I've added two new links to the blog of two boats that we have followed during our time in the Sea of Cortez. We ran into Cetus while up in Washington over a year ago. While Hello World has returned home, their blog covers their travels over the past year. Cetus is still in the Sea of Cortez for the Summer so you can follow their adventures during the HOT Summer.
06/26/2010, Home in Colorado
Man, yesterday sucked. I hooked up my TIVO machine(records TV shows) so we could get it on line with the service and have the TV shows I'd recorded two years ago available to watch. I hooked it up to the telephone so it could do it's download of new show schedules. The screen popped up with all the shows that I had recorded. After it did it's telephone update, it tried to load the information so I could see it. I had planned on getting it set up with the converter boxes the government made us all buy. Well, after several hours of downloading the new information, it couldn't load the info so we could use it. I called TIVO to get some help. One was how to hook up to the converter box and two to find out how to correct the problem of the failed download. The tech told me how to hook it up to the converter box. No big deal. I simply needed a special cord to hook the two together. As to the failed download, he told me I needed to put it into a diagnostic mode where the software searches for bad files in the machine and corrects them. So with his help, I pushed the buttons to start it. It takes about three hours to do it's thing. Well, after three hours, it was still going at it. There was a message at the bottom of the screen that if it hasn't corrected the problem and the green screen was still there, to call for more help. I did just that. Hey, guess what? The wonderful tech at TIVO had just burned up the hard drives in the unit. What he didn't tell me was that if it didn't correct the problem, the process that I had started runs in a loop and just keeps doing it over and over again, There is no way to stop it so that you can see what the machine has on it's hard drive. For all intense and purposes, they had just destroyed my machine. BUT, they would be willing to sell me a new one for a couple of hundred dollars. Oh, plus as far as the subscription to their service went, well the life time subscription to TIVO that I had had just expired when the machine died. They would be happy to sell me a new subscription too!! Boy, did I get taken. The techs I talked to after the first one did the job on my machine had no idea why he had had me do what I did and apologized, but I would still need to buy all new gear if I wanted to continue with TIVO. So my TIVO is officially dead.
Next, I plugged in my IMac that I had used for several years. A great machine that has worked just about flawlessly. It booted up just fine after over two years of sitting. A list of updates popped up on the screen since it hadn't been used in so long. I, of course, being a good geek, clicked on them to do the required updates. First, Microsoft Office. Downloaded just fine. Then the screen popped up with more updates. Well, once it started them, it locked up with the "I'm working" rotating ball on the screen. I couldn't get it to stop so I could stop some of the downloads. I could get anything to respond. So, I did a hard shut down by holding down the power button. Off it went. When I tried to restart it, hey, guess what? It would start!!! It tries to and then shuts itself off. So, being the the smart guy I am, I made an appointment at the Apple Store to have it looked at in the afternoon. Guess what? The hard drive is fried on it too. I guess doing the updates didn't do me any good but did me a good bit of harm. And it had all started so beautifully.
So, now I have a dead TIVO and a dead IMac to store in my basement till I can figure out what to do with them.
As to the TIVO, there is a company out in California(Weaknees.com) that can fix them. They sold me two hard drives for the TIVO a few years ago when I wanted a larger storage capacity for the machine. I'll be emailing them to see if they can help. As to the IMac, well that will just have to wait for a while as replacing the hard drive isn't the cheapest thing to get done.
So that's how my day was yesterday. If you were a piece of electronics in this house, you had a bad day.
06/23/2010, Back in Colorado
Here's more of getting ready for the haul out. Part 2
Once we got everything stowed that I brought back, we started in on getting things off the decks. We started with the main sail. We unfastened it from the mast and the end of the boom and slid it off the boom making sure that it was well tied around itself. Once off the boom, we laid it across the deck(we're still out on the mooring ball) and slowly flaked it into a manageable pile to fit in the sail bag.
While I was gone, Tracy had pulled the life raft off the stern rail and stowed it temporarily in the cockpit. It's now settled safely on the floor of the main cabin under the table. The cooler(storage box) that we keep on the stern rail was stowed in the forward cabin on one of the berths. Off came the forestaysail which was flaked and bagged and put below. The deck was getting empty.
