Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gosling’s Pre-sail Refit: Week One

It has been a long week of hot days and buzzing (mosquito) nights but we are progressing well. The mechanic arrived as scheduled and worked the better part of Tuesday removing components for rebuilding. It was a bit disconcerting seeing a good portion of my engine being carted off including: injector pump, injectors, heat exchanger, and salt and fresh water pumps. All were returned in pristine condition by Friday. Omar is reputed to be the best mechanic in the area and he is living up to his reputation. After several hours of toiling after a seized injector he had a custom puller fabricated and had it out within minutes. Tomorrow he should be back to reassemble the engine and trial it.
I have had to charge up the batteries in preparation. The generator we brought with us wasn’t powerful enough at 1300w. I had to borrow a neighbour’s Honda 2000 and it worked a treat. The Canadian Tire Special will be on the sale table at the next cruiser’s swap meet in a few weeks along with a number of things we have removed from the boat or have brought down in excess of our needs.
I have rebuilt the wind vane from all of the new spares that were on the boat when we got her. I should have eliminated that irritating wobble that kept us awake at nights when anchored or tied up in a current. Another task this week has been taking apart most of the thru-hulls and servicing them. They all worked last season but the hot summer temps must have baked the fittings.
Fran has been busy cleaning, storing, knitting and getting cushions re-upholstered. She has also been designing a new mosquito net arrangement with the German girl next door. The bugs are voracious during the night but the net we brought from Ottawa has been put to good use. They are even biting Fran who normally brags about being immune. Well, these are Mexican bugs, Duh!
Last night we had our first “Yard Potluck”. It was quite fun with2 German boats, 3 Canadian, a Dutch girl, an Aussi and an American who showed up with enormous shrimp and a complete gas cooking kit on the back of his pick-up. His tempura shrimp were the hit of the night. Next week he’ll be doing onion rings and zucchini strips as well. We are in the best shrimp fishing waters of the coast and the shrimp are cheap and plentiful. We bought large ones, head on today for $8 a kilo. They were even better than the ones we had fished for ourselves in Desolation Sound last summer. Conversation took a definite downturn when Elke (German) proudly displayed a rat that they had just trapped. It had been pestering them for a few days and after comparing notes with other boats found that it was a common problem in the yard. All out war had been declared earlier that day with new traps and Ron’s (Canadian) peanut butter. Shortly after calling it a night Marion (Dutch) came back with another prize dead rat, soon to be followed by Ted (US). Ron, who declared immunity with his dog aboard reluctantly admitted that one had been running all over his deck during the night and knocking over water bowls while his dog slept peacefully at his feet. Hope we aren’t next!
Rosie is adapting really well. She seems to be closer to us these days, probably fearing that we’ll leave again in that dreaded car thing. She loves her short walks and we have been letting her off-leash for brief intervals where there are no yard dogs around. She does her puppy thing and stays close and is always ready to be leashed again. She is even starting to bark and gets lots of applause.

Well, it's past cruiser's midnight (9PM) so off to bed. Tomorrow will be the start of a long week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to Guaymas

