Skip navigation

“It’s time”, I said. “Time to get back down to the boat. I have to check on the costs of hauling out the ketch, power washing and inspecting the hull.”

She took it pretty well, and started packing, asking, “We never meet any other sailors while we’re down there. Do you think Kevin might be around?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.” According to some, there are a few sailors who alternate the use of the few slips available at Marina Fonatur, but we rarely, if ever, get to see one another.

Sunday, late morning, we set off for Mexico. A good time to be driving Southward, as most of the other drivers are heading North, back to their workaday world in the US.

Me, I’ve got everybody who wanted their furnace fired up a bit warmer, and if you’re not among those needing your furnace quite yet, I suspect you’ll be fine for a few more days.

Gilligan had to puke right around the halfway point, poor guy.

Guilty Gilligan

The Mexican border guards looked at us and just waved us on through as if they knew us. Or they could smell us, I’m not sure which.

Splashed, I headed over to Marina Fonatur and began to clean up the boat from the sand and gravel spewn about by the shipyard next to Safe Marina’s dry storage. Pam had her own ideas, and would not let me use a dock hose to rinse off the last of the brown and tan dust. Whatever. I let her sweep, and got busy bending on the mainsail and threading the reefing lines. I’d heard there might be some wind later this week.

Dinner that night was at a small street vendor called “Tacos Marco’s”. Superb dining, without the pretentiousness of an actual building. I ate five easily, and we got off their patch of sidewalk for less than ten dollars.

Day 2-

Ablutions, coffee, a leisurely breakfast, more coffee, and let’s put out!

Light winds made for a good spinnaker run over towards the new cruise ship pier still under construction way out off Sandy Beach, and by the time we got near there, the winds had shifted to allow even more spinnaker sailing in the opposite direction. Just once did the breeze kick up enough to cause me to snuff the spin with the sock, only to pop it right back out again a few minutes later.

sail track Nov 23 2015

As we returned to the harbor, I noticed another sailboat on the end of Fonatur’s docks.


Gracious, look at the size of that ketch! Turns out, Cayenne had just undergone a complete re-fit at the very shipyard I’ll be contracting with to haul the Challenger, and I was glad to have been able to pick her captain’s brain about who I’d need to talk with over there.


That’s Hannes and Sabine Fruhauf, aboard their 46-foot Amel Santorin ketch. Nice folks, fresh from a motor tour of the US, and after 6 months away from Cayenne, getting ready to head back out in about a week.

Well, so much for never meeting any sailors, Pam.

That evening we dined down on the malecon, at a seafood place whose name escapes both Pam and I at the moment. They had no problem allowing the dogs to accompany us up the stairs and into the restaurant.

Day 3-

“Ahoy, skipper!” says a voice outside my little boat. A man, standing on the dock in the morning sun, smiling. I step out to greet him, introducing myself, wondering if I’d met him in the past. I meet a lot of people.

He introduces himself as Harald, a trailer sailor from Colorado, looking at places to haul and store his Catalina 22.


I think he looks a lot like Willem Dafoe. πŸ˜‰

So I mention Safe Marina as a possible place to store his boat, then I remembered another possibility, a mast-down storage yard less than a mile from the harbor, where his expenses could be one-third of that. Looking at the lack of wind in the flags surrounding the marina, I suggest he come with me on a tour of the harbor. Pam wants to hit the beach with the dogs, so Harald offers his conveyance. Fine by me.

We hook up with Victor, who’s been after me for a year now to store my boat in his yard. So far, I’ve resisted being committed to raising and lowering the mast each time I want to sail, even if I could lower my storage fees. It’s just not worth it to me.

Victor says to follow him, so we do, arriving at his house not far off the main drag. It looked reasonably secure, and I walked around the property.
There’s a disembodied “woof” every now and then, and after a little neck-craning, I find a dog covered with flies, laying in Victor’s side yard.

“He got hit by a car”, explains Victor. “He’s not mine. I’m looking for the owner.”

Harald attempted to water the dog, but he wouldn’t respond to a dousing of his lips. We both agreed that it didn’t look good for the animal. I thought about putting the dog out of his misery, but couldn’t gather the courage. Life and death are hard on dogs here.

We said thanks and goodbye to Victor, then headed over to Safe Marina. I introduced Harald to Obed, who gave him the lowdown on storage there.

From there, we headed over to Marina Puerto Penasco, where the Challenger ketch is berthed. I located Ernesto, the main caretaker, and he said the ketch is abierto.

Someone had done some clean-up work on her since I’d seen her last.


We got to do a brief inspection of the Challenger, then closed her back up and made our way over to Cabrales’ yard, where the only travel lift in the harbor lives. As we were sent from inside the yard to outside in our search for senor Cabrales, a truck pulled up alongside, and the guy driving asked if I was Tom.

“Yes, I am”, I replied.

“I knew it!” exclaimed the driver, who then introduced himself as Dave, along with his wife, Linda. “I’m helping the late owner’s wife on the sale of the Challenger.”

