11/11/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
Well, 0900 came and went with no signs of the rudder repair men. So did 1000 and 1100. At 1200, I jumped in the car and headed over to Star Marine to see what was happening to our workmen. Alfredo was surprised that Jesus hadn't been by to let us know that they were having problems getting the non magnetic bolts we had requested but that they had people in Guaymas looking for them as well as one of their men was in Tucson trying to find them. They could have them made for us at the same metal fabrication place I went to in Guaymas for $25.00 per bolt. When I got back to Zephyr, Jesus had stopped by while I was gone and filled in Tracy with the situation. I talked to Ed from AKA who has lots of knowledge about stainless steel(as well as just about everything associated with boats) and his opinion was that the bolts they had(grade 304 stainless) would work just fine and that if I wanted to, pick up another set for backups and later replacements while I'm in Denver. Off I went back to Star Marine to let them know. We scheduled the men to come back on Saturday as we will be out of town for the next couple of days visiting old friends in Bahia Kino just up the coast. Plus, it was after 1400 by this time.
Tracy, meanwhile, jumped into her white protective suit and started in on scraping the hull of all the old bottom paint. We had found our scraper while cleaning out under the stern berth. You can't get scrapes like what she was using here in Mexico. We saw them in Port Townsend being used and promptly got one for Zephyrs hull and we sure are glad we did. It cut through all the old layers of paint nice and quickly. Jim, on the boat next door says that paint scrapers of just about any kind are just not available anywhere down here. Several time, workers here at the yard had stopped by, not only to see the scraper in action, but they though that Tracy was one of their workmen. No one down here scrapes their own boats. Yet, here she was, all suited up and going at it. Not only scraping, but a woman to boot. Sorry to be a sexist, but I have yet to see a woman working on the hulls of any of the boats here.
While she was doing that, I was working on all the things that had gotten soaked with oil under the stern berth. Most had to come out of what ever boxes they were in or washed. I took our collapsable chair down to the ground and washed the cover as well as the chair in Dawn detergent(one of the best oil cutters) and then in Oil Eater just to get rid of what ever I could. Once done, we have pretty much decided that it's toast and will be coming back to Denver with me for future use(of just getting rid of).
Once Tracy was done, I took our hose and nozzle and tried to wash down the paint that she had scraped off. As it blows in the mid teens every afternoon, I want to see if I could get rid of it. The dirt is so polluted with toxins--old paint, waxes, etc, that the water would bead up on the surface of the dirt. Oh how the EPA would have a heart attack if they ever showed up at most of the boat yards here in Mexico.
During the day, we though we saw a Liberty 49 coming out of storage. Only 18 were ever made. As luck would have it, at the end of the day, I was running a nice couple back to their hotel(no car) when I saw another couple walking out of the yard and offered them a lift also. They just happened to be the owners of the boat we thought was a Liberty and she is just that. She's hull #1! We had a nice chat as I dropped them off at one of the local eateries. She's from Sequim up in Washington and was sailed down here just over two years ago. They expect to be in the yard for a few days. Tracy had stopped by earlier in the day to introduce herself and see if it was a Liberty but we hadn't had a chance to talk. Apparently, they have till the 15th to get her ready, after that, the tides won't be high enough to allow her launch. Now that is a tight time window having just gotten here yesterday.
11/10/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
Yesterday, we started in on cleaning out under the stern bunk. It's a huge space that many folks use to hold a generator. Up came the mattress so it would lie on the back ledge and then braces were wedged under the front end to hold it up. In I went handing Tracy the panels that cover the compartment and support the mattress. I started handing out what we had put below. Lots of bins of things--keeps them dry and organized. I grab one of the many gallon jugs of oil that we store down there. It felt a bit light and I suddenly realize its leaking oil and has been doing so for quite some time. There is oil everywhere. On just about every box, filter, or piece of equipment that we kept down there on the starboard side. In come lots of paper towels and oil absorber pads and things are carefully handed out. YUCK!!! It had flowed down the sides and I think finally made it's way to the bilge which could account for a bit of the oil I found there a few days ago. We have lots of things that will need cleaning before they go back into storage.
