08/31/2011, Aboard Taya
Our friends Marsha & Daniel came aboard Taya last evening, to play a game called "Mexican Train". It is a domino game which takes 2 to 3 hours to play and it is quite a bit of fun. It is very popular amongst the cruising community. The name is misleading as I have not met a Mexican who has heard about the game.
We had a wonderful time and the next thing we knew, it was the midnight of cruisers...21:00 and time for bed.
A group of 8 cruisers from dock A & B spent the morning touring the Guaymas Oyster Farm. Our guide was very knowledgeable and in fact, one of the scientists running this farm.
He explained the entire process which goes something like this:
Step One: Catch as many of the billions of eggs as they can, produced by oysters in the wild. Each oyster produces several million eggs, twice per year. These eggs are very small and hardly visible to the naked eye. They have no means of propulsion and they move at the wimps of the ocean currents, in search of a suitable structure to attach themselves to. Hence, catching them is a matter of luck. They use a nylon net which resembles a coral or a screen which measures about 12 by 36 inches, hanging on buoys placed randomly in the bay of Guaymas.
Step Two: After a few months, these eggs, protected from their natural predators by the netting, have grown a tiny shell and they are now transferred to a larger cage. The cage must allow sufficient water circulation, to feed the small oysters, but small enough to protect them from their many predators.
Step Three: After 6 months or so, the larger oysters are now transferred to a "lamp cage" named so, because it resembles a chinese lamp with many levels, and the oysters are now getting more water and hence nutrients (plankton). Now they grow fast. They, however require a good cleaning every two months, to clear them of the barnacles that grow on their shells and that can kill them, by preventing them from opening their shells for feeding.
Step Four: At 2 1/2 years of age, they surgically insert each carrier oyster, in a very specific location, a bead like object made of fresh water oyster shells. Each oyster is then placed in a net with only sufficient space for each to open slightly their shells to feed. Again, every two months they need to clean each of them manually. It is a labor of love and it will take four years or so from the capture of the eggs to the harvest the pearls. These oysters are left in their netting for 18 months, to insure the coating of the implant is thick enough which determines the quality of the pearls. Otherwise the pearl will start deteriorating very rapidly. The oysters only produce a pearl in their lifetime. These oysters would not live beyond 5 or 6 years in the wild and at any rate, not long enough for a second implant and harvest.
The color of the pearls is a function of several factors, many of which are not understood. But water temperature is one of them. The various nets are strungs between black buoys, 3 to 4 feet under the surface and several inches from the ocean bed. When the pearl is harvested, the oyster dies, and the oyster meat is sold to market.
08/22/2011, Marina San Carlos
As promised when we contracted with Gama, the replacement of all our stainless steel lifelines with one inch tubing, he was here on time. He came in with his helpers...his teenage son and his wife.
He braught in several lenghts of stainless steel tubing, all carefully wrapped in a plastic cover. He manually curved each of them to match exactly the curve of the cap rail of Taya, where each piece is intended to go. He was most meticulous and it took him the better part of the afternoon, to complete this segment of the job.
Lynne, like a good samaritan, made sure they all had cold pop cans to quench their thirsts and apples, during the course of the afternoon.
Tomorrow at his shop, he will cut each section to lenght and shape each end to fit exactly the contour of the stanchions, for welding. He will also be cutting inserts, to be welded halfway between stanchions, joining together the top and middle horizontal tubing. This extra feature will impart more rigidity to the entire structure and insure the tubing does not sag over time.
In the meantime, I have started to remove our existing lifelines, to save Gama time when he returns on Miercoles (Wednesday), to start the installation.
He fabricated and installed two cradles, to store 8 jerry cans on the cap rail of a neighbor's boat, and his work was impeccable.
08/17/2011, San Carlos
We went to Guaymas for errants, with friends Marsha and Daniel, from s/v Nighthawk. On our way back, we stopped at Charlie's Rock, an ocean side restaurant, for lunch. The view was spectacular from all sides and as usual, the food was good. The restaurant was built on top of a large rock, 30 feet from the water, with a pleasant architecture.
We could see several pelicans feeding just below us, while others and seagulls were flying by us, looking for food. We obliged them and they were catching bits of totopos (chips) mid air. They were quite aerobatic.