We decided to spend Friday in the marina getting the last things pulled off the deck and getting Zephyr washed of all the dirt she had acquired during her time on the coast of the Baja.
We pulled in early in the morning and started in again. Off came the big genoa sail at the bow. It's on a roller system so it can just be pulled out for use. Well, we undid the line that holds it at the top of the mast and pulled it down and off it's track. We aligned it along the port side of the deck(not enough room in the deck at the marina)and slowly folded it in to nice neat pile. Into the bag it went and down below it went for storage.
The big thing that is stressed when putting your boat into storage, especially in a HOT climate, it get as much off the deck as possible and take all your sails off as they degrade in sunlight, especially in the intensity of the Mexico coast. Even if they are covered, the Suns rays will get on them and can ruin a good sail. You want as much off the deck so the teak can breathe and no be affected by what is on top of it. Even though we had planned on having Zephyr totally cover, we wanted as much as we could stored. Less things available for a thief is one should make his(or her) way aboard.
As to the inside, every can with a pull top--like cat food, cokes and beers, needs to be taken off as they might explode in the heat. All aerosol cans also must go as they could explode with all the pressure that is inside them. It can get well over 120 degrees inside! It's nasty down there. Especially if the Sun is allowed to hit the boat. With a dark blue hull, it can be even worse as it absorbs the rays also. We found it strange that there were very few boats with covers in the yard. A few had canvas across the decks, but none with covers like Zephyr that covered a great deal of the side as well as the deck.
So we pulled clothes out to come back to Denver as well as food that would spoil or cans that would explode off the boat. All electronics had to be disconnected from power sources and any antennas had to be disconnected as well(lightening). Water in the tanks has to be treated with Microdyne to stop algae growth and an additive is added to the diesel fuel to keep the bugs that can grow in it to a minimum.
We had the engine flushed when we were in the yard so all salt water was washed from the system. Four months with salt water just sitting in the pipes is not a good thing. Since we had never done it, we hired a service to do it. Boy were we dumb. The through hull intake is covered with a metal screen that protrudes from the hull by about an inch. The workmen got a clorox bottle and cut the top off where it goes down to the straight sides and fed the hose through the hole at the top(wrapping plastic wrap around it to make a seal) and turned on the hose while one guy held it to the hull and the other tasted the water(YUCK)as it came out the stern exhaust pipe. No OSHA in Mexico folks. Once he no longer tasted salt in the exhaust water, I shut off the engine. Boy, was that high tech or what?!?
We had the hull pressure washed to get rid of all the barnacles that had grown on out $240 a GALLON paint that we applied in Port Townsend. I'd scrubbed it several times during our trip so it wasn't horrible. The water pressure they used was far less than what we were used to back in the states. The tank of water sits on the front of a forklift and a hose is fed into the tank. Then a small pump pressurizes the tank and out comes the water from a second "high" pressure hose. They have no dedicated place for washing the boat(to collect the chemical laced water so it doesn't pollute the environment) so it is just done on the dirt storage lot in the work area. What didn't come off in the wash was scrapped off by a trowel(also into the dirt under the boat). Oh, the fun the US(and state)government would have had if it had been done the same way in the states.
Tracy had cleaned out the frig/freezer and had put what was left in a cooler I had brought from home. We moved into "Gringo Pete's Condo and Hotel" that is between the marina and the work yard. We got a room that included a kitchen so we could store what left over food we had in the refrigerator. We moved in early Saturday morning with the kids(Snowshoe and Blue going over later in the day. They were quite lost in suddenly having a new "home" with lots more room to roam around in. Blue kept having a snit fit every time Snowshoe came near her. Making matters worse was that Snowshoe wanted to play and chased her around the condo with her hissing and meowing all the time. We continually made trips back and forth unloading the poor Mazda with the things we had stripped off Zephyr. We figured we'd be there Saturday and Sunday night and on the road Monday. As it turned out, we spent Monday night there also. Nice place to stay and at $45.00 a night, not to expensive. A simple hotel room was $35.00.
