10/28/2010, Marina Seca yard in San Carlos.
Yesterday was move day. We showed up about 0900 to be told we were further delayed till about 1100 before we could have Zephyr moved to the work yard. Two boats got bumped ahead of us even though we had gotten on the schedule a week ago. Oh well. Not like we had a time schedule to keep.
About 1030, the trailer took off for Zephyr. I walked in with it and took some pictures of the move. Click on our album page to see the new photos. In went the trailer and up she went on the hydraulic arms and out she came for the move. Slick and easy. Over she came and set in place, just about the same place we were in last June when we came out.
As she was put in place, I cut many of the lines that held what was left of the tarp. Being ripped down the middle, it was bagging near the bottom where the stands that support the hull go. Once in place, I climbed the ladder to inspect the deck and cockpit. As expected, there were blue strands from the tarp everywhere tangled in every nook and cranny from the disintegrated tarp but all in all, she was in good condition given the harsh Summer she went through.
Tracy unlocked the doors and headed below. Inside, she was just as we left her. Lots of equipment from the deck that we had stripped off still in nice neat piles. I checked the electrical and found that while the "start" batteries were fine, the "house" batteries were dead. The switch for the windlass had gotten left on. I'd missed it when we locked up. It has a small light on it and over the last four months, it had tapped out the batteries. It's not wired through the central circuit breakers for some reason. Another one of those weird things that happen when boats get wired I guess. I check the batteries--found they needed some water so we took off for Guaymas to go to Walmart for some. A nice easy 11 miles and back to San Carlos. By now, it was 1600 so while Tracy stayed in the hotel putting other things away that we had bought, I took off for Zephyr to fill the batteries and get them charging over night. With them drained like this, I'll have to get them put through a "load test" to see if they have lost their power and will need replacing. It's only money after all. Plus, it will require another trip to Tucson to get them as the car will be fully loaded for the next trip from the storage locker.
Today, back to Zephyr for cleaning and putting what we had stripped off put back on. More of our "adventure" to come so stay tuned.
10/27/2010, SanCarlos, Mexico
We made it to San Carlos!!!
We headed out from the hotel after a quick breakfast for the UHaul storage room to make sure we got as much stuff into the car as possible. If we can keep our trips back and forth(from San Carlos to Tucson) down to one more if at all possible. We loaded up some more stuff and took off about 8:30 for the border.
We stopped on the American side of Nogales and picked up auto insurance for our stay in Mexico. A total of $82.00 for a 30 day policy. Off for the border(with good directions from the insurance agent). Over we went with a quick stop on the American side to say goodbye to the US border agents. Once into Mexico, we stopped at the first checkpoint for importing things. Red or green lights tell you if they are going to search your stuff for contraband(we got the green light). Next, off to the Immigration Office and fill out the necessary form for our visa and then headed to the bank(same complex) and paid a bit over 500 pesos for our visas. Back to the first agent who stamped our Visa and back to the car. Then off for the final check point(another red and green light). Again, another green light(YEA!!!) and we were officially in Mexico(legally).
On we pressed trying to stay at the speed limit. Now no one else was even coming close to trying and we got passed by dozens of cars, vans and trucks. As with stop signs, speed limits are a state of mind not necessarily a fact of law. It there for the entertainment of the tourists so they will feel better I guess. As we approached the numerous smaller towns and villages along the way, each had signs out announcing that they had "topes" along the road. For those of you that have never driven in Mexico, a "tope" is a LARGE and nasty speed bump placed in the middle of the road to force every car and truck to slow to a near stop(so street vendors can try and sell you things) or risk the destruction of the undercarriage of your vehicle. Each town has a minimum of three. Now while they may have the signs, we found that not every town actually has any "topes" but you slow down just at the sight of a "tope" sign. On we pressed, farther and farther South toward Hermasillo, the next large town. Once there, we took the "by pass" around the center of town. Unfortunately, this also made us miss most of the restaurants for lunch. As it was well after 1330, we were both getting hungry. As we drove on the by pass, some of the asphalt was so rutted--especially near stop lights, that we scraped the bottom of the poor Mazda as we drove down the "paved" road. We finally stopped at the last OXXO store--like a Circle K or 7/11 pit stop as we drive out of town. I grabbed a packet of small burritos and a coke, got some gas and headed out. I just finished my figuring of the conversion from litres to gallons and pesos to dollars and it translated to about $2.64 per gallon. About even with the US for the gas. When we came North last June, it was much more expensive than US gas.
Off again with Blue regularly hissing at Snowshoe every time she saw him. No reason necessary, just to let him know who is the boss. Occasionally the odd paw was thrown just to get the point across. We finally pulled into San Carlos at just before 1600 covering the 1250 miles in the three day drive.