Further out, a hundred feet or so from where we were sitting, other types of birds were diving, from 50 feet or so, with their wings tucked close to their bodies, long neck and head fully extended, straight down into the water like a dive bomber. Amazingly, always coming out with a fish in their beek as they gained altitude.
On one side of the restaurant, were the inviting sandy beaches of San Carlos and on the other, looking towards marina San Carlos and the twin mountain peaks, a more rugged coastline.
On our way back, we stopped for ice cream at Thrifty, our favorite ice cream store in Mexico. Another nice day in paradise...
08/16/2011, Marina San Carlos
Our marina neighbours, Marsha & Dan of s/v Nighthawk, have loaned us their Sailrite sewing machine, to help us with several projects. These heavy duty machines are designed to stitch canvas and sail material.
The sun is so high and so hot, here in Mexico, that several stitches have become undone and the canvas is coming apart in some sections. Yesterday we took the dodger of its stainless steel frame and Lynne restitched it. A big job, but a necessary one. Hopefully this will last another year or two.
Connie & Ed from s/v Sirena and Chris & Howard from s/v Notre Reve will be arriving with stuff we ordered on the internet, and with their permission, had shipped to their respective home address, towards the end of the month. It also means I will have to take a round trip ferry ride to Santa Rosalia where Connie & Ed will be.
This means we will be very busy with completing several projects on the boat:
a) Plumbing the boat to accommodate connecting the dock fresh water hose to the water maker to purify it;
b) Fabricating and stitching an insulated cover for the top of the refrigerator;
c) Fabricating and stitching an insulated panel 3' x 5' to hang over the side of the boat on the refrigerator side, to shelter the hull from the sun;
d) Downloading the rest of our DVDs on two new 3TB external hard drives;
e) Installing a block on the crown, at the top of the mast, to hoist our new ATN cover over our gennaker sail;
f) Installing a new fawcet adaptor to connect a fresh water hose, to clean
and defrost our freezer;
g) Set up and rig two Magma "Rock & Roll Stoppers" in preparation for mainland Mexico anchoring (big surfs);
h) Replace the ignition unit on the LPG gas stove;
i) Replace the circuit breaker of our battery charger circuit;
j) Install air conditioning bi-directional vent in aft shower/head room;
k) Install Water Witch BA-200 Electronic Bilge Pump Monitor;
l) Install hour meters on watermaker & refrigerator to monitor running times;
m) Install three fishing rod hangers on ceiling in forward state room;
In addition, Gama, the fellow we contracted with in Guaymas, will be replacing all our lifelines with 1" stainless steel tubing. This should be the last of our big improvement projects.
Once Chris & Howard return from Chandler Arizona on August 25th, with their suv, we will be visiting the pearl farm in Miramar and the Algones beach movie set, used for the production of the film "Catch 22" . We will take several pictures for our 'Photo Gallery".
08/08/2011, Pueblo Miramar
Before shopping for supplies in Guaymas, our friends Marsha & Dan from s/v Nighthawk, took us for a visit of the Hotel Playa de Cortez, located in a small suburb of Guaymas called Miramar, and which was famous in the 30s. It was a favorite getaway location for the Hollywood rich and famous of that era.
The resort is still very charming. You can enjoy the few pictures we took during our visit, in our photo gallery.
Our refrigerator has failed us only once since tightening the screw on top of the cellunoid. Because reliability is a must, especially when you are at anchor in remote areas, and because we have access to replacement parts from here in Marina San Carlos, we have decided to order two new modules to replace the old ones.
They are not cheap but crucial as they control the freon going to the compressor and from there to either the freezer or the refrigerator.
There are several refrigeration technicians in Guaymas who can install those as well as reload the system with 134a freon. Our compressor is bullet proof, sounds good and works well while our 3/4 hp 12 volt electric motor has been rebuilt before leaving Vancouver in the Summer of 2010.
08/01/2011, San Carlos
Now we understand why many businesses close from generally 14:00 to 16:00 every day. It is so hot and humid. We hit the low 100 F every day and the humidity is in the high 70s to low 80s. It will be like this until mid September, when the humidity diminishes and the temperatures drop slowly. It is most comfortable from October thru to June.
This heat/humidity combination, really drains you of energy and you really slow down. We are amazed that the locals can work and fonction like we do in 70 or 80 F temperatures. We always look for shaded area to hide from the sun which is relentless. We have very few cloudy days and have had no rain in San Carlos/Guaymas so far this year. It is however the rainy season!
