11/21/2010, I'm in Colorado, Tracy is in San Carlos
Here's an update of the last few days.
I left San Carlos for Denver on Wednesday and made great time and got in late Thursday. Having to go through Customs slowed me down an bit so I only made it to Deming, NM the first day--535 miles. Thursday added up to about 700 miles but all trouble free.
While I've been gone, Tracy has been working with the fiberglass men on the yard. I made sure to warn the "boss" before I left that she knows lot about boats and not to treat her like most women get treated by boatyards(It's a woman, what does she know?"). On Wednesday, the workmen found that water had seeped into the core of the fiberglass where we had first discovered our problem(you remember, the hole we found). Out came the grinders and out came the core of our hull for a section of about 6" X 8". It's a good thing that Tracy had tented the area of the boat where the work was being done. TO get the moisture out of the rest of the core, they soaked it in paint thinner to draw out the water and put heaters down in the bilge. By Thursday, they went in and started fiberglassing in the area and build it up to a good inch thickness which is back to a depth that make the hull much more sturdy. Since then, Tracy has primed and painted the area to seal it against any more moisture. Now we get to do the starboard side once I get back. I've bought a rasp attachment for out Fein Tool Multimaster. I'm off to a wood show here in Denver today to see how it works. It's a tool that we bought a few years ago so we could sand down out teak decks when we re-caulk them.
Yesterday, Tracy put on two gallons of bottom paint to the hull is just about ready. On Monday, the yard men will jack up and move the stands on Zephyr so she can paint the areas that are concealed by the pads of the stands. A few coats there and she will be done with a tough and physically exhausting job.
Meanwhile, I'm running all over Denver picking up the last of the small things I can bring back with me. Our box of charts for the South Pacific arrived so I'll be lugging them back with me on the plane.
I'm out of here on Wednesday, flying to Tucson and then on the bus to Guaymas. Of course, I made sure to book myself on the day that is scheduled for big airline/ TSA revolt about the screening procedures. Gee what a fun day I'm going to have. When we flew back from Miami back in September, I got to go through one of the Xray scanners. No big deal. I'll take that over being frisked anytime.
I'll let you know what is happening in the yard as the week progresses. Never a dull moment.
11/16/2010, San Carlos, Mexico
We spent the day continuing to clean up poor Zephyr. We took a bunch of things off and stowed them in the car in preparation for my leaving early Wednesday morning for Colorado.
Having the car for just another day, we took off for the local laundry as the yard has none. While it washed and dried, we had a nice lunch at one of the restaurants at the marina.
We picked up some plastic drop cloths to cover the inside of Zephyr for when they will be fixing the inside of the hull where our new "thru hull"(also known as a hole)is located. With all the dust that will be generated while they grind the patch area, we will need to cover as much as possible to stop the spread of the dust.
I spent the rest of the afternoon putting things(tools, parts and clothes)away so we look a bit more ship shape. Once we had finally cleared the port settee, I checked the batteries located below it and topped them off so they will be good.
After my shower(get off the oil, grease and dirt from the day) a nice dinner of Campbell Poblano soup and some chips.
All in all, a good day. Today, off to find a workman to get the hull repaired and do more errands that require the use of the car.
I posted twice yesterday and the second post was put before the first. So go back a bit to see my later post. You won't want to miss it! If it could happen to us, it will.
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.