Next, we wanted to replace the hose that goes from the cockpit to the hydraulic pump that feeds the steering system. It had gotten old and appeared to be quite brittle. I disconnected the hose from the pump and Tracy pulled it out. Down came the new hose(with a bit of encouragement from me reaching in with a long handle) and I attached it to the pump and clamped it on nice and tight.
Next, on to finally fixing, once and for all, the hydraulic steering that got sort of fixed while were were in Cabo San Lucas last December. It has dripped just a bit of oil ever since. The fittings connections were not tight enough. In with wrenches and pliers and first I took the fitting apart since when they were connected, the rubber hose was in a very tight circle that could eventually cause the hose to fail. I tightened up the fittings and put it all back together again
Now we had to bleed the air that had entered the hoses while I was working on them. With Tracy at the wheel in the cockpit, I slowly opened and closed the necessary bleed nipples to get the air out. Tracy repeatedly added more and more hydraulic fluid to the hose as I slowly bleed it out. After an hour of so, the steering was still stiff and it never seemed to get any easier as it should when properly bled. Tracy's arm was getting tied it was so tough to turn. OK, time to call in the help. Off to Star Marine for help. We needed a mechanic who knew what the problem was and get it resolved. They set me up with Alfredo, the same guy that fixed our electrical system a few days ago. Since bleeding the system takes two people, he came with another guy. In they came and checked all the systems. They checked the pump and thought it might need to be taken out and serviced. Instead, one of the guys climbed under the stern bunk and started the bleeding. Alfredo stayed in the cockpit turning the wheel and adding more oil as it was bled out below deck. They got quite a bit of air out of the system but it got no easier. Finally, the guy down below disconnected the hydraulic ram(gizmo that moves the rudder back and forth)from the rudder. Alfredo climbs down the ladder and tries to manually turn the rudder. It didn't want to budge more than about 20 degrees to each side. It was binding up. That's why it was having such a problem. It was stuck in it's frame. We had to drop the rudder and fix the bushing that it rides on. OH JOY, The guys took off the get the jack we needed to slowly lower it while I took apart what was inside holding it in the boat. With the jack in place, they took off the bracket that keeps it in the boat at the base of the keel and slowly lowered it. There was no bushing--it was just stainless steel riding on stainless steel. Out came the sand paper and scrapers and the cleaning started. We would be installing some new plastic bushings between the rudder pins and the bottom holder so it will have something to turn on instead of just metal to metal. First they had to be made. What did they use for the plastic bushings? Behind Zephyr was an old water tank that someone had left. Out came the hole saws and presto, the bushings were cut. I do admire the Mexican people their resourcefulness. Nothing has just one use.
All the while this was going on, I walked over and got a can of Coke from the machine. At my first gulp from the can, I felt something sharp enter my mouth. Before I could stop the gulp, it was gone down my throat. I spit out what ever was left in my mouth. What ever it was, it sliced up the back of my mouth near my tonsils(I still have mine). It hurt like heck every time I swallowed and still does. Now I guess I just have to wait to see what it might do as it passes. Gee, are we having fun yet? And you folks think all we do is sit back and drink margaritas!!!
The guys from Star Marine will be back this morning to finish the job. The bolts they brought to replace the old ones don't appear to be of the best stainless steel we think we will need to make sure they don't disintegrate in salt water. The guys are in search of better bolts if they can find them. At the worst, we use the old bolts.
We took off for dinner with Ed and Francine off S/V AKA. We met them early in our stay here in the yard. Nice people that have been sailing all over the world. A real font of knowledge to talk to while we had dinner.
The main cabin is now trashed while we fix under the stern bunk so with luck, we will get everything fixed and re stowed by sundown tonight and the cabin back in order.