We continue to think very highly of the Mexican people and the Mexican culture and we are almost certain to make Mexico our home, once our sailing days are over in a few years.
The people are really honest, friendly, helpful, happy and generous. We never feel threaten or unsafe, eventhough the American media would have you think otherwise. We have more individual freedoms, and the government is not as intrusive in peoples lives as it is in Canada.
The Mexican government is welcoming to tourists and to people like us who wish to retire here. The process is really simple, quick and inexpensive to obtain you permanent resident status. Last February we have acquired our temporaty resident status (FM3) and at renewal next February we will apply for our permanent residential status FM2. After 5 years, you can apply for citizenship. With your FM2 you can obtain a Mexican driver's license, access the public or private health insurance system and all for very reasonable money.
From personal experiences and from the testimony of many sailors we have met, we all rave about the quality, the cost and the level of care the healthcare professionals and workers bring to their job.
We are busy doing little and enjoying ourselves with reading, watching movies aboard, meeting cruising friends and socializing, visiting Guaymas, provisioning, exchanging emails with fellow cruisers, ordering stuff from the internet for boat repairs, maintenance and or improvements etc. There is always a cruiser around who is going to the USA or coming back to Mexico, willing to bring the stuff for you.
The months go by so fast and we really can't believe that we have been retired now for almost 2 years and in Mexico for almost 1 year. We are living the best moments of our lives.
We only miss the many friends we have made over the years, the food we are accustomed to and that is about all. And so we plan on going home to Vancouver and Montreal for 3 or 4 months next Summer and we know that we will miss Mexico during that time.
We had a marvelous time with Chris & Howard of s/v Notre Reve. They came down from Phoenix with their car a few days ago, and invited us yesterday, to join them for shopping and a visit of Guaymas.
We were all very impressed with the town and the people of Guaymas. It is a historic town located in a most beautiful and unique setting. There are several bays surrounded by mountains.
We drove around and found large shopping Malls, a Sam's Club and of course a Walmart Store. We found almost everything we were looking for. We are just missing a portable water filtration module that we saw on a boat in Santa Rosalia.
Not all marina provide potable water, and so this type of filter is very practical and useful. No one risks making water while at the dock in marinas, because of the possibility of petroleum contaminants which would irrevocably destroy your watermaker membranes. The other alternative is to have 30 or so large water bottles brought in every couple of weeks.
We had lunch at a local BBQ Chicken Restaurant (Restaurant Pollo Feliz) and the food, prices and service were all excellent.
Chris and Howard are returning to Phoenix this coming Monday and won't return until three weeks from now. We are a bit isolated in marina San Carlos, but there is a bus running frequently, which can take us to downtown Guaymas for US$1.00. Guaymas is 16 miles away.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the areas now known as Guaymas was dominated by the Guaymas, Seri and Yaqui tribes. In 1539, two Spanish ships, the Santa Agueda and El Trinidad, arrived to Guaymas bay. They were commanded by Francisco de Ulloa who called the area "the port of ports." Some small missions in the area were founded in the 1610s and 1620s, however, the Seri Indians were strongly opposed to the settlement of Europeans and would resist fiercely until 1769.
Juan María de Salvatierra and Eusebio Kino asked for permission to evangelize the area, which was received in 1697. In 1701, Salvatierra came to this area and established the Loreto mission somewhat inland from where Guaymas is now. To receive supplies by ship and evangelize the Guaymas Indians, another small mission was founded on the bay and called San José de Guaymas and headed by Manuel Diaz. However, the San José mission was attacked repeatedly by the Seri, forcing it to be abandoned and rebuilt several times. The last time this mission was abandoned was in 1759.
In 1767, Viceroy Marqués de Croix ordered a major military offensive called the Sonora Expedition to subdue the Seri and Pima tribes. After doing so, an adobe fort with four towers was built in Guaymas and was initially under the command of Captain Lorenzo Cancio. No traces of this fort remain today, but the San José mission is marked by a church located on the road leading to Empalme. Around the same time, formal mapping of the Guaymas Bay took place and the formal decree founding the city of Guaymas was issued in 1769 by José Gálvez in Real de Alamos on behalf of the viceregal government. Despite the decree, no one would live here until the early 19th century.
The town has a population of some 150,000 people and seems to be prosperous. We found it pretty and very Mexican, as oppose to San Carlos.