We first stopped in at Marina Seca where Zephyr is stored to verify our move time of 0900 on Wednesday(today). Guess what? Our move was delayed due to "tides". Here's how it works, when the tide is high, the yard has to haul out or launch as many boats as it can. They use a trailer equipped with hydraulic arms which they back under the hull of the boat they are taking out or putting in then raise the arms slowly to cradle the hull and then out she comes. If the tide is to low, they can't get the trailer under the boat and hence, the boat can't get hauled out. High tide is this morning so we are slightly delayed for our move. No problem--where are we going to go any how. We did take a look at Zephyr while we were in the area. She's fine though the tarp we had put on her had basically split in half along the boom and spinnaker pole we had laid it over. We'd split the tarp so it would go around the mast and then added lots of grommets and "stitched" the edges back together over the spinnaker pole that lead from the mast to the bow. I guess it didn't work out as it had ripped all along the pole and boom. The tarp still covers the deck and sides(at least that is what it looked like from the ground). Once she's in the "work"yard, we can get aboard and see how she faired over the Summer.
We met up with a couple(Jim and Diane on Prairie Oyster) that we had met last year in Marina Palmira in La Paz on the Baja. They were just returning to their boat the same time we were and theirs is getting moved the same time ours is. It's like I have said in blogs past, you meet the same people many times while out cruising. I expect that we will meet up with more old faces and friends while we work on Zephyr and after we set out in a few weeks. Time will tell. So, here we sit and wait(at Gringo Pete's Hotel and Condo) getting acclimated to a slower style of life from the hussle and bussle of life in Colorado.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you and show you what we found once we got on board.
10/25/2010, La Quinta Hotel
Here we sit in our hotel room getting ready to make the jump tomorrow back to Mexico. We spent the day adding to our pile of things to take back. Today was the required trip to Costco(stuff for us to eat), PetSmart(the kids like to eat too), and Fry's for the things we hadn't bought while in Denver that we still needed. Some meat and some chicken plus some water proofing to spray on the dodger canvas.
Tomorrow, we head for the UHaul storage space early in the morning to reload the car, carefully checking to make sure we take the most important stuff for the first trip South. It still looks like it's going to take a good three trip to get it all down there.
Once the errands were done, we headed to the Pima Air and Space Museum for some good old fashioned sightseeing. Lots of planes and space craft to see and read about.
So, tomorrow, we're off to get our new visas and be back with Zephyr again. I'll let you know how that goes.
10/22/2010, Last day in Colorado
I picked up the small "Sport" trailer from UHaul this morning and we loaded it this afternoon. It is packed to the gills as so is the trunk of the poor Mazda that has to tow everything down to Tucson. We still have a bunch of things to put in the back seat, but there was no way we would have ever gotten everything into the car. Heck, we will be lucky to get what we have left to take in the car plus the cat pan and the two kids. I don't think they will be enjoying the trip as it will be a bit confining and Blue HATES that.
It's amazing how much STUFF we have bought, ordered or just took from the house to take back to Zephyr. Once we get to her, I'll try and make a list as to what we took. With so much stuff, we now think it is going to take an extra trip back up to Tucson to get everything down there.
We've made reservations for Albuquerque for a night and then two in Tucson so it will give us time to get the trailer unloaded and sorted plus time to do some more shopping to meat and essentials that we just couldn't load here in Colorado. By the time we are done, poor Zephyr is going to be really over loaded.
I called Marina Seca in San Carlos and got on their schedule to move Zephyr from the storage yard to the work yard so we can start in on her on Wednesday. We've got a bottom that needs a good couple of coats of paint and a few other jobs that have to be done before we "splash" her hull in a week or so. I also made reservations at Gringo Pete's Hotel and Condo in San Carlos for a few days. It will give the kids a base to play in so they won't be under foot while we are working on the boat.
At this time, all of our ducks are set in a row, now all we have to do is finish loading the Mazda and get on our way. I'll let you know how that goes. stay tuned.
With luck, we will be on the road a bit after 0800 for the 444 mile trip to Albuquerque we know so well having lived there for many years.
10/19/2010, Still stuck in Aurora
And so the saga continues.
I called the USDA yesterday to see what the problem was with the 7001 form we need to get our International Health Certificate for both Blue and Snowshoe--our cats. We'd talked repeatedly with them last Thursday and Friday to make sure we filled out the form correctly. Our biggest question was the "Consigner"and "Consignee" boxes on the form since we aren't actually shipping the kids any where. We were advised to put our name in both boxes. Off the form went via the vet's fax machine.
