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After making a couple of trips down to Puerto Penasco (known to South-western gringos as Rocky Point) to work on a friend’s boat, I made the decision to trailer the MacGregor on down.

Hopped onto State route 86, Ajo highway, making my way past the Tucson trap and skeet complex, the Tucson rifle club, and onto the Tohono O’odham reservation.

Past Kitt Peak National Observatory,DSC02259

and onward to the little town of Why, Arizona.
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The free “Why-Fi” doesn’t quite make up for the price of their gasoline.

After Why, it’s a short run to the border through the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a beautiful drive.

The border towns of Lukeville and Sonoyta are the last real population centers until you reach Puerto Penasco, about a 60 mile drive past a dormant volcano. Cool.

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Arriving in Puerto Penasco, I had to navigate by memory, and after one false turn, there I was.
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Yep, that’s a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous right next door.

I set up the boat in the yard, and before I was finished, Karin, Joe, their old friend Mark and Jack the dog showed up, in a vehicle filled to the brim with stuff. Karin and Joe are in the final stages of a reprovisioning and a fitting of a couple of systems that’ll make life aboard for them much easier.

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I was pretty geeked to get the boat onto the Sea of Cortez, and while scurrying about on deck during the launch, I cut my right pinky toe on a deck organizer. As the boat slid into the water, dark red blood slowly pooled under my foot in the cockpit.
Strangely enough (or not), on the previous trip down here, I’d managed to cut my big toe, same foot. Sigh.

Setting aside the pain, I motored my way to what would be my slip for the next five days.
I took this photo after I cleaned up all the blood.
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This marina is nestled right between a couple of major dockyards utilized by fishing and shrimping trawlers, and the work that goes into them occurs on an almost 24 hour basis. The large vessel next to my slip is an oil rig servicing ship, all aluminum, and undergoing a major re-fit. It was a good thing we had rented one of the apartamentos for a couple of nights, quelling the racket of their generators, saws and personnel.

Day 2-

It had been suggested that we work on our respective sailboats in the morning, then, come high tide, take a leisurely afternoon day-sail on my MacGregor. Fine with me.
I needed to finalize the installation of my new depth gauge, and now that there’s water under her, I could do the final placement of the shoot-through-the-hull transducer. DSC02195

What you’re looking at there is the four inch thin-wall PVC container I’d glued to the inside of the hull, below the V berth. Inside that container resides the transducer, set in toilet bowl wax. The other stuff is the (now degrading) foam floatation blocks MacGregor put under there way back in 1982, purportedly to keep the boat from sinking. When I mentioned to Joe that my boat couldn’t sink, well, that was good for a laugh or two.

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After setting the transducer, I threw the switch on the panel, and the thing beeped loudly three times. Apparently, I was floating on about 19 feet of saltwater. Yes!

When Flyin Sideways’ morning chores were done, we set out on Sovereign for my first foray onto the bounding main on my own boat. Like I said, I’m geeked.

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Besides all of us being on the same little boat, except for Jack, we’re all skydivers.

For awhile there, the pelicans were outpacing the boat, then conditions turned pretty darned acceptable, about 5-8 knots of wind, with the autopilot dealing just fine.

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That night, Karin whomped up a mess of pork chops and accoutrements back at the apartment, and we made plans for the next day’s activities.

My wife Pam was thinking of coming down, bringing our two dogs. That’ll be something.

Day 3-

Did I mention it was bike week here?

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Puerto Penasco was awash with really loud motorcycles of all stripes, and this is the only photo I took of ’em.
They’d be riding in groups all over town, twisting their throttles and racing up and down the dusty side streets. I think the local constabulary just looked the other way, as this town badly needs their money.

If Pam left Tucson at 1000, we could expect her to show up here around 1400. She and I had mapped her route to the marina a couple nights ago, and long about 1400, I started walking up the road along the main drag, hoping to find her.

Unfortunately, Pam had made a small deviation from the planned route, and while she still found the marina, now I’m the late one. Okay then.

