24th June 2014 - from Marina Seca, San Carlos, Mexico
I've been busy since my return but it's baking hot here (35C/95F in shade) from 8 a.m. onward - I've been getting up early, to start work while it's cooler - often around 5:30 am!! By midday, it's difficult to do anything much - above or below deck... (and painting, epoxy work & varnishing is impossible!). It gets very tiring trying to get work done in the heat of day and I'm drinking loads of water and fruit juices. Some people have installed air-conditioning - lucky! There's a good fan above my main bunk which makes for a reasonable sleep overnight and I eventually managed to rig some sunshade, making a big difference on deck. Work is going very slowly, with collar bone problem not having helped (even now, it often still aches) and even the Mexicans slow down in the heat, not surprisingly. It's so hot that the laptop starts overheating & misbehaving during daytime. We're in a desert here!
A couple of weeks ago, the steering wheel was removed to expose the totally rusted/useless/ 'exploded' bearings - had three very knowledgeable and experienced guys helping, with great difficulty, to remove the steering components and take everything apart - bad corrosion helped by mix of aluminium and steel in a poorly-designed system with little or no anti-seizing grease used originally - no wonder steering had been difficult - amazing that I was able to steer at all! A local good metal worker in the town of Guaymas nearby had to deal with some damage unavoidably caused to some items during removal of the steering system shaft and bearings and I also had to find the local bearng specialist to replace one bearing I didn't have a spare for...
The keel is looking good after a lot of effort by yard workers Sergio and Edgar who have stripped off all the old anti-fouling, faired the lead keel and its join to the GRP stub and then coated everywhere with epoxy. I sanded some parts myself - including the propellor and shaft, ready for Propspeed to be applied later. The plan was immediately to apply the Coppercoat in the early morning, around sunrise.... but the heat, even so early, has put that plan on hold until October. In the meantime, the epoxy is reacting to the intense sunlight, so I'll have to cover it up during the 3-4 months in dry storage.
I managed to sunburn my back while dealing with the starboard forward lower shroud that had broken loose on my way down the South Pacific towards Cape Horn in December 2012. All I had to do was undo a connector, loosen the rigging , replace the shroud protector, tension the shroud correctly and secure a few split pins - but I managed to replace the protector upside down - so had to undo and re-do a lot of work - all took a time in the burning midday sun with no shade over me - not good!
The yard workers are presently making a hard top in place of my canvas sprayhood... Glass fibre is about to be applied, after a long time preparing the 'mould' - mostly in wood, with Formica covering, resulting in my having to perform a 'limbo dance' in order to access the companionway steps to get down below...
The good news is several cruiser friends here being helpful and the Mexicans generally being cheerful and friendly - although timing is not their forte! There are many other jobs still waiting... many as a result of my recent ocean voyaging... Rough seas are tough on a boat!
I gave a well-attended Presentation on my solo sailing recently in 'Tequilas' with a rigged-upcloth for screen and Pitt and Ron supplying essential equipment and generally being very helpful - it was good to enjoy the air conditioning!
Later last week, I decided to take a break from being constantly in the dusty, hot workyard and went over to walk around the marina area after my shower - and enjoyed some live music... 'Los Tres Amigos' grew to 'Los Seis Amigos' when two more guitarists and a harmonica-player joined the group! I later had a lovely walk back in the light of the full moon.... San Carlos feels very safe. The evenings after sunset are definitely the best time - a lovely cold shower and a walk in the night air are very welcome.
While waiting for a ride down from Phoenix/Tucson area back to San Carlos, I heard that old boat-friends Karen and Bryan were not far away - so had an unexpected, very enjoyable trip to Clarkdale, with visits to the fabulous red rocky outcrops of Sedona, old Cottonwood, the old Native settlements of the (mis-named) Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot and a fascinating high lake (equally mis-named Montezuma's Well!) caused by upwelling of underground water - a resource for locals from time immemorial...