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I made this entertainment center out of some remnants of wood I had laying around the shop. It still needs a drawer pull and a back to hide all the wires.

The dog’s name is Maximus. Big dog. He’s lame in his left rear leg but he gets around well. Pam’s fostering him from the local pound, giving him a break from the place.

She’s been fostering him for what seems like a few months now…

Anyhow, this piece of furniture is constructed of a mish-mash of species, including red oak, padauk, cherry, poplar, maple and a bit of walnut, I think.

I did purchase a sheet of 3/4″ red oak veneered plywood for the lower and upper shelves, along with a 5’x5′ piece of 1/2″ Baltic birch ply. These were the most expensive parts of the project. The second greatest expense was the paralyzing fear of screwing up and wasting material because I couldn’t practice certain cuts I needed to make on scrap.

Mortises, tenons, dadoes, frames and raised panels. Any cuts requiring precise measurements I had to sneak-up on with great care, test-fit and then take apart again to be sent back to the various machines for trimming. “If you’re not practicing on scrap, you’re practicing on your project”.

The boat’s coming along pretty good at the moment. I’ve finally finished the portside chainplates and now the puzzle of reconstruction is mostly figured out.

The vanity top came out pretty okay. I’ll be gluing and screwing it down to the cabinet and bulkhead during my next visit to San Carlos, along with hooking up the plumbing. It’ll be nice to have a working faucet and sink in the head again.

In the meantime I was able to sail a bit during my last visit.

Some of my passengers don’t understand my pride (cheapness) in not having purchased any fuel for the boat since The Crossing.

A 48 gallon tank plus a 6 gallon jerry can of diesel purchased in Santa Rosalia in April of 2019 has carried the boat (albeit slowly) for a fair bit of mileage. Granted, she was wounded terribly during the long interim, making for only the most gentle sails while undergoing repairs, but the motor is really only used to get in and out of the harbor or when we’re becalmed. If I can detect any forward motion through the water, I keep that motor off. And sometimes, that confuses some of my guests.

But the long slog through the repair and the pandemic seem to be coming to a close, or at least a manageable state of equilibrium.

Recent boat maintenance includes five brand-new batteries within the last two months. The previous owners seem to have done a good job in their choice of batteries, as I got about 5 years of excellent service out of the two banks. But it only takes one battery in a bank to start the process of entropy. 430 pounds of old batteries were removed and replaced with the exact same types. The original bank consisted of three 60+ pound AGMs and a secondary bank of two 120+ pound AGMs. The heavy ones created some logistical efforts such as a block and tackle system to get them up and down the companionway. That, and hiring a helper with a strong back.

Of course, boat maintenance is a never-ending process. I hear new sails can make quite a difference.

Once again, sorry for the delay.

Temps are finally beginning to cool down around here. A lot has happened since my last post, just not necessarily to the boat. I brought a friend down in March to help with the dismantling of the portside saloon and head areas.

After cutting away and removing a bunch of stuff, we got down to the task of cutting out the fiberglass that encases the original chainplate assembly.

That there’s Harry. Good guy. Fiberglass dust will get everywhere, so we cleaned up as often as possible.

I had invested in an oscillating saw, which helped quite a bit in some of the really tight spots and kept the kerfs small in the major cuts to the hull liner and saloon cabinet deck. Still, it didn’t keep me from swearing a little.

Finally, we got the portside aft and cap shroud chainplates out, leaving the forward lower for later.

Portside aft chainplate

That horizontal bar at the bottom is what connects all three chainplates together and where the fiberglass strands get looped over. I burned through almost $30.00 worth of carbide to separate them.

The fiberglass comes in approximately one-inch diameter bundles of strands about 6 feet long, which are looped over the chainplate’s lower crossbar. According to some engineer, this allows a safety factor of about 7 to 1.