By Sunday night, we had just about everything out of her and started fitting the tarp to Zephyr. We ran the spinnaker pole from the mast forward to the bow and tied it to the bow pulpit. With the tarp 50 feet long and Zephyr only 46 feet, we knew we had enough material. We measured from the back of the mast forward to the bow and then cut the tarp to that measurement. We laid the tarp in the dirt beside Zephyr and marked out the cut line. Zip with the scissors and the cut was made. I'd ordered in some brass grommets to attach to the tarp and so we doubled the material along the cut and attached the grommets every 18 inches as the Sun slowly set in the West. We then stowed the tarp on deck for the night and headed back for Gringo Pete's. It had been a long day.
Monday, we headed back to Zephyr just after 0600 to get started in the cool of the morning. We had a big tarp to fit and a time of 1300 when the yard was going to haul us back into the secure storage area.
Out went the tarp over the forward pole and then stretched toward the stern. Once the tarp was on the bow section, we used zip ties through the grommets to secure the edges and more zip ties to hold it to the pole under the tarp. Over the sides it went and the job of tying it down got underway. We'd cleared out everything from inside so we didn't need to go inside again. It looked strange having the decks all cleared of equipment. We'd bought a large ball of line to tie the tarp down from side to side with the lines passing under the hull. Once we had the sides done, we started in on the bow and closed it off with more zip ties through the fabric of the tarp. There were lines going all over the place making sure that the tarp moved as little as possible. We finished almost exactly at 1300. Right on schedule for the move. We then found out that our time had been mover to 1500 to 1600. OK, that gave us time for lunch(boy were we hungry). We returned to the yard and waited and waited. At 1530, I walked over to the office only to find that our move had been postponed to Tuesday at 0900. With it being that early, we could still get a good start for Tucson.
Tuesday, we were up early again as there was some laundry Tracy wanted to do before we set off. I dropped her off at the laundry/cantina and went back to the yard at 0800 to make sure we were still set for 0900. The office verified the time--no problem. I happened to look in the yard and there was the trailer in front of Zephyr being backed in to move her. So much for 0900. An hour early was fine with me. In went the trailer under Zephyr and up went Zephyr on the hydraulic arms on the trailer. All the lines held fine. Off we went for the yard. As they back Zephyr in, I looked around the yard and found very few spaces left for other boats. We were lucky that we had made or reservations a month ago.
Once in her space(wedged between two other boats, she was lowered onto her stands and the trailer rolled out. With four stands on a side plus one at each end, she was in place nice and safe. Well as safe as she can be. There was a huge flood last year through the yard with a few boats falling over in the wake of the water. Let's all hope it doesn't happen again.
I returned to the laundry and picked up Tracy and told her what had happened. Luckily, I had the camera with me and I took several pictures of the event so she could see them. I'll be posting them in the blog in a few days.
We headed for Gringo Pete's and loaded up and took off for Tucson. I've gone on long enough so there will be more posts. Stayed tuned for more post and pictures.
06/20/2010, Now in Aurora, Colorado
Lots of time has passed since our last blog so let me catch you up on what has been happening.
I left Tracy on a mooring in San Carlos harbor on May 29th for the trip home to Colorado to pick up the car to bring everyone home. I took the local bus to Guaymas to take a much bigger bus for Tucson at 2200. A nice night time run with very few passengers on board. The bus company(Tufesa) runs busses back and forth on a regular schedule so it's easy to make the run back to the states. I took one of the night runs so I could make the connection with United at the airport in Tucson and get into Denver during the day.
Let me tell you, the driver we had was in a "take no prisoner" mode. The speed limit was no more than a simple sign along the road. Get in his way, and he pulled right up on your tail and then started flashing his lights in your rear window. Come at him with your bright lights on and he blasted you with his. He's my kind of driver!! We made a few stops along the way with people getting on and off at each stop. All in all, we may have had 10 passengers on board at any one time. With so many busses running, I don't think they ever run full.