I've added additional pictures in the "San Carlos" album. If you go the "Main" album, it will have other albums under it with more pictures for your viewing enjoyment.
11/09/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
Today, we started in on the forward storage locker right behind the anchor locker. As a matter of fact, we actually had thing stored on top of the chain in the anchor locker.
We stow all kinds of stuff down there. From tons of different types and dimensions of lines(also known as rope) to fenders to BIG cable cutters(in case the rigging that holds the mast up breaks) to even extra life jackets. Out it all came for inspection and deciding wether to keep it or send it back to Denver when I leave next week. We took lots of old dock lines and just coils of line to the parking place to see what we actually had. We had one chunk that was 172 feet long. No idea why we had it, or what it was to be used for so it's going home. Heck, I'm taking an entire spool of 600 feet of polypropylene line that we used for stern anchoring up in Canada and haven't used since back with me. What line we decided to keep, Tracy washed in water with fabric softener to get the saltwater in the fibers of the line out. They had been very hard and un-flexible lines. Once washed and rinsed, they were fine.
While we were down there, we stowed all of the caulk we brought back to redo our teak decks when there is time. We also stowed two extra anchors we carry for emergencies and all the line and chain that goes with them. Add in a spare gas and diesel jerry can plus several fenders for when we are at a marina and it's a full locker.
We took time off during the cleaning to go out to a little lunch spot we found called JJ's. A small cafe along the main road in San Carlos. We'd heard about it and have eaten there several times over the last week. Good food at very reasonable prices. It's much like eating at one of the sidewalk carts that are all over Mexico, except that this guy grew past the cart and added all the extras of a small restaurant. I normally get two big pork tacos for just 36 pesos(about $3.00). Tracy orders two equally large fish tacos(it's not like Taco Bell folks). Even adding a beer and a coke, the bill is just about $8.00US. A great bargain for great food.
Yesterday, we started trying out all the outside lights on deck. The deck light(shines down from the mast onto the deck) and the steaming light on the mast were fine. As expected, the anchor light is out again. Something is wrong with the wiring. I'll be up the mast in a few days to see what I can find. We also found that the "running lights"(lights at the bow and stern that tell people which way we are going) were also out. As it turns out, the stern light had a bad connection, and we found the forward light had a broken wire where it comes out through the deck. It took a while to find the break but we did. Out comes the tools--wire cutters, strippers, crimpers, connectors and a new product I brought back with me. Permatex makes a Copper Anti-Seize product that is a grease like product that is full of copper. It not only seals out any kind of moisture, the copper(and there is lots of it) promotes the conductivity of the connection. After cutting out the section of bad wire(sea water is tough on copper wire once it gets through the insulation), I put a healthy dab of the stuff on the each end of the wires and crimped the wires back together. Once that was done, I took my heat gun and shrunk the ends of the fitting so it becomes water tight. I'd learned while in Port Townsend that there are electrical connectors of all types that have an extra piece of heat shrink tube at each end. Once the crimp is down, you shrink the tubes at the end of the fitting and no moisture can get in and screw up the connection. They even make them with a special heat activated adhesive so it makes sure nothing will ever get in. I even took some of the copper anti-seize stuff and put it on the wire connections inside each of the lights. Now, even if it gets some water inside the fitting, it will still have a good connection.
By the time we got everything re-stowed, the lines washed and coiled, it was just about time for dinner. I headed off for the showers to get all the dirt off. It blows here through most of the day and we are surrounded by nothing but dirt so it blows across and through the yard all the time. It's just about impossible to stay clean. Dinner(as always) was great and we settled in for a pleasant evening of watching internet TV.
The kids--both Blue and Snowshoe are really enjoying being home. They spend a good deal of time prowling the decks and sleeping away the day. Tracy sits outside with them for a while each evening so they can checkout Zephyrs deck after it gets dark when cats are supposed to prowl. They are back in their environment. As long as they make no attempt at jumping ship(the neighbors boats are that close)they are free to come and go as they please. But as good parents, we still check where they are regularly.
Tomorrow, on to more projects plus pulling every thing out from under the stern bunk. Inventory and decide what will be joining me for the trip home. If we haven't used it in a year, it's out of here. The car is quickly loading up. I don't think we really need to carry around the last 4 years of "Practical Sailor" magazine.
Stay tuned, more to come.
11/08/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
Unfortunately, the list just keeps getting longer the more we explore. But at least they are getting done. Tracy is still a bit under the weather with either an allergy or a small cold. She's taken to vegging on the starboard settee--reading and exploring the internet. Hopefully she will be better today.
Yesterday was another day on "pick it up and put it away" if at all possible. I took out the old outlet in the galley and installed one of the two GFCI outlets we brought back. They are apparently hard to get here in Mexico as the last time I looked, everyone was out of them. We'd literally melted the last one with all the electrical problems we had back then.
We bought straps to keep the microwave in place well over a year ago and they finally got installed. In the past, every time Zephyr heeled to port, the microwave would slide out of its spot and try and go into the sinks. Hopefully, not more.
I installed a water sensor in the forward head so if any water should happen to make its way in there--leak or switch to the head not being in the correct place--we will know. I have another to put in the bilge for the same information. The last thing we want is water streaming into Zephyr without our notice. We had that happen as we headed North into British Columbia 18 month ago. The "Dripless" packing gland around the prop wasn't so "Dripless". I just happen to lift the board that covers where the prop goes through the hull and saw gallons of water pouring in. If I hadn't lifted that board, the problem could have been horrific to our journey. Luckily, once the prop stopped turning, the leak stopped.
We're slowing getting back in order and looking better but we have a ways to go before I can get rid of the car in Colorado and get her launched. All in good time.
11/07/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
It finally warmed up by late morning and off came the jeans and on came the shorts. As we listened to the morning VHF net that goes between Guaymas and San Carlos, we found out that there was a morning "flea market" at 0900. Well, we have lots of extra stuff aboard so we packed up some blocks, fasteners and anything I could find that I felt we could easily get rid off and took off. It was only about 1.5 miles off so no big drive. We pulled in and set up on the ground. About 10 others there so there was plenty of room. Some brought tarps to lay their thing out on. I just used the dirt. Several dozen cruisers showed up and we sold a few things that we no longer needed.
Tracy, meanwhile scoped out the other sellers. She found a set of "rocker stoppers" that some one was selling. If you're at anchor and the wind is blowing from one direction and the waves are coming from another, you dangle these things over the side of your boat about 6 feet down in the water. With the wind from one direction, your boat will face that direction but with the waves from another, the boat tend to rock and roll from side to side. It's a big help keeping the inside of your boat stabile and makes a bad anchorage tolerable for the night. We've seen several boats use them as we sit an anchor. We walked off with two of them. One for each side of the boat for better stability.
Off we went for Star Marine to pay for the electrician that came on Friday. A bill for just $40.00 awaited me. More than worth that price to get one of our biggest problems solved.
Back to Zephyr to drop off Tracy and I was off for Guaymas to pick up our repaired hatch boards for the storage compartments on deck. I'll post pictures in the photo area as a subheading under the "Main" gallery for San Carlos boat yard. They looked great with lots of epoxy and sheets of fiberglass laid in the recess area of the hatch that was coming apart. Where the wood had split, they filled the cracks with epoxy and sanded it smooth. They were as solid as a brick of epoxy which is what they now were. Built properly to withstand the everyday traffic they had suffered through for years. Back to Zephyr and out with the screw driver and they were back where they belonged. The deck is now a safe place to walk without fear of falling through. A great relief.
A quick lunch and off for the local Pemex(gas)station with all the gas and a diesel cans to get them all filled. We'd planned properly and made sure they were all empty when we let. So three 5 gallon gas cans, one 6 gallon gas can, one 5 gallon diesel can, plus the outboard motor gas can and we were set. While I was gone, Tracy set up the crane we use to lift the outboard motor on deck with so we could get these heavy cans back aboard. Up they went one after another till all were aboard. I took them forward and covered them with nice blue sunbrella covers Tracy made last year and belted them to the port side bracket I had made for them way back in Port Townsend.
