01/10/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
We will be leaving Marina Palmira this morning some time. Yesterday was spent doing some last minute provisioning at Soriana(like Walmart) and City Club(like Costco). We took the shuttle into town and then caught a "colectivo" bus to the stores. It only cost 16 pesos to get clear across town that way. We didn't get that much since we needed to take a taxi back(100 pesos) and there is only so much room aboard.
I did the laundry in the afternoon while Tracy cleaned up and stowed the stuff we bought aboard Zephyr. We filled the water tanks late in the day. Having a charcoal filter attached to the hose made it take a REALLY long time. Several hours to get it all taken care of.
This morning, I finished up the last of the laundry in one final load and took my last shower before we set out. We still have to do a scrub down of Zephyrs decks before we head out. The pelicans have made a mess of our decks and that stuff needs to go before we get out.
Anyhow, we are headed for Loretto farther up the coast but have no time agenda so I'l keep posting using the SSB so you will know what is happening as we move around the Sea of Cortes over the next few weeks. Other boaters that have come in here from the North complained about the cold up there. I'll take 45 degree nights and 75 degree days just fine.
So, while I didn't get the watermaker finished(close though), I will get it done while we are out(if I have all the right fittings). I am rethinking the "product" water (that's what they call the new water it makes) inlet to the tanks.
So stay tuned, as always there is more to come in our continuing adventures.
01/08/2010, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico
I spent the last two days still working on the watermaker. Back and forth to town takes time when you have no car and can only go when the shuttle is scheduled and it only takes you in, it doesn't bring you back. So the option is to either get a cab or hike it. There are "Colectivo" buses that basically go up and down the streets like a city bus and collect people and drop them off around town. I haven't a clue as to what their routes are but I used them today and they got me at least part of the way back to the marina. I did get a taxi to take me the rest of the way to save time.
Yesterday was spent trying to make sense of the installation guide. Whoever wrote it didn't have a clue as to how to instruct a person who knows nothing about how to install a water maker on how to install a water maker. It shows a few pictures and a cryptic diagrams with changes depending on what page you are on as to how to lay out the installation. I've sent three emails to them over the last 5 days and finally heard back this afternoon(and only about the third email). So far, I've gotten lucky and have done it correctly. They do supply you with lots of hoses and fittings, but don't tell you what to do with the hoses and fitting. It never says "install the 5/8 inch hose to this fitting", it just shows a picture with dotted lines between the parts of the installation. It can be sort of hit and miss.
I got most of the lines between the parts installed yesterday. I did have to take some of the pieces off the wall and reinstall them as one picture showed them one way and another picture showed them another. Today was spent going back and forth to El Arco(local plumbing and hardware store) clear across town. The shuttle from the marina only takes you about 2/3s of the way in. The rest is hike or take the "collectivo" if one comes along. The first trip was to get more fittings and the second was to get the correct fittings and lots of 3/4 inch hose so I can connect the heads(toilets for you landlubbers) to the fresh water tanks once the water maker is installed. As we are off to the local "City Club"(like Costco) and Soriana(similar to Walmart) tomorrow, I don't think I will finish the installation by Sunday when we are planning to leave for the islands and farther North in the Sea of Cortes. If I have planned and diagrammed it right, I should have all the parts I need to complete it in the next few days once we are out in the islands. We've spent far to much time in the marinas over the last few weeks. It's time for us to move on. There is more to see out there.
So if we do leave here on Sunday, I'll keep posting but there will be no pictures for a while till I can get back on the internet. Sorry about that.
THe "furr people" are doing fine. Blue has managed to stay safely on board for quite some time. She used to be the kitty that jumped ship the fastest once we hit a marina, but she got scared while we were in Costa Baja after getting on the boat in the next slip and couldn't find a safe way back on board our boat when she got caught. Having a net around on the life lines is a two edges sword. It may keep them in, but it makes it difficult to get back on board when they get stupid and jump ship. Snowshoe just goes to the ladder and walks down(as ever, the cultured cat on Zephyr). Shadow is the smart one. He stays primarily below deck and eats and sleeps to his hearts content. Why jump ship when all the food and comfy places to sleep are right here?
Well, that's about it for now. More tomorrow before we set out on Sunday. have a great weekend.