When we got to the border, it was closed!! I didn't think the border crossing was ever closed but it was. It opened at 0600 so we had a wait of over an hour just to get across. I don't know what the other busses do that left earlier than us the prior evening, but I didn't see any of them waiting in line. Customs was easy. Get off the bus. Collect your bag and get it x-rayed. Answer a few questions(I was the only US citizen on the bus). Get back on board and take off again. We had longer waits at Mexican check points along the road to Nogales. We pulled into Tucson's bus station at 0740. A trip of 9 hours, 40 minutes to cover the 250 miles from Guaymas to Tucson. As I said, lots of stops along the way. I was at the airport by 0815 to wait for the 1500 flight to Denver. I had lots of time to sit and read. Not knowing how long or what delays I might run into, I felt it was smarter to allow myself plenty of time to make the flight. The flight went flawlessly and I got to Denver right on schedule. Since I carried on my luggage, I didn't lose my bag!!!
Once home, the errands and jobs started. I had lots of things to buy(either not available in Mexico or very expensive) to take back to Zephyr. Plus, I had ordered lots of parts on line so there was already a big pile at the house all ready to go. One of the biggest things I stocked up on was cat litter. For what it costs for a 9 pound bag in Mexico, I can get a 42 pound bag at Costco. The other big thing I stocked up on was oil for our Ford Lehman engine. Costco again had it on sale so I gat a gallon for less than $9.00 where it costs close to $14.00 or more in Mexico(if you can even find it). As Zephyr uses two gallons each time the oil gets changed(and it has to be changed every 100 to 150 hours of use)I go through a good bit of oil each year. I stocked up on 15 gallons just to be on the safe side. While I was gone, Tracy told me that she heard a guy on one of the morning radio nets looking for the same oil I brought back. Figuring we would be taking the car to Mexico twice-once to pick up Tracy and the kids and once to take us back in the fall, I wanted to make sure I loaded the car as much as I could for this trip. With four big bags of cat litter and fifteen gallons of oil(plus lots of other parts) our poor Mazda was loaded to the gills for the trip back. The other "big" item I took back was one of those 12 packs of paper towels(again from Costco) as we were down to our last roll.
I did have time to go up to Lake Granby to check "Sloop to Nuts", our Laguna 26 sailboat. We've had her since the mid 80's and love going out sailing on her. The cover the marina folks had put back on her in the fall was now in tatters and only covering the forward section of the boat. I got the keys from the marina and climbed aboard. With the cover doing next to nothing to keep the water out, there was some inside, but only in the bilge so it was easy to remove. We have some work to do to bring her back to the condition she was in before we left two years ago. We haven't sailed her since 2007 and very little then as we were working and buying Zephyr.
While in Denver, I got an emergency email(no phone) from Tracy that Shadow had suffered a stroke of some sort and was on having great difficulty getting any where in the boat. Tracy did what she could she could to make him comfortable and he passed later that night. At 18, he had a great life for a stray cat. I'm sure much better than the rest of his brothers and sisters. Tracy took him into San Carlos and tried to find a place to bury him. She stopped in at Barracuda Bob's, one of the local eateries and asked for some directions as to a place that had dirt and not rock. Most of San Carlos is set on rock or with a bare layer of dirt to cover the underlying rock. Jan, the owner of the shop was kind enough to take them both to her house where she has a vacant yard next door with a garden suitable for burying Shadow. He's now buried near Gordon, another of the neighborhood cats that needed a final resting place. The boats seems quiet with him gone. He was the only cat that really made noise in the boat. The other kids rarely make a sound.
With this being my first trip back to "civilization"--at least US "civilization", I came down with a nasty cold within a few days of arriving back in Colorado. A nasty one with running nose and an ugly cough. Luckily, there are drug stores all over the place so with more choices in medication than you can shake a stick at, I got lots of good drugs to try and fight back. It took a while, but it left shortly after getting back to Zephyr.