Flashing forward about a month, I engaged the services of Senor Hernandez, a fixture in the local boating community, to build me six new chainplates. He did pretty much exactly what I asked of him, but didn’t want to fashion them out 316 series stainless, so I went with up-sized 304.

Flash forward another month or so, and it’s starting to get kinda warm around here. With the air conditioning ductwork disconnected from Pam’s nest in the vee berth, not to mention all the cabinetry and stuff being stored in there, Pam had to sleep in the saloon for our next few visits during the Summer months.

With the new chainplates, epoxy resin and fiberglass in hand, I finally got around to glassing in the aft lower and cap shroud chainplates. Aft went in pretty easily, but the cap is positioned right behind a big ‘ol bulkhead which required some fiddling.

With Pam up on deck, I gooped a bit of the new assemblies and slid each one into its place. As I stuck the chainplates up through the deck, Pam attached the corresponding shrouds. This held up the chainplates so I could then finish the fiberglass layup to the hull. I skipped the “total encasement in fiberglass mat and roving” so if any saltwater does happen to get in there it won’t collect and corrode the new chainplates.

Yay! We can go (gently) sailing again!

I feel that these up-sized chainplates will last another 30 years or better.

In essence, let the next owner worry about ’em.

Still have to finish the forward lower chainplate in the head, but that looks like it will require the removal of the toilet and partial removal of the shower partition. Now that it’s cooling down, the walk over to the office bathrooms and showers will be somewhat less futile. After that, the starboard side awaits.

Oh, joy.

Well, I’m thankful my mast didn’t come crashing down.

What you’re looking at there is my portside cap shroud chainplate, which broke off just an inch or so below the deck. The chainplates are 30 years old, so this bit of a snafu only provides the impetus to replace ’em all.

Island Packet Yachts originally built their boats with 304 series stainless chainplates, but during the mid 90’s switched over to 316L, a much more stainless stainless.

Anywho, the incident with the chainplate took place during a boisterous sail that we made with Mike, Karen and John, also known as “Monkey Lip”.

While pounding through some square waves, Mike suddenly let me know that we’ve lost the dinghy. Sure enough, we’re sailing away from our practically brand-new Achilles. I never liked that bit of rope that it came with, and now I’m justified in that respect.

We turn around and break out the boat hook. After a couple attempts to sail close enough to snag the dinghy, I made a dumb move and gybed the boat without controlling the swing of the boom. After the ensuing crash gybe (which is when I believe the broken chainplate happened), I fired up the motor and dropped the sails.

After snagging the dinghy with the boat hook, it took all we had to bring it close enough to where I could tie on a new leash to one of the attachment points and loop it around the grab line on the dinghy’s tubes. Once this was done I headed back to the marina with my tail between my legs.

The new chainplate installation will require the removal of a lot of interior woodwork and cutting, grinding or chiselling away the fiberglass that encases said chainplates in the hull, sticking the new chainplates up and glassing it all back together. Should be good for another 30 years after that.

It’ll be a messy and time-consuming job, but if I ever want to sail my boat again it must be done. There’s a bit of guidance in the IP discussion forums online for which I’m thankful.

I’m also thankful for Mike and Karen’s hosting of us at their place for a classic Thanksgiving dinner and the leftovers they so graciously sent home with us. Sorry I missed the turkey soup they made on Monday, but we needed to get back to Tucson to close on the last property we’re selling off.

BOAT- Break Out Another Thousand. 😉

Sorry about such a long absence. Along with a stunted cruising season, I got lazy. And fat. But my drinking hasn’t suffered, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

We’ve sold off most of the rentals, greatly reducing my workload. About the only property left for me to worry about is a small group of 5 individual houses on a little private road in North/mid-town Tucson. Those, and another 12 units we co-own with a friend. A lot of their maintenance we farm out to a couple of pretty capable guys.

