decided to change sides and start putting the water in on the port side. You could see the husband go over to the port side and unscrew the inlet cap. In went the hose and on went the water from the faucet on the dock. You could still hear the wife below telling him that she didn't feel any air coming from the tanks as water poured in. Well, the husband on deck looks over and suddenly water starts coming on deck up through the inlet pipe. That normally means that the tanks are full. The wife is still telling her husband that there is still 5 inches to go till the tanks are full. The husband walks over to the inlet and sees the water coming out. He also see some strange pink bubbles coming out with the water. He has done what every boater fears--He has put his water hose in the diesel tank inlet and filled his diesel tanks with water!!!!!!!!!!!!! You could hear his cries of anguish and pain all over the marina. He yanked out the hose and yells down to his wife telling her what he has done. You can hear her gasp clear up on deck. Everything stops on this guys boat. He takes off for the marina office to tell them what he has done and to make arrangements to get his tanks all pumped out as soon as possible. You can tell by the look of his boat that he is a cruiser and that his tanks are quite large. You can see the dollars signs all over the place because of what he has done. I've heard of other boaters doing the same thing and let me tell you, it is one of the biggest things you fear that you will ever do.
Any way, the marina takes action and get a guy scheduled to come out for Friday. Oh Oh, that's Christmas!!! No one works on Christmas. They decided to put it off till the 26th and just to spend Christmas at the dock--not much choice there and handle the problem on Saturday.
Any how, we spent our Christmas day going to Cabo Pulmo, about 140 miles South of La Paz. We had passed it(stayed trapped by winds right around the corner from it at Bahia Los Frailes) about a week before on our trip up the East coast of the Baja. There had been great snorkeling on the reef. We loaded up the rental car and took off. We stopped along the way for a nice picnic lunch on the beach(pass the beers please--hey, it's Mexico remember). Three hours plus, we arrived and waded into the water. It was cloudy but bright enough to see lots of different fish. Three hours later, we were back at Zephyr. A nice way to spend Christmas--no snow for a change.
It's now Saturday and the workmen show up to get the water out of the poor guys diesel tanks. He's not a happy camper. It get decided that since he put in so much(like 100 gallons), they want to haul him over to the diesel fuel dock to do the pump out. Luckily, he has good access to his tanks so the job won't be so hard. Apparently, many boats have little to no access to their tanks. They sent over a small power boat and pushed his boat out of it's slip and hauled him over to the fuel dock. You could see all the 55 gallon drums lined up on the dock. It was going to be a long day. In talking to the workmen, the idea was to pump out as much of the water as they could. Water will not mix with diesel fuel--it makes a layer under it so any hose that goes to the bottom of the tank will be in water, not in fuel. They bring down the first 55 gallon drum and set it up on a cart with wheels so they can get it back up the ramp after it gets filled. This guy(the workman)shows up with a small pump that attaches to a drill to pump out all the water. First, he borrows the battery drill from the boat owner. Well, that doesn't take long to run down. In they come with extension cords and an electric drill. Zoom, out it goes. They used a sort of clear hose so they could tell exactly what they were pumping. I guess they were lucky the tank was full of US diesel as it's colored pink. Mexican diesel is clear like water. The guy got lucky that his bilge pump didn't turn on since when the tanks got filled, lots of the diesel blew out the top of the tanks access ports and filled his bilge. If the bilge pump had turned on, oh the law suits would have killed him. As it was, he had to go down into his bilge(diesel fuels smell folks) and bail it all out and scrub it down with a special cleaner.
Any way, they ended up emptying only about half of the starboard tank and all of the port side tank. When the water was put in(he started with the water hose in the port tank), it caused the diesel fuel in the port tank to rise(remember, water sinks and diesel floats)and go through a copper tube that connects the two tanks and filled the starboard tank with a mixture of water and diesel. The port tank was almost full of water. To make sure that all the water was out, they hooked up the hose they were using to a special Racor(company name)filter that has a clear glass bowl so they could see of there was any more water in the starboard tank. I guess, after a good 15 minutes of moving the hose around the bottom of the tank, they decided that all the water had been gotten rid of that what fuel was left was nice and clean. Apparently, when all the fuel was pumped out of the port tank there was quite a mess on the bottom of the tank(lots of black stuff from the seals). Out comes the fuel hose from the diesel pumps and nice new diesel fuel flows into his boat. I saw the bill. You don't want to know!
Once the tanks were filled, the mechanic gave the go ahead to start the engine and vroom, she spring to life with out a single cough. Since it was now late in the afternoon, they took off to enjoy a nice sunset cruise and make sure all the water was out of the tanks. The marina was listening on channel 16 in case they needed help. Apparently, all went fine as they made it back to their slip about 40 minutes later, none the worse(other than their wallet)for wear. The workman only charged the guy $180 bucks for working 6 hours on his boat. Add that to the fuel bill(still not going to tell you) and well, he actually got off cheap by US standards(and he has nice clean tanks).
So all of you out there, take heed, crap like this happens out here. Hey, I know cause I was the careless guy that put the hose in the wrong inlet. Yeah, that's right--it was me!! I thought long and hard about wether to admit what I had done(hey, it's embarrassing OK)but I've been doing this blog for a long time and those of you out there need to know what can happen if you rush about a job and don't pay attention to what you are doing. I consider myself a relatively careful guy, so if it can happen to me, it can happen to any of you out there. Remember, slow down--don't rush like I did to try and get out as quick as you can. It just isn't worth it!!
Anyone out there want to admit the stupidest thing they have ever done on their boat? Just put it in the comments section. No one will even know who you are. Come on, admit it!! I dare you!! It will feel good to get it off your chest.
Well, that's it for tonight. It's now well after midnight and I've got to get some sleep. I'll read this to Tracy in the morning when she gets up.