It took me a moment, then I put two and two together, figuring him to be the same guy who had that Ericson for sale awhile back. The blue one, remember, Leana?


Handshakes all around, then Dave and I went into the yard to search again for the owner. In the meantime Dave showed me his new-to-him Islander, getting a facelift there. He had sold the Ericson.

Then, senor Cabrales rounded the gate on a fat-tired bicycle, and I was able to confab with the man himself.

“Ten dollars per foot”, and he knew the boat, having hauled her out about five years ago. “Four hundred and thirty dollars.”

The boat is advertised as 40 feet, but I suppose when you add the bowsprit, yeah, she’s 43 feet. “Power washing, about $125.00.”

Criminy, I’d power wash it for half that, but when you’re the only game in town…

So, I’m looking at >$500.00 just to haul her out for one day, not including a professional survey, possibly another $500.00 plus. And who knows where I can find a pro marine surveyor in this town? Anybody? Bueller? Anybody?

Although the thousand dollars would be well spent to ensure some peace of mind, it scares the living s#i+ out of Pam. Heck, amounts of less than a dollar scare her.

Please don’t get me started.

Thanking everyone, Harald and I set off back to Marina Fonatur, where Hannes and Sabine allowed us all to tour their magnificent Amel.

And wow, what a boat.

In-mast auto-furling on the main and mizzen with the push a button. Auto-furling on the foresail, another button.


A bow thruster, operated by toggling a joystick in the cockpit. These kinds of things could make a sailor obsolete. There’s already talk of “smart” boats that will trim your sails for you, automatically.

Below decks, the Amel is opulence defined. There’s an airy aft stateroom and head, then a galley and a big ‘ol salon amidships. Forward, another head, and a slightly truncated vee berth, due to the bow thruster. Everything was spotless, thanks to her crew’s efforts after Cayenne had sat on the hard for six months. Dusty town, this Rocky Point.

That evening, dinner was had at China Fortune, that same Chinese restaurant we’ve been to before, with more than enough portions.

Day 4-

High tide was around 1100, so very little waiting around for enough water to easily haul out Sovereign, and unpack. As we were finishing up, a small trailer sailor showed up, along with dad, mom, two sons and a set of grandparents.


That’s a 1972 Helsen, all of 22 feet being prepped for launch.

Dad (Bob), was talking about how his mainsail was in need of repairs, and how he’d been sewing on it to make it usable for this trip. I mentioned that the previous owner of my boat threw in a number of sails when I bought her, and one of the mainsails might just fit the Helsen. Digging into my storage, there’s a slightly ragged Catalina 22 mainsail, complete with slugs that I’ve never felt the need to use, so I offered it up for sale to the family.

I didn’t know what it might be worth, but when Bob ran it up the mast to check on luff and foot lengths, he was visibly excited, saying it was in much better shape than his current mainsail. I muttered something about a hundred dollars, and he jumped on it.

Pam and I had to wait around a bit while Bob’s wife made a run somewhere to collect the hundred dollars, twenty of which I immediately refunded back to the family, saying “put this towards dinner.” I hope the sail works well for you guys!

We then hit the road North, stopping at the border to learn that the limes we’d brought along from Tucson were verboten, doesn’t matter where they’re from. We narrowly escaped a possible thousand dollar fine for not declaring the fruit, and served as test subjects for a couple of up-and-coming CBP officers.

Everybody’s guilty of something. You just have to dig deep enough, eh?



  1. One of the most entertaining adventures you have provided to us! I really appreciate your lightly salted wit, Tom. Oh, by the way, that $1000 to inspect the boat will look like “chump change” once you get underneath the expense of actually owning it! But I am happy for you guys, and the dogs will love it! Sorry I missed you….

    • Thanks, Kevin! You’re absolutely correct about the impact that thousand dollars actually represents, overall.

      According to Hannes, he paid $150.00 to haul out, and the same to put back in, but with 6 months of refit expenses, I guess you can get a break somewhere.

      We hope to see you there soon!

  2. LOL- That blue one sure is pretty !! πŸ™‚ (but, no- I don’t remember LMAO)

  3. I was surprised by the seller of the last Mac 26D I purchased. He owned the yard and wanted $350 to lift the Mac off the trailer he put it on. (The trailer that put the hole in the bottom of the boat!) (Yea he owns a ship yard….) I passed mentioning that our agreement included the lift onto my trailer. He would have none of that without $350… I towed the boat to the marina next door and used there ramp. The hole 2’x4′ went into the ballast tank…. I left the trailer that came with the boat in the middle of his yard and took my “new” boat home.
    I wish I was in Mexico right now! It’s -3C here and only going to get colder for the next 3 months.

    • Where you been, Marty? How’s the chartering business going?

      Mi velero es su velero

      • I’m in London Ont. still. The charter isn’t running yet. This spring it will be up and going. I ran out of $ and time last spring. It’s been a crazy year with my rental… Really crazy! Expensive too…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: