11/14/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
We're back after two great days visiting friends(Bill & Nancy Berg) up in Bahia de Kino. They have a beautiful home on a pristine beach in a lovely small town along the coast.
But, now we are back at Zephyr and back to work. We checked in with the folks at Star Marine when we arrived back in San Carlos on Friday afternoon to confirm the 0900 appointment for the guys to come back out and put our rudder back in place. With that confirmed, we got ready for their arrival yesterday morning. As expected, 0900 in US time is not 0900 in Mexican time. They showed up at 1000 right on schedule. Out came the caulk and up went the rudder. Bolts were put in place and lots of water resistant grease was applied to all the fittings. It now will move with a touch of the finger. I climbed aboard and started in under the stern bunk reattaching all the fittings I'd dismantled on Wednesday. An hour or so later and the job was done. We can now turn the wheel easily with just one finger instead of two hands. What a relief to get that job done.
Off to lunch at JJ's and then the search for bottom paint. We chose Comex, the biggest paint dealer in the area. Most of the other boats in the yard have used their paint. The local store had one gallon--not near enough and the store in Guaymas had two more. With all three, we would have enough for a good job. Maybe even enough for two coats. With a holiday coming on Monday(Revolution Day) just about everyone will be closed for parades and parties. We took off for Guaymas to get the rest of our paint. We'll pick up the third gallon here in San Carlos on Monday morning before they close for the celebration.
While in Guaymas, we made the mandatory stop at Sam's and Walmart for what ever we could find that we "needed". Now Sam's and Walmart aren't like what you experience in the US. Out front, they have big speakers belching out LOUD music. Once in the store, the music continues, not quite as loud but lots more noise. Walmart was about the same except that they were playing "night club" music that you could dance to throughout the store. By the time we left, it was as though our ears had been assaulted. During the week, they don't play the music, at least not as loud so it must be to get the people in the "mood" to shop and start getting things for the holidays. It was a relief to get back in our car where we could enjoy the peace and quiet. With that done we headed home getting back to Zephyr a bit after 1530. I wanted to get the outboard(Dragon) started again to make sure she had weathered the Summer alright. With new gas pumped into the engine, she started right up. Well sort of. I had forgotten to turn the small switch on the engine to "ON" so after lots of pulls and nothing happening, I looked down and saw my error. With the switch clicked, she started right up and purred nicely. I pulled off the gas line and let her run dry so she will be ready for the next time we use her.
Tracy had returned earlier in the day and told me that with the tidal flows here in San Carlos, the next available date for launch where there would be enough water in the marina was December 2. That's quite a ways off and we would be ready for the launch long before that. I stopped in late in the afternoon to get us on the schedule for launch as many of the boats here have about the same water depth. They checked the tidal schedule and said we we could launch easily on the 25, 26 or 27th. I guess the tides had changed or at least the information had changed. So I book us to launch on Saturday, November 27th at 1000. I should be back from Colorado easily by then.
Now, it's back to work.
11/14/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
We started in on sanding the hull this morning to get it ready for the paint we bought yesterday. I took off for Guaymas to get another face mask to protect me from the old paint dust as I was planning on using an electric sander to get the stuff off. Once back, Tracy had discovered a small section of the hull near the stern that appeared to be a small piece of rubber coming out of it. Now the boat builder had used a hot butyl rubber to seal just about every nook and cranny on Zephyr so that was not unusual but to see a place like that in the hull was. I grabbed the sander and went at the spot. Yup, it appeared to be a small rubber type area but once the rubber or what ever it was came off, underneath it appeared to be a small piece of wood stuck in as a filler. OK, now that was weird. Ed--the man of who know just about everything about boats-was working on the boat next to ours and happened to be on the ground at the time. We called him over and he took a look. He agreed that it looked weird so he grabbed a small wood chisel and started in on it. Scraping and uncovering what turned out to be a repair job from some time ago. Unfortunately, it was done badly and with in a few seconds, Ed went right through the hull!!!(see the screwdriver?)
As we later learned, when the Aqua Drive was installed(It's another gizmo on Zephyr)the installers ground down the hull inside til they ate up the 1" to 2" hull thickness and went through the bottom of the boat. They were supposed to be installing some braces to hold the Aqua Drive brackets in place(later installed a bit further forward-wonder why?). Once installed, they would be fiber glassed onto the hull. Well, apparently they cut too much and screwed up the hull big time. Once they made the mistake, they tried to patch it with some epoxy and a small bit of fiberglass. Dab on some sealant on the bottom and add a bit of camouflage bottom paint and then keep their mouths shut. Now we are paying the price for their mistake done God knows how long ago.
With tomorrow being Revolution Day in Mexico, we expect just about everyone to be closed but we will try Star Marine early to see if they might be open. If not, first thing Tuesday, we will be knocking on their door to get their fiberglass people out to our boat to grind out the area and start installing the proper patch.
After lunch, I continued with the electric sander getting the last of the barnacle residue off the existing paint so we can get a good adhersion with the new paint we will be using. Glad I put on the white jumpsuit so I wouldn't be affected by all the nasty old paint dust. It's full of all shorts of bad chemicals that you don't really want to have all over your body. Add in the foul weather boots so I don't ruin what is left of my tennis shoes, plus a face mast and eye goggles and I made quite a sight as Tracy did the other day.
Once cleaned up(sort of) we took off for under the stern bunk again. We needed to adjust the rudder feedback unit that feeds the information about the rudder position to the auto pilot. It has been off for quite some time. When the rudder is actually in the center, it reads that we should be turning to port by 8 degrees. I had to cut off a bit of the rod that joins the rudder to the feedback unit to get the problem solved. Once that was done and the rudder screen showed that it was centered, Tracy spun the wheel to port and starboard and we found out that we can make the rudder to to 47 degrees to starboard and only 32 degrees to port. Zephyr will turn much quicker to starboard than to port by quite an angle. As I quickly found out, the metal stops where the rudder swings are not in the proper place and allow the rudder to swing MUCH more to the starboard angle than the port. At least we now know that if we need to make a fast turn, starboard is the way to go. Most rudders only allow a boat to turn at a maximum of 40 degrees.
OK, with that fixed(sort of) we dragged out what was left under the port side of the stern bunk. Guess what we found. Another oil bottle with a hole in it. This one had drained the better part of the while gallon down into the bilge as had the one we found on the starboard side. It's no wonder I found so much oil in the bilge. Between the two bottles, I'd drained well over a gallon down there. Out came everything and with paper towels in hand, everything got cleaned of the oily ooze. We cleaned out more stuff to go to Denver. I pity the poor Mazda. We also tossed some boxes of old parts that had been stored down there and were no longer of use to us as what they had gone to we had replaced a long time ago. At least we are lightening up Zephyr a bit. Maybe not a lot but some.
Off to the showers to get the rest of the old paint and back for leftover pizza for dinner and a quiet night at home. Tomorrow, God know what we will find this time.
I've added some more pictures to the San Carlos album. Take a look.
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.