16 March 2019 | La Cruz Marina, Banderas Bay, MX
17 February 2019 | Banderas Bay Mexico
22 January 2019 | Paradise Village Marine, Nueva Vallarta, MX
18 January 2019 | Departing Chacala Enroute Paradise Village Nueva Vallarta
16 January 2019 | Departing Mazatlan enroute San Blas
15 January 2019 | Departing Mazatlan enroute San Blas
11 January 2019 | Approaching Mazatlan and El Cid Marina
30 December 2018 | Marina de La Paz
02 December 2018 | Mogote Beach, La Paz
24 October 2018 | San Diego
This Week; We Leave!
16 March 2019 | La Cruz Marina, Banderas Bay, MX
John E Harrington
Tango is ready, John is ready, Janet bringing the provisions to a close, and Paul (best buddy & crew) arrives Tuesday! That's tomorrow! YIKES!
We have spent the last 2 months making all this come together. Tango was hauled with some minor repairs and upgrades. She had the full Monte bottom job when we stripped her hull to fiberglass and rebuilt the coatings starting with gelcoat and ending with the same bottom paint used by my USCG. Unfortunately there was a problem and we actually had this done twice. This extended our one week maintenance period to about 6 weeks. The yard project manager took good care of us through this by providing us with a car, air-conditioned apartment, and free slip fees while we waited for the "re-do". PPG hasn't yet suggested what caused the primer to not stick to the new gelcoat... They did provide replacement paints for free; there's a hint... We also replaced the prop shaft seal, added a giant boom brake (similar to preventers in function but better), replaced the speed sensors, upgraded the mainsail, replaced a bunch of lines, changed the oils, etc. During this Janet rebuilt the mainsail cover that mounts on the boom. That was a giant wrestling match but her super-sewing machine was up to the task. Tango is ready.
This will be the last time we can upload photos for a while so take a look in the gallery. You'll see Janet's little girlfriend, Janet's paragliding, boat work, BAD hull paint and what the inside of a line clutch looks like. Have you cleaned out your clutches recently? Just sayin'
Today we plan to leave La Cruz which is a great little town that we like a lot. Checking out of Mexico is a bit complicated and it will be easier at Paradise Village Marina. This morning our rigger is going sailing with us and we will "fine tune" Tango's standing rigging for safety/strength. After we drop him off we will sail over to the other marina where we can directly pump potable water into our tanks, clear our personal Mexican Visas, pay the clearance fees, then we have to physically take Tango to the customs dock and Mexican Immigration and Customs will clear the boat. We have to leave at that point, staying is ILLEGAL (ut oh...).
The crossing should take 20 days or so. We are going to Hiva Oa, Marquesas Island. From there we will explore our way through the Marquesas Islands and Tuamotu Archipelago en route to the Society Islands (Tahiti, Bora Bora, etc.). Lots and lots to see and do, John's scuba compressor should get a daily workout too!
We will be in Tahiti before 7PM local 21 May (see Susan, I do know) or Susan Banas will be really annoyed with me (like that never happens; oh perish the thought; what shall I do!). Susan is joining the fun for a Tahiti-based week that includes showers, air conditioning, and a washer/dryer, oh and land-based adventures. Paul will fly home with Susan to rejoin the good-life. Besides, he'll have to retrain Roux after two months of leisure with Susan.
Janet and John continue the cruise with intended stops in Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand.
Surviving a Maintenance Period
19 February 2019
Tango is enjoying her spa treatment. We are completing projects to get the "icing" on our Cross-the-Pacific cake. The concept of a maintenance period comes from my years on USCG ships. A successful maintenance period takes planning, inspection, and communication. Part of the Tango's maintenance is or was done by the La Cruz Shipyard, part by people I hire (like a rigger), and the rest by Janet and I.
The planning started last July (2018) when we hauled Tango and completed a full structural survey. Tango was is great shape but taking the time to carefully review all the systems and components, we came away with a list.
*Bottom paint - we found a few blisters in the paint and we have seen more when we clean the hull (scuba at anchorage). We have put something like 8 coats on sinces we've owned Tango so... look at the photos in the gallery, near the rudder you could separate layers. The yard stripped the hull chemically then applied new gelcoat, barrier primer/epoxy, then two layers of hard bottom paint with "poison" keep the growth off.]
*Dripless Propeller Shaft Seal - our surveyor was concerned with the softness of the bellows part of our seal (5 years old, oil had dripped, etc.). There is no way to fix a shaft leak without hauling the boat... new one installed.