01/08/2010, Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida
Well, we left La Paz Sunday morning about 1030 and headed North toward the islands looking for a place to spend the night. We worked our way up the West coast of Isla Espiritu Santo checking out the coves as we went. We'd thought of stopping at Bahia San Garbriel on the South edge of th island but thought it a bit to vulnerable to the North winds. Yeh, I know. North winds again and we can't sail North in North winds so we were forced to motor all the way. So on we went until we finally stopped at Ensenada El Cardonal on the Southwest side of Isla Partida(just North of Espiritu Santo) for the night. We were boat number three in the anchorage. There's lots of room for more, but now that it is past Christmas and the holidays, there are fewer boats out here. Many have already made the jump across the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan where it is warmer. We dropped anchor(24 32.973N 110 23.207W) about 1530 and settled in for a quiet yet blustery night at least until the Sun went down. The wind died just after sundown. We laid out under the stars and wiled away(I snoozed every now and then) the evening. It was a moonless evening and the stars were out in their magnificence.
Today dawned calm and bright and we upped anchor and set off for Ensenada Grande. That's the same place we spent the night with Matt during his stay over Christmas. We wanted to be there early as we wanted to continue to Los Islotes, a small island a few miles North of Ensenada Grande. We launched Puff with Dragon and headed out. We took our masks, snorkels, and fins (plus a VHF radio incase of an emergency) and off we went. Now Los Islotes is a relatively bland place except for one thing. There is a huge colony of sea lions that live there and they swim with everyone that comes by. You can take an excursion boat from La Paz over and spend an hour of so swimming with them. We did it on our own, splashing through 3 foot wave in a small 9 foot dingy with a 8 horse outboard. Hey, life needs some excitement every now and then. When we arrived, there were already three other boats there with a couple of dozen folks in the water having fun. We put on our fins and masks and jumped in. The dingy was already surrounded by sea lions playing in the water.
We dove and the sea lions dove with us and played right along side of us. One came right up to my mask and we were face to face and I do mean face to face. He opened his mouth and showed me his teeth and tried to nibble at my mask hoping (I guess) that it was food for him. He came at me several times, each time looking me straight in the eyes. After a while, he took off for someone else to play with. There were fish by the thousands swimming in the rocks. Tour boats visit this island every day so the fish are used to having humans around and showed no fear of us. Tracy was at times totally surrounded by schools of different types of fish. It was an incredible time in the water.
After a hour or so, we climbed back in Puff and headed back to Zephyr. Once tied up, we had a pleasant lunch in the cockpit. Surprisingly, another boat had dropped his anchor just off our starboard side. Now here is this HUGE bay with three different coves that you can anchor in and they chooses to pull in right beside us, about fifty yards away(that's close in anchoring terms folks). Oh well.
Once finished with lunch, we jumped back in Puff and headed for the beach at the head of our little cove. We stopped Dragon about 50 feet off shore as it was shallow enough that the prop was about to hit the sandy bottom and pulled Puff into shore and up onto the beach. We walked and talked and had a great time on the beach exploring and finding new shells and coral to add to our small collection. Being on a boat limits you as to how much you can keep. There is only so much room. About 40 minutes later, the folks from the other boat came ashore and joined us. Nice folks that have sailed all over the Pacific. Based out of San Francisco and off on another voyage.
After a while, we decided to head back to Zephyr. I climbed aboard and we slowly made out way out to deeper water. Lo and behold, Dragon refused to start. Out came the oars and we slowly rowed back. About half way there, the blade on one of the oars came off and slowly floated off behind Puff. I made a mad grab for it and unfortunately, Tracy got shoved into Dragon(our Mercury outboard motor) bruising her ribs where she hit it. I did manage to save the oar blade though. So now Tracy is in a good bit of pain and having hurt my ribs a while back, I know she will be feeling a bit tender there for the next few weeks. Those little stinkers take a good bit of time to heal once they get bumped. We made it safely back to Zephyr and after some tinkering, Dragon sprang to life. I took him out for a short run to make sure he was running fine and then returned to Zephyr. Off came Dragon and up came Puff and both were stowed on deck ready for their next big adventure.
There is a large front heading for the Sea of Cortez that is due here Thursday with winds in the 30 knot range so we are off tomorrow for Punta San Evaristo, a protected bay about 28 miles North of Ensenada Grande. We will probably be hold up there for a few days as the storm passes and then head back down the coast for Isla San Fransicso with it's mangrove trees and coves. We'll let you know how the storm goes in a day or so. We want to make sure were are in a well protected place a day or so before the storm arrives. "Better safe than sorry" works for the two of us.
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.