We'd received a call later on Friday afternoon to call in as they had a question. Of course they were closed when we got home so I called them first thing yesterday and were told by "Jonathan" that we had filled out the form wrong. We'd put our same name in both the "Consigner" and "Consignee" boxes. I explained to "Jonathan" that last friday after getting transferred four times, that was what we were advised to do by the Doctor that inspects the forms. Jonathans response was "Well, he told you wrong". It goes to show that do as the government wants and it is still wrong in one way or another. I was advised that to do the form correctly, we were to put our name and the name of our boat in the box along with the names of the different countries we were planning to visit. We made plans to head back to the vet to start all over again.
Meanwhile, I'd noticed that the Apple MacBook we use was beginning to slow down and really come to an impasse when I booted up the "Mail" program. I decided to make an appointment at the local Apple Store. When we arrived, they ran a diagnostic on the poor thing and it came back that the hard drive was beginning to fail!! Not a good thing but good that we found out now rather then next week when we are back in Mexico. Luckily, I'd purchased their "Apple Care" when I bought it so out it came and in went the new drive. I was really lucky that I had made a backup copy of what was on the hard drive on Sunday.
Once done, off for lunch and over to the vet to start all over again. This time we took our own copier with us rather than driving to the local Albertsons(local grocery store) to get a copy made for faxing. We filled out another form and off it went. Once we got home(about 1530) there was a message on our answering machine to call Jonathan again. I got on the phone again and of course, I went to his voice mail(gee what a surprise). Of course, he didn't return my call before he went home last night.
I started up my "new" MacBook and hooked up the Western Digital hard drive I had used for my backup. Western Digital has installed a password protection program on the external hard drive which on the surface is a good thing but when you are trying to get it unlocked so you can download it's contents to a computer that is basically a blank slate with no programs on it, it becomes a problem. I made another appointment at the Apple store for 1730 hours(it was 1620 by this time) and then placed a call to the tech support for Western Digital to try and find a way to stop the drive from requiring a password to open. My conversation with "Bob" from Mumbai, India was lots of fun. First we had the language barrier to overcome and then he had to understand what I needed. I'd hooked the drive up to a "Windows" computer and it opened up just fine once I entered the required password. That wasn't good enough for "Bob". Oh no, I had to download the required software from Western Digital. He could not grasp the fact that I already had unlocked the drive. So Download I did and what did I accomplish--it locked up the drive all over again and I had a tough time getting it unlocked. All this during numerous times of being put on hold. After 50 minutes of accomplishing absolutely nothing(other than getting me very frustrated)I finally hung up as it was now after 1710 and my appointment was for 1730 and I had a way to go to get to the store.
I got to Apple just a few minutes late and explained my problem. "No problem", we'll just create a new account and had it install there and then delete the new account once the installation is finished". With just shy of 200 gigs to transfer back to the MacBook, I took off for a nice dinner at Tokyo Joe's. The tech figured it would take about a hour to do the transfer. I got back just about 1900 and found the computer saying it had "less than a minute" to go. I was quick to find that this did not represent an "Earth" minute as 20 minutes later it still said "less than a minute"to go. I came to the conclusion that it must be either a minute on Jupiter or Pluto but surely not an Earth minute. Just before 2000, it finally finished. I rebooted the computer and all appeared to be fine!!! Sure am glad I bought Apple Care. All this was done for FREE! After checking all the different accounts I have on the computer--some running with Windows, I took off for home. I had lots of updates to do to bring the computer up to current day standards. There went the rest of the evening but hey, at least I didn't have to buy a new computer or even a new hard drive and I had been lucky enough to do a full back up the day before the problem got out of control.
So this morning at 730 hours,I made a call to the USDA to speak to Jonathan to see what was happening. I went to his voice mail. I called back at 0830 and went to his voice mail again. It's now just after 0900 and I just heard from Jonathan. Our form was fine, he just wanted to make sure we were up to date with what each county needed(shot wise) when we got there. Yes, we had read the reports and were fine. The kids probably need one more shot and we will be done. We scheduled an appointment for tomorrow at 1100 to get the forms and pay our $36.00. Now, back to Uhaul to get our reservation set to pick up the trailer so we can get on the road. Our last order should be here by Thursday and we can be out of here by Saturday(maybe, the day is still early).
Stay tuned--the adventure continues. Oh, and as to the photo on yesterdays post--no that is not a hula hoop, it's the support ring for our mosquito net that will go over our cockpit so we will be a Taj Ma Boat once we drop out anchor in the different places where we intend to stop to keep the bugs out.