*Thruster Propeller - when we last cleaned the hull ourselves we found that 2 of 6 prop blades were broken off and that the zinc had unscrewed & disappeared. We installed a new prop/zinc.
*Bilge Pump Overboard Discharge Valves - while checking hoses (a routine annual event) I found one of the valves loose on the hull. Another case of SILICON caulking use instead of the proper stuff. We had the yard reset both valves using adhesive caulking (3M 5200). NEVER use silicon on a boat, EVER. It doesn't hold.
*Replace a failed Ultrasonic Boat Speed Sensor. Like most things, Tango has redundant speed sensors (GPS speed, paddle wheel DST800, and the failed Airmar CS4200. This sensor was getting "fussy" so during the July haulout the local B&G guy looked at it for me and predicted it was going to crap out. The sensor head was corroded... he was right. Replacing it with a newer technology ultrasonic sensor from Airmar (UST850) while fits in the same thru-hull.
*Mainsail Repair/Changes - we were not real happy with the sail delivered by Quantum, particularly because they didn't put the reefing points in the right places. We also have had problems with the batten backing out. We hired a local sail loft (Ullman Sails - and they rock!) to add the highest reef point that was not done originally, and to inspect the sail. They found several other wear issues have made improvements for us. They also spotted wear on our boom gooseneck and suggested we check it.
*Running and Standing Rigging - we are installing a Dutchman Boom Brake. This thing locks the boom in a location or dampens unexpected movement. By tensioning one line we can control the position and amount of "lock". Way less fuss than a pair of preventers and it doesn't run from the boom to the bow then back to the stern on both sides. We are "tuning" the tension on the standing rigging (normal maintenance after a haulout). In the previous "Catchup Post" I described the boom gooseneck. Great call by Ullman's on that one. 37 years of wear and tear. To remove the gooseneck we drilled out the stainless rivets, pulled the 4 reef/outhaul lines out of the gooseneck sheaves, and removed the bent/corroded pin. Then we unscrewed 6 of 8 screws and started the successful fight with the two stuck screws. You have to know the screws are threaded into the mast (no big deal) but they are METRIC! (AHHHHHhhhh!!). We guess what, the local Chandlery Store had them. Thank you Todo Vela La Cruz!
*Zincs - zinc protect the machinery of the boat. They are sacrificed to stray electrical currents caused by different metals, mechanical rotation, and water passing by the hull. Remember - a changing magnetic field creates electricity. The zinc are wasted to prevent this stray electricity from damaging your important stuff (rotating shafts, Thru-hulls, propellers, etc.). We have noticed that our zincs are wearing WAY FASTER here than TX, FL, and CA... water is warm, but not as HOT as the Gulf of Mexico. I'm pretty sure the zinc wasting is caused by improper grounding on boats near Tango and possibly on the Marina shore tie. Tango has a fancy Isolation Transformer that decouples our grounds from the shore tie and from the hull. Tango also has instrumentation that will warn of an improper ground. IT Ain't us... We are checking our zinc's about monthly now. They seem to be lasting 2-3 months max. I'm buying/carrying 3 extra sets too.
*Hydrovane Shaft Raising - with all the stuff weighing down Tango, our Hydrovane autopilot shaft has been "dragging" in the water a bit. We raised it up about an inch so the shaft again clears the water (like before we loaded up this boat).
*Oil & Filter Changes, Watermaker Pickling, Strainer Cleaning, etc. Didn't want to forget the more routine things that have to be done. We have changed the main engine and generator oil & filter. We pickled the watermaker protecting it from bio-growth for our extended "unuse" of the system, we have super cleaned the Engine/Gen/Watermaker & Cooling strainers.
So to summarize, this is going to end up taking about 4 weeks to complete and we should be done with all this in the next week or so. With our departure planned for the 3rd week of March we are in pretty good shape.
Well, its never over until its over. The bottom paint has significant issues...
Janet noticed some issues with the bottom paint smearing up into the boot top as soon as we tied up at the marina. Closer inspection showed that we could see some sort of paint failure. The yard manager rushed over and we planned to rehaul Tango to inspect. Photos added showing how the lift straps easily rip bottom paint off. PPG (the paint manufacturer) came and looked at the paint. What caused the problem may take chemical analysis to determine, but, Tango is having the job redone (100% removal of this paint, prep and cleaning, coating build up again, etc.). Back into the shipyard next week sometime for the redo. No cost to us of course so while we are unhappy about the issue and delay, the yard is standing by their work. The paint is widely used, including the US Coast Guard... we'll get her fixed up...
