11/26/2010, Back in San Carlos, Mexico
I made it back to San Carlos by the skin of my teeth. Having made sure that there was plenty of time between landing in Tucson and the bus leaving for Guaymas--two hours--I never counted on the snows in the mountains affecting my flight, but as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men typically go astray. My 8:25 flight finally got in the air at 9:45. That cut my time by quite a bit. We landed at 11:52 and I was at the luggage carousel by 12:08 for the bags to come up at 12:10. Off for the taxi stand and off we went like greased lightening since I'd told the driver my deadline. He got me there by 12:25 and I was set. I finalized my ticket(pre-purchased in Guaymas) and waited. We were on the road by 12:40. They were 10 minutes late!!! Yea!!!
Seven hours later, we pulled into Guaymas. Off for the taxi stand as I had four, yes that's right, four bags of things for Zephyr. You'd have thought that we already had everything since we pulled down a UHaul trailer but nope, we needed more things--like $800 of charts to get us from Mexico to Indonesia. Crazy huh? It's one of those "Don't leave home without them" moments. As I sit at the table typing this, they sit in front of me in a roll as big as one of those rolls of butchers papers. Now all we have to do is find a place to store them till needed.
That's how Wednesday ended.-- OH, the taxi drive from Guaymas---my driver never met a red light that applied to him. When one presented it self in front of his car, he just turned right, made a U turn and then turned right so we never actually stopped. Now that's Mexico!!
Thursday dawned with lots of jobs that needed to be done before we launched(set for Saturday at 10:00). Up the mast I went as big wind was scheduled for the afternoon and there were things that needed done with me aloft. Our anchor light at the top of the mast hasn't worked in months and we have had to use an oil lantern hung from the stern all the way up the mainland coast from Mazatlan. Once at the top I pulled the nylon sheath from around the wires and took one of my pliers and re-smashed the wires and voila, the light came back on. A simple bad connection. Back on went the sheath to cover the wires and on to the next project. On the way down, I stopped at the bottom spreaders and installed the line for the flags we use that fly from the mast. We'd taken them off when we put Zephyr to bed back in early June. Now they needed to be attached. Since I was on the spreaders, I paused to re-cover their ends. Each has a rubber cover a their ends so sails won't rug against the metal as they fly in the air. If you don't know what spreaders are, they're the big arms that come out from the side of mast that the wires go through that hold up the mast. Sort of important to the sailing aspect of any sailboat. The covers had come loose and needed to be reattached. Once back on deck, we continued on with more projects. Into the engine room to replace the impeller that pumps water through the engine. The last time we had it changed, we hired a guy in Port Townsend as I had never done it nor seen how it was to be done. We watched and learned and now it was our turn. Plus, I was installing a new cover for it called a "Speed Seal". It's supposed to make future changings easier and quicker. As this one took well over and hour to accomplish, I sure hope the next one will be easier and quicker. On to an electrical problem that Tracy had had discovered when see went looking for the hole in our hull(see earlier post). She had found a wire dangling from the grounding strap at the propeller shaft that is made to do the final grounding of Zephyrs entire electrical system. Apparently, at some time, it had snapped at one of the connections and poor Zephyr was not properly grounded(gee what a surprise). In we went, with wire cutters and connectors to solve the problem. We found the fitting that had connected all the grounds on the boat. It was corroded beyond salvation. Out it came and work started to save what was left of our grounding system. Wires were stripped to check if they were still all right. Once we finally came to bright shiny copper, we joined all the wires together and reattached it to the grounding strap. Another problem solved. We stowed and installed and cleaned and prepped for hours as the day passed.
Today, I was to go back up the mast to install our "Blipper". This is a fancy name for a radar reflector that used to hang from the spreaders on a line. Now we had had bracket made so we could bolt it to the mast and get it out of the rigging. Out came the bosun's chair(what you sit in as you go up the mast) and up I went again. All went well till the silly drill bit broke on the second hole. Now this isn't your normal drill bit, oh no, this is a special bit that includes a tap to put screw threads in the hole so with one pass of the bit, the hole is all ready for the screw. Now as a good sailor, I always have a second(many times a third) but could we find it. Heck no, that would make the job to easy. So down I came and onto the next job. Tracy took off for the hull, paint roller in hand and I took off for down below in the main cabin stowing and looking for the elusive drill bit.
Since we had played around with the engine and I didn't want any surprises when we launched(like it won't start), we made arrangements to have some of the workmen come by and assist us getting Zephyr started. Marine engines need water to stay cool and we are nowhere near water, so their job was to get water to the engine. On many boats, there is a simple hole in the side of the hull that you can put a hose to and bingo, the engine has water. Not ours. We have a screen over our thru hull to keep stuff out. So what do the guys do, they cut the bottom off one of the bigger coke bottles and stuck the hose in the screw end of the bottle and stuck it up against the hull while I turned the key and Tracy pushed the starter button in the cockpit. I took off for the engine room to make sure it was running nice and smoothly and there was no water leaking out of the raw water pump that we had worked on on Thursday. I'm proud to admit that not only did Zephyr start right up at the first turn of her drive shaft, but that there was not a single leak from anything(especially the water pump). Our work the previous day had been done to perfection. YEA!!!
Tracy, meanwhile just kept on painting and painting(and still no drill bit)while I kept putting things away below decks. Once she was done with the painting, she took on the job of covering our beautiful MaxProp with lanolin. Since the very expensive paint we had applied at the last haul out had failed miserably, we decided to try something different. We had read that lanolin covered props will last a long time before things start to grow on them. We had nothing to loose and since I'm allergic to lanolin, Tracy took on the job. Let me tell you, smearing on lanolin is a messy, sticky job. Once the prop was covered, a plastic bag was put over it to keep the dirt that blows around the yard every day from sticking to it. By mid afternoon, we gave Zephyr a well deserved bath to get all the dirt off her. Five months in the blowing dirt and dust of Mexico and she was a mess. The water that poured from her decks was anything but clear. Out came the scrub brushes and buckets and hoses with nice nozzles and the dirt slowly washed away. Her decks have a new lease on life.
With the Sun slowly setting we headed off for the showers and took the time to get all the dirt off ourselves. Two long hard days gone with lots of things taken care off. Tomorrow, we launch. We're on the schedule for 1000 hours so that means any time from Sun up to about noon. Stay tuned for tomorrows post to see if we made it.
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.