I left for San Carlos on June 6 for the three day drive. I stayed an extra day trying to shake the cold. Into Albuquerque the first night and Tucson the second. Each day at just over 440 miles. The third day, I crossed the border. I stopped first and purchased Mexico car insurance for the Mazda as(from what I have heard)Mexico doesn't recognise US insurance companies if you get into an accident. So for a bit over $40.00, I got insurance for two weeks and headed for the border. With a car loaded with supplies and parts, I stopped at the first gate that said it was about "importation". When we entered Mexico, we purchased a "Temporary Import Permit" that allows us to bring in "parts" for Zephyr. Armed with my permit, I entered the office only to be told that I was in the wrong place and to stop at the next station down the road and check in there. So down the road I went. Since I already had my visa for staying in Mexico and we were not taking our car farther South than San Carlos, I didn't need a permit for it. As I had my import permit, I saw no reason to stop so I just got in the "nothing to declare" lane and went right on through. I got the "green" light(looks like a traffic light with just red and green lights) that says wether or not you will get searched and headed South. I was stopped a few more times to pay for tolls for using their roads, but other than that, the rest of the trip was a breeze. I pulled into the marina parking lot about 1530 right about when I figured I would get there. As I pulled in, Tracy came walking out of the laundry room having just put some pads in the washer to get cleaned. Perfect timing. A nice drink at the local cantina and we unloaded the Mazda for the many trips back and forth to Zephyr with the things I had bought. Being at the end of our sailing season, many of our storage bins and cubbies were now empty so stowing things wasn't too hard.
With our haul out scheduled for Saturday, June 12 and it being Tuesday the 8th, we had lots of work to do to get Zephyr ready for her time in storage.
I'll go into what came next in my next post as I'm sure this one has gone of long enough.
More to come as time allows(the next day or so).
05/19/2010, San Carlos
Well, we've been back in San Carlos for about a week avoiding the big winds that have been hitting the mainland coast of the Sea Of Cortez for the past week. We had moved from San Pedro to Bahia Algodones last week for a day or so and then the winds were forecast to come out of the South and where we were was no place to be in South winds. So, since we already had paid for the mooring, back we went and tied up and sat them out. It's still blowing about 20 knots outside as I type this.
On Monday, we were joined by Bill & Nancy Berg, a couple I have known since the mid 1970s when I first worked at American Furniture in Albuquerque. They now live in Kino Bay North of San Carlos. Bill had tracked us down in Aurora and we made arrangements to get together for a day sail. We went out to dinner with them on Monday and headed out for a nice sail on Tuesday as the winds were supposed to be lighter. Well, they still piped up into the 20+ knot range so we reduced sails and headed out for a day under canvas. Both Bill & Nancy have sailed for the past 20 years, just not on a boat the size of Zephyr. Sailing is sailing, it's all in the sail controls. With Nancy at the wheel, we had a great time and pulled into Caleta Lalo for a late lunch/early dinner. It was great to see the two of them again. Bill & I have long and colorful history.
I've been packing my bags this afternoon as I leave tomorrow evening for the fun trip home. We got laundry done this morning and now at least, I will have clean clothes to wear for the trip. I've packed light as I will only be there for a few days before I load up the car and head back to pick up Tracy and the kids. Shadow is still just humming along. Thin as a rail but eating every 30 minutes or so. He has just celebrated his 18th birthday and the kids just had their 5th. Don't know where the time has gone.
We've been stowing things and getting ready for the haul out on the 12th. We've stowed lots of lines and sails and have a ways to go before we are done. We expect we will be spending a few days in the work yard before we go into official storage. Once in the main yard, you can't spend any time on your boat so all must be ready when that put it on the trailer and move it. It's hard for us to believe that it's the end of the season with it only being about the first of June.
I'll post some more as I round up things to bring back in the car. Things that won't melt in the harsh Mexico Sun.
05/19/2010, Bahia San Pedro
Yesterday started calm and worked itself up from there. The morning was almost calm and we were subject to the land and sea breezes that develop during the day.
I swam to shore on Monday afternoon. It is really one of the first times I have actually swum in the Sea of Cortez. The water was at just over 70 degrees so it was still quite chilly. I had to keep moving to stave off the chill. Once I made shore, I walked the sandy/rocky beach and warmed back up. Tracy jumped into Puff(always the smart girl--why swim in cold water when you can boat?) and came ashore with a life preserver and line. We tied the line to the life preserver and I snapped it around my body. Tracy powered up Dragon and off we went dragging me behind Puff. I became a roving submarine scanning the sandy floor looking at all the fish and shells. I had used my mask and fins to get ashore so I had them to use as I was getting dragged around our little cove. It was lots of fun to see everything and not having to work at it by swimming.
