04/09/2011, San Blas
Whew! I think we are done. Day 5 we painted the bottom with blue ablative bottom paint, Day 6 Edwardo cut polished the hull, Ellen continued her sewing project, Ian finished up with putting on zincs and cleaning up and Day 7 Edwardo finished with a coat of wax on the hull, Ellen and Ian put some gromets in the cockpit shade screens and gave a final coat of black to the boot stripe. So tomorrow or Monday we will go back into the water. Once we get the boat cleaned up inside and topsides, and re-provision the almost empty fridge, we will look for the next weather window to head up to Mazatlan. It's been a 'BUSY' week.
This morning before we started working, we went to the local Saturday morning market. I'll post some photos. It was an interesting market and we found some things that surprised us. One of which was a hole punch the exact size we needed to place gromets in our sunshades. For less than a dollar we got a tool we had a hard time finding in Puerto Vallarta! And we experienced a new fruit called a Jackfruit or a Breadfruit. YUMMY! It's kinda a cross between an orange, a papaya, guva and banana. Very very good. I also found a nice skirt and a pair of shorts for about 6 bucks. There are a lot of second hand clothing stalls at the market.
So I'm hoping this is the last blog 'on the hard'. The novelty of living in a boat yard has worn off. We need to feel the water under our keel again. Look in the gallery for more haul out pics which I added to the existing ones.
04/06/2011, San Blas
Day 3 on the hard we finished the prep work for the new boot stripe. It was too late in the day to paint so we knocked off early and had a relaxing evening.
Day 4 and the boot stripe job is complete. I think it turned out pretty good. It's not smooth and shiny like a real boot stripe should be but hey if it keeps those pesky barnacles away who cares. Advice to those who are planning to come south with your boat. If you are even thinking of raising your waterline, raise it more than you think you need so that you don't find yourself in this position doing it again when you should be out swimming, snorkeling, sailing, beach combing etc.
Since we are out of the water, tomorrow we are going to slap a coat of ablative bottom paint on the bottom. It's not really critical right now but it will save us from hauling out again in 8 months or so. And on Friday we have hired a guy to come and clean and polish the haul for us.
My sewing project is coming along but I wish I had invested in a sturdier machine. My cheap little Kenmore is being pushed past it's potential I think. I spend a fair bit of time pulling out the bobbin and cleaning up thread from the machine getting stuck. It works fine with one or two layers of fabric but any more than that it just won't sew. I've also gone through about 5 needles.
I just want to give a little plug here for the marina in San Blas for any one who is thinking of coming this way. It really is a nice little marina. It's small only about 15 or so slips, but the marina has a lot of good facilities. Really clean and nice bathrooms and showers although the water is on the cool side in the showers, a swimming pool, laundry machines, small store and one of the yummiest little restaurants which we just discovered today. We ordered an Ararachara (beef) burrito to share for lunch today and when the owner/chef brought it out I was surprised to see it looked like something from a high end restaurant in Vancouver. The presentation was beautiful with the burrito cut in half, covered with shoestring french fries and the plate drizzeled with a raspberry sauce. I didn't have the camera with me or I would have photographed it for sure. And it was DELICIOUS! We will be eating there again I'm sure. 3 beer and the burrito which was big enough for us both, cost 115 peso or about 9 dollars.
04/05/2011, San Blas Boat Yard
Day 2 on the hard and we achieved a fair bit of work. Ian spent the day sanding the new boot stripe which on a smooth surface hull really wouldn't take a long time, but our boat has fake planking so he has to carefully sand in each groove. He managed to get one side completely sanded and day 3 will be spent sanding the other side.
If you look at the above photo, you can see the barnacle footprints. I don't know what kind of magic cement they manufacture, but you can't scrape it off you have to sand it. When your in the water, if you scrape off the barnacles at just the right time, you can get them before they get a good hold and then you won't get the white footprint, but that's tough to do because you would have to be in the water almost every other day.
The rest of the hull was good with only a few spots here and there where the barnacles had adhered to the bottom paint. But they were easy to remove as the ablative paint really helps to prevent growth (for the non boaters reading this ablative paint is a paint that comes off when you rub it and this makes it hard for things to grow on it).
While Ian was sanding away in the hot sun, I was sewing away in a nice cool, shady room at the marina. I still broke out in a sweat mind you as I'm trying to sew huge pieces of material to make an big awning to cover the boat. So trying to push 14 feet by 12 feet of material through my cheap little Kenmore machine was a lot of work. I've completed the shade screens for the cockpit but the top pieces are proving to be more complicated.
As for living on the boat, so far it's been pretty good. The biggest opps has been the refridegeration system. We have a keel cooled system and since we are not in the water, we can't use it as it's the water that cools the compressor. So we now have a big ice box. Unfortunately all of the meat in the fridge is defrosting so we may lose some of it.
So that is it for now I'm going to post some photos of the haul out to date so check the photo gallery for them.
04/03/2011, San Blas
This morning at high water slack tide - 10am ish, we were hauled out of the water and are now in the boat yard in San Blas. The haul out machine is basically the same as in BC, but here you are in your boat while they lift it out of the water which I found kinda scary. I kept close watch on the slings for any sign of them slipping. It feels really weird to be 15 feet above the water in your boat. But the operators seemed very competent and everything went off pretty good. There was one moment when the forestay came up against the cross bar on the lift machine and we had 2 choices. One he could put us back down in the water and we turn the boat around and go into the lift backwards, or two which is the option we took, to remove the forestay so that it didn't bend against the bar. Raul the operator was impressed that Ian did this as he has never had anyone do that before. Most people haven't built their own boat and I guess it is a bit intimidating to remove ones forestay especially when your hanging over the water 15 feet.