We are in day 3 of our pre-launch work period. It is hot, dusty and, at night the mosquitoes can almost carry you away, but this is almost paradise, right?
We had a great trip down, stopping in Palm Springs for a wonderful 2-day visit with long time friends at just the right time for a break in the driving. We arrived in San Carlos on Friday night after a long day on Mexican roads that have lots of traffic and no shoulders. By the time we arrived at Terry and Roger Tallentyre’s condo for the night we were fried. The first cervesa was delicious; the shrimp were an unexpected treat. Welcome to Mexico!
The following morning we drove to the Marina Seca in Guaymas to begin what we expect to be a busy few weeks of preps. On our way, however, we dropped in on 2 other sets of sailing buddies. Tanque de Tiburon with Bill and Linda aboard were just leaving for San Juanico and points south with La Paz as their final destination. We were also thrilled to see Doug and Trish from Ka-Em-Te and will see much more of them over the few weeks we will be here.
Gosling had fared quite well over the past 6 months. She was covered with a thick layer of reddish dust and shreds of the tarp that we had covered the cabin top. Those tarps (package of 2) had been too good a deal to pass up at the Costco in Cabo some months before. Even with numerous frapping lines they had disintegrated. Needless to say the second tarp will be going back home with us and we’ll be looking for something more durable for next season. The pails of water we had left had long since evaporated but the interior was in good condition with no bugs and very few items spoiled by the searing Summer heat.
It took us the better part of the day to empty the van and try to find places to stow what we had brought. Eventually everything got to the cockpit for future consideration. It is nice to have the van to stow items we won’t need until our return and all the duplicate items we brought. An inventory prior to departure would be a good idea....
After three days we have made a small dent in the work schedule. Tomorrow the mechanic will be here to start on the engine work. The main item is the injector pump and injectors. Hopefully that will solve the nagging problem we had earlier this year. I will probably get him to do the engine mounts and alignment as well. Fran is looking for an upholsterer to recover our settee cushions and I will be kept busy rebuilding the self-steering system and installing the new windlass, in addition to a number of woodworking projects. There is also the sanding and re-varnishing of woodwork that wasn’t attended to last spring. The latter can only be done early morning or evening due to the high daytime temps which have been reaching close to 90F.
We have a few neighbors getting their boats ready including 2 from BC, a few Americans, and a couple from Eastliegh (close to where we lived in England in the early 90’s) and a German couple. Some have been here for some time so they know where to go for supplies and expertise of most types.
Rosie (the Sheltie) is still in denial. She is still hoping that tomorrow she’ll be back in her own back yard. She is an excellent traveler, never complaining and always in her cage when on the road but the change of environments must be hard on her. There are very few grassy patches south of Phoenix! Here in the yard she is content to stay in her cage in the shadow of the hull, venturing out occasionally for a drink or to sniff at one of the yard dogs when they get close. For the most part, they stay away and bark up a storm occasionally when we walk her through the yard. She seems comfortable on deck, even though it is 15 ft off the ground.
We are looking forward to US Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday with Trish and Doug at mutual friends we met on our way south last spring. Gil and Lexi own Sunday a large trimaran that they are also getting ready. However, they have found a great deal on a condo for the summer and are enjoying shore life for a few more weeks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We are off again on our way to re-join Gosling. As I write these words we are heading down I-5 just past Eugene Oregon.
After some frenzied last minute preparations we bid farewell to family and friends for another season. We found a tenant for our home and a friend graciously agreed, once again, to look after Antares for us (thanks Ray). The van is packed to overflowing with a large variety of “stuff” we will need to get Gosling ready for this season’s cruise. No doubt much will remain in the van after we finish our pre-sail projects.
Over the spring and summer we managed obtain the majority of the items on our wish-list. The main items, and the ones contributing most to the weight in the van, are the windlass and chain. We purchased a Lofrans , Tigres and 225 ft of 5/16 high-test chain online from Binnacle, a company in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. They had the cheapest price, free delivery and lowest tax of any other Canadian supplier. By the time we got our act together the Canadian dollar was diving so any US supplier was out of the question. Little did we know at the time that Binnacle’s supplier was in Vancouver and the order was delivered to our doorstep within 2 days?
We are also taking a new family member with us this year. Rosie (soon to be nicknamed Rosalita) is a Sheltie puppy, now 7 months old. She was introduced to boating on Antares during the summer and wasn’t too sure about it all so we are hoping she will adapt quickly to Gosling.
We have heard from many friends in our cruising circle including Linda and on Tanque de Tiburon and Trish and Doug on Ka-Em-Te, and, over the past few weeks we have met a number of people who are in Mexico or heading down there. We have a place to stay on arrival in San Carlos with friends from Victoria and yesterday, on the ferry, Fred and Julie from Sooke, offered us a place to stay in Mazatlan. Sadly we have heard that Ka-Em-Te will be heading back home this season due to medical problems. We hope to share a few weeks with Doug and Trish before their departure.
Our plans for this season are to take a week or 2 to get Gosling ready while on the hard then sail up to San Carlos for a few days before leaving for La Paz for the Holiday season. In early January we intend to sail down to Zihuatnejo for their sea festival then start hopping back up the coast stopping in at all of the cruiser’s havens on the way up. We hope to get back to La Paz for their sea fest the to the Loreto fest in early May. So it will be a fest to fest cruise this year while we get used to Gosling and work out any problems.