Banderas Bay and Catching Up
17 February 2019 | Banderas Bay Mexico
Janet and I have been BUSY! We've gotten behind with the blog because of really bad internet service and being busy, busy! We arrived in Banderas Bay on 19 January and tied up at Paradise Village Marina after visiting Mazatlan, San Blas, and Chacala. Since leaving La Paz, getting enough internet service to allow us to upload pictures and data has been challenging. Verizon's version of unlimited data craps out at 500MB of data which is nothing for a modern phone.
Paradise Village Resort and Marina are first class. The marina has great docks and superb services. Pumpout and potable water at the pier was a real treat. We enjoyed great local and resort restaurants and shows. The airport and PV downtown were easy taxi rides.
Ellen (John's sister) visited for a week and we toured Puerto Vallarta, snorkeled at the islands near the entrance to Banderas Bay, and took in whale watching. We also enjoyed the luxury of Paradise Village resort. Great marina with top notch services.
The crew is friendly and hard working. In-slip pumpout and potable water at each slip, the crew will pick up oils/paints, etc and dispose of them. Grocery and chandler stores are near by. We really enjoyed the lap pool, shows, and restaurants.
We shifted to La Cruz Shipyard for a haulout and bottom paint job. We scheduled a short yard period starting 5 Feb. We had a short list of mechanical items (new propeller shaft seal, new thruster propeller, remount two aft overboard discharges. The shipyard crew quickly did a great job with our mechanical and hull work. They stripped Tango to the hull fiberglass removing something like 10 coats of paint. They then put on coats of gelcoat, barrier coat primer/paint, and bottom paint. Unfortunately something is very wrong with the black bottom coat. It streaked into our boot topping when Tango was put in the slings for refloating. We now see one small area where a coat of paint has lifted off. The shipyard has agreed to haul, check, and fix this of course, but, it is a BIG PITA. So... 8 days in the yard plus a redo that is not yet defined :(
As part of our final preparations for the Pacific crossing we have been working through our sails, standing, and running rigging. The new (Mar 2018) mainsail was not delivered as expected (furling lines in the wrong places, weak hand sewing for the "cars" that ride up the mast, and several other items. Quantum Sails (San Fran) is not on our list of good places to work with. That said, Ullman Sails here in Puerto Vallarta has been great. They fixed items we knew about and found several other areas of concern and worked with us for fixing the mainsail. It is back and was mounted properly. Janet rebuilt the sailpack (yard mounted sailbag). It had a lot of UV damage and needed to be longer. Working with her Sailrite MONSTER sewing machine she constructed new parts that we put together in our one room "apartments. We have a longer/better sailpack. In addition, we completed a detailed rig check and are working a few items. Unfortunately we found that the boom gooseneck (attaches the boom to the mast) needed a big rebuild. The mounting pin was badly worn and bent. The mount bushings were shot. It took about 1/2 hour to remove the newly repaired mainsail and get 6 of 8 gooseneck screws out. Then there were the 2 stubbornly stuck screws. The short version of the work on these 2 screws is Hank (boat neighbor) and John spending 4-1/2 hours using their combined experience to sneak the last two screws out without breaking the screws or getting into a "drill-her-out" mode. Old man power won the day. Thank you Hank for the help! The gooseneck should be repaired and installed next week including a rebuild of the boom furling sheaves and sheave brakes which was needed. We also found that the furling foil for the staysail (inner jib) was bent and needs to be replaced. No idea when then happened but is wasn't the famous Gulf of Mexico storm, trip, 3-hour-cruise. Must have been during one of the freek wind shifts that occasionally occured in SF Bay. We are also installing a "Dutchman" boom brake rather than port and starboard preventers and the parts should be delivered next week.
Like I said... busy/busy.
Marinas for Banderas Bay. So far our favorite is Paradise Village Marina. It is WAY CHEAPER than where we currently moor, and way better. We are currently at Marina de La Cruz pending the "rehaul" thing for paint. The piers are in moderately bad shape with loose cleats, weak electrical power, and rotten wood sections for the floating concrete pier sections. Potable water has to be delivered via bottles (or we head out and make water while sailing). The pumpout pier is available but requires moving the boat. The showers/toilets are pretty run down and there is no self-do laundry here. Tango and her boat neighbors are at war with ants that crawl up the lines and power cord. Those who know Janet understand the importance of this! All that said, the town of La Cruz is pretty delightful. Fun markets and places to eat and get COLD drinks that make you smile. Once we finish with the shipyard we will probably anchor out while exploring the Bay before returning to Paradise Village Marina for final provisioning and preparations.