Now it was time to tackle the missing ground wire I discussed yesterday. Out came some nice 10 gauge green wire and in I went. We're lucky enough to have a huge, easily accessible engine room which leaves me plenty of room to even sit on our engine. The breaker switches I needed to get to were above the engine on the starboard side. Out came the screws and off the cover came. I sized up the size of the screw it was going to have to be screwed to. Guess what---I didn't have the right size fitting for the end of the wire. With all the connectors I had brought back with me, I couldn't find the one I needed. If my head wasn't attached, I swear I'd loose it too. Off to Star Marine--it's now 1640. Not sure if they were still open but I had to take the shot. I got lucky and found them still open. Of course, there were none available on the walls of the store, so I got them to go through the bins they keep behind the counter and voila, after a bit of digging, they came up with just what I needed. Off for Zephyr stopping for a bag of ice along the way. The freezer is working just fine but it's full of food.
With connector in hand(I bought three just in case and will get more in Denver) I sat on the engine and crimped on the connector with my trusty crimper tool. In the wire went and on to the needed post so the ground would be completed. Wire then treaded to the electrical panel, snipped and another connector attached and screwed in and the job was done. At least sort of. I had to screw all the screws to all the boxes and panels I had uncovered. Of course while doing that, I dropped one of the screws for the switch box down under the engine. Rats!! While I installed the rest of the screws, Tracy started looking under the engine for the missing screw. She had good access from the starboard side. with flashlight in hand, she found a screw. Not the right one but at least a screw. She couldn't get a good hold of it so I got here some Scotch tape to try and grab it with it. She reached in an snagged it. With it about 90 percent out, it dropped off again and promptly disappeared back into the engine room. Oops! Problem was that she was right over one of the alternators when it dropped and she was afraid that it might have gone past the blades of the alternator and gone inside the gears. That's a quick way to fry a piece of electronics. We had that happen just North of Ketchikan, Alaska and it fried it real well. Flashlight in hand she started looking all over the compartment. A while later she found it. It had rolled back to exactly where it had started. I meanwhile found the screw I had lost so all was well. One thing we did find while poking around in the engine compartment was that there is a water leak at the raw water pump. I'd planned on replacing the impeller that rotates inside it so that should solve the problem as I'll be resealing the pump once the new impeller is in.
Off for the showers once EVERYTHING was reattached. With all things back to normal(at least as normal as they get here), I took off for the showers to shave and look more presentable. We're not quite into the "cruiser mode" yet where showers are every few days and the clothes get changed only after you take a shower. I've taken a shower just about every day since we got here.
Once back, I fired up the grill to do a piece of "mystery meat". I'm not sure what it's called but it rolls out into a relatively thin piece of meat about 8" X 12". It lays nice and flat for a good grill. Spread with a nice barbecue sauce during the grilling and it was great. Tracy cooked up some "Spanish" rice. She'd taste tested it during the cooking and pronounced it the blandest stuff she had ever tasted. In went lots of spices to try and pep it up. Even with salt and pepper added after it was done, the only way it got any kind of flavor was to add some of the barbecue sauce. Then it was fine. Weirdest stuff I've run into having just no flavor.
In for a night of internet tv. Tracy has been suffering with a severe case of allergies so she's not up to her normal self and the pills she has been taking just aren't stopping it. We'll have to check out pill locker and see what we can come up with to get her all fixed up.
Today--more projects of course.
11/06/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
I'm sitting at the table typing with a blanket over me. It's just 57 degrees!!! What the heck is going on? I'm in Mexico!! It's supposed to be nice and warm all the time. OK, the days get up to the high 80's but boy is it cold this morning!! Come on Sunshine. Warm us up-Please!!