The Coronavirus has made a few of what used to be routine annoyances into a PITA. Showing an occupied property to prospective renters seems to be the worst, so we’ve taken to using “picture tours” sent through email.
Of course, they don’t usually jive with the actual state of the place we’re trying to rent, so that can get dicey. Here’s a sample:

Edith

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But the reality may be:

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This particular tenant signed a lease stating he had no vehicle and was to live alone. We came back from an extended stay at the boat to find he’s allowed his ex to move in with him, bringing all his crap that got them tossed out of a previous rental.

Delightful.

But enough about that. Let’s get back to the boat!

 

We were able to do a bit of sailing up to our local Bahia San Pedro, about 10 miles North of the harbor. This was before we learned that the Mexican navy had stationed a ship outside, between the two marinas here, watching on radar for pleasure boaters going outside. I hear you can still sail/anchor in Bahia Algodones and not incur the 50,000 peso fine (approx. $2,200.00)

We seemed to have dodged that bullet!

The first trip we buddy-boated with Virgil and Juanita.

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He can point into the wind a bit better than my boat, so I had to take a slightly more roundabout tack to the bahia’s mouth.

Once in the bahia, we enjoyed a home-cooked meal and a few games of dominoes.

It was pretty rolly at the anchorage that night, and it didn’t get any better the next day. So long about noon we up-anchored to head back to the marina. Had my first fouled anchor that day, hauling up an old nylon 3-strand on the anchor’s point. After about ten minutes of messing with that, I got it knocked off and we were able to motor home.

The second outing we made alone, with a superb bit of beam reaching headed North. Got to the anchorage in record time (for sailing), and had the place all to ourselves. The conditions were pretty good too.

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The next night was supposed to be a bit rollier with the wind clocking around to the Northwest, so we moved the boat into a fairly shallow cranny nearer the North shore of the bay. AO has a draft of 4.5 feet, and using the sonar we found a spot that offered about 9-14 feet of depth. Pretty darned shallow for most boats. I rowed around the area in the dinghy, taking depth measurements everywhere the boat could swing to be sure I wouldn’t end up bouncing across the bottom when the winds changed.

Of the Raymarine instruments we have aboard (wind, speed and depth), only the depth meter has been a disappointment, refusing to offer up anything other than a flashing screen and meaningless numbers. Wouldn’t you know it, that night it decided to come back to life, bleep-bleep-bleeping it’s skinny-water alarm around 0200! I get out of bed and check the anchor rode for tension. Nope, I’m not dragging anchor, thank goodness.

Figure out the right button to dismiss the alarm and go back to bed, only to be roused again by the same bleeping alarm. Check the ground tackle again, looks okay, then just shut down the instruments. Back to sleep.

The winds for our return that day were to be out of the NNW, giving us another excellent point of sail for this (or any) boat. Pam still gushes about how those two particular sailing days were the best our boat has ever moved. I agree, but I won’t complain about the slower days or the motoring that seems to happen more often than not.

Love, exciting and new…. 😉

Back in the marina it’s starting to get hot during the day, somewhere up around 90-99 F. We cover the boat in whatever shade cloth we find, trying to figure out just how the previous owners had used them. While not perfect, they provide some respite for the overworked AC system.

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A couple more pieces strewn across the foredeck and she really starts to look like caca, but it does help.

In the town of San Carlos, there are still some Coronavirus limitations. You slather on some hand sanitizer, wear masks and try to keep that distancing thing going when shopping. No alcohol sales after 1800 hours, restaurants (if they’re open), limiting seating. When we’d first arrived, there was no beer to be found anywhere. Mexico had deemed the brewing industry “non-essential”. If the US government had tried that, there probably would have been riots in the streets.

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That sign is still upside-down a month later. Ya gotta love the quirkiness.

Virgil’s making another dinghy.

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By the time of this writing it’s probably finished, even with the severe sciatica he was experiencing. I’ve never seen him in so much pain as he was during the latter part of our visit. Usually the guy’s a fount of energy, but he was laid up the last week of our stay. He’s lucky to have Juanita’s help through all of this.

