What we have learned
22 February 2015 | La Paz
Well it has been at least 90 days since we first arrived in the French port of La Paz BCS and its time to reflect and share what we have discovered and lessons learned while experiencing manana time. As you may recall from a previous post we lost our boom upon leaving Bahia Santa Maria thanks to the effects of hurricane Vance. First lesson, a mid boom bridle should not be used as a preventer down wind. Ergo now that we have a New boom a boom brake was rigged and a proper preventer on the end of the boom stands ready.
This brings me to our next discovery, expressly getting parts from the states while distant land. This as it turns out is a dreadful experience. In fact getting anything from the states is problematic; case in point our need for a new boom. The entire process of divining the specs for a new boom, placing the order, getting the manufacture to ship it to San Diego was just the beginning, (I have to interject here that my friends at Port Townsend rigging Dan and Lisa were very instrumental at this juncture and I can't thank them enough) then we had to get it trucked over the border and all the way down the Baja peninsula. That was provided it cleared customs and we paid the import duties. The whole process took the better part of three months. Surprisingly once it did arrive it only took a few days to remove the old boom, and dispose of it and install the new one complete with new lines; but as I had purchased new reef lines in San Diego of a better quality we used these.
During the days of waiting we commissioned a few other projects from local venders that had become necessary maintenance issues. The first was to get chaps made for our AB dinghy while I coated the aluminum bottom with zinc paint. The next was to get hatch covers, port light screens made in preparation to explore the many anchorages at various islands where we were told some had bugs of the stinging or biting variety. We also needed some canvas work in the form of repairing three small tears in the sail cover and the addition of some chafe protection on the foot of the head sail.
I also had a repair project on the davits as they took a beating coming down the coast and were not strong enough for off shore. Now we not only have a 100lb dingy hanging off the back of these but the davits also support a frame to which two rather large solar panels are attached. This frame was attached to the davits with some hefty strap clamps that gave way after leaving San Diego. This precipitated a redesign and some welding which required some disassembly and removal of the solar panels. First I reinforced the attach points to the boat and added five inch stainless steel backing plates. Then not trusting the set screws that held the frame joints together we welded them for a more solid frame. Next we welded eight mounting plates to the frame with matching ones on the davits. These were drilled and tapped with an eye to the possible necessity of removal at a much later date. In the past few days all have been restored to original positions and the solar panels reinstalled and connected. WOOHOOO all that is needed now is a hook test at a secluded anchorage.
Of course we have had multiple occasions to venture into and explore the many side streets of this wonderful city. But one day I had to ask myself if we had been here too long when; I was stopped twice in one day by some gringos and asked for directions by two women who "wanted to practice their limited language skills on me. Many a time when we went to town we were on the "hunt" for something, usually an item we could readily get in the states. This led to the next educational experience south of the border. Before we left the states many sources decried the unavailability of certain provisions. Things like peanut butter, semi-sweet chocolate, certain jellies, maple syrup, were all named in cruising books that turned out to be untrue. What we did discover is there are other things we have yet to locate such as; rice wine vinegar, Bayer aspirin, garlic powder, deli meats, and other food stuffs and it usually take a concerted effort to search the many tiendas and shops to find what we are looking for. We go to one open air market for meats and sea food and catch the organic farmers market for veggies and fruit knowing full well then next time some items will be absent. We order our coffee beans from the local bagel shop cause the only Starbucks is some twenty miles away and doesn't stock much. At the two open air Mercado's you can get a good meal of really authentic Mexican food for pennies on the dollar. We have had lunch for as little as $3 each and really good food too.
We both have also had two occasions to seek medical assistance. The first time captain wifey had to get an x-ray for a banged elbow that cost $50 and included the office visit with the doc! We both caught a bad cold and got antibiotics for 40 pesos or about $5 each & paid the doc ~$12 each! Complete blood lab results was $26.
Somewhere along the way our Galaxy S5 cell phone disappeared; not a good thing here as getting a new one from the states and having it activated is impossible. We will have to return to San Diego in a few months to renew our visa and will address the phone problem then.