Gee, where to start. We're still in Colorado and will be for maybe the next week or so. Sort of stuck really. We've toyed over the last few weeks about getting an "International Health Certificate" from the USDA for the kids(Blue & Snowshoe). I'd posted questions about it on two different websites--both cruisers related sites-and asked the question of do we really need it. Now these health certificates are geared to shipping animals to foreign countries more than having them on board with you as you cruise the world plus, they are only good for a 30 day period. Many of the answers we got back was that it was a rarity for anyone to even ask about pets when they checked in to another country. Some did, most did not and that a valid rabies certificate would normally keep everyone happy. In the end, we decided to go ahead and apply for one.
We took both our cats into our local vet and got their shots updated and started the application process. The vet had done it before and it had taken quite a bit of time(according to the receptionist) to get it(filling out the forms) done right(you know those government bureaucrats). We called the USDA to see about picking up the forms. "OH NO, we can't give you the forms, they have to be mailed to the vet and we need a list of what countries you are planning on visiting". Apparently, each country has its own set of regulations(not that they get enforced). So we made a list of the countries we "think" we will be visiting and then faxed it to the USDA from the vet's office. We sat down and waited--and waited --and waited for the return fax(God forbid they get in this century and simply email the forms)with all the assorted regulations for each country. One plus is that the vet has at least 25 cats that prowl around the office for us to play with. One plunked her self down in Tracy's lap and refused to budge. About 90 minutes later, the fax started us and out came the forms-page after page. We took them home to read and try and fill out. Some want rabies tags and that was about it. Not to many even mentioned the "International Health Certificate". Even though it is only good for a 30 day period, we decided to go ahead with it. Tis better to have it and not need it than to not have it and need it. We called the USDA as we had a question about the form. It is normally for shipping animals so there were boxes for the "consigner" and "consignee". As they live aboard. there would be no "consignee". After getting transferred three times, I finally ended back at the first person I had talked to that had started the transferring around the department. She put me on hold while she checked with the "Doctor" that inspects all the forms. The answer was to put our name in both boxes. How simple is that. So back we went to the vet with the decision made to only apply for the certificate for French Polynesia since they have the reputation to be the toughest. The 6 part form(still done with carbon paper no less) has to be faxed back to the USDA--oh--don't tear off the top copy of the form as it may invalidate the form. Off to the copy center to have it copied and back to the vet so they can fax it. It has to come from the vet--not us. Once the "copy" of the original was faxed, we left with the originals in hand to await the health certificates. When we got home(about 1605) we found a message on our answering machine that we had filled out the form wrong by putting our names in both the "consigner" and "consignee" boxes!! Yes, that's right, we did as instructed by them and we had done it wrong. As it was after 1600, the office was now closed for the weekend and we would have to wait till Monday(tomorrow) to get it all straightened out. Then there is the waiting time to get them processed and the call to come to their office with the "originals" to pay the fees and get the certificate. With luck we may be out of here by the end of next week.
I had a trailer hitch put on our car to make it easier to get everything back to Zephyr. We figure to load up everything in one of UHaul's small "Sport" trailers. It looks like an egg tipped on it's side on wheels. We've inspected them and it should allow us to take just about everything back all in the one trailer with hopefully little being crammed in the poor Mazda. There was no way we would get it all in the car. Renting the trailer from UHaul gives us a good perk that they throw in a free storage space at the end of the trip for a month. That will allow us to unload in Tucson and reload into the car the most important items we want and then come back in a week or so and get the rest. Having the car practically empty will make the kids much happier.
Yesterday, we both took our exam for getting our Ham license. We both passed with flying colors. It's a 35 question exam where you have to score at least a 75% to pass. Tracy got a 100% and I didn't bother to ask. Now there are three levels of Ham licenses--Technician(first), General(mid level) and Extra(top level). With Tracy getting a 100%, the proctors encouraged her to take the "General" exam. I begged off. She got about 1/3 of the answers right which was pretty good not having studied any of the requirements for that grade. We should receive our official license later this week and be good to transmit when we get back aboard. Tracy found a great website--Hamtestonline.com--for studying for the exam. If you are looking to get your license, we both can't recommend it enough.
We've even brought in a case(36 cans) of canned cheddar cheese as it is very tough to get any cheddar cheese once South of the border. It comes in cans just a bit larger than a tuna can. Mexico has lots of cheese, but nothing even comes close to a nice brick of cheddar. When ever we do find it, we get several packs and plunk them in the bottom of the frig. These at least don't have to be refrigerated which is a definite plus when out cruising.
So now we wait for the last of the things we have on order--sail stuff from Sailrite and our health certificate plus a few more odds and ends and we will be ready to go.