Hope you’re feeling better Virgil!

Well, now with the navy out there limiting any real cruising, it’s looking like whatever’s left of this season will be best spent on the hard. Hurricane season’s also imminent, not to mention the stifling heat and humidity. I’m thinking we’ll just haul out during the next visit. There’s still plenty of work to do on her, as usual. New dodger, get that wind vane properly mounted and help Virgil with his boat.

Damned virus.

Oh, there’s also wildfire season with which to contend…

 

 

 

For the last three/four months we’ve been insanely busy putting a couple of long-rented places back together in order to sell. It’s not quite the same as getting them ready to rent out, and has been a slow and somewhat laborious process.
Tearing out bathtubs, cabinetry and plaster, repairing/replacing damaged doors and windows, countertops and the like.

All work and no play. So we took the time for a brief stay in beautiful Scotland.

That’s the view looking WNW from the 3 bedroom log cabin rented out by our boat-buddies Virgil and Juanita. He’s been coming back to this particular farm in Auchterhouse for quite a number of years, and he’s got some family around here too.

A free place to stay meant we could splurge a bit on jet expenses. I booked the flights about two weeks before our intended stay, and they weren’t too insanely priced. As we flew over to Edinburgh from London, the dismal sky opened up below and allowed me a chance to see the Firth of Forth.

And we had fabulous weather for our first few days in bonny Scotland, albeit cold for what Tucsonans and Mexicans are used to.

In order to travel as lightly as possible I adopted the layering method of keeping warm:
Plastic underwear (polypropylene, Capilene),
Fleece/light cotton,
Windproof shell.

And it got chilly those two mornings I followed Virgil out to stalk our dinner.

He did get one on our second morning out.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Our first full day in country began with driving Virgil’s visiting sister back down to Edinburgh airport for her flight back to Indiana. She’d been staying there at the cabin for a bit which overlapped into our stay the first night.

After seeing her off, we parked the car and hopped aboard the tram for a visit to Edinburgh proper.

A lot of very old buildings, one of which is Edinburgh Castle.

Absolutely amazing. Imagine needing cannons to fend off marauding Angles or Saxons or even the local peasantry.

After a lot of walking up and down Prince’s Street and the Royal Mile, we got back aboard the tram to the car. Another two hours later we were back in tiny Auchterhouse enjoying a home-cooked dinner.

Another day, another adventure awaits. This time we went up-country to Glenshee along a beautiful mountain road. As we drove North, a splash of black and white on the mountainside revealed a rendition of local Scottish poet, songwriter, communist, intellectual and soldier, Hamish Henderson. There’s a festival coming up soon to honor his life.

Further on is the village of Braemar where we stopped for a bit of lunch and a walkabout.

Braemar Castle:

Another very cool day spent amongst historic architecture.

Virgil wanted to show us his collection of ex-sailboats, so off we went next day to Tayport, a port city on the river Tay. But you knew that. 😉

And a little further on we came to Saint Andrews, the birthplace of golf.

Saint Andrew’s Cathedral:

Another castle, the name of which eludes me.

A spot of lunch at the Northpoint Cafe (where Kate met Willy for coffee), and we’re back on the road.

What a wonderful little trip it’s been. Muchos gracias to Virgil for his accommodations and heroic driving. The guy knows the area and I’d have gotten lost on these roads toot sweet.

A long day flying back into the US was marred only slightly by the airline deciding to re-route us through LAX instead of Dallas. Less layover time and a bit of an issue securing boarding passes that differed from our original itinerary, but not a complete SNAFU.

Now it’s back down to the boat ASAP. I’ve got a hull that needs some love.

After the transmission repair, it was time to head South again back towards Bahia Concepcion. Dropping the anchor once more in Bahia Santa Inez, we took a couple of days to wait out a bit of blustery weather. Two nights of getting tossed around in my berth later, the winds abated and we up-anchored for an actual sail into Bahia Concepcion!