Back to yesterday. With it being so calm on Monday night, we had left the tarps up to cover Zephyr. Tuesday was forecast for "land and sea breezes". It means that where we were, when the land heats, it draws air off the water and creates a Southwest breeze toward the shore. As the heat of the Sun gets less during the evening, the air and wind reverse and it goes away from the land making a Northeast wind. No "real" wind was forecast. By 1300, the wind was just beginning to pick up and come out of the West to Northwest with some out of the Southwest just for fun. By 1400, we were up to about 15-18 knots straight into the cove. That put Zephyr on a lee shore--the shoreline was behind us and if the anchor dragged, we could end up on shore--NOT where we wanted to be. So down came the tarps and we stowed stuff on deck and below deck and got ready to sail back to Bahia San Pedro since the winds would push us right along. By 1500, the motor was started, the anchor pulled up and off we went out of the Las Cocinas. The swell of waves was running at just over two feet with the occasional three footer thrown in for fun. Once out of the cove, we rolled out the Genoa and pointed Zephyr Southeast toward Bahia San Pedro. If you have been following our blog for a while, you know what happens next. That's right, the winds started to die!!! We rolled in the Genoa and put up the Main sail and then rolled out the Genoa again. We have to roll in the Genoa so we can bring Zephyrs bow into the wind to raise the mainsail. It's really tough(darn near impossible) to raise the sail any other way than that. Once the mainsail is up, out rolled the Genoa again and off we went down wind blazing along at a whole 2 knots!!! WOW!!! After 30 minutes, we knew we wouldn't get to Bahia San Pedro till long after sunset. So with the wind dying around us, we rolled in the Genoa again, moved the main to midships and started the engine. Off we went at a decent 6 knots toward San Pedro. At least now we would be there by 1800. As we neared San Pedro(right out side the cove) the wind started to pick up(go figure huh?) and by the time we rounded the North point of the cove, we were back in 15 knot winds!! Mother Nature is so the practical joker. We found another sail boat at anchor, near to where we had first anchored when we got here a few days ago. We dropped our anchor near to where we had moved to the first time at 28 03.405N 111 14.763W. With the wind blowing, it pushed Zephyr backwards and quickly set the anchor nice and tight. We were in for the night. One of the guys on the other boat(a Hunter 40 we think) watched us as we went about setting Zephyr up for being at anchor. I put on the anchor snubber(a long line that attaches to the anchor chain and a cleat on deck to take the stress off the windlass) and let out about 20 feet of line. There was no snubber on the Hunter(yeah, we spied on his boat too). They just had the chain to his anchor dangling off the bow of his boat. We put sail ties around the mainsail to keep it nice and tight to the boom so it doesn't blow around on deck. His main rolls into his mast for storage. Nice feature until it jams and you can't get your sail in(in an emergency) or out when you are ready to sail. We do it the old fashioned way. It stows on the boom and is ready for raising when we want it too. It take a bit more work but nothing can go wrong. Once the sail was tied down, we were set for the night.
When we listened to the morning net on our SSB, we had learned that the space station with the shuttle attached was to "fly" down the Sea of Cortez shortly after sundown so we made sure to be on deck to see the show. Sure enough at about 1950, along she came out of the Northwest heading Southeast like a slow arrow. When you are out here, you'll take about anything for entertainment. We even stopped dinner so we could be outside to watch it. There was supposed to be a "flash" for one of the Iridium satellites as it changed it mirrors alignment shortly after the space station went by, but we never saw it. Oh well.
The winds continued till the middle of the night when they finally died down. It came back this morning by 0800 and are still blowing nicely. The DuoGen is spinning nicely on the stern. The other sailboat left at 0600 and headed North around the point right into the wind. Don't have a clue where they are going but they will be fighting the wind the entire way there. There are three panga fishing boats on shore with them going in and out during the day. One stoped by an hour ago and offered to sell us some lobsters. We are trying to get rid of what we have on board in our stores so the last thing we needed was more food. Today, maybe more swimming in the afternoon. We will see what happens as the day progresses.