So here we are living on the hard! The challenge will be to try and keep the inside of the boat somewhat clean and in a livable condition while we do the work that needs doing. Problem is as soon as you start any project on a boat, every thing has to be moved around as you get tools from one locker and paint supplies from another. Mix that in with trying to cook meals and eat and clean up afterwards and you have chaos - well at least I think it's chaotic Ian just thinks it's fine. So I guess the challenge is mine.
While Ian is doing the sanding, I am doing some sewing - off the boat - making sunshades for the cockpit and a big awning to cover the entire boat. It gets really really hot in the Sea of Cortez in the summer months. So by blocking out the sun and creating some shade you can reduce the heat a bit inside the boat. That's the theory anyhow.
So that's our focus for this week. We hope to get back in by the end of the week and can get on our way north again. We will head next to Mazatlan and from there we will cross the Sea to La Paz which is about a 2 full day trip. I will post pictures as we progress with the work. For those of you who are purists, Bob, you'll hate how high we are making the boot stripe but we are not too concerned about looks at this point, we just want to be able to control the growth of barnacles and stuff along the waterline.
04/01/2011, San Blas
When we arrived back in Bandaras Bay from our travels south, we decided to apply for what is called a FM3 visa which is like a temporary Immigrant permit which you have to renew each year. The benefit for us was that we wouldn't have to leave Mexico every 6 months to renew our tourist visa's. Since we plan on staying her another full year, that is a savings of 4 return air fares. We may go home for a visit at some point and with the FM3 we can go when we want.
Anyhow, we had to wait around in La Cruz until we got them and it took just over 3 weeks. We were getting antsy to leave as the anchorage there has really been windy and rolly as well as we want to get on with starting to move more northwards.
We received them on Wednesday morning and by Thursday morning at 5am we were underway towards San Blas. It was a 60 mile trip and we wanted to make sure we arrived before dark which is why we started so early. We had a good trip and saw a few whales, a few dolphins and I saw 2 manta rays. The first one I saw from a distance and couldn't figure out what I was seeing as I saw a big black fin come out of the water. I thought maybe a shark but then another fin came out about 12 feet away from the first and it matched the other one except the bottom side was white. That's when I realized what I was seeing. The second one I had an up close view which was a little too close. Ian was down below having a nap, and I was on watch. We were motor sailing and the boat was slightly heeled over. I was sitting on the upwind side of the boat and could see down into the water on the other side. All of a sudden right beside the boat I saw the same kind of fin.I jumped over to the other side and saw a manta ray about 5 feet across swim right behind the boat. Any closer and we would have hit it. The worst part was Ian was dragging a fishing line and I had visions of this poor animal getting caught up in the line but happily that didn't happen.
When we arrived in Manachen Bay which is just a few miles outside of San Blas, our friends on Full and By, Dick and Anne were there. Dick rowed over once we got the anchor down and invited us to happy hour on their boat along with another boat. He even rowed us over so that we didn't have to take the dingy down. It was a really nice way to arrive in the bay. Of course we were dog tired and by 8 pm we were back on board in ready for bed.
This morning, we upped anchor and motored into the estuary of San Blas and came to the marina. We will stay here at the dock until Sunday when we can be hauled out of the water. So Sunday we start what we hope will only take 4 or 5 days to do. We are painting the boot stripe with black bottom paint as it is constantly growing barnacles and other sea life. And since we will be out we may as well throw on a coat of bottom paint onto the rest of the bottom too.
So that's about it for now, there is a pool here at the marina so maybe it's time for a swim...
03/26/2011, Bandaras Bay
Wow that was an experience. Ian and I got the chance to touch, feed and interact with dolphins which are in captivity, but were born in captivity and that is all they know. We didn't do the 'swim with the dolphins' thing, but we were lucky enough to meet 2 wonderful people who work with these dolphins and they let us share a few moments of what it is like to work with them. Thank you Sophie and Benjamin.
I am really confused about how I feel about dolphins in captivity now. I've always thought I was against it and I still am against the capture and containment of wild dolphins and whales. But these dolphins are born in this environment and are very dependent on the humans to feed them and protect them. It's no worse than the Lovebird I had for 13 years who was also born in a cage and lived her whole life in a cage. Anyhow there are arguments for and against and I have to say I am still on the fence about it all but also really enjoyed the chance to touch and interact with them. I think that if the people who come to swim with them every day each leave with a love of the dolphins and a desire to protect them by whatever means they can, then it is worth it.
They are incredibly playful and you can see how each one of them has her/his own personality, likes and dislikes. They learn really fast and they need to be constantly challenged with new things as they can become bored with routine. They feel very smooth and rubbery. These are the Pacific Bottlenose which are the biggest of this species. They can get up to a thousand pounds! These are the same kind of dolphins that we were seeing up in Tenacatita Bay earlier this year.
All in all I have to say that I am really glad to have had a chance to interact with them even though Ian and I are lucky enough to be able to see them in the wild whenever we go out sailing or move from one place to another. I've learned some things about dolphins that I never new before and now when I see them I will see them in a new light. I will still always want to reach out and touch them.