We thought that we’d take both boats out and raft up for dinner, and my truancy put us slightly behind that schedule. I quickly loaded Pam, her stuff and two dogs aboard, and proceeded out to the channel.

Well, having a depth gauge is one thing, minding it is another. As we motored along past pangas and pelicans, suddenly Sovereign ground to a halt on a sand bar. Arrrr.

I first tried putting the outboard in reverse and gunning it, but no-go on that. Okay, jump down to the swing keel locking bolt, unscrew it, and find it’s kinda bent. Finagle it out, crank up the keel, and we’re back in business. I had been warned to keep to the center of the channel, but got a little too close to the pelican side. Live and learn, huh?

Out on the wide bay, I got some decent shots of Flyin Sideways as she and Sovereign enjoyed light winds.

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Ziggy was quite taken with the sea birds, to the point where I thought she needed restraining.

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Koki was having nothing to do with any of that, fighting off a case of mal-de-mar. Sorry, girl.

A small pod of dolphins was sighted, just not close enough for the camera.

Seeing as how we’d gotten a later start than planned, both boats headed over to Sandy Beach, where we anchored in about 30 feet of water, 100 yards apart. Joe launched his dinghy, and soon we were loading the dogs and ourselves onto Flyin Sideways for dinner and drinks. It was a bit traumatic for Koki, being man-handled from the dinghy over the high freeboard of the Columbia.

Burgers with slabs of onion and tomato, cornbread that Pam had brought, and beer. It was good.
Much to Koki’s chagrin, it soon became time to load up the dinghy again for the short row back to Sovereign. Studly old Joe made three of the four dinghy trips, allowing me the pleasure of rowing one of the legs.

There was quite a party going on along the beach, with fireworks and bad karaoke blasting loudly until approximately 0300. After that, it was just the rocking of the boat, and the clunking of my keel against the hull.

Day 4-

We awoke to light and variable breezes, hardly enough to fill the sails. Weighed anchors, and soon the breeze was down to nothing at all. Seemed like a good time for breakfast, so I motored up alongside of Flyin Sideways, set fenders and rafted up.

I fried some bacon, sauteed some onions and scrambled up a half-dozen eggs while we drifted slowly towards the beach. After cleaning up, we shoved off and set sail. The winds slowly built to where I was starting to think about reefing, and the sea-state rose along with the winds. Adjusting my sails to keep down the heel, we were doing about 5-6 knots according to the GPS.

Flyin Sideways called up on the VHF saying they were heading in. I think they ran out of tobacco. See you back at the marina!

Not much later, we also turned downwind, heading for port.

Guess what happened as we entered the channel? Yes, my keel touched that darned sandbar again, this time without completely stopping the boat. I’m henceforth keeping the keel unlocked when coming or going around here.

Back in my slip, I borrowed a small sledgehammer from my neighbors and straightened out the keel lock bolt. Good as new.

That evening, we all trundled off for dinner at the Blue Marlin. The restaurant has a fabulous seafood feast, and we ordered two of ’em. Split between five people, it was more than enough food.

Day 5-

It’s a Monday, Veteran’s Day back in the States, and it was assumed that the border would be swamped by all the gringos heading back that day. So the crew of Flyin Sideways spent a good part of the morning offloading their vehicle’s contents onto the boat. Among the items was a brand-new Cruise RO watermaker, which will give them much greater independence from shore facilities. Not too much later, they were on the road back towards the U.S.

Pam, the dogs and myself once again put out on Sovereign, this time with an unlocked keel in the channel, and enjoyed slowly building winds. We thought we saw a shark or two, as those dorsal fins didn’t look at all like dolphin.

That evening we heated up the chili Pam had made back in Tucson, and called it a night.

Day 5-

I arranged the haulout with the marina manager, Miguel, then set about cleaning the boat of all the dog fur, and scrubbing the deck and cockpit with seawater. After a freshwater rinse, she looked pretty good. Removed the mainsail, and motored over to the ramp.
Rinsed the heck outta the trailer, and asked Miguel how much it might cost to store Sovereign there for a month.

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He must have known how much I had in my wallet, because I left with $20.00, and 20 pesos.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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