‘Bout time I got some sailing in.

In caleta Santispac, the northernmost beach in Bahia Coyote:

A throng ashore celebrating Semana Santa, a religio/mystical Catholic Easter thing. Probably a couple thousand people camped along the beach. Nice folks, becoming very quiet at night.

There are a couple of restaurants on the beach too. Afternoon beers at Ana’s place.

We made Santispac our home base for a bit over two weeks with dinghy rides to most of the other beaches in Coyote and a few hitch-hiking adventures into the scenic little town of Mulege (MOO-lah-hay) for beer, groceries and connectivity.

The history of the mission in Mulege:

One of the highlights of our time in Santispac was spotting a juvenile whale shark. I was rowing the dinghy like mad while Pam snapped these shots of the 18+ footer.

We got within twenty feet of this beautiful animal before giving up the effort.

Our anchorage consisted of around 10 boats, and we all got together for a community dinner at Armando’s restaurant. Unfortunately I failed to get a photo of the affair.

I was sorry to have to say goodbye to Santispac and all our good neighbors afloat and ashore, but we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep. 😉

Leaving Bahia Coyote behind we tacked our way North up to the mouth of the bahia, where we turned right and headed straight for San Carlos, 75 miles away. We mostly motored until the wind filled in more from the northwest, allowing us to shut down that durned thing and save a little diesel fuel. About 16 hours later we anchored in Bahia Algodones, just outside of Marina Real.

I can’t wait to do it again. I learned an awful lot about transmissions, watermakers and the goodness of people.

After dreaming about the cruising life for a number of years, the dream became a reality, if only for a few weeks. Almost two years after acquiring Aegean Odyssey, we finally made it across the Sea of Cortez to Baja California Sur.

The responsibilities to our tenants in Tucson would be handled by a guy who’s done work for us in the past, we drained the swimming pool and had the mail put on hold for 30 days, the maximum that the USPS would allow.

Let’s do this!

Arrived in San Carlos in a car filled with a ton of stuff we thought we might need and got in touch with our buddy boaters Virgil and Juanita. They had a few things needing doing before we headed out also, which gave me a little time to make some alterations to the dinghy chaps that would somewhat disguise our brand-new inflatable. Then we waited on a suitable weather window that wouldn’t beat the heck out of us.

The Capitania de puerto in Guaymas had declared that the red flag would be flown for a few days as winds honked out of the North, but we had other diversions while we waited for the flag to be struck. A dock mate was directing a play benefiting the local rescate, so we got 4 tickets to the opening night’s performance.

Messed around with little stuff on the boat for a few more days, then all went quiet on the sea. Red flag gone, and it looks like we’ll be motoring this first leg of the trip, about 70 nautical miles of glassy water.

An overnighter with an early morning arrival at Marina Fonatur in Santa Rosalia, where we’d take some time to provision and explore the town.

It’s a mining town with a bit of history, boasting an Eiffel-designed church. Yep, that Eiffel, the guy with the famous tower in Paris, France.

Got to meet our dock mates during the couple of days we stayed in Santa Rosalia, mostly cruisers either heading in or out. Little did I know how much we would come to rely on the kindness of these strangers here.

With our boats geared up for the trip South to the anchorage at Punta Chivato (Bahia Santa Inez), I filled my tank with diesel and again we motored. Wind was either a rarity or right on our nose, so the 25-plus miles droned away as we skillfully avoided Isla San Marcos.

After a pleasant night on the hook in the bahia, leg three, down to Bahia Concepcion.

Hold it… why isn’t my boat going forward when I put her in gear? Reverse works well, but no marche adelante! I get on the horn to Virgil, thinking I have a propeller issue and he turns around as I drop anchor. A visiting kayaker paddles up to us and says he can see my propeller clearly not rotating well at all. Crikey!

