Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The start of the 2011-2012 cruising season

Life on the Hard

Chrissy, Linda and Rosie

Bill, Turkey and the ever watchful Rosie

Bill's Volcano

Guaymas, 28 November, 2011-11-30
The start of another cruising season, the 5th overall, the 4th in Gosling. We are presently on the hard in Guaymas as we have been at this stage for the past 4 seasons. Over the next few weeks we will be going through a long list of tasks to get her ship-shape for an extended cruise. This year we plan to finally cut our ties to Mexico and sail to El Salvador. This will mean that Gosling will remain in the water over the summer period next year; something new for us. We’ll be travelling in good company with Warren-Peace and Optical Illusion among a growing list of vessels participating in this year’s El Salvador rally.
Just before we left Fran’s mother passed away after a long illness. She had been fading fast for the previous week so we decided to wait until she was gone to leave.
Our 2-day delay was just long enough for the storm track to reach into the Pacific Northwest and nag us for the first 2 days on the road. Our trip down was the worst we have ever had. It was mostly driving rain most of the way through Washington and Oregon and a patch of heavy snow as we drove through the last of the mountain passes into northern California. It wasn’t until Palm Springs before we could change into shorts and t-shirts. We stayed there a couple of days with some dear friends and drove on to Sierra Vista Arizona where we stayed another few days with our cruising friends Bill and Linda from Tanque de Tiburon. Linda was recovering from a knee replacement so we were able to help preparing for US Thanksgiving and enjoy it with their family and friends. Bill’s mesquite smoked turkey was a big hit.
We were delayed again by a day with severe weather along our planned route to Guaymas with heavy rain caused by a combination of hurricane Kenneth and a rare onshore wind from the Pacific. We crossed into Mexico at the Naco crossing at 10 am and had a 2-hour delay caused in part by a “Shall we search them or not” dance at customs (they finally let us through after seeing all of the stuff we had in the van and realizing that it would overtax their meagre manpower to do an adequate search). We breathed a sigh of relief after a warning and wave through but the immigration office had another delay in store for us. The routine is to be issued with the visa and go to the at the bank wicket to pay the fee, however, when the serial numbers were entered in the computer at the bank they were rejected. Apparently they and the serial numbers of the entire supply of visas in the main office had been used in early 2010 at the Mexicali border crossing. For the next hour and a half we chatted with the agent while his supervisor tried to find a solution. Finally it was declared that it was a bank problem and that we could pay the fee to the agent, get a receipt and they would deliver the forms to the bank themselves the following working day. Works for us! We were out of there in a flash.
We finally arrived at the boatyard at 7PM, found a ladder and made ourselves comfy onboard. I think it was lights out at 8PM we were so tired. Driving at night on Mexican highways can be trying. There is a lot of heavy truck traffic rolling at 75-85 mph and very few roads have shoulders. All along the route there were many crosses and mementos to people who had died in accidents, clearly not a confidence boosting practice.
The next morning we got to see several acquaintances also getting ready to launch. The van almost voiced its relief at being unloaded. She visibly straightened up after unloading close to a ton of “stuff”. The next task was to find deck space to put it all while we did a major clean out (which included a double insect bomb to eliminate the weevils that had invaded once again) and review of what was already onboard. We had to be brutal at removing little used or unused items from previous seasons, redundant items and anything that we could do without in favour of what we just brought down. That task will be going on for the next week or so while we attack some of the more critical items such as thru-hull (seacock) maintenance and the replacement of a few, re-installing many items we had taken home for repair or refinishing and re-installing all of the running rigging, sails and the like that was removed prior to our departure for home last May. From now on we will not have the luxury of the van to carry equipment back and forth so we have to consider an airline luggage capacity, including Rosie’s dog cage.
We've just had our first feed of Guaymas shrimp, one of the many rewards of being in this part of the world. These aren't the M&M cocktail variety, these are huge and at about $7/kilo we'll be having lots more before the season closes in a few weeks.
Day 3: One seacock replaced, 2 others serviced, the forward head is completely dismantled and ready for a complete overhaul, the water tanks are clean and we have room to breathe below decks, some bilge spaces painted and we have only scratched the surface.