After a bit of fussing over the transmission linkage and manually shifting it between forward, neutral and reverse, we decide to make our way back to Santa Rosalia where this problem could be better diagnosed and possibly repaired. Light winds were somewhat favorable from the northeast, so I set sail. After my first two unsuccessful attempts at tacking the huge genoa between the staysail and forestay, Virgil talked some sense into me. He would tow my boat back to Santa Rosalia.

We radioed the marina office informing them that we were heading back in, and quickly became the talk of the docks. A relatively uneventful landing at twilight, and a sailor had some wise words for us. “Relax and go to sleep. We’ll look at your transmission in the morning.” That sailor’s name is Joe, and he’s a diesel mechanic from heaven.

The next morning’s activities consisted of reading the service manual, looking at my meager tool collection and welcoming Joe aboard to help diagnose the issue. Ruling out everything else, we decided that the forward clutch discs in my tranny needed replacing. After a couple of days scouring the internet I found a few retailers in San Diego who didn’t have any clutch discs for my particular model, and if they did have them, they’d be $100-plus per disc. I need 4.

The wholesaler in San Diego was contacted and said there were only 2 available in the entire western region of the US, but they’d put out the word to other suppliers in the states. Two more were finally located in Georgia. I got very lucky as a retailer was getting a shipment from Georgia and could just tack them onto his next-day-air order.

Also on the docks is another boater named Jimmy who took the time to help me out with the tear-down of the transmission, loaning me some hard to find tools and his knowledge.

I can’t overstate how helpful my dock mates were in literal blood, sweat and tools. Virgil, Jimmy and Joe are only a few of the supporters I found dockside in Santa Rosalia. Among others, folks’ moral support and advice on getting parts shipped down into Mexico was also welcomed.

After 10 days and about $600+ dollars later, I road-tested the transmission, making 6 knots under power. Yes.

Next, part two, Bahia Concepcion!

Uh, Clem, our adopted feline, has passed away.

It was twenty years ago today…well, not today-today, but twenty years ago we found Clem at one of the rentals in Tucson. We took him to a veterinarian for a check-up and neutering, and the vet told us he looked to be about six months old.

He outlived every other cat we’ve had, bar none.

He was once bitten in the head by a rattlesnake. Then a year or so later he met that same snake and got bitten on his head again! His noggin was the size of a softball and he just stayed under the bed for about 24 hours. Smart snake, giving out dry bites.

Clem would climb ladders wherever he found them.

Over the last two years whenever Pam and I traveled down to the boat in San Carlos, we’d wonder how much the house would stink if he died while we were away, but every time we spent our week in Mexico, upon return, a yowling would arise from the back of the house. Clem would certainly like some food from a can, rather than that kibble.

Unfortunately, he recently began to deteriorate, and I thought it best to put him down.

Thank you, Uh, Clem. You were a great cat!

On a recent visit to the boat, we were able to witness some of the spectacle that is Carnival.

With Virgil, Juanita, Wayne and Glenda, we parked our cars near Marina Fonatur and walked about 3/4 of a mile to where the parade would start. Info was that it would begin its procession around 1500 hours, but no. More like 1700.

First up were the baton twirlers and marching band.

From two vantage points, Pam’s being street level. I photographed from a perch on the other side of the street.
Pam got to talk with some of the kids who asked about her favorite color and taught her how to say “I love Mickey Mouse” in Spanish. The girls all had heavy eye makeup and false eyelashes.

After the marching band came a variety of floats, local dance troupes and some insanely loud speaker systems.

Ah, the black vinyl hot pants… my personal favorite.

Supposedly all the real “adult” stuff was to occur at the trailing edge of the parade.

I didn’t much care for “her” trailing edge.

But the hour was getting late and I didn’t want to be driving around after dark on unfamiliar roads, so Pam and I wended our way through the throngs along the parade route back to the vehicle.

Back at the boat just after zero dark-thirty.

Looking off to the South on Friday morning.

Hell has frozen over!

The Santa Catalinas the next day:

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